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

(Cont’d from last post)

Have you ever woken up in the morning and just felt instinctively that something was wrong? My first clue to trouble was waking up with a dog paw in my face. The dogs had been crated the night before in the corner of the tent trailer, but here I was my eyes just opening, and either I was seeing things or the dogs were loose in the trailer! I sat up rubbed my eyes and looked around. My mind was pre-occupied with thoughts of packing to head for home. I swung my feet onto the floor and stood up, right in the middle of a pile of corn flakes and what looked like the remains of a package of hot dog buns. My husky/lab cross Gabrielle was sitting on the floor a couple of feet from the mess trying to look innocent while the wolfhound cross lay on the bed shamelessly  chewing on the remains of the cereal box. (It was the wolfhounds paw I’d found stuck in my face as I woke)

“Oh this trip just gets better and better!” I thought as I woke up the girls and had them take the dogs outside the tent trailer and hook them up to the tie-outs, while I set about cleaning up the mess they had made of our breakfast supplies. “Guess I didn’t latch their crate doors properly.” I thought to myself while sweeping up cornflakes mixed with bits of hot dog bun and plastic bag. It wasn’t until I went to make coffee that I realized one of the dogs had chewed a hole in the eco friendly reusable coffee filter. “Fantastic!” now not only did I have a mess to clean up, but I am apparently going to do it without coffee! “What next?” I thought.

The answer to that question came as I stepped out of the tent trailer and was practically flattened by my friend’s six year old son as he came running around the corner of the tent trailer screaming “Daddy forgot how to stand up!” You remember my friend right? Last night at the campfire his dog had dislocated his knee, but big Mister Man firefighter that he was he had insisted he didn’t need to go to the hospital. So anyway what his son was trying to tell me was that his Dad couldn’t walk. Great! Somebody shoot me now!

Just to recap I have awoken to find our breakfast foods and breads mangled beyond recognition by escapee dogs, and now my friend can’t extricate himself from his sleeping bag due to the injury to his knee the night before, I have four dogs to walk, four kids to magically provide breakfast for and I am out in the middle of the woods. Don’t ya just LOVE camping?

Now about this time I decide that IS it, we are packing up and heading home, but what I really want to do is curl up into a ball and pretend none of this is my responsibility. Unfortunately being the only able bodied adult left in our camping party I now am faced with the task of repacking the car and tent trailer on my own and getting us home. But first I had to pack up. The kids of course were no help in this endeavor, they followed me around as I broke down camp yelling “we don’t wanna go home!” But I had had enough I was determined we were going home! All I had to do was break down camp and get us packed up.

Have you ever completely unfolded a tourist map? You know, the kind they used to give away at gas stations when we were kids (okay when some of us were kids, the rest of you look it up GPS wasn’t available back then.) the kind that once you unfold them you can never seem to fold them back up again as neatly as they came? Well repacking our things was kind of like trying to fold one of those maps back up the right way. Nothing seems to work right and things look a little lumpy. But somehow I managed to get it together, only problem now was I hadn’t a clue how to hook the tent trailer back up to the trailer hitch (I was a city girl what can I say?) My friend couldn’t do it because he couldn’t stand up, so I was going to have to go in search of assistance. So with 120lb. yellow lab Nelly in the lead I set off to find a park ranger who could help us. We finally found one and brought him back to our camp. He helped us hook up the trailer and made sure everything was secure.

Now it was time to put the kids and the dogs back in the car and get going. This time I separated my 8 year daughter from my friend’s six year old son. The last thing I needed while trying to drive was kids fighting in the back seat. I was nervous enough already, (did I mention I had never driven anything with a trailer attached to it before?) this was going to be a long drive! One by one we got the dogs in the car, but just as we got everybody situated the three year old yelled from the back “I gotta go pee pee!” Of course! I should have been expecting this, after all I was traveling with a bunch of kids and dogs, someone was bound to have to go to the bathroom at the worst possible time, it was inevitable.

