BULLET THE MYSTERY DOG
He was a mystery.Â I do not know where he came from or what happened to him.Â Maybe he came with the farm with we bought it.Â Perhaps he joined the family by just showed up as dogs sometimes do.Â Or, it could have been that my dad brought him home thinking he was a bargain.Â My dad like bargains, worn out tractors, junk equipment, mule drawn hay rakes.Â I think he felt he was resurrecting the past if you could make it work or find some use for it.
Bullet was the dogâ€™s name.Â He was a feist-like dog, though I doubt you could dignify him with such a title.Â He was short, short hair, white with black spots.Â I was about 12 or 13 and my first memories of Bullet was him laying around in the barnyard.Â As far as I know, that was the extent of his talent.Â Laying around in the shade and eating table scraps, especially old biscuits, was all he would do.Â Â He did not much care where the shade was as long as it was shade.Â He would find shade behind the barn or the well house, or even behind the old board fence between the barnyard and the house yard.Â Sometimes he would lay in the shadow of the tractor and that was not smart, especially when the driver was a 12 or 13 year old kid like me.Â The fact is, I ran over Bullet with the rear wheel of a 1939 H Farmall International Harvester tractor.Â A rusty, red tractor with tricycle front tires.Â This was in the last 60s, as I said, my dad loved old junk equipment.Â Anyway, Bullet would start to howl and I would quickly roll of his leg.Â He would shut up and walk off. I guess it was the soft, red sand that was so common in our part of Tennessee, but he was never really hurt as far as I could tell.
I cannot remember Bullet making any other sound than the howling he did when I ran over him. It happened more than once, but it was not intentional on my part.Â I think he would go and lay down behind the tractor after I got on it and started it up.Â I canâ€™t remember a bark or a howl at any other time.Â I wish I could remember how he got along with Porky, my first sow.Â Â As far as I can remember, he never went in the pen with her much less barked at her.Â On the other hand, she like to wallow in the mud, preferably in the shade.Â Bullet preferred dry shade.
Bullet did have one peculiarity.Â Like many Baptists I know, he would slip off at night and get into trouble.Â I never saw him chase anything, with the exception of a biscuit and even then he wouldnâ€™t run too far.Â But on occasion he would show up in the morning with his head swollen because the night before he got bit by a snake.Â I cannot imagine what Bullet was doing messing around with snakes.Â He was not known to be a snake dog but maybe he aspired to be one and he was practicing.Â Apparently he was a failure.Â His lips would stick out like inner tubes through a rotten tire.Â His head looked like a black and white football with eye slits.Â But in a couple of days, he would be back to normal, his eyes open, his lips back to regular dog lips looking for a biscuit.
Bullet had one other problem, he liked skunks. He would show up smelling like a skunk and no animal in the barnyard would have anything to do with him, including me.Â Â Perhaps he thought they were dogs, maybe the tractor did more damage than I thought.Â I got the feeling he went courting and all he could find were skunks.Â He was a jilted skunk lover and all he got for his troubles was that skunk smell.Â Â And once you smell it, you never forget it.
I donâ€™t know what happened to Bullet.Â One day he was no more.Â He just disappeared.Â I do not remember when or how. Maybe my dad traded him for a old rusty hay rake or an ancient wagon.Â Who knows!Â But as mysteriously as he came into my life, he was gone. Once I thought I heard his howl in the wind.Â I try to look back through my memories, but all I can see is the outline of a tractor in the haze of red dust on a hot summer day.