Guilt about my dog, Archie

15

By Chuck Woodbury
ROADSIDE JOURNAL
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.

Archie enjoys sitting by the screen door looking for squirrels

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.

Archie looks for a squirrel

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.


15 COMMENTS

  1. Our Casper is 8 years old and spoiled rotten, he loves the motorhome and is always ready to go even if it’s only to it’s parking place in the back yard. He’s a Maltese, solid white, and only has three legs, he lost the left front in an encounter with a German Shepard but he gets around just fine. If we say we’re going to the motorhome he’s right there. We also have electric 3 wheeled scooters and he loves going for a “scooter ride”. I fashioned a carrier from an old fashioned milk crate style storage bin and we padded it and lined it with his blanket. He gladly stands up leaning on the front wall with his ears blowing in the wind standing on the right leg. He’s the alpha dog, if I ride out in front he starts barking until I drop back and ride beside my wife, he has to be the lead dog. Lol

  2. Our cocker mix loves traveling. We took her to California in May. We stopped every two or three hours to stretch our legs and use the facilities. We have also taken her camping twice. Once in a tent and just recently a new travel trailer. She is well behaved and not a problem. We generally feed her the same kibble over and over again, but she loves bananas, carrots, and fresh green beans from the garden (they are just coming on) and tomatoes. I take her to an off leash park when I can but if not, we walk 2-3 times a day in our manufactured home park where she knows most of the people and so do I now! Can’t imagine life without our Kiki.

  3. He’s so very similar to my adopted Cairn Terrier, they could be cousins! A renown author on dogs wrote that, ‘dogs are mostly socially needy, and when you take him in, you have become his whole world’.

  4. Hi Chuck, We have two large dogs. A 100+ Lab and a Grayhound. We do take them with us camping most of the time. They get walked many times a day and lots of treats during the day. One of the things we do with them is we change up their food a little by adding crushed up treats in it. I think it give them a little change in what they are eating. Sort of something to look forward to. When we do have to leave them alone in the camper we turn on a fan and open a window on each end of the camper with screens for sure. And the big thing that helps is to turn on a radio just for some background noise. We also have them tied up on long leashes outside with us all the time we are outside and we have beds out there near our awning so they can lay down and be in some shade with some water. We enjoy having them with us on our adventures and they enjoy it as well. They seem to get a kick out people who come up and pet them and tell them what good dogs they are. I wait out side the stores with them while my wife shops unless I want to go in and take a look. Then we just switch places. They are a lot of fun to have them with us and we would not change a thing about having them with us. After all they are part of our family.

  5. Current rescue mix terrier loves his walks as long as it is not wet. He will pee on the driveway before wet grass. We have had him about 2 years and know he was abused the 1st 2 years of life. We had our last rescue for 17 years and 7 months. He trained me well. He would act like he had to go outside then sit by my truck to go for a ride. If at the end of the street I turned left he would whine, turn right to McDonalds, he loved to share a small FF with me. He would sit in the Livingroom until I finished eating then would come sit beside me as he knew I saved him a bit of something good.

  6. Barni (legal name:Barnibearcatcher Of the Sun) the Pom loves to dream about his walks – I figure that’s what he’s doing when snoring away by the front door and his paw pads are twitching as though running along! One can surmise he plops and sleeps in front of the stairwell in case you try to go somewhere without him. Mr. Barni does get ‘nibs’ of some people food as long as not on the ‘danger’ list. He’s 14 now and still active (possibly because of the 1/2 a glucosamine for puppers broken up in his supper every night) His ‘brother,’ Charlituna IV – big yellow cat is now 7 and doesn’t eat people food and doesn’t go out for walk (although his predecessors did walk on leash)–but when he sleeps he does the running paw pad thing too – so perhaps they both share those ‘Elysian fields’ in their dreams.

    KB/corner of Hither and Yon

  7. RE: pork. If I am eating crockpot pork, my furbaby is eating it too. I had a long discussion with my vet when my schnauzer/min pin mix adopted me. Basically the vet told me that people food is fine for dogs as long as it is a balanced diet. My Macy eats eggs, spaghetti, tacos, pork, beef roasts, pizza, and almost any other main dish food as well as green beans and other vegetables (fresh or frozen, NOT canned) and several fruits (she loves bananas!). I do not give her most processed foods such as hot dogs and most lunch meats. Macy has never been fed any sugary cereals, cake, pie or cookies. I also do not give her foods that have been proven to be harmful to dogs such as raw onions and grapes. Macy’s meals and snacks are supplemented with her having 24/7 access to her food dish with dry, kibble-type dog food. In other words, Macy is fed balanced, rather healthy meals. I do not expect you, or anyone else, to change your dog’s eating habits because of my post. I just wanted to share the information that I have been given by a vet. We all know that vets are like any other profession – one vet’s opinion will vary from another’s opinion.

    • We had a West Highland White Terrier who lived to be about 14 who ate whatever was available. She liked grapes, and she would climb up the wire tomato cage to get to the ripe red tomatoes – she wouldn’t eat the green ones.

  8. Love your article. Makes me miss my Sheba. She lived for her walks as well and certainly knew the word, plus many others. I also felt guilty if she had to wait for her walks but I believe the most important thing is that you are nearby. About the pulled pork problem, can’t help you there (: .

  9. Don’t be surprised if he catches a squirrel one day. We also have a terrier that looks very much like Archie who has caught chipmunks even though tied up on a rope while camping. He is like a cat and waits for them to get close and then pounces on them. Terriers are excellent hunters

  10. It’s amazing the words that dogs learn. My Toy Fox Terrier also knows the word “walk” and gets excited. I have learned, from the dog, NOT to say that word unless I really mean we are going for a walk around the neighborhood. You will find me occasionally spelling the word, which I am sure he will also learn what that means one of these days.

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