Mason County News
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Land O’ Goshen
Wednesday, May 20, 2009 • Posted May 20, 2009

This column is intended as a heads up to those Americans who are involved with horses and/or Chihuahuas. Warning: the content of this column is graphic and disturbing, and is not recommended for readers under the age of six, or over the age of one hundred and three. So, basically, it’s not all that graphic. But we columnists have to do something to compete with the people who write the real news.

Alert reader Julia Pepper recently gave me a page from the 29 April Goshen News. This newspaper is published in Goshen, Indiana, so it’s not to be confused with the Goshen Region in Egypt, where the Israelites lived while in Egyptian captivity. It’s also not to be confused with the exclamation, ‘Land O’ Goshen!’ which Snuffy Smith’s wife, Loweezy, says when something surprises her, such as Jughaid coming home all scuffed up and dirty, which happened just about every day, which is why it surprised her so much.

Anyway, this page from the Goshen News contained two stories that Mrs. Pepper thought I would be interested in. She was right. Plus it had another story that was extremely intriguing, about a lady who quilts a lot, and suffers from broken skin on her thumbs. But that story will require its own column, obviously.

The first story Mrs. Pepper pointed out to me is entitled, “Horse spooks, couple pulled into river.” It involves an Amish couple who were driving their buggy east on Union Street in the town of Ligonier, near the intersection of Rochester Road, when “the horse spooked and pulled the buggy into the river.” That would be the Elkhart River, of course.

The couple, Maynard and Luelon Hockstetler, managed to climb on top of the buggy while they floated downstream. They were rescued by fire personnel from Sparta and Ligonier, but, sadly, the horse drowned. No doubt hsus and peta will have something to say about that, but it could have been worse. At least the Hockstetlers came out on top, so to speak.

You would think driving a horse-drawn buggy would be safer than driving a car, but this incident proves there are no guarantees. We never know when disaster will strike. And having your horse spook is just the tip of the iceberg, in regard to accidents involving buggies. People dealing with horses get stepped on, kicked, bitten, and mashed up against fences all the time. Not to mention being thrown off while riding. So the point is we should all be careful around horses. And rivers. And everything else.

The other story in the Goshen News was entitled, “Chihuahua blown away.” At first I thought this was a colloquialism, and that the dog had been killed in a drive by shooting, or something. But according to the story, the Chihuahua was literally blown away. By wind. Really.

According to the AP piece, the dog, whose name is Tinker Bell (not Tinkerbell) belongs to a couple named Dorothy and Lavern Utley, of Rochester. They had set up “an outdoor display” in a flea market in Waterford Township, northwest of Detroit. The dog, who was probably not thrilled to be at a flea market to begin with, was carried away by a 70-mph gust of wind. The Utleys, as you might imagine, were distraught. Tinker Bell was carried completely out of sight.

A couple of days later the Utleys engaged a psychic, who led them to “a wooded area nearly a mile from where the Chihuahua was last seen.” And sure enough, there was Tinker Bell, safe and sound. Whatever that means.

The question here, obviously, is ‘What exactly were the Utleys displaying, anyway?’ It must have been something heavy, if it didn’t get blown away along with their 6-pound dog. Cannonballs, maybe. Or concrete blocks. Or the Jefferson Memorial.

Plus, how did the psychic know where to look for Tinker Bell? I know, people claim to have extra sensory perception, and a lot of folks buy into that, but I don’t believe it. If it were true, all they’d have to do is buy one lottery ticket, or bet on one long-shot horse race, and they’d be set for life. They wouldn’t spend their time locating little dogs that got blown away in a stiff breeze. If I ever run into a rich psychic, I’ll start thinking about believing in it.

But the main thing that concerns me here is why you don’t hear of little dogs getting blown away a lot more often. Strong winds are pretty common, and it looks like people with small dogs can’t keep them shut away all the time. You’d think there would be poodles and miniature dachshunds and such flying by all the time during the spring, especially in North Texas, where the wind never dies down.

So let’s be careful out there. You never know when a horse will bolt and run over you, or a strong wind will come along and carry off your tiny pet. And if you do much quilting, make sure you have a Chihuahua handy . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who never goes anywhere without a spare poodle or two. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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