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A Walk With The Spirit Dog of Monument Valley

Dusty Loarca George Reporting

sunny 57 °F

Although we spent only one night at Monument Valley, every minute seem filled with something wondrous to behold or to think about.

Here is just one story I just had to share with you.

Soon after arriving in glorious Monument Valley we took a short walk at sunset around the hotel grounds. Across from the parking lot was an area dedicated to installations recreating how Native American in the area lived. As we walked around, a clean, friendly dog (some kind of collie, I think) walks right up to Andrea. Andrea immediately recoils at this as she is apt to do whenever a strange dog comes up to her. He (the dog) wasn't hostile and made no noises but was only wearing a flea collar. "Where is the owner?", I thought. We ignored him and he went off and disappeared.
Early next morning, we decide to hike the 4 mile Wildcat trail. This only officially maintained path loops around the West Mitten Butte. the path lies within the Navajo Tribal Park. As we approach the trail head, who appears but the very same doggy from the night before. Again we looked around for an owner but saw nobody even remotely nearby. We petted the doggy and I gave him a breakfast muffin I had planned on throwing away because it fell out of my pocket and onto the ground soon after breakfast.

We left the doggy to enjoy his treat and headed into the canyon. The morning was a crisp, blue sky mixed with the Southwest red sandstone that was all around us.

Almost immediately, the doggy reappeared along side us on the trail and acted as if he knew the trail very well. He would often run up ahead of us to a certain point, turn his head and see if we were following along. Soon I was thinking about the artwork of the great artist Carlos Loarca of San Francisco. I worked along side Carlos at Somarts for several years an came to appreciate his vivid colorful paintings often depicting dogs. Many, many years before while living in Guatemala, Carlos was an alcoholic who wandered the dark, dangerous streets at night trying to get from some bar to his home. Many times, drunks would be killed walking along those roads at night and Carlos tells the story of how a strange dog would always show up to safely escort him home.
Of course Spirit Animals are well-known and revered in many cultures particularly Native peoples. Pretty soon, we named our strange new friend, 'Dusty Loarca', after the steel guitarist we met in Flagstaff, and the painter. At one point, we were unsure of what direction to head on the trail and Dusty would just show up and seemingly point us in the right direction. We were the only people on this trail that morning and saw nobody. It was just us, the desert canyon and the towering, monstrous buttes around us....and of course Dusty Loarca.

Dusty stayed with us the entire length of the hike, disappearing only on occasion. It was actually a sort of comfort knowing he was there. I would stop to give him some of our water because now I really doubted that he had a true owner. Did he just live in the park and join hikers just for the hell of it?

We finished our hike and Dusty once again drifted into the parking lot, making friends with whomever happened to be there. I purchased a sandwich inside and went out into the parking lot to give it to him. After awhile I found him hanging around some new arrivals. I whistled to him and he came to me. I fed him the sandwich and thanked him for looking out for me and Andrea on the trail.
The meaning of all this hasn't completely set in. We are researching the meaning of Spirit Animals and dogs in particular. I think he was meant to say or mean something to Andrea since I've never had a dog appear out of nowhere when I traveled.

I think about Dusty now and then and can imagine him taking other visitors to Monument Valley on a hike through Wildcat Trail. What a job for a dog.

Posted by woa 18:25 Archived in USA

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