Daniel and I went camping and canoeing and we decided to take my dog Milo along.
This was my last chance to go camping before flying to Paris. When I return, I’ll be packing to move to New Mexico where I’ve been hired to teach while getting my masters degree. I have never taught. I don’t know when Daniel will join me. I don’t know what my life will look like. I do know that I like to camp, especially with Daniel, so that is what we did this weekend.
Milo hasn’t done a lot of camping and doesn’t know all the rules. We started out by tying him up in the campsite but he didn’t like that. He immediately chewed himself free, first through his leash and then through a stout rope. Daniel then hit on the idea of tying him to a four-foot birch log. The log was light enough for Milo to move with difficulty, but large enough to keep him from running around the campground. I don’t know why he didn’t chew himself free of the log, but he apparently felt we had made a fair compromise and obligingly hauled the unwieldy log around behind him like a security blanket.
Then we decided to take him canoeing.
We left all valuables on shore in case the experiment did not go well and headed out onto the cold lake. Milo learned he had to lay down in the bottom of the canoe which made him a little nervous. He is a big boy and eighty pounds of shifting dog was not an option. Eventually he laid at the bottom of the canoe and rested his chin on the padded yoke, surveying the shore. Everything was fine— until we saw the moose.
She was big and right at the water’s edge. She had two good-sized calves with her and did not appear the least concerned as we floated within a few yards of her and the calves.
Daniel and I sat motionless, watching the moose and her calves eat juicy grass at the water’s edge. Milo lay at the bottom of the boat, looking idly off to the other side, oblivious. After taking a good look at us, the moose resumed eating. The calves were utterly unconcerned. Occasionally she made a soft lowing sound, exactly like a cow. It was one of these moos that finally caused Milo to glance to the other side of the canoe and see the three very large mammals just feet away.
Milo leapt to his feet, barking wildly. I flattened myself on the bottom of the canoe desperately trying to keep equilibrium. Daniel tried to reason with the panicked dog, then physically push him down in the violently rocking canoe. It occurred to me that Milo might actually jump out. Plastered in the bottom of the boat, I started to laugh.
Because I don’t know what the rules are in this tippy canoe either. Trying new things almost invariably involves alarming surprises and the real possibility of getting doused in cold water. But, like Milo, I’m learning the rules. I’m welcoming change. I’m trusting the people I love. I’m learning to compromise while getting my needs met. When things get scary, I’ve learned to sit still until the boat stops rocking.
We didn’t capsize and Milo turned out to be a good camping dog. On the final day, he chewed himself free of the birch log and lay next to it, warming his belly in the sun. He didn’t need it anymore. He was an experienced camper.
Till next time,