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Gotcha Day for Curtis Loew

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

I let Curtis run on this first real snow of the winter. He loves snow and cold and he loves nothing better than to run. When he’d been gone for about an hour I set out after him with the Marco Polo tracker. I knew about where to start because I’d been with him when he picked up a coon trail, ever his favorite. So I headed west, out the old orchard, and in the direction I’d last heard him bark. No dice. The signal said he’d gone southwest. So out the meadow I walked, snow clinging to my boots with that crunching tramp I’d had yet to hear this winter. 

Man, he was a long way off. I heard him bark, and plunged down into the west valley. He was clear over on the other side of the Chute! I called, and the tracker sent a little ping to let him know where I was, and before too long he appeared on the slope above me. He wove through the trees and was so happy to see me. Not as happy as I was to see him!

We found a deer bed.


And an old cast iron bathtub, on our land, one I’d never known was there! It shows up a lot better in snow. For those who wonder (and I do, all the time), farmers use them to water cattle. They place them in a natural spring and let the spring keep them filled.


Bonus score. I now own an old rusty bathtub, and I can tell you it’s staying right there. I wondered who lived in it, but didn’t feel strong enough to tip it up and see. 

Since we were sort of in the vicinity, I decided to show Curtis the Chute. The Chute used to be where I went when I needed a destination. It took me about a half hour to get there, tramping quickly through the woods on trails I maintained with a clippers. Chet Baker and I went there all the time. 


In fact, in my very first blogpost, which I think was called Chet Likes Ice, back in December 2005, I told about how that pup skibbled  up and down this watercourse with a huge grin on his face, like it was no big thing to race up and slide back down a slick icy creek bed. That’s the kind of dog he was.

Curtis is not that kind of dog. He doesn’t do a lot of things just to be silly. He is a more serious kind of guy. He is all about independence and freedom and exploration, about hunting and then finding his way back home to keep me company in the most marvelous way. 
He’s the kind of dog you have to let go, so he will come back.


To see this magnificent dog, my Curtis Loew, in the Chute for the first time was a wonderful and wondrous thing. To look up the stream that feeds it


And down the path where Chet and I used to walk, now completely obstructed by fallen beeches, was incredibly moving to me. Could he know what it meant to me? This is where I hiked with my babies in backpacks, and later with the Boston terrier who made me a dog lover for life. 


I think he knew. He stuck to me like a tick the whole time, when he could just as easily have gone off on another toot.


I’m writing this in honor of Curtis Loew’s Gotcha Day, which is February 19, 2019. What all my family was enduring at that time I cannot and will not even describe. Adopting Curtis was the best decision I could possibly have made, for all concerned. How I connected with this dog, first through a chance viewing of his photo in my friend Kelly’s ( @ballabing) Instagram post; how an arrow pierced my heart when I saw his face; how I thought about him the entire time I was at Klamath Falls, Oregon; how I decided in Medford’s tiny airport that I had to adopt him, and then how I stayed overnight at Kelly’s home in Columbus just so I could meet him the next day... it still melts me just to think about that chain of events.

And how that dog connected with everyone who needed him, how he guided us through the darkest woods anyone can walk with the sweet light of his love...he saved US. All I had to do was say yes, please open that stainless steel door, and let that brindle one out. I want to meet him.


I led Curtis up out of the Chute and he kept looking over his shoulder to the northeast, toward home. No, sweetheart. Follow me. I want to take you somewhere else.

He fell into place beside me and I took him to the Overlook, where I had stood so many times with little Chet. We gazed out at the view, which is different, and still the same.


Here, the coyotes had milled around, greeted each other, and undoubtedly howled in the night. Oh, he was all afire investigating their news.


Here I used to come when I needed to clear my head. Now the paths I so carefully cut are all grown to briars and crossed by tree fall after tree fall. It is hard to get here now.
That makes me sad. But it made me happy to know the way like the back of my hand, even when I had to detour for hundreds of yards. I know these woods.


And it made me so very happy to have a fine dog at my side to hug and talk to, a dog who cares about me and loves nothing more than to see me happy.


In one of my tree fall workarounds, I slipped and fell deep in the forest. Unbeknownst to me, my iPhone 6 bounced out of my pocket and into the snow. I didn’t discover it until we got home. I explained to Curtis that we had to retrace our steps until we found the place I’d fallen, because I knew that was where the phone would be. Thank God for snow! I could follow my steps exactly, looking the whole way for the little slot in the snow I knew that phone would have made. 

And there, 3/4 mile back, was the big floofmark where I’d gone down, and the little rectangular slot off to the left that the phone made when it landed. I laughed out loud to see the phone standing pertly upright in the snow, waiting for me exactly where I knew it would be. I hugged Curt and thanked him for coming back with me to find it. He danced and his eyes sparkled, and we loped even faster toward home.


