Grandpa, Coons and Sharp
took the 10 steps over the gravel swale between the steps and garage, I noticed that the rocks were frozen together.
Grandpa looked at me with his characteristic half smile, his pipe clenched between his false teeth. A well worn, lined hunting cap covered his bald head. He was five feet, eight inches tall, strong and lean as a rail from a lifetime of hard work. Rare was the day that he wasn't working on something on his 140-acre homestead farm. He had turned 69 the previous September, but he was still fit as a fiddle.
As always, Grandpa led the way, followed by Sharp, then me, as we walked along the road past the old garden spot. The pole bean vines stood like white shrouded ghosts against the fence. Grandpa puffed on his ever present pipe, and I got an enjoyable whiff every once in a while of the new tobacco blend I had bought him for Christmas.
Grandpa opened the steel gate and let me and Sharp out. As always, Sharp stayed back and waited for Grandpa to look him in the eye and give him permission to come.
Sharp was born on the adjacent Harman farm in 1969. The Harman boys didn't want to see him die, so they abandoned him in Grandpa's barn. Grandpa recognized something special about the little dog, so he kept him and later named him Sharp. With Grandpa's training, Sharp turned into the best hunting dog, livestock dog and friend a man or boy could ever hope for. He was part German shepherd and part mutt, and he must have collected all the good traits from both family lines. He was handsome black, with brown eyebrows and paws. He stood as tall as any German shepherd and he was unusually powerful, smart and quick. No dog or other beast could best him in a fight.
When we got within 200 feet of the trees, Sharp and I kept looking at Grandpa for the sign. About 100 feet from the trees, Grandpa hissed, "Sharp!" and the hunt was on. His hiss was a light, short whistle sometimes followed by, "Get em boy." Sharp flew across the frosty grass and was out of sight in five seconds. His black coat blended perfectly with the night, and if it hadn't been a full moon, we couldn't have seen him after he'd left our side.