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Hello Hillsboro: ‘Best friends’ need your care all year

POSTED December 4, 2013 9:09 a.m.

With the exception of heavy snow or ice and perhaps a bad decision to shop on “Black Friday” most people really enjoy this time of year.

There are exceptions, however, and count me as one because of the freezing cold and a recurring experience that occurs late at night when I take “Socks” outside for her final potty break of the day.

Every evening at this time of year, between 11 p.m. and midnight, I take her out in the yard and almost without exception hear some far away dog howling, whining and barking in the night.

I always envision a shivering, freezing dog seeking shelter, which, of course, may not be the case at all. I suspect Socks would do the same thing if I didn’t stay with her!

She’s extremely brave in the living room laying on the end of my recliner, but not so much in the yard at night when every unknown sound is considered a warning!

Socks is a Cairn Terrier-Miniature Schnauzer mix and resembles brave little Toto in the “Wizard of Oz” motion picture masterpiece. That’s where the resemblance ends, however, because I don’t remember Toto being very spoiled and thinking that the watchdog thing was entirely overrated.

However, if left outside in the cold, I’m sure she would do some major league crying and howling!

She also hasn’t lived 15 minutes of her life without wearing her collar. To me, it’s like a life jacket on a stormy sea. She also has a name tag on her collar that includes our name and phone number in addition to her name.

You can buy one at Wal-Mart for about two bucks, and it can turn out to be the best buy you ever made.

I have been fortunate enough to have  lived with “one of the family” dogs for my entire life, beginning at the age of 10.

I have loved and cared for a fox terrier, beagle, two labs, a shepherd-husky mix, and Socks. Each of them have special places in my memories and a continuing appreciation for their loyal friendship.

The only one that ever “ran away” was Amos, the Beagle who, incidentally, had a brother named Andy!

Amos was gone for three very sad days until a lady phoned us and said she trapped him in her backyard only a block away! He had come back for some food that she left out after trying to grab him during his first visit the previous day.

She so delighted to read his name tag on his collar and discover he was actually a neighbor! Needless to say, we were delighted in addition to being thankful we had put that little tag on his collar.

When I picked him up, I brought a big box of chocolate candy for that kind and caring lady along with my continuing friendship. I’m sure that Amos never forgot her either during the rest of his very happy, 16-year life!

He was the only runaway dog that we couldn’t find right away. But, that name tag gave us continuing hope in his absence. I can’t think of anything more necessary for a treasured pet. It’s the perfect gift for both the dog and the owner.

Every time I see a dog without a name tag, or even a collar for that matter, I remember our pal, Amos, and the many good times that might never have happened.


            ***

Have any of you missed the lighted star on the hill across the lake?

Sometimes we all take things for granted and forget what truly wonderful traditions we have in Hillsboro.

When we first landed here back in 1989, we were told during the first Christmas time to take the kids in the car down to Lake Street and Water Avenue....and look up on the hill.

Jane and I were truly surprised and the three kids were thrilled and delighted. I’m sure the youngest one, just starting kindergarten, saw it as an awesome scene, a word that described many things later in life at HHS.

I can tell you this, we never saw anything like that in Chicago. It stills sort of raises my spirit every year, at least it did until it was put out of commission, apparently by lightning.

Here’s hoping the Lions Club and other electrical “experts” can make that wonderful star shine bright again, just like the original did with its never-ending message of love!

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