As Phoenix rose from the ashes, so Jack, the bull terrier, was the symbol of hope that rose from the cook shack conflagration.
Jack was past his prime. Though hard of hearing and losing his sight, he still continued to make the winter trip to Walker’s camp in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. In spite of the cold he slept outside near the cooking fire in his own dog bed.
The night the camp caught on fire, it was harrowing. Most of the supplies were lost, plus rifles, saddles, tack and years worth of personal treasures. The next morning the fire had burned itself out. In the deep ashes lay the metal skeletons of tools, utensils, firearms and hardware. Jack had survived.
Walker spent most of the morning gathering salvageables and sifting memories. He loaded the horses in the trailer, Jack in the bed of the pickup and slid and slipped down the muddy track to Highway 50. He got out to check his load and saw that Jack had abandoned ship!
The weather was below freezing, the dog was old, and it was two miles back to the camp on top of the mountain. Walker considered, like most of us would, the consequences of abandoning Jack, but like most of us, he couldn’t. He backtracked and searched for five hours and made the agonizing decision to leave without him. Home was 600 miles away in Arizona.
That night Walker called his Colorado neighbor John to report about the fire and Jack. Two days later John worked his way back through bad winter weather to the site of the fire. To his amazement he found a tunnel in the ashes and snow. Jack had burrowed in and found his dog bed! He planned to hibernate, John guessed.
John hauled Jack back home to his ranch house and put him up in the mud room on a door mat. By the next morning Jack had run away again. John made the long trip back to the burned camp. No Jack. Two days later another neighbor called to inquire if anybody had lost a grumpy, snuffling old gray dog. John was relieved. It turns out that Jack had left in search of better quarters. He had somehow gotten inside the new house, found a dog bed and claimed it for his own, much to the consternation of the resident poodle!
“He even ate my Kibbles and used the cat’s sandbox!” the poodle was heard to say. “Now my bed is soaked in drool, covered with dog hair and smells like barbecued goat.”
Jack, never one to take offense, snuggled down and slept through it all. ANM