Growing Up With Flash and Laddy

C. Michael Davis By C. Michael Davis, 21st Jun 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Education

Learning to make good decesions as we grow through our younger days is critical to being ready to make the right choices later in life. Having a parent that helps us work though deciding which forks in the roads of life is very important. This story reveals the love and help of my Daddy doing that very thing.

A new dog for Michael

“ Growing up with
Flash and Laddy!”

Laddy was a registered long-nose Collie belonging to an elderly couple that lived in an old and well-to-do neighborhood in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Laddy had been their pet for about seven years. He had never been a problem in the neighborhood. He even greeted the mail man every morning with a friendly wagging tail. Laddy knew all of the neighbors and was friendly to everyone. He was very good about staying in his own yard. Laddy liked to lie under a dogwood tree out near the street so he could watch the cars go by.
Recently some new neighbors, the Browns, moved into the community. The new couple had one little boy about ten years old. His name was Marvin. He wouldn’t play with the other children in the neighborhood. He threw rocks at the birds and squirrels. He chased the ducks and geese down at the community pond and he aggravated any dog he could get to chase him on his bike. Marvin had an ugly disposition toward everyone and everything.
One Saturday morning Marvin kept riding by Laddy on his bicycle and kicking at him. Eventually Laddy had enough, ran out and snapped at the boy’s pants leg causing him to loose control of his bike. When Marvin hit the curb his bike fell over. Marvin skinned up his elbow and went crying to his mother, “I have been attacked by a big old dog down the street.” She immediately called police to come investigate. Laddy was not hard to find, he was lying under the dogwood tree. When the animal control people approached Laddy they were greeted with the same friendly greeting everyone is greeted with.
Now the battle came down between two lawyers flexing their self- importance in the courtroom of Judge Thomas Wetzel. Marvin’s parents had the better lawyer. Judge Thomas Wetzel was convinced that something would have to be done about Laddy. Judge Wetzel knew that the whole matter was being blown way out of proportion by the Browns and their attorney. He could tell from the description of Laddy’s greeting on the report by the animal control officer that the dog was not dangerous, just annoyed by some spoiled brat, but of course he kept those thoughts to himself. Judge Wetzel knew that the dog would have to be removed from the neighborhood to satisfy the Brown’s lawyer. Marvin’s father spoke to Judge Wetzel with a demanding tone, “Judge, this animal must be destroyed as soon as possible.” This was not the decision that Judge Wetzel wanted to make. It appeared though he may have no choice. Judge Wetzel spoke calmly to everyone in the courtroom, “I will sleep on the matter and contact each of you attorneys tomorrow afternoon.” With that he slammed down his gavel and said, “Court adjourned.”
My daddy, C. K. Davis, was friends with Judge Wetzel. Most mornings in Orangeburg several friends would begin their mornings with coffee at Bryant’s Drug Store. While having coffee the morning after the hearing involving Laddy, Judge Wetzel related the story to my Daddy. “C. K sometimes a judge must make decisions that make him want to just spit and turn in his robe.” Daddy took a slow sip of hot coffee while another friend joined them at the table. Daddy spoke to the man who just came in before addressing the judge, “Good morning Pinch.” Then Daddy looked back at Judge Wetzel, “What in the world are you dealing with now Tom?” The judge answered, “Oh this couple is pushing me to destroy a collie that belongs to old man Ben Weathers and his wife. They are a dear old couple. They have lived in Orangeburg as long as I can remember. They are both retired school teachers and this dog has been a companion and security for them in their old age. I am sure that the dog is harmless, but I am going to have to have him put to sleep to shut up this other couple living down the street from them. C. K. what is our town coming to? The people moving in with the new industry have no sense of community. They want to sue everyone about everything.”
Daddy listened intently to what his friend was saying. Daddy thought for a moment before speaking, “Tom, maybe putting the dog to sleep is not the only option available to you. Why don’t you let me take the dog out to my farm and keep him there? This would remove the supposed danger from the neighborhood satisfying the people with the little boy and the Weathers could visit the dog anytime they wanted to. I’m sure Michael would love to have the dog and I will see to it that the dog is well care for.”
Judge Wetzel agreed, “C. K. you have lifted a load off of my shoulders. I will inform all the people involved this afternoon and you can pick up the dog in the morning.”
My tenth birthday was only three months away. When Daddy brought Laddy home the following day, he tussled my hair and said, “Happy Birthday a little early. His name is Laddy and he requires a lot of love and attention. Do you think you can handle the job?” Laddy came right over to me and licked me in the face as I hugged his neck. I said, “Yes sir, I will take good care of him.” I stood up and gave my Daddy a big hug and said, “Thank you Daddy. This is the greatest birthday present ever.”
Laddy and me ran and wrestled in the grass. We explored the woods and even went swimming in Cow Castle Creek that ran through the swamp behind our farm. Laddy loved exploring our farm and being around the horses and cows. Even our old tomcat Barney, who had a split ear he got in a fight with a coon, tolerated Laddy. Laddy settled right into being part of our farm family.

