- - Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Mike Huckabee knows Arkansas, even if he did once call it a banana republic, which infuriated some of the locals at the Rotary Club. The former governor gave his latest memoir the provocative title, “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy,” which gets it just about right in the land of good times and the magic huckleberry. He left out only frog-gigging, a favorite natural sport.

The dogs down home purely love their guns (and the ammo). Benno is a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois in Mountain Home, Arkansas, with an unusual appetite. His owner, Larry Brassfield, says Benno regularly eats socks, magnets and marbles, and last week a veterinarian extracted 17 live .38-caliber rifle bullets from Benno’s cast-iron stomach.

The breed is not stupid, and neither is Benno. The dogs, similar in appearance to German shepherds, are valued for their hard work, and described by their owners as watchful, protective, alert, friendly, confident and stubborn — exactly what an Arkansas man expects of his dog. The Secret Service uses them to guard the White House, and speaks highly of them. Why not? The Malinois, like all dogs, are loyal and discreet, and never tell of what they see when everyone is off-duty.

Mr. Brassfield thinks Benno, looking for a snack, swallowed 23 bullets taken from a bag of bullets on his bedside table, put there because a man never knows what kind of varmint might stumble into a strange bedroom in the middle of the night. Benno discharged several bullets on his own and the vet left two in his esophagus for Benno to deal with later. He may even digest them. Down in Arkansas, one never knows.

Bullets have often been the villain in the land of the Bubbas. A few years ago a couple of good ol’ boys were driving home through the White River bottoms after a successful night of frog-gigging, and the headlight on their pickup truck flickered out. No replacement fuse was available. One of them discovered that the end of a .22-caliber bullet fit perfectly into the fuse box next to the steering column. He inserted the bullet, the lights flickered on, and they drove on.

But not for long. The bullet overheated in the slot where the fuse should have been, and discharged, sending the business end of the bullet into the driver’s nether region. He swerved sharply on an approach to a bridge, the truck left the road and banged into a tree. Both men were not hurt badly, though the driver’s testicles would never again be the same. “Thank God we weren’t on the bridge when Thurston shot his balls off,” his friend told the sheriff, “or we might both be dead.”

Thurston got an award from the Darwin Society, for “taking himself out of the gene pool,” recognition usually awarded only to the dearly departed in accordance with the society’s official rules for leaving said gene pool, but an exception was made because the famous fuse-fixer of the White River bottoms accomplished what only a dead man usually does.

Benno the Belgian shepherd is left with no reward and only a dog-sized bellyache, but if the National Rifle Association recognizes true devotion to its purposes and aims it will award Benno an honorary lifetime membership. We’ll see.

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