… and then there are the dogs…
Good Morning, Folks, It’s Sunday, August 10, 2014.
This past week was full of teaching, creating lesson plans, learning goals, and correcting homework. I have very few students in my classes; the largest class has 8, and the veteran colleagues are concerned that that is too many. Hmmmm. Sure beats public education elsewhere, where there are 20-45 students per class. My colleagues, too, are some of the best educated, and interesting people I’ve met. Several are “retired”, having spent 20-30 years teaching and/or working as administrators. It’s totally trippy. So many of the teachers I’ve worked with elsewhere were counting the days until they could retire. This bunch could be lounging about but instead, they teach. And, they are not just filling a seat. Their students tell me of the interesting and fun things they are learning in their other classes.
Apparently, the students have decided I’m ok. I have had several kids drop in to my Spanish class on their way to or from the bathroom. I handed the one kid the worksheet we were doing. He took it with him back to science class, then dropped it off afterward. It’s hanging on the door, not too far from the sign that reads: GO BACK TO CLASS!
Things around the house are the way they are. You already know about Sadie and MacBeth. Sadie’s sores on her belly seem to be healing. MacBeth and Nala have decided they are only on teeth-baring terms, so we do not encourage MacBeth’s visits. Abernathy (Abbi) still tucks me in at night… into her mouth. She climbs onto the covers, and begins gnawing pleasantly on my arm. It’s becoming a ritual. If I remember, I bring a few dog toys with me, so I can gracefully stuff one into her mouth, all the while preserving my skin.
There is something I have discovered now that I am here: Dogs are not the same. And dogs are not just dogs.
Oh, yes, I know, you already know a Border Collie is not as mild mannered as a Labrador Retriever. That’s not what I mean. I’m talking about Rez dogs. They are not at all like those friendly critters we know and love in a well-fed community where they are pampered nigh unto death. Rez dogs have their own rules, their own expectations, and their own agenda. They are not exactly cozy and comfortable pets. But they are friendly enough to have around the house and garden. They make exceptional watchdogs, and have no qualms at all about lecturing naughty little boys who have a history of throwing rocks at them. In fact, after they get over the tail-between-the-legs behavior, they take you into their pack, and watch out over you, come hell or high water.
As a single woman living in a guarded and semi-gated community, having a pack of fierce locals on site is something of a comfort …. except when it isn’t … like when the coyotes in the west hills are singing close enough to the house that, when I turn on the back light, they take it as a cue to stop. During the Coyote Choir, the locals inspire my house dogs into competitive singing, and it’s a wonder you don’t hear us Outside! Not much sleeping goes on some nights.
The night security have begun taking note, too, of Sadie and MacBeth’s behavior, as they can give the guard a clearer sense of where to shine that blinding search light of theirs. Sadie wears a collar, begrudgingly. MacBeth will have none of it. Abbi is still young enough to go on round-about with Sadie, and then squeeze back under the fence, and come in for the night.
I gotta get that fence fixed.
Fear not that all of my income is going to the dogs. In Show Low I can purchase vaccines and viable de-worming meds at the local shops. What would otherwise cost hundreds of dollars, cost about $8.00 per dog. Spaying and neutering clinics and rabies clinics are regularly offered from legitimate and licensed organizations, at rates between $15 and $25, per dog.
Which leads me to the next confession….
I regret to inform you, I think I need a 12-Step program.
Never mind that I brought two with me. No need to check your notes – there are two Rez dogs (plus the occasional friend) who come around for meals and hugs. Yes, Abbi is a third house dog ….
Weekends are hard around here. During the week, I have plenty to occupy my mind, and I can be self-supporting to stop feeling homesick and lonely, and just go to bed; I have a Coyote Choir to accompany my dreams, and most of the neighbors have dogs I can visit, if I feel the need to… So it should come as absolutely no surprise that, after leaving a country store on the road to St. John’s (the first place I’ve found out here that feels familiar, and comfortable), and overhearing a woman say, “There are Black Lab, Husky, Shepherd, Rottweiler pups in that crate”, that I made the mistake of having a look at them. “They’re free!” said the farmer’s wife. “Would you like to hold one?” asked the farmer’s son. “Sure,” said I, disregarding all those cautionary voices in my head that sound so much like sensible friends.
“Why look,” says I to myself. “They have all the elements of my favorite, yet sadly, deceased, dogs, as well as the Husky genes that Maeda and Nala carry. (Morgen was a Black Lab, Shepherd, Rottweiler, Something; Duncan was a Black Lab, German Short-hair, Something. Mae is Husky/Shepherd; Nala is Border Collie/Husky.)
Why, yes, certainly I’d like a puppy – especially one that has no idea what it is to be an abandoned Rez dog, ill-fed, and rejected by man and beast alike – it will fit into our family nicely – after the flea dip.
So, yes, gentle reader, I have another dog living here. This one is smaller than a tissue box. I am inclined to call it Hannah, but the jury is still out on whether or not it really is a female. She has had her shots (thank you, very much, I know why I did not become a veterinarian! or a nurse!) And she has been practicing getting to the back door in time for her business calls (which, I might add, Abbi can not seem to do). She snuggles gently into the crook of my arm, and has been taking her chances playing with Nanna Nala and Aunti Abbi. Granny Mae keeps a distant eye on all proceedings, but I think she’ll protect the pup if need be.
I know it isn’t logical! But it’s hard here. I can’t feed the hungry children. I can not clothe the lonely teenager. I can’t even garden in the clay yard. But. I can feed dogs! Yes, I can feed dogs!
So, keep me away from long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night… or I’ll be digging around for yet another feed bowl, and buying even more vaccines!
I promise not to bring any more strays home. I promise not to bring any more strays home.
I promise to not bring any more strays home…..
Hope all of you are well. The needs here are, indeed, overwhelming. The kids have no idea how strong they really are. Pray for them, too.
More later! Amy