Jo Ann J. Lovelace
I was thumbing through Grandma's old worn photo album this morning and came across a picture of Grandpa feeding Abe. The first thing that came to mind was the valuable lessons I learned as a child while spending time with this wonderful old man. The one incident that I remember like it happened only yesterday brought laughter to my lips and tears to my eyes.
Grandpa was yelling at Jobie and threatening to tan his hide. Jobie was chasing the mule again.
"Beth," Grandpa said, as he stomped into the house. "If that dog doesn't stop chasing Abe he can't stay on the farm."
I lived in an apartment in the city and they didn't allow dogs. What will I do? I thought if Grandpa won't let Jobie stay on the farm.
I followed Grandpa to the kitchen. Before he could sit down at the table Abe started braying loud enough to be heard a mile away.
"You've got to do something about that dog Beth," Grandpa said. "He can't chase Abe all the time. You're out of school next week and I suggest you use that time to train your dog."
I went to the back porch and picked up the dog chain then went to find Jobie. I fastened the chain to Jobie's collar and tied him to his doghouse.
I went to see Jobie Sunday evening when my mother and father came to take me home. "Sorry Jobie," I said, looking at his big sad brown eyes. "Grandpa will make you leave if I don't keep you tied."
I worried about Jobie all week. What if he got loose and chased Abe? I thought. What if Grandpa gave him away? I might not ever see Jobie again.
I checked a book out at the public library on how to train dogs. I was in tears after reading the index. There wasn't anything in the book about dogs chasing a mule. I had to find some way to train Jobie. There was no place he could stay except on Grandpa's farm.
I worried all the way to the farm that weekend. I imagined seeing Jobie's chain broken and him not being there. I could see Jobie was still tied to the doghouse as we pulled into the driveway. I ran to pet him as soon as my father stopped the car.
"Why couldn't you be good Jobie?" I asked. "Then I wouldn't have all these problems trying to train you."
I went to the porch and got Jobie's leash then fastened it to his collar. I led him over to where Abe stood. Jobie barked then he jumped at Abe almost jerking the leash out of my hand. I pulled on the leash several times yanking him away but every time we got near the mule he would lunge forward and bark. I practically dragged him across the yard and tied him to his doghouse.
"You gave up to easy Beth," Grandpa said as he watched me walk away. "It takes more than just a few minutes to train a dog."
"I went through the entire book on training dogs, Grandpa," I said, tears coming to my eyes. "It didn't have one thing in it telling how to correct Jobie's problem."
"Did you actually read the book?" Grandpa asked. "I think you may have just skimmed through it."
So what if I hadn't read the book, I thought not answering. There wasn't anything in it that would help me anyway.
"Supper's ready," Grandma shouted from the kitchen door. "You two hurry up before it gets cold."
After supper I washed and dried the dishes one of the chores I did for keeping Jobie on the farm. When I was finished I went to the bedroom. I could hear Jobie barking. He didn't like being tied.
Grandpa woke me the next morning yelling at Jobie. I hurried to the window and could see Jobie was tied. He couldn't have chased Abe, I thought as I rushed to get dressed. I ran down the stairs went through the kitchen and bolted out the back door. I could see why Grandpa was angry. Jobie had dug a deep hole in front of his doghouse.
"Look what your dog did," Grandpa said. "He has a lot of bad habits. He chases Abe. He barks all night keeping everyone awake and now he's digging holes in the yard. Get him trained by this week or find him another home."
We went into the house to eat breakfast. I choked back the tears determined not to let Grandpa see me cry. The scrambled eggs tasted like sawdust in my mouth. I drank the tall glass of milk to wash them down then asked to be excused.
Grandpa's unfair, I thought as I washed the dishes. After all I worked hard to keep Jobie on the farm. What good was that old mule of his anyway? All he ever does is eat sleep and make a terrible noise when he's unhappy. He isn't even pretty. He has long ears, an ugly face and legs that look like fence post. I looked out the window and saw Grandpa feeding Abe an ear of corn. What did Abe ever do to deserve such good treatment?
Grandpa rubbed Abe's ears; he petted him gently on the neck. Abe nuzzled Grandpa's hand when he reached up to stroke his head. I watched Grandpa start toward the house. I realized at that moment he loved that old mule the same way I loved Jobie.
"I appreciate you always doing your chores Beth," Grandpa said as he came through the kitchen door. "You never complain or have to be reminded and you do a good job too."
I felt ashamed thinking all those bad things about Grandpa. Abe wasn't really all that ugly and Grandpa was right, I hadn't read the book on training dogs. I went to my room and began to read. I found that Jobie barked and dug the hole because he was bored. Being tied all the time he had nothing else to do. Also when training a dog, once he's done what you've asked you should reward him in some way.
I spent all my free time working with Jobie that week. At first I was sure Jobie would never understand. Yet I was determined not to give up. If Jobie didn't try to chase Abe I would pet him on the head and give him a dog biscuit. When he tried to chase Abe I would scold him and leave the dog biscuit in my pocket.
The day before it was time for me to go home I left Jobie untied. He didn't offer to chase Abe and I felt good knowing he would be able to stay on the farm.
My mother and father came to take me home Sunday evening. Before I went to the car I gave Grandpa a big hug.
"Thanks, Grandpa," I smiled. "You wouldn't let me give up on training Jobie."
"That's all right Beth," he winked a big grin spreading across his wrinkled face. "I'm just glad it all worked out for you."
Jobie followed me to the car and I bent down to pet him on the head. "Go sit on the porch Jobie," I said. "It's time for me to go home." Jobie walked slowly to the porch. He plopped down and laid his head between his paws. He watched as the car moved down the driveway.
"See you next week Jobie," I yelled out the window. "Remember you're not suppose to chase Abe." Jobie got to his feet; he wagged his tail as if he understood.
I spent every weekend and all my summer vacations with Grandma and Grandpa. I don't recall ever thinking Grandpa was a mean old man again after the incident with Jobie. Today I have fond memories and understand just how wise my Grandpa was.
Copyright © 1998 Jo Ann Lovelace. All Rights Reserved.