08 July 2010

The quick black fox eludes the capture mission.

To get to my work, you leave the beach and drive south to the artichoke and lettuce fields. Turn inland near where the apple orchards once were, and have now turned into dusty, tented bushes of raspberries and blueberries. The pickers are out in the strawberry fields, early in the morning, stopped over in hoodies, plopping berry after berry into their sacks. When you drive by, they never look up from their berries.

Take the road where the guy with the hook was horribly mutilated to death via woodchipper, past the migrant camp and the place where the road washes out by the rusty gate to nowhere. You might be confused because it's a field now, although in the winter it was a wide expansive lake. Usually there's some piles of stuff, maybe a couch and a heap of stuff that's rotten and moldy. Drive past the crucifix where the truck went off the road into a tree a while back. There's red plastic flowers piled up underneath.

Go past the charro guy ranches, and the random barbwire fields of cattle and llamas and baby horses. You'll have passed the shanty houses that have pitbulls on chains, and now you're out to where tiny dogs roam the roads freely, dashing out to nip at wheels as they speed by.

You'll know you're near my work when you pass where the taco trucks sleep, and the row of commercial nurseries where they put the old plants out for sale for $1. There's some fancy houses on the road, and some tucked away dirt lanes where big families sleep in tiny trailers, hidden under the willows. We're the ranch on the left.

I was out in the arena yesterday, explaining the finer points of pinchy lobster claws to a little girl who's reins always slip too long on her pony when I looked up the driveway and saw a little black fox running from the road towards the top of the property, right by my arena. I look at the pony girl, and look at the dogfox, and shout out, to anyone that can hear, "Is that my dog?"

I should explain. At the ranch, the dogs live in a pen up by the barn all day. They sleep away the day on their saddle pads, either huddled up in their doghouse they all share, or on their blanket under the tack cleaning hook, where all their friends come to visit them when they clean their bridles. It's a nice spot, right by the deck, and my dogs know everything that goes on in the barn. Gustavo also spends many days down by the little trailer at the bottom of the hill, with his best friend Jeff Gordon Number 24, a feisty black minpin who belongs to the laborer that feeds our horses dinner each and every night. Gordon and Gustavo share the same nickname, G-man, which also happens to be the nickname of Jeff Gordon Number 24, who I'm told, every single day, is the greatest NASCAR racer who has ever lived. And don't you forget it.

"Gustavo! GUSTAVO!' I call. Some reliable recall. The little dogfox keeps running up the drive, barely stopping to notice. I'm squinting, the pony girl rides over to the rail, and her grandma goes over. Everybody knows the dogs are supposed to be in their pens and not trotting down the driveway.

"Is that my dog? How did Gustavo get out?"

The little dog keeps trotting along, and I walk out the gate to go and see. The grandma doesn't think he's mine. He's jet black, but with no tiny white tuxedo in front. Aside from that, dead ringer for Gustavo. Has that feral look about him, whereas Gustavo, if he did escape, would probably be making a beeline for Gordon's trailer or out into the arena to see me after visiting with any spectators under the gazebo. This little foxdog looks wild and unkept and not like he's much fond of people.

When I get over to the drive, he turns tail and heads back down to the road, licketdy split. He's gone. Oh well. Lots of dogs come up on the property, sometimes dragging ropes behind them, other times run across and they're gone. Black Beauty came from the road, Otterpop came from another country road a few minutes away. Just the other day, a chow-ish dog named Rufus. Many of us have dogs that come from the road in Watsonville. Plenty of dogs to go around, even when you think you don't need one, there's always one that will pop up and someone has to figure out what to do with it.

Later on in the day, the foxdog's spotted out on the road by one of my customers. She tried to capture him, but when he wouldn't get in the car, she realized it wasn't Gustavo. Someone else reports seeing him the day prior.

A few hours later, I'm out in the arena and there he goes. Up the driveway again, heading towards the pastures at the top of the hill. Just a quick little foxdog, trotting along, looking for something, but I'm not quite sure what.

Out I go, after it, intent on making a capture. I call it sweetly, "Puppy, puppy, puppy." It's vanished. I look around for a while, search through the junk pile in case it's hiding, up by the abandoned car pile at the top of the hill. Someone tells me they saw it yesterday, and figured out it wasn't Gustavo because it didn't have the little white bib in front. No one wants to help me look for it. We all have a lot of things to do, at work on the ranch. I have horses to be ridden, lessons to be given, a to-do list that's always a mile long. And instead, I'm combing the property, calling out, "Puppy, puppy, puppy."

Eventually I gave up and went back to work. Maybe he'll be back to work tomorow. Just in case, if you need your own feral little Watsonville street dog, let me know.


brittany said...

....will there be a new team small dog member?

Elf said...

Sounds like the hills around Power Paws. I made some comment chiding them for not searching for their latest find's owners, and heard a lot about how they've given up, because they've never found an owner for any of the dogs that appear up there; people must come and drop them off and assume that they'll make their ways in the wild. Very sad. But some people have gotten some good dogs that way. It's just more complicated, because you don't know their background, their medical history, their training, nuthin'. Of course you know this. I'm just sayin', how can there be so many dog-drop-off places and how can there be so many uncaring people?

maryclover said...

Ahhhh Watsonville. I didn't realize that was your hood. I spent one of the most enjoyable weeks of my life in Watsonville. Mmmmmmm.

team small dog said...

Still haven't caught it!

My business is in Watsonville, I drive there every single morning and spend the day there!