Sandoval Signpost
An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988
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PHOTO CREDIT: Barb Belknap

Ruby gets lost

—Ty Belknap

On a stormy morning last month, I didn’t trip over our blind red heeler Ruby in the dark hallway. I had let Lalo out as usual and made my coffee before realizing that Ruby was gone. She was not lost in a closet, or sitting on the doorstep with Lalo, barking for breakfast. I woke up Barb, who quickly remembers that she had let Ruby out the previous night, then fell asleep on the couch, then went to bed, not realizing that no one else had let her in. She was still out there in the wind and rain, and we had to find her.

Why would a fifteen-year-old blind dog run away? Heelers are so loyal that anybody who says that their heeler ran away is lying. Ruby was always there—it was her job. I bought her for 75 dollars after following an ad in the paper that promised she was “guaranteed to work,” meaning herd cows. She had been herding us, the kids, and our other dogs ever since.

Barb took the car and one of the walkie-talkies, while Lalo and I started a methodical search on foot. We live at the end of a dead-end road above the Las Huertas wash just east of the Placitas Open Space. There was a lot of ground to cover, but we didn’t have to worry too much about Ruby getting hit by a car, and the rattlesnakes were probably hibernating. I searched in widening circles around our house. She wasn’t in our arroyo, or at our neighbors house, or down by the pipeline. When she blindly wandered off last month, we found her about a quarter mile away on top of a hill, but she wasn’t up there either. The wind pelted cold rain.

Ruby always loved to bite ankles, and she didn’t tolerate tomfoolery—especially dancing. Ruby definitely didn’t allow dancing. Lalo grew up trying to slip by the jaws of order whenever he tried to fetch a ball or have any fun. Ruby hates to swim, but whenever the river beaconed her pack, she was dogpaddling behind us. It was her loyalty that drove her to wander off. She wasn’t running away, she was trying to get back home.

Barb radioed that she had driven all the dirt roads within a half-mile. She saw the bobcat that lives around here, but no Ruby. Would bobcat predation be preferable to a slow death by starvation and exposure and . . . what about coyotes? This was getting serious. We met back at the house to check for phone messages. After breakfast, we took two more loops—Barb west into the open space and me, east to the BLM, south to Ranchos de Placitas subdivision and back through the Open Space.

Things had changed after Ruby went blind. She still lunged at ankles, but usually missed, and she still affectionately growled when petted—which became less frequent as she faded into the background of Lalo’s magnificence. It seemed that Ruby had outlived her uselessness. Only recently, we had joked about placing an ad in the Signpost that would read something like: Free to a good home: Fifteen-year-old blind Heeler/ Good appetite/ Copious digestive output/ Guaranteed to shed. . .

After walking all morning, I had about decided that nature was taking its course, and maybe that was okay. Barb started to cry over the radio.

Then, just when we thought all hope was lost, there she was, standing there, trapped by the fence around Mike Crofoot’s yard, wet and dirty. Oh joy! Oh joy! I heaved the fat little old dog across my shoulder and carried her home across the arroyo.

Don’t bother looking for the free-to-a-good-home ad—you can’t have my dog.

BLM highlights 18 backcountry areas deserving Congressional protection

The proposed Río Grande del Norte National Conservation Area is among eighteen backcountry areas in nine states that Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar highlighted in November, 2011, as deserving protection by Congress as national conservation areas or wilderness areas. The area is north of Taos, New Mexico, and straddles Taos and Río Arriba Counties. It includes the Cerro de la Olla, Cerro San Antonio, and Cerro del Yuta volcanic cones, which jut up from the surrounding valley as reminders of the area’s turbulent geologic past. Between these mountains, the Río Grande Wild and Scenic River carves through the landscape, revealing ancient basalt flows.

Early prehistoric sites document the importance of this area to ancient peoples for hunting and sacred purposes. Wildlife, including bighorn sheep, deer, elk, and antelope, valuable in itself, abounds.

The blue ribbon trout fishing in the Río Grande and its tributaries draws fishermen from across the country. Overhead, golden and bald eagles, prairie falcons, and other raptors take to the skies.

Approximately $350 million in annual recreation-related economic output supported by Department of the Interior activities BLM Director Bob Abbey noted that the BLM currently manages over 245 million acres of land nationwide, primarily in 12 western states. Since the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, Congress has designated approximately 8,700,000 acres of BLM land as wilderness—equating to just roughly 3.5 percent of the land that the BLM manages.

Taos, NM, unveils historic churches

—Joan Griffen

The Taos County Lodgers Association (TCLA), with support from the Town of Taos and others, has produced a unique self-guided visitor tour—Historic Churches of Taos and Northern New Mexico—which readily opens the doors of history to 24 significant, historic churches of Taos and Northern New Mexico. The earliest of these churches dates from 1733, a time when the nation’s east coast founders were only just obtaining charters to establish British crown colonies in the Carolinas and Georgia.

This scenic driving tour helps visitors access that authentic and special element that is Northern New Mexico. The featured churches were selected from fifty adobe churches throughout Northern New Mexico based on several factors: architectural significance, continued use as a place of worship by its community, ease of accessibility for visitors, and historic relevance.

The road trip quest to locate and enjoy these premier churches is laid out in four tracks: High Road to Taos (from Espanola to Picuris), Low Road to Taos (from Espanola to Tres Piedras), Central Taos Area (from Velarde to Taos Pueblo), and Northern New Mexico County (from Arroyo Seco to Costilla).

The tour is obtainable in print format for $1.95 from the Town of Taos Visitor Center (1139 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, Taos or 1-800-348-0696) or online at The piece’s companion tour, the Historic Taos Walking Tour Brochure of the downtown area, is also available online at and on sale at the Visitor Center in print form. A third piece in this self-guided tour series is anticipated for Taos places of significance for “The Remarkable Women of Taos,” including iconic individuals such as Mabel Dodge Luhan, Georgia O’Keeffe, Millicent Rogers, Agnes Martin, Beatrice Mandelman, Cleofas Jaramillo, and Virginia Romero as well as many contemporary Taos women. For more information on the Remarkable Women of Taos program, go to





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