The Prescott Dog: Hazel Howls

Hazel Howls  Editorial

“So, like I said before, you can trudge through your environs unawares, or move with your surroundings. If a shadow floats across your path from above, do you look straight up reflexively, or do you turn to gaze at the area between sun and shadow”?

I thought I was awake and Dad was pontificating again. We were staying in a moderately sized town in New Mexico and boy, oh, boy, was it cold out. A cutting “ice wind” was coming down from the Black Mesa right at us towards Interstate 40. My two walks with Dad before bedtime were short-lived affairs. 

We’d been rolling and making stops at an intense pace all day. Finishing early, we were both looking forward to a more relaxed drive back to Phoenix the following morning.

As for this moment, Dad and I are fast asleep. I am dreaming in my “corral the puppy” crate on the corner of the hotel bed. Dad’s droning on in my dream is somehow comforting.

An instant later a sharp thud sends a shock wave through the walls and into the bed. Dad quickly raises up from his sleep and stares into the corner of the ceiling above us, listening intently. Again, BOOM!, the whole room shakes. Dad’s not moving. The pouch in his “man bag” next to the bed, is open, (especially in this town), but he’s not reaching for his “sparking” flashlight or “gonna make you cry” spray. Muffled voices are up above us somewhere between the random staccato “thumps” the building is taking. 

Dad slowly looks down at me and ever so slightly smiles to quietly let me know we are safe. His gesture to me at that moment caused what you two-leggeds might call a multi-layered epiphany. First and most glaring to me was I realized I wasn’t barking my fool head off. I am Hazel Bazel Rocket Dog. Born on Navajo lands and by God if there is one thing I do, (and do with aplomb mind you), is bark and bark and alert and bark when I sense something is amiss in the camp. Even for the smallest of infractions. So here I am in my puppy crate in the midst of some kind of “Hotel Apocalypse,” and it never occurred to me to make a sound. How very strange.

The second thing that struck me is that you two-leggeds have some pretty mysterious tricks up your sleeves. We on four are amazed at how little you use your hearing and sense of smell to full capacity.  Dad wasn’t relying on the sense of smell or hearing to make decisions in this thick atmosphere of confusion and fear. He was using a different “lens,” and somehow transmitted his trust in our safety into me. How does he do that?

The third thing I learned that night hit so deep it goes beyond words. I can only point in it’s direction and hope you find your way there. 

Suddenly, I knew I had value. I was valuable to this man. Even though it seemed like his inaction was reckless, his peacefulness was palpable as he shared it with me. He punctuated that thought when he leaned towards me and said, “Let’s get our rest, pup.” I drifted off while intently staring at him as he was drifting off. One more violent thud seemed to emanate from inside room, but I had fallen too deep into the arms of peaceful sleep to react.

The next morning before we set off outside for my constitutional, Dad walked up to the door to examine it closer. The door frame on the door knob side was rolled part way into the room. The door was slightly ajar, (locks still engaged), a half inch opening letting a cold breeze into the room. Dad chuckled and said under his breath, “An ‘A’ for effort,” as he pushed hard on the door frame. It rolled back in place with a crunch and the door closed shut. Our morning routine was pretty much of a blur, standard practice on the road. 

When Dad and I went into the lobby to check out, Dad wryly asked the night clerk, “Quiet night?” “Far as I know”, she replied looking up at him the first time in 10 minutes of jabbering on the phone. “Who needs the excitement, right?” No reply as she click-clicks at her screen. “Hasta lasagna”, Dad said making our way out the door.

While we were waiting for the truck to warm up, I sat on the bench seat and stared at Dad. Filling out his logbook on the steering wheel, he grinned and said, “Don’t know what that was pup, just knew we weren’t in danger...this time”. 

Later, hurtling down I-40 westbound, (in a sensible manner of course), Dad asked me what I wanted to listen to.

He knows I like “Animal Logic II”, but he always plays “Animal Logic I” first. This time, even while  he’s asking me, he puts on one of that nasally guy’s songs. We listened to that song three times. I didn’t mind at all that morning. I knew now that I really was valued and was loved. We were going to face the unpredictable strangeness of the road together. 

Remember that lonesome dream I had that time back in Gallup? Gone. Dissipated, like a shadow below an overhead sun. “Right now I’ll just sit here so contentedly, and watch the river flow...”, wish I could sing.


Hazel Howls

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The Prescott Dog

P.O. Box 11868

Prescott, Arizona 86304