Aug. 28, 2016
LAS CRUCES – Just about any human being’s day can be improved by a CECK (Close Encounter of the Critter Kind).
A recent week included colleagues and sources being felled by a virulent stomach flu, and three –yep, count’ em: three!- concussions. Two amigos were rear-ended while driving in northern New Mexico and Sun-News Anayssa Vasquez was knocked out and concussed while shooting a local football practice.
By comparison, a long hot wait in a sizzling asphalt parking lot, was nothing much to complain about. Still, by the time La Luz de la Luna, my vintage Sonata, was on the road again, I was addled and crabby. I managed to screw up perfectly clear instructions and drive by the clear-as-day lane of blooming desert willows and Rockin’ Horse Ranch pillars not once but twice.
I was not a happy camper, but I was amazed how quickly my attitude changed when I met up with the ranch’s therapy horses and enjoyed a quick series of CECKs. I was greeted by a friendly dog named Zippy, which instantly transported me to a happy place of memories of my grandfather’s Brittany Spaniel with the same name.
From my overheated car, I salvaged a bag of still-cool carrots just large enough to establish profound bonds with horses Coco, Karma, Bear and Rio.
I paused for a gracias a Dios moment, grateful for a job that involves CECKs with dogs and horses. (The humans were terrific, too. Check out their inspired plans to bring healing horse experiences to kids, vets with PTSD, and assault victims at www.rockinghorse.com )
It continued to be a long, hot, tough week, full of strange, weird, disconcerting and sometimes downright bad news for the world in general and many of those close to me in particular.
Still, after meeting the horses and the people they’ve helped, I was more aware of the CECKS that brighten my life every week.
A group of crows often greet me early in the morning at the back door of the Sun-News. Most of my downtown CECKs are a little less wild. Usually, brown-and-white Arrow is wagging his tail and expecting a cookie bone when I start my rounds at the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market, and there are a lot more wagging tails to be rewarded. The market’s CECK doggy parade is a big perk for getting out of bed early on a Saturday, I feel. In addition to regulars like Arrow and macho golden doodle Tex at Patina Home, market CHEK ops always include a vast and diverse group of loveable canines, from adoptable puppies to beloved old pampered pooches getting rides in strollers. There are Chihuahuas, St. Bernards, greyhounds, poodles, corgis, afghans, pit bulls, several sorts of hounds, terriers, pointers, retrievers and spaniels and many, many heretofore barely imaginable combinations of all of the above.
I know secret gathering places of cats looking for good homes in Mesilla and where big birds of prey hang out at NMSU, T or C, and quiet neighborhoods.
In fact, for some of my favorite CECKs, there’s no place like home. I’ve watched two comely kitties grow into cats next door, and on the other side, chocolate lab Porter is always ready to jump high or go long for a cookie bone.
My own tiny premises are surprisingly rich in wildlife. I’ve found big turtles, tiny bunnies and humungous jackrabbits, and a bevy of bats, taking a break between my front porch and the juniper bushes. On the back patio, I watch ravens and an amazing variety of bird species perched in the pine trees, the neighborhood roadrunner making his rounds and often, an eagle or two circling overhead.
This time of year, with the neighborhood cats confined to inside quarters, I usually see a few kinds of lizards, too. Right about now, I’m expecting a CECK with a gecko.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450, email@example.com or @derricksonmoore on Twitter.