Buddy – A Journey in Sprit

The pages of this blog are full of travel tales from the lives we’ve lived on the road, at sea and abroad, but there are other kinds of journeys and adventures in life that don’t involve an RV, a sailboat or an airplane. This story is more profound than any we’ve shared with you in the past, and it has impacted our lives in the deepest ways imaginable.

Buddy - A Journey in Spirit

Our neighborhood has been inundated with mice and pack rats, and every neighbor keeps the hoods of their vehicles wide open in hopes of deterring these rodents from setting up housekeeping in the engine compartment. Not one neighbor has been spared from repairing the wiring in their car, truck or RV engine. And now, neither have we.

Rumor has it that the wire shielding is made with peanut oil which rodents love. Whether or not that’s true, in the space of a month, part of our truck engine’s main wiring harness was gnawed right through on two separate occasions. Of course, they chewed the wire to the nub, so it was nearly impossible to make the repaired connections hold. To make matters worse, the damaged part of the wiring harness was located beneath the fuse box in a spot that is extremely difficult to reach. Installing a new wiring harness would cost somewhere around $2,000, but by sheer determination and tenacity, Mark was able to make a successful repair.

Puppy at Glen Canyon

After all this, Mark was beside himself with frustration because the source of the problem was still out there. Over the course of a year he had purchased every rat deterrent and trap he could find, and in the process he’d disproven most of the old wives tales about the effectiveness of things like dryer sheets, Ivory soap and strobe lights that blink all night long. Each morning, many of his 20 or so peanut butter baited traps around the truck and the house would be tripped—and empty, licked clean and surrounded by fresh rodent droppings.

In a fit of pique, he bought some rat poison and put it under the truck. That would stop them, for sure!

The next day we took the truck to town and when we returned we parked it in different spot, our minds elsewhere. About 20 minutes later I noticed a green block on Buddy’s mat on the patio that looked like a dog treat. “What’s this?” I asked, holding it up for Mark to see. His eyes were saucers and his jaw dropped. “That’s the rat poison! What’s it doing there?!”

Buddy was bouncing around chasing lizards nearby.

Pup bouncing around

The poison stick appeared uneaten and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Then I caught sight of a second one. A quarter of it had been chewed. My heart stopped.

The chew marks looked rodent-like, but how had these things gotten on the back patio? Mark had put them under the truck on the other side of the house!

As we scrambled to try and piece together what might have happened in the last 30 minutes, Buddy continued trotting around, tail high and spirits higher.

I immediately called Tomcat, the manufacturer of the poison. Their poison hotline told me that if a 25 lb. dog ate just 1/4 of a brick of the poison — bromethalin — it wouldn’t be a lethal dose. Phew!!

At that moment Mark came barreling into the house, his eyes wild. “The kit came with 8 bricks and I can find only 7, including the one that was chewed. I’ve looked everywhere and I can’t find that 8th brick”

As he ran outside again to continue searching for the missing brick, I called Tomcat back. The formerly calm and friendly gentleman at their poison info line had a sudden seriousness and urgency in his voice as he told me that a full brick and a quarter was a lethal dose and Buddy needed to go to the hospital immediately. He needed to be given activated charcoal to absorb as much of the poison as possible ASAP. He gave me a case number for the veterinarian to reference.

My world keeled over and crashed as I heard these words.

Buddy walked in and looked at me with a puzzled expression as if to say, “Why all the intense emotions around here all of a sudden?”

I called our veterinarian and his assistant urgently told us to get to the emergency animal hospital that’s nearly an hour away as fast as possible. “You need to go right now!” his assistant said, “but first induce vomiting by spraying hydrogen peroxide in his mouth.”

Mark did that and Buddy promptly threw up some very pale green phlegm. Our hearts sank. There was no doubt now that he had ingested the poison.

Puppy at sunset

We grabbed Buddy and drove like wildfire to the emergency animal hospital.

