After I wrote about sleeping on the flat bed truck I remembered another incident connected with that time.
We slept there all night and I don’t think I woke up at all. Louie may have wakened up and looked around a couple time. He was like that. The man could wake up any time, but he would fall back to sleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. I could never go to sleep that quickly.
We were up as the sun rose the next morning, rested and cozy. It was really nippy to get up so we lay there for a few minutes, hesitant to expose any part of our anatomy to the chill. In the desert you can be roasting during the day, but nights get uncomfortably cold. If you are sleeping without a fire, a couple blankets are more than handy.
We finally got up and started our day, going about the normal routines of starting a fire, making coffee. Of course, pretty soon Notah was standing in his crib yelling to get out so he had to be changed and dressed. Then Louie carried the mattress back in. I left it until he had gone to work to make the bed. The day went on as usual.
When Louie came home that evening, he was telling about a UFO sighting that was being reported all over the Gallup-Window Rock area. Everyone at Gamerco had been talking about it. Depending on where he was the person who saw it had seen either a bright red light or a ‘saucer-shape’ with a red light on top.
Over supper when we got together at Mom’s house, two of the boys and I don’t remember which two were telling us how they had been coming home late the night before and saw the same red light moving across the western sky slanting down from south to north.
And I’d slept through the whole thing. RATS!
My mind has been on the years I spent in New Mexico this morning. I was thinking in the middle of the night (when I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep) of living in the little pink house. I’ve talked of it other places here. Look under Married Years if you want to read more.
One year, Louie borrowed a flat bed trailer from someone. I don’t even remember what he borrowed it for now, probably to haul wood or hay. Because it wasn’t ours he parked it right beside the house under the kitchen window until he could return it to the owner. Late in the evening, after Notah was asleep, we decided to sleep out on it.
I would have just taken blankets and made our bed on the wood floor of the trailer. Not Louie. He carried the mattress out and laid it on the bed of the trailer. We slept in comfort under the stars.
Then there was nothing in the world like the stars in the desert. Now there is much of the same light pollution there that we have in Ohio and only the brightest stars can be seen. But then we lay there looking straight up into the heavens and the number of stars was unimaginable. You think you’ve camped back east and seen stars at night—you have no idea of what it is like in the deep desert. There are multitudes of tiny stars that are hidden by the afterglow of lights from towns and even the big privacy lamps beside barns and in back yards near human habitations.
We had no campfire or any kind of light. The only light anywhere around was the tiny flame of the kerosene lamp in beside Notah. Its little glow didn’t even reach the window. I can’t describe the feeling of being there under that huge sky all alone. It takes a special relationship with God and nature to be able to lie down and simply go to sleep in such an exposed location. Most people are only comfortable surrounded by walls it seems.
But lying there in the darkness with the shimmer of starlight overhead, snuggled under the blankets with the other person you trust most in the world, has a special kind of security and seclusion. Mom and the boys were all asleep, either inside or out. (The boys often slept outside) Dorothy and her family were all settled inside snoozing away. It was just the two of us. Even Notah, safe and warm in his crib, didn’t infringe on the silence.
Sitting here in my recliner, closing my eyes I can still feel the furnace that was Louie close beside me and the cold breeze on my face as it blew in from across the sagebrush and sand and rabbit bush. If you ever have a chance, go out deep in the desert and camp sometime. It will be worth it.
I’ve been thinking about my mother-in-law today. I miss her. She accepted a white woman into her family with open arms and was never anything but kind to me. She even bawled her son out a few times when he did something or said something to me that she didn’t think was nice of him. ;o)
I don’t ever remember addressing her as anything other than ‘shima’. ‘Mrs. Howe’ was somehow too snooty. ‘Marie’ was horrifyingly familiar. At first I thought of her as ‘Louie’s mother’ but I couldn’t call her that. Navajo etiquette indicates that any older lady be addressed as ‘shima’ whether she is your mother or not. It is like saying ‘ma’am’ to a lady whose name you don’t know. I addressed her that way from good manners at first, but over the years she became as much loved as my own mother and the name was appropriate. After Notah was born I referred to her as ‘Grandma’ when I was involving him in the conversation, but she was never my ‘shimasani.’
