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Buttons is worried – and dies

Lead Summary
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

These matters are unrelated, but we need to move on. We moved to the Beaver Farm in January 1963, and of course, Buttons came with us. He seemed to be adapting to the new surroundings at first.

However, after a week or two, he became somewhat morose and developed a rash that completely covered his belly. We finally decided that Buttons was worried about the change in surroundings, and despite him no longer being confined in a pen in Troy all week, that the new routine was bothering him. For once, Mother relented and let Buttons in the house for a couple of weeks. She put Vaseline on his wounds, and made sure he healed. After that, he was fine.

That spring we acquired a second dog, a German shepherd pup, which we named Pete. Buttons taught Pete to love the family and be hostile toward strangers, which was just fine with my parents as Dad was still spending time working in Troy during the weeks. We felt safe with the dogs.

Buttons and Pete made quite a team when it came to irritants around the farm. Buttons would go after snakes, grab them behind the head and shake them until he killed them. Pete’s forte was stinging bees, honeybees or bumble bees. If a bee got around one of us, Pete would bare his teeth, pull his tongue back in his mouth and snap at them like an alligator until he hit and killed them. They were quite a pair and considered protecting the family their number one job.

They also hunted varmints to eat. Pete became very proficient at finding and killing groundhogs, which he would drag up to the house and eat. We think Buttons became jealous. He finally snared one and dragged it to the yard. He was very proud and protective of his groundhog and would let no one near it. It became rotten and he still wouldn’t give it up. Finally, Dad was able to get the groundhog, or what was left of it, and bury it when Buttons wasn’t looking.

Buttons naturally was aging, and he was losing his hearing. On Friday nights, when the weather was nice, my brother and I would walk down to the end of the lane (it is about 1/3 of a mile long) and wait for Dad to come home from work in Troy. Naturally, the dogs went with us. Now, the dogs knew to stay away from cars, tractors and so forth. On this particular, beautiful Friday evening, we were waiting for Dad and the dogs were wandering around and Buttons went to the other side of the road.

Buttons started across just as a dump truck came flying by. He didn’t hear it. I don’t think Buttons ever knew what hit him. It was traumatic for my brother and me, of course, to witness this right in front of us. The driver never stopped.

On Saturday morning, I dug a grave for Buttons along the lane, near the farmyard. We buried him there. Starting almost immediately and continuing for several years, you could often catch Pete sitting out there by Buttons’ grave, just like you might see a human doing. Dogs have feelings and memories, no one can convince me otherwise. With no Biblical basis, this may be just a fantasy of mine, but I hope to see Buttons, Pete and others not yet mentioned, in heaven.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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