Updated: Dec 19, 2018
~ The Always Forgiving One ~
This (above) is a digital painting of Paddy from a photo I took of him in 2012 (right). We met and bonded immediately at the animal shelter in Española several years earlier (I think it was 2003 or maybe 2004). He had a hyperactive tongue he eagerly deployed from every corner of his mouth at every opportunity to express his unflinching acceptance and affection for everyone. No matter the occasion, licking was part of his interactions with people. It was our first interaction (him licking me, not me licking back...just petting and scratching him behind the ears).
His beautiful eyes were always so full of intelligent expression. He seemed to always understand much more than expected. This may be how he always came to forgive me for all of my endless list of faults.
Paddy loved to sleep on bark shavings from the oak posts I was preparing for use in balcony railing on the second floor inside the studio. It was sometimes difficult to get him up from that spot and into the house for the night. I tried napping there with him one lazy afternoon but it was way too lumpy for me and oak beetles, as tiny as they are, can bite hard.
A great watchdog, always alert and diligent when on duty, he made sure there were never any surprise visitors or trespassers on the property. In his younger years, he barked nonstop at the full moon on nights when it appeared above the tree-lined ridge to the east. It eventually bored him to do that, though, and moonrises once again became peaceful events here.
He was also a diligent construction project inspector. Being about two feet tall, he made a perfect moving gage for making sure the propane piping ditches were dug to regulation depth.
Shortly after bringing Paddy home from the animal shelter, I began commuting every day from the studio to Santa Fe and back again, passing Starvation Peak (also called Bernal Hill) each morning and afternoon. I began wondering what it was like up on its flat topped peak. It reminded me of a lesser but very similar peak in The Breaks of southwestern Oklahoma called Haystack Mountain. I decided I would someday climb it and maybe even camp on it overnight. Paddy and I eventually did climb up onto it and camped there during the night of a blue moon in July 2004.
Just before we crested the peak, we found there was nowhere at the top Paddy could scramble up onto the flat peak by himself, so I had to lift him up there. It sort of freaked him out when I did that. He stood above me whimpering and whining, prancing about in place in agitation until I heaved myself up over the lip to join him. Then he calmed right down and seemed to enjoy being there. I suspect he may have feared being abandoned again.
He was fascinated by the vast sights and distant sounds he could take in from our camp. We watched without a care in the world while traffic on I 25 rushed along to and fro far below.
I was struck by how little time he spent sniffing about at the ground as he usually did when we were trekking together. It almost seemed that using his main sensory organ as he usually was prone to do didn't matter much to him while we were up there. He would just stare out over the landscape with ears turning this way and that as strange sounds reached them.
After sundown, we settled down to enjoy the twilight before finding glowworms everywhere in the dirt around us after dark. None of the photos of the glowworms came out good (I was still using a cheap camera loaded with actual film) but they were fat-bodied and colored black, white and yellow. The next morning we watched the peak's shadow shorten for a while before eating breakfast and exploring the nooks and crannies of the peak's relatively flat top.
Paddy seemed perfectly content to stay a while enjoying the panoramic views. I sometimes wish I had taken him flying before he died. He canoed with me atop another mesa on one of the Charette Lakes farther north and east of this place a few summers later and he seemed to enjoy that too after getting used to the tricky footing while afloat. I don't think he was worried about falling in. We were both good swimmers.
That same morning, we found ladybugs swarming on trunks and branches of piñon pines scattered around the peak.
They were everywhere as we moved about exploring the top of the peak. Lightly wiping a hand over a branch, it came away with about a hundred ladybugs clinging to it.
On the way down from Starvation Peak, we almost stepped on something dangerous.
Paddy knew before I did that it was there and he let me know with some energetic barking and bouncing in place. Then it began shaking its rattle. A delightful sound I recorded on a portable digital recorder, thinking I might incorporate it into a song about our experience.
He loved trekking out into the wilderness alone too, pausing before leaving to subtly signal his intent to go. He especially loved to trek about after it snowed. I used to think about getting a GoPro to mount on him just to see where he went and what he did, but I never made him wear a dog collar or chest harness out here for fear it might entangle and trap him in fencing at some unknown location and never wanted him to have to wear one anyway, so the GoPro idea fizzled. Besides, he deserved his privacy as much as anyone else does.
He sometimes didn't like to put his butt down on the snow. He could be a real sissy about that.
Paddy would sometimes disappear in an instant without warning. I think he knew how to phase shift across to parallel universes, having almost caught him in the act of making the shift one red-skied evening.
I wondered if his alternate human companions in other universes were very much like me.
Just joking...I think.
In March 2006, someone shot a young golden retriever in the face and abandoned him near the studio. Quinn and Paddy became fast friends after Quinn began to recover from his wounds and horrific mystery ordeal that spring.
They became inseparable until Quinn died from eating some chicken strip snacks I gave them that were made with Chinese chicken tainted with something toxic I can't remember the name of now. His death was hard on both me and Paddy. I'll never buy another Purina product again.
Paddy's death in the summer of 2015 was extremely hard to bear. I accidentally ran over him with my pickup truck, crushing him.