I have an indelible picture impressed on my memory of her sitting on the side of her bed with her hands folded in her lap, looking out the door across to the distant mountains. She had the greatest patience of any person I’ve ever known. I grew up in an Anglo family where it was rush, rush, rush. Hurry was my mother’s way of life. I don’t know why, we never had any thing that important thing going on.
My mother-in-law never seemed to rush or get impatient over anything. From her example I learned patience. I learned that things happen when they are supposed to and all of my fussing and prodding and worrying won’t make them happen one instant sooner. I had never learned to wait patiently. I knew how to WAIT but not patiently. I had learned to wait while champing at the bit. I fidgeted, I fumed, I worried, I checked the time. And by the time whatever it was I was waiting for happened I was a nervous wreck.
My husband used to tell me about waking up early just before dawn and just lying there in the dimness listening to the late-night/early-morning DJ’s playing the special kind of music late-late radio hosts like to play—those slow, sentimental, haunting country western songs. I never understood it, but I accepted it.
Now I do the same thing…only without the radio. I wake up just before dawn and wait for the light to brighten across the sky. I like early mornings.
Today I was thinking of the time I spent with the kids on the mission and all the things there.
Today there is a regular little community at ‘Rock Springs’ but when I first went there we had the windmill and the old chapter house as the center of the community. The mission was across from the windmill, Sister Brown and her daughters, Martha, Nellie and their families lived back the road between the mission and the windmill. Helen and Leonard Jones lived directly across the main road from the mission. All of the other community members lived along that main road at various distances from the center. Well, not really all of them. The Rock Springs chapter extended across the highway on the east and north, but the ‘Rock Springs Road’ was the center.
I always liked the big windmill. I’m kind of sad that it isn’t working any more. The old windmill pumped, of course, when the wind blew. There was a huge tank that held like a million gallons of water (figuratively speaking, but a lot of water.) There was a smaller tank that held drinking water. Water from the windmill went to the smaller tank first. The water there was cleaner than in the big one. The water from the big tank flowed into several (2 or 3) long water troughs for the stock.
I guess there was a float switch or something that locked the big vanes of the windmill when the tanks were too full. I don’t know. I never worried about it when I lived there and now that I think about it I have no idea.
What I remember best is seeing the community livestock trekking across the road to drink. The cattle and horses that wandered further on their own used to come in little groups. They would drink and stand around a while in the shade of the tanks then drink again before they headed on out to where ever.
The goats of the people in the community were usually brought in by the herders, although some came on their own. They followed the same pattern as the larger stock. The animals were usually thirsty and needed no ‘herding’ toward the water troughs, they came all too willingly, streaming across through the sage and rabbit bush. The herder tagged along behind.
The routine at the water tank involved slaking their first intense thirst then bumming around for a while nibbling at imaginary wisps of vegetation and nibbling on the real sage and weeds that survived around the tanks. After a while the water they had drunk seeped into their dehydrated tissues. Before they left they all had another few sips of water, like topping off a gas tank before you start a long trip.
Everyone, or almost everyone, in the community had a few goats or a cow or a couple horses. If they didn’t keep them at their own house they let their own couple animals run with someone else’s. It wasn’t so much a financial need as a cultural connection. It kept them tied to their tracitional roots, I think.
Today it isn’t that way. More and more of the young people have abandoned old cultural ways to pursue jobs. It is a financial necessity. The land is not big enough and the vegetation does not replace itself fast enough to maintain herds that will support a family as they could. The younger Navajos have been forced to take on more of anglo ways. And that is okay but I desperately hope that they do not forget or completely abandon the ways of their mothers.
My nephew, Irving, who is head of the Navajo library system, told me once that they have shelves of recordings made by their elders telling stories, recounting events and singing songs of the Dineh. I hope, I hope that those recordings have been digitized and preserved for those younger Navajo who will begin seeking a way back to their history. It is a beautiful culture and fantastic, proud history. I’m proud of it and I don’t have a drop of Navajo blood—only a much loved husband and mother-in-law and a family in Rock Springs that is probably closer to me than most of my Anglo family.
