Blue Dog is a spirited mongrel with one blue eye, one brown. She winds up in the pound in Moab, Utah, after being shot for thieving chickens and is saved from certain death by a Green River raftsman named Paul Nozik. “Wound wasn’t healed yet,” Paul reports. “Soon as it did, I dropped her off the raft. It was sink or swim, quit chickens or drown. She had to make a quick choice.”
A reformed Blue Dog responds instinctively to river life, riding rapids with savvy aplomb. The bond between dog and man grows strong, indeed seems to be unbreakable.
And then, one hot desert afternoon, Blue Dog is mistakenly left behind at Cat Lick, abandoned in the middle of Desolation Canyon. Her days and nights are a struggle to beat her way back to the raftsman, down river, past the cliffs and “hoodoos” and other hazards of the deep canyon. Paul is desperate to find her as well, against the current of the Green, finally against a flash flood precipitated by a vicious squall.
As if by magic, a third party materializes among these perils—one of the Old People, out of the distant, mythic past of the Green River itself. Is he nothing more than a piece of “rock art” in a dog’s dream—a Kokopelli off a canyon wall—or has Blue Dog, much as the raftsman fears, found herself another master?
This remarkable Western tale evokes the majesty and mystery of landscape in the heartland of the American Desert. At the same time, it captures all the suspense and adventure of climbing, rafting, and venturing in that incomparable wilderness. A classic story of a man and his dog, who together must brave the high waters that these canyonlands forever enfold.
It reads like lightning.
Reading it can really make the armchair adventurer feel he’s in the midst of it. Brower’s … understanding of animals and of nature in her roughest wilderness guise is impressive.
– Hugh Downs