Saturday, December 21, 2013


To fully appreciate the challenges of this trip, I have to back up and start at the beginning.

It started with a phone call in early November, 2003. We still had a landline and when I answered it the young man on the other end began talking about what he wanted to do to both myself, J and T. He didn't say our names, but he knew we were two women and a very young son (he was three and a half) living together, and the gist of his commentary was that he was going to show up at our house and rape us to death, starting with T. It was terrifying. I slammed the phone down and immediately dialed Star 69 to trace the call, then called the police. A very nice policeman came and took a statement. After investigating, they tracked the call through several servers back to a place in Virginia where they weren't able to follow it any more. The call had been routed through eight places by that point and I just think they were done. On the follow up, the police officer said that he didn't believe it was a credible threat and we shouldn't worry about it. I kept thinking the caller knew too much about our family for me to not treat it as credible. The voice in my head kept screaming "he knows I have a son." (I have also experienced too much violence at the hands of men to discount a threat of this magnitude.) In the conversation with the police officer we discussed options for home defense: security system, a gun or a dog.

The security system was a viable option, except it was going to be expensive and I was a full-time student. We were already living hand to mouth and our budget was very tight. We talked about a gun, which I have owned in the past, but having a weapon of that sort in a household with a son seemed reckless and dangerous (read studies about boys and guns if you don't think our concern is credible. And then consider how many girls have walked into their school and shot it up. Seemed reasonable not to have a gun.) We opted to get a dog. A boxer, as a matter of fact.

Meet Josephine Boxer. Or Joe Boxer. But most frequently "Joey".
Yes, I love Katie Holmes and Dawson's Creek. 

Joey had been purchased by a man for his girl friend who couldn't get her housebroke and resold her to the kennel where we found her. She was about six months old when we brought her home. Training her was difficult, but we eventually traded the carpet for hardwood, so the accidents weren't as significant. She was wonderful with T and would bark at the slightest noise (for those of you who don't think dogs should bark . . . how else are they going to let you know of an intruder. Her barking was a signal that she was willing to protect us.)

I would take her for long walks all over the neighborhood. One day I was stopped by a man who begged me to breed her to his male. His dog was almost seven, had been his constant companion since he was a pup and this guy would give anything to have a puppy from him. I talked to J and we went by to look at the dog. We (not knowing any better or having any concept of what it would mean) thought why not. I told the guy we would breed them and I would split the litter with him. If there were an odd number of pups, we would keep the extra. He said he would split the costs of the pregnancy and getting the pups old enough to find homes for. I made the mistake of not getting the agreement in writing. Always get the agreement in writing. J and I had planned on adopting out the pups for a minimal fee. He planned on keeping one, selling his other four (He was thinking she would have a litter of ten or twelve) and make $2000. We didn't know this until after the breeding had happened.

Joey and three pups: Red (F), Guinness (F) and Spike (M)

Joey had three pups. She had to have a cesarean, which is when they discovered she had a bleeding disorder, and she bled out on the table. She died. They gave her a bunch of drugs, blood transfusions and got her heart restarted. She was never the same after that, although she was a great mother. They were in the vet hospital for three days. The pups got their tail docks and dew claws done before they came home. The cost for all of that? $350. (I had been going to the same vet for years and he gave us a break, knowing the financial constraints we were in. It should have been $3000. I love our vet.) The guy who owned the male was not happy. Instead of making $2000 on the puppies he was going to have to pay us about $500 for a dog he couldn't breed to his male. That was when we realized his reasons for wanting to breed his dog were completely different than he had stated.

He sued us for breech of contract. We went to court when the dogs were almost seven months old (the court system is completely overbooked and this was the earliest we could actually get before a judge.) They lied. Nothing they said in court was the truth. They went to lunch and then came back and shared a story they had fabricated over lunch. We told the judge that the bottom line for us was we were keeping the pups. He charged us a breeding fee (which I still thing should have been offset by the medical costs, since the guy said in court he had offered to pay half.) We ended up with our Boxer Rainbow.

Red, Joey, Spike and Guinness

Red was T's from the first moment. Spike was mine and Guinness was J's. We lost Red in 2010 at the age of seven to a very aggressive blood cancer. Joey went to the Bridge December 14th of last year and Spike followed her three weeks later. Guinness was going downhill quickly and I wasn't sure she was going to last the week. Our house was so empty. As hard as having four boxers was, it was more difficult not having any dogs. J and I were both walking around in a fog of loss and emptiness. 