Murphy, of Murphy’s Law, was working overtime, though, and we arrived at the hospital right in the middle of a huge rush. One dog had heart failure on both sides of his heart, and another dog had swallowed something he shouldn’t have, and other crisis cases kept pouring in. We got in line.

I was less than patient waiting there, and I complained bitterly to anyone who would listen. The wonderful receptionist, Anne, and the lead veterinary technician, Angela, kindly listened to my complaints and apologized for the delay.

After an hour or more, Buddy was finally taken into the triage room.

He was bright eyed and bushy tailed and looked at us pleadingly as the vet techs took him away. Unfortunately, the team of doctors and nurses on duty was so busy it took another hour or so before they could administer the activated charcoal. Another hour after that he was finally brought out to us.

We learned that he’d thrown most of the charcoal back up. He had charcoal on his paws and his hips even though he’d been cleaned up.

Worse, he was totally panic stricken and his eyes were wild.

We looked at each other in shock. This was not the same dog we had handed over to them two hours before.

Beautiful patriotic dog

We whisked him away from the stress and trauma of the animal hospital towards home, and then decided to stop at a park near the hospital so he could stretch his legs and relax and start to regain his good spirits.

I put him down on the ground next to the car and he promptly laid down and wouldn’t get up.

Hmmm. I carried him to a quieter shady spot under a tree nearby and set him down again. He collapsed and wouldn’t budge.

Something was very wrong. Was it the trauma in the hospital or the charcoal and its after effects? Or was the poison beginning to take effect?

The veterinarian had told us that this particular poison causes brain swelling and seizures and if a dog has a seizure there’s no hope. He’s done. She had seen dogs die on the operating table.

There’s no antidote for bromethalin.

Puppy by the shore

I called the hospital, my voice shaking, and they said to return immediately.

As we drove, Buddy suddenly became a whole different animal in my arms. He was terrified. Not scared like I’ve seen him scared of things. He was constantly squirming in my arms now. His breath was shallow, his mouth agape, teeth showing, and his eyes were wide with terror.

He pinned his ears back and he strained to get out of my arms. His expression was like nothing I’ve ever seen. He wanted out of my arms and out of his body. Now!

His whole muzzle began shaking uncontrollably while I hugged him and consoled him and Mark drove 90 mph back to the hospital.

Puppy in a police car

The vet techs ran to us as we walked in the door and they whisked Buddy away into the triage room.

For the next hour Mark and I alternated clinging to each other and pacing the floor. At one point we heard barks, howls and wails coming from the emergency room that sounded like Buddy’s voice.

We were both beside ourselves. Mark was in tears and I couldn’t stop pacing and incessantly drinking water from the waiting room fridge as I tried to get rid of my dry mouth and panic.

Just a few hours earlier we had gone for a short hike with Buddy on one of his favorite trails. He’d been as charming as ever, trotting along ahead of us with his dear puppy prance, his whole sweet little body overflowing with joy at being alive.

Leaping for joy

The lead daytime veterinarian, Dr. Frost, finally came out of the emergency room and took us into a quiet room for a consultation. Her face was ashen as she leaned towards us to speak. “Buddy just had a grand mal seizure.”

I gasped and couldn’t breathe.

“I hate to be blunt, but I have to be honest with you.” She went on. “His situation is very grave. And you are going to have to make some very difficult decisions. If you want to continue, he needs the highest level of care that we offer. It costs about $5,000 a day.”

Mark broke down and put his head in his hands. “I can’t live without Buddy. If something happens to him, I don’t want to live.”

Dr. Frost rushed over to him and put her hands on his shoulders and looked him deep in the eyes. “Don’t say that!”

Puppy helps out with a photo shoot

We were all quiet for a moment and then someone appeared at my side while Dr. Frost slipped back into the triage room. The person was holding a formal quote for ICU care for the next 12 to 48 hours. The range was $6,000 to $18,000.

I glanced at the quote and the numbers didn’t even register in my mind. They didn’t matter. All that mattered right now was getting Buddy and our happy lives back to how they had been five hours before.

