Crocodile sky

Crocodile sky

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Snitzle 4

So the jewel known as Snitzle moved to LuckyPup Ranch, inserting herself among the other dogs as if they had always lived together. No growling. No fights. I lifted her onto the bed at night and down again in the morning. Every night she peed the bed. We got up at 1 a.m. and went for starry walks, and sometimes made it through a dry night.

“Her teeth need to come out,” the vet said. “All of them.” But first, of course, tests.

Hormone pills solved the bed wetting within a week, but the tests revealed a heart murmur, kidney disease and a liver that was none too sturdy. She kept her infected teeth and started on a regime of antibiotics and prescription dog food for kidney disease, sprinkled morning and night with enzymes.

I found my notebook from the day Trudi and I saved her.  I’d written her name: “Shelby”

When I said it to her, she leaped and spun with delight. Now she is a jewel called Shelby, when I remember, and Schnitzle when I forget.

She must be fifteen by now.

I bought a staircase so she can climb in and out of bed whenever she wants, and a smaller one for the sofa. Her teeth are pretty good. Her kidneys have stabilized, as has her liver and her heart. She stays close, cooing behind me like a small flock of pigeons perched on a ledge.

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Snitzle 3

Snitzle summered at Trudi’s ranch in the Colorado Rockies, then returned to Tucson in November.

Trudi brought her to a whimsical house she bought on four acres in a mesquite bosque beside a wash, with a swimming pool, views of the mountains, a studio, fireplaces,  a barn and corral, all fenced for dogs. Her husband and his greyhounds arrived with horses and furniture.

Trudi started to unpack and set up her new winter studio. She and Snitzle visited me here at LuckyPup Ranch. I visited her in town. We spent Thanksgiving together.

A week later, she was dying. “Take Snitzle, ” she said. “After all, animals are the real jewels.”

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Snitzle 2

The vet we found in Phoenix scanned her. Her microchip told her story.

Her name was Shelby. She had belonged to someone for ten years, then they left her at the Phoenix Pound. She lived in the pound for a year and a half until she was finally adopted. We got the name of the people who had adopted her, but they had moved, no one knew where. Did they give the little old dog away? Did they lose her on the highway, or did someone dump her? We posted ads, we called. At thirteen years old–or was she fourteen?–she became Trudi’s dog.

Trudi changed her name to Snitzle. They lived for the rest of the winter in Trudi’s glorious RV, with its white carpets and her paintings, an inflatable spa outside centered on a square of roll-out grass, surrounded by Tallavera pottery and wind chimes. The RV was parked beside a huge Tucson wash. With Trudi’s other dogs–an old white whippet, and an old white beagle mix–Snitzle chased coyotes and javelina. They drove to the Mission San Xavier, and the dogs lay on the Buick’s dashboard while Trudi painted. They drove to Willcox to see the cranes, and to every art show and horse show in and out of town. They ate in restaurants. They slept on Trudi’s bed.

Shelby was Snitzle and Snitzle was Trudi’s.

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Dec 19, 2011. My friend Trudi and I headed to Phoenix to look at horses at Turf Paradise. She was shopping, I was along for the adventure. We flew up I-10 in Trudi’s little Buick, headed north on 1-17. Clear, sunny day. No traffic.

Then we got to a car clot just before the McDowell Road on ramp. I looked ahead for swirling cop lights, EMTs, fire engines.

“Oh my God. It’s a DOG!” A small white figure raced across the highway in a pink coat, zigzagged, ran back, spun frantically.

“She’ll be killed!” Trudi said. Without any hesitation, she turned the car sideways to block traffic across two lanes. I jumped out as the little dog tried to climb the wall to the over pass. She fell back, turned desperately around. I knelt, opened my arms and called “Here, dog!”

She raced toward me, leapt, and hurled herself against my chest.

I stood with her clasped to me, waved a vague thank you to the cars that Trudi had blocked that hadn’t honked, and turned back to our car. A policeman stood beside his vehicle which blocked the lane Trudi hadn’t been able to, and Trudi stood beside hers.

“I told him you were good with animals,” she said.

“How did your dog get out onto the road?” he demanded, looking at the traffic as it piled up south of us, blocked by her car, then his.

“Not my dog. She was running on the highway. Someone was going to hit her or swerve into someone else. We stopped to prevent a wreck,” I said virtuously. I didn’t tell him how awed I was by Trudi’s deft polo-player maneuver, her spontaneous decision to risk being broadsided by hundreds of northbound vehicles traveling at 75 miles an hour, to save a badly dressed terrier.

I looked at the trembling dog’s ill-fitting pink rayon jacket. “She must have an owner, officer.”

“I’ll take her and try to find her people. Just put her in the cruiser, okay?” He opened the door.

In the police car’s back seat, behind a metal grill, sat a man with his hands cuffed behind him. He smiled and tried to reach toward the little dog. The policeman grabbed my shoulder and pulled me back.

“I forgot about him” he said. “I can’t take her.”

“We will! We’ll take her to a vet and see if she’s microchipped and search for her owner and if she doesn’t have one, we’ll keep her. Okay?”

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Long Branch

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Dry now…

I took the dogs to the pond this evening. They ran for scent, rolled where deer had rutted, grazed like cattle on green sprouts down stream from the drinker. The pond is completely dry. Only the weight of the red bull has punched through cracked earth to a little dampness. At the drinker, a mountain lion came with her cub, each leaving a single disappointed print in soft powder.

Someone built a stone cairn.

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Over the hill…

Over the hill...

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