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Lessons from a 3-legged dog

ozzie

Ozzie is a three-legged hound belonging to Davidson Village Inn's Gordon and Rebecca Clark. (Gordon Clark photo)

Vic Fleming

Vic Fleming

By VIC FLEMING

This community of 11,000 residents, site of my alma mater, is also home to my favorite place to spend the night on the road: the Davidson Village Inn, half a block down Depot Street from the campus. The Inn is owned and operated by Rebecca and Gordon Clark, whom Susan and I came to know during many stays here when our kids were living up the street between 1997 and 2006.

A lazy Friday afternoon in February 2012 finds us back again, sipping tea with the innkeepers in the spacious lobby/living room. The Clarks have added a family member since we saw them last. They introduce us to Ozzie, who Gordon estimates is in his 11th year on earth. I scratch behind Ozzie’s ears. His look seems to say, “This guy knows something about hounds.”
It takes a moment to realize that Ozzie is missing his left rear leg. There’s something about a three-legged dog. The leg will not go unmentioned, and there’ll be an entertaining story of how the dog fails to understand his disability.

I ask Gordon if he’s heard “The 3-Legged Dog,” a song by Tim Bays, Mike Rayburn and Rick Wainright. He has not. The song starts, I tell him,

“Sometimes I feel like a three-legged dog
Hopping all around in a self pity fog
But then I start thinking ’bout all I can do
And how bad it’d be if I had only two …

“If they were on one side I could only lie down
And with two in the front I could butt-scoot around
It’d be much worse with two in the rear
Like wearing a sign saying ‘Kick me here’…”

Ozzie's raccoon

Ozzie's raccoon, chased up the screen on Jan. 30 (Gordon Clark photo)

Gordon laughs. And then begins the story. A few evenings earlier, Ozzie’d seen a raccoon in the back yard. As it eased up to the house, Ozzie took exception and did what a hound dog’ll do. The Clarks, and their neighbors, came out to see what Ozzie was baying at.

“Do you mean to tell me,” I interject, addressing my question to Ozzie, “that you treed yourself a raccoon?” I stop scratching, causing Ozzie to nuzzle my hand, as he modestly avoids the question.

Gordon takes the cue: “Well, he didn’t so much tree the critter as he screened him.”

“Screened?” I reply. “I’m not sure I follow.”

“Well,” laughs Gordon, “I had to go to Home Depot the next day to get a new screen for our bedroom window.”

“Ozzie!” I cry. “What do you have to say for yourself?” Ozzie gives me a look that can best be translated as the last verse of the song:

“I love what I got and do the best I can
What I ain’t got ain’t a part of who I am
I can still chase a cat, fetch a ball or stick
As long as you don’t want it back real quick …”

And, for good measure, the refrain is an apt conclusion to this column:

“Three-legged dog, I’m a three-legged dog
Happy as a clam or a bump on a log
Slower than a turtle but smarter than a hog
Praise the Lord, I’m a three-legged dog.”

Vic Fleming is a writer in Little Rock, Ark. He can be reached at vicfleming@att.net. This column is ©2012 Vic Fleming and Hamilton County Herald, reprinted with permission.

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- who has written 468 posts on Pets.

David Boraks is the founder and editor of Davidson News LLC, which started in 2006 as a neighborhood blog and evolved into a regional community news network. He is a print, magazine, web and radio journalist, with experience in every nook and cranny of the news world, covering everything from local news to Fortune 100 companies to technology to Asia. He lives on South Street in Davidson, in a house that was at the center of a 1914 murder case. Ask him and he'll tell you that story.

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