Beloved pink rope

Images of Buddy flitted through my mind: our happy-go-lucky little friend trotting around with his tail held high, and our dear cuddly pup playing under the blankets in bed.

Puppy on the rocks at dawn

Big puppy stretch

He was our sweet kindred spirit who loved adventure as much as we did. He would come alive when we were out exploring new trails.

Puppy on the hiking trail

Puppy dog running in the snow

I closed my eyes and vowed, “Buddy is fine. He’s fine.” He had to be. Come hell or high water, he had to make it. There was no other possible outcome, no other option. There was no other future for us except with Buddy living out his full life in our little family.

Mark sat on a bench with his head in his hands for a long time. The receptionist, Anne, came over to him and said quietly, “We can bring in a grief counselor for you…” He looked up, his face in agony, and said no, that wasn’t necessary.

Puppy love

I couldn’t stop pacing up and down the waiting room halls and drinking water.

Time stopped.

People were waiting patiently on the benches around the room, dogs and cats in their laps or at their feet, but I barely saw them.

Someone suddenly appeared asking for a credit card so we could make a preliminary payment of $7,800. That would cover Buddy’s care until 6 pm the next day. We gave him the card without a moment’s hesitation. We could sell things once we got home, if it came to that.

I went outside and paced all over the parking lot, out across a grassy field and around a distant building. I was half out of my mind, like a maniac, but I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t sit still.

Puppy plays with a slipper

With all my heart, I wanted to beg God for a miracle right now. With every fiber of my soul I wanted to plead with God to save our beloved little friend.

But I knew deep inside that that wasn’t the right approach.

I’ve done a lot of reading about divine healing over the past few years, and we experienced a miracle healing ourselves a while back.

I’d learned that healers who seek divine intervention don’t beg for assistance. They command that the healing take place and they believe deep in their hearts that the healing has been completed successfully already. They even speak of it that way, as a done deal.

I kept repeating to myself — silently and then out loud once I was out of earshot — that Buddy was healed, as if it had already happened. I thanked God profusely for Buddy’s full recovery and for gifting the doctors and nurses with healing hands.

I visualized the whole hospital staff being astonished and overjoyed by Buddy’s recovery.

I imagined the scene of the veterinarian and vet techs glowing with wonder and happiness that Buddy was fully healed.

In the doghouse outhouse

As soon as I’d finish saying and visualizing those things, I’d do it again.

Sometimes I’d phrase it a different way, but each time was like a vivid, forceful statement that had the full impact of all my ragged, intense and frazzled emotions behind it.

I went back in the waiting room and Dr. Frost came out to speak to us again. “I know how much you love your dog,” she said. “I want to make sure that if Buddy needs CPR you want us to do it.”

Of course!!

Modeling in the director's chair

She went on to explain that right now Buddy needed medication to reduce the brain swelling caused by the poison, but they couldn’t administer those meds until the seizures stopped.

So, they were putting him in a medically induced coma to force the seizures to stop.

Once the seizures ceased, they were planning to give him the anti-brain swelling medication. Eventually, if he survived, they could bring him out of the coma. It might take a few days or a week.

The big hope was that if he made it to the point of regaining consciousness, the seizures wouldn’t resume.

Pup in the wildflowers

Dr. Frost sighed and looked me intently. “There’s not much you can do right now.” She said. “But you can pray.”

“Oh, we have been!” I said. “Nonstop!”

I had asked our friends to pray for Buddy, and Mark’s daughter put out a request for prayers on Facebook. The response was overwhelming. Many shed tears when they heard what was going on and ardently prayed with us for a miracle.

Best Friends Forever

Puppy makes friends big and small

Best friends forever

We realized that this was all going to take a while, so we decided to go home and get our truck camper and stay in the hospital parking lot overnight.

We were silent on the drive home.

Mark wanted to apologize and felt the deepest guilt, but I wouldn’t hear it for a second. Our only way was forward.

