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A Hunting We Will Go
By Linda Germain

In the early 1940’s, before UPS and Fed-Ex, most freight was hauled in railroad baggage cars. My future father was working in a diner near the tracks when a "suit" from The Railway Express Company came in to eat. The man was most impressed with this young fellow’s ability and charm and offered him a job. Handling mail on a train sounded very adventurous and appealing.

What transpired on one of those runs is a tribute to Dad’s creative, inventive mind, but it also sounds like movie high jinks, not real life. You can view it from two perspectives. One: How incredibly clever he was. Two: Boy Howdy, Ralph, it is amazing he didn’t get caught!

It all began on a routine day at work. The iron horse stopped in his hometown in west Tennessee, where several cages containing some unique cargo was put on board. Dad was charged with the management and protection of twenty lively, barking, pedigree hunting dogs. They had begun their journey in Paducah, Kentucky, and were on their way to Little Rock, Arkansas. He knew nothing about these animals except they were worth more money than he had ever seen.

A hundred miles down the line, the train pulled into the Memphis station. Freight was loaded and unloaded at a brisk pace. Suddenly, one of the cages popped open and a wily blue-blood canine made its escape. Dad panicked. He jumped off the train in time to see the foot loose animal racing up the street. This was one smooth break out.

Barely able to process the seriousness of the situation, and being extremely young, he wondered if he would be fired, have to pay for the dog, or even go to jail. Having no time to formulate a good plan, he took off after the high-priced fancy hunting dog. How could it disappear so fast?

Almost at that very moment, the whistle blew it‘s departure signal; the engine was about to move on down the tracks. Something had to be done, and done that second. Looking around in wild-eyed alarm, he spotted a sweet looking brown mutt asleep by the station door. Pure instinct made him grab it, dash into the baggage car and stuff it into the special made, empty, cage. Locking it tight, he sank down with a sigh.

The train made its way to Little Rock with no one the wiser. Dad kept his mouth shut. After all, he reasoned, somebody in Memphis just found a beautiful, highly trained hunting dog. Somebody in Arkansas was about to get a dear little bewildered beast who probably needed a home anyway. All that really happened was that the life of each animal had taken an unexpected turn.

That is not a situation exclusive to four-legged creatures. You can be going along, safe and protected, when something jars your door open and you run off in an unexpected direction, hoping it is the right way, yet not having a clue.

Or, you might be curled up, sleeping in the sunshine, having no specific home, resigned to less than the best God has for you, when you are scooped up and relocated into a new surrounding. You look around, realize you are among nineteen fellow furry friends who are well educated, clean and even smell pretty good. But who cares? Your chance has arrived and it is time to get on down the road to metaphorical Arkansas.

My ending to Dad’s adventure likes to believe that both dogs wound up with just the right families who loved them. In fact, who would swear they weren’t the best pets they ever had. Sometimes pedigree counts; sometimes opportunity and love count more.

Is that the plaintive, lonely wail of a locomotive whistle in the distance? You better go hug your dog!
Linda resides among the beautiful mountains of East Tennessee. She loves reading, writing, acting, traveling and observing. She is working on several writing projects with contributions to FaithWriters’ Books I, II and III, and to FaithWriters’ Magazine. Linda thinks folks should laugh more and her goal is to be used by our Lord. You can write to Linda through the Letters page of this magazine.
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