I’ve never been so relieved over a dog I didn’t know as I was in the Cracker Barrel in Dublin, Georgia decades after I first became concerned about her fate.
My husband and I had created a campfire playlist the previous weekend, and one of the songs I’d chosen was Shannon by Henry Gross, which was released in 1976. It’s a song I’d half-winced at adding, but I’ve always loved the tune and the passion of the voice. All my life, it has been a trainwreck song – one that holds you with fierce abandon while you squirm and fight off tears as you listen.
I’d always heard that the song was about the singer’s dog who had fallen off a sailboat and drowned, and was now “drifting out to sea.” My heart has ached through all these years, thinking that this poor Irish Setter named Shannon had been doing what she’d loved in her role as the first mate on this vessel but had slipped and fallen into the waters, disappearing before anyone even realized she was missing.
I’ve been on that boat a hundred times in my mind, searching frantically for this dog, wondering if a shark had eaten her or if she’d been wave-drowned and folded into the depths.
I went searching for a picture of this dog, only to find that this was one of those rumors I’d always heard and had never taken the time to verify. Turns out, the dog was not Henry Gross’s dog at all, but an Irish setter named Shannon belonging to Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys, with whom Gross had played a time or two. She’d not drowned, but had been hit by a car. Ironically, though, Gross had also owned a dog named Shannon.
And so I celebrated right there in the Cracker Barrel over breakfast that Shannon did not panic in the water or dogpaddle for hours on end and succumb to drowning from fatigue. I think that most of all, I’m finally satisfied that there was closure for her family…….and now I can listen to the song with a happier sad heart around the campfire.
The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.