Friday, January 15, 2010


This is a story that I wrote a few years ago.  I hope you enjoy it!  Have a wonderful, safe and happy week-end everyone and see you all again on Monday!

Barbara J. Galasso

She rests on an overgrown, weed invaded hill set far back from the dusty dirt road. One would have to travel many back roads through the crooks and crevices of the moss covered floor that blankets the darkened forest to find her. Follow the stream that empties in to the small pond that runs through her back yard. There you’ll see her. Her proud structure of river rock and lumber holds the majestic dwelling that has stood against the test of time. A weather beaten wooden sign still hangs by its hinges swinging in the brisk breeze of the afternoon sunlight. If one looks closely, they can still see the bold etching of the block letters spelling out the words “Barlow German Shepherds.”

You will have to push your way through the heavy underbrush and thick weeds that compete to bar your entrance to the front door. You’ll climb the steps leading to the porch with its wind blown tree twigs and branches scattered haphazardly across her paint chipped floor. You sheepishly peek in her windows like you’re expecting someone will catch you. All is still. All is quiet. You take the key out of your pocket that the caretaker gave you and put it in the keyhole as you gently turn the doorknob. A large cobweb that decorates the entranceway releases its hold and the door slowly opens to welcome her first visitor in many years.

As you step from the porch to the foyer, you feel as though you’ve just crossed over into another time and place. You walk through her halls and rooms leaving your footprints on her heavily dust laden floors announcing your presence from one room to the next. Cobwebs grace the corners of her walls. You suddenly find yourself standing in the large living room with the floor to ceiling fireplace made out of the same river rock as the exterior of the house. It is in this room with her large windows and French doors that leads to the back yard that something catches your eye.

You open the doors and step out on to the patio. You squat down on bended knees as you try to look through the thick bushes and trees that block your view. You make your own path as you scurry to get through the obstacle course of the unkempt landscape. It’s then that you see what tempted you to come out of the house in the first place. At first you are taken aback by the huge bronze structure of a German Shepherd Dog and you think how out of place it seems standing alone on the over grown grass and weeds that encircle it’s base. Then raising your eyes as you follow the outline of the statue, you see the gate that this life like figure seems to be guarding. Beyond the gate is where your eyes rest upon the kennels of Barlow.

You estimate that each run must be at least forty feet long as you begin to count the thirty runs that make up the kennels. As you pass by each cemented run, you notice dog houses with plaques that have the animals names engraved on them. You walk back to the gate that let you in and once again look up at the imposing bronze figure that blocked your entry. It too has a plaque with a name on it. You look closer and you see it spells out the name of “Thunder.” Upon closer examination, it reads: “GV Ch Barlow’s Thunderbolt ROM”, Highest Register of Merit of all time! The smaller numbers read 1958 – 1971. You’ve heard of this dog that dominates many pedigrees although many generations removed by now.

A sudden wind kicks up and it’s time for you to make your way back to your car. You walk several feet away from the kennels and turn to look one last time upon them. You notice one very dried up knuckle bone lying in the corner of one of the front kennels that even the flies have lost interest in many years ago and wonder about the dog that left it behind. As you draw further away from the kennel and closer to the house, the bronze statue again plays hide and seek through the thick bushes and trees until it once again disappears into the scenery.

As you lock up the front door and descend down the front steps, the caretaker drives up to meet you. “So, what do you think of the old place?” he asks you. “It’s amazing,” you answer him. I can’t believe that I got to see the prestigious Barlow kennels. All my life, I heard my parents talk about this place and it’s famous German Shepherds.” “What did you think of that bronze statue of Thunder?” he asks you. You know Thunder was the greatest dog that ever lived in his time. There was nothing quite like him! Pretty awesome, don’t you think?” “I never seen anything like it,” you tell him. “But it’s also kind of sad at the same time,” you say. “What do you mean?” he questions you. “Well,” you say, everything is empty now. All the famous dogs and their people are gone. There’s nothing left but the bronze statue and the empty house and kennel.” The caretaker corrects you. He tells you, “No house is ever empty.” You look at him with a quizzical expression on your face. He continues. “No house is ever empty, that once had life in it. This is where new life, new dreams, new visions and new hope were born. A house never dies just because its owners are no longer physically there. Sometimes if you listen hard enough, you can still hear them. “What are you talking about?” you interrupt him. “The dogs,” he says. It was always about the dogs.” Just then it starts to rain and you both climb back in to your cars. You roll your window down and say good bye and thank him for allowing you entry in to a by gone era.   Acknowledging you with a wave of his hand, the caretaker drives back down the dusty road.

As you turn your windshield wipers on, you hear a faint noise. You turn them back off again. Now you don’t hear anything. So you sit a little while longer. You look back towards the house and then you hear the noise again coming from around the side of the dwelling. You stick your head out of the window just a little bit to listen for the sound that never comes again as the rain softly caresses your face. If you didn’t know better, you could have sworn you heard dogs barking off in the distance. But, everything is silent. You brush it off, thinking it must have been the swooshing sound made by the progression of the windshield wipers against your front window. You turn them on again and start to make your way back down the long dirt road. The rain is starting to come down heavier now as you struggle to see in front of you. Just then something darts out in front of the car. It looked like it was a big, dark stray dog, but you can’t be sure because of the blinding rain. It disappears in to the thick bushes on the opposite side of the road. You slam your brakes on and sit there with just the hypnotic back and forth motion of the wipers to keep you company. A flash of lightening crackles in the sky and the roar of “Thunder” can be heard over the mountains. The words of the caretaker whispers to you, “No house is ever empty that once had life in it!”

My rating:  breeding dogs by knowledgeable breeders:  (4), back yard breeders/puppy mills: (1)

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