A Spring Road Trip with Dogs

Today was a good day for a road trip. Well, actually, any day is a good day for a ride in the car according to my labs, Dolly and her son Bucky. They were getting pretty tired of being used as extra weight in the back of my little car to help keep it on the snow-covered roads.

Buck and Dolly came to me like the rest of my menagerie. Nearly all of my horses, cats and dogs are adopted. Dolly is a beautiful small purebred chocolate lab. She was bred twice before she was a year and a half old. She shows signs of having been bred too young especially in her feet which are all splayed out from carrying the weight of a liter before she should have. She is a very serious dog while her son Bucky is a total clown.

All of the animals seem to relax and thrive when there is consistency in their world. Mine all get fed at about the same time of day. The dogs go to bed at a time they seem to have selected which is 9:15 p.m. I move a dog bed back and forth for them to wherever I want them located in the house. Where their bed is tells them where they should stay. They know everything is OK and they are comfortable.

Likewise, when we take a ride in ‘their’ car or ‘their’ truck, there is a certain amount of consistency. I raise the hatch and say ‘kennel’ and they both jump in with Bucky in the lead. He has no problems because he is tall, but his short-legged mom has crashed a few times when she didn’t quite make it.

Today we decided to look for signs that spring was finally here. At the top of the list was grass and dirt or any kind of ground that was not snow bound. In cities people may not miss bare ground, but up here in Glacier Park country the high elevation brings deep snows and unrelenting winters. We were also looking for robins and pussy willows. It is too early to expect to see trees with leaves, though.

At the very least, we all wanted to walk on regular ground. All winter their only walks have been with me on snowshoes breaking a trail with them struggling to walk behind me. That was not a real walk, but it was definitely exercise for all of us.

We headed south toward the Flathead river. Leaving the high country behind, we got to a friend’s house where Buck and Dolly got out of the car. There was green grass in the yard and perennials starting to come up in the flower beds. Both dogs immediately rolled and clawed at the bare ground as if they were greeting an old friend. It was fun to watch. Then we loaded up and moved on to a place called Kokannie Bend where there is a nice state park right on the Flathead River.

The dogs sniffed around the tree trunks often pausing nose to nose for thirty seconds or more. I wanted to know what they had discovered as I watched them. The pussy willows weren’t quite ready, but Dolly, who is a devout water lover, got her first swim of the year in the river. She prudently stayed near the shore as the water was ripping right along with spring run-off coming soon. Bucky has a bad shoulder from an accident. He instinctively knows that water might be dangerous or he’s just not that into it. He kept busy sniffing every scent he could find.

After a while, we loaded up again and headed to the grocery store. On a vacant lot Bucky and Dolly were exploring, we suddenly spotted one poor little robin. I was not quick enough to snap a picture of it, but just seeing it was the icing on a perfect day with my dogs. The trip home was beautiful and peaceful because the weather was nice and the roads were dry.

We’re all tired and happy tonight.