When I go back to the community today, I’m excited to see that the vegetation in a lot of places that had been nibbled bare is re-growing. The sage and rabbit bush and the grasses they nurture are coming back. The juniper is growing where once it was thin and sparse. As I drive (or ride, actually) up over the hill and connect with the old Rock Springs road, it is surprising how much more foliage the landscape has. But the desert landscape is fragile. This is proof. It has taken what? Thirty or forty years for the fullness to return. Humans don’t value the land and its plant life as much as they should.
The land on the right is an example of land restricted from grazing. On the left is land where goats have been grazed too long.[/captio
Sitting here in my chair by our big bay window and looking across the sage and bunch grass to the mountains, I remember the first time I came to New Mexico.
I was teaching third grade at Dover Avenue Elementary in Dover Ohio when I felt the Lord calling me to teach at the Rock Springs Navajo Mission. I had one year of experience in the classroom. When it came time to sign my continuing contract with Dover Schools, I simply couldn’t do it. I told my principal I was going to go teach on a mission school instead. He may have thought I was a little strange, but he was a Mennonite so I believe he understood to a certain extent. He suggested that I take a leave of absence instead of just tossing the contract down the drain.
That worked for me.
Sandy Wendell said she would go with me to the mission and work in their bible school. My parents, even though I was over 21, were worried about the two of us going alone. I think Sandy was maybe 17. Mom talked to Sister Grace Henry about it and they came up with the perfect traveling companion. I wish I could remember her first name but she was simply ‘sister Blackwell’ to us.
A tiny fantastic woman, she was the best example of holiness they could have sent with us. She was jolly and a fun friend. She never lost patience with our silliness and she was always ready to stop at some roadside attraction that caught our eye. She’s gone on to be with the Lord today, but she has stood beside sister Green and sister Craig as an example for me in my walk with God.
We all enjoyed the trip through Indiana and Illinois, but the landscape was about what Sandy and I were familiar with in Ohio. Sister Blackwell had made the trip to NM with sister Henry before, but she was willing to look for the Mississippi and the famous Arch just as much as we were.
It wasn’t until we’d crossed that river and started southwest across Missouri that the land began to change from flat rolling land to places where the Ozarks rose up to meet the sky. It was exciting, but only a little taste of what was to come.
Oklahoma fell back into flat rolling grasslands and farm land. Sister Blackwell told us stories of campmeeting in Moore and Coffeyville and ‘introduced’ us to the saints in those places- brother and sister Chancellor, the Januarys, the Jantzes. She told us of brother Turnbow and other ministers. The miles across Oklahoma can be long and a little boring, but she kept them interesting. And her love of the Lord ran through all her stories. He life hadn’t been easy. She had had more than her share of heartache, but she had come through it all with the joy of the Lord.
Oklahoma is famous for the tornados that tear across its flatlands. We had smooth going though until we reached the western line. There we began to get into dark skies and nasty winds. We were in the middle of no where so we just kept going.
As we crossed the eastern panhandle the dark skies and wind began to pour out a load of rain. The blowing got worse and finally I followed two or three other tourist off at a lonely, but convenient exit.
Looking back I know it was the worst thing in the world to do. The exit led to a deserted gas station sitting on a little rise! Of all the stupid places to park during an incipient tornado that was about the worst!
Sandy and I were excited about the hail stones that were bouncing off the hood of the car and bouncing on the ground all around. Sister Blackwell pointed out that they could dent my car! Mercy. That made me pull under the long v-shaped shelter over the old gas pumps! The roof protected my car finish, but it would have done absolutely nothing to protect us from even a little funnel cloud!
I remember when Sandy and I were exclaiming over the hail, sister Blackwell told us, “Girls! You should stop being so excited over the hail and be praying for the Lord to protect us. This is tornado weather!”
Sandy and I had no idea how dangerous a tornado could be. I’m sure to this day that it was sister Blackwell’s prayer that took us through that weather. When the rain stopped we went on down the road just a few miles to Amarillo, Texas. I stopped there at the first gas station because I’d been worrying all across Texas that we were going to run out and be stranded.
The nice attendant made friendly conversation like all the people do in OK and TX. “Where y’all coming from? Nasty weather over there to the east. You might wanta stay here in town for a while.”
