Dogs R Me

I love dogs; in fact, I’ve always been a little “dog crazy.” I’ve “owned” more than twenty dogs since my first dog, Truffle(upagus), who came to live with me when I was 35 and she was 6 months. She was a lab/springer mix. I know about the lab for sure as her mom was my pal, Shadow, who came up to my house every day (she lived down the street) to see if I wanted to play. She would bark once in front of my door and I would come out and take her to fetch tennis balls in the canyon. I’m pretty sure Truffle was springer because of her looks. Here, you judge:

 

Truffle and me, 1988

Truffle (at about 8 mos) and me at Big Dog Health and Fitness Spa

 

After I had Truffle spayed, I got her a puppy. In doing that, I got myself a best friend, Molly Woof, an Aussie/Malamute mix. Molly was an exceptional dog. As a friend said, “…more than a dog.” It’s hard to know what could be “more than a dog” but I got his meaning. She was smart, intuitive, passionate and had a sense of humor. She was my first experience with a canine “soul mate.”

 

Not long after Molly was fully grown, one of my friends told me that her neighbor wanted to take her purebred golden retriever to the pound. The neighbor had had the idea that when her baby was born she should get him a golden retriever puppy, but she knew nothing about dogs and the poor dog was relegated to the backyard 24/7 just for being a puppy. I couldn’t believe my luck. I’d always loved golden retrievers and here I was getting a big red one for free! Kelly was great, reliable, sweet, and easy to love. Her passion was, of course, tennis balls, but we also spent time at the beach together. I had to teach her to swim, but once she got it, we body-surfed together.

The featured image is Molly and Kelly, the golden retriever, at the Garden of the Gods. They were traveling dogs and we spend a couple weeks in Colorado back in 1997, staying at Chatauqua in Boulder and traveling slowly back to California when our time was over. It was their second trip to Colorado, and the longest. On the first trip, we visited my Aunt Martha in Denver and did a hike to Lost Lake.

Other dogs came — Maggie a Girl of the Streets, half husky/half golden retriever came as a stray. I took in a few strays, cleaned them up and found them homes. The most dogs I ever had at once is six and that was incredibly fun.

My first male dog was Lupo. Lupo was amazing, with an immense soul that grew as he got older. He existed to protect me and keep his “girls” in line; he adored Kelly but was afraid of the ocean, so if we took him to the beach, he panicked when we went into the water. Once he swam out and grabbed me by the, uh, tit and dragged me back to shore. Kelly he grabbed by the collar. We learned NOT to take him to Dog Beach if we were going into the waves. Because of Lupo’s wisdom and intelligence, I was able (out of necessity during a dark time in my life) to leave them home alone for two or three nights at a time with a bin of food and water dripping into their LARGE waterbowl.

 

Lupo and Molly

Lupo and Molly on South Fortuna Mountain

He died at twelve years old of a rattlesnake bite. He had a pretty spectacular funeral.

…I wrapped my arms around my beautiful friend, put his poor snake bitten head on my shoulder. The vet inserted the IV, and within seconds, Lupo was gone.

{My friend] Kris and I took Lupo’s collar up to the Lagunas to put his tag on the post with [that of my other snake bit dog] Ariel.

Fencepost

We hadn’t gone far on Sunset Trail when we noticed a coyote walking beside us a few feet to our left. She stayed with us until we were nearly at the post, and I began removing the tag. As I did, I noticed the brand on the collar: Coyote. A shiver went through me. I showed it to Kris. Just as I got the tag off the collar, the coyote crossed the trail about four feet in front of us. She paused to look at us then ran off across the hills, her tail erect like any joyful dog. I looked at Kris, he at me, and we both said, “She took Lupo with her!”

That was Lupo’s funeral. He runs forever across those golden hillsides where he rambled so often with me. (My Everest)

I have had several Siberian huskies — amazing dogs but not for everyone. My last one, Lily T. Wolf, made it out to Colorado with me four years ago. She got to enjoy a real blizzard with deep snow before she died at age 17.

And now I have two great dogs, and great friends. Dusty T. Dog — a 12 year old Dobie lab mix and Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog, three year old Akbash. I would have to write a book to tell you about all my dogs and the wonderful things we’ve done together, so I’ll stop here.

