After mourning the loss of my best friend I decided it was time to get another dog. Now I’m not saying I moved on from old Katy dog (my pillows went through many more nights of fabric soaking- tears) but, after much deliberation, Kona came into my life. What a strange dog she turned out to be. It all started with my daily reading of The Eureka Reporter. It just so happened that as I was reading the classifieds with my mom, discussing the prospect of getting a new dog, an ad grabbed my attention: free black lab puppy named Kona. Hooray! I thought, she even comes with a name. So I called the number and set up a meeting in which I could be introduced to the “puppy” named Kona.
I was waiting at the parking lot in downtown Fortuna to meet Kona. A car pulled up with a lab in the back. That couldn’t be right; I mean the dog in the back seat was a black lab, but it was no puppy. “Hi, are you Lindsey?” said the driver.
“Yea…,” I respond.
“Great, I’ll park right over there.”
Yea, great, I thought, this idiot is trying to pawn his full grown dog off to anyone who’d take her. Whatever. So he lets the dog out. Kona’s eyes meet mine and we are locked in a weird trance-like stare. I swear she winked at me. We were instantly connected. Some higher form of spirit or destiny brought us together. If dogs have soul mates with people, I’d be her’s. I must admit, I didn’t want to take her home. She was looked like an ugly jackal. First, she had no tail (Lab my a**). Second, she had no fur on her underside or around her tail-less butt. Third, she was growling at everyone in sight. But, I decided to take her anyways. Even though I didn’t like her temper, I figured, “hey she’s not growling at me, maybe it’s a sign.”
Life on the hill where we live is incredible for a dog. And this dog fits the part. The first time I took Kona on a walk she was so excited. I never even had to leash her. In a way, she reminded me of Katy. See, she’d run up ahead and then turn around and watch me come. As I was walking toward Granny’s house, Bailey comes running up….oh no, I thought, what if Kona is mean to dogs, too. Boy was I wrong! She and Bailey became instant friends. And so starts the trials of Kona and Bailey…..
Before that, I want to mention a name change in Kona. Josh and I stared calling her Kona-roo, then Kangaroo, which just stuck. Plus, she’s bouncy so it’s kind of perfect.
Doggy Cliff Hanger
The afternoon was warm; late August was good to us that year. The dogs were enjoying some play time together as Josh and I were enjoying the late summer together. A couple hours go by and Bailey and Kanga are missing. Granny calls us asking if we see Bailey. I look outside, no Bailey, but Kanga is in her house, wet, looking out her door. She looked as if she wanted to tell me something, but not sure whether I’d be mad or not. Anxiety was written all over her face. About half an hour later, we get a phone call: “Bring the biggest rope you can find! We found Bailey, she’s stuck on a ledge!” came the voice of Josh’s papa, Leland. Exchanging confused looks for a moment, Josh and I wondered, what the hell? So we hop on the 4 wheeler, find some rope, then haul butt down to the river. The river was amazing that afternoon. Calm water flowing gently, no cold wind, just the warmth of summer and the sound of the Vanduzen River rippling down the banks of sand and pebbles; redwood trees standing tall, Kanga running by our side, the birds singing….Josh shouting, “Oh my God!” Is that Bailey, I wondered? About half way up a 20 foot cliff, there was a dark figure sitting on a tiny ledge. As we drive closer and closer we see it’s the figure of Bailey, scared and confused. I figured: Bailey and Kanga are running through the woods when Bailey toppled over a cliff, somehow landing on the only ledge, Kanga comes home, and here we are thinking how the hell are we gonna get this dog down? Well, we do it. Josh, feeling some responsibility and being the fittest, is the rescuer. He goes to the top of the cliff from the other side, lowers himself to Bailey, ties a rope around her, lowers her down, then lowers himself down. What a day! The whole family was there and everything. You can imagine what the talk was about for the next few weeks. And that’s only the beginning…
Attack of the Otter
The sun was warm and the birds were chirping. Nature seemed to be in perfect alignment with the universe. Nothing could possibly go into a bizarreness today. I walk outside, greet the Kanga. She goes into her usual downward facing dog pose acting nonchalant about it. But, when I ask if she wants to go on a walk, the cool exterior melts and is replaced by a hot and happy state of excitement. She bounces around and yelps as though she can’t control her body.
