Wednesday, December 6
As I wrote previously, Skeeter comes over to our campsite to play with Reggie and Roger.
Of course, The Canine Rule of Repeats decrees that Skeeter come to our door every day since that first time.
Left to right: Skeeter, Roger, Reggie
After play time at our campsite, the three boys and I walk to Skeeter’s campsite.
No, that’s not true.
I walk. Reg, Rog, and Skeeter take off ahead of me, flying full throttle, dust spraying out behind their galloping paws.
Four of Skeeter’s five siblings rush to meet them. Then the two canine gangs join together and come barrelling across the desert to greet me.
Here they come! Rog is in the lead! (Del’s rig is on the right, out of frame.)
NOTE: Toby, gentle Toby, the tallest of them all — He’s the one with wavy, black fur in the photo below — stays at his campsite. His long legs don’t run like they used to.
How did this group become a family?
I’ll start with Toby’s story.
Del had a few mobile homes that he rented out. Some tenants who were a couple months behind in the rent packed up and left in the middle of the night. About three days later Del goes to the property and finds a dog lying on its side on the ground.
It’s tied up with no food and no water. The dog is only about one or two years old.
“He would’ve died, of course,” Del says, shaking his head. “I don’t understand how people can do something like that.”
“People like that make me sick,” I add. “I’d like THEM to go without food and water.”
As we talk, Toby stands between our camp chairs.
Del strokes Toby’s silky fur.
“Toby’s been with me for seventeen years now. He’s deaf and almost blind. That’s why he stays close to me.”
After a pause, Del adds tenderly, “I don’t think he’s gonna’ make it home (when Del and dogs leave here in the spring). You’ve been a great dog, haven’t you, Toby.”
This is River’s story.
While Del was camped along the Colorado River, not far from here, he found a small, short-haired, black dog running around on the riverbank. No owner could be found, so Del took him in and named him River.
Del thinks River is part dachshund and part pit bull. The doxie part is apparent in River’s physique, but I don’t see pit bull at all.
“Why do you think pit bull?” I ask.
“Oh, his temperament. I know pit bulls very well. I’ve had several. They are very calm, but they can be mean.”
Every time I’m with the pack of dogs, River quietly approaches me. I acknowledge him with a few neck scratches or pets along his torso. This is all he asks for before returning to the general mayhem.
I don’t think to ask Del when he adopted River, but it must have been a while ago. The little guy is no longer young, as evidenced by his gray muzzle.
Next I’ll tell you the story of Buddy and Beebee.
Left to right: Beebee, Buddy, and a third of the chihuahua trio stands behind Buddy
Okay, here’s their story.
Del knew a guy who had two dogs. I don’t know if the guy qualified as a friend or if he was only an acquaintance.
Anyway . . .
The guy dies. Shortly thereafter a woman drives up to Del’s place and she has two big dogs in the car with her, Buddy and BeeBee. Much to Del’s surprise she announces that the guy left the dogs to Del in his will.
Left to right: Reggie (airborne), Roger, Beebee
Del chuckles good-naturedly.
“He left me the dogs, but he didn’t leave me any money to pay for their upkeep!”
I don’t know the age of Buddy and Beebee. They appear to be mature dogs.
River, Buddy, Beebee
And then there’s Skeeter.
Del says Skeeter is part chihuahua and part Jack Russell terrier, like Reggie.
(Roger may be a blend of chihuahua and French bulldog.)
I don’t know how Skeeter became a part of Del’s family. I’ll try to remember to ask about that.
All seven dogs . . .
Toby, River, Buddy, Beebee, Skeeter, Roger, and Reggie get along splendidly.
~ ~ ~
Reggie and Roger hop on Del’s lap and give him kisses.
Skeeter jumps up and wiggles his way in between Reggie and Roger in order to join the love fest.
Is this a happy man or what?
NOTE: Anyone who loves and cares for dogs (or other pets) is acutely aware of a painful inevitability: Too soon they leave us. Del is a happy man, yes, but he grieves for his dog, Simba, whom you may remember from a post last March,. Simba was overtaken by cancer and had to be put down. She enjoyed a good life with Del and with her canine friends. — Sue
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