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Copyright 2008 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

Dog Hair & Mule Sweat

with Natalie Riehl

editor@rockymountainrider.com

 

July 2008 Issue

 

     Last night, an hour before bedtime, my little dog started woofing at something outside in the darkness of the cool, summer air. The woof turned into a sharp bark, and I went out the door to see what in the world she could be reacting to?

     The neighbor’s old black lab who comes over to eat cat food from our porch? No.

     A wild invader, perhaps? AKA a skunk? No, there was no odor drifting mercilessly into my nostrils.

     Perhaps coyotes in the hills a mile to the east? I listened; but there was no yipping that signaled full-moon revelers.

     Even after I went to bed, the dog lay at my feet softly woofing at something she heard or smelled beyond the open bedroom window. She was not carrying on about nothing. I kept thinking “Skunk,” but smelled no tell-tale scent.

     It was not until I was drifting off to sleep and heard the pump kick on that I realized I had forgotten to turn off the soaker hose that was sprinkling the shrubs around the front of the house. The dog had heard the “hissssssss” of the water, and I had not.

     A moonlit walk in my bare feet around the front of the house to the offending water spigot, and a few quick turns of the wrist were all it took to quiet the dog.

     My dog is twenty pounds and black. You don’t even have to think, “Black dog on a dark night in a dark alley.” Why this little black dog can disappear mighty quickly in bright daylight just by heading into the alfalfa field across the fence.

     Unlike my stock dogs of the past, who leapt through alfalfa while running, bounding high to note where they were, this little dog just vanishes. One second you see her, the next second you do not. I stand on the rail fence surveying the depths of the bright green alfalfa, looking for a ripple, and call her name. Unlike my stock dogs, who came quickly when I whistled, this little dog can be a little “deaf” at times.

     However, she likes to go riding with me, and never exhibits this deafness when she’s out on the trail. It could be that the mule is faster than she is, and we’ll leave her behind if she doesn’t run to keep up.

     I am blessed that Petunia my patient mule allows the dog to stand, and even lie, in her shadow to cool off and doesn’t try to stomp her. If we have to cross a creek or if the dog tires, she rides behind my saddle. I use a wool saddle blanket that sticks out an extra ten inches behind my saddle so the dog has some grippo for her toes and doesn’t poke the mule’s back. She also wears a dog “harness” when we ride. I use it pick her up and to attach a leash which I hang onto in case the mule takes a wayward step and the dog starts to fall.

     The dog was grateful this past weekend when I picked her up and packed her behind the saddle. Through no fault of her own, she is an “office dog,” and is in about as good condition as her “office mom.” In other words, me. We spend more time in the office than in the saddle.

     The poor mule worked up a sweat this past weekend, riding uphill with the temp in the mid-70s. However, only four days before, we got an unexpected June snow and she may have been grateful that she still had remnants of her winter coat. I told her to blame me for the snow; I had just transplanted some tomatoes the day before.

     I hope you readers are out there enjoying the summer, and the humor and affection that animals bring into our lives.

Copyright 2008 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

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