GAYS MILLS - In the wake of my father-in-law’s passing, we have acquired another ancient dog.
Monkey, or Hoo Hoo as Thatcher calls him, is approximately 100 years old. He’s nearly blind and he’s deaf as a doorknob. He was once kicked in the head by a horse, so he usually has a confused look on his face.
They say that animals know when something tragic or bad happens and Monkey, aside from his apparent lack of awareness of the rest of the world, seemed to know that his beloved owner passed on.
The poor old Blue Heeler wasn’t eating or even lifting his head, as several unfamiliar faces paraded in and out of his home. If you looked closely though, you could see his little doggie eyebrows following what he probably assumed were trespassers. Yet, he was too old and weak to pursue.
We decided almost immediately that we would take the old dogger home to what is already basically a doggie retirement castle. He could live with Bud, our ancient coonhound, who we acquired via the passing of our friend Cody George.
We weren’t very worried about adding Monkey to the fold, considering Bud seems to like other dogs and also be too lazy to do much about anything that may bother him. The most intense I’ve ever seen him do is when he rushed some chickens for slop.
After Cisco died, I think the only thing in the world that excited Monkey was Chasca.
Watching him get up and hobble around excitedly like a puppy stuck in a elderly dog’s body was both sad and adorable. His stiff joints seemed to hinder his body, but his spirit couldn’t be broken as he bopped down the trail to greet Chasca, nuzzling his hand as almost to say “I’m so relieved you’re here.”
This isn’t the first time Chasca has been the beacon of hope for poor old Monkey.
During one of Cisco’s many trips to South America, Monkey went to stay with friends out in the woods between Viroqua and Readstown.
“Monkey has been watching us pack our bags and he’s been pretty sad,” Cisco said rubbing his old dog behind the ears. This was before Monkey was kicked by the horse and was still a bit frisky.
“Monkey wants his visa renewed too, so he come on the trip, don’t ya Monk?” Cisco continued to tease before dropping him off.
A few days after the departure, Chasca received a phone call from a kind couple living out on Norwegian Hollow Road, outside of Star Valley. Cisco had scratched Chasca’s phone number onto a homemade dog tag in case a situation like this would arise. Distressed by the departure of his master, Monkey went on an incredible journey of sorts, traveling nearly six miles through the woods in a snowstorm, presumably attempting to make his way to Boscobel. Once intercepted by the nice family, Chasca was alerted promptly and picked the dog up directly.
“He looked so happy to see me,” Chasca recalled to me later that night. “He rode with his head in my lap and his little paw on my hand the whole ride back to Jim and M’Lou’s.”
Monkey didn’t try any more funny business the rest of his stay, at least as far as we know.
The one other time I’ve seen Monkey do incredible things to get closer to Cisco was one of the first times I went for a ride on his pontoon boat on the Wisconsin River.
We walked down the long driveway at Cisco’s San Kor Tea farm to where his boat was floating in a small side flowage. Monkey followed us down the trail but it seems as though, if memory serves, he was told to head on home-no boat ride for you today.
This answer however wasn’t sufficient for Monkey. As the boat left the channel and was just about to pick up speed and jet off into the mighty Wisconsin, Monkey ran to the point of land where the river met the creek and took a leap of faith. He swam against the rivers current, cutting through the water like a slick river otter.
Monkey made it to the boat in record time and climbed aboard, casually shaking off the water and assumed his position next to Captain Cisco. Looking up at him, as though to say “Sorry I’m late guys!”
Monkey, like his owner has lived a life full of adventure, outdoors and love. Although the world has changed and life will never be the same. We are glad to have him spend the rest his days laying in the sun (when it comes back) and being another old stinky dog at the Schendel-Dremsa household.