Tattoos in Mayberry

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During my too brief life and times 
in the Indian high country of North Western Montana
Not growing up in the Indian way, 
 I couldn't call on any status within the tribe
Status freely granted to my tribal member wife.
who earned it as a traditional Singer,, story teller, 
being vocally gifted,
she could pass on the oral traditions
to the next generation
and well as entertain wider audiences as well
by singing an  Ave Maria that would
bring tears to even the rock carved eyes
of the Mount Rushmore presidents, 
Or  sing 'Crazy'
better than Patsy Cline.
She enjoyed, sharing her formidable gifts along
with her musical story.,
as a Native. She was an activist 
who spoke out employing song to share her people's plight
and harsh history with the settlers.
Her voice was the voice of an angle,
a God given gift
bestowed upon this  simple reservation indian girl,

My status improved from non status, to 
having higher status, 
Being married to her, I could 
piggy back on her laurels.
On one of our promotional tours,
we visited a husband and wife and their family,
who lived  right 
at the water line, deep in the forest.
The husband came out
to greet us. He was very animated, compact, sinewy,and agile
A fulll blood Kootenai .
He had many brothers
 cousins and uncles all warriors
in residence..
His wife, a full blood Yakima Indian.
All smiles...Warm, open.
I felt love lived here.
She was to make me a ribbon shirt
to welcome me, as her good friend's husband,
who she too respected and admired.
 A few years after that, she would die.
I saw her husband, the Kootenai man
and he stampeded right by me when I said hello,
disagreeable, gruff, but, I could see
the madness had set in, by the pull in his face, the agony.
of not getting a reasonable answer as to why the love of his life
was taken away from him so soon..
His two tribe's over Yakima Wife was a real keeper.
. I will always have her ribbon shirt
and these memories, to sustain me and to share. .

I first met this couple,,  
deep in Indian country off the Flathead lake,
, they  had  two Rottweiler puppies
tied up in their front yard on 10 feet of rope,.
I asked my lady since
they have two young pups and we had none.
Why don't we ask them for one,
she didn't make much of  a fuss
Maybe she wasn't listening
So I walked over and asked them
if we could have a dog.. 
He said, take your pick of the male or  female pup? 
I said, they are a couple of really fine dogs.
The two Rotts were bred from 
the union of a brother and sister
We agreed upon the male.
we traded a pup for a nice VCR
a deluxe model at the time..
He and I huddled outside
as the women went into the house.
He told me he gave our dog the name Tsu Pook...
which meant spoiled brat
in the Kootenai language.
I didn't have any way of verifying this.,
but, I believed him
since,why would he lie.
Indians don't generally lie
about important stuff like that...
Before we left them,,.
The  man of the house,,
pulled us both aside
to tell us, 
to ,make sure we spit in his nose,..  
He said,spitting in our puppy's nose 
let's him know
who's the  boss,
So, when he grows up,, he won't turn on either one of us 
It seemed a bit odd to spit in his nose
but, why would they make something like that up?
So, I did as I'd been told and spit gently in his nose.
My wife, however, did not.
And, you know what?  he never turned on me.
He grew and grew,
and soon we had a full grown adult animal
His head as big as a gorillas.
He could knock over a grown man at a gallop.
We never neutered him nor leashed him
His territory ran about 5 square miles. 

