Saturday, March 28, 2015

Dogs - by Jay Mason

“If you get to thinking you're a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else's dog around.”  

~Will Rogers

            I love dogs.  Most people can name every dog they have ever owned – Sarge, Socks, MD, Sandy, Hayduke, Wiggles, Carmel, Sari, Baylee, Roxy, and  Jack are mine.  We have so many dogs here in Gallup that too many are destroyed each year, and others thankfully are exported to be adopted elsewhere.  We all need to give whatever we can to the Gallup McKinley Humane Society. But this is a story about our dogs. 
When our five children were grown and gone, I thought we would have a quieter, more peaceful life.  Our long time dog Carmel, a great golden Retriever, was getting old and it was clear she would not be with us much longer.  In the meantime I became a victim of the principle that children routinely inflict upon their parents.  Our children started getting pets of their own and decided after the fact that Mom and Dad could take better care of their pets while they are in college.  The animals started coming home and lo and behold, when education was finished, the pets stayed at our house.  We managed to hand some of them back eventually, but one stayed and is still with us.
That dog is Baylee.  Baylee began as a puppy with one of my daughters at college who thought the dog was a beagle.  The farmer who had sold the dog to my daughter had told her as much.  It turned out to be a black and tan coonhound.  It is the only one of our dogs that has flown on an airplane as she travelled back to Gallup when our daughter learned she could not take care of a dog and go to school.  I had never owned a hound, and they are a breed apart.  My idea of a dog is throw the ball and the dog brings it back to me.  I threw the ball to Baylee, and she just looked at me.  I called Baylee, and she glanced my way.  Hounds live in a world of their own governed mostly by their nose.    
Baylee was great for Carmel as she moved toward her last days.  She gave Carmel new energy, and my wife trained Baylee as a search and rescue dog.  There is an amazing group of women in Littleton, Colorado (Scent Trackers of the Rocky Mountains) who train hounds primarily for law enforcement.  Baylee went to school and what an experience.  I had no idea how much natural instinct comes into play in training.  The trainer blew into a Kleenex and got into a car and drove across a strip center, a street and another shopping center to park the car.  Then she got out and hid behind a building.  Meanwhile, Kitty walked the other way with Baylee on a leash.  Then Baylee smelled the Kleenex and was told to go to work, which she did, dragging Kitty across the parking lot, the street and parking lot up to the car where she stopped.  There Kitty told her to keep working.  She raised her nose, sprinted to the back of the building and found the trainer.  You can see why the police like these dogs.
  Most dogs love to be with their owners all the time.  Late at night my wife and I sometimes insulate ourselves from the dogs to take a break.  We try to go to a part of the house where they cannot see or hear us.  Carmel wanted so bad to be inside the house; she travelled around the back of the house and found a basement window that she thought she could force open with her body weight.  We heard the glass break and as I opened the door to the basement, I saw half a golden retriever stuck in the window with a sly smile on her face.  We removed the glass and the dog from the window and spent time with our determined retriever.
Our dogs are treated (and I emphasize treat) better than I am at my house.  After Carmel died, my wife Kitty decided that Baylee was lonely.  I did not realize that dogs reached that level of emotional comprehension, but what do I know?  Unbeknownst to me, my wife had already planned to visit the ladies in Colorado and adopt a hound.  She and my daughter Elizabeth went to visit my other daughter and came back with a new dog, Roxy.  They didn’t tell me they had a dog until they were in Colorado Springs on the way home.  This dog is a bluetick hound and weighs 120 pounds.  She can put her head on our dining room table.  I still remember when they arrived at our house, and our cat looked at me and asked, “Why did you bring a horse into our house?”
Roxy did not make a sound when she came to our house.  She had not been treated well in her former home, and Kitty nursed her back to health. In fact she takes more medicine each day than I do. Within three weeks she barked for the first time in Gallup.  Blue ticks don’t really bark; they howl. It sounds a little like the end of the world.  Now we can’t shut her up.  She greets me every day with a howl when I come home.  I am told that blue ticks are used in New Mexico by ranchers to chase mountain lions who are killing livestock.  They run the cats into trees so they can be caught. In any event Roxy is here to stay.
Jack is our neighbor’s dog but he lives at our house.  Every morning Roxy would go out into the back yard and start howling at Jack.  Jack would just look at Roxy.  When we opened the gate, Roxy would explore Jack’s dog run, but every morning Roxy would howl at Jack.  So our neighbors agreed that Jack could come live with Roxy.  I guess Jack and Roxy are living in sin, but the morning howl has subsided.  The other day all three dogs went crazy when they spotted two foxes out two different windows in our house.  I am sure if we had let them go we might not have seen them again.  So much for the quiet and peaceful existence of a house without children.


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