Red Dog asks: What’s a horse?

Red Dog Smith lives with Mrs. Smith and me near a state park in Colorado, a short walk from the Colorado River and a recreational trail that runs alongside it. Curious as a young child, he asks a lot of questions, at least when just the two of us are out for a walk.

He noticed this morning that what he surmised was a bigger dog – because a lot of four-legged creatures are bigger than he is – had pooped a lot of poop right on the concrete trail between our place and Corn Lake.

He looked at me with those big brown eyes. “When I take a dump, why do we always have to stop and pick it up and take it with us?”

Red Dog on the trail by Corn Lake

“Good question, Red,” I told him. “If everyone just left it lying around, the world would be way more stinky and unpleasant than it is and people would be stepping in poop all the time and swearing a lot more.”

“So why didn’t someone pick up all that dog poop?”

Another great question, and a learning opportunity. “Well, first of all Red, I don’t know. And that isn’t actually dog poop. It’s what we refer to as horseshit. In other words, it’s poop that comes from a horse.”

He nodded, letting that sink in a bit. “So why didn’t someone pick up the horseshit and put it in a bag?”

I’d been wondering the same thing. You don’t mind too much when a cow gets loose and leaves a pie or two along a gravel road out in the middle of nowhere, or even when a horse leaves a little horseshit off the edge of the trail.

“You know, Red, I guess some people forget to bring a poop bag along now and then, and some people just don’t care enough to pick up after their own dog. So I suppose some people who have horses forget to bring bags or don’t care enough about keeping things nice to pick up after their own horse. You’d think they could at least scrape it off the feckin trail.”

“It’s one of those ‘life’s mysteries’ you told me about, right?”

“Exactly,” I said, pleased to know he’d been paying attention a few weeks ago.

He nodded and turned to move along, pulling a bit on the leash before coming to a sudden stop next to the nearest pile.

“What’s a horse?” he asked.

Questions, questions, questions. “Later, Red,” I said. “I’ll show you some pictures.”


If your own dog has questions, please share them here and we’ll do our best to answer them.

B.J.

Dogs and old men on a Colorado trail

Red Dog Smith and I ventured out of the office late this morning for a walk down to the river. Mrs. Smith was out hiking with some friends after ignoring my sage advice to always have a pocket knife when hiking. Who doesn’t carry a pocket knife into the wild?

Red Dog on a Colorado trail.
Red Dog on a Colorado trail

Anyhow, the river isn’t far, and we got all the short way there without seeing another human being or another canine. We decided we are OK with having a trail completely to ourselves now and then.

On the way back, it got busy. We saw a total of three human beings – one walking his black Lab, two others going different directions on their bicycles.

To be more specific, we saw three elderly guys. All three had what some would call white hair, but I prefer to characterize as silver.

Sensing a pattern here?

Seeing three people in half an hour or so is what passes for busy in our rocky little chunk of Mesa County.

We also saw:

Two quick-footed lizards.

Butterflies.

Contrails criss-crossing the clear blue sky.

An enormous flat-topped mountain to the east of us.

On the way back, almost at the front door, I realized I have become some guy who writes about his lunch break now and then. I am OK with that. Red doesn’t seem to care.

New sense of place

The ancient mesa to the east is grand indeed.

The cliffs and canyons to the west are monumental.

Sandstone mountains to the north recall dusty memories of books on a shelf.

The river behind us drops slowly toward a sea it will never reach.

And we marvel at the fortune that brought us here.

And we open ourselves to whatever is next.

The past is downstairs

Bern pedaled at a constant cadence of 75 rpm in the lower level of the main Smith Compound residence. A video screen in front of him showed the scene from a camera making its way along a trail somewhere in a rain forest in Costa Rica. His background music faded to nothing, then into Jim Morrison singing about the end of something.

What’s ending? What came before? Was I this high the last time I heard the song or is that my imagination? I don’t think it was what Frank and I listened to in his basement somewhere back in our long ago but who can remember something like that after a few hits of black Afghan? The hot dogs F boiled up didn’t last long. I’ll never forget that part. Exactly which song was playing doesn’t matter, but I always wonder what happened to F after that and if he had indeed killed himself and why no one ever told me. I hope I wasn’t responsible because I wasn’t a better friend. It’s not that I’m high now, because I’m not, but the sync between the video and The End is just too fitting down here. I’m trippin’ and seeing so many things in a different way as the trail bends left and right and climbs above the greenery and across one footbridge and on to another and then I’m in another basement looking for the Christmas presents Rosemary and Dr. Bobby had hidden in the crawl space, on the far side from the stairs so we had to go around the furnace where the Devil lived if we wanted to peek. There was no demon in the next few basements. Just memories of hiding and imagining and talking on the phone beneath my sisters’ bedroom, and sweeping and mopping and checking to see how much oil was left and if termites had left more tracks, and long-forgotten photo albums, and a bobby whistle and a roller skate key that I still carry around sometimes in case of an emergency and to help me remember even though some things can never be forgotten.

If only The End had lasted a little longer.

B.J.

Who can you live without?

Think about which of your loved ones you can do without before you deny the reality of a deadly virus and flaunt your selfish freedom.

Think about who will miss you when you’re dead and gone.