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Monday, September 21, 2009


All pets and critters have their own remarkable stories. I often pet my mutt-girl River, and I think out loud for her tipping ears to hear, that there’s a story in my head about her that needs to be told. So unfortunate there are many "throw away" pets out there, and living out in the country, we’ve met quite a few sad and confused animals that were no longer wanted and dropped off at a lonely crossroad near our home. River was one of those "throw away" dogs.

Yelling and shouting caught my attention while out in the yard. Down the road lives a nice, but pet-less couple in a quaint little farmhouse about a 1/3 of a mile away. When I looked up to see what the commotion was about I saw a little black dot streaking across their manicured front lawn like a bolt of lightning toward the road with the farmer chasing behind throwing rocks it’s direction. Sad, I thought, wondering about the little black critter. I went back to my tasks.

The following day while out at the barn, I noticed a little black speck down in our pasture past the pond, along the riverbank. “Oh…just great” I thought. Now, I’m not one against helping critters if they need it, but I was sure hoping this one was just one of those dogs that left for the day, taking itself for a walk, but was making it’s way back home. We’re already inundated with kids and critters, and I maintained my hopefulness with that thought, and went about currying the horses. I watched the black speck for 3 days looking for food like blackberries and moles, along the river’s bank.

On the fourth day, I spotted the black speck trotting up the road along our pasture fence heading this direction. “Shoot!” my head exclaimed! And I knew, once passed our driveway is a series of sharp and windy corners as you head up the hills back toward town, some of which are dangerous blind curves… I knew an intervention was inevitable. A little black critter would be impossible to see once sundown fell upon the dark road and it would certainly become a road stat. I had had enough, and no longer wanted my conscience to be nagging and tugging at me. This little black speck turned into a skinny little half-breed dog as it neared the driveway. My heart hurt as I worried for its safety as I could hear a truck of some sort make it’s way down the windy road.

From my long driveway I called to the aimless and confused little dog in a playfully high-pitched voice, getting down low and gently patting the ground. I was concerned that I may make it bolt and cross to the other side with oncoming vehicles. To my relief, the little black dog dropped her head and ears as she turned into the driveway acknowledging my offer. Extremely uncertain and fearful, she wagged her tail and down onto her belly she went, doing a belly-crawl the whole length of the long driveway to me. My heart sank for her. So skinny and frightened was she. Fearful and timid, she stopped short on her belly and lay on her side in submission smacking her tail on the ground and licking the air. She showed her submissive posture, but on edge and was ready to bolt if she thought necessary. I was able to slowly make my way to her and touch her, easing her anxiety by a thread.

We fed her and made her a comfortable bed in the doghouse with clean straw next to our German Shepherd, Ace and she became quite comfortable and befriended my very loyal and protective canine. Ace guarded the property and would never consider leaving the boundaries without my husband or I. That is, until the lure of a female… and one in heat, nonetheless! Gone for a day, but they both returned, exhausted with burs, berry vines, grass, and stickers covering their coats, in their ears, and between their toes. Ace had been gone nearly 12 hours and that was enough for me. I contacted the dog control and tied her to the front deck with my lungeline, awaiting for the county to take her away.

So away she went in the truck and they said they would do all they can to find her a good home… for 72 hours. I watched as the truck drove down the driveway with her, and I went back to what I had been working on. The county worker had mentioned that they post the photos of the new dogs on their website. The following day, I was curious, and I looked up the website, hitting the link to new dogs. There I saw a picture of this little black dog on a leash through the front glass doors of the pound… on her belly, like the belly-crawl she did up my driveway. My heart couldn’t take it, and the next day I made a phone call and drove to pick her up. I had to pay $40 dollars and get her in the books with the county to reclaim this abandoned dog. Needless to say after she was ‘bought and paid for’, she was then promptly taken to the vet fixed, to assure there would be no more ‘lure adventures’. Though abandoned, she certainly didn’t come free, because besides those expenses, she’s also endured 5 surgeries in an attempt save her back leg from a truck-riding accident. I say that with a smile on my face because of the irony in acquiring a “free” abandoned pet, that has cost us more then some of my horses. But, like family you don’t count the cost.

So, her name is River, and since that one day when she was taken to the pound, she hasn’t left since. We named River for a couple reasons, as that’s when she became ours, those days she spent trying to take care of herself along the water’s edge, alone, hungry and cold. Sometimes people are sent ‘gifts’, and don’t realize it or don’t know why unless they open themselves to the possibilities. During the days when she was down along the riverbank, we also had an old advanced-aged malamute-wolf hybrid named Kobuck (also an abandoned pet, and named after a river in Alaska) who would never leave the yard unless we took him with us…. That is until the last few days before he passed on. Like his wild ancestors, daily, Kobuck walked himself down to the river, crossed it and laid there waiting for his time to come, away from the ‘family den’. Each day he slowly walked himself down, (very unusual for him to leave the yard/deck), and each evening my husband and I went down with a small trailer and carried him back to the house. When Kobuck passed away, River came to our lives. Coincidence? Maybe.

Today, River is a fat and sassy girl with adoration for the whole family in her sweet eyes. Because of her unfortunate experiences, she seems that much more grateful. When tossed a treat, she never fails to stop to give a second look as if to say “thank you” and wags her tail. She’s so attuned to us that she pays attention to where your eyes are. She’ll sit, quietly attentive, watching. You don’t even have to turn your head, but if you just turn your eyes to look at her, her ears drop with adoration, her tail thuds on the ground, and licks the air. On occasion, we can even get her to howl with the whole family when we are out by the firepit. River… aka Cajun Sausage is fat, black, shiny, and happy and no longer a ‘throw away’ pet, but a fixed member of this family.

Simple things.

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