Back in Terlingua in front of a fire of Mesquite, I was just looking for an empty chair in the circle. I am beat up from a week on the Rio Grande, dusty, over a layer of grime. A bearded old cowboy is sitting in a rickety tin chair and next to him his sidekick, a half-pint Yorkie mixed-blood dog, curled up in another tin chair. An old strip of bridle leather connects cowboy to Yorkie. Tied around the dog’s neck is is a penlight glowing luminescent green and highlighting the overbite of the Yorkie.
“Do you think you could move your dog so I could have a seat?”
“My dog? You mean Sammy, my blind, mute, dumb old Yorkie? Let me tell you about him. Five times in the jaws of coyotes, a couple of those coyotes I shot through their heads right over the top of him, once in the grip of a coyote’s jaw, I yanked Sammy out barehanded, like pulling a Creosote bush out by the roots. The other two he just wiggled his way free. Tough? Sammy is as tough as shoe leather, maybe the toughest living thing in Texas; he eats scorpions like popcorn. Bit twice by rattlesnakes. First time he lost his bark, second time his sight. Vet said he might not survive another bite, but I wouldn’t wager against Sammy. He used to go after fish, but a few years back he hooked his collar on the gill plate of a big bass on Amistad Reservoir. That fish drug Sammy clear to the bottom of the lake. Six minutes later he popped up like a cork, blood running out of both his ears like spring water. Sammy never could hear much after that, and Sammy didn’t care much for water after that experience either. But I reckon his worst scrape was with that Golden Eagle. That bird took him for quite a ride, and high. Sammy came down hard and bounced like a golf ball, ten feet into the air. So you really want to take Sammy’s chair?
“Yeah, tell him to move over. I just finished the Lower Canyons, Sammy won’t want to mess with me.”
Rob Kesselring: Speaker/Writer/Consultant
Member Outdoor Writers Assn. of America
USFS Licensed Wilderness Guide