Staff column: Two local desert dogs look for a big bone
Each year I have to write at least one column about dogs. This doesn't sit well with everyone.
There are some people who write me rude notes, send me emails or deposit voice mails in my in my phone box disclosing their displeasure about about me doing this.
On the other hand a lot of people who tell me how much they love those stories and comment they would like to see more.
So fair warning to those that don't want to read about dogs. Stop reading now. You have that right. No one is making you read this column.
Two weeks ago I took some time away from the paper and spent four days in the San Rafael Swell, just enjoying the silence and beauty of it all. It was a good time to go. It was cool (at times downright cold) and I was the only one camped in the area I was at for almost the entire time I was there.
On this trip I took a puppy that I was given last fall by one of my co-workers. A little brown Border Collie with yellow eyes, Scarlet, as I named her, was a hiking machine the entire time. Sure we spent a little time on the four wheeler together (she is used to that because the third day I had her as a puppy she went on a 105 mile ride with me in Sevier County from Central to Kosharem and back to Central through Monroe).
But the hiking she did is what amazed me. In fact the hiking I did, on my bum knees, amazed me too.
Anyway we walked old mining roads, stream beds, four wheeler trails and in some cases went nearly straight up some rocky cliffs. Most of the dogs I have had in my life were never as one minded as she is. They got easily distracted running after every lizard, bunny and bird they could see. She was instead, pretty much content to smell along the trail and stay the course.
The first day I kept the leash on her, and she just wanted to go, go, go.
The second day I let the leash drag on the ground and she pulled it behind her, a little resentful of the indignity of the trailing encumbrance. Sometimes she got it caught on a rock or a plant. I thought about this at the end of that day, and worried a little. Certainly if she took off I could grab her more easily with the leash attached, but if she got away from me and got it caught I realized it could cause her death if she was mired someplace and I couldn't find her. So the third day ended up being a leash off day.
What fun it was. She jumped and played and roamed and she always stayed near me. Even when the occasional bird flew along the ground or a pot gut took to running away she came back quickly when I called.
I have had a lot of dogs in my life and have bonded with many of them, but this dog is something really special. She and I are one in so many ways.
During the trip she played with me constantly, ate with me, crawled under rocks with me and slept by me on the bed in my trailer (something she does not get to do when we are at home).
She was like the ultimate dog citizen on the trip; responsible, sensible and good to be around.
On the third day we were out I hiked up to the dinosaur track that is just above the road in Buckhorn Wash. I was looking at the print and called her over wanting to take a picture with my phone camera of her sniffing around. Instead as I snapped the photo she looked up at me. Consequently the photo has the dinotrack with her head in the foreground. She seemed to have a surprised look on her face, like she had just discovered something. That gave me an idea.
I texted a number of my friends that she had found a dinosaur track and that, upon that discovery, she was hunting for T-Rex. Over the next two days I sent various messages with photos of her in different places around the swell still "sniffing out the trail." Photos included her at Fuller Bottom, near some cliffs which we had hiked to, up an old mining road, etc.
Finally at the end of the second day, I took a photo of her sleeping on the sofa in the trailer, informing people that she was really tired from her hunt.
My friends responses to my texts were very amusing. So I had the best of both worlds; spending time in a very quiet place, but still getting the humor out to and from the masses.
Finally on Wednesday I packed everything up, started the truck and we moved down the road. She looked out the window as we pulled away and looked at me like "Why are we leaving? This was so much fun, why would you want to go?"
All the way home she sat on the seat by me. And for most of the trip she put her paw on my arm, like she was thanking me for having taken her.
We both had to go back to our worlds which are very different from one another. Me, working in the dog eat dog world of the media, and her, well, in a dog eat milkbone world.
We had no T-Rex femur for her to munch on when we got back, but then we had something together that few other experiences can ever replace.
We had real peace of mind.