Buck is the epitomy of the old saying that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

He was 5 years old when he came to live with Kate Kelly, and now, he’s her best friend.

“He definitely followed that adage,” Kelly said.

Fortunately for Kelly, Buck already knew some tricks that have entertained and made her heart grow fonder for her pet over the years.

“He was already beautifully trained,” said Kelly. “He knows how to shake hands, and he likes to catch balls.”

That’s not to say he hasn’t picked up anything during the time he’s lived with Kelly.

One of his brightest accomplishments is his mastery of the Cherokee language – or at least one word of it.

“Buck’s very favorite toy is this stuffed squirrel I got for him,” said Kelly. “When I worked at the Cherokee Heritage Center, I had the opportunity to take a Cherokee language class. I learned the Cherokee word for ‘squirrel,’ and I taught it to Buck, so whenever I said the word, he would go and get his squirrel.”

Pet tricks are something every pet owner shows off proudly.

Jami Custer’s puppy, Jetta, is an energetic soul. The black lab may be a little over-hyper sometimes, but she does know a few tricks.

“She can shake hands,” said Custer. “She’s learning to roll over, but she only makes it halfway and lies on her back.”

Connie Schlittler’s family has a pet gerbil, which doesn’t do much in the way of tricks, except the occasional wheel spin.

“It can hide behind the stove, but I don’t think that really counts as a trick,” she said.

Carol McKiel has had many pets over the years, thanks to the influence of her now-grown children, but one stands out in her mind: the family rabbit.

“The rabbit was used to being able to run around the house; the lady we got it from would let it roam her house, but we had two dogs, and we were worried about dogs and the rabbit sharing the house,” said McKiel.

So for a week, the dogs lived outside while the rabbit roamed the house. Then McKiel switched, putting the rabbit in a cage and letting the dogs roam the house, so they could adjust to the scent of one another.

“Then one night, after the kids went to bed, my husband [Allen] and I decided this was it. He took one dog, I took another dog, and we somehow managed to get the rabbit out of the cage,” said McKiel. “That rabbit took off, head-butted one dog, turned and head-butted the other dog and then took off into the basement.”

The bowels of the house eventually became the hare’s domain. With the dogs upstairs and the rabbit down, the trio lived in peaceful harmony.

“The rabbit was the alpha male,” said McKiel.

Jane Anderson recently rescued a small dog and wanted to get to know the pup.

“It appearted to me at first that he was crying about everything, from me combing my hair, to him wanting food, to not wanting to ride in the car, and on and on,” said Anderson. “Well, now he has slowed up on the ‘crying’ and it has taken me most of this time to realize he wasn’t crying at all; he was talking to me! Talking. He's a talker, and boy, is he a talker!”

Anderson said the little dog, which she named Wylie, makes her laugh every day, which he seems to enjoy. And he gets along well with her other dog, Mr. Famous.

“Wylie and Famous are both great little dogs, enjoying each other’s company and living very, very good dogs’ lives,” said Anderson. “Sleep, eat, play, sleep, eat, play, sleep, eat, play. ...”

Buck gained some notoriety in the area several years ago, when he made the parade circuit – a career from which he has since retired.

“We were working on a campaign for a local district judge,” said Kelly. “My husband at the time, Mike, rigged Buck in a sandwich-board sign, and he walked through many parades like that.”

Kelly said Buck made his decision to retire from the parade business clear to her during one Northeastern State University Homecoming parade.

“He saw someone he knew watching the parade, and he took off,” said Kelly. “After that, he was done with parades.”

Buck also gets festive for the holidays, wearing antlers at Christmas, devil horns on Halloween, Mardi Gras beads during Mardi Gras, and a red, white and blue bandana on the Fourth of July.

“I love my dog,” said Kelly. “He’s such a good friend.”


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