In the summertime, back in Dutch Hollow, kids would leave their homes after breakfast and not come home until they were hungry, or at the latest just before dusk. The roads were narrow rural blacktop roads and woods surrounded both sides, no matter where we traveled.
One day, along with two friends from my side of the hollow, we ventured “on the hill” to meet up with other friends. We were an eclectic bunch of males and females and we could always find something fun to do together.
Kids on the hill had larger pieces of property. Some farmed, some fished in ponds in the back of their land. Some lived in very small houses, and some had larger homes and lots of brothers and sisters.
We met up with our usual gang so there were about seven of us just laughing and talking, enjoying the beautiful summer day. We didn’t need video games, our toys of any kind. We had each other and our imaginations.
This particular day, we decided to hike around the hollow and see who else wanted to join us. Along the way, a big brown and white dog appeared along the road and joined our group. He was friendly, and no one knew who he belonged to. People tended to drop unwanted animals in the hollow, because it was easy to disguise the act, and because they figured someone would take them in. Since we knew everyone and everyone knew us, this dog had to be a stray. I’ve always had a soft heart for animals, especially those who can’t fend for themselves.
All afternoon this dog tagged along with us…sometimes with coaxing. I called him Napoleon…not sure why. Maybe something from history class stuck with me, although history was my least favorite subject next to geography. Also, none of us bothered to see if the very masculine name of Napoleon fit the gender of this particular friendly dog.
Finally, our gang began to break up. The three of us who lived in the lower side of the “hollow” made our way for home and some nourishment. The big dog didn’t quite know what to do. Some kids ran into their homes and the rest of us had about a mile and a half yet to walk.
I did what I thought best and coaxed the dog to follow us. With some loving pats and hugs, Napoleon tagged along. My friend, Murle, already had a dog and my friend Donna wasn’t allowed to have pets other than some chickens which free ranged on their property. So, of course, I made sure Napoleon followed me home.
My mom always had a soft heart for animals, too, though she leaned toward cats…of which, we had many. When she saw the dog, I told one of the biggest white lies of all time.
And that’s how Napoleon came to live with us…and give birth to three furry, fat puppies a few weeks later.