Dogs make more sense to me than people do. My mom once said that they were “child surrogates” but that has never been the case. I never wanted children, surrogate or otherwise, but I have always wanted hiking buddies, easy-going, affectionate friends with a good attitude. I’ve found only a very few humans to fill that role, but I’ve found more than 20 dogs eager for the job. Hitting the trail with a dog is one of life’s great joys.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All my dogs — but one — were rescues or would have ended up at the pound. My ONLY dog-owner failure was the dog I bought at a pet store and that story is too grim to tell. Many of my dogs were adult dogs when I adopted them. Lupo was two, Maggie was at least three, Ariel was four. My four purebred Siberian huskies were all rescues: Cody O’Dog was over six, Jasmine was eight, Lily was three, Cheyenne was two. The list goes on. Stray dogs I brought in, cleaned up, neutered and trained included a border collie, a Springer/poodle mix, an immense and beautiful German shepherd, and a purebred springer. ALL of them appeared at my door. Back in the 80s, there were no foster programs. For years my truck wore a bumper sticker, “Don’t breed or buy while shelter pets die.” I believe that still. Unless there’s a compelling reason to buy a dog, if you want a pal, remember the really great dogs are already waiting in a shelter or rescue or foster somewhere and one of them might choose YOU!!! ❤

Bear -- the first time I saw her photo at the shelter

Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog in the Facebook ad posted by my local shelter — my first sight of this magical being who is my best friend. She was four months old.

 

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36 thoughts on “Dogs R Me

  1. Reading about Lupo’s funeral in your book made me stop reading and collect my thoughts. That was so beautifully written, Martha. A shiver went through me, also.

    • I think it’s real. I think his spirt went with me and Kris up to the mountains and the coyote was waiting for him. I believe that 100%.

      From the moment I noticed the bite I felt deep inside that it was just Lupo’s time and the universe had arranged everything. Lupo was not in the least stressed by what had happened, and that was a little strange to me, but I just went with how he was acting/feelling and enjoyed the last 30 minutes I got to spend with him. ❤ Say hi to Parker!!!!

  2. Lovely ode to your friends. Love how you painted a portrait with words of each dog’s personality. I was going to suggest go with the book as your dogs sound wonderful and you could title it “Lessons I learned from my dogs” but I looked it up on amazon and there are already more than half a dozen books with that phrase in their title. I was so surprised.

  3. I loved reading about your dogs again, Martha. I feel like I know many of them from your book and your blog. They are all very wise in their own way, and no doubt taught you a thing or two.

    Truffle does look like she has some springer in her. And what about Lupo? Does he have any Newfoundland in him? The Newfoundlands are known for their water rescues.

    • I don’t know if Lupo had newfie in him but it’s possible. He appeared to be German shepherd and golden retriever and/or husky (I think golden). Considering how terrified he was of the water, he was very brave to rescue us.

      One of the best things he ever did was at a different dog beach that had a very narrow entry way (it was fenced from the rest of the beach). There was a woman sleeping in a beach chair right by the gate to go in. This offended Lupo mightily so he lifted his leg (elegantly) and peed on her.

      Once when I was in Italy, in the northern part, by a shallow river that flowed from a waterfall, talking to my friend’s parents, outside a restaurant, a Newfoundland came running down the river, having the time of his life. He saw me, jumped out of the water, ran to me, jumped up on me, knocked me over and gave me dozens of extremely wet kisses. It was so strange and so wonderful. I’d love to have one.

      • Haha Lupo. Glad he did it elegantly. 🙂

        The newfie enthusiasm knows no bounds. My mum had one but her yard turned out to be too small for him. He went to live with a family whose child was having cancer treatment. They lived by a river and the dog would go out in their boat with them. He loved it. My mum liked to think it was fate that Ben and the family should be brought together.

    • Hmmm… He does. Lupo was only 65 pounds or so. But who knows what wonders of DNA lurked behind that soft fur and fierce, brilliant mind. He was extraordinary. One of my students had a friend (who’s name WAS Leo) who used to come up to my house to commune with Lupo.

      Thank you — I love dogs. People will always confuse me, but dogs — animals in general — I’m good with. ❤

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