Filed under: Campgrounds & RV Parks, Humor, Nature & Wildlife, Preparation & Readiness, Safety on the Road, Taking Along the Family Pet, Uncategorized
When Things Go Bump in the Night
Late Fall 2010
This is a story for the pet lovers out there. The kind who can be seen out in the pouring rain, holding an umbrella over their canine child, murmurring encouragements in baby talk, ready to swoop down and retreive the smelly remains of the day’s kibble while chanting, “Good puppy wuppy! That’s a good girl, GOOOD GIRRRLL!” It’s no wonder that non-doggy people think that we’re nuts…
It’s also a story for those of you who enjoy scary stories that can be told to the grandkids around a dark night’s campfire. Stories that could begin with: “With Mom in her kerchief and me in my cap, we had just settled down for a long winter’s nap, when all of a sudden, there came such a clatter…”
I just love that introduction. It often provides a nice segue into many of my stories, since a lot of them occur late at night. Like last night…
Maureen and I were invited to have dinner with friends at their sticks-’n-stones home just a half-hour away. Not a problem, unless you’re one of the many RV’ers who travel with their hairy children. No, not cats; they fair very well when left alone; as long as their litter box is clean and there’s kibble and water. Dogs are different. They’re often more needy.
I’m not saying that Rocky (RIP) presents a problem when left alone. He’s great: willing to sit for hours, looking out the window, becoming interested in every vehicle or person that passes by, hoping that it’s his mom and dad… whining softly… with a tear in the corner of his eye… No, wait! That’s not our Rocky. He’s just fine when left alone, as long as we don’t over-estimate the ability of his 11-year old bladder and bowel to keep things under control.
He’ll be the first to admit that, as he’s gotten older, it’s important to have regular BMs and not do anything to upset the delicate balance of input and outgo. So he doesn’t eat or drink while we’re away, at least not that we’ve been able to detect.
Well, we were having too much fun last night at the dinner party and like Cinderella, we waited too long before heading back “home.” Worried about what we might find, we unlocked and opened the door slowly; waiting for smelly evidence that Rocky hadn’t been able to hold it for 5 hours. But no! All was well, and would have remained so, if what unfolded next hadn’t occurred.
Having held off eating for all those hours, Rocky quickly said his hellos and then dove into his food bowl — at 11:30 at night. It’s amazing how fast a dog can woof down prodigious volumes of food. I’ve learned that this habit is a leftover from their prehistoric carnivore days when, not knowing when they would eat again or whether some bigger carnivore would chase them away from their dinner; they learned to eat as quickly as possible. He emptied his bowl of kibble in two seconds flat and then washed it down with a half-bowl of water. We quickly took him for a walk, but we were too late, or too early in this case. He hadn’t digested all of that food that was slowly making its way down his GI tract.
We tried to fool ourselves into believing that he would be okay until morning (we just didn’t know what time in the morning). Well, we weren’t fooling anyone; especially not Rocky, who was after all, the final arbiter for all things concerning his BMs…
At 2 AM, something went bump in the darkened trailer! Instantly awake, I glanced to my right, where I thought the noise came from. Nothing there… Then something was there…Then nothing… I wiped at my eyes, trying to see what… YOW! There it was again! And then… DAMNIT! Rocky! What are you doing? It was Rocky, jumping up and down like a pogo stick next to my bed, trying to get my attention. Jeez! Learn how to talk already!
My first thought was, “Good grief! Go back to bed!” But then it hit me: He’s trying to tell me that he has to go out! NOW!
I was up in a flash, while Maureen was still mumbling, “Whuh? Whuh? What’s going on? What time is it?”
“Rocky’s got to go! NOW!”
By the third whuh, I had him in his harness, the leash attached, a poop bag and my flashlight in hand and was going out the door.
A half-hour later, I was at the other end of the resort, sitting on a picnic table in the pitch dark, with the dog’s leash fully extended and with him just standing out there, studying the night sky and “reading” the breezes. No pooping. Not yet. Whenever I tried to return to the RV, Rocky would pull in the exact opposite direction and then just stand there. It was a Mexican Stand-off, a battle of the minds… And he was winning.
But wait! As Cesar Milan, the “Dog Whisperer,” always says, dogs can shift their attention like throwing a switch; you just have to distract them. Well, in the end, it wasn’t me that broke the stand-off.
As we were standing there on that moonless night, at opposite ends of a 20-foot leash, something let out a blood-curdling scream not 50 feet away. That was followed by a low growl and another scream, this one even closer. Both Rocky and I knew that it was probably just a couple of feral cats having a hissy-fit over whichever one had dared step into the other one’s territory, but at 2 AM, in the pitch dark, there was something unworldly about those screams. They made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. I guess they got to Rocky too, because I heard the leash rewinding into its handle one moment and then he shot by me, heading straight for home.
The little coward! Afraid of a couple of puddy tats! But then again, bobcats had been spotted in the area, hadn’t they? And those suckers can get as big as 30 pounds apiece, couldn’t they? Hmm…
Even though Rocky was running and had a head start, I blew past him like he was standing still, even considering my cane and messed up spinal cord… I can walk, err run! I’m healed!
Just ten feet from the trailer, Rocky stopped just long enough to poop. Thank God. I had gone a short while ago and didn’t have to poop, but I did need to change my shorts once I got back in the trailer… Before Maureen found out… She’d never let me live it down… I’m just kidding.
I did smell something though, as I lifted Rocky back inside. It smelled like something was burning. Looking around quickly, checking the stove, putting a hand on the microwave, I couldn’t find the problem. At least not until I checked my recliner (Which I am forced to sleep in – I’ve told you that story, haven’t I?). It was in a full upright position and my bed pillow was trapped between the top of the recliner and the 12-volt DC reading lamp over my “bed.” Which was lit… And gets very hot… OMG! A fire! I swatted the pillow away, looking for flames. Thank God, there were none, just a brown burn mark on the pillow case…
And that’s when I heard the scream. It seems that, when I smacked the pillow away from the hot light, it hit the open laptop computer sitting on the shelf behind my chair, which moved sideways, pushing the bed curtain over, which pushed on the stainless steel table leg stowed above the window behind the bed, which shoved the microwave/convection oven pan and screen and a tissue box stored above the bed off their shelf and down onto Maureen’s sleeping head.
Rocky and I covered our ears as Maureen expressed her feelings about this innocent, unavoidable accident, which I’m sure that half the park overheard. As she glared at me, I tried to do the right thing and explain what had happened, so I shrugged my shoulders and pointed at Rocky.
BTW, I didn’t tell her about the almost-fire until later the next afternoon, when she had calmed down a little… Women can get so emotional sometimes, even after almost 45 years, I still can’t figure them out.
Till next time