Any second guessing, guilty feelings, or wishing we’d done things differently were useless at this point. Every ounce of our energy had to go towards manifesting a 100% recovery, with vehemence. With exuberance!

Family portrait with the truck camper

I don’t even remember the drive back to the hospital with the camper. By then it was dark. We parked right around the corner from the front door of the hospital and quickly went inside. For a split second I worried we’d be greeted with bad news, but I banished that thought as soon as it came.

As I fought all negativity out of my mind and opened the door, the evening receptionist looked up with a big smile and said, “He’s doing well!”

Owners aren’t usually allowed into the triage room, but she said we might be able to go in late at night if things got quiet. So, we went out to the camper to wait. A few hours later it was quiet again and we were allowed to see him.

I have never been in an ICU before. The scene was straight out of a TV show or movie.

Puppy portrait black and white

Buddy was lying on his stomach, his front paws on either side of his head. He was intubated with a tube that went all the way down to his lungs. His long tongue was hanging out of his mouth on the table, totally limp.

He had a catheter for urine, an IV inserted into one leg, an automated blood pressure cuff on one paw and something inserted into his abdomen, and his fur had been shaved to accommodate all these things. Wires and tubes went from his tiny little body to display monitors next to the operating table, to an IV bag on a hook and to a urine bag on the floor.

His eyes were covered with a blindfold and ear buds had been placed deep in his ears to block out all the lights and noise of this busy room.

Puppy covers his eyes

But his sweet little ears were still recognizable amid all that technology. I leaned over the back of his neck, nuzzled my face into his familiar warm fur and talked to him.

I told him how much we loved him and how God was bringing him a miracle. How he was going to be cured and made healthy again.

I couldn’t stop talking to him. It was a stream of consciousness of constant encouragement.

Two of the graphs on the monitors were going haywire the whole time. His heart rate and blood pressure were steady (and not far different than ours would have been), but his breathing and some other waveform were totally erratic. They spiked all over the place and then would stop.

“Is he flatlining?” I asked at one point in a panic. Then the graph started spiking again.

As I spoke to him, he suddenly made a gagging noise on the tube in his throat. It seemed that he was responding to what I was saying to him.

Then he let out a very familiar big sigh that always signals his total contentment. I think he was grateful we were with him.

Puppy sleeping

Dr. Frost came around to talk to us. I straightened up from having my head buried in Buddy’s neck and without even thinking about what I was saying, I blurted out, “We’re expecting a miracle. We’ve seen miracles happen. And we’re going to witness a miracle here.”

She nodded and looked at me with the saddest expression in her eyes. Her heart was breaking for us.

“I think everything in life happens for a reason,” I went on. “And I think there’s a silver lining in every cloud. Sometimes it takes many years to see it, but when something terrible happens, it’s making way for something new and wonderful to happen later. Even a tragedy like this happens for a reason.”

I petted Buddy’s soft fur as I marveled at what I’d just said and wondered where it had come from.

“Not many people would feel that way, especially at a time like this,” she said quietly.

“I think talking to him helps,” I went on. “People have come out of surgery and they remember what the surgeons were saying.”

She nodded but looked so sad.

I finally stepped back and let Mark have a turn whispering in Buddy’s ear.

Mark talked to him about hiking and going on RZR rides and chomping on his bully stick, and suddenly his breathing increased and he gagged on the tube again.

Buddy with the RZR

Oh my! He was definitely responding and knew we were there.

In the ICU there was a vet tech stationed by his head every minute of every hour. They worked in shifts, and the first was Emma, a young woman with a warm smile.

She had a clipboard in her lap and was taking notes as she monitored the machines.

Occasionally, she swabbed his closed eyes with artificial tears and moistened his dry tongue.

He was on a dozen different medications, so she was continually swapping out the IV bag with different meds on a strict schedule. Electrolytes and fluids were added into the mix to keep him going.

