Why a Rez Dog? By Lisa Burke
We have two rez dogs in our household here is Salt Lake City, Utah. Both were adopted from Blackhat Humane Society, although we got them four years apart. I found both dogs online through Blackhat’s website. The first dog we named Sandra Day O’Connor, or Sandy, in honor of the retired Supreme Court justice. The Second, Jack Rascal, we adopted just this past May (2009). Both were homeless strays found, coincidentally, around Chinle, Arizona.
Chinle is in the central part of the vast Navajo reservation and, like many parts of the rez, has a serious and heartbreaking problem with homeless and feral dogs. They eat anything they can catch or scrounge out of garbage cans. Blackhat’s mission is to foster and find homes for some of these dogs, many of whom, at the time they are rescued, have obvious health problems due to the circumstances of their lives.
Sandy, who is probably part coyote, was the bigger challenge for me. She was timid when I brought her up here to the city. Mostly it was just sensory overload. The noise, commotion, and the other dogs and people everywhere freaked her out. But I took her and my old golden retriever, Hannah, everywhere with me and in a short time she realized that when I opened the back of my little station wagon and told them to get in, we would go on a fun adventure somewhere. She sailed into the back of the car.
Life is pleasant for Sandy now. She has gone on many road trips with Hannah and me and she is a great traveling companion. We have gone to nearly all of the states in the west together including many trips to Coronado, California to visit my best friend, Nickie. Sandy loves Nickie and Coronado, which has an off-leash dog area at the local beach. Sandy loves to chase tennis balls in the surf and it is amazing to watch this former rez dog, who probably never found enough water to wade in, much less go swimming, fearlessly dive into the waves as they crash over her head.
Jack Rascal is our newest Blackhat buddy. I certainly didn’t need a third dog but when I saw his photo on the Blackhat website I couldn’t resist. He was another homeless rez dog, in poor health and not very good looking. He had a pretty bad case of mange on his face and legs and part of his tail was missing. He was probably about a year old.
After researching mange and learning that the type afflicting Jack was difficult to eradicate but not contagious, I decided to adopt him. Jack immediately went to our wonderful vet, Dr. Dan Good, in Salt Lake City. Dr. Good had at one time worked on the Shoshone Reservation in Wyoming and has a soft spot for rez dogs. He was able to cure Jack’s mange over a period of two months.
(Editor’s note: Blackhat guarantees the health of our animals. In this case, the volunteer warned Lisa that Jack was being treated for mange, and she made the decision to take over his treatment.)
Sandy was absolutely furious when I got Jack Rascal. She didn’t hurt him but she sure wanted to get rid of him. That lasted about 36 hours and then they were playing together in the back yard and chasing each other in and out of the house through the dog door. They are best friends now and love each other. Both dogs learned the rules of our household very quickly. Neither has ever had an accident in the house. Both Sandy and Jack Rascal adjusted to life in the city with the help of Hannah. She has been very patient with both her new friends and she has had a very good influence on them.
When I look at both Sandy and Jack Rascal, I see two dogs who are intelligent, loving and appreciative of what they have been given. Had they not been rescued and adopted they would likely not have survived much longer on the rez. The life expectancy for homeless rez dogs is short and it is a brutal existence.
While I could easily have gone to the local shelter and picked out two wonderful dogs that would love me as much as Sandy and Jack do, I chose to go through Blackhat and adopt from the Navajo Reservation. Blackhat volunteers screen each dog to learn about its disposition, whether it gets along with cats (both of mine do) and children and, if the dog is with them for awhile, they will begin to teach it basic manners to help it adapt to a new home off the reservation.
Adopting from Blackhat obviously helps the dogs, but it also helps the Navajos reduce the dog overpopulation on their reservation. It has been a big
adventure for me and I am very proud of my rez dogs!
Minion’s Story By The Carter Family
When Michelle and I began looking for a dog back in the summer, we both agreed there was more to it than finding our perfect pooch. We believed that special match comes when the dog chooses you as well.
We searched the internet, read the paper and met several great dogs. However, the connection wasn’t there. Then, we saw a listing from Blackhat. In that listing was a cute puppy with a one of a kind face… Minion. We went to meet her at PetSmart in Flagstaff and instantly fell in love with her. Better yet, Minion fell in love with us. While there, we were also informed that Minion would need major surgery to remove her back, left leg as the result of serious injury some time ago. What stuck with us was Minion’s personable and loving demeanor, even though she couldn’t use her injured leg.
