Shelby, A Fine Dog

by Waynetta Ausmus

Everyone has something they’re really good at. Some people are so good at things that they win prizes and medals. I bet there’s something you’re really good at too, maybe reading and writing, or singing, or maybe drawing cartoons.

Well, I’m good at something, too. I never won a prize for it, though. You may not believe this, but I have a knack for talking with animals. Again and again, animals talk with me; they know what I am saying and I know what they are saying. An outstanding example of this is when my friend Myra and I went on vacation in Tennesee in my red pickup truck. Now I don’t know if you name your cars, but I always name mine. And my pick-up is named “Jack.”

While we were in Tennessee, Myra and me decided to go horse-back riding. I’m pretty good at riding horses, although I never won a medal for that either. Maybe I’m just good at it because I like talking to horses! Well, Myra and me drove old Jack until we came to a family-owned farm...small and out in the country. Doris, the woman who owned the farm, led us to a stable to choose our horses. I walked around the stable, talking to all of the horses, until I came to a fine brown mare named Sedona. She whinnied and pranced as if to say, “Pick me!” And I did!

I was laughing and climbing onto Sedona’s saddle when, in through the open front door walked a beautiful shiny, black cocker spaniel, about as pretty a specimen as you could imagine. That little dog looked right at me and wagged what bit of tail he had and came directly to me. I grinned real big and said to him, “You want to go to Texas; is that what you want?” I knew I heard him tell me that! He put his little foot on my hand as if to shake hands and just wiggled.

Doris looked at me as if that were a common thing to say and said, “Do you want to take him home with you? We’re just keeping him for my sister. She has moved into an apartment and can’t have pets, and we don’t need him with all the other dogs around. I’m sure she won’t mind if you take him; I’ll call her if you want”. And she had her hand on the phone.

I looked at that little face and I knew he was begging me to take him. He said, “Come on, I won’t be any trouble; you’ll love me, and I’ve always wanted to ride in a red pickup truck.” He had even checked out my truck! How could I turn that down? I said, “I’d sure give him a good home; would you check with your sister?” And then Myra said, “Yes, that little dog will have a good home!”

Doris said, “I know when someone likes animals, and I can tell if she talks with that dog, that he’ll be happy.” Doris called her sister and how she could say yes, I don’t know! But, I’m glad she did.

I asked what his name was and Doris told me it was Ralph. I looked at “Ralph” and he quietly said, “Change it...please!” Now there isn’t anything wrong with the name Ralph; it’s a fine name, but this dog wasn’t a Ralph dog. He told me that he wanted to be called “Shelby”, and I thought that was a great name since we weren’t too far from the town of Shelbyville, Tennessee. So, that was his new name, Shelby, and we became great pals. I never saw a dog enjoy riding in the front seat of a red pickup truck any more than Shelby did. He enjoyed many an adventure with me going hither and thither in my red pickup truck named Jack along lots of back roads in Texas; we had lots of good talks together...and some good quiet times, too.

No, I never won a ribbon or a medal or a trophy for talking with animals. Never cared about that. But I sure feel like a million dollars when I talk with Shelby, my cocker spaniel from Tennessee.


Texas Reading Club 2006 Programming Manual / Reading: The Sport of Champions!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011