When I was young, we had a farm on what is now Hwy. 64, over by Pine River.
It was in the middle of the Great Depression. Most people had to walk – they didn’t own cars. Hwy. 64 was just a dirt road.
One day, my brothers and I were outside playing in the yard. My mother was hanging clothes on the clothesline. A man came walking down the road. He started to come over to our gate.
We had a big dog named Don.
The man started for the gate again.
Mother said, “Don’t come in the gate.”
The man said, gruffly, “Why?”
My mother turned to the dog. She softly said “Don.”
The dog ran out to the gate and laid down. Mom said very sternly, “Because he won’t let you. Inside that gate is his territory.”
The man started toward the gate again. Don stood up.
Mother said, “I wouldn’t do that.”
The man stopped, and Don laid down.
Mom said, “If he starts, I won’t be able to stop him.”
The man moved towards the gate again. Don stood up.
Mother yelled, “He will kill you.”
The man stopped, threw his hands in the air, turned and went down the road.
What he had in mind I don’t know, but Don did.
In the winter, the snow would freeze so we could walk on it. Our cousins lived a half mile down the road from us. My brother wanted to go down and see them. He could walk on top of the snow, so he took off. Thank the Lord, the dog went with him.
When Dad came home, he found that Marvin was missing. Realizing he might be lost, Dad started looking.
He soon found his track and went looking for him. He could see where the dog would go around in front of my brother and lay down trying to get him to stop. Dad was beginning to panic.
In those days, if you got lost in that country, you were in big trouble.
On top of that, my brother was only about 4 years old.
Dad kept running and looking, then way out on the snow, he saw a black spot moving. He yelled, “That’s got to be him” and went running for it.
It was Don the dog, with my brother on his back, hanging on for dear life. He was fine. The dog laying down in front of him must have caused him to get on his back. Don was bringing him home.
We have thanked god many times for Don, our best friend.
Sadly, he died in Washington state from a snake bite. He was the guardian of my family.
A storyteller, John Zentz, 87, will share a blend of fact and fiction in his bimonthly column. Some tales he’s lived through, some he’s been told. Zentz and his family are longtime Hubbard County residents. He has a picture of his grandmother and grandfather, seven times removed, sitting on a porch in Park Rapids.