This post was originally published August 14, 2010.
With the oppressive heat settled in -- 109 F (43 C) on Thursday -- drought conditions, and Sirius, the Dog Star, rising in the east, what better time to introduce you to the dogs at Rainbow's End?
There seems to be a misguided belief by those living in the city that dogs abandoned in a rural area have somehow been dropped off in doggy Eden. That they will be free to run and play and that generous country folk will take them in. I'd like to introduce those city folk to the coyotes, wild hogs and bobcats that hunt the countryside. Or to the wily prey that laugh at the dogs who have never been taught to survive. Or to the neighbors with shotguns out to protect their livestock.
Sure, there are kind-hearted folk to be found. People who will take in strays even though the number of animals they already have is straining the limits of their abilities and their budgets. The lucky ones find cramped quarters and a daily dollop of dry food. The unlucky ones are spotlighted on the news when the authorities raid their compounds.
Still, the occasional dumped stray does find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Three years ago, a 4-month-old brindle-and-white mix with a hint of pit bull and precociously cocky behavior wandered in off the road. He was skinny and hungry and I offered him a handout. Three years later he's still asking me for handouts. I named him Loki, after that trickster of a god.
To me, Loki is the epitomy of a country dog. More than one person has told me he reminds them of Chance from The Incredible Journey. He's annoyingly full of energy and always ready to play, and too friendly for his own good -- he'd leave without a thought if someone opened a car door for him. He regularly goes off to visit an 8-year-old neighbor girl who absolutely adores him, goes fishing with another neighbor's family, and goes swimming in their pond. He gets along with the chickens and ducks and cats. He plays tag with a neighbor's calves -- he chases them, they chase him, and they all know it's a game. He kisses the horses on their noses. He hangs inside during the heat of the day, and he sleeps on the bed with me.
But he's also quick to defend his extended family. Whether it's a rogue coyote hunting in the daylight or a neighbor's bull that's broken through the fence, if it comes on the property, Loki is after it. It never occurs to him that, tough as he thinks he is, he is, after all, only a 40-pound dog.