After talking with our boys, we decided Minion was “the one”. It was decided to let Minion recover from surgery with her foster before coming home to us. Those four weeks seemed to drag on and on.
When the day came, we all rushed over to the adoption fair and saw Minion for the first time since surgery. She was as happy as ever! We were excited to get to bring her home.
She has been with us for nearly two months now. She quickly established herself as a part of our family. She continues to show her outgoing personality and loving character. She loves her boys and looks for them when they are not here. We love her being here. She is truly a member of our family.
Why a Rez Dog? By Stephen Peterson
While scouting out Shiprock for a late afternoon shoot, a young dog came out of the rocks at the base and sat in front of me whining. She was hungry and covered in dried mud, but otherwise looked to be in good shape. She hung out with me for a couple of hours until the light got right for my afternoon shoot. I could not leave her. After sneaking her into a motel room in Farmington and giving her a bath, we spent the nite together. The rest is history.
I was finally shamed into getting my camera gear out of the truck where it has been for nearly a month since my return from the Western Adventure. This photo is not great but it’s the best I could do at 1:30 PM yesterday. She is untrained and getting her to hold still is a challenge. She is around 6 months old and weighs 27 lbs. She is a natural herder. Some say she looks dingo, some besenji, some skipperke, foxlike or maybe part coyote. She was born tail-less and has a different look when she runs because of that. Her fur is about 3/4 inch long and catlike, it is very soft with almost no undercoat and no guard hairs. She seems to be quite intelligent and stalks squirrels and other prey with the patience of a cat. Probably she has never been in a house before ours, but has adapted remarkably well. She swims, loves to ride in my truck, is not afraid of thunder or lightning and gets along well with other dogs and people. She sleeps on the floor next to me and does not get up during the night. She was totally house-broken from day one, no mistakes, ever. I am happy she found me and delighted to give her a second chance at life.
This is where Luna, a small black, hungry and muddy pup found me (see photo below). She came out of the base of the great Shiprock as I was scouting for my afternoon shoot. I have been interested in the Shiprock since the first time I flew west as a brand new National Airlines pilot over 30 years ago. The crusty old captain I was with, explained how the early settlers in wagon trains had used the rock as a guide on their westward quest. It could be seen for many miles and pointed the way for them. We could see it from a hundred miles out flying by at 37,000 feet. This was the first of hundreds of trips west that I would make as a National, Pan Am and eventually Delta Pilot. But I will always remember that first trip. It marked the realization of an impossible dream that a 16 year old boy had, of one day becoming a National Airlines pilot. After what seemed like a lifetime of schooling and training, including a little stopover in Viet Nam that lasted a couple of years, I was finally there, at the Great Shiprock, and it was pointing my way west.
The Shiprock is actually a volcanic plug that rises over 1500 feet from the desert floor. Just imagine the awe of the settlers as they moved west past the Shiprock and then Monument Valley, eventually coming to Glen Canyon and the Colorado River. I was excited to be on the same path as those early wagons trains and headed west as well. I found Arizona to be a landscape photographers dream. From there I moved up into Utah where I found more “out of this world’ landscapes. I don’t really know what drew me back to the Shiprock as I headed east for home. I actually had to go out of my way to get there. Maybe it was the little black dog that willed me back. I named her Luna, partly because I found the landscapes out there to be ‘other worldly’, but mostly because it just seemed to fit.
Luna is adapting well to her new surroundings in southwest Florida. Six weeks ago I couldn’t imagine having another dog. Today I couldn’t imagine not having Luna. I turned her loose in the woods today with my Florida cur and it was like releasing a fish back into the water. She herds the cur
dog, who was bred to herd cattle. As excited as she was to be free in the woods for the first time since I found her, she came running back to me when I called her and went right into a sit. She is the star of her obedience class and absolutely the teachers pet.
This is an amazing dog and everyone who crosses her path wants to know what she is and how I got her. She rolls on her belly for four year old kids to pet her and body slams and herds pit bulls, shepherds, labs and any other dog that wants to run with her. So far there is no dog at the dog park that can outrun or outmaneuver her. Did I forget to mention that she is the best squirrel dog I have ever seen. She has the patience of a cat and the keen eyes and nose of a coyote. She weighs in at 27 pounds and has grown a little in the last month. She was 24 pounds when I found her.