We first met Yeardley under sad circumstances. My wife was returning home to the farm on a chilly winter day and as she passed a local church late in the afternoon she saw something out of the corner of her eye. Turning around, she entered the church parking lot and there, near the tree line, was Yeardley, a young Springer in horrible physical shape. He was skin and bones and had a very bad case of mange, but even then he showed smiling eyes and a wagging tail as if to say, "Please take me home, I'll be the best dog you've ever had".
Now my wife is known for her devotion to dogs and she knew she couldn't leave him there by himself in the cold. She led him to the truck and put him in the back seat with the heat on full, giving him warmth for the first time in who knows when. He behaved like the true gentleman for her, lying quietly with his tail wagging. He knew "his special angel" had arrived in the form of my wife.
I was working in the barn when she drove up and as she got out of the truck I could see a real twinkle in her eye. I knew that she had brought a new mouth to feed home and, sure enough, when she opened the back door out jumped Yeardley, a total eyesore at the time.
"What in the world is wrong with him?", I asked. "Is it even safe to touch him."
"Don't be silly", she responded. "He was alone and cold up by the church, someone must have dropped him off. He just has the mange and needs some tender loving care, that's all".
I was going to protest by proclaiming that we already had too many animal mouths to feed but I knew he needed care and even cold old me couldn't leave him out in the cold. So what originally was planned to be a quick recuperation and an eventual adoption became instead a new member of the household.
I was truly amazed at how quickly his guardian angel brought him back to good health. She got some medicated shampoo and treatment salve from the local vet and bathed and groomed him daily. He was put on a good protein with added fat diet and quickly started to gain weight. In a matter of just two weeks his mange dried up and gradually peeled off, showing healthy fresh pink skin underneath. And once it was clear, his coat started to regrow and, when completed, it was obvious that this was no mutt. No, sir, Yeardley was a full pedigree and a beautiful dog, one with spunk, spirit, and a little mischeif thrown in. He also had the water dog instinct; he liked to chase birds and he loved water.
I gave him his name, Yeardley. The name came from my childhood in Virginia. One of the early governors of the Virginia Colony was Governor Yeardley, a man who loved bird hunting and had numerous water dogs, in his case Springers, who were always shown beside him in pictures in the Virginia History book. So Yeardley it was.
Truly an outdoorsman, Yeardley didn't like to come indoors. The only time he would relent would be in a vicious thunderstorm, but otherwise he enjoyed being out and about and he loved guarding the farm. He chased raccoons and possum and even would stand off the coyotes at the fence near our chicken coops when necessity called. But as soon as the danger was over, he resorted to his regular happy-go-lucky self, appreciating the love pat and the dog biscuit which he earned for his work.
His biggest joy was swimming in the pond and we'll pick up there when we continue the story tomorrow. I'm saving the best for last and, yes, there is a bit of a sad ending but, don't you worry, Yeardley's spirit lives on in all of the other critters who are here with us. So until tomorrow, have a blessed day.
Yeardley is just one of the many real life characters in my book about the animals in our lives, Honey We Shoulda' Bought the Ark, available through Amazon.com and outskirtspress.com/honeyweshouldaboughttheark. It is dedicated to all of those wonderful creatures given to us by God to make life so much memorable than it would have been otherwise. They are truly His gift to us.