I work with a horseman, Dusty Blu Cooksey, at the college where I teach in Abilene, Texas. Today he told me of animals besides his horses that envelop his life on his ranch northwest of Abilene.
First, Blu has dogs and horses, even a dog that cannot hear, but watches for hand commands and other para-linguistic signs from Blu. His horses compete in shows all over the Southwest, and early in his horse career, Blu had two world champion quarter horses. That was in the 1980s.
Nowadays, the creatures of Dusty Blu include an armadillo, coyote, raccoon and cats.
The armadillo was brought up to the stables by his dogs several years ago. It was a baby armadillo and the little guy was carried gently in the mouth of his Blue Heeler, placed upon the ground in front of Blu and his workers, as if, “Here’s a little guy that needs help. Take care of him.” They put him in a stall since he was small and let him grow and eat dog chow. After the armadillo grew to a juvenile, Blu let him or her out, but the armadillo stayed about the corrals, never venturing far, and tunneled into alfalfa haystacks to sleep during the day and roam at night. The dogs consider him one of them and let the armadillo browse and eat with them at supper time.
The dogs brought a baby coyote to the stables, like the armadillo, and laid him down gently. The dogs seem to know rescue quite well. Blu fed the coyote pup and neutered him when he grew of age. Wiley is the coyote’s name and he attends the ranch, never venturing far from his home he knew as a pup. The dogs consider him one of them and let Wiley alone. At times, he howls, but not out of loneliness.
A raccoon habits the place and washes his food in pools of water. The creatures of Dusty Blu seem content. Within the past few days, Blu tells me that an unusual cat, calico and tabby combined with two different-colored eyes, meandered into the mix. A kit of small size, Blu will take him to the vet for neutering and care. Nurture surrounds the kit and the void disappears. When Blu told me today of these things, I laughed at the complex of animals with him and how his horses tolerate the menagerie.
Deep down, past laughter, I looked at Blu as he walked away to teach. He’s a tall man and dresses western all of the time. I saw wings and his hat was rimmed in gold.