In search of ponies: Rain can be mixed bag for pets

Do not panic. That strange shine everywhere is perfectly normal and the clean smell in the air, well, it may not happen real often in dusty cattle country, but it is normal(ish), too.

Rest assured, despite how frighteningly odd all the sloshing and splashing around town may be, it is completely safe to continue on with normal life.

Not only is it safe, it is exactly what the area has desperately needed so badly for so long — rain — and not just rain, but saturating quantities of it.

And, there’s nothing quite like a good old fashioned New Mexico monsoon season to make flowers appear across open ranges and tough, opportunistic weeds push their way through anything that stands in their way, including concrete and masonry.

Not even a month ago, the world was so parched that cracking stucco homes and weak electric fences needed watering, but now shrinking plaster swells with life and livestock are once again free to roam inside lively pulsing wire sections of knee-high, fresh green munchies.

Finally our little corner of the world is getting a much needed bath, along with all the critters therein, and even with the scratching and yelps of sheer terror at the back door as the thunderheads roll by, it is a relief.

So accustomed are we to the drought, there is little doubt many a pooch found themselves stranded outside during one or more recent showers, and no doubt many a muddy paw has mapped trails from the door to the favorite resting spot or worse yet, the couch.

Walls are splatter painted by the shaking of soggy dogs and the long forgotten Wet Dog de parfum wafts at a radius of at least 15 feet around its source.

Meanwhile, entire eco systems crop up around small lakes that were once no more than dusty depressions in the ground.

Trees sprout leaves in odd places along their branches as if they forgot how, rabbits work to chow their way through a sea of food one blade at a time and fat toads once again congregate under porch lights and try to cross busy roads.

Itchy welts appear on the skin at dusk as happy skeeters dine and dash, flies hunt for piles of ick in which to deposit their precious eggs and squiggly little larvae zoom through puddles in training for flight.

Yet after watching the world wither and die, such inconveniences and discomforts feel more like a celebratory exploration – a rediscovery of what rain can do.

Slogging through mud, hoping the pooch can hold it just a little longer until the deluge stops and realizing the possibility of leaks never registered until there was something to drip through them; it is easy to forget that once upon a time, the only thing close to precipitation came in the form of tiny grains of zinging sand.

And it’s easy to forget that it will only take a couple days of searing sun and strong winds for the moisture to disappear as if it never happened — easy to dismiss the still “extreme” red markings on this week’s drought map as old news.

Yet — lest it be replaced by dusty air, brown skies and scorched earth turned-concrete — it is a time to whistle while mowing through impromptu jungles, splash through a puddle or two on purpose, smile when drips make their way from the ceiling to the top of your head, swish a couple of designs through the muddy paw prints before the mop wipes them away completely and invest in some bug spray.

But most importantly, don’t let one single, soggy inconvenience pass without wishing for more.


Sharna Johnson is a writer who is always searching for ponies. You can reach her at: or

on the web at:

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