Our Echo
Title, story type, location, year, person or writer
Add a Post
View Posts
Popular Posts
Hall of Fame


Story ID:1079
Written by:Kathe M. Campbell (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Broken Tree Ranch Montana USA
Person:Kath and entourage
View Comments (13)   |   Add a Comment Add a Comment   |   Print Print   |     |   Visitors





Am I Nuts?
by Kathe Campbell

"Take this job!"
"Be afraid, be very afraid!"
"You're cute, but get away from me!"

I've heard 'em all. Of course we know that God didn't create perfect people - or perfect animals. If he had, we might all be enjoying one another's perfect company. That's simplifying my wish, but it remains that too many folks aren't willing to share imperfections. A bit of work, training, and sharing one's love are involved, and in the end we sob buckets, but the rewards are unrivaled. All of our past and present domestics have longed for three simple things in their quest to please ...."talk to me often, let me sit close, and love me unconditionally." If you look into an animal's eyes and receive nothing but an icy stare, you're probably a damn fool. But once you're one-on-one, you might look into their eyes and see their very soul.

Of course, there are folks who feel that talking to the animals is a nutty thing to do. Do I care? Nope! And I'm not talking about telepathic energy between you and your Poopsie that produces baby talk lunacy in public. I'm talking about out loud everyday discourse. The kind that my dog, Corky, and I undertook in the midst of an earthquake last summer. He needed me, and boy oh boy....did I need him!

I converse low and soft with the local deer population on my mountain when they come to graze my acres and show me their offspring. Why is that, do you suppose? And my interesting array of mortal friends are those who speak English, howl, peep, whistle, chirp, and whisper with their own. If connecting with jumpers, racers, seeing-eyes, birds, therapists, cats, performers, herders, fetchers, and abused doesn't just blow you away, then maybe you don't fit in.

And speaking of being nuts, this one will blow you away. Twelve years ago our much decorated mammoth spotted jack donkey attacked me in his pasture. I eventually lost my arm due to the horrific injuries, but I forgave him. Smart Ass was put down the same day and it nearly broke our hearts, but we understood why it happened. Simply, it was spring and time for this much sought after champion to resume breeding again, and he damn near killed me. You've got the picture.

I'm oft asked, "Kath, how can you continue to keep your herd knowing they are the jack's offspring. Are you nuts?"

"I hope so, but these jacks were gelded their first year of life and are gentle as lambs. If I've learned nothing else in life, I know to be wary of stallions."

I can't recall not being nuts for MOST of the animal world. Thank God for my precious Keeshond or the kitties that seem to understand my rotten rheumatoid days. Don't tell me they don't understand. A current drug ad on TV portrays the anxiety and sadness upon a dog's face while watching his master suffer severe depression. Of course they understand us. They know when we're sad, mad, and glad. Body English and our tone tells them so. St. Francis of Assisi said, "Men who exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of pity and compassion, is a man who will deal likewise with his fellow man."

I'm down to three mammoth donkey stock now, all of us retired from positively razoo lives. With my beloved Pops gone, the approaching winter seems so desolate. Will my old crippled carcass be strong as I hike out to feed? I fret that I've forgotten so much that he taught me. But my precious dog leans hard against me and slurps frozen tears as I kneel to pick up a cake of hay.

"I need to sound cheerful, huh, Cork! We'll make it, kid. This pity stuff has gotta go. I'll make a list, for I'm the head honcho now," as my buddy smiles (and they do smile) and turns circles. "First thing on my list, I'll take my tears to the shower, for you whimper when I cry, and that's not fair."

Having my dog at my side this last year has been a godsend. Even the kitties purring and head butting me at nap or bedtime is so comforting. I awake in the mornings to prancing and wagging that tells me it's time to get moving. Smiling buddies at dawn set the tone at my house. As he patiently watches me jump into my sweats, Corky and I talk about our plans for the day. He can tell by my shoes, or lack thereof, if it's going to be a stay home day, or a day in town. The town days find him sitting patiently, waiting for me to phrase the best words in his glossary. "Wanna go in the truck, Cork?" Such excitement as he whines and rushes for the laundry room to remind me we must "feed that bunch of cats." His worst word is, of course, "stay." And maybe you don't think I'm in a whole lot of trouble if the donkey family is heehawing and I've overslept!

Before entering the truck, I ask in an upbeat, but serious tone, "Cork, did you go potty?" He rushes from tree to tree in search of the one that conjures up a pee. "Good boy," and he knows his favorite seat in the truck awaits him. Dumb dog! Of course there are long days when he must stay home to "take care of business." Although not terribly keen on baby sitting, he knows what "be back soon" means and has never followed me off this place.

Yes, my gang all have good word-stock, for adult jargon has made it so over the years. Just for fun I wrote down their 158 words and commands, many of which are indigenous to the entire four-legged tribe around here. Amazing! I have no idea how that ranks, but I do know that spending worthwhile time conversing with them all improves everyone's well being, including mine, for I get great answers.

Animals are great pals, as they are in my own family's homes, but not to the exclusion of great neighbors and people pals. My ranch residents rarely need discipline to help them all remember that we dwell together within and without. They tell me when they are in need, and they all readily know when I'm in need. It seems a perfect arrangement. As Andy Rooney says, "Dogs are nicer people than most people." Right on, Andy. You've now convinced me I'm not nuts.

Corky Sue
A Couple Kitties
A Couple Donks
Our Duck and Goose Pond
The Head Honcho