My brother and sister-in-law live in Knoxville, Tennessee, which is just a “hoot and a holler” from Sevierville (pronounced “Severe-vull”), where indomitable country superstar Dolly Parton was born and raised. Dolly is practically a goddess in those parts, and people flock to her Dollywood amusement park in nearby Pigeon Forge to take in the shows year-round.
Some folks in those parts also like to chain their dogs. Chained dogs are so common in Tennessee that we have a running family saying that the state flower should be a dog on a chain. One of those “state flowers” even showed up on my brother’s doorstep once. He was a chow mix with a broken rope around his neck that said it all. Needless to say, my brother didn’t try too hard to find his guardian. Leonard, as the dog was named, recently died at a ripe old age, never having known another moment tied up with a rope.
My mom and I found another neglected dog in Tennessee on our first trip to visit my brother after he bought a house. We stopped to get a drink at a drive-in restaurant and noticed a beautiful rusty-red Labrador mix hanging around and begging for French fries. I asked one of the employees if she knew who owned the dog. “Oh, sure,” she said. “Her owner was committed to an insane asylum last week, and she’s been hanging around here ever since.” In other words, everyone in the small town knew that this dog had been left to fend for herself-and no one was doing anything about it! We bundled her into the car and presto! My brother had a new dog.
So what do Dolly Parton and neglected dogs have in common? The bighearted singer has lent her vocal talents to a PETA public service announcement with the message that the best gifts you can give your dogs this holiday season are love and companionship. The ad will be airing throughout the month of December on TV stations across the country. Hopefully, Dolly’s faithful fans will get the message and bring some of those chained dogs inside on these cold Tennessee winter nights.
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