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  • Writer's pictureAlicia Dill

A Very Larry & Kenny Thanksgiving’s Special

“Missouri?” Kenny asked. “What’s a Missouri?”

“A Missouri is a place,” Larry said, with a note of pride. He was the only one out of the two dogs who had been. “And it’s wonderful!”

“It is?” Kenny said. “We’ve never even left the city. How do you know?”

“Oh Kenny, I’m a whole year older than you so I know a lot more than you,” he said. “And to be sure. I know what Missouri is alllll about.”

The two dogs were lounging in the sunroom, soaking up the laziness of their humans. After hours of packing for a trip, the humans seemed to give up and rest on the couch. The van was filled to the brim with stuff.

“You sound happy to be going there,” Kenny said, confused. Larry was not usually this happy about anything. Not even his weekly runs with his human trainer. “What’s so great about Missouri?”

“Well, it’s too hard to pick one thing,” he said. “First of all, it’s the freedom. It’s miles and miles of forest and they usually let us go all around because there is a fence eventually. But compared to the tiny yard, a dog can feel free. A dog can feel whole.”

Kenny blinked slowly. He wasn’t sure he wanted to feel free. He was comfy. As he buried his head under the flannel blankie, he was sure he liked his set up just fine.

“Ok what else?”

Larry thought for a few moments.

“Well, there is always a dog named Buster there at the grandma’s house.”

“Is he nice?” Kenny asked.

“That’s the thing. Are they nice is the better question? Every time I go there, it’s a new dog but the grandma always names the dog Buster.”

“Whoa, what happens to all the Busters that you don’t see,” Kenny asked.

“Well, in my mind, they either run off or they are killed running across the highway,” Larry said. He could see Kenny’s soft gray eyes tear up.

“Poor Buster,” Kenny said.

“No tears, little buddy. Busters live free and that’s the price of freedom,” Larry said. “It seems like paradise. And the old lady is the sweetest. She feeds them all well.”

Kenny his head on the dog bed and contemplated life as a Buster. Missouri sounded strange. But part of him needed to find out what the fuss was all about.

The next morning, the dogs piled in with the whole family as the human kids each hugged a dog as a pillow for the journey.

It was a long trip “down home” as the humans called the mysterious place known as Missouri. The kids got wild in their seats talking about the good food and the good family they couldn’t wait to see.

Larry nodded in agreement because unlike Kenny, he had the experience of a real Thanksgiving trip.

Once they got closer, the houses seemed to be spaced out further and further between with lakes and trees more plentiful than Kenny had ever seen in his short life time.

“I think I like Missouri,” Kenny turned to Larry.

They pulled in to a small house. The doors opened and the whole family rushed out, including Kenny and Larry. The dogs ran around the yard smelling and peeing on stuff for a full ten minutes. All the new scents and different smelling trees and lingering animal tracks were heaven to the two city canines.

As the family hugged an older couple and ran in the house, the family forgot about Kenny and Larry.

“See that, we’re free. Free as birds here,” Larry said as he peed on a tree while a thick black snake watched him from above. The snake was going to get his own bird up in the tree, but Larry paid it no mind.

Kenny sat on the gravel path. “I get it, but now what?”

And then a scruffy little Scotty dog bounded up the yard.

“Hey ya folks,” he said. “My name is…”

“Buster?” Larry said.

“’d you know?” Buster said. “I thought I was an original.”

“Oh, you are, buddy,” Larry said. “It’s just a few Busters have went before you.”

“Well, that’s fine with me,” he said. “I have a few places I frequent all up and down the river, but this here is where I call home. She feeds me the best.”

“Yep, I bet she does,” Larry said.

“My name is Kenny and this is Larry,” Kenny said. “We’re not from around here.”

“Great! It’s nice to see a few new faces,” Buster said. “I can show you the ropes if you want.”

“Sure, but I know a little way around.” Larry said.

“Yeah but there’s a bear hanging around on account of the chickens so I just need to show you a few things.”

Buster showed Kenny and Larry all around the working farm, complete with horses, cows, chickens and quail. Everything two dogs could only dream about.

As the day faded into sunset, Kenny fell asleep on a hay bail while Larry ran and ran and ran alongside the horses.

The next morning, the two buddies woke up to a quick breakfast of generic dog food.

Without constantly being locked up, Larry decided it was time to go exploring on their own near the river.

Just as they were running down the road, trucks and SUVs came bounding down the driveway to the small house. It was loads of people, the family of Kenny and Larry’s humans. And with them, came another dog and then another, both were different breeds than Kenny and Larry.

“Hey yall, Buster!” a German Shepard said, “Who is your friends?”

“This here is Kenny, the pitbull and this one is Larry, the Huskie,” Buster said. “They was a bout to go explorin’ if you want to go. This is here is Jack the German Shepard and this is…

“FuFu, the Chow chow,” FuFu said, introducing herself. “We left my friend, Moon-eye at home.”

The dogs took turns smelling each others butts and making conversation. It was a universal way to meet new friends.

Once the kids of the party of thirty or so people wandered into the field, the dogs looked at each other.

“Let’s go make sure those little humans don’t get into trouble,” Kenny said. Ever the nanny dog protecting his flock.

“Good idea, Kenny” FuFu said. “There’s usually something going on every Thanksgiving.”

“What’s so great about Thanksgiving?” Kenny asked. “I’m not old enough to know anything Larry says.”

FuFu met Kenny’s eyes and laughed. “You are just a little one aren’t ya, Thanksgiving means food and family. And that’s all I need to know.”

