Seven years ago yesterday I closed the deal on my little house here in Monte Vista, Colorado and I moved in seven years ago today. Well, I KIND of moved in. Lily T. Wolf, Dusty and Mindy T. Dogs and I drove down from the cabin in South Fork where we’d stayed for a month while I found a house. I bought the sofa with the house, so when we walked in, the house wasn’t totally empty.

The dogs liked it right off. They were happy to have their own yard. I immediately saw two necessities; a lamp for the living room and a toaster oven. Yeah, I had brand new appliances (including the cheap fragile stove I’ve written about at noisome length here) but what I needed was a toaster oven and food. I took my first drive to Alamosa as a home owner and went to Walmart. I didn’t know where anything was yet. I got my lamp and my toaster oven, the box of which sufficed as a little table until my furniture arrived. I’d hooked up Internet. One of the treasures I’d driven over the mountains with was one of my grandmother’s quilts. I figured Mindy and I would sleep on the sofa that night with my down parka as a pillow.

There was a little rug in the house and Lily — my sixteen year old Siberian husky — found it quickly. When the floor heater kicked on — be still my heart! — I moved the little rug to a spot where Lily would be warm. I’d lived the previous 11 years with a wood stove which was great, but it did involve going outside and bringing in wood. Suddenly I had a furnace that responded to its own imperatives to warm the room. I still love that thing.

It was an enormous adventure, driving three big dogs across the desert and over the mountains to a town I’d only seen once in which I didn’t know anyone, but it was also wonderful. For some reason I have not driven back over Wolf Creek Pass. I don’t know why, but I think that a little compartment in my brain says to stay on THIS side or I’ll have to do all of that again!

All three of my dauntless comrades have died. Mindy was probably 10, Dusty was 9, and Lily was 16 when we made that trip. All of them loved it here. Lily even got to experience ONE legit Colorado snow storm. She stayed outside walking, blind and aimless, in the snow until I went out and brought her in before she exhausted herself. She was so happy. Mindy? Mindy was a little Buddha at peace anywhere she went with the magical power to make everyone she met feel better. Dusty — one of the world’s most anxious and scary barky dogs, calmed down and embraced his friendly, exuberant, sweet nature. He knew he didn’t have anything to be afraid of and made friends. From the experience of that move, I learned how tightly humans and dogs can bond. For the first five months I lived here, I didn’t really talk to anyone. That changed, and all three dogs welcomed friends to our house and Mindy became the best friend of Casey, an autistic man who used to walk to the Dairy Queen every day and would stop to visit her in the front yard.

The euphoria of finding home has never gone away. Yesterday, after I got my flu shot, Teddy Bear T. Dog and I went out to the Refuge to watch raptors, hope for cranes, greet tourists and savor the beauty of Heaven.

Footnote: Not sure if you would like to read more Chinese lit./Pearl Buck stuff. Please let me know. I’m still typing it up and I think I’ve figured out where 36 year old Martha was going with it. I’ve also realized why she stopped. After hoping all her life for a dog of her own that she could keep, she got a dog — Truffle! — and discovered Mission Trails Regional Park. ❤

Truffle at Mission Trails

25 thoughts on “Euphoria

  1. You live in a tranquil place. Exactly my kind of. On a practical note it must be challenging living far away from main stream but at the same time rewarding climbing and trekking with loyal friends. Nature has its effects on everyone. Dusty went calm but obvious.

    • Thank you! People here like dogs and Dusty could feel that. I couldn’t have lived here happily 30 years ago or 20, but when I was ready for it, it was perfect. ❤

  2. I’d never contemplated Chinese novels before, so the Pearl stuff has been interesting.

    We’ve been out of Oregon for a week or so. Longest I’ve been away from Toulouse Grandpup Dogboy in quite some time. But his mom is taking good care of him. He’s 16, but alert and still loves going for walks. His back end is weak. As long as he can find traction, he’s okay.

    • Yep. Dusty suffered some kind of spinal injury as a puppy, but it didn’t bother him until he was 10, and one hind leg began to atrophy. Dogs are so amazing brave and stoical and in the moment. Scratch Toulouse’ ears for me.

  3. Talk about bravery! You are definitely intrepid! Love the lighting of the third photo – looks like a painting… Finding home is wonderful and I’m sure Dusty picked up on that and felt “home” as well. I would love to hear more about Pearl and China and that younger you who set aside her serious writing in favor of enjoying nature with her first dog!!

    • I wasn’t brave. I had to go somewhere. I’d lost my main job and it was going to be very difficult to maintain life in California as expensive as it was. I wanted to retire at 65 but I retired at 62 and was grateful I could. Thank you for weighing in on the Pearl Buck project. 🙂 I want to continue, but I don’t want to bore people (too much, a little is OK 😉 )

    • Me too. I’ve lived with 27 dogs, all of them my life’s history in its best and some of its saddest moments. When I had to put Lily to sleep, it about killed me. It was really the end of a part of my life spent running trails in California. I can’t have any more Siberian huskies as I can’t run with them now. I loved those times, though. I love Colorado but it doesn’t have what I had in CA, first of all, no bears, but a very different kind of mountain that took me a while to accept. There’s no real comparison and neither is better than the other except in matters of convenience 🙂

      I couldn’t have lived that life in Colorado, which I understood fully when I lay on a sleeping bag on the floor in my vet’s office (here in Monte Vista) wrapped around Lily while the vet put the catheter in her leg. I actually growled at them when they tried to take her out of my arms. They understood completely. The vet assistant is an immense Navajo of whom I am very fond. I didn’t know him then. Seriously he’s 6’2″ and 300+ pounds. He stood there and tears rolled down his cheeks. “We used to breed these dogs,” he said. “I know what you’re feeling.” that experience was one more reason I am grateful to live here now. This is an animal place and I am an animal person.

      • Damn, you made me cry.
        I’ve had Jolene for two years. The month before I got her, I lost my fourth dog in 3 1/2 years. Two I am still mourning, one was a terrible mistake, and one I mistook extreme pain for behavior issues.

        • Sometimes it would be really really great if a dog could say, “I can’t see any more” or “my hind end hurts so bad, I don’t know what to do” but they can’t. 😦 The saddest of my dog stories was the ONLY dog I bought at a pet store. A yellow lab who turned out to be totally insane as a result of overbreeding. Awful.

  4. Love this peek into Martha+dogs+Colorado history.

    So many lessons to learn from our canine companions, eh? One of them is, when moving, the only appropriate attitude is: “It’s all good! I’ll sleep here, tomorrow’s a new day, and every day is a wonderful adventure.”

    I try to accept change with the equanimity of my dogs, but they’re Jedi masters and I’m just a novice, following their lead.

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