Beauties, beasts and other tales

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 21, 2001

One of the hazards of living out in the boonies as we do is the likelihood of someone’s unwanted animals showing up quite frequently at your door. Many people apparently think nothing of dropping off that one puppy too many or kicking out that full-grown canine or the spare cat who’s a little too expensive to feed.

Our dog Rascal (the handsomest collie-shepherd mix in eastern Butler County, by the way) first showed up a couple of years ago as a whimpering little pup of 6 or 7 weeks, trying to drink water out of my mother’s front porch flower pots.

He was friendly and had obviously been someone’s dog — until they decided they didn’t want that responsibility, hassle or expense anymore.

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In our 16 years together, hubby and I have had a total of five kitties and three dogs all adopted from a shelter or taken in as a stray. Heck, we went on vacation in Denver once and brought back an adopted cat, the late, great Smokie, as a very special souvenir.

We’ve fed feral cats (wild strays), possums, raccoons and birds on our back deck. (My husband has even stopped and rescued slow-moving turtles from the middle of our roads out here.)

What I’m saying is — hubby and I really do like animals. Just lately, however, we’ve really been put to the test.

A week or two ago a pair of friendly polar bears showed up on our doorstep. Actually they’re big, fluffy blonde dogs of some yellow lab-golden retriever mix, I’m guessing, who just appear to have a touch of bear thrown in. Their gentle brown &uot;baby seal&uot; eyes come at no extra charge and are guaranteed to touch the hearts of even the crustiest of humans (except the varmints who got rid of them, of course).

They could have used a good bath but I don’t happen to own an Olympic-sized swimming pool. And they like to bark, especially after a bowl of kibble. &uot;See, we are good watch dogs and we earn our keep&uot; is what I’m guessing they’re saying.

They look so much alike we couldn’t tell them apart — until one of them left us a present beneath our front deck.

&uot;Honey, I have a surprise for you,&uot; my husband announced after I arrived home from church on Monday night. A sweep of his flashlight revealed six squirming little newborn pups in a pile. I look up to see Polar Bear #1 gazing down at me from the deck with those pleading eyes.

So our population has exploded at the Long household. One pup did not make it, but the other five are now safely ensconced beneath our house with &uot;sister bear&uot; serving as guard dog for her nieces and nephews. I will keep you all posted — there will be five adorable little canines in need of a good home in a few weeks, hint, hint, nudge, nudge.

As for the un-humane humans who chose to throw away a pregnant dog and her sibling — what do you think the animal shelters are for? Do your hearts need a good tune-up? Shame, shame on you.

And don’t even think of dropping off any more — our stable is FULL.

I ran into Wendy McDougal and her mom at Wal-Mart one day last week as they were busily pouring over their &uot;to-do&uot; lists in preparation for Saturday night’s Miss Camellia event. I know it took a tremendous amount of work on many people’s part and I congratulate them all on a job well done.

The Miss Camellia program, a preliminary to Miss Alabama, is garnering a reputation as one of THE best programs in which a young woman can compete in our state. The Miss Camellia board of directors and the citizens of Greenville are known for their hospitality and TLC in looking after all the young ladies — kudos to them all!!

My former student and precious young friend, Butler County’s Junior Miss, Meredith Mosley sat beside me at the pageant Saturday night.

&uot;You want to see who I think is going to win this whole thing?&uot; said Meredith with a flourish of the program.

I took note of Meredith’s pick — one Scarlotte Deupree, a lovely 21-year-old Samford University student from Birmingham.

&uot;She’s really pretty, poised, very talented–well-rounded, she’s got it all,&uot; Meredith assured me.

Can she pick ’em or what? The delightful Deupree was indeed chosen to wear the Miss Camellia crown that night. When I later told Scarlotte of Meredith’s prognostications, she flashed that dimpled smile and said, &uot;Wow, I wish she’d come backstage and told ME.&uot; Something tells me Miss Deupree will make a wonderful Miss Camellia — and Ashley, thank you for serving our city so well this past year. (Over 140 appearances.)

Meredith herself was an absolute delight in the role of &uot;Princess Jasmine&uot; with Ryan Landwehr as &uot;Aladdin&uot; as they performed &uot;A Whole New World.&uot;

And Ryan — billed as a &uot;special guest&uot; on the program, should have been called &uot;the man of the hour.&uot; Not only did he appear in several production numbers and perform the duet with Meredith, he also served as the tuxedoed escort to the contestants and delivered each of their randomly drawn questions to the mistress of ceremonies.

Yep, Ryan and his killer smile were everywhere that night. He’s another former student of mine — what a great sport he is.

Congratulations goes out to all the contestants for being brave enough to go on stage before a large audience to perform, speak — and appear in a bathing suit. (That takes GUTS.)

Until next time — God bless!