03 April 2009

COLORADO COLLEEN: A Dog Named Kep at No Name Rest Area

Copper, at right, resembled a puppy in this picture, but she was about 70 dog years at the time. Playful and cordial, she retained a puppy spirit even to her last moments of life. This post introduces another dog: Kep. I'll post her photo once I've got it downloaded.

I had packed a picnic. I was marveling at the slow, green river and the intoxicating Colorado landscape as I spread the soft flesh of an avocado on multigrain bread. In the distance, cliffs and buttes showed their true colors. A snowcapped peak peeked over buttes and cliffs and rock formations. It was a little cold for dining al fresco, but the vista mitigated cold fingers.

I was tossing a salad of baby butter lettuce, pink grapefruit, shaved almonds, dried cherries, roasted beets, and goat cheese, when the dog showed up. A Border Collie. My weakness. (One of my late, great dogs, Friday, was part Border Collie.) This Border Collie, a tri-colored female, sniffed around. As I am wont to do with any dog--much more so than any person--I struck up a conversation. Like my girl Friday, this dog had a profound, sentient look in her eye. Soon, she brought me a big stick.

I'm trainable, so I tossed the stick, which she quickly retrieved and dropped, prepared to dash and fetch again.
"You know that's an endless game," the dog's "mom" called from a few picnic tables away.
"This is making my day!" I called back to her.
Coincidentally, the week before, I had gone online to look at Border Collie rescue websites. I'd had dogs for 18 years, but have been dogless now for more than 18 months. I miss them both--Friday and Copper--terribly. I live with dog ghosts in my house, lingering in the spots where they slept and ate and played. I still expect the dogs to welcome me when I return from travels, still sense them in the doghouse in the secret garden or around the spots they preferred on the front porch. Both lived to the ripe old dog age of 108 years, so I have a trove of dog memories to revisit. But I haven't felt ready to commit to another dog.
Still, those Border Collies. With their beauty and intelligence and agility and intensity, they're my favorite furpeople. Instinctively, this dog and I understood one another. My sweetheart finished making the sandwiches, ate his lunch, and smoked a cigar while I abandoned the picnic in favor of the dog and her big stick. Eventually, as is typically the case with Border Collies, Kep wore me out before I could wear her out. She brought a smaller stick, and between bites of lunch, I complied.
Eventually got to talking to the woman with the dog, whose name is Keppy, a derivative of her formal name, Kep's Kep. "Kep," I learned, was an old Scottish word for dog.
There's more to this story. Stay tuned.

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