‘Mason, a New Mexico Hero’

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By Jennifer Garcia

Chasing rabbits, exploring the canyons around Los Alamos and taking walks with his family are just a few of the things that Mason, a mixed-breed dog enjoys.
However, things for Mason weren’t always carefree. He was once a homeless dog born in the wild that was caught and taken to the Española Animal Shelter. In 2010, he was adopted by White Rock resident Caroline “Cass” Mason and soon found himself at home with her other dog Sibley and cat, Mickey Mouser.
The meeting of the two was delayed a bit, but it seems that fate intervened. Mason had seen the canine’s photo on the animal shelter’s website and traveled to Española in hopes of adopting him. She was instantly interested in him because he shared her name. When she got to the shelter, she was disappointed to find that Mason was not there. He had been placed in foster care.
As luck would have it, their paths would cross at the annual Dog Jog. His foster family had taken him there to participate and Mason immediately recognized him and asked if she could take him for a walk. Later that day, she went to the animal shelter to sign the paperwork officially adopting the dog. And so he became part of her family.
This is a story that seems to have had a happy ending, but not all shelter animals are so lucky. Recognizing the need for funding that the Española and Los Alamos animal shelters face, Mason decided to write a book.
A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Española Valley Humane Society and Los Alamos Friends of the Shelter.
The story is Mason’s journey from being a homeless dog, to his experience in the shelter, and ultimately finding a forever home — told from his perspective.
The idea struck Mason as she and friend Inez Ross traveled by train to Arizona. Ross encouraged her to write a book intended to be a quick read — something that could be read on the train. Mason decided to write the book from her dog’s perspective and make it a tale of his experiences. She also wanted it to serve a dual purpose however, in that it would also give readers an inside look at what New Mexico has to offer.
The preface of the book reads, “some people going through New Mexico on the Amtrak train or driving along I-40 think New Mexico is mostly desert. In telling his own story, this dog hero will share with you the beauty of a part of New Mexico that many people have yet to see.”
Mason said she hoped to “whet peoples’ appetites for coming to this area.”
A former Los Alamos National Laboratory chemist, Mason began working at the lab in 1975 and stayed there for  30 years, before retiring in 2005.
The book took her about five days to write. Her daughter Vanessa took most of the photos, which appear throughout. “It’s told from the dog’s perspective,” Mason said. “It was written because I love the dog … it’s a gentle story, there’s no cruelty.”
Her pet holds a special place in her heart because not only does he provide companionship, but he also helped save Mason’s life. During a walk, she fell and was unable to get up.
As she lay there trying to get up, an electric transformer fell on a fence after a thunderstorm erupted. Electricity started coursing through the grass near Mason.
The dog, upon hearing a couple of workers getting into their truck, ran up to them and began barking. He got their attention and they were able to call for help. She was rushed to the hospital, while Mason traveled with her.
“Mason, a New Mexico Hero,” is not her first book. In  2010, the England native published “The Blacksmith’s Cottage: A Pastoral War,” a tale of living on a farm in England during World War II. “It was based on letters written by my mother,” Mason
 “Mason, a New Mexico Hero,” is $6 and available for purchase at Pajarito Environmental Education Center, Otowi Station Bookstore or from Mason, by sending an email to casmason01@msn.com.