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Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Sunday, Jan 18, 2015

darrylmanzer_blacktieIt’s Sunday, a day of rest. At least that is what the Good Book states.

If you lived on a farm or a ranch, the day was one where you didn’t have to do extra work after normal chores were done unless there was a fence down and cattle had strayed.

Up Pico Canyon in Mentryville, Sunday meant a lot of folks would drive up to the gate and look around and drive away. Once in a while they might get out of the car and take some pictures or drop off a dog or a cat they didn’t want anymore.

Mr. Renly, the little basset hound, has moved to a new home. I didn’t have to drive up some canyon and drop him off. Old friends wanted him to live with them, and it was a good idea, since my new position means I spend a lot of time away from home.

So he now has a large backyard, his own door to go outside, and at night, I’m told, he still cuddles. That is some very good news.

It is common to say, “I own a dog,” when in fact any pet you have is really a member of the family. Some get along a lot better with other family members and some don’t, but nobody really “owns” a dog – and especially not a cat.

Do I miss the little guy? You bet. He was a great companion. But I know he is in a much better home than I could give him.

I never quite figured out why folks would take a pet out to the end of Pico Canyon Road and drop it off. Had we not been there, the coyotes and whatever else would have gotten them. They didn’t want to be cruel, but in reality it was a fate that no animal should be forced to endure.

If I see someone do that, I get just a little angry. I also get the license plate number, make of car, and nowdays I can even take a photograph of them before they drive away.

Available today from the Castaic shelter. Call 661-257-3191.

Take Dudley home today from the Castaic shelter. Call 661-257-3191.

On a cool Monday morning once, as I was walking to the school bus stop on the county road, there was a little dog tied to the fence. I think he had been dropped off and tied to the fence the night before. I got him untied and walked him back to the house. There I gave him some food and water. He found a warm, sunny spot on the big porch of Pico Cottage, where he remained until I returned home after school.

We just called him “Dog.” He followed me everywhere I went. He was big enough to keep up with me when I was on horseback and seemed to have nearly endless endurance. He became a good herding dog and was a great help when I went to gather some cattle.

One day I got home from school and Dog was gone. I never saw him again. Never did find him in the canyon or along the road to Newhall. He just vanished. I think it was better that way.

Sometimes a stray of some sort wanders into our lives and soon disappears. I do know I was better for it when it came to Dog and Mr. Renly.

But what if they weren’t the stray? What if I was? Funny how that works.

I see all sorts of Californians “straying” away from our state. They complain about high prices, high taxes … looking at what they think is greener grass in other places. I made such a trip a few times. Spent a few years in Washington state and some time in Hawaii, too. There were a couple of years in Connecticut plus nearly 20 in Virginia. I returned home to California.

Each time I’ve crossed the border to return, I’ve vowed never to stray again. I love this valley and the state, too. I won’t leave again. So all those folks who are moving out of the state for lower taxes, prices and government should think twice. It isn’t cheap to move back. I know. I’ve done that twice.

The SCV, and for that matter the state, can’t get better if you run away. I know we all feel like we can’t get the folks we like elected, or maybe some of the new laws are just a little weird. (They are that.) But if you like tornados and snow, no ocean, maybe humidity and lots of little bugs on a summer night, go ahead and move. You’ll be sorry.

If you’ve got the guts to stick it out and try to change things for the better – those are the folks we need. We cannot correct problems when we leave.

Up north in Seattle, there used to be a billboard just south of that city that stated, “Last one out of town please turn out the lights.” People were leaving because of high taxes, prices and lack of jobs. Today folks are moving back up there.

Things ebb and flow in a much larger picture than most of us can see. I and many others tend to take a short-term view of it. We’ve got to learn to look at the long term. I’ve got some good friends thinking about moving out of state.

I hope they don’t. Those headed to other places don’t need to become a stray that gets dropped on other places. We’ve got to get active and make things better here.

Hard to stop the California High Speed Rail Boondoggle from Texas or Kentucky. Got to fix it from right here at home. Can’t fix any other problems from those places, either.

And trust me, you’re going to miss it if you go. I know we’ll miss all y’all. We’ll take you back in, just like we did all of those other strays before you, man or beast.

Just one word of caution. That pretty little black and white cat-looking thing might just be a skunk. It isn’t a stray. It doesn’t like to be petted. It stinks pretty bad, too.

Did I just describe a politician? Think so.

 

Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley, where he serves as executive director of the SCV Historical Society. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

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1 Comment

  1. jimvs says:

    Re: Strays,

    There are strays, and there are the abandoned.

    I’m not sure how much different they are; I know that at least one of the parties in their family decided that the one who left (or was left) wasn’t needed anymore.
    It’s possible that finances and other issues meant there wasn’t room anymore. It’s possible that behavior issues, differences of opinion and other difficulties led to the decision to separate their ways.
    I just know that it’s a devastating feeling to leave because you must; and even more devastating to be left behind because they must.

    We really should be better than that. All of us.

    Thank God there are people who open their hearts to those that are lost, and/or left behind. With enough of them, those who find themselves alone, bereft, and struggling have a chance to find their place in the world.

    At least, for now.

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