Our First Rodeo
We never knew what happened Rodeo's first two years of life and always wondered. Gail at the rescue shelter, Gail’s Pets, in northern Arkansas, said Rodeo was found wandering the roads in the fall, 2015, near Table Rock Lake and turned in to the shelter.
We had called to look at Rodeo, having seen his photo on Gail’s website, but were told another couple had said they wanted him, but the papers hadn’t arrived at Gail’s. It was early October, 2015.
About a week later, we called Gail Ross again and she said the couple had not sent the papers, so would we like to take a look at Rodeo? We said yes, on the 15th, we could make it there to see him. But we were unsure if we would take him.
Northern Arkansas roads around Table Rock Lake are winding, not in the best condition and hard to navigate. We had to go to an actual cowpath to get to Gail’s Pets. We went through at least one mile to get there. But we arrived early afternoon, Oct. 15, 2015.
The first thing you notice about the shelter is that it doesn’t have the smell of dog poop that most shelters have. The many helpers at the shelter clean the pens routinely. Bowls are sanitized daily. The animals are cleaned and groomed, healthy, and Gail, who was in her 70s at that time, was one of the most welcoming people on Earth.
We talked to Gail and her helpers a while, then rounded a corner on a hill and there was Rodeo. He had beautiful golden eyes, tricolor, wiry coat and immediately came up to me to greet me. He looked at me in a way that said, “I’ve been waiting for you. Where have you been?” I put a leash on him – one of the few he would ever need for the next eight-some years – and took him for a walk.
There was nothing difficult about leading this dog. He went by the other kennels calmly, nary noticing the other dogs, even when they would charge the fence as he went by. I told myself Rodeo had some calmness gene that is rare in dogs.
I paid the fee for him, him waiting nearby, and leashed him to get in our pickup. We had planned an outing with our daughter and son-in-law later that day. It was a few hours away.
He was so calm in the back seat of the pickup that it was difficult to notice he was there. He was never excited on the few hours to our daughter and son-in-law’s home. When we arrived in Springfield, he wagged his tail at everyone he could at the house, including seeming to know the fragility of the toddlers. He also lifted his leg on the diaper pail, but our daughter laughed about it, saying it was only he was nervous. We had a cookout and Rodeo stayed beside me, sitting down, like a little sentinel. When we got ready to go, he calmly went into the back of the pickup for the ride home to Pittsburg.
We stopped at our horse farm and let him out on a leash. It was as if he had always been around horses. We had four at the time and none of the horses became excited about being around a dog. He was likewise nonplussed. They had been around dogs since they came to this farm near Opolis (We bought the farm, just inside the Missouri border, in 2003).
Lucky had been a visitor from when we got the farm in October, 2003, until 2010, when he died after getting bone cancer. Quigley, an Australian Shepherd/German Shepherd mix, had been an occasional visitor since 2010, but did not ride well. Quigley had died of lymphomas in August, 2015. Rodeo noted the horses when we stopped, but had no fear of them. He never did, though sometimes he would chase them from inside the fence if they decided to run.
On the second day with Rodeo, I went into the bedroom for a nap and he lay on the bed with me. It was something he would do for his lifetime with us. Often, in the middle of the night, Rodeo would jump up on the bed. He did the same whenever I took a nap. It was one of his favorite places to be, even if our cats were there.
Which brings up his “meh” attitude toward cats. If it were a stray cat around our house, he would try to chase it – just like squirrels. But the cats often sought him laying down and would nestle next to him. Neither he nor the cats had any fear or trepidation with each other – ever.
Rodeo developed fluid on his internal organs in late 2023. The veterinarian said he should be euthanized, as some horrible death was approaching. On December 29, after he had a very painful night, we decided to go ahead.
There are no words for the desolation I feel, but maybe articles and books by Gary Kurz about letting go of pets will help someone else. He maintains there is substantial evidence that God will welcome our beloved pets in heaven. I think so, too.
Here is the website for Gary, the author of "Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates"