Because I haven't had much time to write of late, I thought I'd re-run this (slightly revised) post from a couple years ago that I stumbled across recently. It's a short one, but for some reason, it's one of my favorites.
During the summer between my sophomore and junior years in college, I worked a third shift job as a security guard at the Young/Morse Historic Site—otherwise known as Locust Grove—in Poughkeepsie, New York. For about a quarter of the 19th century, the grounds were home to the family of Samuel F.B. Morse, the inventor of the telegraph and, of course, Morse code.
A couple years ago, KJ and I visited Locust Grove and toured the home and its lovely grounds, while also learning a couple things that even I didn't know about Morse. First of all, I'm almost embarrassed to admit I wasn't aware he was a painter long before he became famous as an inventor. Most importantly, though, his motivation to create the telegraph was that his wife died while he was traveling far from home, and by the time he received word by horse messenger and returned, she had already been buried.
After Morse's death, his family remained for a few years, but eventually sold the estate to the wealthy and politically connected Poughkeepsie couple William and Martha Young. The Young family was dedicated to the historical significance of Locust Grove and its preservation as it existed during Morse's lifetime. When their daughter Annette died in 1975, her will established a trust to maintain the estate for the "education, visitation and enlightenment of the public."
Pets were an important part of the Youngs' existence, and Annette's will also provided for the care of any living pets and their descendents. The summer I worked there, 12 years after her death, I worked with a "guard dog" named Linus. I don't know his entire story, but I was told he was willed to the estate. Since he wasn't old enough to have been alive during Annette's lifetime, I always assumed he was the offspring of her dog.
Linus wasn't really a guard dog per se, but I can tell you I was a little nervous to get out of my car the first time he introduced himself to me in the way territorial canines often do. We became fast friends, though, and he turned out to be a welcome companion as I'd make my rounds of the dark estate two or three times per hour. He also served as my personal alarm clock, warning me as the supervisor's car approached, which was important on the nights I needed a few winks to get me through to 8am.
The only time Linus wasn't there for me was the night a pack of coyotes had been seen and heard patrolling the grounds. I'm not exactly sure where he ended up hiding that night, but observing how scared he was caused me to spend most of the night inside my car, rather than at my usual post on the veranda of the Youngs' and Morses' former home.
The Youngs' reverence for their pets is evident at the estate by the fact there are three pet cemeteries on the grounds. Well aware of this from my time spent as a guard there, I knew our visit would give me the chance to pay my respects to one of my all-time favorite dogs.
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