On the night of April 13, 2014, while I was traveling and camping just outside Page, AZ, I heard a dog barking not too far from my vehicle.
At first I didn’t think anything of it, because it was the same bark I’d heard on previous nights while I was parked in this particular spot, but this time the dog was very close by.
I peered out of my vehicles windows and saw a shadow moving around on the nearby slick rock. The dog appeared huge combined with its shadow created by the light of a full moon, and I didn’t know if the animal was friendly or not, so I stayed inside Mitzi where I was safe.
Sometimes the dog barked, and sometimes he talked or growled slightly, and occasionally he whined. I expected him to go away, but after a bit he was still talking to me, so I started to talk back. He would stop and listen to me, then talk to me again. We kept on like this for a while until he eventually fell silent, and I fell back to sleep. I figured he had moved on.
However, in the morning I was awoken by a couple of low woofs, and more talking sounds. I roused myself from the depths of sleep, and peered out. The dog was sitting about ten-feet from my car, looking at my vehicle, then over at the horizon where the sunlight was just beginning to peek over the rocks. I said good morning, and he woofed again and sat watching the sun rise, and peered back at me occasionally to see if I was watching. “I’m here,” I said, “thanks for waking me up to share this with you.” We sat in silence, me inside my vehicle, in the warmth of my sleeping bag, and he on the ground, and watched the sun make its slow ascent skyward, and the colors play across the sandstone together. When the sun was fully up, and the rocks began to appear washed-out an pale, he woofed one more time, then went over to a patch of sand near-by and curled up to sleep some more. It was still cold outside, so I sank back into my sleeping bag.
A bit later I was woken by whining. Apparently it was time for me to get up.
I forced my stiff limbs to life, and slowly climbed out of my sleeping bag and donned down pants and jacket, then went outside to say hello. I offered the dog some food, but he wouldn’t approach me. I set it on the ground, and he sniffed at it, then backed away. Several times I talked to him, tried to offer food, or approached him. He would look at me quizzically, his tail wagging, but whenever I approached him he backed away with his tail between his legs.
When I was done eating, and visiting, he still sat at a distance. It was time for me to leave. I said goodbye, and he moved away, vanishing into the shrubs like a ghost. All that was left of our encounter were his footprints in the sand.
As I drove down the dirt road, avoiding the bumps and ruts as much as possible, I saw his tracks in the dirt, and thought long about his decision to keep his distance, and I decided that he was a very smart dog.
I can’t know for sure, but I suspect he’d been treated badly at some point, and although he wanted some companionship for a few hours he did not completely trust humans. Additionally, if he was adopted by a human, his life would suddenly become full of rules, restrictions, expectations, collars, leashes, demands, walled enclosures or fenced in areas. He would also need vaccinations and suffer the humility of doing tricks on demand, and be expected to follow his masters commands.
He would be subjected to the rules and expectations and limitations of a human society, his freedom and rights to live as he wanted would be stripped away from him. I am not sure it is worth giving up ones freedom in exchange for food and shelter; I haven’t…I think I understood him because we are soul mates… and I respected his wishes to be and live freely. Assuming he can find food; a life of running freely over slick rock, watching sunrises, visiting with strangers on his terms, and sniffing vegetation and lifting his leg anywhere he chooses, doesn’t sound too bad at all.
So live free Solo, and enjoy it while you can.
Until next time…
Roxy – a Nomad for Nature