Dogs go into complete decline when they see their person fiddling with clothes and suitcases, rattling keys, or, worst scenario from the dog's point of view, closing up the back room and heading for the treat supply while continuing to the door. "I'll be right back!" I always tell Niko, whether I am headed downtown for a brief errand or going to Minnesota for two weeks. That makes me feel better, but I have no idea what he makes of it other than to know that I am going somewhere that he isn't and the floor is falling from his life.
Yesterday, I went through the first stage of this process, but then I boxed up some of Niko's food. There is no hiding the sound of kibble being transferred – and it got his attention in a twinkling. I put it into his sack, along with a few bones and tennis balls. He knew in that instant that he was going on an adventure, his mood did a u-turn, and, when the RV camper pulled up to the back gate and his friend and protege Sunny emerged to greet him, he knew life was good and he embraced it with wild abandon. The four of us got into the truck, and off we went to the sort-of-local state forest and camp grounds.
The park is only 45 minutes away, and when we got there, Deb secured the camper and Niko surveyed his new world from the top of the picnic table. Things smelled wonderfully to him, We ate (kibble and yogurt for the dogs, lobster rolls for us), and went for a walk. We had forgotten towels, so Niko and Sunny could only look longingly at the water. On our return to the site, the sun was setting and boding well for the next day. Deb made a campfire, and together we four felt happy and secure in the dark and silent forest.
Sleeping was interesting. Niko, a prodigious sleeper, took over 75% of my bunk, and promptly conked out; I did what I could. In fact, I did sleep. I heard three owls – a screech owl, a barred owl, and one that I am still trying to identify. No coyotes. No bears came knocking at our door. At 3 AM, the dogs traded bunks. I know this because I lay directly in the path of the exchange: first, I felt Niko climb over me to attain the next level up, and then Sunny took a flying leap down to my level. At 4 AM they exchanged places again, this time for the rest of the night.
The coffee was fantastic! We packed up, went for a walk, let the dogs enjoy the lake (we had found some towels), got into the truck, and set off for home.
A Celtic Blessing, adapted
Be the eye of the creator dwelling with you,
The foot of a friend in guidance with you,
The shower of company pouring on you,
Richly and generously,
Each day and each night
Of your portion of the world.