There’s just something about a dog.
Or dogs, if you are Jan Adkins.
They are more than pets, becoming an extension, a part, of your family.
But dogs aren’t for everyone. They slobber — sometimes; they can be overly friendly — most times; or they can be vicious little … — sometimes.
They are devoted, smart, witty and tricksey, and a good dog is good for your soul.
Sorta like people, but without the slobber.
In 2007, Adkins, a North Carolina resident, was in Lake City visiting her family home when her brother told her about a dog that had been hit by a car.
She found nine puppies, about 3 days old, and her heart was set.
“My brother told me he’d take care of them,” she said, laughing. “You know what that means, don’t you? I told him, ‘No, I would take care of them.’”
And she did just that — feeding them almost around the clock. She had help from neighbors in this task — until they were old enough to find homes.
When they were 8 weeks old, Adkins started looking for homes for the pups.
“She interviewed people,” her son, Chris, said. “She tried to find the best homes possible for those dogs. She turned a lot of people down.”
The puppies, Jan learned, were Tennessee Mountain Curs.
“I did some research on them,” she said. “When people first settled this region, they were the prize dog to have. Great hunters, very loyal.
“I’ve read accounts where people would move and the first thing to go in their wagon was their dog.”
Jan found homes for five of the puppies. When she went back to North Carolina to live with her son, he said she told him she was bringing two dogs back.
She took four. Jan also had a house dog, a small poodle, Annie, who acted as a sort of surrogate mother to the four new dogs.
“We’d put the food out and Annie would come in and all four would back away from their bowls and she would go to each one — maybe eat a little, maybe not — and after she was done the dogs would eat,” Jan said.
One of Jan’s four dogs died this past winter — Kelly. The other three, Dobie, Jay, and Sally, are still around, maybe not as active as they once were, but they’re still here. Annie also died last winter.
They grew up with Jan and her son on a 30-acre farm in Statesville, N.C. — “The greatest life a dog could have,” Chris Adkins said.
Jan said the dogs do everything the family does. When they pick green beans, the dogs pick green beans. When they pick blackberries, so do the dogs.
“They eat them, of course,” she said.
Jan tried to keep track of the five dogs she found homes for, but …
“I had phone numbers for the families, but they were landline numbers — it was 2007 when I placed them — so it was tricky finding them,” she said.
So tricky, she only found one.
“When we first found them and were feeding them, we would rock them,” she said. “When I spoke to the gentleman — a man from Virginia — who I located he asked me about that.
“’Did you rock those dogs?’ he asked. I told him we sure did.
“And he says, ‘It figures. He still wants to get in my lap and be rocked.’ Now, we’re talking about a 70-pound dog. I bet that’s a sight to see,” she said.
Jan Adkins loves those dogs.
“Mamma likes to say, ‘I love my dogs more than I like most people.’ And it’s true,” Chris said.
Of the four dogs Jan Adkins took to North Carolina, two were female and two were male.
The two males, Kelly and Doby, “never established who was the alpha dog,” Jan said.
They never fought, she said, but they would “aggravate each other.”
Since Kelly died, Doby still looks for him.
“Doby is the smartest one,” she said. The dogs will pile up and sleep together and Doby is always the one finding the most comfortable position. He’ll also ‘sneak’ into the kitchen when his siblings aren’t around and look at her and then look at the fridge.
“It’s like he’s saying, ‘Why don’t you give me a little snack while the others aren’t around?’”
And when she travels back to Lake City, she packs her dogs and takes them with her.
It’s a dog’s life, and in Statesville, that’s not a bad thing.