Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Blue (10/08/09)
TITLE: Ol' Blue
By Patricia Protzman
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Our family had recently adopted an eight-week-old Blue Tick hound puppy who was running around the family room nipping, barking, and growling at my six-year-old daughter Nancy and eight-year-old son Michael as they lay on the family room floor. Squeals of laughter erupted as the puppy played tug-o-war with them, pulling Nancy’s hair and Michael’s jeans. My wife grabbed the camcorder to preserve this memorable occasion. As I looked on, warm memories came flooding back of the Blue Tick hound dog I grew up with in Mississippi.
One spring afternoon papa brought home a six-week-old Blue Tick hound puppy given to him by a neighbor. Two months before, due to a car accident, we had lost our seven-year-old black Labrador retriever, Smokey. The pup was the solution to this twelve-year-old boy’s feelings of loneliness. My ten-year-old brother Steve and I named him Ol' Blue.
He grew up fast, weighing around seventy-five pounds, his "blue" coloring came from black and white mottling, which gave the impression of a navy blue color. We lived on a one-hundred fifty acre farm in Meridian, Mississippi, which was the perfect setting for Ol' Blue to run around on and hunt. Several times a year, papa took Steve, me, and Ol' Blue coon hunting. He would take off running with his nose in the air, howling and barking, with us running after him. Mama always said we were the funniest sight she ever did see. During the hunt, he usually treed three or four coons and caught a few rabbits along the way. Papa said Ol' Blue was the “smartest and best durn huntin’ dawg” he had ever owned.
The most memorable event was the time when Ol' Blue saved our lives. One cold, January evening papa made fires in the huge Warm Morning potbelly stove in the living room and dining room fireplace. By the time we went to bed, the fireplace fire had died down, with only hot coals remaining. That night, Ol' Blue slept at the foot of my bed.
A few hours later, Ol' Blue started to howl and bark. I crawled out of bed, opened our door to let him go outside, and thick, black smoke hit my face choking me. Steve and I dropped down on the floor, yelling for mama and papa who came running out of their bedroom. Papa told everyone to go outside and sit in the car, while he telephoned the fire department. I grabbed hold of Ol' Blue’s collar and hurried out the back door.
Almost as soon as we were in the car, Ol' Blue started barking and clawing at the car door. I opened it and he vaulted out, running toward the house. A choking, black smoke was billowing out of the screen door and as I opened it, Ol' Blue ran inside the house but I remained outside calling for papa. There was no answer.
A few minutes later, Ol' Blue appeared at the door entrance with papa, who was unconscious, he had pulled him up the hall by his pajamas. About that time, the fire department arrived and carried papa out of the house, where he soon became conscious after receiving oxygen. The firefighter also gave Ol' Blue a few whiffs of oxygen and called him a hero for saving his family. He explained a live ember had popped out of the fireplace and onto an upholstered chair where it slowly smoldered, emitting suffocating smoke. A few more minutes in the deadly cloud, and both would have died. My father prayed with the firefighters thanking God, them, and Ol' Blue for protecting us.
Ol' Blue continued to hunt until he was around ten years old. Poor eyesight and hearing, along with painful arthritis in his hips, slowed him down. He lived several more years passing away in his sleep at the ripe old dog age of fifteen. Our entire family mourned the loss of Ol' Blue for quite a while.
My trip down memory lane ended with my wife asking me to get down on the floor with the kids and the puppy so she could record the scene. I asked the children what they wanted to name the pup and Michael said he liked the name Sammy. Nancy spoke up and said she liked that name, too. Sammy was part of our family, destined to provide love, companionship, and protection, just as Ol' Blue had unselfishly bestowed these treasures upon his family.
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