Rifle dog takes New Year’s trip
Spooner the dog really got around this New Year’s.
Spooner, a 10-year-old Australian shepherd and blue heeler mix owned by Bryan Patrick and Susan Locke of Rifle, started New Year’s Eve chewing on a bone in his fenced backyard on East 6th Street in Rifle. But by New Year’s Day, he was 280 miles away, sitting in the passenger’s seat of an oil truck outside Kirtland, N.M.
Spooner’s still not saying how he got from Colorado to New Mexico, but Locke thinks she has a good idea.
“He’s jumped into other vehicles before,” said Locke. “This past summer, I drove over to City Market with Spooner in the back of our truck. I just ran in for a second, and when I came out of the store, I noticed a dog in the back of a car that looked just like Spooner. Well, it was Spooner. Someone had left the door to the car open and he’d jumped right in.”
Spooner’s New Year’s journey began at about 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve when Locke let the dog out to gnaw on a steak bone. About half-an-hour later, Locke went to the back door to let Spooner in, but he was nowhere in sight.
“He’s a climber,” admitted Locke, of Spooner’s fence-scaling abilities, “so I usually leave him in the house, or he’s with me.”
By New Year’s Day, Spooner hadn’t come home, and Locke started making calls – to the Rifle police department and the Rifle animal shelter, where Spooner has been known to make an appearance or two.
“I was a wreck,” said Locke. “I went all over town trying to find him.”
“I woke up right away’
Spooner’s whereabouts remained a mystery to Locke and Patrick until bright and early Jan. 2, when the phone rang at 5:45 a.m.
“I was pretty much asleep, but I answered the phone, and somebody asked for “Lisa.’ It was a cell phone with a really bad connection, and I told the caller he had the wrong number. Then he said, “The vet told me this was the number for Spooner.’ I woke up right away when I heard that.”
What Locke heard next really snapped her out of sleepy-town. The caller – Mike Shorty – had found Spooner.
“I asked him where he was, and he said, “Kirtland, New Mexico.'” Locke said. The northern New Mexico town is 60 miles southwest of Durango. “I said, “Yeah, right. Really, where are you?'”
Shorty, who drives an oil truck around Kirtland, told Locke he was out in an oil field near Kirtland and left the door to his truck open while he was outside. When he returned, there sat Spooner in the passenger seat. He took the dog home, fed him a couple of hot dogs, and called the veterinarian’s phone number on Spooner’s dog tags – Dr. Karen Boland of Rifle.
Through a bad snowstorm
With Spooner located, Locke started an involved phone campaign to get the pooch home, calling friends from Farmington, N.M., to Durango to see if anyone was headed to Rifle. Locke finally located Rodney Woody, who was in New Mexico but on his way to Grand Junction, who said he could bring Spooner home.
“He went out of his way in a bad snowstorm to get Spooner back to Rifle,” Locke said.
Locke said when Spooner arrived home the evening of Jan. 4, he ran straight into the house and hid behind the bed.
“He was weirded out,” Locke said. “He was drooling and really thirsty. We thought maybe he was carsick from all that driving around.”
By the next day Spooner was coming around, and when he was almost back to his old self, Locke took him to work with her, where he’s the official shop dog at Rifle Lock and Vacuum.
Locke is still not sure how Spooner got himself so far away from home base. She thinks it’s likely he jumped on an oil truck headed down south, and jumped off when the truck reached Kirtland.
Now, Spooner’s fully recovered and seems to be sticking a lot closer to familiar ground.
“He running around the house acting like an idiot,” said Locke with a grateful laugh. “He’s such a nerd.”
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