6/6/19 Missy’s Place, Fort Morgan, Colorado
It is, of course, always good to see my sister Missy and my brother-in-law Dave. Missy is the youngest in my family, ten years younger than I am. Missy, usually, has the most balanced perspective in the family and, possibly benefiting from watching all the mistakes her three older siblings have made, she seems to be the best put-together of all of us. Missy and Dave have done a good job, managing a successful veterinary practice here in rural Colorado, raising a family of two very bright young kids full of promise, and paving the way for what looks like a happy retirement. It is always fun to spend time with them.
But, honestly, there were other reasons we made the 350 mile trip from our home up here to the rural, conservative, home of ranchers and hay. For one thing, they live just a little more than an hour from Denver International Airport and, unlike at Albuquerque – our nearest airport – there are non-stop flights from Denver to Anchorage. Once we knew we weren’t going to drive to Alaska, an early and fairly easy decision, we also knew that it would likely be best to fly out of Denver.
But there is another reason we are here in the few days before we leave for Alaska. Unfortunately, on this trip, we are breaking up the traveling team. Our two corgis, Smooch and Fleur – Daddy’s Girls – aren’t going to be seeing Alaska with us. This is our first trip without them, actually. They have been to Key West, Florida as well as Crater Lake, Oregon, Glacier National Park in Montana, Voyageurs in Minnesota, and Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. When traveling with the trailer, part of the fun is to take them with us.
They are actually perfect travelers. When we are ready to leave, all I have to do is open the rear door of the Cruiser and say “In the Car!” And up they go without any complaint. Once in the car, they seem to fall asleep in the back seat. In fact, frequently we have to ask each other if the ‘girls are in the car’. We always walk them at lunch time and, whenever possible, we pick on-the-road restaurants with dog-friendly patios so we can bring them with us.
A lot of National Parks have serious restrictions against dogs. These are usually smaller parks with lots of visitors. I suppose that some dogs pose safety issues but since you can’t really know which ones might be a problem by looking at them, the park rules apply to all of them. Sometimes, too, it isn’t the dogs, but the owners who fail to responsibly pick up after their pets that is the major problem. No-one, including us, likes to go on a hike and step in a pile of fresh dog poop! So, frequently when visiting a park, we have to leave the dogs in the trailer, in the campground. Our dogs, at least do well in those circumstances – we have never received a complaint about my girls.
In other parks, dogs are allowed as long as they are leashed and we clean up after them. In those parks, hikes can become extra special as our girls become our version of kids. It is so much fun to watch them explore the sights, sounds, and smells of a National Park. For us, it is like watching a child learn something new and exciting.
But, as noted in another post, Alaska is a bear of a different color, and taking our pets just isn’t an option. I am fortunate that my sister and her husband, in addition to both being veterinarians, also have three dogs and a cat of their own. As pet lovers, they offered to watch Smooch and Fleur for two months while we are in Alaska. So in addition to being close to DIA, they are also our dog sitters.
What with five dogs, a cat, and four people, our arrival Tuesday was chaotic. Things are settling down now and, hopefully, we will be able to leave soon. Fleur is doing just fine, but then she always does. She knows no enemy and is so much fun to watch when she meets a new dog. I guess there have been a couple rare occasions where she doesn’t get along with another dog – actually she hates the dog across the road and raises her hackles even when she hears Merida. But generally speaking, Fleur is just thrilled to have company and loves meeting new dogs. She is truly the outgoing personality. So on arriving here she greeted the three other dogs and quickly was ready to play.
Smooch? Not so much.
Smooch is my timid girl. In addition to being shy, she is also very wary of other dogs, especially bigger ones. When Smooch came into the house, she instantly turned to look at me with pleas to, somehow, save her from all this chaos. Last night I tried to get her to go outside and she was just not having any of it. I had to extend my arms and only then did she run to me and jump up to be held. I literally had to carry her outside.
Smooch is Daddy’s girl all the way. For reasons I can’t explain, she seems to have a fixation on me. When on the sofa, she has to be right with me, or, better yet, in my lap. When on the bed, she has to literally crawl on top of me. She loves to bury her snout in my neck. And, of course, the ‘smooching’ is non-stop.
I’ve alerted Dave that Smooch is going to need some extra care from him. Maybe attention from another male human will help her get through my absence. I mean, she’s a dog, so she’s not going to suffer a nervous breakdown – at least I don’t think she will – but she is going to have some hard times being away from her Daddy.
(In case you can’t tell, I’m going to miss them too…)