Grateful for new, young friends

I wore long underwear, a sweater, a plush jacket, a purple down coat, and an ancient pair of gold snowpants.
To top off my outfit, I wrapped a winter scarf over my head and around my neck and donned purple-framed sunglasses.
I was sure I looked just like Jackie Onassis—for those who remember her.
I finagled harnesses and coats on the two dogs, wrestled my old hiking boots over two pairs of socks, and pulled on purple plush gloves. I should’ve waited on the gloves because it was difficult to snap leashes on the dogs, but after some muttering, I succeeded.
I opened the door, and we burst into the frigid morning. That night the temperature had dropped to five degrees Fahrenheit, but by the time I suited up, it had warmed to thirteen.
I couldn’t feel the air’s bitter bite except on my exposed face. The two schnauzers, one we were dog-sitting, and the other, our little Kenidee, didn’t mind, and as I allowed them to sniff to their hearts’ content, memories began rolling back.
Our Oggie-dog had died unexpectedly in February almost two years earlier. Ted and I grieved her loss, and every time I walked around Westwater, I cried, sometimes so hard I couldn’t see the trail.
One of my young friends, who knew what it was like to lose a beloved animal companion, noticed my struggle and offered to let me walk her schnauzer.
Schnauzers are known as the dogs with human brains, and Keeper was no exception. He was energetic, alert, extremely intelligent, and loved walking the canyon trails.
As I watched my new buddy investigating smells and trying to hunt lizards, chipmunks, and birds even while leashed, the clutching weight of grief began to ease.
When winter morphed into spring and then summer, another young friend, with a severely handicapped child and an active three-year-old, had a new baby and was experiencing serious health issues herself.
To give her a little break, I started taking her three-year-old with us.
He fell in love with Keeper and kept me entertained with wild stories and the “ABC” song sung a little off key and with quite a few letters missing.
In the canyon, I held onto Keeper’s leash with one hand and the little boy’s hand with my other as he jumped off rocks, threw pebbles at enemy trees and bushes, or bent to pick flowers for his mom.
Every day we stopped at the red picnic table to snack on blueberries, raspberries, grapes, and Lara bars.
I was astounded at the child’s appetite, but he shared his blueberries with Keeper, washed everything down with water, and emptied his cup on any plant needing liquid nourishment. Then, we headed back to find the Jeep who’d been lonely without us. I had no time to cry or wallow in grief, but I swore by all the stars in heaven I’d never own another dog. Fortunately, my hubby was okay with that.
Fast forward to November 2022. Keeper’s owner decided she’d like a little female dog. Her sister owned a miniature schnauzer that she wanted to breed, but the dog was having no part of it, and, in fact, “socked” the last male they tried it with.
The sister gave up, and my friend brought Kenidee home to Blanding. When I would get Keeper for his walk, the little female wanted to go along, but we didn’t know if she could handle Westwater, so she stayed behind, looking out the window until we returned.
Over the next two weeks, it became clear the dogs were having difficulty adapting to each other. In short, they fought. Finally, my friend said she was going to give Kenidee back to her sister who would sell her on KSL.
What kind of mania came over me, I’ll never know, but I couldn’t get the little dog out of my mind. My heart hurt thinking of her going to a stranger who might not care about her, but I certainly didn’t want a dog who couldn’t walk with me.
I thought of every other possible reason not to get another dog, but day after day she haunted me. Hesitantly, I finally told my hubby and friend that I was thinking about buying her.
“Why don’t you try her out first?” my wise friend suggested, so we kept her one Sunday.
Kenidee was mellow but sad, seeming to fear abandonment and wouldn’t let me go into another room without crying. After church, I took her for a walk in Westwater. She loved it and had no problem with any part of the trail—and that clinched the deal. She was ours.
The first time Ted and I took her on a long hike, we were walking up a wash toward the Jeep when she started running as fast as her little legs could go, up around Ted, back around me in a figure eight, over and over until I was laughing so hard I could hardly see.
Divine intervention? Dog delirium? I’ll never know, but now the dogs live in separate homes, they get along fine, and both love to walk—even in 13 degree weather with a strange human who can hardly move because she’s so layered.
I’ll always be grateful for my young friend who understood my grief about Oggie-dog and knew how to help; for my little rock-throwing, snack-eating, song-singing buddy, now in preschool; and for the strange string of synchronicities that brought Kenidee into our lives.

San Juan Record

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PO Box 879
Monticello, UT 84535

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