One day when I was not at home and our mother was helping Mrs Jeffrey gather wild strawberries in the cow pasture, Sally and Mary Ann watched closely as a large shaggy dog came trotting leisurely down the road from the South.
Now and then he stopped to sniff at fence posts and rocks, and sometimes cocking a leg and leaving his signature behind him as dogs are wont to do. With the story of the wolf fresh in their minds – and confusing my father’s ‘wolf’ (actually a coyote) with the dog, they watched with increasing fear as the big canine approached ever closer.
He disappeared for a time in the hollow where the two roads meet and they waited anxiously for his reappearance, hoping he would show up going in the opposite direction – away from our house. By this time Maggie had joined them and sensed their apprehension. Felix was asleep in the house.
Their worst fears were realised when the dog – who seemed to have grown enormously since they first saw him – emerged from the hollow on a route that would take him straight past the front of the house!
Just before he came abreast of the little gate, he stopped and looked directly at them. His red rag of a tongue was lolling and his fangs were gleaming. Expecting him to turn in at the gate, and too overwhelmed with fear to move and unable any longer to control their terror they began to scream!
Ever alert and sensitive to her children’s needs, she quickly appeared, having rushed across fields to get to them. They rushed into her arms.
‘Mammy! Mammy! The dog! The dog!’
She patted their heads and soothed them with soft words. By this time the harmless canine, blissfully unaware of the whole commotion had disappeared over a rise in the road to the east!
Cowboys and Indians …