Millard Vance Barteaux spent his childhood years as a lighthouse kid living at two different Nova Scotia Lighthouses. His father, Vance Barteaux, was the lighthouse keeper at Advocate Harbor Lighthouse on Spruce Island from 1920-1939. He then went on to become the keeper from 1939 to 1958 at the Cape d’Or Lighthouse. One of Millard’s fondest memories of lighthouse life was that of his dog Chip. Here in his own words he has shared Chip’s venerated story with you.
One day in Advocate, my next-door neighbor Dwight Taylor came over and said he had another dog. I went over, and he had this very pretty Lassie-type pup around six months old. Someone down the road said he ran away all the time and gave the dog to Dwight. Dwight was a bit younger than I and he already had a pup named “Teddy”. His mom said he could not have two dogs.
I can still see him sitting on the side of the ditch, one arm around Chip and the other around Teddy. Big tears were streaming down the side of his face. I REALLY wanted that dog. So I went home and asked my father if I could have him. He said NO DOG. I can’t remember his reasons. So then I went to work on my Mom. I cried and told her how lonesome it was out on that lighthouse all by myself. She went back to my father but to no avail. NO DOG. I think it was the government inspector Jim Thompson who stepped in on my side and talked to my dad, and somehow persuaded him to relent. I was one happy boy.
Chip and Teddy played like best friends while we were in the village. Then we took Chip out on the Cape and the lighthouse for six months. When we brought him back to the village, the dogs became mortal enemies. They would fight until they would drop. I would pull Chip in the shed and shut the door on their snouts, then pour cold water on their heads. Only then would they let go.
Teddy would go to Grant’s store on the corner, by himself, for a can of dog food. They would give it to him and he would trot by Chip with his prize and taunt him. The gauntlet has been thrown. I trained Chip, NOT to leave the yard. He would fume and stare him down for months until some little thing would set them off. When Teddy died, Chip would sit and stare at the back step where Teddy would have been. I wonder if he was thinking, “Where is that Chicken dog”?
Chip hated Teddy so bad, if you just said his name, he would go berserk. Mother was hard of hearing in her later life. Once she was giving Chip a bath outside in a round aluminum tub. He hated a bath. Mom had him by the collar and had him all lathered up and he was quite calm. My brother Walter was watching all this and under his breath said the fighting words, TEDDY! Chip would go ballistic, and Mom would have a Tiger Dog with a hot awl up his bum. She got him settled down again, and said, “What is the matter with this dog?” Then once more: lather, scrub, and wash - TEDDY!! Then, Pandemonium. I laughed so hard at this show. It went on and on until she finally hauled him out and rinsed him off. She never did know what set him off like that.
That summer I went away to Bible Camp. While I was there, the RCMP came with their dogs and put them through their paces. I went right home and taught Chip to stay, sit and heel. He was very intelligent and had that common sense that can’t be taught to many dogs.
The first night on the lighthouse, Phil, the assistant keeper, said, “Come on Chip, time to go to bed”. Chip hid under the cot. Phil tied a rope to his neck and took off on a trot for the barn with the dog dragging behind. The next night the same thing took place. The third night old Chip jumped up and went to the barn as nice as pie.
Once in a while he would run off the light, five miles through the woods to my grandmother’s house. Carrie Maude would feed him until we came and got him. He was looking for girls I guess. Once or twice a year he would go chasing the ladies and come back all covered with burrs and mud. There was not a mate within 500 miles. After a good scolding he would settle down again.
He was going to follow Phil off the Cape one time. Phil got to the top of the hill by the light and, turning around, saw Chip about 200 feet behind him. He had the 30-30 rifle and thought, “I’ll just fire over his head and scare him back down the hill.” The bullet hit close to his side and sprayed him with gravel. He took off like a shot back to the house. He never ran off the Cape again.
One humorous story I must tell about Chip and Gram. She lived alone. Being in her eighties, she locked her doors at night, although most in the village did not at that time. One afternoon a thunderstorm came up and Chip fled to Gram’s, squirting all the way. She must have been outside when Chip dove in the house and under her kitchen cot. That night she went to bed thinking she was alone in the house. Some time in the night she awoke with a strange feeling. She slept in a room off her kitchen. Sometime in the night she awoke with a strange feeling. Looking out on the floor, she could see a large mass laying there. The moon was shining in on the lump. Just then she heard a loud SIGH. Her blood ran cold. What could it be? On a whim she said “CHIP?” Up came a familiar head, and she was sorely relieved.
In the mid sixties, Chip was quite old by then and he lived alone with my mother. Dad had gone to that great Lighthouse in the sky and Chip was a beloved companion to my Mother. He was still pretty healthy, but one day he got in a fight with another dog. The dog bit him in the throat and he could not eat. The Vet was thirty miles away. In those days, dogs and cats did not rate a tune up.
I cried when she told me about how she called him to the front porch and told him how he had been such a faithful and stellar member of the family. She stroked his white spot between his eyes and said goodbye. He looked up at her as if to say, “I know, all’s for the best.” She had a neighbor next door take him to the woods. There he lies today, waiting for another shot at Teddy.
This story appeared in the
April 2010 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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