By GRACE GADDY
PALESTINE — “Nana” — that's short for Banana — never could stay in one place for too long.
The free-spirited Dachshund is known to wander and roam, a modern-day explorer befriending humans young and old. For the past year, the beloved vagabond has made her home in the hearts of those who live at the Dogwood RV Park off West Oak Street in Palestine.
Two of the park's residents — Tawn and Mike Brown — who moved to the park while building a new home, openly testified to their pet's propensity to prowl.
“She wanders around, and she's a pretty independent little girl,” Tawn Brown said. “She has got street smarts.”
But not even street smarts could have the leg up on Nana's recent escapade, when the happy-go-lucky canine survived six days in a closed vehicle without water, food or heat — and through the brunt of the county's cruelest cold front.
The story began last Tuesday with her usual routine, where she'd follow around the owner of Morris Equipment Sales & Service while he would work on vehicles in a nearby auto lot.
“She was out there always following you around, when I was cranking up these cars,” Graham Chavers said. “She'd hop up in every one of them” — but eventually hop out.
Chavers, who also owns the Dogwood RV Park next door, said Nana would make the rounds and was always close behind — until she wasn't.
“I wasn't paying attention to her,” he said. “And I just happened to shut the door after I let it run for a little bit.”
Meanwhile, the Browns knew something strange had occurred when little Nana didn't come home for dinner that night.
“I call her Houdini because she disappears really quick,” Brown said.
She said Nana was probably four or five years old and had been passed around from home to home before eventually landing with the Brown family. But this was the first time Nana had disappeared for what appeared to be for good.
“So the next morning we got up and (asked) 'Did she come home?'”
Brown thought the dog may have been “loved by someone” too much.
“There are people in and out of (the RV park) all the time, and we thought that someone might have scooped her up and taken them with her,” Brown said. “My husband even went out and walked the creek behind the RV park... to make sure that she wasn't there.”
Six days later, they all got the shock of the year when Chavers went to start a certain Chevrolet. And Nana hopped out.
Brown remembers receiving the news Monday afternoon.
“We were Christmas shopping and I heard my husband say, 'Well thank you, Jennifer, we'll be there.'”
Chavers' wife Jennifer gave the dog some food and hydration before delivering her to the Browns.
“When we picked her up, she looked like she was in good shape,” Brown said, though noting that Nana looked thinner than usual. She said their other dog, a shy cocker spaniel named Maddie, was happy to be reunited with her old chum.
“And that night, I put her in the sleeping bag in the recliner,” Brown said, adding that Nana slept soundly that night.
“I don't know how she survived it (the freezing weather),” Brown said. “It was so icy.”
Brown, who works as a laboratory technician at Palestine Regional Medical Center, said she told a coworker the incredible story, who suggested that Nana is “a Christmas miracle.”
“And I thought, well yeah, she is,” Brown said. “She really is.”