Sunday, May 27, 2007

Jim and Becky Johnson Guilty of Negligence

I was up on Echo Mountain this morning with Jim and Becky Johnson’s son, who is so ashamed of his parents that he’s changed is name to James King or maybe Ron Thomason. Anyway he told me the story of how the hound saved his life for the umpteenth time and I suddenly realized – Jim and Becky were negligent parents. With today’s modern oversight by local agencies they would have been in jail long before they had to shoot that hound. It’s too bad, too, because Jim and Becky sound as if they were nice people. They had always wanted to have children and got the dog as a substitute when having a baby looked like an impossibility. When the kid was finally born, they realized they’d have to rely on the dog to provide child care since their life was so busy and difficult.

Anyway, one day the dog was baby sitting while Jim was in the field and Becky was hauling water and who should appear at the door but a couple of wolves. Now, whether these wolves were the metaphorical wolves to be kept away from the door or real ones looking for a cheap meal doesn’t much matter. The hound met them bravely and tore them to shreds. Jim and Becky returned to find the hound’s jaws dripping blood and immediately assumed he had eaten Jim or Ron or whatever the kid’s name was and killed the dog. Just shot him dead right there.

Later, as they were cleaning up the mess, they discovered the baby “safe and sound” as Jim often told the story. Outside the door they also found two dead wolves. This entire incident raises a couple of questions. How is it that Jim and Becky neglected to search the house for the kid’s remains before destroying the hound? Why didn’t they provide appropriate child care if they truly valued the infant? Why hadn’t Child Protective Services stepped in to assure the child’s safety? Was the Johnson cottage adequately protected from predators to assure the child’s safety? Had Jim and Becky attended parenting classes? Even after more than seventy years, this story raises questions that must be answered in order to assure the safety of other children up on Echo Mountain.

Wolf picture provided here


  1. This is a story that ought to be told at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN!

  2. Funny thing about this story... It's already been told.... bluegrass music.... Good stuff