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By Tank Hoover

I’ve met my share of dogs during my life. None were bad some are just better than others. Certain dogs stick out in my mind more than most and Pippin Skelton is at the top of the list. He was adopted as a young rascal after his previous owner died. Bart took the orphaned pup under his wing and the relationship has bloomed into a one-man dog show of courage, adventure and high jinx shenanigans. Pippin is deserving of a statue, or at least a bawdy ballad written and sung about the high desert doggie!

Every good ranch needs a dog, and this one is no exception. Pippin rules the roost. He’s a white fox terrier with black saddle and face, with a snout that could pick a lock. Sweet in disposition, brave and ferocious at heart, his breath could knock a buzzard off a shit wagon, as Joanna, his adopted human momma, so eloquently states. Like our former president, Pippin has an unknown past. No one knows where he came from, and his records have been sealed. Adopted 15 years ago, he’s probably in the neighborhood of 16-17 yrs. old, which would make him near 112-119 in dog years. No one knows for certain. Not even the Social Security Administration, or the NSA.

He’s tangled with coyotes, porcupines, javelina, and a snake or two. Win, lose or draw, he’s no stranger to the emergency room and has racked up a string of vet bills that has probably cost the family the price of a first generation Colt SAA. His favored resting place is atop the brown bear skin rug killed by his master. As he sleeps on it, I think Pipster fantasizes he killed the bear.


Pippin sleeping on the bearskin rug he thinks he conquered.

The first night, Mr. Pip wakes me by jumping up on the bed with his front paws and breathing those dragon breath fumes in my face. Not wanting to rack up my own string of vet bills, I gingerly lift the stiff-hipped canine into bed where he lays against me, providing both with traction for our arthritic backs.

Whenever I visit, I’m always wary to ask how the Pipster is doing, and usually just wait until the black and white unit rolls around the corner to investigate any new guest who has crossed the threshold of his home. Last time I visited Pip, I brought him a NY strip for his supper. With a memory like a loan officer, he’s checking me out this visit and his ol’ factory lobe tells him I let him down! I explain I took the scenic back road route through the Gila National forest to get to his home, which by passes any grocery stores or butcher shops. Pip was unimpressed with my story and settles on licking my sweaty legs.

Pip has 2 new brothers, Bucko Taos, named after a Slim Pickens character in a “Gunsmoke” episode, and Stevie Zissou, a black and white Boston Terrier who resembles Batdog, when he perks his ears up for attention. These young pups wrassle and tussle with the Pipmaster, and he seems to enjoy it, as his tolerance for the two pups demonstrate this. The spirit of the young pups appear to be contagious, as Pipboy has a renewed spring in his step, and a new outlook on life, to keep up with his new brothers. As the master, he passes on his wily traits and skills onto the younger brood, as this is not a one-way relationship.

They say a dog makes a house a home, when you have a pack like the clan I met, led by the Pipman, I’d say it is pretty darn close to nirvana.

I hope Pippin gets at least one more NY strip dinner from me, he’s mighty deserving of it.



If cats have nine lives, Pippin must have had three times that with his cantankerous tangles with coyotes, porcupines, snakes and javelina. Pip had the last laugh, for what they could never accomplish, Pips old body finally gave out on it’s own, tormenting his foes. Pip had a stroke and left us. Although sad, I know his spirit roams the high desert winds, keeping the vermin at bay, while keeping guard of his family. So long Pip, you won’t be forgotten.

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