Living off the Land
Women in Business
Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country
of West Texas
Tuesday, October 26, 1999
By Smokey Briggs
How Yellow Dog became
It was a cool South Carolina fall morning when my mother walked into the
kitchen and announced that there was a mangy stray dog outside that wouldn’t
be run off and needed to be shot.
part of the family
She had tried to run him off but he had just continued to eat the catfood
and milk she’d put out for the barn cats and then he had slunk under the
house when he was finished.
I was pushing six then. We lived in a neat old farmhouse a mile down
a red clay road in the heart of southern South Carolina, near Lumberton.
It was a beautiful place surrounded by old forest and cut by creeks and
swamps. For an almost six-year-old boy it was heaven.
It was Saturday morning and when Papa looked up from his coffee you
could tell he really didn’t feel like shooting a dog. To be honest I don’t
think he liked shooting anything.
“Okay, I’ll take care of it,” he said. (Or something like that. I was
much to excited about the dog outside to remember, and it was a few years
The house was built on big piers cut from tree trunks and was open
under the porch so a boy or a dog could crawl under the house.
I followed my dad out the back door and down the steps into the coolness
of the morning. From there we hunkered down in grass drenched with dew
and then we saw him - about half illuminated by the sunlight that seeps
through cracks in a properly made porch.
Even in the semi-dark he was ugly. There were only a few tufts of yellowish
hair clinging to his pinkish hide that was a virtual roadmap of white puckered
scars. One ear didn’t hang right from a head that was too wide, and you
could count every rib.
He had curled up in the dry soft dirt and stared out at us with mournful
brown eyes that spoke of wisdom and life. Overall, he looked mean and sick,
except for those eyes.
After a few minutes of coaxing and then yelling, the old man gave up
on trying to get the dog out from under the house without force.
There was work to do and we didn’t have time to fool with a cur dog
so we went back inside and got a rifle.
“Are you going to shoot him,” I asked.
“If I have too. I can’t have a stray dog around the house. Not with
you and your sister playing in the yard,” Papa said.
A minute later we were back at the edge of the porch. Some more yelling
and coaxing and a plate of food for bait failed to do the trick. The old
yellow dog just lay there and thumped up the dust with his nearly naked
tail as if to say, “I’ll just stay here for awhile. It’s comfortable and
I’m full and a little tired.”
Finally my dad hunkered down crosslegged and drew a bead on the dog.
His right hand worked the bot on the rifle, and I backed up a little and
waited with my fingers in my ears.
It was a long wait. Suddenly the stillness of the morning was broken
with a word I wasn’t supposed to repeat and Papa lowered the rifle.
This was the first time I remember consciously realizing that my old man
was a soft touch.
“I can’t shoot him,” he said. “Let’s go find some rope.”
This time the old man crawled under the house with a length of rope
and a branch to brush away the spider webs that I was sure were filled
with blackwidows and the like.
The old dog just kept thumping the dust with his tail and let my dad
put the rope on him. A little coaxing later they were both out from under
the house - Papa covered in dust and the dog looking like he was perfectly
at home. I lost control and stepped right up to the dog just like
I’d been taught never to do with a stray. Before the old man could
get between us the dog licked me.
Plans for fixing fence that morning got put aside. Instead we fed the
dog till he couldn’t eat another bite and that took some time. He worked
on that bowl of dog food and scraps like it was a job. Then he got a bath.
Then he got drenched in used motor oil and sulfur. The EPA probably wouldn’t
like it, but it is a good cure for the mange.
And I had a dog. My first dog, a collie named Fang had been hit by
a car when we moved to South Carolina and for six months I had been dogless
Monday he went to the vet and got vaccinated for everything under the
sun, and wormed. The vet said he was very old and probably wouldn’t live
long - that probably he was just hunting a place to die when he crawled
under our porch, as animals do when they sense it’s close to their time.
Being almost six and having seen Walt Disney’s “Old Yeller,”
he promptly got named Old Yeller, but mostly he was Yellow Dog, or just
Yellow, (pronounced yelllaaa in those parts of the country).
In three months he had all his hair back and even a little fat covering
his ribs - and we were steadfast friends separated only during school hours
and the occasional three or four days when love was in the air and Yellow
Dog had to go courting.
I learned somethings that day - about my dad and about life.
But mostly this is just a story about how an old dog came into my life.
A dog that is the protagonist in numerous family stories many years after
his death and whose picture hangs alongside the family pictures on the
No great moral, just a good story with a happy ending in a world
that seems to be a little shy of such things.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Smokey Briggs is the editor and publisher of the
Pecos Enterprise whose column appears on Tuesdays. He can be e-mailed at:
Unsigned letter brings up good points
Last week there were several letters to the editor concerning the recent
public meeting between the management for La Tienda and Bob Thriftway and
a group of concerned citizens.
This week the Enterprise received one letter taking issue with our reporting
of the event. Obviously the writer was upset with our report and with the
citizens at the meeting. Unfortunately, the letter was unsigned and so
will not be printed.
However, the points addressed by the anonymous writer are worth addressing.
First, the writer asked, "What right does the Enterprise have to criticize
the grocery stores?"
