Ode to Dogs and Horses
I grew up in a rural area between Boulder and Lafayette, CO, when there were open fields everywhere that you could take your horses through (don't look for them now—they're covered with houses as far as the eye can see). My family always had dogs and, once my sister and I were old enough to care for them, horses. This page honors the animals that were such an integral part of my life. I like to think they supported me in their own ways, although it might have just been that pack or herd instinct they have. Regardless, I love them all, present and past.
Kaku is currently the dog in charge of our house and pack. He's a cream-colored Shiba Inu and you can see by the picture (at left) that he takes his job seriously. Contrary to popular opinion, Shiba Inus can be trained because I took him through PetSmart's beginning and intermediate classes. We did have to go through the intermediate class twice to graduate. All I can say is that even a picky Shiba Inu will heel well on a leash when you're carrying raw hot dog in your hand.
Sunny was named by the people who rescued her from euthenasia at a Vet assistant school. She was a beauty, but she had issues as many older dogs do. She was terrified of thunder, which you hear every afternoon in summer in Colorado, either distantly or crashing overhead. If I left her inside, she'd destroy the house in her desperation to escape. If I left her outside, I'd find the fence torn apart or siding pulled off the house. Often, she had escaped and I'd wander the neighborhood and finally sit at home waiting for the call when somebody found her, usually miles away. I finished a small room downstairs in masonite and thin steel to contain her during summer afternoon thunderstorms. One day I found a Sunny-sized hole torn in that room's door, which I then replaced with a steel-covered model. Even though I lost molding, doors, walls, furniture, etc, during the summer—I still enjoyed her company.
Dagwood was rescued in Albuquerque. He lived with me for a couple months, but then I was re-assigned and couldn't find a place that allowed dogs. I had to dump him on my parents (bless my mother for her love of dogs -- although she couldn't let me forget about his puppy episode of chewing). I took him back when I left the USAF from my overseas station. Dagwood didn't grow into a beauty, but he was energetic, loyal, and very, very smart. He always stuck to the "schedule" and made sure I was up at 5:30 a.m., unless I was sick (and believe me, he could tell the difference between sickness and hangover, sleepiness, or laziness!). If I had guests in the evening, he'd try to get everybody's attention at bedtime with an announcement. If I didn't shut down revelries, he'd march off to his bed, muttering and grumbling. He always seemed so close to articulating himself in our language. Makes you wonder…
My parents were kind enough to support our passion for horses, once I and my younger sister could take care of ourselves once our mother went back to work. We also had to take care of the horses, which we agreed to do. I trailered them myself to 4H meetings and shows. When we moved to a larger parcel of land so we could grow our own hay and have more horses, I helped my father build the barn. I also helped load bales in the truck and store them in the barn.
Hickory, a buckskin, was our first horse and we found he loved peanut butter. Then came my 3/4 Arab mare Marada, my favorite (although she hated peanut butter). Over the years, we took in a few other horses for short periods: Tandy the pony, Sheba the Arab mare, and an AQHA colt that my sister rode after I left for college. I bought and boarded a mare while I was stationed in Albuquerque, but she had to be sold when I was transferred to Florida. The opportunity to have horses hasn't happened since. I still have fond memories (and my tack) but sometimes I miss them desperately, particularly when I watch horse-centric shows like Heartland with Amber Marshall.