STAFF NOTEBOOK: A remembrance of the world’s best, smartest and most faithful friend

By Charley Wilkison

Clyde Barrow Wilkison

Clyde Barrow Wilkison

When you stare into a nest of tri-colored baby Bassett Hounds it’s hard to know what you’re looking at. It’s like a pile of watermelons, or long counter of different flavors of ice cream or a row of brand new pickup trucks. But the decision was not to be mine. I had promised that to Claire Elizabeth whose brunette head now bobbed amongst the puppies. Claire was 8, the middle kid and overdue for her turn at a big family decision. Shelly had long ago given up on the arguments about how two dogs were too many and how she would be stuck dealing with the newest member of the family long after the afterglow of puppydom had passed.

The man selling the puppies had that smile on his face that meant he was already deep inside my wallet and the only place for me was to stand along the sidelines, watch and pay—or be a bad daddy. One glance at me and he had his answer.

I suggested this dark brown male who had white feet, a black tail and a kind of a slow walk that might mean I could catch him if he made a run for it. Claire began pushing for one that had ALL the colors. I tried to slow down the selection process, suggest other choices, point to who was napping, who was the fattest, friendliest. Claire settled in on one who wanted to play with her and make eye contact. He seemed independent and ready to rumble. He had people eyes and they asked if we were ready for a new world order. I wasn’t sure. Claire was very sure.

The Bassett Hound waiting at home was Bonnie who ignored/adopted the puppy depending on whether there was stranger danger lurking about. We named him Clyde so Bonnie would have a partner in her outlaw ways. Two years later, we had puppies. During our attempt to become a registered breeder and actually sell the puppies, baby daughter Katie fashioned a crude cardboard sign to our gate: Meen, Ugly Bastard Houndes, $5,000. Of course the puppies grew up right there on our place.

Once my son described Clyde: “If Jesus had been a dog, he’d have been just like Clyde.” It was true. He grew up to be one of those dogs who seemed to be able to be outside himself and actually “think” of others. He had a series of short, sharp half-barks that instructed the puppies to lay down whenever a car came inside our gate. If he saw you out of place, for example on the ground, looking under a tractor or up in a tree cutting limbs he would come and stay right there until you went back to normal. He was on constant patrol across the five acres and created a small, beaten path along the fences to protect his people. When Clyde barked, there was something to bark at. He was fearless running deer, standing his ground against snakes, skunks and any number of creatures he didn’t like the looks of.

Clyde was never sick, he was strong, sure of himself and had no vices in his life except the doggy pool when it got hot. He had different sounding barks for different events, some even soft coughs for the humans pushing the baby strollers down the street, but he was true to his religion and his complete and total distrust of the satanic cats that sometimes crossed the property on their way home from catting around. He did everything in his power to help them quicken their pace and get on down the road a little faster.

The vet said he had an age, hip kind of problem and prescribed him some meds to help mend him last July. So it was way out of the norm for him to sway in his rear differential last week and nearly fall down. And very different for him to refuse his food on Sunday night. I was in the Capitol when the doc called to say he had inoperable cancer in several organs, that he was lucky and hadn’t been in pain but that things were beginning to shut down.

Tuesday morning, Clyde and I sat in the exam room, he tried to get up to greet me and his tailed wagged weakly. They gave us a few more minutes together. I reminded him of all the fun we’d had. All those wonderful days outside. I whispered that he had brought immense joy into all our lives.

His Claire kid was hours away at college and in a lot of distress and wanting to come home to see her best friend. But there wasn’t going to be time if we were to save him from the horrible pain just around the corner. I held out my iphone, played a voice message from Claire. His ears moved as the beautiful voice of his bestie poured out her heart. She thanked him for all he’d done for her, for catching her eye and playing with her that day so long ago and for all the days of fun growing up.

One of the nurses left the room crying, one stayed and the tears ran down her smock while the doc kept his head down and attended to things at hand. I ran my hands along his head, told him what a gooood boyyy he was and assured him that soon enough we’d all be headed over there across the creek where he was going.

Special thanks to our friends at Comanche Trail Veterinary Center for taking such good care of Clyde and his family.

~ Shelly Wilkison

Operation Liberty Hill

Operation Liberty Hill, a non-profit organization established with the support of local churches and volunteers, is moving to a new location this week.

Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, the organization is moving to the old church building at the corner of CR 200 and State Highway 29.

Director Susan Baker said Operation Liberty Hill provides economically disadvantaged families with food, clothes and household items. It also assists the unemployed with job finding assistance, and provides English language instruction for those who are not proficient.

Until now, the organization has made its home near Fellowship Church on Loop 332. The new location will open May 1.

On shaking your neighbors

 One day after an explosion rocked a small community to our north killing 15 — the majority of whom were first responders — the Liberty Hill community heard and felt a series of explosions last Thursday evening.

As we watched television reporters bring us the heartbreaking news from West, we heard the loud bangs and felt the walls shake. Then, we heard the sirens of emergency vehicles searching for the source.

The experience brought back memories for those of us who were living in Liberty Hill and Sundance Ranch on the day the gas pipeline exploded more than a decade ago.

No doubt many others were concerned given the recent events in West and a bombing in Massachusetts days earlier. Williamson County 911 received several calls about the blasts, and The Independent heard from nervous callers and received messages by email and Facebook wondering if we knew about the explosions.

Fortunately for our community, the commotion turned out to be nothing more than young people attending a Bible study group off CR 200 who apparently took a break to do some target practice with a legal substance called Tannerite.

A video posted on Facebook the following day showed the action and the relief of friends and neighbors to learn that nothing terrible had occurred.

According to the manufacturer, Tannerite is a binary exploding target that “will not cause a fire and can not be initiated by any method other than a center fire rifle.” It is commonly used for long-range target practice.

The manufacturer’s website states that “it is up to the end-user to obtain local authority permission before using our product unless it’s on private property. Even then if you live close to others, it’s best to contact them and explain what you are doing.”

~ Shelly Wilkison