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Mountain Cowgirl

Well-known member
Mar 19, 2021
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He appeared out of nowhere one morning.

My grandmother was hanging laundry on the line when he made his debut. She had a dryer but chose not to use it, even in the winter unless time was of the essence. She was part American Indian blood and kept with the old ways over modern convenience when possible.

After the dog was fed, he laid down near the front door and made himself at home. My grandfather, well known for being an expert trainer with horses, mules, and dogs, the working ranch animals, tried to coax him to join him in the pickup for the morning tour of the ranch. The dog just laid there making itself comfortable. He exhausted his vast repertoire of canine training expertise, to no avail, so he went about his morning rounds unencumbered by canine companionship just like he had done ever since old Shep had died.

My grandmother had declared on the dogs arrival, that he was a sign from God. After several weeks of failed attempts to train the dog to do anything but lay by the door or hangout with us grandkids, when we visited, my grandpa declared the dog brain dead, but silenced all of us to never let on we thought that. We voted and decided to name him Dog, which was what my grandpa called him after several other more popular dog names didn't perk his ears.

On one visit, age 16, where I arrived early to help them with some remodeling and corral repairs, I decided to go to the river to cool off while they took their one hour nap after lunch. I disrobed down to the bare, to keep my undies dry, and enjoy the cool waters of the Animas river, the River of Lost Souls according to Indian legend. I rolled my tee and undies in my jeans and placed them near by on a rock for easy grabbing and fleeing behind trees, to dress, just in case I spotted rafters coming down the river. I had about a half mile view, so my plan was infallible.

To appease my grandma, I took dog with me and he lay calmly by the shore sleeping. She had declared that Dog was my protector and I was never to go to the river alone. My grandpa agreed, but just to appease her, knowing that Dog would be useless if anything happened. I had visited the river for years with just Old Shep and nothing ever happened. Since Shep's death, I had visited the river many times alone but my grandma worried my grandpa unmercifully about such, so when Dog arrived, it was a sign from God.

I was just getting cooled down in the pool, when a cottontail jumped up and scared Dog. Dog grabbed my rolled clothes and beat cheeks back to the ranch house. Knowing the dilemma I was facing, I walked down river to old Tony's fishing shack knowing he kept bibbed overall waders in there for fly fishing.

I was walking up to Tony's Trading Post, when I saw him on horseback heading my way. He still had his deceased wife's jeans and a tee that fit close enough, so once dressed more suitable, he took me over to my grandparents on horse back. He said my grandma had called him, knowing he would understand since he was full blood Indian. He agreed with my grandpa that Dog wasn't a sign from God, but a worthless mutt, but his lips were sealed like the wooden Chief out in front of his Trading Post, where tourist parted with cash for crafts that helped artist on the Rez.

When we arrived, my grandpa appeared to be organizing a search party comprised of family and neighbors. He knew that I would go to Tony's fishing shack, but had to appear to be organizing a rescue party for my grandma's sake. My grandpa told me and all gathered there to go with my grandmas story what ever it might be. She never asked me what happened since she assumed when I arrived with Tony, that Dog had saved my life by alerting her to call Tony.

My grandma had a stroke shortly after that and my grandpa gave Dog to Tony where he had a cushioned bed next to the wooden Chief. The two looked great together and made for great story telling by Tony, for tourist seeking stories about the River of the Lost Souls.
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One can appreciate the story of Dog more with a visual. This photo is from the far end of my Grandparents former ranch and where I walked up to the Trading Post.
Animas River CO NM Brd.jpg

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