I couldn’t believe what was happening. We each took turns talking to him some more, but we didn’t want to excite him or disturb him too much, so we gave him some gentle hugs and made our way out.

Chatting with a puppy dog on a hike

We went back to the truck camper and for two hours we lay side by side, wide awake in the dark, staring at the ceiling. Then we couldn’t wait any longer. We went back into the hospital to see if we could visit him again — and they let us right in. It was now after midnight.

This time we were prepared for seeing him wired up.

He was on his side now with a blanket over him. He looked much more comfortable.

Sleeping puppy

All of his graphs had stabilized. The crazy spikes and flatlines were gone now, replaced by steady patterns up and down. Most important, he’d finally become stable enough to receive the anti-brain swelling medication too.

We were overcome with relief. We hugged him tight, closed our eyes and whispered thank you a dozen times into his thick, warm fur.

After straightening up and wiping our eyes, the overnight veterinarian came over to us and took us aside.

“This all looks good, but I have to be frank with you. His situation is very grave. I don’t mean to be harsh, but we don’t know what will happen when we bring him out of the coma. The seizures might resume. He might not be able to lift his head. He might not be able to stand up. He might be deaf, or he might be blind. We just don’t know. He may require intensive care for another few days or for a week or more.”

Buddy bundled up on a recliner

I heard her words but couldn’t let them sink in. For a few seconds I pondered how I would help him learn to walk again if need be, but I rejected that thought too before it could take root. I was certain we were going to see a 100% recovery and nothing less.

Yet deep inside I knew exactly what the veterinarian was saying.

Years ago, a special friend had developed a malignant brain tumor, and its rapid development and treatment left her changed forever. Her once beautifully athletic body couldn’t move fluidly any more and her once robust and expansive personality became more withdrawn, quirky and detached.

For all of us, good health is not only precious but it is often fleeting as well.

Buddy watches the sunset

We returned to the camper and lay wide awake staring at the ceiling for a few more hours.

When we spoke, it was only to talk about how much we loved Buddy, reminding each other of his many special little traits that we cherish.

He is a unique dog, incredibly smart and surprisingly fastidious, and he has a gentle, respectful temperament.

We nodded off for a short spell to internal lullabies of nonstop prayers.

Around 5 a.m. we ventured back into the hospital and were invited into the triage room again.

This time Buddy was lying under a thick pile of blankets. The vet tech at his bedside explained that his temperature had dropped to 98 (normal is 101 to 102.5) and that they had heated up the table he was on and added blankets to keep him warm.

Pup Bundled up on a blanket

We each talked to him again, and as we nuzzled him we thanked God over and over for giving Buddy a total 100% recovery, cementing our own certainty that he would indeed recover as we gave thanks.

We were calmer now and the air in the room was calmer too, although his temperature drop was unnerving.

He was now the only urgent care animal lying on an operating table in the center of the room.

The walls of the room were lined with kennels that were full of dogs and cats resting, and they each had a front row seat to all the action. Some were snoozing, but some were awake and taking it all in. One puppy kept crying.

By the time we came out of the hospital, morning was dawning.

Pause in the Buddy trail for Sunrise-4

The evening before we had rushed home and grabbed the camper in a hurry, thinking no further than sleeping in it for the night. We had no food or anything else with us!

So, we drove back home to get some food, fill the camper with water for showers, and get set up to stay next to the hospital for as long as necessary.

When we got home, a flood of emotions hit us.

The footprints of Buddy’s spirit were all over the house and in every corner of the yard.

He is as important in our little family of three as the two of us are, and the thought that we might lose him forever suddenly hit us full force.

I thought about the sad couple we had seen leaving the animal hospital the previous morning when we’d first pulled up. They were carrying a collar and a leash but no dog, and they were crying.

I kept trying to push those kinds of thoughts out of my mind as best I could so I could keep functioning and gather what we needed from the fridge and pantry, but Mark was overcome.

