Living Out Loud

Freckles, The Bull, The Bean, and Cajun

I would classify myself an animal lover. I haven't always had pets for various reasons, but the ones I did have were dear to me, live in my memory and are still talked about to this day.



Freckles was my grandparent's Dalmatian, a patient a well-trained dog who subsisted almost entirely off of people food prepared by my grandmother, He finished off the grits and scrambled eggs from every breakfast. Although they lived off a relatively well-traveled country road in rural North Carolina, Freckles never went anywhere near it. In fact, his world was the gigantic area in the rear of my grandparent's house, which included their vegetable garden and what my grandfather referred to as his fallout shelter, as in, when he had a falling out with my grandmother, that's where he would go. Freckles was always there to keep him company while he drank cold Schlitz beer from an ancient silver Frigidaire and listened to stock car races on AM radio. It seemed like he lived forever since he was there from my earliest memories until my high school years.

The Bull


When I was a freshman in high school, I left my urban childhood behind to live with my uncle and aunt on their farm which consisted of acres of vegetables for truck farming, a hay field planted in Coastal Bermuda grass, various ancient barns, a chicken house with laying hens and two cow pastures in rotating use. We kept twenty odd Black Angus cows and one massive bull. I was fascinated by this animal. If you've never seen a well-bred bull before they are huge, well-muscled animals. Fun to look at over a fence, they become terrifying when you have to enter their enclosure, which I did on an infrequent basis. When I had to enter one of the active cow pastures I made it my business to always know his whereabouts. To my knowledge he lived his long and easy life without ever hurting anyone or anything, but I had dreams about him chasing me.

The Bean


My wife at the time had a huge Utz pretzel jar filled to the brim with change she'd saved while waitressing in the late 80s and early 90s. After we got married and blended our families, we promised the kids we'd get them a dog using the money in that jar. It was so heavy that it took both of us to lift it and it turned out to have over $200 in it which we used to get a registred Miniature Dachshund named Chili Dawg With Extra Cheese. We had to use DAWG as the spelling because the AKC won't let you use DOG in a registered animal's name. Shortly after he came to live with us, Chili Dawg got caught digging up flowers in my wife's flower garden and she threatedned to remove his legs and turn him into a chili bean and for the rest of his life, Bean was the name he went by. He was the patriarch of a brood that eventually numbered five dogs, a cat and upwards of 30 parrots. The older he got, the grumpier he got, but he was still the original Good Dog. One of my friends lived with us for a while after returning from Iraq and when he was finally discharged from the Army and ready to move back home to Oklahoma, he cried real tears saying good bye to Bean and bought himself a dachshund and named him the exact same thing.



For over a decade, I took in homeless parrots from all over the state, regardless of the breed. I built two aviaries to house them and spent many , many enjoyable hours learning their ways and looking after them. One of the most enjoyable birds I ever took care of was a man-hating Red-Lored Amazon parrot named Cajun. I still have scars on my hands from unsuccessful attempts to befriend him. He loved my wife though. She could pick him up whenever she wanted and he would stroke her hair or gently remove her ear rings. With me it was nothing but sharp beaks and bloody fingers. He would even laugh after he bit me. He was the only parrot I ever owned who was born in the wild instead of domestically bred. He been captured in South America in the late 70s or early 80s, which I could tell by the kind of leg band he wore. At some pint he'd been owned by a smoke who loved opera, because he would sing arias, interrupted by coughs. He also did a mean imitation of staticky radio, something he'd probably been left with as entertainment at a point in his life.

#100DaysToOffload #Animals