Oso's Tale Revisited
By Joyce Wolff

Perhaps some of you will remember the little Newsletter, The Bare Facts, that the Women's Group published and I edited.  In the October 1998 issue, which you will find below, I wrote a bit about the dog that we adopted.  Sadly, last week, and six years later, we asked Dr.  Skip Aaroe to put that big dog down – he was simply not leading a happy life any more.  Dr.  Aaroe came to our home and kindly did as we asked.  Oso is buried on our property with the Big Dog shirt (see below).  We will enjoy our precious memories of him for as long as we live.  In the past few years several property owners have lost their pets who were Santa Fe Trail Ranch pioneers just as their owners were.  Many are buried on the properties they loved.  Our hearts are heavy that they are gone.

Two dear old dogs, both friends of Oso's still live on the Ranch – each with new owners who give them exceptional care.  One is Brandy, who belonged to and still loved by Dorothy and Ted Novakowski and remained "at home" with Betty and Jerry Withington, and Homer, who everyone in Las Animas County knew and loved, but stayed behind with Elizabeth Polasek and Dan Jondron when Carl Putz left.

Homer, Oso and Brandy always hoping for a snack

Noah's Ark had just been formed and the article commemorated that event also.

Oso's Tale
By Joyce Wolff

Resident property owners may remember the big golden dog who for several weeks roamed the north end of the Ranch during the cold snowy April of ‘97.  The most striking thing about him was his size; he was BIG; he was also unapproachable.  Michelle, Carl and I all tried to offer aid but he always vanished into the scrub.  Finally, driven by hunger, he approached David H.'s crew working on the Hulstine's house.  They named him "Loner" and shared tacos with him for lunch.  Cindy fed him when she was "on site" then he would disappear again.

One weekend when Cindy didn't arrive with groceries he shyly walked up our driveway and straight into our hearts.

His heavy winter coat was dirty, matted and one pointed ear, which looked to be missing, was secured to the back of his head with burrs which were also tangled throughout his fur: some imbedded in his skin along with cactus spines.

This is Oso, already known to Bare Facts readers as the trail boss from Carol Rawle's article, Building a Trail with Carol and Joyce.  I asked my friend, Carol, (an artist of sizable talent) to do a sketch of Oso for this article.  She provided me with this charming little drawing that we share with you and I treasure.  Thank you, Ma'am!

We tried to think of someone who might adopt him (no Noah's Ark then) and I delivered a lengthy explanation to Dorothy Novakowski listing the reasons why we couldn't.  But, the next day we took him for his shots, bought a collar, leash, food, bowls, brush, doggie shampoo, toothbrush and chicken flavored toothpaste.  Walt named him Oso, ‘cause he looks like one.  Veterinarian Skip Aaroe pulled out the cactus spines and judging from his teeth guessed he was about six years old.  Maybe we'll keep him, after all.

After reading our "Found Dog" ad in the paper, a man whose dog met the description, came to identify him.  He was only with us a few days and I was close to tears at the thought of losing him.  Wrong dog - great sigh of relief!

He passed every test that we required of him.  He doesn't bark, (except for some deep woofs when someone arrives).  He slept outside on the door mat (one of Walt's stipulations) not minding the snow.  (That rule has been overturned.  Now he curls up on the bed, but ONLY in a lightning storm for as my T-shirt says, "You can move a mountain but you can't budge a big dog.").  He doesn't get car sick, he doesn't beg (much), and he will "wait" (dejectedly) under the porch allowing us to drive away.  And a most important requirement for a dog living on the Ranch, he does not roam and he does not bother wildlife.  From his vantage point on the porch he merely watches the turkeys that came through our property every day and he ignores the cows when we go walking in the meadow.  This lack of interest amazes us for he must have had some hunting instincts those weeks he was foraging for himself.  We wondered if he had been raised with livestock on a farm or ranch.  Oso is reluctant to talk about his past.  The only "wilderness" food he still eats is crunchy dried acorns that he forages for under the oak brush and an occasional wildflower.  He does snap at and occasionally catches flies, but that's sport.

Oso graduated from Dog Obedience School, even though he failed second grade; but that was my fault.  He is shy, but tolerant with visitors (they confuse him) and grandchildren (they hug him).  He is devoted to his new digs and trotted the five miles between Putz Peak and Loma Lobo in only 45 minutes when we tried to leave him for a few days with Homer.

Our stray dog story has a happy and satisfying ending; many do not.  Good Luck Noah's Ark!