It is the end of an era, the death of our fine dog, Skip. He was to be named Kip, Jack said, like a good cattle dog he’d once known. But It kept coming out with an S on the front. So Skip he became. Not that the name ever mattered much to him. What mattered to him was belonging. Having a place to come home to, where there would be food and love, always.
The boy was just there waiting on the stoop one day when we got back to the ranch. A black dog with brown points above his eyes like a Doberman or a Rottweiler. Nothing about this thin mangy guy was threatening, though. He tilted his head, pushed his ears back and smiled. I’m a love. Can’t you tell?
And so he stayed. As an outdoor dog, a decision which nearly split my marriage. Having a furry dog covered in snow lying next to the door with temperatures well below zero was not in me. Jack insisted he was an outside dog, with a job, and bringing him in would confuse him and his system. (Only after I found a scholarly research article about this did I relent - it indeed was hard on them to come in only to go back out.)
His job was to keep the coyotes off the place, and he was especially good at guarding the chickens who never even had to be locked up at night. I once watched as a few coyotes (or a pack - who can ever tell how many there are?) came close into the ranch and he ran them off. “Regular” dogs often fall victim to their tricks, but never Skip. He charged them, but always came back before they could get him surrounded and turned around to charge again until they gave up and left. Wileyer than a coyote.
When we moved to town we worried most about him. The transition from roaming hundreds of acres with nary a fence in sight to one acre would be tough. But here he came in. A dog bed. Treats. A ball to chase after (and never return). A ditch to soak in on days when the heat made being a fluffy black dog more intolerable than the snow and freezing cold.
Nicknamed Skipper LeDoux by a friend, at home he began to answer to Doodles, a ridiculous name that suited him just fine.
The bounding leaps of joy! The racehorse dashes down the fenceline after his arch enemy! The belly rolls with one foot flopped to be extra cute. His special nest in the middle of the giant lilac bush. Laying down to eat, while the hyena corgi circled. His squeals when his favorite people came to visit. His last ears relaxed, bright eyed smile at me in the vet’s office.
In 2002, an intuitive told me that I’d live in a white house at the base of a mountain and a back dog would come and bring my deceased uncle to guard my life. Did I mention that our house was beige? And surrounded by mountains beyond the plain? That Skip was black? Whenever I touched my head to his head all the stress drained immediately. It was magical medicine.
He was a blessing in our lives and we miss him. Thank you for coming, Skip.