Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Animal Souls

A few days ago I was out working in the yard when one of my neighbors pulled into the driveway.
With territorial Kory barking protectively even though she knew the lady and her three children, I walked through the gate and up to her drivers side window.
Smiling as always, she asked me if I knew whether the shepherds had lost one of their dogs.
Responding that I did not know, she informed me that a young, underfed dog had shown up at her house, had chased her chickens, and that her kids really wanted to keep this apparently lost or stray or abandoned young dog.
Rolling her eyes, it was clear to me that the woman did not really want another dog to care for.
LC and I had planned on going for a drive onto BLM land a bit later, and I told her we would see if we could find the sheep and the shepherds, and try to find out if they were missing a dog.
When she described the dog to me, I was almost certain that it was not one of the sheep dogs, but I promised to head out there and check anyway.
Smiling at her three energetic, beautiful and precocious young kids, I headed back to the yard to finish tending to some small plants that I recently put into the ground, commiserating as always that my thumb was only partially green so the whole gardening-thing was hit and miss at best.
When I was done I caught up with LC and told him about the pup that had mysteriously shown up at the neighbors home.
Kory was ready for a drive on BLM land by that point and so was I.  
The question before we left the house was how to communicate with the shepherds.
They spoke very little English.  
We spoke very little Spanish.
By the time we finally left the house we were armed with a piece of paper containing Spanish that we hoped would communicate that there was a stray dog in town and did it belong to them?
Thank goodness for the Internet...............
Turning onto Big Butte Road we quickly spotted them, a mile or so from Cedar Butte.
Pulling off the dirt and gravel road LC bounced the truck over the ditch, picked up a trail and headed towards the sheep, that looked like hundreds of small white dots in the desert.
As we pulled up to the shepherds wagon LC beeped the horn and then put the truck in park, and we waited for one of the shepherds to appear.
Whenever we find ourselves close to the sheep I always have a strong urge to climb out of the truck.
To pet the beautiful dogs, walk among the sheep, stroke the face of a beautiful paint horse, inspect the outside of the sheep wagon up close.
I do none of those things of course.
The animals have their routines, know their daily companions, and there is no place for two strangers to interrupt that.
That, and I don't trust the dogs.  They have been raised to protect their herd.
And so I enjoy the site of all of them from a distance.
As it should be.................
Still waiting for the shepherd to appear from inside the wagon, I looked around me.
There were two Great Pyrenees.  
The huge herd of sheep was 1/4 mile away from us, in the direction of Cedar Butte, and I had to assume that the other Pyrenees and the border collies were with the herd.
Content to enjoy these beautiful animals (both the dogs and the horse) I watched as the younger of the dogs wandered across the desert floor and stood beside the older of the two.
God they were beautiful...............
The older pup was limping.
LC's first thought was that he had something caught in one of his paws.
My first thought was that he had injured a leg.
I don't know which it was, but he looked to be in pain and my heart went out to this beautiful guy...........
It took a few minutes but the shepherd did finally make his appearance, and LC handed the sheet of paper to him containing the Spanish sentences that we had researched online.
As I expected, the dog that had found his way to town did not belong with the sheep.
We spent a few more minutes watching the dogs before turning the truck around and driving back the way we had come.
The little dog (who likely was abandoned by someone) has now found a new permanent home in Atomic City.
The young woman (whose husband works the oil fields in Wyoming) and her three beautiful home-schooled children, will give the dog a good and loving home................

 If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans........James Herriot

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