My little aussie friend
DescriptionAbout a dog I coaxed out of his yard to go on an adventure.
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The Little Aussie. This is a story of a beautiful little Australian cattle dog that I had met, and the adventures we enjoyed. Once I had found my way down to the river there was no staying away from it, and on my way there I passed a yard with this black aussie shepherd with a few gray hairs in his coat. For months he would shy away from me like I was someone who had hurt him. He had no owner, no collar, and was never tied up. The people who fed him said he just rambled in one day and adopted them. I assumed he had been beaten and abandoned, so I could understand why he was edgy around me. He wasn't usually in the yard,but instead he would hover around the hills that sat across the road. Some days I would go up into those hills to rest and look for deer. As often as I saw the dog I would smile and invite him to come along, but he would never come with me. I was saddened by this because I loved the dog and had great adventures waiting for him. Everybody on Hobson Road knew this dog and had great love and respect for him. The people who fed him called him Newt for no other reason than they had him neutered. I never found a proper name for him, but would call him Keakodo every once in a while. He didn't need a name. He wasn't going to come if you called him, and he would definitely not play fetch. He carried himself as a sort of freelance dog who could take care of himself. When I went for a walk on the Hobson I could go right and walk about two miles to a broad open field with a view of the Bald hills, or I could turn left and walk past the area the dog might be in on my way to the Nisqually River. When I turned to the left and walked by the yard sometimes I didn't see the dog, but when I did I would greet him like a friend and invite him out for a walk. Every dog wants to go for a walk, and I felt bad for the little puppy because he was held from this joy because had a fear of strangers. One day he was out in the road like he was waiting for me to come by. As I walked up to him he stared at me like he really wanted to go with me. I took this opportunity to really turn on the charm and it worked. He began to walk with me. He stayed back about thirty feet, but he kept up. It was a very touchy moment. I didn't want to do anything that might stop him, like when I turned to see how he was doing and he stopped and looked at me like he was sorry for being so presumptuous as to tag along. Instantly I shifted around and continued walking. My heart swelled, and my eyes welled up. I may have looked like I was walking down the Hobson, but I was dancing three feet off the ground. I was happy because I had made a new friend, and I was happy for the puppy because he had got past his fear and now could enjoy what he wanted. We weren't long into our journey before he came running up in front of me with his tail wagging and the look of excitement in his eyes. With an assuring glance I let him know I was glad to see him, and he took the lead. On our maiden voyage I pulled out all the stops. We passed all my destinations that were short and easy, and went long. The blacktop turned to gravel, then to dirt, and then an open field. Keakodo shot out into the field like a bullet. The grass was waist high, and the field was very wide. Sometimes, in some spots, I could see his light black tail dancing to and fro. The gray hair in his coat deceived me into thinking he was old, but now I knew better. I walked diagonally through the field to a narrow path that led down the bank to the river. He joined me on the way, and soon we broke through some thick brush and reached the shore of the Nisqually. I had been to this place many times and enjoyed the scenery and the solitude. The river had two logs draped across its span, and I enjoyed sitting on one of those logs and looking down river. Many times I had been here to swim, but this day I sat on a log on the shore and gave my new friend a good scratching behind his ears. He lapped it all up, but from the way he was jumping around I could tell he wanted to keep moving. This dog spoke volumes without making a sound, and he was always trying to read me by looking into my eyes. His eyes would search my face looking for some sign that I was going on the move. I had been up and down many trails in the area and always wanted someone to come along with me on those hikes. When I sprang up from the log his tail started wagging frantically. We started our journey by walking along the river bank to a point where the shore climbed to a high overlook. It took some doing to get through the bush, but there was a hint of a trail that could be followed. Once or twice I turned to see how Keakodo was doing and the look on his face told me everything I wanted to know. His eyes were as big as saucers and his tail was high and wagging. The trail came out at the edge of a large field. We were on land dedicated to the Nisqually Land Trust. Volunteers kept this place pristine. A small sign near the border stated clearly to take only pictures and leave only footprints. I enjoyed the fact that there was no trash of any kind, and that I had never seen another person on the land. Keakodo was running around in the tall grass as I led us to a spot along the river where a large log jam had accumulated. With my new friend so eager for adventure I descended the bank and stepped out on a log on the shore. Keakodo was right behind me and more than willing to explore this new frontier. As I stepped out to the next log I felt it sink so I quickly jumped to another. My friend had chosen a path of his own and seemed to be doing much better than me. My hope was to make it to the other side and dip my hand in the rushing water of the river as it made its way around the bend. As we danced across the logs some would give way beneath me while others were semi solid. The thought of falling through the logs or twisting my ankle kept me quick and alert. The dog was light and agile and had no trouble at all. He was heading toward the continuation of the bank, but he had no fear of coming over to me to see what I was going for. Upon reaching my goal it seemed a small thing to just dip my feet in the flow but also remove my shoes and socks to let my feet down in the cool water. Keakodo came over to share in my joy, and stayed long enough to have me rub the back of his ears. He was glad to be out on an adventure and I was glad to have him along. I wondered if there was some sacrifice on his part to come with me so I decided to cut my foot washing short and get on the move again. I wanted to see him have a good day with me so that he might come along again sometime. Once on my feet I let him lead me to his discovery of the rocky shoreline. With some fancy footwork I jumped from log to log until I made it to solid ground. Every rocky shore came with its own supply of skippers and my eyes were trained to look for them. We had actually walked out on a peninsula about a hundred feet long. It was about thirty feet wide where we were but narrowed as it went upstream. The water between us and the blackberry covered bank was about ten feet across and about three feet deep. The water was also not flowing very much because the inlet upstream was narrow and shallow. It