Jim Dandy to the Rescue
As many of you know I grew up, in part, on a ranch in Washington State in America. Now, this was not one of the huge ranches you see in Wyoming or Montana but about 600 acres of grazing land carved out of the primeval temperate rain forests of the Pacific Northwest. An island of grass in an ocean of forest. On this ranch along with the horses, steers, bulls and dairy cow we also raised chickens. Not for meat but for eggs. We had to keep our chickens protected by wire fencing above and below because we were regularly visited by hawks and eagles as well as mountain lions, foxes and bears.
We had a dog named “Jim Dandy” after a song made popular by the 70s country rock band Black Oak Arkansas. Jim was a Jack Russell terrier. Now terriers are small, wiry dogs. They, as all terriers, were originally bred as rat catchers for farms. Jack Russells are fast, strong for their size and extremely intelligent.
Rats are a big problem because they carry disease, get into the animal feed and spoil what they don’t eat. They also will eat eggs and kill chickens. Now these farm rats are even meaner and a lot bigger than their city cousin the New York subway rat. They are big, as big as a small cat, with long sharp yellow teeth. Nasty critters.
Jim Dandy was not a rat catcher. He was too small for serious ratting. He was just a family pet. One time my dad noticed that some of the chickens were missing and figured either a fox or coyote was digging into the coop under the fence. So, he increased his vigilance by this I mean assigning us boys to stay awake to see if we could get the critter responsible for all the carnage. It was my turn to sit in a lawn chair covered with a sleeping bag and stand guard. I had a thermos of hot chocolate and a box of graham crackers and Jim Dandy to keep me company,
It must have been the hot chocolate but I promptly fell asleep. I don’t know how long I was asleep but I awoke to a great commotion. A fight. In the chicken coop. My dad in his boxers and unlaced work boots carrying his shotgun burst out the house. I grabbed my pistol and sprinted toward the coop. Before we could get there the noise stopped.
I shone the light into the coop and there was Jim Dandy, cut and bloody standing over the body of the biggest ugliest rat that any of us had ever seen. This guy was huge. The pupils of his eyes were dark red. Jim Dandy had apparently heard the rat and his old instincts kicked in and he tackled this giant rat without a thought. It was an epic battle, one for the ages. Jim Dandy to the rescue had saved the day. We took him to the vet who patched him up and kept him in quarantine to make sure the rat had not given him rabies but he healed up just fine.