Traveling With Dogs: The Camping Trip from Hell; Dogs and Beaches Don’t Mix

(Continued from last post) 

With all dogs now safely contained in the van, we could finally sit down to breakfast, which of course by this time had gone stone cold. We ate it anyway having built up quite an appetite during the morning’s excitement. With breakfast finished and the camp site tidy, the kids run off to change into bathing suits and grab towels and beach toys. I am gathering together a picnic lunch and packing the cooler, my friend is busy unhitching the tent trailer from the van for the drive to the beach. Neither one of us remembers to pick up the dog dishes which still contain a few scraps of kibble, and place them in the tent trailer. Everything seems to be going smoothly and I begin to think that we may actually get through the day without any more excitement. I couldn’t be more wrong!

I look up and see my friends six year old heading for the van. Before I can say “wait for us” he throws open the sliding side door and all four dogs burst from the back of the van. We are camping in Algonquin park in Ontario’s north, and there are some very strict rules about keeping your dog on a leash at all times, and here we have four dogs running around the campground sans leash! We of course drop everything and give chase. If you are old enough to remember the Keystone Kops then you can well visualize the chase. People at campsites around us are just getting ready for their day. Some are having breakfast others are relaxing with coffee, some like us, are getting ready for a beach trip. Off to my left I spot the wolf hound cross Brindle as she runs through a campsite snatching a piece of bacon out of a child’s hand on her way through. I make a grab for her and end up with a fistful of fur flat on my back on the ground. Off to my right my friend is wrestling with his 120lb. yellow lab Nelly and trying to get her under control and back into the van. His seventeen year old daughter has a hold of my dog Gabrielle, and has managed to put her back in the van without releasing the 120lb. lab. I finally get a hold of and wrangle Brindle to the front door of the van and manage to get her in and slam the door shut before the others can escape. My eight year old daughter has managed to get a hold of blind lab Bucky, and now asks me to put him in the van so she doesn’t let the others out again by accident. The dogs are finally back where they should be, but now we are faced with the task of putting four kids in a van full of dogs who want out.

We decide that the 17 year old should get in through one of the front doors and block the dogs from getting into the front seat. We then let the other children in one at a time and the seventeen year old helps to get them seated. Miraculously this works without incident, and we are off to the beach. “Okay” I think to myself, “maybe this won’t be so bad after all.” We park the van and before I can turn around and say “okay, everyone sit tight until we get the dogs out and tied up,” the three year old, excited about playing on the beach throws open the door and suddenly the quiet peaceful beach front is invaded by off leash dogs who head straight for the water! And we are off again chasing down dogs. The second chase goes much the same as the first, us leaping to catch dogs who just manage to escape our reach as we land face down in the sand. The seventeen year old has had the presence of mind to secure the tie downs into the ground so we can secure the dogs once we finally get a hold of them. One by one we manage to catch and tie up the dogs, by the time this is accomplished we are hot and tired and out of energy, and it is all we can do to flop on the beach on our towels and try to catch our breath.
The rest of the day at the beach passes without incident, and we manage to pack up the van just before dinner to head back to the camp site. Remember those dog dishes we forgot to pick up before we left? They have attracted a flock of birds, and as we pull into our campsite upon our return from the beach all we can see is birds. They are everywhere! They are perched on the top of the tent and tent trailer, they fill the trees surrounding our campsite, and cover the ground. It is at about this time I fervently start wishing the van had no windows, the dogs have spotted the birds, and they are going crazy in the back of the van. We now have to find a way to get the kids and ourselves out of the van without the dogs escaping so we can chase the birds out of the campsite. We manage to do so, and one by one take the dogs out of the van and crate them. It is now time to prepare dinner, which we also manage to do without incident. After dinner we will have a campfire and the kids will roast marshmallows, standard camping stuff right? Ah, but remember, this is us and four dogs in Algonquin park, we are at the end of our second day, and we have already proven Murphy’s law more than once. There is nothing “standard” about this camping trip. To find out what happens next check back tomorrow for the next chapter:

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