Submitted for your consideration is my annual “What I Did On My Summer Vacation” column. We spent some time in the Blue Ridge Mountains where I encountered a fascinating canine Zen Master. I refer to the Most Exalted Spike 7, a three-legged philosopher dog who lives in the back country near the Blue Ridge Parkway.



can impart much wisdom if you will carefully listen to his bark. He has a profound grasp of what is important and what is merely passing like the wind through the willows. Consider if you will, the parable of Spike to explain the mysteries of life in the waning days of the Summer of 2012.

The answers from Spike came blowing in the wind. As you may recall, in late June, Fayetteville had its brush with a giant hail storm powered by an ill wind called a Derecho. Derecho is Spanish for “I’ll blow your house down.” The same set of Derecho winds blew through Walnut Knob which is a mountain in Virginia where my wife’s family owns a cabin. The wind did not knock down the cabin, but it uprooted the bridge to a very small island in the pond in front of the cabin. According to a neighbor’s wind gauge, about 85 mph of Derecho blew through Walnut Knob. The wind picked up the bridge and twisted it into a wooden mountain pretzel. 

No man is an island. And what good is an island if you can’t walk across a bridge to drink coffee on it in the morning? The engineering feat of repairing the bridge is far above my pay grade. After asking around for a Mr. Fixit, we located Ike the Cattle Farmer who can do anything. Ike came over to survey the damaged bridge and brought his dog Spike 7. 

Turns out Ike has had seven dogs, all of whom were named Spike. Like the lady in the old Herman’s Hermits song “I’m Henry the Eighth” who only married guys named Henry, Ike only has dogs named Spike. The mountains, although beautiful, are unforgiving as the law of nature ain’t a bean bag. After a run in with an angry Momma Cow, Spike now has only three legs. Ike explained that coyotes have infi ltrated the mountains and are killing calves. The killing of her calf enraged Mamma Cow.

The coyotes murdered her calf and left Spike to take the blame.

Cows have memories but are not particularly sophisticated when it comes to telling dogs from coyotes. Mamma Cow spotted Spike after the killing and decided that he was the Dingo who took her baby. She kicked him so hard that his left front leg had to be amputated. Ike got a $1,400 veterinary bill. Spike lost his front leg. Mamma Cow got sweet, if mistaken, revenge.

Spike had to wear a T-shirt for a few days to keep him from chewing at his new stump but has now recovered famously. Spike is a very happy guy despite now being a three-legged dog. He sat on the front porch smiling, except when he went happily hobbling through the yard looking for something interesting to eat. Spike’s only problem is that when he lifts his leg to pee, he falls over. He gets up, grinning despite this issue. Through everything he grins.

The message is to strive to be like Spike. Keep grinning and don’t worry if you pee on your leg. It was suggested to Spike that he use the lady-dog method to relieve himself. No way, Jose. Spike is a manly dog. He is macho and refuses to squat. If he pees on his leg, he pees on his leg. Imagine that, a male doing something stubborn.

Spike does not care about who eats Chick-fi l-A sandwiches. He doesn’t care about the Presidential slime-fest going on all around him. He doesn’t even care that porn star Jenna Jameson has endorsed Mitt Romney for President. He is abundantly unconcerned that NASA’s space ship Curiosity landed on Mars. He just likes being outside and smiling at the world.

He does not even bear a grudge against cows, although Ike says he is now cautious around them. Spike told me he really isn’t mad at the coyotes because the coyotes were just doing what coyotes do.

Spike is all Zen, all the time.If we could all be like Spike, the world would be a better place despite an increase in wet trouser legs.

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