I find excuses to get out of town every weekend in order to give myself some distance from this place. My constant theme is nature. My intent is to leave the city behind for a little while to cleanse my mind and my soul. Disappearing into the wilderness refuels my desire to keep going. In a lot of ways the splendor of Arizona has become my church, my way to sort through the deeply conflicted parts of my mind.
More often than not I have people with me on these journeys, and this weekend was no exception. I went north with a friend and his girlfriend to help scout old forest service trails in and around Flagstaff. My friend works with a charity in Phoenix that sponsors classic car gatherings. Right now he is working on a vintage 4x4 rally that involve driving between various scenic locations via only forest service roads. The goal is to go 'over land' through established trails, rather than via highways. A lot of planning goes in to the event, both in terms of finding passable roads, and in terms of minimizing the environmental impact of taking 15 or so vintage Land Cruisers, Jeeps, Scouts and other 4x4s through the woods. The charity works closely with the forest and park services with an intent of both protecting and raising awareness of this beautiful state we live in. Plus, old jeeps and camping!
I found out my friend would be scouting the forests in and around Flagstaff this weekend and I sort of invited myself along. I grew up on the east side of Flag, near Walnut Canyon, and have grown to known the area very well. It is where I first learned how to drive, and where I would hike and hunt as a kid. This was an excuse to get back up there, to see if it was as great as I remember.
We started near Stoneman Lake and reached Mormon Lake about midday. From Mormon Lake we set out to find a way to Lake Mary. We picked a potential route using roads 132 and 132D and got underway. About halfway to Lake Mary we came across a couple in an Polaris. They had stopped in the middle of the road and were flagging us down. As we got closer we noticed that they had a young brown and white dog with them. She looked like a puppy based on the size of her feet and her weight. As we pulled up to them they explained that they had found this dog about 15 minutes before, just wandering in the woods. She looked like she was hurt, as she was dragging her back feet. She had a very ataxic gait and looked like she hadn't eaten or drank anything for several days.
As we all gathered to sort through what to do with this good dog another couple in a Polaris pulled up. They had a young German Shepard with them and, as luck would have it, a great big box of dog treats and a water dish. This was truly our lucky found dog's day, at long last!
As a group we decided to put this lost pup into the truck and take her in to Flagstaff to see a vet. A lot of credit goes to my friend and his girlfriend for being so willing to open their hearts and scrap their plans for the day to rescue this dog. Credit also goes to the first couple in the Polaris for having the patience to wait with her until someone could pick her up, and to the other couple for being willing to share their food and water. The joint effort of three groups of people who had never met each other before, and had never met this wandering canine before, all came together to give her a new chance at life. That, to me, is pretty amazing.
We brought her in to Flagstaff, to my parents vet on the far side of town. As we sat with her during the exam it was becoming clear that she was not a puppy. She is probably closer to 10 than she is to one. She was also was severely dehydrated and tired; falling asleep in the middle of her exam. More than anything she was just happy to be around people again.
She was scanned for, but did not have a microchip. Meaning that unless we can get more divine intervention, she may never get home again. While the weight of that settled in on us we decided that she deserved a name, something better than "Found Dog". The act of naming something gives it the power of recognition, a power and a purpose in our lives; a chance, or in this case a second chance, at life and happiness. After some discussion we settled on "Coco", short for Coconino, a homage to her journey through the woods. That, and she's chocolate brown and white, like a bowl of coco puffs.
It is now Sunday evening. She has been at the vet for two days, going in to her second night. The good news is that she does not have any broken bones, ticks, fleas, worms, or other external injuries from her journey. The vexing news is that she still has her wobbly gait, potentially symptomatic of some kidney damage. Equally vexing, she does not have a place to live yet. We are searching for her family but have not found anything. My parents and I are looking for foster families for her. We are attempting to give her some happiness to go with the hope she must feel to be back amongst the living. She deserves some happiness, even if it just for a little while. To make it so far only to be alone again is one cruelty too many in an already unfair world. So we continue to look for a home. We continue ask for things to fall in to place when they need to, because, just this one time, they need to.