The path was still damp from the morning dew. The pine trees glistened in the first light of dawn and fog still reigned in the treetops. The air was cool and refreshing. This was a special time.
"Come on Hersey," said the young man to the big chocolate lab.
Ted raised Hersey from a small puppy and now the dog was almost nine years old. It had been nine years of being inseparable. However, this was about to end.
This path meandered over land and through some woods in South Georgia; property belonging to his family for generations. He knew that, one day, the estate would be passed down unto himself. That is, if he made it home again.
Ted looked at his friend and memories of times past flooded his thoughts. He remembered the time Hersey had saved him from a large diamondback rattlesnake. In fact, Hersey was bitten and nearly died from the experience. It took much prayer and the good work of the veterinarian to save him. He also recalled the encounter Hersey had with a skunk. It was awful. Poor Hersey could hardly stand it. Finally, after much bathing and perfume, he was presentable again. Ted smiled as he recollected the good times, he and his pal had experienced.
As they walked, the dog suddenly barked loudly and raced after a big cottontail rabbit. However, the cottontail won the race and escaped. "Better luck next time, Hersey."
Ted listened and identified the calls of several birds. He heard the chatter of the squirrels in the trees. The young man wanted to seal these memories in his mind. He wanted to be able to recall them when he was far away.
"Come on, old friend, let's go back to the house."
This would be his last walk with his dog as he would leave tomorrow to report to boot camp near San Antonio, Texas. Hersey did not know it, but he would not see his friend again for some time.
However, Ted trusted his Dad to take good care of the dog.
By William C. Highsmith - December 19, 2009