This story is dedicated to a teacher (of Spanish,) traveler, and blogger, Deirdre, of Amble On Tours. Although I took two years of Spanish in high school, I never was able to grasp the language for everyday use. I respect not only her skills, but her ability to pass them on to her students. The ability to communicate is paramount. Yet, sometimes rudimentary skills and our sense of community are all we have.
June 6, 2003; revised July 20, 2015
We live in the country directly across the street from a main logging road. Every weekend many people like us travel up it. There are beautiful vistas to see and a lot of mountain to experience. Frequently, people drop off unwanted animals that find their way to our home.
One nice, late summer day a few years back, a lab mix padded quietly down our driveway and sat herself down, panting at my feet. She seemed to be a well-trained animal in her retirement years and utterly forlorn.
Every few minutes, as another car drove by, she would prick her ears, trying to identify ‘her’ vehicle. Then, as it drove by, her ears would wilt and she’d sigh. Her dejection tugged my heart.
I felt this dogs eager yearning to find her people and continued to watch her for signs of vehicle recognition. I petted her while we listened and waited.
Towards evening, our diligence paid off. Her ears pricked and she jumped up. She’d heard it and even made a half-hearted attempt to chase it down. She made it all the way to the end of our driveway before trotting back to lie at my feet and stare at me with pleading eyes. She was just too old, she said, to be racing up that mountain road to catch her people. She laid her head upon her feet, looking at me with those big brown eyes from beneath her doggie brows, blinked, and sighed once more.
Another car drove up the logging road shortly after her peoples. I petted her quick, told her I’d do my best, and sprinted to my little car, intent on tracking her people down, and took to the hills.
The first vehicle I came across was a van of Mexican forest workers standing on the hillside next to a beat up rusted van. I’d seen this van traveling up the logging road for a few weeks now. These men had the difficult job of slashing down all the alder saplings so the baby fir trees could have room to grow.
I’d already stopped my car in the center of the gravel road and rolled down my window before I realized those men were in the process of relieving themselves over the embankment. They looked wide-eyed at me from over their shoulders then turned back around to finish business. But I couldn’t just drive by without asking them about the dog. Damn it. Many areas on logging roads don’t allow for such things as easy turn-arounds and this part of this road was one of them.
Okay, great. I’ve known a lot of guys who don’t mind stopping on roadsides to do their business. Lucky men! Us women must, simply must find a bush to hide behind. Not just any bush, but a well-concealed bush. Not just any well-concealed bush. It must not have any prickly plants, such as stinging nettle, and the clearing and slope, if there is one, must accommodate us delicate squatters. Soft fern fronds are always a plus. That’s just the way it is. I’d never known any shy men when it comes to peeing on roadsides, especially not in groups. Until now. What’s a woman to do?
Oh, I know, most all of you women would have sped away from there and said to hell with asking them about the dog. But I know that logging road. The information these men could give me would help me. If the dog wasn’t theirs, they’d be able to tell me what those two vehicles looked like so I could eliminate any others I happened to come across further up. Besides, it wasn’t like I’d never seen a man . . . well hell, I’m an older sister, I’m married, I’ve changed diapers, come on. Besides, I hadn’t seen anything. Didn’t want to.
I’d have to drive too far to be able to quickly turn my car around and come back to question them and by then, they’d be gone so, I did the only other thing I could think of to help that poor dog; I turned my face in the other direction, strummed my fingers across the steering wheel, and waited patiently for the men to finish.
Well, time drug out, minutes ticked by and by and by . . . and since no one spoke, I threw their modesty out the window and turned towards them. They were still facing the edge of the road. Still? Ridiculous! Were they embarrassed more than myself? No way. They were guys, for heaven’s sake.
I could wait no longer. Their modesty would have to take a backseat to that poor dogs need. Astonishing the trio, I shouted, “Hey, any of you guys lose a dog?”
One of the men turned, (at least he was zipped up, probably had been for a while,) looked at me from beneath a lowered head, shrugged with his arms outward and palms up, lips down-turned in a sad-sack expression, and answered me back with these mighty embarrassed-sounding words, “Um, no, no ah speak Engleese.”
The others turned around to stare at me like I was some alien, all wide-eyed.
“Dog. You know. Bow wow. Ruff ruff. Dog. You lose one? Somebody who drove up this logging road lost their dog.”
The only response he gave was more shrugging with sorrow-filled eyes.
Well great. I sure as hell wasted a lot of time here for nothing. I had to try to catch up to the other vehicle. It could be clear on the other side of the mountain by now.
Reigning in my frustration, I waved goodbye to the men, pressed the accelerator, and continued uphill. About a mile further, the logging road split. There were two fresh sets of tire tracks crisscrossing each other. Which set should I follow?
I turned to the left where the fresher set led. After a few bumps and bottoming out a time or two around brushy, blind corners, I surprised some guy in a little red pick-up who happened to be laying out all casual-like across the hood and windshield of his truck, apparently enjoying the panoramic view below, that is until he heard my vehicle. Then he jumped. He must have thought he had this little quiet spot to himself. Why would anyone think that when I’m around to interrupt their privacy? I asked him if he lost a dog but he didn’t even own one. Had he seen any other vehicles? No. Dang! My valiant efforts weren’t turning out well.
I swung my car around in a tight circle, back-tracked to the Y in the road, and followed the other set of tracks until they turned up a steep washout only suitable for four-wheel drives, which my car was not. There was no telling when the folks in that rig would decide to return.
Troubled about letting the dog down, I drove home.
My family and I tried many different names on her, she answered to none but Rosie but there was nothing we could do to squelch her depression.
Just before the sun went down a truck unknown to us barreled down our driveway spewing up dust and pebbles before it came to an abrupt stop. Rosie’s tail wagged. She jumped to her feet, wiggling happiness, greeting the folks climbing out of the four-by truck with friendly, loving whimpers of joy. The truck owners rushed to their beloved pet, swallowing her with their hugs.
The man took a break from his crooning to look up at me and say, “We’d heard you might have our dog from someone up the logging road. We live up the road,” he gestured with a nod to the east, “and hadn’t realized she tried to follow us. She likes to go for rides but we’d decided to leave her at home. She’s getting a little too old for jungle trucking.” He and his wife resumed petting their dog we’d dubbed Rosie. “What were you thinking, girl.”
I felt so glad for that dog. Relieved. But curious, I asked, “Who told you she was here, the guy in the little red truck?”
Rosie’s owner said, “Red truck? We never saw a guy in a red truck. No, it was the Mexicans.”
(Who, come to find out, not only knew where I lived, but spoke excellent Engleese!)