Flash joins the farm.

About three months after we got Laddy we got another addition to our farm, a new horse for my birthday. His name was Flash. He was a beautiful chestnut quarter horse about six years old. Daddy bought him during the purchase of some cattle from a farm just north of Asheville, North Carolina. Flash lived on a farm that used Boarder Collies to work the cattle. The people that owned Flash were getting up in age so they were getting out of the cattle business. They were keeping a few of their horses, but wanted to get rid of Flash because he was a bit spirited. They weren’t comfortable with their young neighbors riding him.
It worked out fine for Daddy to just include Flash in the deal to buy all of their cattle. Some of the cattle went to the meat packing plant; Flash and the rest of the cattle came to the Davis farm. Flash would replace Penny, an ornery old Shelton pony that had been my ride up until now. Daddy described Penny to me when we first got him, “Now son listen to me. This pony is uncomfortable in the middle and dangerous on both ends.” The first day we had Penny, he kicked me in the stomach and when I bent over in pain he bit me in the top of the head. I was thrown several times before that ornery little cuss and I finally came to understand. I admit I was glad to get rid of him and get Flash..
Daddy made a deal to swap the mean little beast for a full size saddle, horse blanket and bridle that would fit Flash. I would now have a big horse to ride. Flash, however, was small for a grown quarter horse at only fourteen hands. This suited me just fine. I had already been riding some of our other horses so I was used to a bigger horse. I had to climb up on a fence to get on him. I could see that this could be a problem if there was no fence around to help me get on.
Laddy and Flash became instant friends and played together like two dogs would. When I would saddle up Flash, Laddy was always right there ready to go where ever we went. Having Flash allowed me to expand my world beyond our farm. We explored every dirt road and bit of woods within a three mile radius of our farm. We rode at night as well as in the afternoons and on weekends. Daddy had to remind me, “Son I know how much you enjoy your time with Flash, but I am still counting on you to continue your responsibilities with the other horses. They still need to be exercised and cared for. I also expect for you to keep up your grades in school.
One day we got a surprise visit from the previous owners of Laddy. They brought a young girl about my age with them. She lived down the street from them and missed Laddy, so they brought her out to visit him. This is how I met Frances, known to her friends in Orangeburg as “Boots”. She had experience riding horses. She and I became friends and her visits to our farm helped me get our other horses exercised. Boots could ride any of our horses and didn’t care which one I saddled up for her. She began to bring other friends with her on the weekends when she could get her parents to bring her to the farm.
As time went by I spent hours teaching Flash various tricks. He caught on quickly to what I was trying to get him to do. By the end of the first year he would come to the stable when I whistled. I never could get him to come to me directly. Then he learned to tuck one leg underneath him and stretch his other leg way out front making a perfect bow. An older friend of mine, Jimmy Heatly, who had worked with horses for years helped me teach Flash to rear up on his hind legs and turn around while he was up in this position. The last thing we taught Flash was to get completely down like he was going to sleep for the night. I had seen this trick in a movie. We worked on this trick for a long time. This made it easier for me to get on him. I wouldn’t need a fence to get on any more.
Daddy began to enter Flash in horse shows with me riding in the performance class events. This put me in competition with a lot of the girls that had come to our farm over the past year. This was a whole new experience for me, but Flash seemed to be right at home in the hustle and bustle of the horse shows. In fact he proved to be a bit of a ham. He actually showed off with some high stepping that I had not taught him. I think Daddy was as surprised as I was with how quick Flash learned new tricks. He pranced like he had been involved in horse shows all his life.
Performance-class events are rated largely on the horses’ ability to perform such tasks as jumping over obstacles while carrying a rider. Performance-class events simulate conditions encountered in hunting and working cattle. It was things we did on a daily basis on our farm. We raised white faced Hereford and Black Angus cattle in a cow and calf program and I used Flash to move our cows and calves from one pasture to another. So Flash was right at ease in Performance-class events.
We also entered barrel racing events. This is where Flash made his mark in the equestrian community. Flash really got attention one weekend after we won a barrel race. I stepped off of Flash to receive the ribbon from the judge. I tapped Flash’s front leg with my prop so he would bow to the judge as I accepted the ribbon. I then pulled him on down to a full laying position and mounted him while he was lying down. Once I was in the saddle he stood up; reared up on his hind legs and spun around as I waved the ribbon to the crowd in appreciation. We rode off to the stables there at the fairgrounds.
Daddy didn’t say anything to me about what I did, but I could tell that he didn’t approve of me showing off. Later that evening when I was cleaning up Flash, a very nicely dressed lady came to the stables and introduced herself to Daddy. “Hello sir. My name is Judy Ocain. I saw your son and his horse today after the barrel race. I will give you $900 for your horse.” Daddy smiled, “Mrs. Ocain, that is a fine offer, but Flash is not my horse. He belongs to my son. You will have to take up the matter with him.” Daddy got up from his chair and came over to where I was currying Flash and introduced the lady to me. Daddy took me by the shoulders and looked me right in the eye, “Son this is Mrs. Ocain and she has a business offer to make. What ever you decide I will support and be proud of you. Remember I love you no matter what you decide.” He looked back at the lady and smiled as he returned to his chair.
I turned her down. “Mrs. Ocain I thank you for the offer, but Flash is not for sale at any price.” She wrote her name and phone number down on the back of one of the horse show programs and handed it to me. She said, “If ever you change your mind I will be interested.” I had no idea that this meeting would lead to a future event that would touch me to the core of my being three years later.