looked like a nice warm spot to wade around in. I placed it in my memory and went back to skipping rocks. As I looked for a rock to skip, Keakodo ran back and forth on the peninsula like he was tracking the scent of some wild beast. We soon came to the jumping off point that put us on a narrow shore that stood before a wall of dirt about ten feet high. Keakodo used a log that was laying off the top to scamper up the ridge and after some consideration I used the same way. I was not as quick as he was but when I came to the top I saw him looking at me as if to say " I was glad to help show ya a way out of there " I shot him back a look that said " your a clever little fella, thanks " With nod I indicated that the way was up river on the crest of the ridge. The ridge took a slight bend to the left as it followed the curve of the river with about a half mile distance to a grove of trees. The grass was a little over waist high so I stayed close to the edge while Keakodo disappeared into the field. As I walked along I thought about all the other places I could take him in this area today, and a few others that were out of the area for another day. In the trees stood a pile of large rocks high on the bank overlooking the river and the mountains that lay beyond that. I soon stood on those rocks looking out over the scene that showed no sign of human existence. Other than the scant trail that I had made to get here it appeared to be untouched. The native tribe used this spot once every couple of years to dump the salmon remains after harvesting the meat from their yearly catch. I watched them drive by my place once or twice in the fall and I enjoyed coming down afterward to watch the eagles feast. I enjoyed most of all to see them soar gracefully through the sky without even so much as a twitch in their wings. Today it was silent except for the gentle sound of the river washing up along the rocks on the shore. After a few moments of this I felt the presence of someone staring at me from the side. I looked down to see my friend looking up at me with excitement in his eyes and his tail wagging so hard it made his whole body sway back and forth. He was a happy, happy puppy. I was kind of envious of him because this was all a wonder to him, and I had been here many times. Squatting down I rubbed him behind the ears and called him a good dog. He was okay with that but what he really wanted to do was keep moving. I couldn't blame him, he rarely saw much outside his own front yard. The last place to keep moving to was toward home, but that was a good way away. The tracks made by the truck to drop salmon were still clear even though the grass had grown tall alongside them. In the spring this was a great place to collect the fine tops off the nettles. I enjoyed using them to make tea in the morning and also included the boiled leaves in my breakfast. Today we just walked the thin brown tire track through the tall grass with the field on our right and a tree covered hillside on the left. The puppy trotted along ahead of me with his tail high in the air. We soon came to a fence with a gate where we would squeeze by. Now on a dirt road there were a few houses and a few gated driveways. The forest was very dense, tall douglas fir trees were thick along the bottom, and rose high into the foliage. It was a cool place to be on a hot day and also sheltered me from the rain. I enjoyed walking this way in the morning. The view changed around every corner and soon a long dirt road laid before us with a broad open field on our left. In the field grazed a few dozen large black cows, and far,far beyond that the Cascade Mountains could be seen crowned with snow covered peaks. The way home always seems to take less time so I walked slowly, although the dog set the pace. Suddenly he darts out in front of me and dives into the brambles on our right. He can be heard rustling around for a moment then emerges the same way he went in, only now he has a large slice of pizza in his jaw. I let out a burst of laughter as he turns to me with a look of joy and accomplishment. Within thirty feet he did it again, and I waited patiently for him to enjoy his meal. He looked up at me when he was finished and I asked him if we were ready to go. With a few wags of his tail he started us down the road. Before the gravel turned to blacktop there was one more fenced field on our right. Toward the back at the tree line stood a small herd of mule deer. Keakodo slid under the lower strand of barbed wire and sprinted through the tall grass to surprise the wildlife. I watched them leap into the forest instantly. I thought about how it will be to the dogs surprise to find they will be long gone. The grass was able to hide the dog on his way back, and I didn't see him again until he came out ahead of me on the road. Along the road on the way I thought about a small pack of ankle biters that would run out in their yard to bark at me. I hadn't seen them on our way in and I hoped we wouldn't see them on our way out. As I rounded the corner I looked ahead for any sign of them knowing it was meaningless. It was their style to wait in hiding until I was right in front of the driveway then dart out at me with their shrill yelps. They were more of an irritation than anything, but my concern was for my new friend because I knew they would ignore me and go after him. As we neared the driveway I kept close to the aussie hoping to place myself as a barrier between them and him. I thought we had made it, but the silence was shattered by this nasty pack of about five or six muts charging out at us. I tried to stand between them but keakodo was instantly startled and ran away from my side. The little mongrels ran around me like creek water around a rock and went right after my friend. A quick glance from keakodo told me that he was more perplexed than frightened. I gave him what assurance I could by looking at him with a calm confidence. I knew from past experience that the pack would only travel so far away from their yard and all I had to do was get to that point, and hope my friend would come quickly along. I reached that spot but the little aussie was still behind being harassed by this gnarly mess. Now they were between me and him and I just had to call the dog to ignore the threats of this pack and walk right through them. Trying to chase them away only chased the pack toward him and we would be going backwards. He was just going to have to get through this on his own. He finally found a gap and ran through it. I was waiting far enough away that they wouldn't come near me and keakodo ran past me to. I turned my back to them as they continued barking and went to affirm my friend with a pat on the head and some rubbing behind his ears. His tail was already high and wagging and we walked along the road. Once in a while a car would come down the road and I would try to call the dog to get out of the way. He would look at me as if to wonder what I was concerned about. He was right, there was no reason to worry, the car would slow down or even stop until the dog was safely out of the way. Everybody on the Hobson knew this dog and had a deep love for him. Soon we came to his home and he happily pranced into the yard without looking back at me. I continued on to my own home glad to have had the chance to go on an adventure with my little aussie friend.