We told him we’d just come from Oklahoma. “Did you see that tornado that went through about the state line? It was nasty!”
No, we hadn’t seen it. We’d been sitting on top of a hill under an old gas station shelter! Thank you, sister Blackwell, for your prayers.
Pulling out of Amarillo, we began to see the southwest desert. The green, green grass turned to a pale gray green punctuated here and there by stalks of choya and sagebrush—not much, but only here and there. As we went further and got into NM, the gray-green grass gave way to miles of sagebrush with only bunches of pale green grass visible around their bases and between them. Other places the bare dirt ran for large spaces.
There were rising slopes that suddenly broke into deep canyon-like washes with rocky sides and, where you could see down, sandy bottoms. The washes alternated with acres of flat sagebrush and began to be spotted with juniper from time to time.
The first real ‘mountain’ I saw was Tucumcari Mountain sitting off to the side of the interstate.
Now we see it only as the first signpost of the “real” New Mexico, but then it was exciting and sister Blackwell told us there was an Indian story connected with the name, but I don’t believe she told us the story. I don’t think she knew it. I didn’t learn it until later.
The desert was a desolate place to my mom. Sister Blackwell was just a little more admiring of it that mom was, but she was still no enthusiast. I liked it. I didn’t come to love it as I do now for a couple years.
Now I sit here and look at the Manzanos and the sage brush between here and there. Even the sand blowing across the windowsills and in every crack, even the heat and the centipedes that creep in or the scorpions that I’m always concerned with when I get up to use the bathroom in my barefeet at night, don’t deter me from loving New Mexico.
Every year when I come back, as soon as we cross that invisible line from Texas’ ‘still kinda like Olkahoma’ to the ‘real’ desert landscape, joy wells up inside me. This year we flew. And still when I was able to look down across the brown sandy land with the gray green sage brush. And like every year, I thanked the Lord for letting me come back once more.
A few weeks ago my youngest niece got married. I haven’t been able to go to many family gatherings for quite a while due to my problems with getting around. I didn’t think I would get to go to Dessie’s wedding until my brother called to say he would arrange to get me there if I wanted to come.
As it turned out, I got to spend some good times with my other nieces as well as my nephews (they were busy with wedding duties, though). I enjoyed the time tremendously. I know my brother’s kids have grown up as much as mine have. For some reason I always envision them at the same age they were when they were visiting us on a regular basis. I know that isn’t so, but that’s an intellectual knowledge. Emotionally I still think of them as ‘kids.’
As much as it surprises me when my son flies from NM to Ohio to get me and take me to visit them, it surprised me to see Jodi doing the same thing from Missouri to Ohio. I was tickled to see Kati with two kids and Luci with two little boys and an ‘almost grown’ daughter. Everyone was being so ‘grown-up’ and efficient. Why that should surprise me I don’t know but it did. And it pleased me.
I felt very much loved too. Rachael always worries about my going off with other people. For quite a few years I’ve needed family and friends to help me: I couldn’t walk very far. I couldn’t stand for any length of time. I needed cars brought to me and in some cases I needed help getting in the vehicle if it was too far off the ground. If I forced myself to walk or stand, my knees simply stopped working and I had the greatest difficulty standing or walking. The pain would be intense and I wouldn’t be able to sleep without taking some serious pain killers.
Rachael didn’t need to worry one single bit with my nieces and nephews! There was always someone asking if I needed something and if they could go get me something. They brought cars close for me to get into and Jodi even turned the car around so I didn’t have to even walk around it! Now I’m even walking without crutches and they still took care of me.
One of the greatest pleasures was finding that Luci is serving the Lord. It was a blessing. I didn’t love the others any less, but I was happy to find her living for God.
Another thing that I enjoyed was seeing my nephews. I’ve only seen pictures of them on Facebook. I haven’t seen Richie for a lot of years—since before I moved to Columbus. That’s at least four years I think. Jole I hadn’t seen for longer than that until he stopped one afternoon last spring while he was in Columbus.
What was fun though was seeing them both in person again. Richie, from his scroungy everyday clothes, was wearing a three piece suite and had his hair and beard nicely trimmed. My first words to him were, “Wow! You clean up nice!” And he did, he looked very nice.
