Dogs and Horses and Bears…Oh My!
When visitors tour the Callaway house at Hills and Dales, one of the most common remarks is “It feels like a home.” This feeling of warmth and livability is intentional, but still pales in comparison to what the home must have been like when Fuller Jr and Alice were in residence. One of the things that really makes a house a home are pets and theirs was no exception. Several photographs around the house allude to this part of the family’s story, and the dog kennel located west of the greenhouse provides further physical evidence of the furry creatures that once resided here.
Fuller and Alice’s love of animals probably originated in their childhood and continued throughout their lives. We know from Fuller Jr’s baby book that his first pet was a dog named Rascal, but the breed is unknown. Likewise, his admiration of horses may have been inspired by “Jim”, a horse his father owned while he was a child. Similarly, young Alice would have been strongly influenced by her mother’s animal collection in Pelham, GA widely known as the “menagerie.” Indeed, a picture of Alice as a young girl shows her lovingly holding a beautiful cat.
By the time of their marriage in 1930, animals played a prominent part in their lives. Fuller had a small pit bull named Spot in those days that, according to family stories, didn’t like Alice because she wouldn’t let it sleep in their bed. Her new husband told her that, in order to win the dog over, she should take it to the drug store and buy it some ice cream, which she did. After that, he was okay with her until the children came and she started paying more attention to them than to him. It is also rumored that Fuller Jr once took Spot to the movies. When the movie was over, someone asked if the pooch enjoyed the movie, to which Fuller, known for his humor, replied: “Spot liked the book better.” Sadly, it was Spot who was reportedly killed by union operators in the mid-1930s.
As their family grew to include their two children, Fuller III and Ida, the Callaways welcomed more pets into their home. In December 1935, Fuller Jr gave Alice an English sheepdog as a Christmas gift. Officially named Sir Gladstone Bangs, his affectionate nickname was “Glads” and he was ultimately the winner of several blue ribbons from American Kennel Club competitions. They loved him so much they had a portrait of Glads! A companion of Glad’s was a Great Dane named Foots who was known for wandering around the grounds with Alice.
About this same time, Fuller Jr had a white German shepherd named Rex that he adored. After white Rex passed, he adopted another shepherd, a former war dog that he also called Rex. This Rex was his constant companion, even at the office, and possibly saved his life once. They were riding in an open-air Jeep and passed by the gate to the property when they saw a man with a gun. Rex quickly pinned down the man’s gun hand, saving Fuller Jr from potential harm. Later came sibling Weimaraners dubbed Fritz and Freda, and eventually a beagle named Belle. The kennel was constructed in 1952 to house all of the outside dogs plus Belle’s offspring, all of which had names that started with ‘B’.
The first cat to come on the scene was Sheba, a Siamese who achieved some notoriety within the family due to the following mischief. From their accounts, Alice spent four years diligently working on intricately detailed needlework pieces for a set of armchairs in the formal dining room—the same chairs the cat liked to lounge in for afternoon naps. Unfortunately, Sheba also used this opportunity to scratch at the bottom panel on one of the chairs, thus pulling out its beautiful embroidery. One can only imagine how upset Alice was when she had to hire someone to mend it for her since, by then, she was having a hard time seeing the small stiches.
Beyond dogs and cats, horses were also a fixture at Hills and Dales. Some fifty years after Fuller Sr’s Jim trotted the grounds, Fuller Jr had horses to help with his efforts to establish a breeding herd of Hereford cattle. In a 1946 letter to a friend, Alice described an incident in which he was trying to ride one of these “western” horses. Suddenly, it reared up and hit him in the head, knocking him unconscious in the saddle. The horse then started to buck until he was thrown 15 feet away, landing on his back. He was unconscious for about thirty minutes and his cousin, Dr. Enoch Callaway, feared that Fuller Jr’s back might be broken. Luckily, he made it through the incident with only three broken ribs and was back on his feet and horseback riding again in no time. The last two horses the couple owned were Midnight and Pride, and they lived in the pasture next to the stable not far from the house. Dr. Bob Copeland recounted recently that Mr. Callaway so loved Pride that as the horse got older he would make sure it was taken into the stable every single night.
It’s not at all surprising that the Callaways passed their love of animals on to their children. We know that young Fuller III had a turtle pond, while Ida had a Fox Terrier named Daisy May and a cat named Trouble. A neighbor and friend, Bill Price, remembers that Ida once organized a dog show for all of her friends that was held under the trees on Ferrell Drive. Everyone in the neighborhood was encouraged to bring their dogs and prizes were given out to each participant. She created awards for everything imaginable – fuzziest dog, prettiest dog, biggest dog, smallest dog, etc.
While all of the Callaways’ pets are gone, their love and care for them can still be felt throughout the property. In a surviving letter to a friend, Alice said she had “a love of all animals-great and small.” In that same spirit, two adopted rescue cats roam the grounds these days and will sometimes give an affectionate purr. So the next time you come for a stroll of the gardens be on the lookout for Mickleberry and Heidi, who now call Hills and Dales home.
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