Dusty and Mindy Move to Colorado in a Dodge Van with Lily and Me


“What the fuck? This isn’t our car. It smells weird. I don’t like this, I don’t like this at all. I might lie on my back and pee in the air. This is awful. I’m scared.”

“It’s OK, Dusty. She’s here. We’re all here. Our beds are here. It’s all fine.”

“How can you be so sanguine, Mindy?”

“Well, first it’s my nature. Second, I think if she’s here we’re fine. If she comes back when she leaves us, we’re fine. I don’t worry about every little thing like SOME dogs I know. She always takes care of us.”


“It’s OK Dusty,” I tell him from the front seat. “We’re going home. You can quit pacing and breathing hard.”


“See? I told you, Dusty. Lily isn’t worried.”

“Yeah but she’s a wild animal. We’re pets.”

“There is that. But really, Dusty, learn to keep it under control a bit. You’ll have a happier life.”

“You’re probably right, Mindy, but when I start getting scared, it’s a fast and slippery slope all the way to terror.”

“Lie down, Dusty,” I say.

“Do what she said. I have a feeling this time home is a long ways away.” Mindy closed her soft, sweet beautiful eyes and as a model for Dusty, went to sleep.



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.


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.




I knew when Mindy T. Dog went to the Enchanted Forest that a dog would show up who needed to live with Dusty, Bear and me. This dog is Bailey — and because of his Viking appearance, I’ve named him Bailey Egilsson after Egil, my favorite (and most bizarre) hero from the Icelandic Sagas.

Bailey was — long ago — tied up in a yard and abandoned, then my friend rescued him. This happened in San Diego. My friend moved to Colorado Springs but Bailey wasn’t happy there because of the VERY numerous and long thunder storms and a puppy who harassed him. This past weekend, he came to live with us in the relative calm of Monte Vista.

He’s very sweet, rather elderly, and just an all around good dog. Dusty and Bear don’t seem to like or dislike him. The dominance fracases which are inevitable have been brief. Dusty is not a dominant dog and neither is Bailey. I’m sure Dusty could have lived without having another dog in the house, but he doesn’t really mind. Bear likes to play with Bailey who will play hide-n-seek with her.


Good Gnus

Kindle Front Cover My Everest.001

I got some good news on the famous author front this morning from Indie BRAG letting me know that my little hiking book, My Everest, has been awarded a BRAG Medallion. Basically, this is an award that lets readers know that this self-published book is well-written, interesting and (in this particular case) if you like hiking, nature and dogs, you’ll be very happy. It’s $3 for Kindle, $7 for paper back. Heres the link to Amazon.

Here’s the blurb from the book’s own website. 

Dog Stars



“Yeah. I had no idea. Stellar.”

The golden retriever and the indeterminate mutt shook the water from their coats and headed back to shore.

“My human taught me that.”

“No way.”


“I was really scared the first time. I mean, that stuff is for drinking or drowning, right?”

“Well, yeah, but…”

“But! Exactly!” So she took me out there with her. I was trying to get away and then all of a sudden — BAM — I got it and she let go. I was riding a wave, she was riding the same one and we were looking over at each other.”

“You did this with your HUMAN!”




Great Love Begins with Limerence

In 2015, few months after I put my last Siberian Husky, Lily T. Wolf, to sleep (she was 17) I saw a puppy on the Facebook page of the local shelter. I was instantly obsessed with this dog. She had my beautiful Lily T. Wolf’s blue eyes but something else. Some je ne sais quoi. I contacted Brandi, the girl who ran the shelter. She said, “We have to wait two weeks in case someone claims her, but you can come visit.”

As I stood about 10 feet away from her cage — the quarantine cage, a big one off by itself —  she ran to the wall and then stopped. She cocked her head and looked at me seriously, as if she were thinking. Then, she sat as if to say, “See?” Brandi came out of the office with the key to the cage and we went inside. The dog was gentle, happy to see Brandi, curious about me. I didn’t want to stay too long because I wasn’t sure at all. She was beautiful but at four months almost as big as my Australian shepherd! I was in love with her, but since I turned 60 I’ve developed a brain.

I didn’t know what kind of dog she was. I hadn’t lived here long enough to know the breeds that are most common out here in the wild and (literally) woolly west. I thought she was a Siberian Husky/Great Pyrenees mix. I knew Huskies well, having had several, and I was afraid I wouldn’t have the energy to be her person. I researched Great Pyrenees, and I had big doubts about being able to deal with a giant breed livestock guardian dog who wasn’t intrinsically very social and who liked to roam. I had visions of being dragged down the street by this immense white, blue-eyed dog.

