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Cut And Caboodle

Story ID:7957
Written by:Kathe M. Campbell (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Only Here
Location:Broken Tree Ranch Montana USA
Year:2012
Person:Corky Sue
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Cut And Caboodle

Cut And Caboodle

Cut And Caboodle
by Kathe Campbell

God didn't create perfect people - or perfect animals. If He had we might all be enjoying one another's perfect, tiresome company. Unfortunately, too many folks aren't willing to share imperfections. A bit of training and loving are involved, and in the end we sob buckets, but the rewards are unrivaled. Our dogs merely ask to be talked to often, taught to work, allowed to sit close, and loved unconditionally. If you look into my dog's eyes and see nothing but an icy stare, you're probably a darn fool, but those who are one-on-one with animals can see his very soul.

Corky is the second Keeshond to gave his all when we needed him most, for my husband was critically ill. While they spoke of bones and truck rides, our Dutch buddy spent months pressed close to Pop's wheelchair as gnarly old fingers stroked his head. Then one day our beloved Pops was gone, so peacefully, so silently, shattering our lives. Brooding against his master's pillow, barely eating or drinking, I spurred Corky on comforting his grief despite my own. Sharing our sorrow was healing, my colloquy finally raising us both out of desolate depression. It would mark the onset of our first winter going it alone.

My dog could care less that I'm minus an arm or gimp along on bad RA days, for he obviously loves me more than I love myself. Isn't it amazing that our dogs will love the most lowly and seediest of us, feeding our colossal vanities with their uncritical and perfect hearts? I like what 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."

Kicking up a chunk of early snow, I stewed over caring for our 7,000 foot Montana ranch. A heavy new prosthesis had this old prune listing as Cork eagerly ushered our way to morning chores. Would I remember all Pop's had taught me about proper care of the animals and equipment? Would that sea of tools and mechanical devices residing in the garage be my nemesis. Could I load the rifle and put a shot over the head of a thieving varmint without shooting my foot off? Bent on lifting my burden with his wide smile and love light shining, Cork slurped cold tears as I knelt to cut open a bale of hay while snowflakes swirled wildly outside the hay room.

My dog grasped my words while listening to me attentively, then gently licked my hand when I told him... "I need to sound cheerful, huh Cork. This pity stuff has gotta go, for I know you're grieving too, so I'll get organized. We're the head honchos now and we'll be each others rock," I promised while caressing his soft head under my chin. Yes, my Dutch pal has great word-stock, my jargon and tone making it so.

The man of the house has a dense double coat with a thick ruff around his neck and a well-plumed curly tail. The top layer of hair is smooth and the under layer is of neutral wool, perfect for snowstorms that incite a rush through the doggy door to roll his heart out with every storm. Corky is simply beauty without vanity, strength without arrogance, courage without violence, and all the virtues of me without my faults.

Our first winter alone was the biggest challenge of my life, but once I simplified the routines timely, it all fell into place. All except for Corky's winter and spring dates with a groomer who refused to shave him stark-naked. That's me, Mrs. Scissorhand, with her spring-loaded shears clipping a kitchen bag plumb full right down to his skivvies. Such excitement when he sees me out on the deck with all the tools for his lion cut. He sits perfectly still for two hours with two treats and one potty break.

Corky gets the cut - the birds get the caboodle when the snow disappears. Tiny sparrows to great raptors swoop in to snatch up the first cuttings from his coat. They need to work fast, for pesky gophers sense the ritual, popping up just long enough to drag hordes of the stuff down their holes. It's an annual affair - fat mamas flying off trailing Corky underwear into the giant firs and bluebird boxes.

Happily, our first uncertain year as sole keepers of our acres ended on a good note. Family and neighbors stood by, but my best pal brought peace and joy, taught me courage and saved our ranch bacon more than once. There's no bones about it, my body English and tone tells Corky when I'm in need, just as I'm keenly perceptive of his needs. It's a perfect arrangement.

Our road to mending began in a valley of defeat while healing our sorrows, but my buddy never left my side, not even once. He keeps the bond while we spend afternoons on the deck just speaking of things. What could be sweeter than a best friend who soothes a healing heart when an occasional tear still wears a dusty path down old sunburned cheeks?