Mary Alice Betley
Copyright 2019 by Mary Alice Betley
years ago I taught at a B.I.A. school at
Nos Pos, AZ. When I first arrived, I was assigned
#15. As I was moving in, a large collie—type
came up to me, acting very friendly but also
and frightened. Her ancestry appeared to be
with other breeds, perhaps even coyote, as she
light gray eyes and silvery gray fur on her back
the rest of her body was mostly white with some
fur here and there. I began to call her Grey
lay on my porch stoop most of the time. At
I didn't feed her because I ﬁgured that she
had an owner in one of the other apartments.
I already had my‘small poodle and really
want another pet. I asked my next door
about her and they said that she had
to a previous teacher who had moved and
taken her with them.
time Went on, I couldn't help but notice that
was becoming visibly thinner so I started giving
some dog food every night. She now became more
and less frightened of me but she still
come to me When I called to her nor enter
my utility room in order to be fed.
it became evident that she had come into
estrus cycle as many male dogs were following her
over the school compound. (The Navajo
contains thousands of homeless dogs.) I
that the smaller white Spitz dog would mate
her but he couldn't fight off a larger black dog so
one became her mate.
began to wait for me to leave school every
and would come running up to my car, hopping
and down On all four feet in her excitement. When
got out of my car, she would take my hand gently
her jaws as I walked up the sidewalk to my
I began giving her extra food every day and also
for a neighbor to feed her over the weekends
I was gone. On Sunday evenings she was
waiting for me on my front steps when I
she was less shy and trusted me more, she
let me look closely at the tag fastened to her blue
There was a veterinarian's name and phone
as well as her I.D. numeral so I jotted that
down and then replaced the collar around
next time I went to Cortez, I stopped in at
vet's ofﬁce to attempt to ﬁnd her owner. They
me the name of a young couple who lived near
When I contacted them, they told me that they
given Grey Lady to a teacher at Teec about two
previously. When I checked out that person, I
that he used to teach down the highway at
but no longer did and had apparently
principal told me that she usually didn't
her staff to adopt strays but that this dog
to have some special traits so she wouldn't
that rule and I could continue caring for this
if I wished.
been the daughter of a farmer, I was,
of the 62 day gestational period for dogs so I
that Grey Lady, or Coyote Eyes, as I
call her, would most likely birth her pups
that holiday approached, I began giving Grey
extra food when I noticed that her teats were
hanging low. Once again, I
arranged for my neighbor
feed her as I left on my holiday vacation.
I returned, Grey Lady didn't meet me. I
think much about it until the next day when
of my students asked if that grey dog was mine.
I wondered if she had been hurt or someone had
couple of days later when I returned from the
post ofﬁce, there she was, all skinny and happy
see me. She laid her head against my leg and let
pet and pet her. My neighbors came out of their
smiling and laughing at how happy she
to see me and how glad I was to see her.
told Grey Lady to go to my back door and I
get her a lot of specially good food because she
it it to feed her puppies. (That was one thing
Grey Lady did: she seemed to understand
I said to her.) After she was done eating, I
to see where she had hidden her brood so I
put them in my garage out of the cold weather.
neighbors thought she had probably hidden them
one of the fields surrounding the school compound.
Lady just stood on my back porch, looking at
so I said, "Alright, show me where your puppies
She ran a little ways in front of me and then
back, then ran a little ways more ahead again,
came back and tugged on the side of my jeans
her mouth. She kept acting like this all the way
the backyard, through an empty lot, across
neighboring lawn and up to a fence
began, looking for a place under the fence
she could crawl under. I certainly couldn't
under there so instead I walked along the fence
came to an iron gate
which was wired shut and
had earth mounded up against it on the ﬁeld side.
though I was 60 years old, I climbed up and
the top of the gate and entered the ﬁeld where
Lady was. She just stood there, waiting for me.
ran ahead and then ran back again across this
up to another fence. This one was barbed wire
most definitely is not my very most favorite
Although I still had on my teaching clothes, I
climbed through the barbs.
a while, I couldn't see Grey Lady. Then when
did see her, I would watch for her to ﬂash the plume
her tail so that I could see it through all of the high
and weeds. This behavior continued until
was thinking of how I was following a wild goose
and that the darned dog was just fooling with
so I began to walk back towards the teaching
area. Just then Grey Lady bounded up to
and once again used her teeth to pull on my jeans.
she ran ahead and then back to me once again.
this, I said, "OK. but you better show me your
so I can take them to a safe place or I'm just
Lady ran straight in front of me for about
yards, then she ducked under a thorn tree. I
her and crept under those nasty thorny
There the puppies were, lying all together
a warm bundle in a hollowed out space near the
roots. I tried to carefully back out while gingerly
the sharp branches with one hand while the
carried aisquirming little body, one by one.
Grey Lady just stood there, occasionally
licking one or the Other of her babies.
After I had all eight pups out
into the open, I had
come up with a way to carry their fat little bodies
across the open fields. After a little hesitation,
Lady let me place them all into the improvised
of my sweater.
tell you, I had an awful time crawling between
barbed wire on that first fence! I must have been
sight—-climbing up and over the iron gate——an old
who looked very pregnant herself. All I cared
was getting the pups to safety while still keeping
much of my modesty intact as possible.
Lady followed me across the compound to
garage where I constructed a nest for them. She
her excellent mothering and the pups
becoming fat and sassy. Many of the staff
asking to adopt them so that problem was
would so like to 'say that this story of an
dog had a happy ending, but, sadly, it
after New Year's the local tribal
made his annual rounds of the school
in the area. Because of the local
and the huge number of homeless
these men had to dispose of any unconfined
rather than catch them and take them to an
shelter.E By the time, I ran out of the school to
Grey Lady it was too late; I couldn't save her.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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