Galley Street ran between the river and the road. Down the hill, the north fork of the Kentucky River snaked its way past Granny's kitchen window. Up the hill, Highway 15 curled like a ribbon around the base of the mountains.
Sometimes, the river or the road brought unexpected travelers to Galley Street. Missy was my favorite. She arrived one summer morning. Papaw and I had just finished eating scrambled eggs, and Granny was stacking our plates in a sink of soapy water.
I ran outside to check the weather. Missy was standing just outside the front door, as if she were waiting for someone to let her in.
I swallowed a squeal. Granny did not like dogs; and Missy was the most pitiful dog I'd ever seen. Her hair was mangy at best; and Granny later said we could have grown taters in her huge pointy ears. They were just that dirty.
As weak and small as she was, she managed to wag her tail. My heart broke in a million pieces.
Granny came to check on me.
I'm not sure whose eyes looked sadder, mine or Missy's.
"Who's this?" Granny asked.
"She was just standing here when I opened the door. We have to do something Granny. She needs help."
Granny looked skeptical. "She looks beyond help," she said, "but if you plan to help her, you'd better put on some gloves."
Granny went back into the kitchen and came out with some yellow rubber gloves. Missy and Granny watched as I slipped them on. They covered me from fingertips to elbows.
Missy didn't seem to mind. While I knelt beside her and petted her, Granny went in the house and brought out a biscuit left over from breakfast. Missy gobbled up the crumbs as fast as Granny could crumble.
Granny's resolve not to have a dog crumbled along with the biscuit. She decided that if the vet could help her, Missy could stay...for a while at least. On the car ride to the vet, Missy sat on a towel folded in my lap.
We came home that day with some worming medicine and a tube of cream to rub on Missy's bald patches. The vet said he thought Missy was a Welsh Corgi.
"The queen has those kinds of dogs, Granny!" I exclaimed. "She's a dog fit for a queen."
Granny liked that. Papaw named her Missy.
It took a while, but Missy grew into her ears. Her fur filled in; and her sad, soulful eyes brightened. Missy never strayed far from the yard. She played with me and the cousins, walked with Granny to and from the mailbox everyday, and guarded the kingdom of Galley Street for close to 15 years.