Best Friends – The Guardians


He was a collie mix with no fancy pedigree. We picked him up at a local animal shelter, but a more loyal dog was never born. Trevor earned his keep. He herded my young boys around the yard and secured the place when we were gone. His natural protective instincts and love of all family members were obvious.

She was a mixed breed cat. Someone dropped Blazer and her six sisters off one evening and I saw the cluster of eyes when I headed into our long driveway. I scooped up the clowder of kittens and placed them in a huge nursery pot beside me on the truck seat. I carried them to the porch and Trevor nosed the seven felines.

We managed to give most of these fur balls away but were left with three. Blazer, Trevor’s shadow, lived with us for 14 years. One of her sisters lacked personality and was a lousy mother. Turtle delivered a litter of kittens and tossed each off the porch into the November snow.

Trevor tried gallantly to save each one, carefully collecting and tucking each back into the box beside Turtle. She wasn’t amused and tossed each newborn back into the snow. After a few repetitions all six kittens were dead. Trevor hung his head. Three weeks later I loaded all three cats into the pick-up and drove them 10 miles up the road to one of my best friends.

Paula was a veterinarian. Some considered it odd because of her profession, but she was my hunting buddy. I helped guide her to her first few deer. Paula spayed those three cats in about 45 minutes with incredible precision and efficiency. I assisted her. That was the last of our kitten problems.

Within the next year we lost two of those cats, one to a predator and one to my vehicle, but Blazer remained and she and Trevor drew closer. They slept together and cared for each other. I still have pictures of them curled up together in a large cardboard box. They were both blond and white. You couldn’t tell where one ended and the other began.

Neither would drink from a bowl, nor would they eat commercial feed. Both were foragers, but they stayed on our property. Blazer was a natural hunter. She ate mice, squirrels and chipmunks. She also caught rabbits and dragged them back to Trevor. He protected her from intruding stray dogs.

One day a huge Doberman grabbed Blazer and Trevor came running and tackled him. She escaped up a tree and I arrived with a piece on iron gas pipe before the larger dog could hurt him. When the danger passed she descended the tree and they nosed each other. It was a great relationship.

We left the leased property we lived on to our own farm when Trevor was four and Blazer was three. On the first night, which was on Thanksgiving weekend, we were preparing for bed when Blazer repeatedly squalled and leaped against the door and window of the kitchen. Roberta and I said almost in unison, “What in the world is wrong with that cat?”

We opened the door and Blazer bolted for the above ground pool. I rushed after her to find Trevor holding onto the deck by his toenails. I grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and yanked his 55 pounds out of the frigid water. He looked up at me as if to say, “I’m sorry.” After a few shakes he dragged his body toward his bed on the porch and Blazer followed him. Roberta and I looked at each other and knew we dodged a bullet.

Two years later we were on vacation when our babysitter’s son, who knew we were out of town, dropped by with his friends to clean us out. A friend discovered the break-in. Upon our return the investigating officer told me the perpetrators must have known the dog since he feared for his own life when he approached Trevor. According to police testimony my mutt had the other two boys bayed and was closing in on them when our sitter’s son called Trevor by name and told him everything was okay. They stole several firearms and a few other items.

Trevor knew he had been hoodwinked. He lowered his head until it nearly touched the ground. I petted him and told him it wasn’t his fault, but it took several days for Trevor to be himself again. His guilt bothered me as much as being violated by a person I trusted.

We sold the farm in West Virginia and moved here in 1996. Both came with us. Neither had ever lived within sight of other houses, but since they were getting up in years I couldn’t bring myself to imprison either with a chain or confining kennel.

Aside from the occasional rabbit or squirrel, both learned to get by on store-bought chow. Neither liked it very much, but without other options, they made the best of it. For a few years both adjusted well.

Trevor still would not drink from a bowl and trekked across the road every day for his fill of fresh running water. I didn’t like it but I understood. Having grown deaf he did this one too many times and a logging truck finished him.

Blazer watched us bury Trevor behind the garden and wouldn’t leave his gravesite for several days. He wasn’t just man’s best friend; he was hers too. As much as both loved us, they were even closer to each other.

Trevor and Blazer

Trevor and Blazer

 

Ted Manzer teaches agriculture at Northeastern High School.

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About tedmanzer

I grew up in Old Town Maine and got a B.S. at the University of Maine in Plant Sciences/ minor in Botany. From there I moved to West Virginia and earned a M.S. in Agronomy at WVU. I also met my wife there. She grew up in rural WV as the daughter of tenant farmers who raised cattle and hogs. Their lifestyle at times was one of subsistence and I learned a lot from them. I've always been a foraging buff, but combining my formal botanical knowledge with their practical 'Foxfire-type' background opened up my eyes a little more. I now teach agriculture to high school students at Northeastern High School in Elizabeth City, NC. My wife teaches with me and we make a great team. I also write a weekly nature/foraging column for the local paper (dailyadvance.com) and frequently publish articles in several other newspapers in northeastern North Carolina. I also have written several Christian nature/adventure novels that I plan to publish eventually. One is a five book family saga I call the 'Forgotten Virtues' series. In the first book, Never Alone, a young boy comes of age after his father dies in a plane crash, and he has to make it alone. Never Alone is now available in paperback, Kindle and Nook. The second book, Strange Courage, takes Carl from his High School graduation to his recovery from a nasty divorce. The third book, Second Chances, takes Carl from his ex-wife's death and the custody of his son to his heroic death at age 59. The fourth book, Promises Kept, depicts how his grandchildren react and adjust to his death. In the final book, Grandfather's Way, his youngest and most timid granddaughter emerges from the shadow of her overachieving family and accomplishes more in four months than most do in a lifetime. I use many foraging references with a lot of the plants I profile in these articles in those books.
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7 Responses to Best Friends – The Guardians

  1. thebeadden says:

    Sorry. 😦

    • tedmanzer says:

      It was rather ironic that I wrote that and posted it this morning. This evening I buried my dog Callie, who had her 11th birthday 2 days ago. I always said she’d have no middle age. I figured she would go from puppy straight to old dog, but she skipped “old dog” and I found her dead this afternoon. At least she didn’t appear to have suffered.

  2. tedmanzer says:

    I’m not really sure. Shed been coughing a little lately. Here’s a picture of both of us relaxing on the hammock at our cabin in eastern Maine last summer.http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/327353_282736355098024_2108767242_o.jpg

  3. Thats pretty cool about all the times they saved each other and stuff.

  4. sbright16 says:

    This was a fun and cute story to read.

  5. amandawensel says:

    that was one great relationship between the two, they look so cute in the photo

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