Monday, August 11, 2014

For some must push and some must pull until we reach the valley-o!

About a month after we brought Malcolm home, our ward (church congregation) had an overnight campout. It was late May, we hadn't been camping this year yet, we really like camping, and having a dog on a camping trip just sounded like a fun thing to do. So, we signed up, bought a new and bigger tent to accommodate a third family member, bought a new foam pad, and loaded ourselves and the dog up and drove 30 minutes south to Pohick Bay.

For awhile, everything went great. Malcolm did pop off a unsecured tether and wasn't particularly good at recall yet, so we had to chase him down, but after that he enjoyed meeting new friends and we humans enjoyed roasting some hot dogs and marshmallows and visiting with our ward.

Then it was bedtime. Blake and I were tired and Mal was acting pretty tired too. We figured he would follow us into the tent, find a comfy spot, and go to sleep.

We were wrong. Instead, he followed us into the tent and immediately went a little crazy. He did lots of laps, chewed on our foam pad, whined, wept, wailed, and gnashed his teeth. It was clear he was not happy. We tried petting him and talking to him in a soothing voice. We held him and tried to calm him down. We prayed.

Nothing doing. So, at 1 AM, we broke up camp. We literally just stuffed our tent and everything else in the car, not even bothering to fold or repack, and drove home. Luckily, as previously mentioned, the drive was only about 30 minutes, we were all home and in bed by 2 AM and slept until 10 AM the next morning. That day, Malcolm was an angel, but we were still afraid we'd never go camping again.

Fast forward to this week. Malcolm has been learning even more how to behave around us and, even better, relax when he's tired. He's good at offleash recall and seems to be settling into our family much better. So I decided it was time to go camping again.  This time, we loaded his crate and blanket with our camping gear, hoping the smell and sight of something he calms down in or with would be useful in the unfamiliar tent among the sounds of the forest. We also went down to Pohick Bay again, since it would still only be 30 minutes home if everything went south again.

This time, we got off to a rough start. We left later than we wanted, the dog food didn't make it into the car, lighter fluid for our charcoal had been forgotten and not realized until the camp store had closed, and we were trying to set up camp and get food started as the sun was rapidly setting. We'd stopped at a grocery store for dog food about ten minutes before getting to our campsite, so I drove back to it for lighter fluid while Blake set up the tent. Once we got food over the coals and the tent was up, everything was back on track.

And Malcolm was a total champ. He helped Blake pitch the tent, sniffed around the campsite, and relaxed by the table while we ate and played Star Fluxx. Best of all, when it was bedtime, he went easily into the tent, straight into his crate, and promptly fell asleep. And stayed asleep, even when I disrupted everyone at 4AM for a bathroom run. (I hate going to the bathroom in the middle of the night at home, having to find shoes and a flashlight and hike to a "comfort station" in dark of night? No thank you. I was seriously considering if a burst bladder was worse than that plus maybe waking the dog and ending the whole trip.) After that, we all slept until 7 AM, which is actually sleeping in for us most days. It was glorious!
Malcolm at 11PM
Add caption

Still resting at 7AM

Pup tent!

So, after a tasty camp breakfast and campsite takedown, we celebrated our success by driving out to Bluemont, VA, for a dog days peach festival at a U-Pick farm. Basically, it was the height of peach picking and they had some dog related vendors and activities set up around the farm. Malcolm got to meet new friends, stare at goats and chickens, run an agility course (he did awesome - we'll definitely want to find more of those to do) and a confidence course, run around with some other dogs in a small off leash dog run, and even ride with us in the wagon to the peach trees and help pick. We all had a great time and got some tasty peaches, but Malcolm's favorite was probably leading a small pack of dogs into the duck pond chasing after a flock of ducks. He was wet, smelly mess after that, but we didn't mind.
A confidence course, less agility but still good for mental acuity and bonding

Mal's reaction to picking peaches

He looked pretty happy passed out in the car on the way home.

And we were pretty happy to all sleep in a real pile for an afternoon nap at home after showering off the camp smells. (Malcolm got a bath tonight.)
Naps are best in piles

This having a dog thing is going to be just fine after all.

Anyone up for camping?


Heidi said...

Oh, I'm so glad your weekend worked out! Yay Malcolm! I knew he could do it!

Giggles said...

Sounds like a lot of fun!