Jole on the other hand honored the occasion by “getting a hair cut.’ I had to giggle privately, because he got one of those hair cuts that can only be described as ‘shaggy and wind-blown.’ I think he did put on a jacket for his duties, but he didn’t neaten up his ‘wind-blown shaggy hair.’ I loved it! He and Richie were like day and night.
But it didn’t matter because the wedding with its beautiful bride serious groom was a mixture of formal and informal, serious and fun. It was one of the nicest weddings I’ve ever attended.
So many times, weddings are so formal and so regimented that there doesn’t seem to be any joy in them. This one was definitely more joyous than formal.
I just didn’t get to spend enough time with everyone. I sat between Luci and Jodi at the dinner afterwards. I was across from Luci’s husband and her two boys. We said nothing of any earth shattering importance but I really enjoyed talking with them all.
It was the way a wedding should be, not too formal, but a wonderful time of connecting with family and friends.
I have to say though that I did miss Grandma Dessie. I didn’t realize until almost the end of the evening that I’d been unconsciously watching for her ever since I saw Pat and Dale Wells arrive. Grandma Dessie was like that, everyone loved her. She was a very loving person.
Last night, as many nights, I slept with a small dog snuggled up against my behind and a tiny dog snuggled up under my chin. Both of them have slept with me from the day I they came to live with me. When I got Gabriel he weighed maybe a couple or three pounds. Maggie may have weighed a whole pound soaking wet. Both of them left a mama and brother who they snuggled with. They got cold at night by themselves. Each was so tiny that I kept it close to my chest or chin because I worried it would be squashed if I turned over.
That made me begin remembering a whole string of dogs going back through 60 years.
My first dog was Skippy. I’ve written about her before. Dad picked her up at the shop where he worked. She was scrawny and covered with mange. He brought her home and took care of her, treated the mange until she was a pretty little terrier type dog. He conned my mom, who grew up on a farm where dogs were dogs and stayed outside catching rats and mice, into keeping her by saying the baby would like her. That baby was me and I DID like her.
Skippy was our house dog for many years until I was about 10 maybe. Then she got hit on the road. (I didn’t know that for many, many years) After Skippy, we got another house dog, Penny. She was a little Chihuahua-terrier type dog. Someone at work had either given or sold her to Dad. Dad’s family had always had terriers and he didn’t feel content without one. Penny came to live with us when I was about 11. We had her until I was 15 when she developed cancer and had to be euthanized. Broke the whole family’s hearts.
After she died I got Cindy for my 16th birthday. She was another tiny dog. Dad used to say he paid a dollar and ounce for her. Twenty dollars for a dog about a pound and a quarter. She lived until I was incollege when she dropped dead with a heart attack.
During those first ten years though, Dad acquired two black and tan coon hounds, Midnight and Blackie. I don’t know if Blackie was really his or if he was just keeping her for a friend. At any rate we only had her for a few months and she went to live with someone else. Midnight stayed with us until the day she died I don’t know how many years later. Dad used her for hunting foxes and coon. Daytimes she tracked foxes. Nighttimes she chased coon.
Before she died Dad came home one day with a big tri-colored coon hound named Dick. He was a good dog and let the little boy who lived next door eat dog food from his pan! Yeah, well. The dog was good. The kid could have been brighter.
We had a couple beagles over the years. One just showed up at our house and stayed a while. We called her Queenie. She had an ingratiating habit of raising her lips in a kind of modified growl effect like she was smiling. She did it when she was happy to see us. Dad kept asking around to find out if anyone owned her. He finally found the guy. The man said he’d lost a dog that ‘smiled’ when she first saw you. He’d hunted for her for weeks before he gave up. All the time Queenie was safe at our house. She went back home.
The other beagle was Tuffy. I think he originally belonged to Dad’s friend, Walker. As Walker got older he was less able to hunt and take care of Tuffy so he gave him to Dad. From then on, Tuffy lived a life of relative ease and only went hunting often enough to keep him happy. He was the dog who impressed my brother for something entirely different from his hunting prowess. We had butchered a cow and Dad said to give the kidneys to Dick and Tuffy. On his way to the barn, Buster gave each dog one kidney. Tuffy grabbed his and swallowed it whole! That was pretty impressive-beef kidneys are good sized and Tuffy wasn’t such a big dog. Even better though, when my brother came back from the barn, Tuffy had barfed the kidney up and was chewing it! Now THAT was remarkable.