Every day during August, I walk down to the river where Josh is working. He is delighted that I accompany him during lunch. Well, the particular day was extra delightful for he got lunch…and a show. I approach the river’s edge and wait for Josh to come get me. Suddenly there in the river is a little, sweet, innocent, cute otter. I’m admiring it, Kana is admiring it, and Josh arrives just in time to admire it. Then it tries to make a run for it. But it is marooned. Kanga is blocking the front, Josh and I either side, and a cliff behind it. So it starts to hiss, violently hiss. So Kanga, astonished, goes in for a better look at it. Then the little devil jumps out of the water and grabs Kanga by the jaw! Confused, she starts shaking her head around. The otter is persistent. It won’t let go. It just keeps hanging on, like it doesn’t know what else to do. I look at Josh. He is watching in disbelief, and then starts laughing hysterically. He yells across the river, “I’ve never seen an otter do this before!” “What the heck,” I yell back, “is that thing doing? It’s crazy!” Kanga gives one last swing around, Otter lets go, and swims off never to be seen again. I can only imagine what the Kanga is thinking. Probably, “Alright, I love this place!”
Kanga-roo is not an underfed dog. In fact, she almost killed herself when I tried cafeteria feeding her. My point: Kanga doesn’t know when she’s hungry or full. I don’t know exactly what her past was like before I had her, but she always acts starved. I woke up one morning, put on my coffee, gazed out the window, ahh, what a lovely morning it was. Birds were chirping, flowers were blooming, Kanga looks guilty… huh? Kanga looks guilty….What’d she do? I go looking for her mistake and found it in the garage. I also found it all over the floor, in the yard, her dog house, scattered towards the road… I later found it by the lake, then at Josh’s granny’s. It was torn up garbage. And not all of it was my garbage. In fact, looks like Kanga had spent the whole night rummaging through everyone else’s garbage in addition to mine. Now, it looks like a tornado of garbage went right through the mountain. Paper plates were sparkling, ice cream cartons were licked clean, coffee filters isolated, chip bags with no crumbs, and of course her dog bowl was empty. This wasn’t the last time, either…
Attack of the Otter, II
Growls of a hostile Kanga fill the air. A vicious bark sounds from her, followed by a high pitched yelp. Then more high pitched yelps, the sort of laugh teenage girls would make when flirting with boys. This happens every Friday morning when my mom comes for our weekly mountain hike. Backing up a few stories ago, Kanga has an extremely insecure personality. She can’t tell friend from foe, so she barks and growls at all except Josh and me…and Mom. So every Friday morning when Kanga hears Mom’s car coming, she does her usual constitution: barks and growls, sees it’s my mom’s car, sees her dogs in the back seat (who are quivering with excitement), and proceeds to high pitched yelps. If that isn’t enough, she dances around the car, as if singing, “look at me, look at me!”
Three miles later, we’re on the river bar walking. Suddenly, Mom’s little Jack Russell, Hercules, tears off across the sand dunes like some mad Indian. Quickly following him is Rocket, Mom’s other Jack Russell, trying like a cowboy to catch his adversary. Kanga, having much longer legs beats Rocket to Hercules. Then the sounds, the awful sound of animal war. Mom and I haul ass over to the dogs to see what the big idea was. “It’s a raccoon!” I shout. “No it’s not,” Mom shouts back, “it’s a, it’s a, well I don’t know what the hell it is.” The mystery animal hisses and bars its teeth. I know that hiss… “It’s an otter,” exclaims Mom at the same minute I’m thinking it. Oh my God, the freakin dogs are gonna kill it. The otter is stuck in the alcove of a stump half in the mud, half in the water. Kanga is at its back, Hercs is at its head, and Rocket is at its side. As if the little creature of the river couldn’t be more scared, Mom and I are there shouting and crying at it. Mom can’t decide who’s gonna kill who. First Rocket grabs its neck and Mom cries, “He’s gonna kill it!” Then the otter grabs Hercs’ neck and Mom cries out, “Oh! It’s gonna kill Hercys!” Kanga is intermittently nipping at it, and the more Mom cries out, the faster Kanga’s nipping is. Finally I grab Rocket’s leg while at the same time tackling Kanga. There I was on that glorious day: Jack Russell hanging by his foot in my hand, and a Lab-Jackal tucked under my arms in a grip more fit for a WWF wrestler. The otter makes his getaway, but not before looking back at us with one last menacing hiss. Poor thing.
