52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Gratitude


If you want to see an example of gratitude, look at a dog. You give them food and shelter and they thank you with love and loyalty. Dogs are everywhere on farms and ranches. Any farmer knows the importance of having a good dog. But they serve a much greater purpose than just being a loyal protector. Let’s take a look back at some of the dogs who lived or played on the farm and see all of the reasons for giving gratitude to dogs.

Dogs are family

Towards the end of 1962, following the accidental death of Popo’s Boxer pup (Rex #1), Sonny arranged for a coworker to sell one of his mixed-breed dogs for $5 plus one of Granny’s geese. This new dog was also named Rex. Popo was crazy about the second Rex. Rex was like a child. At exactly 4:00pm when Popo came home from work, Rex would be standing by the window waiting to run outside. He insisted on riding to the country with Popo and Granny and would hide in the truck if they tried to leave him at home. On the long drive to the country, Popo and Granny would stop by Dairy Queen to buy three hamburgers and three Cokes. One for each of them and one for Rex. Nobody could get near Popo without Rex getting jealous. He even tried to lay between them when they took naps! One day, Rex jumped over the back fence and ran away. Popo came home from work early to look for him and found him a few blocks away. Afterwards, Rex wore a leather harness and had to stay on a chain anytime he was outside. One story goes that one Halloween, three children dressed as ghosts came to the house and knocked on the door. Rex jumped against the window and began barking wildly, and the children dropped their candy and sheets and ran away. In 1972 at the age of 10, Rex suffered a massive stroke. Popo spent hundreds of dollars at an animal hospital in Waller but the vet, a specialist in the field, was unable to help. Rex was brought to the country to die in a place he loved. He was set on a pillow in a quiet space and Granny found him dead the following morning. Popo dug Rex’s grave but Lanis, Mark, and Debbie had to come and cover him up. No matter how many dogs came afterwards, Popo never got over Rex. 

Dogs are loyal friends

In the 1950s, the family had two dogs in the country who lived until the mid-1960s. The kids loved to run around and play with them. In this picture are Lanis and Popeye (left) and Jerry and Peanut (right).

Dogs fill a place in our hearts

Popo loved boxers. He got Wrinkles from one of Uncle Larry’s coworkers in 1973 and the following year he got another girl, Heidi, from a woman who could no longer keep her. His third boxer, Buddy, came soon afterwards. Buddy and Heidi had several litters of puppies before Buddy died from kidney disease in 1978. The boxers were instrumental in the front portion of the house burning down in 1981. Their pen was close to the house and one of them knocked over a warming lamp, which ignited the fire.  My family’s dog when I was little, Twinkle Toes, was one of Heidi’s puppies. She was the smallest of a litter of ten, and the only one to survive after the first few days. My mother fed her some of my brother’s baby formula which kept her alive.

Dogs make us laugh

Muffin and Mac were the main dogs of my childhood visits to the country. I don’t have a picture of Muffin, but I remember her well. She was an Australian Cattle dog mix with a short tail, who loved having her long fur brushed. She and Mac would run around the farm together and often slept in the mud room. Mac snored loudly in that way only boxers can, and he often blocked the screen door in the back of the house. Muffin and Mac lived until the early 1990s.

Dogs are fierce protectors

In the late 80’s, Uncle Will brought Popo a Rat Terrier which Popo named Popeye. Popeye was fiercely protective of his master and would jump in between him and anyone who tried to get near. I remember several times not being able to give Popo a hug goodbye because his companion was so quick to intervene. Popeye had a strong dislike for clicking sounds. A surefire way to rile him up was to tap your fingernails together.  Popeye had a good life on the farm and was a source of comfort for Popo following Granny’s death in 1995. He died in the late 1990s.

Popo had another fierce protector waiting for him in Houston. My mom’s chihuahua Taco took an instant liking to Popo when he moved into her house in 2002. Taco always sat in his lap or laid beside him on the bed. When Popo passed away in 2004, Taco refused to get off the bed, attacking anyone who came near. He had to be wrapped up in a blanket and carried out of the room so that Popo’s body could be taken away. Taco was heartbroken with Popo gone and died shortly afterwards.

Dogs are pals and companions

Cactus was a true farm dog. Uncle Lanis got him soon after Mac died. I remember him telling the story of visiting a neighbor and seeing a box of Australian cattle dog puppies. A black and white one with wild fur and a long, curly tail wormed his way out of the box and Lanis said “that’s my dog!” Cactus never stayed too close to the house like Mac and Muffin. He was always out in the fields, working alongside Lanis. He could often be seen walking next to the tractor or resting in the shop or barn. Cactus lived a long, productive life. He died in 2006.

Fluffy was one of Cactus’ and Jeannie’s puppies. I don’t know much about her except that she was the only pup from the litter to reach adulthood. She was born sometime around 2000, a year or so before Popo moved to Houston. Fluffy was solid black, like Jeanie. She had the same long hair and curly tail like Cactus but she was much smaller than him on account of not being a full-blooded cattle dog. Fluffy went to live with Delores following Lanis’ death and she lived until 2010.

This picture was taken at my grandparents home, a few days after Christmas in 2005.

The people left to right: Mark, Jeanette, Lanis

The dogs clockwise from the top: Cactus, Jeannie, ?, and Fluffy (partially hidden behind Mark’s leg).


Dogs give us unconditional love

Jeannie was the last of the dogs up at the farm. She was very devoted to Popo and Lanis and stayed mostly inside the house. Jeannie was heartbroken after Lanis passed away in 2007 and she and Fluffy could often be found laying on top of his grave. This picture was taken on September 23, 2009 at Uncle Will’s funeral. Jeanie died shortly afterwards.

One thought on “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Gratitude

  1. Some animals have great loyalty, don’t they?

    When I was a very young boy we had a corgi called Shandy who , according to my parents, saved my life. I went into the sea and she went in after me. I was probably about 4 or so at the time.

    I have a photo of my mother, Shandy and me all together, Mum in the middle, one arm around me and the other round Shandy.

    Unfortunately one night someone left the gate open and she got out and got run over.

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