Posted April 10, 2020 in Oxx Tales by Jim Markel
I was out walking my Chilean Bristleback aka Rhodesian Ridgeback on a sunny Sunday. With the whole town eerily quiet we set out on a neighborhood adventure. Boss Rooibi has really developed a personality over the last few years. I think she’s determined that at 105 lbs. she can dictate how far, and where, we are going.
I thought I’d take her around the park for a quick walk. Before we could make the turn home she planted herself. Looking up at me like I owed her money, she then stood up and snuggled me. Turning to the east we headed deeper into the hood. Sauntering along nose-to-the-wind I settled in to see where the love bug was going.
It’s the unexpected detours in travel that makes for the best experiences.
Breathing in the fresh air of that wonderful spring evening even I could smell why she wanted to go this way. Home cooked meals simmering on the wind. Not just one house, but every house had some delicious aromas wafting out their windows. Taking note of friends’ homes, I made a mental reminder that I’ll have to invite myself over in the future. As a true rider of the grub line I can appreciate a free home-cooked meal.
It’s early spring here in Big Sky country and that means the buds are just on the verge of bursting open. The trees are still mostly barren, with occasional evergreen providing sanctuary for Rooibi’s arch enemy, the dreaded city squirrel. These furry little demons are well known for their taunting nature.
Head-swiveling left-to-right constantly holding onto hope that this one will be the one to fall prey to her lion hunting instinct, it’s the same story time and again. The ever vigilant varmints escape to the high ground and scold her for interrupting their time playing in the grass.
In the distance I spot part of the regular dog-walking crew. Living in the heart of downtown Billings we soon know our neighbors quite well.
Over the years I have come to enjoy catching up on what’s going on with them and of course, Rooibi gets a little nose (or hind) time with her friends, too. Naturally, now-a-days, the "Social Distancing" theme is part of the ritual as we meet for a quick chat. Nothing worse than a dog leash tangle, that’s for rookies. We are certainly not getting in any squabbles. That’s her other favorite thing.
For such a sweet and gentle giant she has exactly two "frenemies". I’ve never actually seen them completely. The poor things are hidden behind six-foot wooden fences. I’m convinced they’ve never left their yards. Rooibi will guide us by and stalk along, her ridgeback hairs standing up.
If they’re not out she almost seems disappointed. If the inverse is true then the fake fight is on, hair-up and a low rumbling growl as we move down the fence line. The snarling begins at on one end and reaches a crescendo at the corner. The racket is something else, as she can really let loose, then two steps more it just stops.
We cross the street tail-wagging ready to go give kisses to the toy poodle on the other corner.
Continuing our excursion, I see we are getting another massive parking garage at the hospital. The construction has been constant here over the years, as we’ve become the regional hub for all things doctor and other health-related services.
My own neighborhood is chock-full of health care professionals; from front line docs to administrators. All going about the business of putting us back together when things go wrong. A couple of years ago I had my shoulder repaired after a nasty snowboarding wreck. I’m so thankful to be able to use my right arm again it’s hard to put into words. The miracle of modern medicine gave me a second chance at mobility. It’s these neighbors who are now fighting the pandemic and putting themselves in harm’s way.
People like ER doctor Jean Ellis who was an avid mountain climber and early adopter of our brand. Jean was responsible for the development of our expedition series. Ellis was an inspirational person and trailblazer. I still think of him from time-to-time. I miss our conversations about the high and wild places.
The hospital corridor is our go-to spot for dog walks in the winter for a couple of reasons. First the sidewalks are wide and second, they are always kept free of snow and ice. Picking up speed we come to part where we either cross HWY3 or turn and head for home. If I have the time, I’ll allow her to just continue to lead on until she’s satisfied. With a glance from her I know I’m in for an extended trek.
As we used to say in the Corps "embrace the suck".
Well it could be worse, no snow today. I even spotted a Robin snagging a berry on a bush.
Taking in the sights and sounds is something like an urban safari for me. Walking past the coffee shop I note the locked door and I am reminded again that our world is not the same. Businesses are locked down and workers laid off — including our own. It’s not an easy time for our neighbors and friends.
Dog walks have always been part of my life since my childhood. Taking care of our dogs was always something I took to heart. Whether some days a chore or some days a joy, walking helps take away the stress. It’s a nice distraction from the problems of the moment.
Bringing a pet into your life is a great responsibility. The rewards are infinite and the love unconditional. Well as long as the treats are handy then you know who you’re really working for.
B.A.R.K. is a re-homing and pet rescue shelter here. B.A.R.K. (Billings Animal Rescue Kare) rescues and houses approximately 500 dogs and cats per year. Established in 2006, Sandy Price and her team of selfless volunteers are relentless in their efforts to finding approved homes and providing the families with healthy well-adjusted pets.
Meet Balboa, a Rescued Dog at B.A.R.K.
I became aware of B.A.R.K. through the outstanding photography of Casey Page at when I started following the B.A.R.K. Facebook page. I became a regular visitor as I’m always considering another dog.
That and I have a serious puppy addiction that may require treatment at some point, but I am working the program.
One handsome dog in particular was pulling my puppy chain and I was just about to make the decision. Well they say there are two types of people: "the quick and the hungry". Casey actually beat me to adopting Felix, a very photogenic pup. Not a loss for me as the great thing about it is I can visit Felix any time I want.
Considering the ongoing need for good homes, and seeing as more people are walking their pets these days, I wanted to reach out and see what Red Oxx could do to help Sandy with her cause. I offered to give them a percentage of profits of each leash sale. The other option would be to provide B.A.R.K. with a leash for each leash we get an order for. A one-for-one kind of offer.
Sandy didn’t hesitate for a second, choosing to benefit with a gifted Red Oxx B.A.R.K. Dog Leash for each critter moving into a new home.
So the deal is this:
For each leash purchased, Red Oxx will donate a leash to B.A.R.K.. It’s a simple model being implemented around the web that benefits charities and companies alike. A win-win so to speak. You can support B.A.R.K. when you buy your B.A.R.K. Dog Leash here.
To those of you who are owned by cats, please ask your cat if it would be okay to forward this information to a dog owner? We understand if the answer is no…
CEO Red Oxx Manufacturing
"Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read." ~ Groucho Marx
P.S. If you’re looking to enjoy a truly funny escapism read, regardless of if you are inside or outside of a dog, Rooibi’s recommend reading list includes Farley Mowat’s timeless story "The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be". Rooibi rates it 5 paws.
P.P.S. To date, Red Oxx has donated 200 leashes of our goal of 500 leashes to B.A.R.K.. Can you help meet our goal?
Jiim hands off the first 100 leashes to B.A.R.K.