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DANGEROUS! Bulldogs and Strays
by Ray Maxie

I recall one warm summer afternoon very near the end of WW-II. I was 6 or 7 at the time, and my family and I were visiting with the Stewert family. They lived in the community of Walton Center, Texas. That is in southeastern Cass County on FM 125, only a couple hundred yards from the Louisiana State line. This was about six miles from my childhood home on the Rambo oil lease.

The Stewerts had an older son who was serving overseas in the US military. We had stopped by to check and see when he might be coming home. But more importantly to me at the time, they had children to play with near my own age.

Old Uncle Jim Stewert had a big English bulldog named "Old Mary Ann." That often vicious dog seemed very big and ugly to me. She lay around on the front porch, sleeping a lot. But, when spurred into action, she could be terribly mean and deadly to other animals, especially to stray dogs. That seems, I have learned, to be the natural character of some large Terrier and Bulldog breeds, but I have also read where dogs aren't naturally mean and vicious -- man makes them that way through agitation, prodding and attack training.

We children were all playing out in the red dirt road, when a large black stray dog came bouncing down the road, wanting only to pass us by and move on along. But, as carefree, playful kids, we all wanted to pet that stray. So we blocked the dog's path in order to stop it and pet it. (Please don't try that at home.) Mary Ann sure didn't like that. Jealous that we would pet another dog, not to mention her hating stray dogs, she rapidly moved into action.

As Mary Ann came up close, that stray tried desperatly to flee. Mary Ann caught it by the back leg and scuffled it over into the road ditch, where the two fought viciously for a while. We kids, not knowing how this dog fight would turn out, got very excited, gleefully jumping up and down and cheering for the underdog -- the stray, of course. Wow! A big dog fight like I had never seen before, nor since, right there before our very own eyes. We kids never envisioned what the final result would be.

Too soon though, all the joy, jubilance and excitement turned to sadness, fright and screaming, crying children. Mary Ann had quickly gotten the upper hand of that stray. She locked her jaws on that dog's throat and didn't budge an inch until it lay lifeless. We kids were severely shocked. Never having seen such a horrible sight, I was frightened to death.

Terrified, I ran fast as possible to the house where the adults were sitting on the front porch, sipping hot coffee from a saucer and talking. Exhausted, I told them what had happened out in the road. It seemed of little or no surprise to Uncle Jim. No big deal! He said Mary Ann was very capable of that and did it quite often. It was just one more dead dog for him to have to drag off, dig a hole and bury.

But, I can tell you, it was a big emotional deal to us kids. A very, very sad and gruesome sight young children should never have to witness. I would never, never forget what I, as a young lad, saw there that afternoon.

It was now late in the day and, after a while, my family and I got ready to leave. We all piled into our old 1939 Chevrolet pickup and headed for home. Dad, Mom and one sister usually rode in the "first class" section, up front in the comfortable cab. Another sister and I frequently rode in the "fun and games" section, the open air back pickup bed. Back there, my dad had built a nice little board bench for us kids to sit on. It wasn't all that bad, until on occasion it started raining.

As we arrived home and pulled up into the yard, my little "Poochy" dog came running out to greet us. Picking him up in my arms, I hugged and hugged him, thankful he was safe and sound. "Poochy" was the fuzzy, cuddly little puppy our family friends, Bessy and Bud, had given me several months earlier for spending the night with them in their home at Huffines on the road to Atlanta. "Poochy" was a good, frisky, loyal little pet and he lived to be thirteen years old.

You know, it recently occurred to me and as I see it now, the breed of dog a person chooses has a direct relation to that person's character and lifestyle. Uncle Jim Stewert was no different.

Please watch out for those vicious dogs and maybe I'll see you on down the road!


N. Ray Maxie is a former Texas highway patrolman and Special Texas Ranger. Following his long service with the state of Texas, Ray worked in loss prevention for the nation's railroads. Now retired, he enjoys writing personal essays and memoirs (no fiction) about his youthful experiences growing up in northeast Texas, the Ark-La-Tex area. Ray also shares his tales of career experiences from Texas highways, southern backroads and "pig trails." He lives near Houston with his wife of almost fifty years and five precious pets.

Write Ray at this address: piddlinacres@consolidated.net


Here are several more Ray Maxie stories at USADS:
* Caddo Lake, Texas
* A Country Kid's Thorn in the Flesh
* Shadows in the Moonlight
* Don't Go Near the Water...

And here are stories from other publications:
* Wanted for Murder
* TexasEscapes.com

Read many more great stories listed on our USADS Articles pages.



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