Burning Dog

A domestic event that gives new meaning to the term "hot dog"
A domestic event that gives new meaning to the term "hot dog"

She called to me from the kitchen with a certain urgency in her voice.

“You may need to get the dog outside right away. He really stinks. I think he may need to…”

Not wanting him to…in the house (as if he ever has since wee puppyhood) I got up right away, made ready to pull on my winter jacket and take the dog out into the cold dark of the morning.

“Wait a minute. I smell what you’re smelling but I don’t think it’s because the dog needs a bowel experience. Smells like burning hair to me.” I took him out anyway, mystery unsolved.

Puzzled, we thought nothing more about it. Daylight came and I noticed the dog had gotten into some red clay, with a big smudge along his left flank.

The problem is that we have no red clay, and yet there was a swatch of fur that was distinctly brick-colored.

Then the “ah ha” lights came on: apparently the dog, who never misses a chance to be as close as possible to the warmest place in the house, be it wood stove or wall heater, had cozied up to the orange glow of the radiant heater enough this time to set himself, locally and superficially, on fire.

Had it reached his skin for him to feel it, we would most certainly have known, as he is a weenie when it comes to the least bit of pain. He was in no apparent distress, but even today, almost a week later, he carries the brick-colored evidence of having been Goose Creek’s only Burning Dog.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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