Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Different Camping Trip

Our annual camping vacation to Silver Lake this coming week won't be the same. No canines will be joining our extended family this time. Our dog Doogie died last November and this past week my in-laws' dog Peanut passed away too (that's Peanut in the picture above). Both had tented with us for many years in the dunes along the shores of Lake Michigan.

I can't say it was a joyous romp for either of them. Their water bowls were often flecked with dirt and bugs. They had to be leashed while we frolicked on the beach or played volleyball. They had to sit in an overly warm mini-van while we rode the dune scooter or played mini-golf.

In fact, Doogie's obvious disdain for the camping experience inspired a couple of my favorite blogs--once when he escaped our tent during an overnight thundershower, and again in the frigid air along Lake Superior when he sat in our rented passenger van and refused to come out to join the rest of us campers.

Peanut was tougher, taking whatever came in stride. His attitude inspired a blog I did on him four years ago (omi god, has it really been that long?). If dogs had human personalities, Peanut would have been a jock I wrote back then. I blogged on Peanut's favorite activity, playing soccer with the men and boys in the backyard.

But he had been in failing health this past year and was certainly past his prime so far as playing soccer. Arthritis had taken its toll, though he still could be coaxed to chase the ball in the backyard for old time's sake. His heart was into it even if his body wasn't.

Doogie and Peanut--two dogs could not have been more different. Doogie tolerated occasional petting as if he were taking medicine. Peanut loved attention and would sit for long stretches of time while I gave him a good scratch around the neck and ears. And if I stopped and let my hand drop to my side while sitting, I'd soon feel Peanut's cold nose on my palm, begging me to continue.

Peanut challenged all dogs, particularly big ones, with his alpha dog attitude. Doogie was in our words "a lover, not a fighter." Peanut had to be where the human action was, especially if outdoor games were being played. Doogie was content to be alone in the backyard, checking the smells in the bushes along the fence.

Doogie was a 'mama's dog.' Peanut probably more of a man's mutt. Doogie hated loud noises. They didn't bother Peanut. Peanut lavished kisses on Doogie every time they met. Doogie responded by turning away while growling and snapping an a very unfriendly manner, which did nothing to deter Peanut's affections.

Two dogs couldn't have been more different. Two dogs couldn't have made more of an odd couple. But this year they will be linked in a way they haven't been before. They'll both be missed.

P.S. A follow-up to last week's blog: I had wondered what the "CRP" stood for in the signs posted around Rob Reiner's shooting site for his upcoming movie Flipped. Found out that Rob Reiner's production company is Castle Rock Productions. So I'm guessing . . .


Blogger TechnoBabe said...

That was a nice way to describe two dogs who are missed and won't be attending the camping trip this year in person but will certainly be there in all your memories.

Enjoy your annual camping trip.

7:11 PM  
Blogger jan said...

Sounds like a void in your camping life that really needs to be filled after the mourning period is over.

Let's might you be able to fill it?

7:53 PM  
Blogger Lynilu said...

Isn't it peculiar what things trigger our memories? I hope your camping trip will be a time of remembering and laughing over their contributions to your previous camping trips.

8:45 PM  
Anonymous cassie-b said...

Isn't it amazing the dimension that our pets add to our lives. And I'm sure you'll miss these two - during the camping trip, and lots of other times as well.

We also miss pets that are no longer with us. I guess everyone does.

6:46 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

TECHNOBABE--My son is coming with his wife. They could bring their Boston Terrier (Terrorier), but he's going to her parents instead. I'm not sure he'd handle camping all that well.

JAN--A poodle, I'll bet you'd say. Problem with poodles is that they're smart enough to realize that there are better ways to sleep than in the dirty.

LYNILU--I'm sure there'll be some reminiscing. One thing that comes to mind is how they got their leashes so tangled while tied to the picnic table.

CASSIE--We still miss our Doogie for sure. But not enough to get another one right now.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Carine said...

I'm sorry you'll be poochless this year Dave. I know the grieving will be high-maybe you will all do a lot of heartfelt talking about this while your out in nature. I'm betting both Doogie and Peanut will be looking down on everyone and missing you as well.

6:31 PM  
Blogger CAROLDEE said...

NOTHING like the love of a pet who was so faithful for so long. Sorry for both your losses. Weather rotten sorry to say in some places this week and then some okay! Heard we get colder as the week goes on and some places will have rain every other day. Not what I know you wanted to hear. Take all your gear that is for sure! It's Mi in summmer you never know what the heck you are gonna get. : )

9:00 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

CARINE--Now that makes me sad, thinking of the two of them watching down on us while we're camping out there. Guess you have to mourn for your lost loved ones though.

CAROLDEE--I'm up early before we go today to check the weather out there. You're right, that's not what I wanted to hear. Now I'm thinking of taking my rain gear.

3:33 AM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

I have never taken a pet with me on vacation....I guess I am too selfish to take then along.....They are cared for at home and I guess they have their own little vacation from

You did a great job of describing the two pets....One very social and the other not so social..I know that you will miss their presence on your camping trip this year....

5:07 AM  
Blogger amarkonmywall said...

Well, it's always incredibly sad when pets die-the shared love is so uncomplicated and unconditional. I'm sorry for the family that both these fine canines will be MIA for this year's camping trip. That being said, there was clearly one other big difference between them. With Doogie you could tell the front end from the back...

We had fun when they were filming Public Enemies the next block over in Chicago. And then there was the time your neighbor was filming Moonlight in Escanaba and they wanted to borrow my vintage Airstream. Movie making is exciting when it's in your own neck of the woods.

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Maria said...

Words are so important and so are family stories. You have made all your readers a part of these dogs lives by your words and stories. I do believe that the two of them are waiting for family at the Rainbow Bridge. But I think they have a contract ready that says, "No more tenting trips. . . not even heavenly ones.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

LUCY--My in-laws saw a dog walking in the campground--we're back home now--that very much resembled Peanut. They went out today to see if they could buy another Peek-a-poo too (Peanut's breed).

VICKIE--We called Peanut the wooly bear. No matter how short his hair was cut, he always looked, well, so full.

MARIE--My wife's ready to ditch the tents too already. It didn't help that our tent was the smallest in the campground either, at least among those that we saw.

3:16 PM  

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