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In Memory of Our Dogs


He was born on August 29, 1995.  He died on Thursday July 17, 2008 not many days shy of his thirteen birthday.  He was the perfect dog.  He had the papers and breeding of an Elkhound, in later years the physic of a sumo wrestler, and always the soul of a saint.  He came into our lives at about the time we played host to a contingent of French visitors from a sister city in Roanoke and was named Beaucoup, thereafter ever to be know at just Bo or Bo Bo.  He was everybody’s dog.  His arrival coincided with the start-up of the winery and there are very few if any guests he did not consider his duty to meet and greet.  His last days of greeting consisted of lying in front of the handicapped accessible sign which he thought had been put up for him and thereby blocking the entrance for anyone.


Bo was always a bit weight challenged and in his younger days his response to being put on a diet was to go get a tender young groundhog or lie under a fruit tree and eat to his heart’s content.  Figs were his favorite but he never tired of apples or cider.  He was never sick or injured, quite a record for a farm dog, and was smart enough to obey all his commands in English or Spanish.


As we recognized age and its toll were inevitable, we wanted to breed him so that we could have some part of him continue with us.  He had no problem “falling in love” but the act of consummation was by artificial insemination.  Of the offspring, we kept the puppy that had the difficult start to life and were rewarded with what could be the closest clone to Bo ever.  We named him Howard Beau Johnson and call him Ho-Jo.


Bo was formerly my companion in riding my horses but to the very end he would go to the tack room while I prepared to ride and patiently wait until my return to make sure that all was right and well and a safe return was assured.  Bo attended the festival here on July 12 to hang with my sister at the guest house.  We worried how he would get back home but before we had a plan he was back at the house. She always brought him Little Caesars porterhouse and he seemed to know when I told him she was coming.  He tolerated well all other dogs but had two special friends Molly, and Sparky who would visit on occasion and would remind him of his younger and stronger days


Death can be good and he deserved and died the good one.  He was fine that morning and early afternoon.  Danny spoke to me and Shannon later and said, “I think Bo is dying”.  We sat with him for a couple of hours, told him it was Ok to leave and kept hands on.  Shannon came by to say a last good-bye.  Bo lifted his head, looked at him, and stopped breathing.



Pierre has passed.  He was a miniature poodle, very black until his muzzle turned gray, some years ago but had the statue and mentality of a rockweiler crossed with a grizzly. He has taken many a fierce wild beast away from his domain which was his work station


He went to work at the packing house whenever Vicki showed up and stayed until she closed before coming home.  He preened and enjoyed the affection of adults but little people made him uncomfortable and he woud avoid them at all costs and try to hide from them in his little bed in the office He had been run over at least four times in his life but survived them all, credit for that goes to “Auntie Nell” the best friend and vet any one could have. About a year ago he had an occasional “spell” but would recover nicely.


He really was never our dog.  He belonged to the grandchildren, most especially, Joshua.  When they moved away from the farm, he was not happy and expressed his displeasure by trashing their apartments, running away, and ending in the dog pound more than once.


Upon return to his paradise he lived a grand and glorious life.  He was my constant companion thru the debilitating stages of cancer and chemo.  He lay at my feet in the only chair in which I could be comfortable and he would sleep only with one eye closed so that he could walk me to the restroom or refrigerator which were pretty much my range of motion for months.  He wasn’t an assist dog in the true since of the word but a psychological and spiritual guide for the healing of things broken.  Danny would fix him a special breakfast each morning and at night he would share my plate.  At the last I had to place bits of food on the white tiles because his cataracts were so bad.  Her hearing wasn’t all that good but he listened when he wanted to.


Pierre will go down in infamy as “Pee-Air”for his trick of standing on his front two legs to urinate.  Many guests from Elmo’s have spent much time photographing such an event.


He stayed in the house a lot but never slept with any one but “Aunt Cindy”.  They had a thing about sleepovers and Little Caesars filet mignons.  He could run like the wind until the great god of dogs took down the sails for the last time.



July 14, 2005-July 14, 2011


He was as irascible as he was adorable. He was as unique as his name was ordinary.  He did have a black spot on his side and the wiriest hair imaginable even for the rough coat Jack Russell that he was. He came to live on the farm as a puppy and became Shannon’s most beloved animal of his life.  The love and loyalty between the two was palpable . Spot may have been Shannon’s dog, however Shannon was Spot’s person, definitely


Spot was loved by very few, respected by more, and feared by some.  He was never easy and has been known to bite indiscriminately and on at least one occasion decided to rip a gentleman’s Bermuda shorts into shreds.  The gentleman was wearing them at the time.  He was threatened at gun point for protecting Shannon’s space.  The farm family loved him because they love Shannon and took the responsibility of keeping the public safe from his unpredictable behavior.  He showed his affection by licking faces although the warning was always issued that “he is just cleaning you up before biting”.

