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Across the fence: Are you missing a turkey?

Marci Whitehurst for Progressive Cattle Published on 23 October 2020

When I was growing up, we had a couple of dogs. Our first dog was named King. He was named this because my dad had a dog named King when he was growing up, and this dog was going to be every bit as wonderful as my dad’s childhood companion.

We had a couple of Kings.

King One was a bit flighty and tried to attack a car.

King Two was a bit smarter.

King Two was a “Heinz 57” that we all fell in love with. He truly had so many breeds in him, we don’t really know what he was, but he had some bird dog in him. We found this out at Thanksgiving.

I think I was 10 years old that year. My mom had bought a turkey and had it thawing in the sink. There was a skiff of snow on the ground, and my brother and I were going to go sled. We walked outside to a turkey on our porch.

“Mom, there’s a turkey on our porch,” we yelled.

I think she thought it was a live turkey we could just shoo off the porch.

She came to the door – and we all stared down at a Butterball. Still frozen. She walked back to the sink. Ours was still in the sink. We could see the wheels turning.

“Oh my gosh, it has bite marks on the handle, but the turkey isn’t damaged. It’s still hard as a rock.” My brother and I waited for more. “But whose turkey do we have?” We watched her eyes grow bigger. “King??”

The dog always looked guilty, but there was no denying the dog prints and the Butterball body slide in the snow in our yard. King had brought us a turkey. My mom repeated the statement, “Whose turkey do we have?”

My brother and I shrugged. Who knew where the Butterball came from? We started for the sledding hill.

“Wait! You guys need to go to the neighbors and find out whose this is.”

We loaded the stolen Butterball in the sled and looked for tracks. We saw tracks in the yard, but they stopped at the road. Car tracks covered over any possible dog tracks and Butterball body slide. We decided to head for the first neighbor. It didn’t belong to them, but they got a kick out of it. It helped that the neighbors thought it was funny.

Mom must have called ahead of us because it didn’t take long before one of the neighbors stuck their head out and hollered that we had their turkey.

This neighbor had put the turkey in the garage for a couple hours while she worked in the kitchen on other things. Good ol’ King had seen a toy and brought it home. Like I said, he was a bird dog. We just didn’t know he was a frozen bird kind of dog.

My brother and I were glad it was this neighbor. They had kids around our age, and we ended up staying to jump on their trampoline. We did not invite King.

It turned out OK, I suppose. We never heard that the turkey tasted horrible. I know my mom offered to replace it, so I imagine that happened. I don’t remember that detail.

Years later, when my husband and I were first married (still in college and living in the cheapest rental we could find), we had a dog, Jessie. Jessie was as good as they come. Even though he was ordinarily well-mannered, he did wander to the neighbor’s house once. Apparently there was a unique smell coming from their house.

No, it wasn’t turkey. It was a smell that no one should ever have.

An illegal smell.

Jessie went to investigate and brought us an oversized Tigger (like from Winnie the Pooh) stuffed animal. We picked it up to take it back to the neighbors and realized it had been “opened” up, and the stuffed animal was guilty of drug activity.

It was a little awkward with the neighbors after that.

It turns out their son was hiding some contraband and had thrown it out the window when a parent entered his room. Good ol’ Jessie came to investigate.

We were pretty cautious about knowing where the dog was at all times after that day. Unfortunately, he passed away the next year, but we will never forget his proud look as he dragged a giant Tigger to us and started chewing on what we at first thought was a stick but turned out to be … some kind of kazoo? Um, no, that would be a marijuana pipe. Fortunately, the pipe was empty. That’s our dog.

Since then, we’ve tried to make sure any dog we had stayed pretty close to home. Our focus has been on cattle dogs and a family companion. Right now we have a corgi that my daughter got for 4-H. He will steal any food he finds – but fortunately, that’s as complicated as it has gotten.

The saying goes, “Look what the cat drug in.” This is appropriate. However, you should really watch out for what the dog drug in – it might be a Butterball turkey. If it is a giant stuffed Tigger … beware!  end mark

Marci Whitehurst is a freelance writer, ranch wife and the mother of three children. You can follow her on her blog (Cowboy Wife).