Opinion – 2/13/2007

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Panolian: OPINIONS

 From the 02/13/07 issue of The Panolian        

Guest column by Orley Hood
The Clarion Ledger Lost dog leads Jackson newspaper columnist to big Panola hearts

(Editor’s note: The following column appeared in Sunday’s Clarion Ledger under the headline: "Up in Batesville, angels live and work." Reprinted with permission.)

It was a Friday and we were fired up. The kid was coming home from college. He was bringing his 5-month-old golden retriever with him. The sun was shining. We were pumped. My cell rang. Ah … calling to tell me he’s on the way.

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"Hey, buddy."

"Dad," he said, his voice quivering, "I’ve been in a bad wreck."

As terrible phone calls go, there are worse. Like when it’s the state trooper who’s calling. Or a hospital. Or way worse.

Still … "Are you OK?" I ask it in the same cadence – rat-a-tat-tat – as a submachine gun firing.
"I’m all right."

Reassuring. Sort of. He could have a crankshaft sticking through his neck and he’d say, hey, don’t worry about it, I’m good.

Car? Fuhgeddaboutit.

Colt? "I crawled through the window to get out. He panicked, Dad. He ran away."


He was on Mississippi 6, between Oxford and Batesville, coming home from Ole Miss. Colt, he said, was trying to get in his lap. He lunged. Knocked the car out of gear. Hit Hunter’s arm.

He caught his right front wheel in the gravel on the shoulder. The car flipped. The air bags deployed. His seat belt held. Or else the highway patrol would be scraping him off the pavement with a putty knife.

The post-crash rules go like this: The kid has to stay and talk to the cops. The puppy can do whatever he wants. What Colt wanted to do was get out of Dodge. He raced across the east-bound lanes, then back toward Oxford. All my guy could do was watch.

The trooper came. The guy from the garage in Batesville dragged his car off. Pals from school picked him up. They took him to the hospital for precautionary X-rays, then went back to search for Colt.

My wife – his mother – immediately went into emergency mode, taking off to Oxford.

Priority one: Make sure the kid was good. Second: Find the dog. We love that dog. We adore him.

They printed fliers. Put them everywhere. In mailboxes. On poles. In businesses. Even on church doors. Strangers said they’d pass them around. The lady at the Batesville paper, a saint named Beverly Boyett, said she’d run ads for free in the Panolian.

An angel, Kim Strickland at the animal shelter in Batesville, sent a long note full of names and numbers. The radio station, WBLE, they’ll help, she wrote. "We’re glad your son is OK and hope to find this sweet, scared puppy."

Friday night it was cold. Saturday night it was 18. The puppy, a house dog, had hardly been outside. Every time she hears his name, every time she sees his picture, Mary Ann bursts into tears. He’s gone for good, we’re sure of it.

There were calls, false alarms, one from Debbie Morris, who lives along Mississippi 6. Then, on a Tuesday night, Debbie, our hero, rings back. We’re at a soccer game. "I think I’ve got him," she said. She’d been in the woods calling his name. On Thursday, Hunter took her a box of Valentine candy for saving his beloved dog.

We all plan on living happily ever after. Colt, too.

(Contact columnist Orley Hood at (601) 961-7213 or e-mail ohood@clarionledger.com)


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