Just to Have a Friend

Early on, Gandy had a friend, Jessie–a 130 pound Golden Retriever–who came down for play dates every week or so. But she did something about a year ago that has made Jessie not willing to even get out of the Jeep when his owner comes down for a visit.

There was the neighbor’s dog, Feather–a wispy wavy-white dog of Gandy’s age and size that she did not tolerate. Let Feather show up along the edges of our pasture and Gandy aggressively drove the intruder home. Until a few months ago.

Since then, Feather is pretty much around all the time. She slept on our back porch again last night.

Feather followed a cyclist up out of the valley last Wednesday and did not come home. She was missing for three days, and Gandy was bewildered. We did not expect to see Feather again when we learned she had been seen on Daniel’s Run–one of the busiest  roads in Floyd County.

Saturday (we don’t know the full story) she came down the hill in the back of her owner’s pick-up. Ten minutes later, she appeared at the back door asking if Gandy could come out and play. And they have been tussling and running together ever since.

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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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