A Gainesville mailman is doing his level best to repair relations between dogs and mail carriers on his route in the Chattahoochee Country Club.
Yogesh “Yogi” Mody reaches the Whitehead residence on Peninsula Road in the late afternoon. Waiting in the cul-de-sac are mailboxes ready to receive letters, front steps ready to receive packages and a pair of 100%, certified mutts ready to receive their treats.
“They have learned. They hear his truck, they go running out there and Yogi gets out of his truck and tosses cookies to them,” said Laura Whitehead of her two strays-turned-house-dogs, Marvin and Fred. “It’s just so sweet.”
The carrier with the U.S. Postal Service, who was not allowed to be interviewed for this story, started dropping cookies for the pups a couple of years ago, about a year after the Whiteheads moved into the home.
“He’s so familiar with them, he’s learned their personalities,” Whitehead said. “He said, ‘Now, Marvin, if I throw them all in the same place, he eats them all.’ Which is true, because my chunky dog is a bit of a bully.”
If Marvin is a little tough, it’s because he got his start on the mean streets of Gainesville. Karen Towles, a teacher and coach at Lakeview Academy, picked Marvin up from the street eight years ago.
“I told my husband about him. He didn’t think he wanted a dog, but then he went and looked at Marvin and he checked all the boxes,” Whitehead said, laughing.
Marvin runs a little over a foot tall, might have some corgi in him and sheds (and barks) like it.
And while Marvin was referred to the family, his smaller friend, Fred, was picked up direct about a year ago.
“I go to college, and my little brother and my dad are on a trip,” said Georgia Whitehead, the second-youngest of the family and a student at Clemson University. “The day that I leave, Mom sends a picture to our family saying, ‘I found this Marvin lookalike on Atlanta Highway. I think I’m going to keep him.’”
Fred was an empty-nester dog, her mother explained.
“He’s my project,” she said.
Both behaved like strays in their early days and took not only a lot of training, but in Fred’s case substantial vet bills to clear him of the various illnesses and parasites that come with being an unsheltered dog in the South.
“We put up found posters for Marvin, but not Fred,” Laura Whitehead said. Her mother added, “It was clear Fred didn’t have a house.”
Fred was covered in ticks and suffering from worms and “is afraid of everything,” Laura said, as a result of his time as an Atlanta Highway stray.
But Fred’s not afraid of Yogi.
“He’s a very timid dog, but he loves Yogi,” Laura Whitehead said.
And a few days ago, the same day the family was preparing to hand off a gift card to the mailman for Christmas, they spotted him tucking two sweaters for Marvin and Fred into the mailbox — care not of Amazon or Etsy, but Mody himself.
The little sweaters are red, green and classically, gloriously ugly. The both shout “Fa La La La Llama” in white embroidery.
“The sweaters surprised me, and the fact that he gets out every day. He could just toss (the cookies) out,” Whitehead said.
Her daughter added, “I just thought it was sweet — he goes above and beyond his call of duty — to be sweet to our dogs.”