Barter, Bargain or Bark

While Gandy will lick the pattern off a plate with the merest traces of turkey gravy, she apparently does not care so much for the source bird in the raw.

However, the hillside remains of a local wild turkey has turned out for the dog to be a major stop along the Goose Creek Gorge Trading Route.

Last week coming back from a walk around the loop with Ann, Gandy marched proudly up the driveway carrying the oddest stick. (She almost always brings back a memento of the walk–a chunk of ice from a snowbank, a six foot branch near fence-post proportions, or something offal–as in dead and stinky. )

The wooden bits go to Gandy’s workshop, but the organic objects more often than not become bargaining pieces. The thing she carried up the driveway last week was a stick with a distinctive foot–at the end of what would have been for us a thigh and drumstick, now meatless.

She didn’t want to eat the footed stick. On the other hand, she was certain from past experience that we would not want her to eat it. For that outcome, there is a price.

In such cases, the inedible foul fowl  object can be traded for a desirable (if not much tastier) replacement: a doggy biscuit made of sawdust and cardboard. At least that’s what they seem like to us humans.

Yesterday on our way past the valley of bones and the turkey carcass somewhere up on the hillside, the dog came running down with a mouth full of feathers and sat immediately at our feet. Her new find could be exchanged for sawdust and cardboard.

It’s a pretty good system. Inside the house, the system works just as well, except the exchange involves one of my socks or a pair of panties.

You want it back, show me your money.

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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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  1. What a smart dog! All we get brought to us are a small bit of feather (on the end of our “cat fishing pole” and the occasional ball. Not bad for an indoor cat. The bargain is that it only costs us lots of laughter and a worn out arm from shaking then throwing the ball.

  2. Fred, You got a definite keeper. Gandy is a treasure as well as a treasure hunter. She also has a great staff working for her.