We are animal lovers. Dogs have been our best friends for many years, accompanying us on adventures great and small. But, our wild young pup and his “big sister”–a seasoned sweetheart, brought new meaning to the term “adventure” on a recent road trip to Vermont, when last minute changes at the kennel left both dogs joining us for the journey. As you know my heart dog was Riggly, a wise old yellow lab that went everywhere with me for 14 years. Rigs died last summer and I’ve felt lost without him. Our Sweet Annie tries to fill the void, but, she is our wild child’s ever faithful companion. So, last winter we welcomed Emmet Otter into our family. Cute, cuddly, sweet when he’s tired, always silly and insanely relentless in his pleas for attention, he may never be the wise, calm, strong leader Rigs was, but he’s definitely the wild spirit our pack was missing and he certainly makes life interesting. Here’s a brief recap of our recent Green Mountain getaway, traveling with dogs. May it bring wisdom and humor to your future excursions…
We were making great time with only a few pit stops. Each time we gave the dogs–our 4 year old bird dog Annie & 7 month old chocolate lab Emmet– time to romp. Annie knew the drill. Emmet on the other hand did not. He was too excited to go to the bathroom. After several tries using the stance we take with our son: “it’s a long way, just try to go,” to no avail, we loaded the dogs back up and headed on our merry way. Emmet was in his crate and Annie snuggled on the floor, both behind our seats. Five minutes later, somewhere in New York State, Emmet started to whine & bark. Kenny assured me the pup was fine and that he does this all the time. But, the whines and barks became more frantic and high pitched. Annie joined in, nudging us with her nose as if in warning, telling us “something’s wrong with that dog, you better look.” About that time a strange liquid cacophony erupted and a tangy putrid smell bloomed around us. Emmet emitted a gutteral groan of relief. It was outstanding. We tried not to gag through laughter. We quickly pulled off the road and hoisted Emmet, (still in the crate), out of the truck to see what was going on. Few people on the planet would be prepared for the literal shit show that awaited us. Explosive diarrhea somehow blew out the back of the dog and flew onto the front, landing on Emmet’s head with Pollock-style splatters every place in between. Thoroughly shell-shocked and blessing our kennel keeper for bestowing us with such sweetness during the hour-long clean up with only a jug of water & a few wipes from my backpack to work magic, we eventually loaded everyone back up and continued the journey. Was this a portent of things to come? Only time would tell.
Annie & Emmet happily trudged all over the glorious Green Mountains of Vermont with us through rivers, ponds and streams, mud caked trails and mosquito ridden forests. Emmet is still shy of water but Annie enjoyed the freedom of swimming away from him. A deer, however, caught her attention. Emmet had no idea what it was but when Annie saw it her hackles went up and she sprang after it, Emmet right behind her. There was no way they were going to catch it but the thrill of the chase in their ancestral DNA as wild things, they enjoyed the thought of it. A few minutes of us carrying on like crazy people yelling and chasing after them, and all was well. They enjoyed a picnic lunch and hike around Hapgood Pond with us in Peru, then splashing after trout in the adjoining stream. Another day they lounged along the banks of the Ottauquechee River as I sketched and Kenny fished. One day Emmet and I explored a tributary of the West River. Seeing this young pup explore the wide, wild world around him, trying to make sense of what he’s seeing–the wheels turning behind his golden eyes and wise face is so funny. While he loves mucking about in the mud, he’s still afraid water, which is even sillier considering his breed. He had no choice but to follow me to the center of the river where I sunned on a big rock. He is, after all, my young faithful companion, so he dutifully slipped and slid til he could sit by my side, then jumped in and splashed after a crayfish. A few days later it was time for the pups and us to head home. It was a long drive back to PA, much quieter and (thankfully) less exciting than the trip out. But, it was a trip, even with unexpected travails the entire time and with our four-legged friends en tow, that we’d happily live all over again. Having a dog with you when you travel adds another dimension, things you would never have seen or done without them by your side. I love adventuring with my four-legged family members. Yes, it can be more work but it’s an opportunity for us to bond and explore, bridging the path to whatever life uncertainties come next; a companion by your side through all of life’s challenges and triumphs. Dogs are in-tune to their people and when they want to, they’re exceptionally good listeners. Except when the urge to run —or have the runs— takes over.
Travel tools to take when adventuring with dogs: collars, leashes, water, water bowl, travel snacks, flashlight, a towel, plastic bags, paper towels, and lots and lots of pet wipes. Be sure your pets are up to date on their shots and, just in case, have a copy of their records ready for out of state travel and/or emergency. For all-natural dog treats and collapsible pet bowls that are bpa-free, check out our offerings in the shop at Earth Artisan & Outfitter. Stay tuned for more adventures in the Green Mountains on our next post! You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Pop by our shop in the wilds of historic downtown, Carlisle PA where Annie and Emmet will eagerly greet you.