I started telling this story when my wonderful, fast, strong, gentle, kind old horse Story was still alive. My wonderful (but stinky) old dog Merridog was still alive then, too. They have both crossed the bridge now, but it makes me smile to remember them, and it makes me laugh to tell this story.
There once was a woman who had a wonderful horse.
This horse was fast, she was strong, she was gentle, and she was kind.
This horse could trot a 2-minute mile, she could pull a stump out of the field, she could carry a little child on her back all afternoon, and she could walk across a barnyard full of ducklings without ever endangering any of them.
The woman also had a dog.
This dog was old.
He was so old that his eyes and ears didn't work very well any more. When this dog wagged his tail, he had to start by swinging his shoulders back and forth.
And this dog's breath was so bad that it could stop traffic. Still, he'd always been a good dog, and the woman loved him.
One day, the woman went out to feed the horse, she discovered that the fence had come down in a storm, and the horse had run off into the hills.
For days, the woman searched the hills for her horse but to no avail.
Finally, she raised her eyes to the heavens and said aloud, "if I could just know that my good horse was okay, that she wasn't hungry or injured, if I could just find her safe, I would sell her to the first person who offered me a dollar!"
When she lowered her eyes, she saw movement ahead of her. Sure enough, there was the horse just up the path, safe and sound.
But the woman had made a promise.
So she loaded up the horse in the trailer, and loaded up the dog in the truck, and all three of them drove to the market in town.
When she got there, she stood in the center of the market and announced:
"I will sell this horse to the first person who offers me a dollar!"
Some people offered her a lot more money than a dollar for such a fine horse.
But she raised up her hand, and continued speaking:
"However, the person who buys this horse, must also buy my dog.
The price for the dog is $10,000."
Everyone looked at the dog.
The dog was old.
He was blind, and deaf.
He could barely wag his tail.
And then the dog breathed out....
Nobody wanted to buy that dog for $10,000.
The woman loaded the dog back in the truck, loaded the horse back in the trailer, and together they all drove home.
And as far as I know, they are all living there still.