So, I found a pair of Boxer-Malinios mixes on FB for sale. I talked J into going out to look at them and we fell in love. We brought home Lily and Skittle on January 8th, 2013.

Skittle is the brindle and Lily is the fawn

I understood puppies this time. And I knew what they entailed. I was patient and was willing to do whatever it took to raise them . There were nights when I slept in my recliner in the living room with my fingers through the bars of their cage and they would sleep with their heads on my hand or my fingers in their mouths. They became housebroke and are very sweet dogs. They also rejuvenated our old dog, who is still with us.

We didn't realize when we got them at nine weeks old that THEY HAD NEVER BEEN OUTSIDE. As a result, they are most comfortable doing their business on the concrete of our back patio. Which means I've never trained them to go while being walked on a leash. This wouldn't be a problem, except that on a sixteen hour road trip it is important to have your dogs trained to go on any terrain on command. HA!

This made our past two days a challenge.

We left Denver on Thursday evening about 4:30. The dogs were so stressed they refused to settle. Lily kept crawling into my lap in the front seat, burying her head in my armpit and then climbing into the back seat again. Guinness, veteran of more than one roadtrip, curled up and went to sleep. We got to the KOA in Las Vegas, New Mexico and stayed in one of their cabins. For anyone who hasn't ever been to a KOA, they are wonderful. This was our first time staying in a cabin. It was small, but provided what we needed and the dogs are always welcome.  J and I slept on a double bed and T slept in a bunk bed. The mats were thick eggshell foam (not memory foam) and covered with a heavy vinyl. Our night was rough.

T woke up four times in various states of disturbance: too hot, too cold, freaked out by where we were, being chased by monsters. Yeah, that was fun. Every time he woke up the dogs wanted to go out, but didn't want to do anything, just be out. The pups wouldn't sleep without being on the bed and able to touch both of us. Guiness, who had two dog beds to herself, wanted to be on the bed as well, but couldn't jump up, so spent the night whining. I think we might have slept for two hours the entire night.

J on the road and ready to go on Friday morning

Headed south under a somewhat grey sky

They rode like this until the wind became too darn cold.

Old dog being old dog. She travels well.

T and our truck packed.

We drove through southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico. I just finished listening to Comanche Dawn by Michael Blakely, talking about the beginnings of the Comanche Plains Indians and a lot of the book took place in the areas we were driving through.

Late Thursday night, while we were driving, the truck began making a horrible noise. At first I thought it was a tire and we pulled over to check. The tires were fine, but the noise was still there when we started going. I realized that the mirror, which had smacked the crap out of another mirror about a year ago, was splitting up the back. I quickly fixed it with two of the small bungies we had in the truck. FTW!

The buildings in New Mexico are primarily adobe style. The closer we got to the Reservation, the worse the housing got, even with the money the casinos are bringing in.

Lily's favorite place to be. Resting on the console between the front seats, watching the road in front of us. She and Skittle were much more relaxed than the night before.

I spent a lot of the drive imagining riding Ashke through the sagebrush and juniper trees. I can see the huge herds of buffalo and the wild riders of the Plains tribes chasing them across the terrain.

This is the terrain and biology that sings to my heart with the strongest and loudest song.

J hates it.

We stopped in Albuquerque to let the dogs run at the dog park. It was the only time they would potty on the trip. We were in the car at least 10 hours.

Driving up to Flagstaff. We had rain and snow, but the stuff in the truck remained dry.

Sunset driving down from Flagstaff. I was so tired at this point.

Not a bad end to our very long day. Pups had finally settled down and slept for several hours.

Now they are at Grandma's and loving the back yard.

1 comment:

  1. What a horrible, horrible phone call. I would have done the same: get a big dog, and probably get a big gun as well. And what an asshole the owner of that male boxer. I was furious for you reading that. I'm glad it all worked out in the end.

    Loved the photos of your road trip! I do the same thing when I'm in the passenger seat: imagine myself galloping on Lily by the road as the countryside rolls by. Done it since I was a kid and first fell in love with horses. :) It sounds like you all managed to have fun despite the exhaustion. Have a beautiful, magical holiday with the fam!