It was never meant to be about a stray dog. It was tobe a long weekend, all about a prestigious Arabian horse show.
And I NEVER set out to camp! In fact, when my friend Cheryll told me that was the plan, I remember saying something like, “Oh, no no no no no…. There are perfectly good hotels nearby… with amenities.”
But there I was, helping her unpack stuff — including a little dome tent — onto the only patch of ground under a shade tree adjacent to the gate into fairground parking near the horse show grounds.
As we threaded flexible ribs into the tent so it could spring to life, ‘million-dollar’ motor homes pulled in around us. One exquisite model was just parking when the tent was finally ready to load with supplies . . . when a wind gust sent it skittering — in full view of the whole ritzy lineup — us in hot pursuit. It would haunt us later.
We hauled the wayward tent back and quickly filled it with coolers, sleeping bags, and whatever we had to weigh it down. We then struck out to watch high-powered trainers working horses in the arena, one of them my futurity colt.
We had just settled in the grandstands when we heard a stuffy little giggle from the left.
“Ohhhh… ha ha ha — you’re the ladies with the little snow tent!!!”
No escaping the scrutiny from a tall motor home.
After seeing a trainer get dumped, we felt better about our station and returned to our home away from home — only to find a chain gang.
Yes, a chain gang.
They were working on the other side of the chain-link fence bordering the parking lot. No gate. A particularly vile-looking fellow threw us a nasty smile and said, “SO, are you ladies camping ALONE?”
Cheryll quickly replied that our husbands would be arriving any time (lying). He smiled and nodded as if he could tell.
I mentally retraced my steps back to the last hotel we’d passed coming in.
Then I heard panting — the good kind — big black Lab, lolling tongue, congenial tail-wagging-type panting. He trotted up to us as if on assignment, and we greeted him like an old friend. The gentle boy didn’t have any tags — just an old weathered collar.
We brought “Buddy” into the tent, where he lounged happily, sharing snacks and a nap.
Readying to head out for evening classes, we talked about how nice it would be to have Buddy be there when we got back. A horse lead became a makeshift tether to the small shade tree. A security guard ambled by and we asked about the earlier chain gang, and also if the dog looked familiar. He said he’d ask around to see if anyone was missing the amiable black dog.
Over the weekend the show unfolded, the “snow tent” was openly mocked, and thanks to Buddy nobody bothered our tent, whether we were there or not. We'd gone to town for dog food and chews and whatever he might need, and he seemed to be in his glory. The security guard kept stopping by to check in, always giving Buddy a good ear scratch.
Truth be told, there weren’t a lot of “unspecified breed” dogs at the show. I can’t recall if that was the year of Rotties, or Salukis, or the year of Chow Chow puppies (like baby bear cubs) in most of the trainers’ greeting areas. At any rate, it seemed somehow fitting that our “snow tent” was squired by a bona fide mutt.
Suddenly the weekend was over, the big motor homes pulling out, leaving us with a decision — because nobody appeared to be missing this sweet, gentle dog.
The answer was already in the works. Stopping by on his way off shift, the security guard asked what we planned to do with the kindly mutt. He said he wouldn’t mind taking him home one bit.
So we thanked Buddy for taking care of us along his way “home.”
You’ve got to love rescue, especially when it writes its own happy ending.
Christy Caballero writes from the heart about all things pet-related, from a couple deer trails off the beaten path, typically juggling a cat (or two) on her lap as black kitty AsTar teeters on her shoulder and Mojo the retired Greyhound quietly calls for einforcements!!