Blue Heron Campground will be memorable for lots of reasons, not the least of which because we seem to have gained a new member of our camping family.
Sunday evening, we were preparing our dinner when a ghostly creature emerged from the woods. It was a emaciated, scarred dog who circled our campsite before trotting away. Later in the evening, we learned there were, in fact, a brother-sister pair of dogs when some kids on bikes were feeding the female. We sacrificed our hot dogs and the next morning’s turkey bacon to the ravenous beast who begged with the saddest of blue eyes. But we also soon found this girl to be sweet and well-tempered. She adored the attention of the campground kids and exposed her tick-encrusted belly to anyone willing to giver her the least bit of attention.
As the evening turned to night, we found her in sleeping around us – in front of our trailer and eventually right behind us as we sat at the campfire. Without thinking, I performed a “temperament test” on her, pulling away a garbage bag from which she was eating scraps. Her sweet demeanor and bedraggled appearance tugged at my heart strings. If she was still there in the morning, we would think about taking her home.
Ted woke up early and checked for the dog. She seemed to have taken off. It was probably for the best and he came back to bed. A couple of hours later I got up and walked the campground. There she was, a few sites away, begging sausage off a family trying to enjoy their breakfast! She pranced back over to our site when she saw me and I offered her the half pound of deli turkey that was supposed to have been our lunch. She enjoyed it much more than I have ever enjoyed deli turkey.
We weren’t going to make any promises, but we decided IF we could get a leash and collar on her (and maybe her brother), we MIGHT try to bring her home. So off we went to the Dollar General for leashes and collars. Our day became completely crazy when we were returning to the campground and rounded a bend to find a tiny golden retriever puppy in the road. We stopped the truck and after a few attempts at running, the poor exhausted puppy plopped down and let me pick him up.
Now we were in real trouble. Three dogs needed homes. The county has no animal shelter and the dogs would be euthanized within days if caught by the dog-catcher. We could probably take one, maybe two. But there was no way we could go from a two cat to five animal household in a weekend. Nor did we want to. Coming back to the campground, we found the gang of boys carefully attending to the pair of pups. They excitedly waved us down to show off how well they had attended to the duo. We countered their excitement and showed off our new puppy.
By this time, it was getting near check-out time. We were immediately able to get a collar on the female. The male was having none of it. There was no way we would be able to take the pair of dogs. What if they got in a fight in the middle of he highway? The male was very receptive to the attention of one young girl in the campground, but would let us near him. Did we dare split up the pair? I watched “The Incredible Journey” so many times as a kid, it would kill me to break up the duo after they appeared to have been through so much together. The puppy seemed to be fate’s consolation prize.
But my gut told me otherwise. I didn’t want a consolation prize dog. Besides, the puppy would get a home right away. Maybe if we took the female home and the campground host could work on taming the male, we could eventually reunite the two. I wanted the girl dog who seemed to be fighting so hard for a home.
In the meanwhile, we had named the female (critical mistake). We were in the Blue Heron campground and her eyes were a piecing blue. Blue seemed like a great name for her. Besides, there was a sense of melancholy about her. Heck, who can blame her. Whether she was abandoned or escaped, she had certainly had a rough life.
So the next step to bringing home Blue was ridding her of some of the ticks. With a tick key, a pair of tweezers, and a jar of alcohol, I set about getting the worst offenders off the poor girl. I have a bit of a tick phobia and frankly, having never owned a dog before, I am a bit tentative around them. I was exceptionally ginger with the first few ticks. But soon I realized the scope of the issue and because focused on getting as many ticks as rapidly as possible.
I fully realized the sweet nature of Blue when I failed to dry the alcohol off the tick key and the pulling the next tick must have stung quite a bit. Years of cat ownership has trained me to expect a bite or nip to show disapproval. This poor puppy just yelped and looked at me with hurt eyes.
Zero hour approached. We needed to head home. Could we get the dog in the truck? Would she freak out as soon as we shut the doors? We needed to figure it out.
We started by trying to lure her into the truck with hot dogs. She was very interested in the processed meat, not so much in getting into the unfamiliar vehicle. We finally managed to get her to crane her head enough into the vehicle that I could pick her up into the back seat. She doubled her body-weight by rag-dolling.
Our camping neighbors suggested and supplied a Benadryl to help with possible car sickness and to keep her calm for the six hour ride. A half pill in a bit of peanut butter seemed to do the trick. When the car started moving I was covered with kisses, but much of the ride was spent dozing in the back seat.
The time that Blue has been living with us has been chaotic, but fun. A trip to the vet and groomer much improved her appearance. As she has become more secure in her new home, her sweet but goofy personality has emerged. She is still learning how to be a good pet, but she is a great dog. We are thrilled to have a great new companion for all of our hiking and camping adventures!