Dick, who was very traffic-wise, was killed on the road just below the brow of the hill where he couldn’t see the on-coming car that hit him. Tuffy died of old age.
About the time Tuffy died, my Dad was visiting the neighbor man who had a beautiful Keeshond in a pen at his house. He noticed a neighbor kid poking a stick through the pen wire and yelled at him for teasing the dog. The neighbor said it didn’t matter because the dog was vicious anyway. Dad said of course the dog was vicious with those kids teasing him all the time.
The neighbor said, “You think you can handle him, he’s yours.” And Dad came home with Misty. I think Misty bit every one in the family before we learned to handle him and he learned to trust us. My brother bought a Keeshond female to mate with him. Her name was Pooh, really Princess Little Bear, but we called her Pooh. After he married he took both of them with him when he moved to Newark. I don’t remember what happened to Pooh, but Misty died when Buster leant him to a friend for breeding and the stupid guy tied him so that when he jumped off the roof of his dog house he hung himself. Stupid people!
Dad lived with only his cat for a while then my brother bought a farm and rented his house in town to some people with a young Labrador Retriever. They kept him in a pen behind the house.
One day there had been a window peeper in the neighborhood and when he came to their house the Lab had jumped his fence and took out after the guy. He left blood on their front porch and a trail of drops down the street. The police caught him by following the blood drops.
Stupid people were afraid of the dog for protecting them! They were going to shoot him or some such, but my brother talked them into giving him the dog. And he eventually gave the dog to Dad. His name was Boy. The first time I met him was when I came to visit from college. We pulled up at Buster’s house and I got out of the car without a second thought. Boy jumped on me and grabbed my arm in his teeth. I don’t know to this day if he was attacking or greeting me. But I said, “Well, hi there, Boy” and
scratched his head with my other hand. I didn’t know that was his name, but he thought I must be a friend and decided not to bite so hard.
Years later, when Louie and I were living with Dad, I was home alone with Mom and two toddlers when some guy came hiking up the drive. I don’t know what he wanted but Boy didn’t ask any questions. He had been lying in the shade by the garage door. The first I knew the man was around was when he yelled and went tearing across the yard with Boy hot on his heels. We had a steep bank along the roadside of our yard. I saw the man jump over the bank and, apparently, run off up the road. Boy stopped at the top of the bank. He’d done his job.
We had Boy for probably 10 years or more. He lived in the house and went out as he pleased… He was getting old and ran directly in front of a truck one Sunday when we came home from church.
When Notah was born Louie and I were living with Dad taking care of Mom. We had only Boy inside then. John and Jenny lived outside and Boy didn’t really mind staying out with them. When Notah was about two months old, just before Thanksgving, Grandpa came home with another little yellow Chihuahua named Billie. His friend Jonesy had given her to him. Jonesy was as partial to little dogs as Dad was and he’d made the mistake of getting Billie without first consulting his wife… As a result he had to find a good home for Billie.
Billie loved Notah from the very first minute she saw him. He was in his port-a-crib. I’d gotten it somewhere second hand and it didn’t have the long legs that made it tall enough to be a crib; consequently it was only about six or eight inches off the floor—a perfect height for Billie to hop between the bars and snuggle up against the baby. I never thought Louie would allow that dog to sleep with the baby, but he surprised me. He thought it was cute. :o) He also allowed her in our bed!
Billie became Rachael’s dog when she was born.
When I lived on the mission a acquired Terry Brown’s dog, John. I called him John. I don’t think Terry ever named him. He just claimed him. John-dog and Joe McCormick’s dog got some coyote poison. Joe’s dog died almost immediately. John dog staggered around for a couple more days.
Finally I went out one morning and found John lying in the rain under the drip from the over hang on the roof. I yelled for Terry and asked him why he wasn’t taking care of his dog. He said the dog was gonna die anyway, why should he bother. I told him to give the dog to me, I’d take care of it. So he did.
