THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.
In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.
Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.
by Larry Brody
Ever since I mentioned the Ghost Dog, readers have been asking to know more about it. So here’s the latest update.
It begins, as does so much here on the Mountain, with the Big Red Chow Dude. He paid us a visit last Tuesday afternoon and looks in good shape. No new wounds or scars, and his coat is thick and lustrous.
Emmy the Pit Mom’s M.O. when her True Love comes calling has been to race to the front door so I’ll open it, and then, when the Dude pops up onto the front porch ignore him the way a wasp ignores Gwen the Beautiful’s flailing arms.
We’re talking cutting the poor guy dead. He stays with us for however long it takes for Emmy to at last welcome his presence with some fancy bowing and wrestling. Then, as soon as he feels certain she still loves him off he goes.
Usually in the dead of night.
This time, though, Emmy made no pretense of not loving him. She barked so I’d do my doorman act, and then, lo and behold, she went right into the jumping and dancing.
Pure joy is what I saw, with no ego protection. A beautiful sight.
The kids weren’t as happy to see their old man as Mom was. Which didn’t bother Dude in the least. He doesn’t demand love, just respect.
As usual, Decker gave his daddy a wide birth, even though he’s bigger than the Dude and quite a fearsome country warrior himself. As for Belle the Skittish, she put up with the Dude’s sniffing and sighed with relief when he turned away.
Now’s where the Ghost Dog comes in. Our experience with the Ghost Dog began several months ago when Chet the No Longer Unhandyman told me how some nights when he looked out from the Annex he’d see another dog the general size and shape of Emmy’s pups lying asleep in the clearing.
The other dogs never barked at that one, and no one ever saw it but Chet, although I tried to stay up and take pictures one night. But the night after the Dude arrived, it made its presence known.
Gwen was upstairs in bed, and I was downstairs at the computer. Decker and Belle were locked in the dog yard for the night, and Emmy and the Dude lay together on the front porch.
Suddenly Decker and Belle began barking, and Emmy and the Dude joined in. Emmy ran full-out into the woods, hind legs flapping out from her body like Dumbo’s ears. The Dude, being—after all—a “dude,” and very, very cool, loped after her.
None of this was any big deal. Happens all the time. But then, from inside the house, right in front of the kitchen table, came more barking, deep and gruff, and the sound of dog claws scrabbling on our cedar floor. Like another dog eager to join the chase.
Except there was no other dog.
The barking and scrabbling hurried past me, to the front door.
And nothing, absolutely nothing, was there to cause it.
I went to the door. Opened it. Out went whatever presence had honored us, joining the rest of the chorus, and the chase.
“I didn’t know Emmy was in the house,” Gwen called down.
“She wasn’t,” I said.
Gwen came to the railing.
“Oh,” she said quietly. Just “Oh…”
A couple of hours later Emmy returned alone. The next morning as I fed the horses I saw the tail of a large, reddish-tan dog wagging in the air out of the corner of my eye. When I turned to look at it, the tail was gone.
That evening, when I prepared the dogs’ dinner, I saw the same tail wagging at another place in the clearing. And again it vanished when I tried a direct look.
The Ghost Dog?
What else? No one’s ever gonna convince me otherwise.
Only problem is, although this sounds like an answer it’s really another question. Because I’m still clueless about what—or who—the Ghost Dog is.
There’s one thing I do know, though. Whatever was here barks like a dog. Scrambles and gives chase like a dog. Wags its tail like one too.
Reacts like a dog in all ways.
I’m thinking it must love like a dog too.
So how I can do anything other than love our Ghost Dog in return?