Puppy in the water

Buddy has a favorite place to rest in each room and all the blankets and cuddly spots were still just as he’d left them.

His favorite toys were in the living room, and his water bowl was on the floor where it had been since before this nightmare struck.

His favorite kibble was in the pantry, his jackets and dog brush were in their drawer, and his favorite homemade chicken soup that I’d just cooked the day before disaster struck was still in the fridge, untouched.

There was no way we could come home from the hospital after this with just his leash and harness.

We finally got back to the hospital with the fully stocked camper, including the fresh chicken soup, around 9 in the morning and when we went in the hospital door we were greeted with wonderful smiles.

“He’s doing well!”

We breathed a massive sigh of relief.

We went in to see him and were astonished that his eyes were open.

Puppy relaxing

The team had begun reducing the coma-inducing meds (a 12 hour process), and he was out of the deepest stages of unconsciousness, although he was not fully conscious yet.

To everyone’s astonishment, the seizures hadn’t resumed.

We hugged him and felt a huge wave of happiness wash the stress away as we excitedly talked to him and fought back tears.

Puppy portrait, resting

Thankfully, the tube going to his lungs had been removed, so his tongue was now back in his mouth.

But a tiny pair of oxygen tubes now went around his head to his nostrils and he was still wired up with the automated blood pressure cuff, the IV, the urine catheter and other plugins.

The lead vet tech, Angela, was at his side now, and it turned out she was the mother of the young vet tech Emma who’d cared for him the previous afternoon.

Angela was overjoyed to see Buddy’s incredible recovery so far, but I noticed her eyes were red-rimmed and she looked tired. She said she hadn’t slept much the night before because she had been worrying about Buddy. She’d stayed on duty at the hospital for 4 extra hours the previous evening to make sure Buddy was receiving the best care possible before she went home.

She had just lost her own beloved, healthy six year old dog a month earlier to an unexpected and sudden 48 hour battle with meningitis. She knew our pain and fear too well.

She said when she woke up this morning, the first thing she did was get online to check on Buddy’s condition. She was so relieved that he was still alive.

Fast puppy in the snow

As we chatted, things began to get busy in the ER again. More sick and injured animals began to arrive.

When two vet techs ran past us pushing a gurney at full speed into the waiting room discussing lacerations and leg injuries as they ran, we knew it was time for us to go back to the camper.

We’d only been in the camper for an hour or so when we heard a knock on the door. It was the early shift veterinarian, Dr. Jackson, and she had the biggest grin on her face. “He’s fully awake!”

We lept out of the camper and ran into the triage room, and there was Buddy relaxing on the operating table looking at us.

His eyes were fully open, his head was erect, and his ears were as perky and as expressive as ever.

We melted on the spot and wrapped our arms around him in huge hugs and kisses.

Dog in the grass

“It’s so wonderful to have you back,” we kept saying into his fur as we hugged him. “Thank you, God!”

His eyes moved slowly around the room as he watched the action going on and we realized he hadn’t lost his vision.

Suddenly, there was a loud bang at the other end of the room and he turned his head to look in that direction. Oh my, he could hear!

I closed my eyes and kept repeating, “thank you thank you thank you” deep in my heart.

Dr. Frost was on duty again and she came over with a radiant smile on her face. Then I realized that everyone in the ER was grinning from ear to ear and was over-the-top happy for us.

Jumping and running puppy

After this first rush of joy I looked down on the ground and noticed that Buddy’s urine bag was a dark shade of brown, almost black.

I didn’t want to think about what that might mean, but Angela explained it was probably due to dead muscle cells being flushed out of his body. Apparently, when you have violent seizures it is extremely hard on the body and your muscle tissue breaks down rapidly.

Not only had he had the grand mal seizure — where his entire body was convulsing — but the seizures had gone on for a long time. They had started when we were in the car at the park and his muzzle had started shaking uncontrollably.

Angela also explained that Buddy had developed pneumonia in his lungs and they were monitoring that.

