Been There, Done That by Laura Nethken

Published:

Our 12-year-old dog, Duke, is about to embark on the adventure of his lifetime. He just doesn't know it yet. He's about to become a camping guy again.

When we got our first camper 10 years ago, we of course took him to the campground with us. It'll be fun -- Getting out of the house for a couple days a week. Going for a ride to get there. Seeing different people and their pets. Communing with Nature. It's going to be great!

Nope. It was horrible. He hated it. The only thing he enjoyed was the ride out there and the ride back.

He couldn't take two steps in any direction without his cable tangled around something. He needed grass under his feet to do his business and our site is either dirt or gravel-covered, which meant he had to sort of "hold it" until we could get down off the hill and find a patch of grass.

The chipmunks were not fooled by the blue moose draped over his food bowl and completely cleaned him out.

We took a walk next door to visit Pap and he got chased off the porch by Coco, a dog who isn't quite as big as one of Dukie's hind quarters, but vicious enough to get the job done.

He spent the entire time hiding face-first up against the wall between the couch and the other wall. He was tormented by all the golf carts whizzing by and all the people walking by. We decided not to torture him again and left him home on the weekends.

We tried over the years a couple of times to see if maybe his attitude toward the campground had improved any. Not really. Again, he liked the ride out there.

Nose shoved out the window, sucking in all the smells the countryside had to offer, snuffling all over the windows and making doggie hieroglyphics with his nose drippings.

He'd jump down out of the truck, look around a little and then when it clicked in, "Oh yeah, I remember this place," he'd pile right back in the truck and demand to be taken home.

Now, due to some unforeseen circumstances, we need to take him with us on the weekends. I'm hoping that maybe he's mellowed with age.

Our site is cleaned up a lot better now, so maybe he won't get so tangled. We'll keep his food in the camper so the chipmunks don't even have a shot at it.

And when we visit Pap, we just make sure to do it when Coco isn't there. Coco may be 13 or 14 years old now, but I don't think he's mellowed very much, especially to having other dogs wandering around where he likes to hang out.

We have a new-to-us camper that's a lot bigger inside. And it's air-conditioned. I'm thinking that maybe during the times that Dave and I would like to go visiting, we could put Duke in the camper.

Just close the blinds, so he won't be bothered by the golf carts or folks walking by. Turn on the radio and of course, his fan, or if it's warm enough the A/C, and let him snug up on his favorite pillow that we'll bring with us from the house.

With his hearing and eyesight loss, maybe he won't even realize he's at the campground.

Maybe, he'll feel like going visiting with us. Snoopy is a 16-year-old beagle on our same hill. She likes to sit on her swing and nap. Dukie likes to nap.

Gustopher is a 12-year-old golden retriever who doesn't know he's not still a puppy. He sits on his swing when his hip starts acting up. Other than that, he races around like he's a teenager.

Maybe they'll realize that they're just two old guys and relax. Maybe it'll be On like Donkey Kong and we won't do that anymore.

Our one friend says to just quit stressing about it. Dukie will be fine. There's no difference between locking him up in the camper and locking him up at the house all weekend, except that he'll actually be with us a bigger part of the day and all night for sure.

And, he said the secret weapon we have now that we didn't 10 years ago is our golf cart. He said to strap Duke on there and take him for a ride. Once the wind is whipping through his ears with no windows to block his view or his nose, he'll officially be a camping guy.

And we'll officially be his chauffeurs for the rest of the summer.

Copyright 2014 Laura Nethken

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