by Steve Liddick

All I ever wanted in a dog was a big, goofy animal that sat when you told him to sit, and didn’t chase chickens. Truthfully, we didn’t want a dog at all. A house with three cats sharing space with two aging humans is already near capacity.

It started one night. You know how when it’s dark outside and you think you see something dark running across your back yard? Black on black. Kind like of Mafia hitman’s shirt and tie. Well, we didn’t know it at the time, but that was our introduction to a little Jack Russell terrier.

We didn’t see him in daylight until the next day, which was a Sunday. He had apparently escaped from somewhere. He had been running around for awhile and possibly mistreated in that time. He finally came to my wife. She brought him into the house, put him in her bathroom to separate him from the kitty herd. It was late in the day, too late to take him to the county animal shelter.

He turned out to be really friendly. He climbed up on my lap, cuddled under my arm, looked up at me with big, brown, wet, pleading eyes, and by Monday morning there was no way he was going to the animal shelter.

We took him to the vet to see if there was any ID embedded in him. There was not. What he did have was a fractured jaw, some bruises, and cooties. We figured he had gotten into a disagreement with a garbage truck or maybe got kicked by one of the equines we had at the time. We accommodated the fractured jaw by feeding him soft food. We couldn’t tell if he’d had his shots, so we brought those up to date. We had an ID chip installed and named him “Chip.” We also had him—ah—neutralized, so to speak.

To make a long story even longer, hundreds of dollars later we had repaired and taken ownership of a Jack Russell terrier with more energy than is generated by Hoover Dam. Just imagine a team of Jack Russells hitched up to a sled. They’d be a shoo-in to win Alaska’s Iditarod.

Chip occasionally gets super excited and races back and forth from one end of the house to the other. We call it “turboing” and we step aside for fear of getting bowled over by a 15-pound dynamo traveling at high speed.

Life in our household was changing dramatically.

Cats, as you may know, are relatively self-sustaining. They tend to go their own way pretty much, requiring only food, water, and an occasional lap. Otherwise we lived in peaceful harmony, making few demands of each other.

A dog is different. A Jack Russell dog is really different. He requires at least two walks a day because we can’t let him out on his own or he would be in the same dangerous situation we rescued him from.

Chip the Wonder Dawg, as I have taken to calling him, wrestles with Willow, the cat, who is the same size and weight as Chip. As far as we can tell, each is happy with the arrangement, neither fears the other, and nobody has gotten hurt.

The moral of this story is that a Jack Russell terrier is not a dog for older people. But the only way you will get him away from me is if you pry him from my cold, dead fingers.


Books by Steve Liddick: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=steve+liddick

Steve LiddickAuthor of “All That Time,” “Old Heroes,” “Prime Time Crime,” “Sky Warriors,” “But First This Message: A Quirky Journey in Broadcasting,” “A Family Restaurant is No Place for Children,” “Campsite Gourmet: Fine Dining on the Trail and on the Road,” and “Eat Cheap: A Cookbook and Guide To Stretching Your Food Budget Dollars.”





In the mid 1980’s I had the privilege of meeting some veterans of the 158th Regimental Combat Team, aOLD HEROES - Platform World War II U.S. Army fighting outfit that had been known as the “Bushmasters.” They were attending an East Coast reunion of their old unit near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The Bushmasters took their name from a deadly snake in Panama where the men trained before entering the war in the South Pacific. There they were turned into what was to become known as one of the toughest, most feared American combat units in the Pacific Theater.

When I arrived at the reunion hotel, I was slightly surprised to find a room full of old men. What should I have expected? After all, it was four decades since the end of their war. It occurred to me as I looked at the gray-haired veterans to wonder what it was that made them the fierce fighters so revered by General Douglas MacArthur and so dreaded by Japanese soldiers who had the misfortune of facing them in the jungles and on the beaches in the South Pacific.

While talking with the men, I heard story upon story of incidents during the years they spent in battles from New Guinea to the Philippines. Some of the tales, frankly, appeared far-fetched. But, with each anecdote, twenty or so other men standing within earshot would nod, validating events related by the others.

I happened to mention that some of the incidents sounded familiar and asked whether their stories had ever been dramatized in the movies.

The laughter was deafening.

“Yeah,” one of the men said. “A lot of movies. But the films were usually about the U.S. Marines.”

The 158th was not a large force. It began as an Arizona National Guard unit with approximately three-thousand men. It was an unusually small group considering the big job ahead. Still, undermanned and the odds weighed heavily against them on so many occasions, the American soldiers won the day . . . and a great many terrifying nights.

As Japanese troops who went up against them soon learned, being compared with the reputation of the venomous snake from which the Bushmasters got their name was a frightening understatement.

Most striking was the fact that these old men had retained their humanity. These were not cold killers. They were people just like those we see in the supermarket aisles and those with their families next to us in restaurants, in theater lines, and at the gas pumps. Something happened to them out there that turned those “ordinary” men into extraordinary warriors.

It was their job to save the world. And they did.

There were other WWII combat units, of course. I just happened to have met these men personally. I’m certain other outfits also fought hard and well. “Old Heroes” is a work of fiction. The idea came to me after my brief meeting with the real-life veterans and convinced me that under similar circumstances today, even at their advanced ages, these men and others like them would rise to the challenge again, just as they had during those terrible war years so long ago.

Those I encountered that day in a hotel meeting room and all the men who fought and died on those South Pacific islands deserve my best effort in honoring them. OLD HEROES is a novel that was done with great affection and respect. I hope all those who participated in the war will accept this work in the admiring spirit intended.

Steve Liddick, Author


OLD HEROES is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Old-Heroes-Steve-Liddick/dp/097141937X/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1472406493&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=steve+liddick