No doubt for many of today’s domesticated dogs the call of the wild and the soul of the wolf lies buried deep in their hearts. Right down the line from your Huskies and German Shepherds to the ferocious yapping of your average Chihuahua. But somewhere along the line an individual dog will miss out.
I have two such hounds. Siblings and rescue dogs, both with their own unique neurosis and quirks. The first inkling that they were not made of sterner stuff was the very day we bought them home. Not for them the territory-dominating process of patrolling the perimeter, marking their new territory to send word of their arrival to any other dogs in the area. No, it was straight through the front door, onto the bean bag and that’s pretty much where they stayed until a couple of years later when the bean bag was retired and their new cushioned mattress was provided.
Upon moving into our new abode with the wonderful lady of my life, a rule change meant these hell-hounds would now have to be outside dogs. Despite having the aforementioned cushioned mattress out on the covered and sheltered back deck, the first week was filled with rather pathetic looking animals sitting at the back door and whining miserably.
Why am I telling you this? Well as you may have noticed, if you’ve read any of my other stuff, I don’t mind a bit of camping. Camping is even better when you can take your four-legged companions with you and enjoy the great outdoors and see your hounds in their natural environment. I’ve managed to get my two out on two occasions so far and both outings have had mixed results.
First time was a bit over a year ago. We’d loaded Rusty, the faithful and ever-reliable (sometimes) old Landcruiser, kindly assisted the dogs to find a place to sit in among the camping equipment and headed off to Gordon Country, just the other side of Cunningham’s Gap. Upon arrival I flung open the door and stepped aside in expectation of the flurry of legs and tails of stampeding dogs as they burst forth to explore the wilderness.
What actually happened was two dogs looking out the window with expressions on their faces which could only be interpreted as “I’m not going out there.” Throughout the entire process of unloading the truck, setting up the swag and tarp, collecting firewood and lighting a fire, these two denizens of the wild sat securely in the front seats looking on and not daring to set foot on the ground.
It wasn’t until around two hours had passed and we were sitting comfortably by the fire, enjoying a coffee that they finally plucked up the courage to come and join us, although this foray was cut tragically short. From a distance of over 150 metres a cow mooed, and the fearless K9s bolted straight back to the car and gazed back at us wondering how we could be seated so calmly when death was obviously only moments away.
But to their credit, over the next couple of days they became almost relaxed in their new surroundings, although they were careful not to venture any more than a quick sprint away from their ‘safe place’. The smiling faces and wagging tails when we arrived back home as they were re-introduced to their mattress did give a hint to the fact that they never quite achieved ‘rugged bush-dog’ status though.
So it’s been over twelve months since this outing and a combination of vehicle failures and other commitments meant that the required follow up to the initial trip has been a long time coming but last weekend it happened. We were back out to Gordon Country, this time in the nice comfy Isuzu MU-X, with a bit more room for the hounds.
Upon arrival the door was thrown open and unlike last time they bounded forth with enthusiasm, until a mate’s dog had stern words with them and Misha in particular fled to the security of the open car door, where she stayed for most of the weekend.
But my mighty boy-dog, Cruza, was made of sterner stuff and came over to hang out with the crew, although if he knew what awaited him he probably would’ve preferred to join his sister. You see we were sitting nice and quietly around the fire, Cruza sitting beside me so I could casually scratch the top of his head, and all was right in his world.
Then from out of nowhere he jumped, bent down and started licking his nether regions with a savage intensity. This was followed by desperate dragging of the bum across the ground, reminiscent of the worm-drag, followed by more licking and even more enthusiastic dragging. The poor bugger had just received an ant bite directly on the freckle. And did he receive any sympathy from the heartless human bastards he was camping with? No way, we all just laughed at him while he suffered the humiliation.
Fortunately all was forgiven by the following morning and both of them were happily gallivanting around the camp as we all surfaced. It wasn’t long before Misha headed back to the car, but Cruza chose to put last night’s horrors behind him and joined us for breakfast. It has to be said though that he did manage to climb onto Agnes’ chair and was careful to keep his bum a good foot or so off the ground.
So anyway, eventually we packed up and decided to have bit of a drive around Janowen Hills prior to heading home. Again poor Cruza probably wished we’d decided differently. All was going well, the tracks weren’t difficult and apart from a few bumps it was a peaceful interlude for the two troubled hounds. So much so that they even managed to lie down and have a brief snooze.
That was until a particularly steep downhill drop came upon us, the type of drop that’s as near to vertical as you can get while still feeling reasonably comfortable. The type of drop where the seatbelt is all that’s keeping you from flying forward into the dash……..unless you’re a dog asleep in the back. It was just as the back wheels left the flat and we were at full tilt that a tan and white bundle came tumbling though the gap between the two front seats and a rather shaken and surprised looking Cruza joined us in the front. He must’ve been wondering why the Gods of Doggie Fortune had it in for him by this stage. After we’d successfully negotiated the obstacle we were less successful in negotiating with Cruza about his return to the back of the car. Eventually it came down to a rather hefty push which left him no other option.
Anyway, he’s back home now and I’m sure the memories of the weekend have faded. They will both require a few more trips out bush before they are properly comfortable with the wide open spaces. Maybe I should take their mattress with us next time………