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  • A decade or so ago my brothers planned to have some sort of intervention with me, sitting me down to try to understand where, how, when this 'dog' problem arose and how, perhaps, 'we' might move past it, or rather how they would persuade me to move past it.

    Funny thing is, despite all the lectures and the looks of concern, I didn't move. Couldn't. Wouldn't.

    For whatever reason I landed in this world completely wired as a dog person. For better (and I would argue for the better) or worse, this would be who I became; who I am.

    As of this point in time, I'm eyes-wide-open dogged.

    I love 'em, I get 'em. I understand why they roll so damn happily in the carcasses of the recently deceased (and those who met their demise long ago but carry a stink nonetheless), eat the foulness that is excreted from every biological organism imaginable (and those even imagination refuses to include) and stick their wretched tongue down to the tonsils of every gasping operatic dog gawker (and there are lots) out there.

    Strange to me is the way so many see dogs as something other than a canid with a predator nature. But then this seems pretty easy to do if you live in a concrete habitat with a couch potato akin to American living. I'll be the first to admit guilt in letting my dogs sleep with me, practically offering them a seat at the family table, among other sins. Still, they are dogs and without their occupying a unique world and our building a bridge between us and them somehow something would be missing.

    Life in the mountains with a cattle dog is not really having a dog, but being owned by a dog. Cattle dogs are bred for prey drive, keen athleticism. They're 40-pounds of what-for and attitude in 'go' non-stop.

    Walker is just this, no different.

    As life would have it and circumstance would dictate, I met this young chap at the Humane Society, surrendered by a kind family that realized he was entirely too much dog for them and rightfully so. He is entirely too much dog, but has been entirely the too much dog I need, as luck would have it for them and me.

    Adopted over 10 years ago, this dog, as dogs have the amazing capacity to be, has been a most phenomenal teacher. His lessons about overcoming pain and deep hardship were most profound and were first among those both of us were in dire need for learning when we happened upon one another.

    Wild, just like me. Highly charged, absolutely like me. He was and is just perfect.

    He and I would run 30 miles on my 30th birthday except he would do it at lightening speed in front of me the entire time. Most impressive was the speed at which he ran down-hill prior to reaching home (in our 28th mile) only to turn his head in pure joy at the sound and then the sight of a ground-squirrel colony. Running wildly in-search of a prize, chasing each one, digging with fury before descending toward home a loser sans critter, but with tongue lolling and dirt in his eyes-- he definitely won.

    Working in field biology during his most active years, he spent March to October living outside in remote Montana all day long, sleeping in a tent, bullying me for sleeping space and more often than not winning.

    This might be dog heaven or at least I imagine it to be.

    He has seen more wildlife, been in more wild places, in his short existence than many will even see in pictures in all of theirs.

    Truly.

    While there are others in my personal portrait of dog-dom to speak highly of (Weez, pictured above is one and I will tell her tale in time), for now I give big thanks for my lifebuoy: Walker.

    He has grounded me. Saved me from myself. Been the excuse I needed to get in the hills, to breath air, to bring much-needed logic onto the scene, pushing my own craziness off of center-stage.

    For whatever reason life in this canine package, in all its iterations, in all its of odes to putridity, grounds me.
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