By Chuck Woodbury
I have been an RVer for a long time but have never traveled alone with a dog. Until now. My little terrier mutt, Archie, is with me on a two-week “writing” vacation in my motorhome.
He’s a lot of company, but I have some guilt over forcing him to stay in the RV so much. I keep saying, “I promise to take you for a walk in just a little while.” He hears the word “walk” and gets excited. I should keep my mouth shut. But it’s no use: I forget he’s a dog and not a funny looking little human, so I talk to him and feel guilt I don’t believe I need to feel. I have never known a single dog owner who did not talk to his or her pet. Some even do it over the phone.
Gail, back at home, has been visiting with Archie via Facetime. Archie’s modest-sized brain can’t quite grasp exactly what’s going on. But he perks right up when she says “Squirrel!” or “Bun Bun,” the latter our name of the wild bunny that lives in our backyard. Archie has a thing for rodents, all kinds.
Once in awhile I give Archie a doggie treat to ease my guilt: I feel guilty making him sit around for most of each day. He must be bored silly, I think. Then I remember that dogs really don’t get bored. They just go to sleep. I get it: same with me.
I’ve been slowly cooking barbecued pulled pork all day in my small crockpot. My motorhome smells incredibly wonderful. It’s now 6 p.m. and time for Archie’s dinner, the same one he gets twice a day and probably will for the rest of his life. I think, “It’s not fair that he has to smell the wonderful aroma of that barbecued pork all day,” and then has to settle for the boring crap he’s already eaten about 400 times since Gail and I adopted him late last year.
Right now, he’s staring at me. I don’t know if he’s thinking about food or a walk, maybe both. The little guy lives for walks. There is a nice trail through the forest that we take twice a day. It takes about half an hour. Archie has an incredible nose, which he keeps pressed to the ground. He sniffs most big trees, and when he detects the scent of a squirrel he tries to climb it. Archie lives to catch squirrels. Unless he finds a lame one someday, I doubt he’ll ever get one.
I’ve been keeping track of Archie’s habits on these walks. Although he lost his manhood at an early age, he still feels the need to mark his territory. On an average walk of half an hour, I’d estimate he lifts his leg 50 times. But after about 15 successful efforts, he runs dry and then simply goes through the motions.
So here I sit, guilty about not taking Archie for a walk right NOW, and also for my intent to eat my barbecued pork later in front of him. Sometimes I believe I wouldn’t mind coming back in my next life as a dog. But then I think maybe not unless I could make my own menu selections.
I suppose I should take a break now from my writing. Archie needs to re-mark his territory, and I need to ease my guilt.
I just told him, “Okay, let’s go for a walk.” And now he’s at the door, wagging his tail, staring at me. He’s pumped. He lives for these moments.