For a week I bought milk and fed the poor dog. He was skin and bones and wouldn’t eat anything but milk. McCormicks and Terry thought I was crazy for buying milk for a dog. I carried him to the barn every night so he would be warm and every morning he would stagger out to lie in the sun. Over the course of the day, he would move a few feet from here to there and by evening he’d be over by the school house or the mission soaking up the sun. So I’d pick him up and take him to the barn.
Gradually he recovered and got stronger. His coordination was always poor and he walked stiff-legged in front. I don’t think he could see very well because his eyes were set in his head and he couldn’t move them to look around. I don’t remember his pupils dilating or contracting either. I had John till Notah was three or four when he died of old age. He was probably only about eight years old. I’m sure he aged precipitously because of the coyote poison. He was a good dog.
I also picked up a trash dump dog while we were riding the preschool bus with Mr. Tom. We drove through the Gamerco trash dump as a shortcut to the house of one of the kids. Jenny and her sister were probably 10 weeks old or so. They were sitting beside a big box beside the road. Jenny was a pretty sable color with black ticking. Her sister was black. They were both very thin and weak looking. I decided immediately that I was going to come back after school and get them. When I got back, only Jenny was left. I don’t know what happened to her sister. I suspect she crawled of and died, because Jenny was very weak.
It was late fall when I found her. She stayed outside the dorm and I fed her every day in the back outside the kitchen door. One day she could barely drag herself around and she carried her back leg. I couldn’t get her to the vet until Saturday and when I got her there he said that the thigh bone was broken not far from the hip joint and had started to heal already. She would probably walk with a limp but she would be okay. A greater problem was that she had distemper and he said that would kill her sooner than the broken leg.
He gave me antibiotic and advised I keep her warm. If her temp spiked, I was to bring her back immediately. I had no place to put her to keep her out of the weather. It was freezing every night. I put her in a box and put papers down in the little house where Linda and I had lived. I fed her twice a day and cleaned up her papers. She had to be kept clean and couldn’t be left in her own dirt. If it was warm I let her out during the day.
McCormicks had fits when they found out I was keeping her there. Never mind she was hurt and sick. Never mind I was cleaning after her scrupulously. She was a dog. And dogs didn’t belong in the house! So, how to keep her warm and protected.
I ended up parking my Corvair close to the dorm and taking the backseat out. I lined the floor with a heavy shower curtain and covered it with papers. I gave Jenny a box and bought a little Coleman heater to put in the car. That kept her warm during the night and kept her sheltered from the wind. For the next several weeks I took careful care of her and when her temp finally stabilized, the vet said she was good to go. I was able to discard the shower curtain, store the Coleman heater back in its box and put the seat back in my car.
Several months later McCormick confessed. HE had hit her with the school bus one morning as he left to run the route. I thought it petty… devious… I don’t know what word to use. But he was the one who hurt the dog in the first place, then they had given me grief when I tried to take care of it… I had Jenny for about 12 or 15 years.
While Louie and I lived in the little pink house, I had John and Jenny but from somewhere I got another dog that I called Crybaby. She was very timid and cried if anyone moved too quick. She was barely a big pup when I got her but she had evidently been abused enough to make her scared of her shadow. I only had her a little while.
The dogs slept in the barn shed in the winter, but one bitter cold night Crybaby tried to sleep on the step of the house instead and froze to death. I was sorry. She’d had a hard puppy hood and in spite of good care and love as she grew up, she was always afraid. I don’t think she was even a year old when she died.
How many more dogs through the years…. Judy dog, a little American Cocker Spaniel found at the chapter house one night; Specks, the daughter of Judy and Boy; Hungry, Specks and Boy’s son; Fidget, Billie-dog’s ‘hubby’; Snuggles, Tasha, Trouble Spider, Cookie and Aspen, a chocolate Lab who protected me after Hungry died; and finally Maxim who came to live with us after Aspen died with cancer…
Sixty long years. Many years we had more than one, but each one had its special person and was well loved. Some were house dogs and others lived outside on the farm with us. I wish our dogs could live as long as we do. Now I know Gabriel and his brother Sebastian are getting old. Their departure is coming some day before too long. Maxim is still young and so is Maggie. They can carry on when the others have to leave me as so many have in the past.