I once had the marginal supervision of a Basenji, named Twerp. The man i worked for (i lived on the property) had found Twerp wandering around on the state highway coming north from Santa Fe. She had Albequerque tags, but when he called the owners, they didn't want her back--they were indignant at being bothered. Twerp was not a clingy or pushy or nasty dog--she was . . . just a little twerp. She nursed all of the other dogs. In the southwest, the rattlers are little affairs, two to three feet long, not to be compared to the five or six foot long timber rattlers i've seen in the East--the dogs were always getting bit (there were ten dogs on the farm, we had a snake bite case about every other week). Twerp would herd them over by the big water basin under the constantly dripping tap, and the lie down next to them and lick and occassionally even suck at the wound (after "sucking" the wound, she would walk about ten feet away, regurgitate, and then go drink about a pint of water). Twice daily she would go get about three or four mouthfuls of kibble, and drop it under their noses, then nudge and annoy them until they ate it. She would stay at their side for three or four days, never wandering off except for nursing activities or to relieve herself. No other dog would interfer with her at those times, and they would cautiously step away from the kibble troth when she approached (i always wondered about the first time she went for food, and ran off seven dogs who were each one five times her size). When the dog was recovered, all eight of them (border collie/australian shepherd crosses) would return to their habit of ignoring her, and treating her like the twerp she was.
Like all good communities, the dogs had their fun with twerp. At "the other house," where i lived, there was an old, shaggy yellow hippie dog who had been left behind as a puppuy when one of the local hippie communes had been abandoned. He was the legendary type of the mean yellow dog, and barely deigned to notice the other dogs--or me, for that matter, until the night of the first thunderstorm, when "White Fang" (
) kept climbing into bed with me, wimpering like a puppy, and nearly crushing the breath out of me. Then he decided we were buddies ("Confidentially, old man, those storms are rather too common in these mountains."
). There are precious few squirrels in the Sangre de Cristo, but there is a surfeit of coyotes. Sundance had made it his life's work to kill or run out of Arroyo Seco every coyote he saw. He was in his fullest glory running down the miscreant canid with the full pack baying at his heels . . . and little Twerp, an otherwise entirely silent dog, barking a weird wailing yip. If it became evident that the coyote would escape, and deny Sundance his kill (which was usually the case), the pack would look at one another in sly complicity, and, as if at a signal, all nine dogs would come to a sudden complete halt, but continue to sound for a few seconds. Twerp would shoot on through the pack, hell bent for leather after the coyote, who would eventually trip to the change in the sound of the pursuit, and turn on her. She would then come to an almost screeching halt, and silently sprint for the pack, which sat looking on, slitty-eyed and gape-mouthed, silently laughing among themselves. She never learned, they pulled it on her at least once a week.