Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Coming of Nova, The Dog

It was August, 1989. It was hot and I was crabby from the hot. I was finishing up the morning chores, the horses were all watered and settled for the day and I was heading for the house, when a ruckus came up my driveway. The ruckus turned out to be an Arab mare in flaming heat and she parked herself by the fence of the first stallion she came upon. I turned around to the tack room, got a halter, got her captured without injury to me, her or the fence, and into an empty corral. I then recognized her as belonging to a neighbor a little more then a quarter of a mile down the road and around a couple of corners which put them within view of my place and not that far in a straight line. It was way too hot to return her now so I got her a tub of water, some hay and left her there in the corral.

That evening, after I had finished my stuff and the sun had set, I took the Arab and myself on a walk to her home. The person who owned her was an absentee owner. Pancho had bought the 10 acres on the creek (only seasonally wet) but lived in East L.A. He had renters out here who took care of his animal collection as part of the rent deal. I got to the driveway to find, oh joy, the Drunken D’s in their car. The Drunken D’s lived on out the road about a mile from me and earned their name each and every day. You could smell them from yards away. They jumped out of their car, yelling that they were so glad to see I had Cece and she was safe. Turned out the renters had pulled out with no notice so Pancho had the Drunken D’s feeding for him. Of all the people on the mountain he picked the absolute least reliable. They opened the gate for me and I took Cece in where there was hay waiting for her. Guess the D’s thought she would magically reappear? They offered me a ride home which I declined as I wanted a long and healthy life.

The next morning, I went on down to Pancho’s to check the animals and sure enough everything was out of water and had no feed. I fed rabbits, chickens, Cece, goats, all sorts of fowl, and petted the lonely dog while feeding her. Note that last one; that is what did it for me.

The next morning, I was at the barn setting out hay for that night’s feeding and the lonely dog comes trotting up the hill, greeting me as a long-lost friend and with the attitude that of course I am glad to see her and that of course I love her. That was her attitude with which she greeted people her entire life. I was hooked, of course. I fed her, petted her some more, named her Nova & had to go on to work. She was waiting for me with the rest of my dogs when I got home and stayed all weekend up at my place. That was the weekend that Pancho rounded up some friends and removed all his animals. Guess he did not miss the dog.

Nova did not spend all her time at my place at first. She continued to check out Pancho’s place and another neighbor’s place. At that time the other neighbor did not know where she lived but they enjoyed her. And that made the setting for one of the famous Nova stories that they tell to this day. Seems they were having a barbeque when Nova showed up. She got petted by all and was happily enjoying the attention. Just as the steaks were ready, she jumped up, grabbed a one pound porterhouse off the grill and took off, leaving laughter behind. They had been calling her Thicktail, because she did have a thick tail, and when they found out that I had adopted her, they just had to tell me their Thicktail story about her and the steak.

Nova was with me for nearly 16 years, passing on at age 19. And she was correct—everyone was always glad to see her.

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