Expanding a boy's world and learning to let go.

Performance competitions in major shows are in one of several main divisions in which the events of the show are grouped. These divisions include Hunter, Jumper, Driving, Western, Roadster, and Equitation, as well as several other less-practiced divisions. We began to focus on the Western events and barrel racing. Over the summer Flash and I won several ribbons and trophies. We had become familiar faces around horse shows. I also enjoyed the time with Daddy. He taught me a lot about working with horses. He also taught me social skills and how to behave around others. He taught me that humility, not pride won over people’s trust and friendship.
Flash was a nimble quarter horse and a natural for working cattle. He could make short stops and turns and accelerate explosively from a standstill. I used Flash for calf-roping which I learned while in Florida one summer working on the Campbell ranch. Not only did we ride in barrel racing events, but we also rode in parades and recreational trail riding. Flash liked all of the events, but my favorite was barrel racing.
In barrel racing, competitors ride horses in a pattern around a course of barrels. Riders are penalized with additional seconds added to their times for each barrel they knock over. The fastest time getting through the barrels determines the winner. Flash was small and very fast. We had better finishes in these events than any others we participated in. This event was an absolute rush of emotions for me. I think it was the speed.
Flash and Laddy had become a key part of my growing up. My grades improved and I began to feel good about myself as I took on the responsibility of taking care of them. I learned about unconditional love as they loved me no matter what. Because of them I met a lot of new people. They weren’t just a part of my growing up they had become a part of me. They seem to be able to sense when I was sad.
Several years went by and during that time Laddy had been killed in the highway. I was crushed by this, but I learned that death is just a part of life. Flash missed him too. I now had a driver’s license and at sixteen was allowed to date for the first time without going with a group, like to a school event. I still enjoyed riding Flash, but we entered fewer and fewer horse shows. I was spending more and more time with school events like football and girls. I also had an afternoon job away from the farm working in the meat department at Red and White Food Stores.

Life is about caring about others.

