By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Feisty the rat terrier has picked up a few fans over the past 14 years.
“I have so many people call and say, ‘I love that dog. Will you sell him?’” David Leatherman, 67, said. “I say, ‘No. He’s my best friend.’”
People often spot the pooch when waiting for a light to change in front of Leatherman and Feisty’s office on East Main Street in Tupelo.
“When we get to the office, he’ll snoop around then walk right in here,” Leatherman said. “At noontime, he knows I take him out to go potty, so he walks to the left. Every evening, he walks and goes right because we’re going home.”
When Feisty isn’t leading the way outside, he’s often curled up on a comfy chair reserved for him. Leatherman is an insurance and investment broker for Northwestern Mutual, and his clients have gotten used to his canine co-worker.
“He’s here every day I’m here,” Leatherman said. “He goes with me everywhere.”
Their day together begins with breakfast, and Feisty is accustomed to half a hotdog. After that, the they go to Elvis Presley Lake for a 2-mile stroll.
“For 14, he does really well,” Leatherman said. “He has no problem getting his walk in.”
The next stop is usually the office, where Feisty gets territorial without getting nasty.
“Generally, he’ll come up and make his presence known, but it won’t go any further,” Leatherman said. “That’s his way of explaining that he’s in control of this office.”
The pair share their evenings, too. When it’s time to watch a movie, Feisty sits in Leatherman’s lap.
Fridays are date nights for Leatherman and Dorinda, his wife of 47 years.
“We go to any restaurant she wants to go to,” Leatherman said. “Feisty knows it’s Friday night. He goes, too.”
The dog stays in the car during dinner, but he’s learned to expect a treat after his wait.
“If we go to Wendy’s, I’ll get him a double-meat hamburger,” Leatherman said. “I tear off the bread and give it to him.”
As close as man and dog are, they regularly endure prolonged separations. Leatherman is a missionary, who has spread the gospel in England, Germany, Argentina, South Korea, Cuba, Nepal, China and more. Feisty has a way to stay in touch across the long distances.
“My wife says that when I leave, he’ll go into my closet and dig out my shoe just to have my scent,” Leatherman said. “He’ll sleep with it.”
When a trip’s over, Leatherman knows he’s got a buddy who’ll be thrilled to see him.
But the pair only have so many happy homecomings ahead of them. Fourteen is pretty old, even for a small dog.
“I know it’s going to come because I’ve had a lot of dogs,” he said. “Definitely, it will impact me emotionally. He isn’t just a dog. He is a personal friend. I wake up every day knowing someone wants to be around me.”
Leatherman said Feisty doesn’t run and “jump, jump, jump” the way he once did. He’s losing his hearing, and he’s become an accomplished sleeper in his old age.
But the basics haven’t changed.
“He’s a good dog,” Leatherman said.