We went back to the camper for another hour or so and then returned for another visit. Activity in the triage room had surged again, so we couldn’t see Buddy that time, but a few hours later we were allowed in.

He looked up at us from the operating table with the sweetest expression on his face.

Adorable puppy

We brought him a small bowl of my fresh chicken soup, and once we got the okay, we held it out and he lapped it up with gusto. He was hungry!

Please, sir, may I have some more?

We were thrilled to see that he could now push himself up on his front legs but we noticed that his back legs weren’t working at all.

We were also disturbed that his urine bag was still the color of espresso, so we refocused our prayers on restoring all the strength and agility he’d always had in his hind legs and healing all of his organs inside.

Leaping in the grass

A few hours later we went in for another visit and before we entered the triage room, the receptionist, Anne, greeted us saying, “Did you know that an anonymous person paid $100 towards your bill?”

We were shocked.

It turned out that a couple had seen us at our lowest moments the day before, and they’d asked if they could contribute towards our vet bill anonymously. We were blown away by their unexpected kindness.

Puppy dog checks out a trailer in Utah

Then she told us that Buddy had graduated from being on the operating table to resting in a kennel on the floor.

When he saw us come around the corner to his kennel, he gave the tiniest thump of the tip of his tail on the floor.

He still couldn’t get up on his hind legs, but we hung onto the hope that his mini tail wag meant his hind end was healing and he would soon be able to stand up on all fours once again.

After nuzzling and talking to him for a while and giving him a few more slurps of chicken soup, we each stripped off a piece of clothing that had our scent on it and left it in his kennel with him and then we ran out to the camper and got a squeaky toy he’d had since he was a puppy.

He snuggled up in the shirts and put a paw over his lamb chop toy and closed his eyes as we tip-toed out of the room to let him sleep.

With his favorite toy lambchop

Out in the parking lot we noticed a mobile food van had parked next to our camper.

The owners of the hospital had hired the food truck to provide a free lunch and dinner to the hospital staff in appreciation of all their hard work over the last few months.

People in scrubs lined up at the food truck window all afternoon.

Puppy dog at the drive-through window

During a lull at the window, we started chatting with the husband and wife team that run the truck. Their little dog was lying patiently under a tree nearby.

In a back corner of the truck we’d noticed the words “We believe” painted next to a small cross.

We told them Buddy’s story, of the prayers, the visualizations and the stunningly deep conviction we’d both had that he would recover.

After exchanging some emotional hugs, they told us how their little pup had barely survived a pit bull attack a few months earlier. The good hospital staff at this very hospital had patched him back together again.

They insisted on giving us a free meal, and we felt truly jubilant as we sat down to eat. It was as if the world around us were glowing.

Buddy at sunset

Late that afternoon we came in to find Buddy happily sitting up and looking around the room from inside his kennel.

After another small serving of my chicken soup, we picked him up and cuddled him for a while and then set him down on the floor to see if he could stand.

He stood stock still on all four paws, without collapsing, and a collective sigh of relief and excitement swept the room. He took a few steps and cautiously wagged his tail. Hallelujah!

Several people stopped what they were doing to come over and talk to him, scratch his ears and kiss his forehead and congratulate him.

Puppy in Wyoming

After holding him and talking to him for a while, we put him back in the kennel and closed the wire door.

He put his paw up on the grate in the door and looked at us pleadingly as we left the room. Our hearts melted as we promised him we’d be back soon.

After the evening shift change of doctors and nurses was completed, we went into the hospital again and asked if we could take Buddy for a short walk. It felt so good to put his little harness on him and get him set for a brief outing.

We walked with him into the waiting room and then he led us outside.

He made his way behind a small bush to do his business. This was the first time he’d gone in two days. His poop was rock sold black charcoal. Literally, it was rock.

He sniffed around for a few minutes but then turned around and headed right back to the hospital door and waited for us to open it.

Then he led us over to the door of the triage room, and once inside the room, he led us over to his kennel.