The two weeks passed and I went back to see the dog. When I approached her cage, she was clearly happy to see me again. She’d been moved to the regular kennels. Brandi brought her out, I put Lily’s halter on her (it nearly fit) and took her for a walk. She didn’t quite get what was going on, but she kept checking with me (looking up at my face) for clues about whether she was getting it right. That’s a very good sign in a dog.

“Take her home and see how she does with Dusty and Mindy,” Brandi suggested.

“OK,” I said and we loaded the puppy in the back of my car. I turned on the mysterious oracle known as the car radio and this began to play:

Dusty wanted nothing to do with her and Mindy was gently indifferent. The puppy liked Dusty anyway and snuggled next to him on the floor when he napped.

Once at home, we faced the house-breaking challenge, but within the first few hours, the puppy knew where to pee. I took her out with Dusty and Mindy and she saw what they did. She never had an accident.




When the “test drive” was over, I took the puppy back to the shelter, knowing that someone else could still adopt her. I still wasn’t sure. I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking. There was the “Oh my god, she’s going to be a BIG dog. Can I handle her or am I too rickety and too old?” I sought advice from everyone — and Marilyn had experience with Great Pyrenees and explained how it might work. I read everything I could find online about Great Pyrenees. When morning came, I called the shelter and said, “I’ll be there at 10:30, is that OK?”


“Am I going home with you, Human?”  “Yes Bear.”

Her name was “Silver” and if I’d see the Lone Ranger at that point, I’d have kept the name, but I hadn’t. I named her “Polar” but she didn’t like it. She responded very well to Bear.

I have had upwards of 20 dogs, all of them have been good, some of them have been good friends, wise, funny, goofy, wonderful beings. But this one? She turned out to be something completely different.

She’s not a Siberian Husky and not a Pyrenees. She’s an Akbash Dog — a kind of common dog around here though generally pretty rare in the United States. She’s a Turkish breed of livestock guardian dog. These dogs are gentle, calm, patient, and affectionate — but also intelligent, independent — bred to be a partner to man, not a pet. That’s fine with me. Akbash Dogs are powerful enough to protect a herd of sheep from bears, wolves and mountain ions. She has the most amazing intuition. She’s wise, funny, low-energy and very very very loving. As a friend said recently, “Bear is just love.”

Mysterious forces — limerence? —  brought Bear to our lives at just the right moment. Her calm, dedicated love for Dusty helped him recover from the loss of his best friend — Lily T. Wolf who’d raised him and whom he’d known all his life. Now they are close, close friends.


Bear and Dusty at Noah’s Arff Boarding Kennel

Bear’s love for me persuaded me to go to Colorado Springs for hip surgery.

In less than two weeks they get to come home from the kennel where they’ve been while my hip replacement healed. I can’t wait.


CUR-rent Events chez Mois

The door is shut. The space heater is against it. I’m on the floor, on my yoga pad, doing crunches followed by a series of exercises I learned in physical therapy to help prepare me for hip replacement. There’s a big balance ball in front of me. I have ridden the Sainted Air-Dyne for 8 miles through the early spring landscape of a high pass in the Dolomites as Youtube has graced me with some songs I like and some songs that the band must be paying them to play.

I think the curs are outside (if that’s where they want to be), then I hear a bang against the door. When the door doesn’t open right away, there is a second bang, then a third, a resolute push followed by a large black snout on a long white nose. A big white head juts into the room. The blue eyes wear a wild and panicked expression.

I push the space heater against the door and get back to it. The rumor is that everything is going to go better for me if I have done this up to the 11th hour. A little time passes. There’s another bang at the door. This time it’s a black snout followed by grizzled black nose. It pushes its way into the room and looks around. I think they’ve conferred in the living room and decided I’m in desperate trouble and need their help.

“I’m OK, Dusty. I’m just doing my physical therapy.”

Without me?” is his telepathic message.

“There just isn’t room in here, buddy.”

He backs away. I leave the door ajar. I rotate and I look through the eight inches of the opened doorway and there they are, lined up in the living room, watching me with concern. I start to laugh. They are so funny. What would they do if I WERE hurt? If I HAD fallen and couldn’t get up? Dusty has been trained to help me up if I fall, but Bear?

I’m about to learn…


Bear gets up from the living room floor and comes into the room where I’m sitting on my yoga mat, laughing. She sniffs all around and decides I’m OK, but there’s still the puzzling problem of my being on the floor. Well, if I’m on the floor, I must need to be protected. She stands over me and leans against me.

There, Martha. Now you’re safe from freezing, bears, and wolves.

“Thank you, Bear, but I can’t get up with you on top of me.”


The Morning After…

Yesterday morning was frantic and sad. This morning calm and a little disoriented. I appreciate all the kind thoughts yesterday. They really did help. I know everyone who’s loved a dog knows what it’s like to lose one.

