Traveling with Dogs: The Camping Trip from Hell; Campfire Dogs

(Cont’d from last post)

When we left off we were getting ready for the evenings campfire. We had done the dinner thing, cooking chicken over an open fire and eating like we hadn’t seen food in a month of Sundays. You know how hungry you get while camping, you feel as if you could eat everything in sight. Anyway, dinner done and the dishes cleared and washed, we set out to make s’mores by the campfire. We tied up the dogs two on either side of the fire taking special care to ensure that they could not reach the flames. “There” we thought, “finally five minutes of peace to enjoy our campfire.” Oh how deluded we were!

We set up camp chairs for the kids and broke out the marshmallows for toasting. The campsite was quiet save for the sound of crickets and bull-frogs, and the muted voices of the other campers in discussion at their own fire sides. Suddenly off in the distance we heard the lone howl of a wolf. Our campsite suddenly came alive with the sound of four dogs howling in answer. The rest of the campsites suddenly came alive with the sounds of other campers shouting “shut those damned dogs up!” Oh no! We were on park Ranger radar yet again!

We finally managed to quiet the dogs down. My friend’s big yellow lab had been the ring leader in the howl at the moon escapade so he took her off her tie-out put her on a leash and brought her fireside to sit at his feet. This way he could control her by correcting any bad behaviour immediately. A good theory, but put into practice it definitely did not go as planned. The seventeen year old and I put the younger children to bed, and returned to the fire. Our bottoms were barely in our seats when a racoon ran through our campsites. Once again the dogs began to bark enthusiastically straining at their ties to go after it. The dog sitting at my friends feet decided to give chase. She darted sideways and in doing so dislocated my friend’s knee. He hit the ground and dropped the leash. Campers all around were yelling at us to keep the dogs quiet, my friend was rolling around on the ground yelling “I lost my leg! I lost my leg!” From inside the tent trailer I heard the sound of my daughter bursting into tears. She had heard my friend scream “I lost my leg!” and thought that his leg was actually missing. I scrambled around the campsite muzzling dogs to keep them quiet. After picking my friend up off the ground and returning him to his chair, I went into the tent trailer to calm my daughter down. She did not stop crying until I brought her to the campfire so she could see that my friend still had both legs attached.

After helping my friend to his tent and ensuring the fire would not flare up during the night, stowing the dogs in the van, and cleaning up the remains of the s’mores ingredients, I finally climbed into my sleeping bag exhausted and sore, and vowed that I was going to cut this camping trip short and head home in the morning. I could not take one more disaster. I fell asleep thinking camping with dogs was a very bad idea, and promising myself I would end the trip early. I underestimated the ability of children to make one feel guilty about a decision they don’t agree with, but that is another story. Suffice it to say I fell asleep confident that I was leaving for home in the morning.

What happened the next morning will be revealed in the next chapter:

Traveling with Dogs: The Camping Trip from Hell; We Don’t Want to go Home!