Walking back to the house, the five of us really looked like we had a day in nature. Covered in dry mud and dog hair we told the story to Josh. “You’ve had more experiences with otters than anyone I know,” he says suspiciously. “God,” he laughs and turns away shaking his head. Please, like we could make that up.
If anyone can make life on the hill seem dull and boring, it’s Bailey. The slightly overweight chocolate Lab occasionally makes her way down to our house where an even border Kanga is sitting on the deck trying to beckon me outside with her puppishly good looks. A little disturbing though it is, I am ever flattered by Kanga’s attachment to me. Her only purpose in life is me. Whenever I’m in the house, she’ll follow the sound of my footsteps hoping to catch me at any one of the doors or windows. I open the garage door, there she is. I open the French doors, there she is. I open my bathroom window, there she is. I open the bedroom window, there she isn’t. Huh, where is she? Oh, that’s right, Bailey’s over. I have the dogs to thank for my sweet tan anyways, since they’re always whining at me to take them to the river. “Okay,” I say as I step outside, let’s go.” As if I lit a fire under their asses, the two stupid dogs take flight towards the river walk. The river walk is my best time of a summer day. The air is warm and sweet. I can almost taste the smell of summer as honeysuckle, chamomile, and pepperwood go through my nose and touch my tongue. As I get closer to the river, sounds of water tickle down my ear drum. Ah, there is no place I’d rather be right now than here in the wilderness with the dogs. Oh no, no, no, dumb dogs! Why do they always do that? Jump in the water than run back to you to shake off?
“Take this!” I throw a stick into the river. I nearly dislocate my shoulder trying to get it out to the middle of the river and it only goes about three feet before it changes course and lands somewhere on the shoreline. I was never any good at pitching. Meanwhile, Bailey and Kanga are almost to the other side looking for a stick that isn’t there. Quickly I throw another stick. Better. They run after it. Bailey gets their first and swims back towards me gleefully. Suddenly, she is underwater with Kanga on her back. Poor Bailey thrashes for air as Kanga holds her down. Finally she surrenders the stick whereupon the Alpha female, Kanga, snatches it with pride. Slightly embarrassed, as if Kanga is my bully child on the playground, I throw another stick for Bailey.
And the cycle repeats.
Josh’s sister gets a mixed Lab puppy, who Kanga falls in love with.
I was at Josh’s dad’s house when his wife asked me to walk down to the barn with her to feed her horses. “Sure,” I say, unaware of the danger that lay ahead.
There is a reason dog is man’s best friend, not horse. I’m walking down to the barn when suddenly, out f nowhere this crazed horse starts running at me. I turn around and shout for my best friend, “ROOOOO!” as if she would come to my rescue. Blah! She was back behind the gate before anyone could say ‘run.’ At what price is a dog’s devotion?
All good things come to an end. I no longer live on the hill, in the little redwood cacoon kept moist by the Vanduzen. Josh and I are apart, for good reason and with no hard feelings, and sadly, Roo, like any child forgoing divorce, got the short end of the stick. Which is Josh. I rarely see her but think about her daily. I have grown to love Roo more than anything. A love irreplaceable and unforgettable. But since Syd has come into my life (a new man, not a new dog) it is time to say goodbye. Dwelling on what was is to forget what can be.