Saturday, March 3, 2012

Dooley's DNA

I wasn’t upset when I got my first piece of unsolicited junk mail here in the woods of West Virginia, I was just disappointed. I was so proud how I had been living off the grid and free from targeted marketing foo-faa. I couldn’t imagine for the life of me where I had slipped up. I don’t use a computer, have no cell phone, I never fill out questionnaires, pay cash for everything, and never even offered my zip code to a cashier. Because the first mailed advertisement was from a livestock supply company, I immediately suspected it may have been Paul the goat who had used my name and address as a reference. Paul, you may remember from my post titled “Tradition”, ran away when he learned of his upcoming harvest(slaughter). In subsequent days, however, I got more and more junk mail from pet, and more specifically, dog related companies. Had Dooley the dog sold me out? A quick conversation with Betty the mail carrier answered the question. Yes.
Dooley had sent a sample of his DNA (I can only imagine what that may have been) to a company called Canine Heritage. He may have gotten the idea the night Fiddlin’ Clyde Harper stopped by. We had talked a lot about our ancestry and the possible ancestry of the people who had once lived on my land. Why wouldn’t Dooley want to know more about his own heritage?
I’m not exactly sure when Dooley got his report back, but a sudden change in his behavior signaled something was up. He began sleeping outside, often under a pile of twigs down by the hanging tree*. He seemed far more interested in hunting his own food rather than eating the table scraps I offered and he was much more vigilant guarding the goats and chickens from potential predators than before. Finally he asked me not to call him Dooley any more, his new name was, Lightly Breaking Wind.

“Gee, Dooley….sorry, Lightly Breaking Wind, that sounds like an Indian name.”

“Yes, my white friend, I am descended from the great mixed breed dog of the Native American Indians who walked this land many moons ago. To honor my ancestors who were driven from this sacred place I have taken my rightful Indian name.”

“How did you choose that particular name?” I asked, trying not to snicker.

“The great spirits revealed it to me in a dream last night. In the dream I was running along the high ridge and I could see the wind parting before me.”

Honestly, it was a good name. Dooley is a small dog and doesn’t push much wind when he runs, but I couldn’t help but giggle whenever I addressed him as Lightly Breaking Wind. I suggested a better name might be, Runs With Rabbits or Dances With Muskrats. The Spirits, however, had spoken.
I was happy he embraced his heritage so firmly, but after a couple of weeks of living with this Indian dog I was missing the old Dooley.

“Lightly Breaking Wind”, I said one evening, “I think we need a treaty”
“A treaty?” he asked.
“The white man and the Indian always have a treaty,” I said,”It’s an agreement on how you and I will live together on this land.”
Dooley agreed.

We sat on the floor of the porch under the light of a Coleman lantern and began creating our treaty. I wanted to share a peace pipe but Dooley doesn’t smoke, so I lit up a Swisher Sweet Double Barrel Rum Outlaw cigar, Dooley held a stick in his mouth and I made enough smoke for both of us. The final agreement ended up as follows:

1. Henceforth, I would be able to call him Dooley in exchange for a new Indian style sleeping blanket.
2. The chickens, goats and any subsequent animals I may acquire would still be expected to call him by his Indian name.
3. We would celebrate Native American Day each year on second Monday of October.
4. He would receive bacon in his food bowl no less than three times a week if he returned to sleeping in the cabin at night.
5. I officially granted him unrestricted passage on my land including full hunting and water use rights.
6. This agreement would remain in effect as long as the grass grows, the wind blows and the sky is blue.

The treaty was signed, framed and now hangs above the fireplace.

*No, not that kind of hanging tree. Before moving up here permanently I used to camp at the cabin site frequently and I used an old, dead pine tree with several rows of jutting branches to hang my clothes and boots to dry.

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