He would voluntarily come home when it suited him.
He didn't take too much advantage of his free run.
     He used to hang out at some of the neighbors homes,
since we allowed him on the open
reservation spaces to come and go as he pleased
     He'd sometimes bark aggressively at folks
in the morning as they were leaving for work
  he'd growl menacingly near
their garage doors
terrorizing them until they 
gave him tribute, feeding him
 some jerky or something, to his satisfaction
only then he would let them pass safely.
I didn't know he was saavy enough
to run his own extortion operation.
But, we got a call threatening us
'if we didn't come over to retrieve him, they'd shoot him.'
There are no shortage of firearms on a reservation.
So, after assuring me they weren't mistaken
 that it wasn't some stray,menacing dog'
I sprinted out of our house,
over to our neighbors home, while, calling his name,
He appeared from the early morning shadows
wagging his tail all
innocent looking so happy to see me
for rescuing him
from these hysterical, misled, and unruly people.
Although the evidence kept building our Rott
was beginning to live up to his Kootenai name,
of 'spoiled brat'..
Still, it was impossible for me to get angry at him.
Tsu Pook, generally wasn't overly friendly with other people,
dogs or cats, 
especially those who took away any of  my time and attention
which belonged exclusively to  him.
Once, at the shore of the Flathead Lake, I was throwing sticks 
into the water, playing fetch 
with this neighborhood white lab.
He never seemed to tire of
jumping in the water and bringing back the stick
 I would throw it from off the dock, into the lake
where he'd launch himself
back into the lake
retrieve it and bring it back again
dropping it at my feet
to throw again...
Tsu Puk, at some point had enough of 
and began barking and pacing on the shore,
 finally bounding over
and sinking his jaws deep into this white lab's neck.
His jaws shutting hard, and shaking him
wrenching this Lab's head neck and body into
painfully contorted positions..
We never saw that dog again..
Tsu Puks kryptonite was water.
 Ever since, I made the critical error  
of trying to teach him how to swim
by tossing him off the dock
into the water,
. He began swimming like a champ back to shore
But, he panicked,
and swam under the dock
just as the tide was rolling in.
He dug and he dug underneath the dock
almost drowning but somehow
he managing to dig so persistently, under the sand
 he finally managed to get his nose
above the water line
and shimmied his way up onto dry land.
He never went into the lake again.
        At some point, I had to give him up 
because he started too get 
aggressive with my wife
who chose not to spit in his nose as a pup.
I drove him into the big city, Missoula,  Montana,
where we spent a few final, memorable, 
days together, hanging out
making new friends,
and, panhandling for his food,
Although, I wasn't a panhandler, by trade
we  were surprisingly, successful at it.
When folks would see him, 
they'd pet him,
his strong tail wagging
his big, tongue hanging out.
I would tell them it was a hardship
for me to feed him.
since he was always so hungry, 
Actually, that wasn't much of an exxageration
They'd open their wallets
we'd make new dinner companions 
and best of all, we'd both get fed
Often we had  extra
cash left over 
to gas up the van.
One morning, we ran into a very kind
Indian man
who happened
to be in town
running some errands, 
We made some small talk
and it turned out he knew
my native wife, who was
somewhat of a local celebrity.
I told him about our
predicament and after
some discussion he looked
at our dog and said
I'll take Tsu Puk off your hands.
I was conflicted,
but another part of me knew 
I had to give him up

Since, my original mission, in town
was to find a new home for him.
Tsu Puk had become
too much dog for my woman to handle.
So,I followed him out to his house.
He had a small, ranch due west of town
it ran parallel to the main rail road tracks
heading east and west by Missoula.
This rancher cared for  a whole slew of dogs.
When we first arrived,
The other dogs were growling and hissing at Tsu Puk
Leering at him in a very sinister way.
Showing their teeth, and appearing as if, at any moment,
they were all going to maul and kill him.
The man suggested I  come into his house, relax,
and have a beer.
I looked over at Tsu Puk
He was wagging his tail and sticking his tongue out
Not  disturbed at all..
So, I went into the man's house, and we shot the breeze for a while. 
When I came back out  less than an hour later,
to say goodbye to my dear dog, companion,
all the other dogs were catering to his every need.
Licking him, grooming him,
He was busy drinking their water and eating their food.
That was the kind of dog he was
a big brat, dominant, and carefree
when he'd flip his hell on wheels switch 
you didn't want to be on the receiving end of that crap storm.
Three weeks later 
there was a train derailment near this man's ranch.
releasing highly toxic,
chlorine gas.
All the folks
living near this train derailment 
had to evacuate immediately
carrying only the clothes on their backs.
There was no time to take their farm animals
pets or any of their belongings,.
The  tracks where the spill occurred,
was mere blocks away from Tsu Pooks new home
I was one of the few,
not  surprised
when several weeks later
as the local residents
were allowed to return,
Tsu Puk  had pulled through.,
He had figured out a way to survive.
I was told he looked cheerful,
healthy and well fed, 
with a glint in his eyes,
his head held up high,
his tongue lolling
and his tail wagging.

All copyrights reserved as is by this author.

Buddy Bee Anthony 

Comment On This Poem ---
Spit in his nose.