Returning Chami To The Yamsi Valley


Chami seems a bit low this morning. She didn’t eat her dinner yesterday and vomited twice during the night. Bob, who is sick with the cold I’m almost finished with, went back to sleeping in the bed on Wednesday. I’m still spending nights on the floor next to Chami. I comfort her when she seems agitated. I take her outside 4 to 5 times each night pee. If I sleep too soundly and she soils herself I bath her silky, feathered hind legs and hips, then dry them off. She’s always been pretty fastidious and I know she prefers being clean. We have to decide today if this steroid treatment is failing already so we can get her to the vet before the weekend, to be euthanized. I decided to up her dosage of progesterone last night and gave her another dose at 6 AM. I can’t tell for sure but she seems to be responding well.


Friday Afternoon


We took Chami to the ranch today, as we’ve been planning all week, but she is alive and not making her last trip to the valley. The higher dosage of steroids seems to be working. After a spectacular drive across the Klamath Marsh, strewn with deepest greens and birds of all colors, Chami got noticeably excited as we started dropping down into the Yamsi Valley. As soon as we parked and let her out of the van she trotted straight to the river and practically danced with joy. Our whole family, all five of us including Mazzy the cat, walked around marveling at the lushness this wet spring has bathed upon the land. We settled a few things into the cabin then walked to the Village to assess the affects numerous rodents, badgers, coyotes, and other critters have on our out buildings. Bob showed off the new, wide open feel of the forest between the cabin and the village where 20 huge piles of slash having now been burned.


After concluding all was well, enough, and before we could start listing the endless chores that waited, we opted to get settled in and relax a bit. Bob and I unloaded the van while the dogs continued to survey the yard. With only half the day remaining we couldn’t decide which of the many chores facing us needed doing first. Instead, Bob, who is getting better but is still sick, lay down on the lawn with Chami and they both took a nap. I started pulling weeds but somehow ended up down on the dock scrubbing away a month’s worth of white bird dropping and washing the caked-on mud away from the top rung of the ladder, which is finally free of silted water now that the river has dropped nearly a foot in the past few weeks.


A stiff breeze kept things cooler than June should be but it also washed away the few mosquitoes that dared to hatch in 60 degree temps. Eventually I too lay down on the dock to watch the clouds shift across the peak of Yamsi Mountain. The sky was equal parts cerulean blue and cotton-ball clouds. Somehow, my eyes closed and I dozed. I was jolted awake by the sound of splashing water not far down stream from the dock. Was it a beaver slapping its tail, a flock of ducks jumping, or…oh, it was Chami wading around in chest deep water using her dexterous paws to find dead sticks mired in the clay-mud-sand bottom. Occasionally she’d go all under, blowing bubble out her nose, and come up with water dripping off her head with a mouth full of muscle shells or the occasional stone. She was oblivious to all else: my tear-filled eyes watching her with joy, the osprey flying high overhead, Rio whining her direction from the shore, and her own impending end.


With daylight running out we were feeling more healthy and alive than we had in weeks, so we mowed the lawn (to wreck the mosquito habitat), weeded the flower bed, and then kayaked down the end of the property line and back. Chami and Rio snoozed in the last of the sunshine on a bed of new cut grass. At 7:30, when we should have been getting dinner going, Bob insisted we take a bike ride so we hustled up to the driveway to the red rock road and back, feeling much fitter for having made the effort.


I grilled salmon steaks and made a pot of rice. Bob made a green salad, and a fruit salad for dessert. Chami joined us in the cabin after her sixth bowl of dog food for the day, and we watched the good–not great–1987 film, Prick Up Your Ears (about the gay British writer Joe Horton).  


Chami is finding happiness and goodness in life, one day at a time…lessons to be learned.

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