Remembering Lightning, the standout dog of my youth
Last updated 9/19/2020 at 1:39pm
My mom isn’t much of a dog person. Sure, she’ll stop by and feed my dogs if I have to be gone, but she’s turned down the opportunity to have the granddogs come stay with her.
There was one dog that she remembers fondly. No, it wasn’t Skipper, the dog of her childhood. It was Lightning, the dog of my youth.
Good old Lightning came up in conversation with her the other day and she reeled off the stories about that dog — like I was in danger of ever forgetting them. Lightning is legendary in our family.
My brother and sister and I had lots of dogs over the years. There was Knucklehead, Nibbles, Velvet, Lashes and Dammit (named because, well, that’s what my parents always hollered when they saw him). None of them measured up to Lightning though.
He arrived on the driveway outside our little farmhouse one night as a storm was closing in on Rocky Corner. As any 4-8 year-old knows, a new dog needs a name and since he came in with the Lightning it was easy for kids.
No one showed up to claim the black and white with brown markings mostly Border Collie, though there might have been a question mark or two in that lineage. It’s surprising that no one claimed him because it was immediately obvious that someone had spent a little time training the stray. He could sit and shake on command, load up in the pickup and babysit errant farmkids. All the good traits of Lassie.
One of the stories my mom likes to tell is this one:
We had a couple of neighboring German Shepherds that liked to visit our hen house and chase other livestock at night. One evening Dad hollered through the door for Ma to “bring my shootin’ iron, those dogs are back.” He came back shortly and reported Lightning had whipped both of the bigger dogs and sent them on their way before he could get back out there with the gun.
The other Lightning story she likes is the day they were headed west from Rocky Corner with the dog in the back of the pickup. A certain pack of greyhounds met the pickup at the road and Lightning unloaded to have a little discussion with the bunch.
When they saw him leave the pickup, Mom says Dad dryly quipped that he’ll get whipped now. Seconds later he had turned the pack back toward the house µand Dad slowed down to let him load back up.
All of us know the best Lightning story by heart though.
One day Dad needed something welded on the hay baler and began pulling it to the welding shop in town with the tractor. A ways down the road he saw Lightning running as hard as he could to keep up.
He stopped the tractor and scratched his head about what to do with the dog. He loaded so well in the pickup Dad decided it was worth a try to order him to load up atop the baler. He did without hesitation.
Once he got to town he got lots of notice with that old dog riding back there. One guy remarked that he’d never seen a dog do that. Dad deadpan answered him. “Yep, and he counts the bales for me too.”
Lightning just grinned at the guy.
Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: