Larry Brody: Live! From Paradise! #163 – “Another Reason to Love the Navajo Dog”

THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to  the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.

In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.

Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.

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by Larry Brody

Back in that all-too-distant time when the Navajo Dog first came home with me from Monument Valley, the signs that this dog wasn’t like others were obvious to even the most disbelieving eye.

The first, of course, was The Call my children and I had heard clearly in our minds as we drove many miles from where the dog was. The Call that said, “I’m your dog. I’m waiting.”

The dream we’d shared, in which she named herself by saying, “I am Dineh,” the Navajo word for Navajo, was another sign.

But the magic of the experience was far from over. On her first morning in Los Angeles Dineh solidified her supernatural identity.

I was in the kitchen, making coffee, when I heard daughter Sabrina call out with all the excitement an 8-year-old can muster. Which, as any parent knows, is one mighty big, Queen Mary II-sized boatload.

“Dad! Dad! Come quick. You’ve got to see this!”

There was no missing the urgency in her voice. I hurried to where Sabrina was standing at the open front door and followed her gaze down the driveway—

And saw that little red and white puppy playing.

With a red-tailed hawk.

Dineh stood on her hind legs as the hawk swooped down, whirled around her, and then rocketed up to the treetops, only to zoom down again as the Navajo Dog leapt up on her back legs once more.

“They’re dancing,” said a high-pitched voice behind Sabrina and me. Wes, the 4-year-old, staring wide-eyed.

“This is impossible,” said Sabrina.

But it was happening anyway. They flew and jumped and spun around each other for about half an hour, bodies so close you couldn’t tell which was which or who was whom. The Navajo Dog barked, and the red-tailed hawk screeched, but never did either try to bite or grab or tear at the other. No harm was intended. No harm was done.

All they were doing was—impossible as it was—dancing.

And, when the dance finally ended, the two were far from finished with each other. We lived in the burbs then, but our property was on a steep hillside, and home to a copse of tall cedars and eucalyptus trees. The hawk circled the nearest of the cedars. Saw what it was looking for. Took off in a new direction….

And landed on our mailbox.

Sat there, like one of those “Scare Owls” sold in so many gardening supply stores.

A Scare Owl watching everything that happened on the street.

For four months, the hawk lived on our property. Within the first week it had developed a precise routine.

Every morning the hawk danced with Dineh, then sat contentedly on the mailbox until about noon, when the mailman got within eye and earshot. At which point it would fly off to hunt, returning at night to sleep in the same cedar it had circled during that first session of “Dancing With Dogs.”

It was like living with a miracle.

One that adapted in order to fit changing needs.

The first big change occurred when I got a job producing a TV series at Universal Studios and had to drive a couple of miles to a building known as The Black Tower everyday.

Instead of staying behind on the mailbox, the hawk would follow my car to the tall building at the southern edge of the Universal lot. As I toiled there all day, mostly writing scripts and being yelled at by executives, the hawk would circle the Tower, have itself a meal, and then, when I drove home in the evening, follow me back to the house, and its tree.

How did it know when I was leaving? Which car I drove?

I haven’t a clue.

Why did it hang out with the Navajo Dog?

Why did it hang out with me?

Yep, I’m clueless on those as well.

But the hawk did what it did, lived as though it was part of the family, kept itself close yet maintained a safe distance.

In the process reawakening feelings I hadn’t even realized I’d lost.

Filling me with a sense of wonder and awe that I hadn’t been aware of since I was—well, probably since I was about 8 years old myself.

I didn’t know it then, but looking back now everything’s clear. The red and white dog and the red and white hawk were working together.

Bringing me back to life.

Author: LB

A legendary figure in the television writing and production world with a career going back to the late ’60s, Larry Brody has written and produced hundreds of hours of American and worldwide television and is a consultant to production companies and networks in the U.S. and abroad . Shows written or produced by Brody have won several awards including - yes, it's true - Emmys, Writers Guild Awards, and the Humanitas Award.

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