One Saturday afternoon I was out at the stables feeding the horses when I saw Daddy drive up. I noticed another car pulling in behind him. Daddy called me over, “Mike how about go and saddle-up Flash and bring him over here.” There was a young girl with the man, but she remained in the car. I saddled up Flash as Daddy asked. I wondered what was going on! I had learned to keep my mouth shut and my eyes open.
When I returned with Flash the man walked around to help the girl get out of the car. She had to walk with crutches. It turned out that she had contracted polio when she was about nine years old. She was now thirteen. She was a very pretty girl. I thought how lucky I was to have my legs working properly. Daddy had taught me to never show pity for people with a handicap, but treat them as I would anyone else as much as possible.
She made her way over to Flash. With her eyes on him the whole time, she handed me her crutches as she told me her name, “Hello, I am Brenda. You have a beautiful horse.” She put her arms around Flash’s neck and laid her head on his nose. I asked, “Would you like to ride him?” She looked over at me and said, “I’d love to, but since my polio I can’t get on.” I later learned that she had been an excellent horseback rider before coming down with polio.
When she told me she couldn’t get on, I turned and looked at Daddy. He simply nodded yes to my question before I could even ask it. Daddy knew what was on my mind. I tapped Flash on the legs and had him get all the way down. I then helped the girl get into the saddle and had Flash stand back up. She started to cry. It made me feel good; I knew they were tears of joy. Then I saw her daddy crying, that was a bit much and I started to cry. I hate to do that.
When Daddy introduced me to the man, I had heard his last name before some where, but I couldn’t remember where. The man offered to buy Flash. “Young man I will give you $600 dollars for your horse. I will have to pay you $200 each month for the next three months. That is the best offer I can make. What do you say?”
I turned to ask Daddy what to do, but he just turned away and walked over to Flash without saying a word. I knew what that meant. He wanted me to make my own decision. I agreed to the deal. The man turned to Daddy, “Mr. Davis may I barrow your telephone?” He called his wife to bring a trailer to get Flash that afternoon. He said to Daddy and me, “It will take my wife about thirty minutes to get here.” I asked, “Sir can Brenda and me go riding while we wait?” She pleaded, “Please Daddy! I will be okay.” He agreed. I assured him we would take it easy.
I saddled up another of our horses, Big Red. The Brenda and I rode to the back of our farm. While we were gone Daddy showed the man around. We all waited for Brenda’s mother to arrive with a horse trailer. I felt good about the decision to let the her have Flash. I also had a tightening in the pit of my stomach that I couldn’t quiet understand. I knew I would miss Flash, but this involved something much deeper than just a horse. I think I realized that I was not only releasing Flash, but I was releasing a little more of the little boy inside of me. I was learning to put someone else’s needs before my selfish wants. I guess it is all apart of growing up.
As we were returning to the stables I saw an old pickup truck backing a horse trailer up to the stables. The lady driving got out and to my surprise she was the same lady that had offered me $900 dollars for Flash three years earlier. She looked different! Her face was not all fixed up and her hair was filled with gray. She looked tired, but she was still an attractive woman. She could tell the way I looked at her that I remembered her from the horse show, but neither of us spoke of the conversation we had that night in the stables at the fairgrounds.
We loaded Flash into the trailer. The woman and the girl both gave me a big hug. The lady turned as she got to the door of the truck. She just looked at me for a moment with a very slight smile. She didn’t say anything, just got in and drove off. I never saw them or Flash again. I never see someone walking with crutches or in a wheelchair that I don’t remember the look on Mrs. Ocain’s face that day. Her look simply said, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Daddy explained to me later how this family had been one of the most well off farm families around Branchville. The medical expenses they had incurred due to Brenda’s condition had forced them to sell off most of their farm and farm equipment. They only had about sixty acres left with the barns and a few head of cattle. Daddy placed his right hand on my shoulder, “Michael ole boy I am very proud of the decision you made to let them have Flash.” Growing up with Flash and Laddy was an awesome time in my life. The things I learned then still influence me today when I am making decisions. This is a true story.
I hope that as you grow up that you will also learn to make your own decisions. I hope that you will learn that life is not always about you, it involves others. Remember; love your neighbor as you love your self.
My Daddy passed away at the age of 62 just one month before my twenty-first birthday. He was the best friend I had and the year following his loss was a very traumatic time in my life.


Caring About Others, Growing Up, Letting Go, Making Decesions, Pets

Meet the author

author avatar C. Michael Davis
I was raised on a cattle farm up to the age of 19. After Daddy died in 1964 mother sold the farm.
I greatly dislike the hatered between the races and how the media and certain organizations keep that hatered stired up to justify there existence.
I ...(more)

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