Back up the meadow, to the red house with the red garage.


Back to the place that feels like home, because of who lives there with me. 


I don’t know that there’s anyone who could have helped me through this ongoing labyrinth of grief the way Curtis has helped me. And, seeing him coursing through snowy woods, I don’t think there’s anyone who could have given him just exactly what he needed, exactly when he needed it, either. Some things were meant to be, some souls were meant to meet and be together, as long as Fate allows. And Fate has allowed a great deal here.

Curtis, finest of brindle curs, thank you for gracing all our lives with your wise, warm, mellow presence. Thank you for, under all the loving, still being the purely wild thing you are, for knowing the ways of the woods and of wild animals, for perfectly embodying whom I most want to be, in canine form. You truly are my spirit animal.


No thanks for being skunked three times in 8 months. No thanks for thinking that getting sprayed is perfectly worth it, because next time you’re gonna grab that little animal just right, before he sprays. You big dummy. You’re the smartest dumb dog I’ve ever known. And the best. Happy Gotcha Day, dear Curtis Loew. Let’s have many, many more.


22 comments:

Thank you, I'm crying. Some things are just meant to be. Good for you for listening to your heart when you saw his photo.

I love this post, most of all the part about acknowledging Curtis Loew's need for freedom and not being clingy. You are just that same way with your children and I admire that so. Hugs

Well I don't know how I ended up as unknown. But it's Laura L.

Sometimes the Universe knows just what is needed, and sends it. I am glad you two found each other.

Posted by Rachel Keane February 19, 2020 at 12:52 PM

Happy Gotcha Day Curtis, you lucky cur.

Happy Gotcha Day and lots of (toy) skunks to Curtis Loew. And thanks to all the deities involved that you all (you, Curtis, Phoebe, Liam, and Oscar) were there for each other all through this past year. Wishing you all many, many easier years to come.

You were out here in my state a year ago this month; I remember hoping and praying you would let that dog in your life. Also? What Pam said!!!

That story was so memorable, I marvel still thinking about it and reading this post. One of those amazing things...So very happy he rescued you at the most perfect time in spite of the darkness you were wading through. Happy Gotcha Day to you both (and the kids too!)

As they say, who rescued whom? Dogs are the best! May you enjoy many years to come with Curtis! We lost our 14 year old Gina to old age exactly two weeks ago and I miss her so much! She was a fine furry friend and so much a part of our pack and family. Our home seems very out of balance still.

✨✨✨

I think that when people let synchronicity and serendipity into their lives, magic can happen. If you had overthought bringing Curtis into your life, you may have decided that you had too much on your plate already, and you would have missed out on so much. I think that HE saved you much more than you saved him. I am so glad that you and he have each other in your lives.

Posted by mimimanderly February 19, 2020 at 5:21 PM

Brought me to tears once again... this is my favorite, thank you so much for sharing. For the love of a dog...

Beautiful story!

what a loving, kind person you are. Beautiful tribute to Curtis and you, too, for saving him to save you.

It seems like just yesterday that you were anxiously hoping that Curtis had not been adopted by someone else. I remember well how I felt reading your posts...hoping against hope that he was still available for you. That happy ending goes on & on for the two of you & we raiders get to share in that joy. Happy Gotcha Day Curtis Lowe & Julie! ๐Ÿ’•

What a beautiful tribute to past, present, and future....places, people and our wonderful pups. All of us who love our four leggeds this deeply will be in tears having read this, I know I am.

Lovely post as always. That view of the field with the hills and fields behind it looks so much like your woodpecker painting! I have that in my bedroom and I never get tired of it. We have snow today too, everything's come out a month early, some chickadees have even been checking out a wren house in the back, I keep telling them to wait, winter's not over yet!

Posted by JMarie Gee February 20, 2020 at 8:28 AM

I've often wondered if we adopt pets when we need rescuing. It's happened to me more than once.

A perfect tribute to your good dog. Glad you found the phone.

Oh, Curtis....February 19 is my birthday and I am happy to share that anniversary with such a fine dog as you. My little Boston boy Buck has a stretch of lovely brindle along his flank,of which I am especially fond. Take care of Mether. She needs you so.

We dog lovers know (or rather pet lovers) that our four footed family members can heal a broken heart....it's one of their jobs. Chet is smiling from Dog Heaven.

Just had such a nice visit with my Fender dog while reading this. Walked through our woods that I knew like the back of my hand. Whistled and called for him and heard him snarfling off in the distance then running back to me (sometimes:). Knowing just when he was needed for comfort and humor and wildness and exploration. And always thinking he'd get that skunk just right...next time! Thank goodness for all of those things and the chance that led you and Curtis together.

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