Dead Dog Dirtball Dream

Llano Quemado, south side of Taos, New Mexico

The blue sky reflected in the puddles! Win!

There was silence when I walked up to the car this morning. Nothing. No barks, no jangling chain, no pity crying in my heart. Maybe the neighbor’s dog died, I said to myself. I sort of wished he had.

He was chained outside a few steps from the gate. A Doberman, black and very skinny. They weren’t wasting food on this guy. Outside every day and night, in snow and sun and zero degrees. Maybe they brought him in once in a while, who knows? One day when I went to get the mail, I saw this funny black thing in the dirt beside the trailer and stopped to stare. It was the dog, curled up so tightly there were no paws or tail or head to notice! He must have been asleep, because he didn’t bark. All the rest of the forever time, though, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark… Whenever one of us got the mail, he barked. As soon as I opened our front door, he barked. He barked when I was crunching through the snow. He barked when I was chopping wood. He barked when I walked down the road two hundred yards away from him. We could hear him barking late at night. Sometimes there was a piteous moaning when his owner drove away.

At any rate I kept my distance. I didn’t want to see or hear or feel the dog, so in that respect the whole thing worked. I mean, he didn’t even have a dog house. There may have been enough chain for him to crawl underneath the single-wide somewhere, but I doubt it. “Call the sheriff,” people said. Oh sure. “Call animal control.” Yeah, yeah. And if I did and someone really came—there’s only one employee for 2,204 square miles—the owner’s gaze would turn my way. I know better than to tell a heavy guy with four trucks how to take care of his dog.

And then you’ll never guess what. I went back up to the road to take a picture for this post, and the leaping wraith was back! Was I glad or disappointed?

Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark…

What a karma sink this place is. There must be human sacrifices buried in the dirt. Flayed Spanish corpses, gringo teeth. Gasoline and radium.

And dogs.

  • kaye February 5, 2017, 10:45 PM

    A comment from a crazed animal rescue freak. If you did not have Callie, I guess you could offer to take him off the monster’s hands. I could not bear it….I would be feeding him if he wouldn’t rip my hands off. Hell if I could I would just take off with him

    I can’t make anything sound right. Sorry. I have taken several dogs to the shelter for my neighbors. They have guns too. They were only too glad to get rid of them. Not judging you. Have to stay safe.

    • JHF February 5, 2017, 11:03 PM

      We can’t fix other people. I can’t even fix myself!

  • Beth February 6, 2017, 10:03 AM

    In some ways the neglected animals are more pitiful than the neglected children. Because you know if you complained about the children someone would come.

    • JHF February 6, 2017, 10:56 AM

      Possibly. This is New Mexico, however.

  • Marti Fenton February 6, 2017, 12:41 PM

    When I arrived in Taos (and for many years afterward) the locals treated animals the way many of us treat bugs. I’ve even become more humane to bugs lately. However, I remember the screams of dogs along Upper Ranchitos as a monster in a pickup ran over them deliberately. I saw these animals laying on the side of the road and never saw the actual event. Dogs and cats were easy come, easy go and no one seamed to care what happened to them. Horses almost starved to death in the winter and nobody did anything about it. The suspicious relationship between Native Taoseños and Anglos made complaining risky. There is some improvement but many poor creatures live in the old Taos. Of course human abuse is still rampant as well even though more likely to be hidden.

    • JHF February 6, 2017, 12:55 PM

      I hope everybody who reads this post reads your comment. I’ve heard many such stories in my 17 years here. There’s another family on our road that keeps a horse in a narrow pen it probably can’t even turn around in. Definitely not “zoned for horses,” as the real estate ads like to point out when it’s true.

      One of the worst stories is about our Callie the Wonder Cat. She was one of four or five cats “belonging” to alcoholic renters two doors away. The cats never got to come inside, even during the depths of winter. The guy would stand in the doorway and throw kibble out the door, like he was feeding chickens! Just toss it in the dirt. Callie used to sleep inside an old shed next door. We lured her out with cat food and more or less abducted her. The former owners complained (“She was our favorite!”) but soon forgot and moved away.

  • M. J. February 7, 2017, 9:08 AM

    That makes me sad and mad! As I lay here on the couch with two Jack Russell dogs in the crook of my legs. Yes, animals may be a pain sometimes, digging under fences, hunting small animals, constantly barking, but they don’t deserve such cruelty! It just shows the evilness of man! I would have a hard time watching that and not acting but that’s just me.

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