Monday, November 7, 2011

Mountain Dogs and Mennonites - rescued blog #2!

Mountain dogs and Mennonites

It was a Christmas Eve, and I was flying the Cirrus to Oklahoma. We had an old English sheepdog named Winston, but he had to go away because he’d bitten too many mailmen or neighbors, I forget which, and they’d lodged a complaint with animal control. Whatever the situation was, Jason Chaffetz took care of it before the authorities could take the dog away. Sandie was despondent over losing the dog, and I wanted to do something about it. Sandie Tillotson was my wife, a founder of NuSkin, and Chaffetz, who had worked for Governor Jon Hunstman of Utah as his chief of staff– was working as Sandie’s fixer at NuSkin. So I was on a mission to replace the dog, on a thirty hour round trip between Utah and Oklahoma with my friend Dave for company.
We’d been looking for a Bernese, and I found a breeder in Oklahoma. The Bernese is a handsome dog, a big dog, about 100 or more pounds fully grown, with a black with white chest and rust colored markings above the eyes. The Swiss use them in the Alps, and they were farm dogs, and some of them were so big they were used for pulling carts. Whatever the purpose, they’re good looking dogs, and good pets, and I’ve always wanted one. With Winston gone, it seemed like the perfect time to get one, even if it meant a flight halfway across the country and back.
I spotted the runway through a thick fog, which turned into rain, and made my approach. The rain was light, but the runway was short and narrow, and I had my work cut out for me putting the plane down in one piece. I let it down easy, and reached the end of the runway where I started to turn around so I could make my return take off. Well the concrete strip was just a bit to narrow, and I put one wheel off the pavement, and into the mud.  The plane sank and I turned the engine off, said a few nice words,  and got out just as an well worn cream and brown truck drove up. There were three bearded men in the front, and two others in the back riding shotgun and holding about a half dozen dogs. All were pups, with similar markings, and I picked one out in short order and paid the man in cash. The breeder was from a Mennonite community, and his price was really quite good.
Well now Dave and I had to get the plane out of the muck, and in just the few minutes we’d been there it had sunk in up to the axles of one wheel. Dave pushed and I pulled, or maybe it was the other way around. Either way, we couldn’t move the beast until the fellows in the truck offered help. They hooked up a tow line to the front, and with the truck pulling and the rest of us pushing, we got the plane onto the pavement.
Fifteen hours later, I walked into the house and a wife very angry at my being away and late on Christmas Eve. But even Sandie Tillotson couldn’t resist the pup’s big brown eyes, and for the moment, at least, I’d been redeemed