One never had to look for Shannon or wonder where he might be if you could see Spot.  He would be within feet if not inches.  Lately he had begun spending much more time at home with Donna, finding the air-conditioning and her companionship less stressful than the traffic around the packing house.   When Shannon went home, he lost interest in everything but his “Daddy”.

He loved to ride on the four-wheeler with me, sit in my lap, give me dog kisses, but this had to occur when Shannon was on vacation.  Regardless of the number of nights of vacation, Spot would go back and check his house to make sure his real family had not returned.


Yesterday Spot and Pepper, the smooth coat Jack Russell companion, were running and playing in the driveway and a farm truck hit and killed Spot.  He was rushed to our friend in the neighborhood who is a vet but he died within five minutes of being hit.  A lung was ruptured.  Shannon treasured he had the last five minutes with him to talk with him about getting his ball, his baby, going fishing and Daddy loved him.


His favorite toy was a stuffed dog that was his baby given to him by his Granddaddy.  He would spend hours nitting and cleaning his “baby”.  He also loved to fish.  Spot would spend hours watching the gold fish and diving underwater with eyes open and chomping at the gold fish.  Occasionally he would catch his snack.


Although his Dad offered, Shannon insisted that he dig the grave.  So he did partly with the tractor and painstaking deep with a shovel.  His son Joshua worked alongside with him to bury him deeply in the farm soil where many pets have gone to their final resting place as well.  I held him, he looked just asleep, Shannon wrapped him in a favored t-shirt, placed his favorite toy and ball in his bed with him.  The funeral cortege sang “happy birthday” to Spot and the Bedford County soil removed his physical presence from our lives but he will always remain in our hearts.


Sallie Mae

November 2012


She came to me as a wriggling, swiggly,  puppy.  She was brought to me by a friend and neighbor who had learned of the death of my loved dog, Missy.  She was the result of a night of coon-hunting with a red bone hound and a blue-ticked hound who apparently were not as much into coons as a night of romance.  She looked like a black and tan with lovely coloration around her muzzle and paws.


I  named her, Sally Mae, after a hard-drinking, hard cussing, hard smoking great aunt in my past childhood.  What was I thinking?  She felt obliged to live up to her name sake and thus earned the nick-name Snake.  As you might discern, it was because she was a mean as a snake.  Although though to my knowledge, she  never actually connected with man or beast, the threat was always imminent.  One day in the barn, I tried to remove a can that had contained cat food to avoid the sharp edges hurting her mouth.  She came up my foot like a revved-up chainsaw and only heavy work boots prevented a permanent limp for me.  When she would become aggressive, usually over food, my husband he would grab her by the ears.  By measurement, she probably had the longest ears of a coon-hound and would qualify for the Guinness World Record Book.


She had the instinct and desire for hunting but never left the farm acreage.  She ran night lines and hunted ground hogs, squirrels, and anything that had a scent.  Although I hunt with a pack of hounds and have for many years with the Bedford County Hunt, the best hunts ever have been with Snake while riding my horses.  She never lost that desire and continued it for 12 years, 9 months, and 26 days. On Thanksgiving day, day number 27, she came into the house, laid on her blanket, and never got up again.


She is now at rest on the farm along with so many beloved pets during the last 50 plus years.  I will always miss her distinctive howl as it echoed thru the hollows and sometimes under my window if she was late coming in for the evening.





Official name Howard Beau Johnson born on October 3rd 2004 of Beau Coup and Bonnie Leau who survives him. Bonnie Leau will be 14 on April 15th 2017 and is still in excellent health. Ho-Jo died quietly of unknown cause in 2016.  He was definitely MY dog and had many miles of following behind my horses as I rode about the farm.  Norwegian Elkhounds are known for the loyalty and love but he excelled in the genes he inherited.


My sister consoled me with the following prose.


A good and faithful friend knows our hearts even when we do not know our own.  They greet us and love us as if we’ve been gone for days if it is just 15 minutes.  They nurture our souls and minds and everyday they can find the good in us.     Ho-Jo was the best boy.  He was brave and caring and he had a great sense of humor.  You do know that in heaven the dogs get to drive the golf carts and people have to sit in the floor, right?  He is safe and happy and trying to figure out what to do with those new wings he sprouted.  I’m thinking of you all and share your loss of sweet, sweet, Ho-Jo.

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