Bear is having a hard time — partly, I think, because she hates change to her routine. As a livestock guardian dog, she has to make sure everything and everyone in her world is fine and where they’re supposed to be. Mindy is supposed to be outside the front door right now, but she is not. Bear is worried. I think it will take her a few days to get used to it. She wouldn’t eat her breakfast until I put Mindy’s bowl back on the floor. Last evening, she wanted to jump up on the sofa (Mindy’s place) but didn’t. She slept on it in the night, though.

Dusty was close by me all day yesterday, but now he’s back to his usual places. That should help Bear calm down. Yesterday we took a walk on the golf course — still snow covered with frost on the trees.


It was beautiful, then I returned to cleaning. A dying dog makes messes, but that is now pretty much done, too.

The photo above is Mindy coming into our house the afternoon of the first night we stayed here in October 2014. We both slept on the sofa. Sometime — after the hip surgery and all the other events looming ahead of me — another dog will show up. I’m sure of it. ❤


Brown Penny

“Stay out of the kitchen.”


“Penny is eating her supper.”

“But I want to pet her.”

“No. You don’t pet Penny while she’s eating. You’ll provoke her. You can watch.”

The little girl stood in the doorway. Penny chomped away on her dog food in the back room, but Elizabeth Ann could see her.

“Why’d you name her Penny, Grandma?”

“Because she’s the color of a new penny.”

Penny was old, overweight and fractious. Grandma was seldom affectionate to her, telling her to “Shoo!” more than she asked her to “Come!” Elizabeth Ann was sure if Penny was HER dog, Penny would never get provoked. Every once in a while, though, Elizabeth Ann caught her grandma scratching Penny’s ears while Penny’s stub tail wagged in delight.

In grandma’s mind, a dog was a working member of a farming operation even though, in her old age, all that remained of a farm were a few chickens. The cow and its calf were sold when grandpa died. Mostly it was fruit trees and the vegetable garden. She still put up vegetables — tomatoes, corn, beans and fruit — peaches, mostly. Plums were for eating and jam; apples for pies, apple butter and jelly. Wherever grandma went out to the yard, Penny followed on her short legs.

“She just wants to be fed,” said Grandma.

“I think she loves you,” thought Elizabeth Ann who was always trying to pet Penny but Penny was not interested. Grandma interested Penny, not the 20 odd grandkids who came and went “of a summer’s day” and tried to pet her.

When Penny was old and sick, and it was clear she wouldn’t make it, Grandma called her son-in-law, Jack. He brought his 22, but couldn’t shoot the dog. He stood over her, shook his head and said, “I can’t, Mother.”

“What are you going to do then?” Grandma’s lips set in a tight line, as if by closing her mouth tightly her feelings couldn’t escape.

“I’ll take her to the vet, Mom.” Jack wrapped Penny in a blanket and set her in the trunk of his car. It wasn’t far to the vet. When Jack came back he had the blanket and Penny’s collar. “Here Mom,” he said. “I’m sorry about Penny.”

“I’m not getting another dog,” said Grandma, her lips still narrow and pale.

She meant it, but that left her all alone in her little house smack in the middle of five acres. No one thought that was a good idea, so Jack and Florence appeared on Christmas Eve with a wiggly brown puppy with curly fur and bright eyes. “This is Brownie, Mom,” said Florence.

The whole family was there to open gifts, all nine children, all 20-odd grandchildren. They stared at Grandma, wondering what she would do.

“I don’t need another dog,” she said. “Penny was enough.”

“You need a dog, Mom,” said her daughter Mary Ruth. “You’re here all alone. You need a dog to bark if something’s wrong.”

The puppy walked around the room, sniffing, undoubtedly finding the ghost-scents of Penny. Then she went to Grandma. The argument went on, the “kids” (all people in their thirties and forties) trying to persuade Grandma that she needed a dog, and grandma resisting. What no one saw was that grandma was scratching Brownie’s little, silky ears.


Mindy T. Dog Speaks on Important Matters

The opposable thumbs found on humans are definitely a useful adaptation, setting them apart from all other animals except raccoons. Those of us who get to live in close proximity to a human can benefit from those appendages, too. My advice is, if you don’t have opposable thumbs yourself, find a sympathetic human who does. Then, train your human to show off his or her opposable thumbs by teaching them to give you a cookie. It will make your new human feel accompished, and, of course, you will get a cookie.

Secretly, I have my own stragedy for grasping articles. Here you can see me holding onto my rawhide with my forepaws so that 1) Dusty or Bear can’t steal it and, 2) it’s in a convenient positiion for me to put into my mouth.

Yesterday our human friend from next door came over, and the two humans had a very good time employing their opposable thumbs with little rocks. I, personally, like to chew small rocks so I understand that anyone could be fascinated. A good rock is hard to find.

Your pal,

Mindy T. Dog