You know you live in a small town, when you have to drive 18 miles to find a Dairy Queen.
When your graduating class is maybe 65 and that includes seniors from three neighboring towns, two of them bigger than yours.
And when much of the town and most of the surrounding farmers know the name of your dog.
For Tyke, quarter beagle, quarter terrier, quarter bulldog and quarter what ever got over his grandmomma’s pen fence, fame came easily. He’d snooze through the afternoons in the rag bin behind the counter at dad’s farm implement dealership. There was a nickle Coke machine in the room and a penny peanut dispenser on the counter. Every time the knob was cranked, fat ol’ Tyke would waddle around for his tribute.
Old farmers weathered into the hardness of a post cut from Osage Orange could never resist Tyke’s charms, even if their own hounds, who waited patiently in the pickups pulled up outside, would never know Mr. Peanut by his first name.
Tyke had a pretty good life, but met a violent end. A rogue dog — somebody called it a sheep-killer, though I can’t recall who raised sheep near town — came through the yard and ripped Tyke’s neck. Didn’t kill him, so it was my job to smear pine tar over his bared throat.
My town was so small, by the way, that we didn’t have a vet, not even a large-animal vet. A small-animal vet would have been reduced to a part-time highway job, so pragmatic was the populace about the fates of its not-for-market animals.
I had just got Tyke back on his feet, when damn if that big dog didn’t come back through and finish the job.
About then, I was sad our town was so small it didn’t have a dogcatcher.