The dogs trailed after the kids who dropped turkey legs and cookies all the way to the creek. Kenny took his time licking the hands of one baby girl who wore more of her meal than she ate it. Both were satisfied with the results.

“So how long do they stay here?” Larry asked Buster who was digging a hole near a weeping willow tree. “Do they ever get tired of this?

Buster chuckled. “As tired as we get of digging for bones.”

The kids were throwing large boulders into a slow moving creek. Over and over again. Plunk, plunk, plunk. Thanksgiving was upon them.

“Do you want to see something , Kenny?” FuFu asked. Kenny was still corralling the smaller kids back to the larger group. Protecting seemed to come naturally to him.

“I guess,” Kenny said. “I’m still so overwhelmed by all the smell. And new kids…”

“Yeah, that’s all gonna be here a few days, but this is something you might be able to help me with,” FuFu said.

“Come on Larry, Buster can watch the kids,”

As the three large dogs ran down the path, a low moan could be heard in the last house by the riverbed. “What’s that noise?” Larry asked.

“Exactly what I needed your help for,” FuFu said. “Buster is too little and he’s only temporary help.”

The dogs ran up to a large wooden fence.

“In there is one of my friends,” FuFu said. “And she needs our help.”

“Why?” Kenny and Larry asked in unison.

“Let me tell you a little story,” FuFu said.

And she did. The dog inside the fence was a Yellow lab named July, supposed to be for hunting, but couldn’t perform due to her eyesight. She wasn’t what the owner wanted and so he starved and abused her any chance he could. He was a mean old man that had nothing good in his life. And he built the fence because July would try to escape. And she had escaped. But then he found her and hurt her until all FuFu heard was the whining. It had been weeks since FuFu spoke to her.

“How can we get her out?” Kenny asked. “That fence is way too high.”

“Yeah, even I can’t get over it,” Jack nodded.

July was heard whining.

Kenny and Larry hung their head low. This wasn’t what they considered for their trip, but the noises coming from July were heartbreaking.

“I know it seems hopeless,” FuFu said, “But today is the day we need to not be pets. We need to be warriors.”

“Warriors?” Larry asked. “We’re not sure what you mean.”

As FuFu’s plan unfolded, all the dogs were doubtful it would work. But they had to try. This was Thanksgiving and it could be July’s last chance to escape.

FuFu locked eyes with Kenny, Larry and Jack.

Larry looked at Kenny. “Are you sure you can do this, Kenny? There’s not a mean bone in your body.”

Kenny shook his head no. “No, I’m not sure but Jack will help me.”

“Ok, let’s get ready.”

Just as they were stealing their nerves for the mission ahead. They heard a meow behind them.

“Hey guys? Remember me.”

The dogs turned. Jack jumped but the cat was already up on the fence.

“Bones?” Kenny asked. “Is that really you?”

Bones smiled and licked his paws. “Yeah man…I hitched a ride in the back once I heard you all were going out of down. I can’t believe you didn’t smell me. I did douse myself with some special spray Otis gave me.”

“Missouri is awesome!” Bones said. “Too bad that dog is so sick over on this side of the fence.”

“Bones!” Jack and FuFu were still freaking out barking and barking.

“You’re going to ruin the plan,” Larry reminded them. “Bones, we’re about ready to attempt a dog rescue. You in on this or what?”

“What do you need me to do?”

“Well for starters, it’s less risky for us if you can open the latch of the fence.”

Bones paced the length of the wall, surveilling the dirt filled backyard.

“I guess you wise guys think that dog ain’t gonna try to eat me if I get in there?”

“No, she’s not,” FuFu said, sadly. “She’s…blind.”

“A blind dog..that’s the saddest thing I ever heard.” Bones said. “Well, what’s in it for me?”

Kenny growled “A ride home.”

“Oh ok, well I guess I don’t want to be stuck,” Bones said. “I need to keep my options open.”

A few minutes later, Bones had opened the latch. But still no July.

“She’s too sick to walk,” FuFu said after she came back, breathless from running in the yard.

“We’re going to need Jack to help carry her out.”

As FuFu and Jack were carrying the yellow lab out of the yard, the door slammed and an old man with a shot gun came out.

“Get off my property!” the man shouted, readying the rifle to fire at Larry.

Larry wasn’t paying attention as he held the gate of the fence open, but Kenny could see this man meant business.

Kenny jumped into action and leapt onto the porch where the man stood.

He bit the man on the leg and knocked the weapon out of his hand.

He put all his weight on the man’s chest and dared the man to try and move with his steely gaze.

“You no good dog, I’m gonna kill you,” the man said. But he couldn’t move with the weight of a full grown pitbull sitting on his rounded stomach.

Larry stood next to Kenny as Jack and FuFu carried July to safety.

She was free. But then so were the five small puppies who trailed after her.

July was a new mother.

Later that day, Kenny and Larry ate what was left of the Thanksgiving turkey while Bones made do with some milk the old woman set out. She was so good to all the animals.

FuFu and Jack accompanied July and her puppies to the vets. The human family knew how to do the right thing when it came to animals.

“So what do you think of Missouri, Kenny?” Larry asked. “You sure grew up to be a real warrior when it counts.”

Kenny closed his eyes and listened to the fiddle music. “I love this place. And that man who hurt July was from Arkansas.”

“I heard FuFu say that they were going to name a puppy after you.” Larry said, proudly, tearing into the turkey.

“And me,” Buster said. “And me”

This story is dedicated to my Grandma Betty and all the animals, wounded and starving who showed up to her doorstep in my hometown of Osceola, Missouri.

This Thanksgiving, please give or consider adopting from your local Humane Society in honor of her. Lots of love to you and yours!

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