We live in the high desert valley between the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the west, and the Wet Mountains to the east. The distance between them is about 12 miles. The Sangres rise to 14, 000 feet, The Wets to about 12,000. We’re at 8,000. What that means is we live in a wind tunnel.
It’s not always windy, but this morning the wind is blowing hard. Trees are bending, and our dog, Tasha, is lying as close to me as she ever has. Her big brother Wally, a wolf-mix who looks threatening but isn’t, is curled up in the back of his kennel in the front hall. There’s no door on it so he’s free to come and go. When he’s cold or the wind is high he hides in there. At night, he takes himself to bed around 8:30. He feels safe in there even though you wouldn’t think he’d fit. When I reach in and scratch behind his ears before I go to sleep he hardly moves, but I know he likes it. I tell myself he’s waiting for me to say goodnight.
Tasha snores. At night she sounds like the old girl she is. She’ll be ten this year. She sleeps in our room on a dog bed by the exterior door. She’s a huskie with a thick coat. I think she likes the cool air that seeps in from under the door. It’s a win-win situation because I like that she blocks the cold air.
In the early morning Wally comes in and quietly circles the bed to see that we’re still there. He doesn’t’ wake us up. He just checks. Then he goes back to bed. I hear his nails clicking on the ceramic tile, then the whole weight of him collapsing into the walls of his cave. He doesn’t come out again until he knows we’re awake. Then he gets up, circles the bed again and puts his nose up to our mouths to smell our breath. It’s a wolf thing. He doesn’t lick, he just smells, presumably to see if it’s still us in the bed. Tasha doesn’t move. By morning, she’s sprawled out with her head on the floor, her body on the dog bed. She stays put until she hears me putting a lead on Wally’s collar for our morning walk. She stands, stretches, waits a moment, then scampers out to join us. It’s a routine I can rely on.