My mama gave life to us in a discarded oil drum in Lindale, Georgia. We ventured outside it as we grew older. After a man put me in a cardboard box, I blinked in the dark until I found myself lifted out into a bright world by a girl who giggled and held me tight. I liked that feeling!
My mistress played with me, showing me off to her friends. I remember the warmth within her blankets at night, when she’d sneak me inside without her mama or sisters knowing. While she did her homework, I sped around the yard, giddy with the springtime sun and my love for her! I got to eat her mama’s cooking, too – devouring the Easter ham trimmings her brother teased me with, they laughed, and called me “Hambone.”
When Easter came again, there was no ham to spare. I sensed my family was in trouble. The word “move” was yelled a lot. Her brother put me in his truck. Strangers lifted me into a cage in a concrete house where anxious dogs used the bathroom inside, something I never did. My toes got caught in the grated floor. Hypervigilant, I held a torch for my young mistress. Several times a week, some kind ladies visited and spoke cheerfully, and walked me in the fresh air. And yet they would return me to the cage every time, grimacing at the sign: “Unadoptable.. Ordinance.. Vicious breed.” A month passed.
One cold morning one of the nice ladies hurried me into her car. She would take me to my mistress! But I was lifted into another vehicle, and it drove for 3 nights. The driver’s friend took us out for breaks, and the grass smelled different from home. When the van stopped for good, there was much excited talking. Quivering, I feared it would be another concrete building. I looked up at a middle-aged couple who held my leash. They stooped down, grinning broadly at me. “Welcome, Hambone!” they said. The man fed me bacon pieces. How did he know I loved that taste?
Gently this man described how strangers had given precious money to get me to them, so that I would be safe. I was in a country called “Michigan,” and I was to start school that week, which I did. Now I think I must be a good boy, truly, as my mistress and the ladies said I was. I learned in school how ‘wicked smart’ I am. Here I am after graduating from my first Obedience Class!
Story by Hambone Dickens, as told to Elizabeth Ard