In my junior and senior years, I attended South Bend High School in Pacific County. But I did not live in South Bend; I lived 11 miles south in a small, old, two-story house on the right side of Highway 101.
Several times, cars violently crashed into the ditch in front of our house, which was near the 10-mph curve after leaving the Palix River Bridge. Other than that occasional nighttime excitement, it was a very desolate area, consisting of forests, abandoned log roads and the tide flats of the Niawiakum River.
I used to spend every weekend out in that wilderness with my .22-caliber rifle, my machete and my dog. My mother named my dog a very trustworthy name, Trueheart. She objected one time to my calling Trueheart just “Dog,” so I asked the animal if she felt slighted.
She wagged her tail and smiled. That is not a fabrication. Dogs do smile.
So I said, “See, she doesn’t mind,” and we headed off to the woods to find new things, or hunt grouse or ducks out of season.
We followed a deer trail we’d used many times down to the tide flats, a small inlet blocked by logs. Discovering no game, we headed back.
As we crested the ridge, we were startled to see approaching us a young four-point bull elk. He stopped and huffed and put his head down in a defensive manner, and pawed the ground with his right hoof.
Following her given name, Trueheart stepped in front to face this bull elk threatening our lives. She bared her teeth and let out a low growl. She was going to protect me from this young bull elk that could pierce her body with sharp antlers and toss her over his head.
I sized up this very intense situation and noticed a break in the shrubs to our right so I called out, “Dog, come here, let’s back out of the way so he can go by.” She looked up at me and wagged her tail and we both backed into the small clearing.
Seeing we meant no harm, the bull elk trotted on by. My heart was beating like Ringo Starr on his drums all the way home.
Everybody Has a Story welcomes nonfiction contributions, 1,000 words maximum, and relevant photographs. Send to: firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 180, Vancouver WA, 98666. Call “Everybody Has an Editor” Scott Hewitt, 360-735-4525, with questions.