My column ideas come from all over the place.

Sometimes it’s something that happened to me or that I saw. Sometimes it’s something funny or touching that happened with my family. At other times it’s something that I was told.

I was at lunch yesterday and a couple of my lunch buddies shared stories that had to do with dogs, a favorite topic of mine. So think of this column as a dog-themed one.

Chris is petrified of small, enclosed spaces. He’s extremely claustrophobic. It’s so bad that nurses have to sedate him when he goes in to get those scans where they lay you on a flat surface and then you go into sort of a tunnel. I don’t know what that’s called. But whatever it is, is so traumatic for Chris that he has to be medicated just to be in there.

Well here’s how that all came about. When Chris was 5 years old he was at a family reunion somewhere in Yorkville. He had a cousin named Wesley who was 10 at the time, and either maliciously or just as a joke, the older cousin made Chris crawl into his grandmother’s little dog house and he locked him in there.

Of course as a 5-year-old, Chris was petrified of simply being in a little dark space. But on top of that, he was now locked in this tiny dark space and it was the middle of summer so Lord knows how hot it was in there. And add to that the fact that this little wooden dog house was infested with fleas and ticks and bugs and whatever else crawls around a little dog house out in the country.

Chris claims he was left, crying and screaming in the little hot dog house, for 30 minutes until another cousin happened to come by and let him out. He ‘bout had a heat stroke, was dehydrated, hoarse from screaming and it left him TRAUMATIZED of enclosed spaces.

So even now Chris cannot bear to be inside a confined space. He hates elevators, small rooms and even waterslides where you have to go through a tube.

Congratulations, Wesley, wherever you are. You scarred your cousin for life.

The next dog story was told by Jeremy. Here’s the back story. Jeremy lives in Aragon and, some time ago, a black lab mix simply wandered up to his property and stayed. The dog chose to stay in a big chicken house at first. So after searching for a possible owner using social media, Jeremy decided to keep the dog and named him Chicken.

Well, recently Jeremy was meeting some friends at a restaurant and as he was gettin’ in his truck to leave, here comes Chicken wanting to go with him. He jumped in the back of the truck and wouldn’t get out. Jeremy figured it was a nice cool day and Chicken was very good at staying by the truck so it wouldn’t hurt to take him.

While he’s inside eating, Jeremy half-hears conversations about a dog. Someone was talking about a stray and someone else mentioned animal control but he thought nothing of it. When he got done eating and went to his truck he realized Chicken wasn’t there.

So he immediately put two and two together and realized folks must have been talking about HIS dog as the stray. Chicken had jumped out of the truck, and since the tailgate was up, he couldn’t get back in.

Jeremy went to the restaurant’s owners, who said a nice couple had taken the dog because he was wandering around the parking lot. No one knew the couple. This was late Saturday evening. All Jeremy could do was hope the people would do the right thing and find him through Chicken’s vet’s info on his rabies tag.

No word or sign of Chicken on Sunday. But first thing on Monday morning, Jeremy gets a call from the vet who had been contacted by the nice couple. Chicken was returned safe and happy to his Aragon farm, no worse for wear.

Our final dog tale comes from Blake and Sommer, who once had a friendly black lab named Deacon. I guess you could say Deacon just stayed at their house because he was actually the neighborhood dog.

Deacon was so friendly he’d leave their house and just wander around the neighborhood, making friends and being fed and loved on by several other families.

He’d come back to the house with entire bags of food from Lord knows where. Blake said one time he was driving down the street and saw a family out in their front yard playing with their dog only to realize it was Deacon.

One incident in particular shows Deacon’s appeal. He came strutting home one night and Blake and Sommer realized something was different about Deacon’s paws. When they looked closely they saw that all his toenails had been painted. GOLD. Some little girl had painted all the nails on Deacon’s four paws a shimmery gold. And he had apparently sat there happily and let her do it.

I guess because Deacon was a roamer it was bound to happen, but he got hit by a car and he died. Blake said people he had never even met came knocking on his door to offer their condolences because they too had loved Deacon and he was such a great dog. Even construction workers doing work on their street stopped Blake and said they were friends with ol’ Deacon and were sad that he had died.

Dogs are a great part of our lives and should be treasured. Just don’t get locked in their houses or you’ll develop claustrophobia.

Severo Avila is Features Editor for the Rome News-Tribune.

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