Folks, the Enterprise never criticized anyone. We simply reported what
happened at a public meeting. We reported what both sides said and that
was all. It is our job.
In pointing out that the grocery stores are an important part of the
local economy the writer also pointed out that they give the Enterprise
business with advertisements.
That is true and we appreciate the business. But the day a newspaper
makes decisions on what to run based on whether someone is an advertiser
or not, is the day it ceases to be a newspaper.
Credibility is then lost and credibility is the only thing a newspaper
has to sell. It is also unethical and just plain wrong. Not covering this
meeting would have been the easy way out for the Enterprise, but it would
have been unethical.
The writer also mentions that La Tienda and Bob's both are very community
This point is true and well taken. It is also easily forgotten. Both
stores show a regular and deep commitment to Pecos and the surrounding
area through donations and other types of involvement and deserve a "thank
you" from our community along those lines.
Along that vein, we'll lead off. "Thank you La Tienda and Bob's for
continuing to support Pecos."
Parents' disciplinary actions limited
To The Editor:
We have been reading many articles about this BPG and how the parents
need to be held responsible for their children's actions. We felt compelled
to come forth on the parent's behalf, because we know that there are many
parents who have tried to discipline their children with reasonable measures
and in doing so have been confronted by Child Protective Services. We are
sure that many of these parents would love to be able to tell their child
that what they are doing is wrong and have the child stop and say, "your
right mom and dad," but lets be realistic that just doesn't happen.
Parents have become so afraid of getting reprimanded themselves that
our youths seem to be taking control of this town. We, the parents have
known for some time now that when it comes to our children, our hands are
tied. I have heard many people say that CPS would have to take their children
before they would allow them to control their families. When you love your
children as much as we love ours, this of course, is easier said than done!
How are we as parents expected to control our children when someone else
can come into your home and literally tell you that they have more authority
over you, than you do over your own child?
We know that there really are children being abused who need help, but
parents such as ourselves who would do anything in our power to keep our
kids from ending up in prison or dead are being unjustly mistreated and
wrongly accused of abuse. They take away your rights as a parent to discipline
your children, but let your child stray and whom do they call instantly?
The parents! We agree totally that parents need to do more when it comes
down to their children's actions, but please keep in mind that the parents
actions are being limited to what the state believes is reasonable discipline.
We must remember that what we sow today we will reap tomorrow and if
things do not change anytime soon, what kind of future will our children
MR. AND MRS. HECTOR GUTIERREZ
Voters urged to adopt Proposition No. 9
In 1995, the Texas Legislature authorized the creation of a Blue Ribbon
Commission, the Texas Commission on Judicial Efficiency, to study issues
and concerns relating to the Texas judiciary and the Judicial Branch of
government. Chief Justice Thomas Phillips of the Supreme Court of Texas
appointed sixteen members to the Commission and charged them to conduct
public hearings, study the needs of the Judiciary and report recommendations
to the next legislature.
After months of hearings, study and deliberations, the Commission, of
which I was the Chair, made its first recommendations to the Legislature
in November in 1996. Among other suggestions, the Commission recommended
creation of a Judicial Compensation Commission. Voters must approve Proposition
No. 9 to amend the Texas Constitution and authorize the Legislature to
establish this Commission.
In speaking for the Commission, I advised the Legislature, "It is our
belief that we have made sound recommendations and we shall anticipate
that highly tangible support will be forthcoming to improve the lot of
the Texas Judiciary, our third branch of government. Concomitantly, we
anticipate greater independence and accountability on the part of the Texas
Judiciary to the considerable benefit of all Texans."
Based upon the Commission's recommendations, earlier this year the Legislature
passed Senate Joint Resolution 10, calling for creation of the Judicial
Compensation Commission. On November 2, 1999, Texas voters will have the
opportunity to adopt Proposition No. 9.
Our system of justice is founded upon the principle of judicial independence.
Inadequate funding threatens the integrity of the courts and the impartial
administration of justice. The Judicial Efficiency Commission recognized
that the State must assure the citizens of Texas that the judiciary will
remain strong, qualified and independent. It determined that Texas judges
should be adequately compensated independent of political considerations
and commensurate with private attorneys. Only then can the State attract
and retain qualified judges. Services on the bench is an honor, but many
experienced judges leave the bench for financial reasons. Historically,
judicial compensation has received infrequent review, often only after
salaries have become dramatically low and the Legislature must make the
difficult decision to enact a substantial increase.
The Judicial Compensation Commission would independently review and
examine judicial salaries on a periodic and regular basis, using objective
criteria, toward the goal of setting fair judicial compensation, free of
political pressures. The Commission would establish accountability for
the judiciary and monitor its performance, important factors in determining
Under the proposed plan, the Commission would recommend salaries to
the Legislature, but either the House or Senate would reject the recommendation.
Thus, the elected legislative representatives retain the financial responsibility
for setting appropriate compensation for judicial officers.
This is a sound proposal and a responsible solution. Please vote on
November 2nd. Vote for a strong, qualified, and independent judiciary.
Vote for Proposition No. 9.
HERBERT H. REYNOLDS
Texas Commission on Judicial Efficiency
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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Peggy McCracken, Webmaster
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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