One by one we took the dogs back out of the car until we could get to the three year old. We had already settled my friend in the front passenger seat and with his injury he was no help in controlling the dogs. Miraculously the 17 year old had the presence of mind to store the tie outs where she could get to them in a hurry so we staked them into the ground and hooked the dogs up to them to wait for the three year old to return from the bathroom with his 17 year old sister.

Potty break over we packed up the dogs again and headed for home. The return trip was much the same as the trip out with choruses of “your stepping on me!” “stop pulling my hair” and “why does this dog have to sit on me?” ringing through the air. By this time I was exhausted and running out of patience, and I needed to stop for gas.

Of course stopping for gas meant letting the dogs out to go for a walk, but my friend was in no shape to walk them anywhere therefore we would have to come up with another solution. It was decided that once the 17 year old had taken the younger children to the washroom she would come back and help me with the dogs. Now this might have worked in theory if we weren’t traveling with a three year old who thought he had all the answers. The three year old saw no reason why dogs and people couldn’t just all get out of the van and go potty together, so he opened the side door of the van and let himself and the dogs out. Chaos ensued!

Dogs took off running in four different directions, the 17 year old and I took off after two of them, my friend was yelling for his sons to get back in the car and wait, and that is when the three year old peed his pants and burst into tears.

I had managed to capture and wrangle Nelly the 120 lb. lab back towards the van and attach a tie out to her collar. The 17 year old had captured the smiling wolfhound cross and was getting her hooked up to another tie out. I was just clipping the third tie out line to old blind Bucky when we heard screaming as my husky/lab cross ran by dragging my eight year old daughter behind her. My daughter refused to let go of the dog’s collar and was still being pulled across the grass of the picnic area. “Let go!” we shouted as we ran to help.

Finally last dog recaptured, and put back in the van I now had to find dry clothes for the three year old and clean clothes to replace the ones my daughter was wearing before her picnic area drag race. The clothes of course were somewhere in the badly packed tent trailer. We would have to half unpack just to find clothes for the kids, so we set about doing just that.

Five minutes later as I am standing triumphantly beside the van holding a change of clothes for both kids, I am approached by an OPP officer who says “Ma’am? Excuse me Ma’am but you can’t camp here.” he nods towards the piles of camping stuff surrounding the trailer, “you’ll have to pack that up and move on, there’s a campground just north of here, I could call ahead and see if they have a spot for you?”

That cop must have thought the lot of us had just escaped the insane asylum because all we could do was stand there and laugh hysterically. Once I managed to calm down I explained to him that while it may look like we are about to set up camp we were really just trying to get home after a disastrous camping trip. He helped us pack the trailer back up (a little less lumpy than it was when I did it) and we were on our way headed for home.

What we didn’t realize until a little while later was that in all the commotion of our stop we had forgotten to get gas, not a good thing to forget when you are out on the highway with miles between gas stations! About a mile from the next gas station the engine began to sputter, and finally died, we were out of gas on the side of the highway!

The 17 year old and I decided we would take the gas gan and walk to the gas station, but we were worried about leaving the younger kids on the side of the road with an adult who couldn’t walk due to injury. We knew the three year old was headstrong and would do whatever he felt like doing unless someone physically stopped him from doing it (not my kid don’t blame me) so it was decided that the 17 year old would stay behind to keep an eye on the kids, while my 8 year old daughter and I walked the mile to the gas station with the gas can.

We arrived at the gas station gas can in hand and the proprietor (an old man in his 70s) took one look at us and called for his wife to bring us water. “What are you girls doing walking around in the middle of nowhere?” he asked. We told him our story, and he said “well now! Let’s fill up your gas can and get you back on the road!” The old man filled up our gas can and two more besides. (for which I paid him) Then he said to me “it seems like you girls have had enough trouble for one day, climb up in the truck and I will drive you back to your car.”

When we got back to the car everyone including the dogs were sleeping. We poured the gas from the gas cans into the tank and the engine roared to life. We were off again! Except for a quick stop at the old man’s gas station to fill the tank we drove straight through and got home by supper time.

I am not afraid to tell you it was the absolute LAST time I ever took that many dogs camping!  Conclusion: Camping and Dogs Don’t mix!!!

Until Next Remember,