Posted by: stillironic | May 11, 2010

It’s cool and rainy out. Perfect weather for dog camping.

River and Mo pondering whatever dogs ponder

We don’t go dog camping anymore. That’s because we’re not TOTAL morons. Dog camping involved seven dog owners and seven dogs. We, city dwellers all, drove seven hours to the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia and stayed two or three nights—in three cabins sometimes used by forest rangers. No running water, no electricity.

We favored sleeping bags on the floor over the damp, grimy, wretched-looking mattresses. Mattresses even the dogs avoided, and when do dogs ever avoid a bed? There was a hand pump out front and an outhouse out back. A pond was off to the side. We cooked over an open fire. One of the cabins had a gas refrigerator.

The only noise we heard outside of nature—except for some fucking fighter jets skimming the treetops one time—was the occasional logging truck bounding along the washboard access road.

What did we do? We took our dogs on hikes. Through the beautiful forest that opened up into a meadow and a creek beavers had dammed. At night we sat around the fire, drank wine and beer and something out of a bottle in a paper bag, and laughed at the idiocy of what we were doing. Our dogs slept like the dead. They loved dog camping.

The major downside of dog camping the first year, which took place during deer foaling season, was that two of the dogs were predators. This we didn’t know. All were urban dogs; the closest they came to hunting was chasing squirrels in a city park. How shocked we were when mild-mannered, ever-the-lady Hannah—known thereafter as Hannah Lector—ran off the path out of our sight and started mauling a faun. It was either a faun or a baby, because the heart-wrenching screams sounded like a human baby’s.

For some reason it was only women on the walk. I was thinking: did I have the guts to find the massacre and at least try to put the poor faun out of its misery. The next thing I knew, one of my own dogs—quirky, wacky Mo—left us and joined the slaughter. A rock to the skull. Amidst two carnivores having the time of their lives? Wasn’t going to happen.

What were the other three dogs along with us busy doing? The dog-equivalent of humming, twiddling their thumbs, pretending nothing was happening.

Finally, the silence of the faun. Hannah, an English sheepdog-standard poodle mix, came prancing back, looking imperious, as if about to leave for a day of beauty at Estée Lauder. Mo, a border collie-lab mix, looked like a little boy who’d just hit a home run.

We resumed walking our dogs. A bit shaken, we made noise, hoping to drive any deer with fauns as far away from us as possible.

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