Our family had a lot of dogs during the years of my childhood. Marvin was one of our dogs, and he was oddly unique. He was part Eskimo Spitz, and other than his ears being brown, he looked like a full-blooded spitz.
Marvin was an exceedingly fast dog. I don’t recall ever seeing a dog run as fast as he. One of his worst habits was chasing cars. His best qualities were being protective of us kids and our property, and wanting to have the back of his ears rubbed. He was a great dog.
The old dirt road behind our house took a sharp bend at the edge of our property before cutting between the woods and a pasture. A few people drove this way to get to the paved road at the front of our house from the longer dirt road on the other side of the woods. Most people simply followed the longer dirt road and met the paved road about a mile up the road from our house.
Our father had a ‘friend’ who lived on the dirt road. Each morning he’d drive around the bend behind our house before the sun rose. For a man who was supposed to be our father’s friend, he had a nasty habit of deliberately running over our dogs. He’d drive slowly until our dogs circled in front of his car, and then he revved the engine and aimed for them. Marvin was no exception. In fact, Marvin seemed to be his intended target.
One afternoon my father and I were outside near the dirt road when the man was returning home from work. He drove at a creeping pace, and then he slowed and stopped when he saw us. He rolled down his window to talk to my father. Marvin stood on the hillside beside us barking fiercely at the man. After a few minutes of conversation, he looked at us and said, “That’s one tough dog you have there. The other day he ran in front of my car and I rolled over him with all four tires. All he did was get up and bark at me.”
I saw anger in my father’s eyes for a moment, and he didn’t say anything at first. I had already had two pups killed on the road, and we suspected he was the one who had run over them. My father’s jaw tightened and with a smile, he calmly said, “Yeah, he’s a tough one all right. Loves to chase cars.”
A few minutes later, this man drove on the down the road. We couldn’t believe the man had just admitted to running over Marvin, and the man seemed proud of having done so. One thing my mother had told me over the years about our father. If he was mad, you usually didn’t know it. But after perceiving a threat and if he smiled, someone was in trouble. And that’s exactly how he reacted to this man. An even smile, and his calculated revenge was in the works.
That afternoon he took a shovel and dug a trench across the dirt road, nearly a foot deep the whole way across. He didn’t need to tell me what he was doing. I understood. Since very few cars drove down the road, the trap was being set for this man. Sure enough, the next morning, I was awakened by a horrendous sound.
I got out of bed and found my father standing in the kitchen looking out the window and laughing. As he explained it, the man had gunned his car toward our dogs and as he came to the bend he hit the deep trench. BAM! He said the guy’s car bounced and rocked hard after the first impact and then again as the back tires struck the ditch. For some reason the man didn’t stop. He sped on down the road, not bothering to stop and see what he had hit. Perhaps he was hurrying because he didn’t want us to see him, thinking we’d never know.
A little while later, our father took the shovel and filled in the trench, patted it down, and returned to the house. The next morning as the man drove down the road, he drove exceedingly slow, looking carefully over the steering wheel at the road when he came to the bend, possibly trying to figure out what he had struck the day before, and after that, he took the alternate route to work. We never saw him drive behind our house again.
We had Marvin for many years, and he was a dog that liked following me whenever I explored the bluffs, woods, and pastures. I’m certainly glad he was tough enough to survive being ran completely over by a jerk bent on killing dogs. I miss the old dog, but the memories of our time together serve me well.