A Dog Named Junior
Down in central Texas, just off Interstate-10 west of San Antonio, is the town of Kerrville where they have an event over Easter weekend each year called The Texas Hill Country Tour. It's a fun thing that I've done five or six times.
On this particular day I set out with at least a couple hundred cyclists on the 50 mile loop that went south to Medina, across to Camp Verde and back. Everything was going fine until I was pulling off at the rest stop in Medina. At the last instant I spotted a pothole big enough to swallow a Volkswagen. It was about two feet across and must have been six inches deep. I managed to snatch the front wheel over it but the rear wheel dropped in with such a thump that both water bottles went flying out of their cages. That was followed an instant later by a loud bang as the tire blew off the dented rim.
Several fellow cyclists and an equal number of locals gathered around to help me inspect the ruined rim. It was immediately obvious that I was going no further on that wheel. Talk turned to when the sag wagon might be along when a Willie Nelson look-alike offered, "I'm headed for Kerrville to get a new pump barrel for my windmill and I'd be glad to give you a ride." I took him up on the offer.
I loaded my bike in the back of his pickup; a jacked-up 4X4 F-150 with huge tires and a big Roo bar across the front. It was coated with dried red mud and there were scratches from the headlights to the tail lights from where it had been driven through brush. There was a bale of hay, a saddle, a coil of rope and a five gallon plastic bucket full of pipe wrenches and other tools in the back. A 12 gauge pump shotgun, a bolt action .22 rifle and a cattle prod hung in the gun rack across the back window. A black and white Border Collie with one brown eye and one blue eye waited in the cab. "Move over, Junior, give the man some room." said the man as he slid under the wheel. The dog obediently moved to the middle of the front seat.
He cranked the air conditioner up to max as we headed up the highway toward Kerrville, discussing the price of cattle, the drought and that he had to get the windmill fixed or start hauling water for his cattle. "We got about a quarter inch of rain last week, just enough to settle the dust and make a mess of the roads but not enough to put any water in the ponds," he said.
Suddenly the cab was filled with a stench that would remove wallpaper and kill flies. It actually made our eyes burn. "Dammit, Junior, I tole you not to fart in the cab," he scolded as he hit the electric window buttons to clear out the cab. "I knew better than feed you scrambled eggs this morning but that was all I had." Junior hung his head and got the most pitiful look in his eyes.
Another mile down the road Junior did it again, only this time it was even worse. He slammed on the brakes, whipped onto the shoulder and got out, "Get your ass in the back, Junior, you don't deserve air conditioning." Without a second of hesitation, Junior scampered out and leaped over the tailgate. He rode the rest of the way with his nose pressed against the back window. I knew that Border Collies were smart and it was obvious that Junior understood every word that was said to him.
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Copyright © 2002 by Jim Foreman