We are back from our three week road trip from Oregon to Wisconsin and back. Because a 33 hour road trip wasn’t crazy enough, 8 hours in we picked up our puppy, Hinter. Multiple people, including our vet, suggested perhaps we should pick the puppy up on the way back. They were worried about a puppy keeping us up at night, and all of the potty stops and the threat of contracting Parvo by taking an unvaccinated puppy across country and stopping at all sorts of public spots. But, as I’m sure you guessed, we didn’t listen. And I wouldn’t change a thing. Our puppy never made a peep the first night on the road and slept 7 hours overnight, curling up next to me in our tent. He never cried for his mom at all. He bonded to us instantly. We learned camping with a puppy is the best way to work on potty training. It’s certainly easier than having a puppy in a house and constantly heading outside and waiting around for him to do his business.
At just 8 weeks old our puppy traveled through 7 states. (The eighth state in the road trip was Washington, which we had already gone through by the time we picked him up in Idaho). We took Hinter into the chapel of a shrine, a Shopko, and the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. Puppies can go anywhere. People don’t kick a puppy out, they just smile and ask if they can pet it. Which Hinter gladly obliged. He loves meeting people. In Casper, Wyoming he took a spin through Lou Taubert’s Ranch Outfitters. In Western Wyoming he watched as the Grand Teton’s came into view, he even saw his first moose. He was the reason I got to hear a bull elk bugling down the mountain at 5:30 in the morning under a pink-tinted sky. Left to my own devices, I still would have been snuggled in bed instead of outside on a bathroom run.
We are hopeful that Hinter can be used for therapy. He seems to have the affection for people and is quickly learning his manners. Connor had the affection for people, but had poor manners. Shelby is incredibly obedient and could have passed the test with flying colors. The only problem is that she doesn’t care for affection. Her idea of affection is a drive-by licking while you’re napping, waking you up in the process and making sure you’re still alive. Then as quick as she descended on your face she’s gone. She doesn’t want many pets, just treats and for someone to throw a ball. Nope, not a therapy dog at all in that one.
But Hinter shows great promise. He is wickedly smart but mellow for a Shepherd. Even if we never get him to the point of therapy, I think he might already working magic on my heart. You see, I had a pretty hard time after Connor’s death. Nothing I realized, just a listlessness. You can see it in my blog posts. It took me months to write something funny. Even the number of blog posts suffered. Right now I am strapped for time with waking up overnight for potty breaks, getting up early with him, then driving him to my mom’s for doggy daycare. The evening is consumed with rushing from horse care, to dog walking, to puppy training. By the time I sit down it’s usually after 8 O’clock. And yet, the writing is coming a little easier. The valve has been opened a little wider. I don’t want to jinx it, don’t want to scare it off, but puppy joy seems to be an antidote to writers block.
One last shot from the road, not a puppy photo but a shot of rain moving off the mountains as we were driving south toward Jackson Hole. I love the misty wonder of this photo. Driving 4000 miles is hard work, but seeing the vastness of our country, the beauty in the changing scenery and the cultures from place to place makes me appreciate our wonderful country.