An Aunt Truly tale: The indomitable tri-color husky-sheltie

by | Feb 8, 2020 | Aunt Truly's Tales, Fiction, Short story, Storytelling, The Kiminee Dream | 2 comments

Buster, a tri-color husky-sheltie dog with a lopsided grin and only one ear, is a character in my forthcoming novel, The Kiminee Dream, and Aunt Truly, the enigmatic elderly woman who tells stories in the novel, tells a tale about his origins. I want to include it in the companion book of tales I’m working on.

Here is the current draft:

In a time that now dwells in the realm of legend, a trapper who caught beaver up and down the Illinois River stopped in at a bustling settlement for supplies. He spent a long time haggling over the price of flour, too long it turns out, because his spirited husky dog grew bored, wiggled free of a rope that tethered him to a post, and ran off. 

A husky set to prowl.

It wasn’t long before the husky, which was on the small side but extremely agile and able to leap like a tree frog, jumped a fence and pounced on a widow’s prize dog. The bitch was in heat and of a breed resembling the modern-day sheltie. Hearing a ruckus in her yard, the woman grabbed her slingshot and rushed outside. 

“Be gone you miserable cur,” she cried out.

But the canines had already mated by the time she took aim and let a stone fly, nicking the intruder as he bounded away. 

She bred the sullied female with a suitable male from her pack the next day and hoped for the best. Her family had grown a reputation up and down the Mississippi and its tributaries as excellent breeders of farm dogs, and she counted on trading puppies for food and other necessities to keep her through winters so bitter they withered the brain. But when the litter arrived, three looked like their mother in every way; three were tricolored, scruffy and clearly pulsed with husky blood, which she considered inferior.

A sheltie looking for action.

Incensed by the threatened lineage of two small herding dogs her Scots grandfather had brought across the Atlantic and then overland to a strange and wild world, the widow gnashed her teeth as she watched the pups grow. 

“These mongrels will not do,” she griped. “I can’t stand to look at them.”

Finally, before daybreak one morning, she hogtied the pups she didn’t want. Next, she stuffed them, along with a brick, into a burlap sack and tied it closed with the strongest of strong double knots. Then she slung it over her back and slouched to the banks of the Illinois. She tossed the writhing sack as far as she could and stayed to watch it splash and sink.

“There! No more mutts. Problem solved,” she crowed and tromped back home, satisfied. 

An indomitable husky-sheltie pup.

To this day, nobody knows how the pups clawed out and managed to swim to shore. Over the years, sightings of this curious tricolor mix of speed and spunk were recorded all along the banks of the Illinois and its tributaries. Stories of encounters with these indomitable dogs proliferated. Families befriended them from time to time and trained them just like any other dogs. However, sightings gradually tapered off and eventually became rare. Now, once in a generation or so, a scruffy pup shows up at a family’s door, usually when a new baby is born. The pup swiftly wins the family over and becomes devoted to the babe. And like every tri-color husky-sheltie mixed dog that came before, the pup is Houdiniesque, with uncanny agility and a knack for breaking free of any and all restraints.

The end

While working on this earlier, I was thinking it needs to be expanded but wasn’t sure how to do it. After I pasted the text in here, though, I realized I can come up with some specifics about sightings of the dogs and a couple of anecdotes people told about them through the years. What do you think?

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Influenced by folklore and magical realism, The Kiminee Dream is a lyrical story with characters equally charmed and challenged while living where the ordinary and miraculous coexist seamlessly. If you like depth as well as whimsy, arresting twists, and details that rouse your senses, you’ll love what is both an eloquent exploration of acceptance and a tender tribute to the people of Illinois.



    I would definitely like to hear some stories about the dogs!

  2. Laura

    That’s good to know, Mary. Thank you. I expect ideas about people’s potential experiences with the dogs will surface in the next few days, and I’ll revise with relish.

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