He was ready for a nap, and this was where he planned to take it.

Beautiful pup

If that isn’t a testament to he quality of care he was receiving, I don’t know what could be. I’ve never known an animal that wanted to go into the vet’s office and that tugged on his leash to pull you in that direction!

But he was happy in his kennel and it was home to him for now and we knew he was in great hands.

We took off his harness and watched him get wired back up to the IV and catheters for another dose of meds.

Only days later did we realize that by visiting him and feeding him our own homemade soup, we were throwing their carefully timed medication and feeding schedule for a loop!

Dog in the snow

As we settled into bed in the camper that night, we felt awestruck and overwhelmed by the day’s events.

Without a doubt, we had just witnessed a miracle.

I had prayed that God’s hand would reach down and cradle Buddy to give him strength and help him recover, and it had happened.

However, there was still a long way to go.

The veterinary staff was worried about the condition of his liver and the coffee color of his urine, not to mention the pneumonia that still infected his lungs.

But he had come out of the coma without any visible brain damage and he was still the same sweet little personality he had always been.

Puppy under a rainbow

We visited again briefly around around midnight. We had to ring the doorbell to get in, but patients are admitted all night long and the nighttime staff was wide awake and ready for action. At the moment, though, things were quiet, and we had a chance to talk to the crew a little. What a dedicated group they are!

We also noticed the sign on Buddy’s kennel: “Severe toxicity (bromethalin).”

Next to that, the pre-printed letters CPR were circled and the letters DNR were crossed out.

A shudder went down my spine as I thought, “DNR – Do Not Resuscitate.” I remembered answering Dr. Frost’s question about whether they should administer CPR if Buddy needed it. It hadn’t dawned on me, though, that it was an either/or question and that the alternative to CPR was DNR.

Puppy on a bridge

We managed to sleep deeply for a few hours for the first time in two days, and at the crack of dawn we lept out of bed to see Buddy. He was in fine spirits.

“We’ve all been taking turns cuddling him,” one of the nurses told me. It showed.

He was as happy and well adjusted as is possible for being sick in a kennel in the middle of an emergency room, attached to a urine bag and an IV bag, and surrounded by antiseptic smells and a menagerie of dogs and cats in various stages of recovery.

Dog on the beach at Lake Powell Arizona

A few hours later we took Buddy outside for a longer walk.

We meandered down sidewalks and he sniffed the bushes and left messages for other dogs.

We realized it was such a privilege to be able to do this simple activity with our beloved pup.

He acted as though nothing had ever happened, yet we’d just had our lives turned upside down!

He was tired after about 20 minutes of walking and was happy to get back to his kennel for some rest.

Puppy at an RV window

By noontime, his urine bag began to be more yellow and less brown. Dr. Jackson was on duty, and she suddenly announced that he could be released from the hospital later that afternoon. We wanted to leap for joy!

But we weren’t about to rush home. We planned to stay in the parking lot for an extra 24 hours so we could monitor him and be right at the hospital if he suddenly took a turn for the worse.

Later that morning we took him into the truck camper for an hour of quiet togetherness.

He was excited to be in the camper and he made himself at home on the bed as he always does, master and commander of our tiny rolling home from his perch among the pillows in the middle of the bed.

Puppy resting in a truck camper

We all took a nap together, utterly elated to be able to do that as a little family once again.

At long last the hour came that Buddy’s catheter and other plugins were removed and he was completely disconnected from everything. He was a free dog now and was ready to go home.

Out in the waiting room I held him in my lap as a vet tech reviewed the four pages of single spaced typed documents that outlined the various treatments he had received.

He’d been administered well over a dozen different medications in varying doses throughout the day and night for three days.

I gulped when I realized he was being discharged into our care while still on 10 different medications!

Puppy dog on the trail by a lake

The vet tech explained each medication, what it was for, how much to give, the frequency, the duration, and whether it went with food or not.

I was dizzy listening and had her repeat several things that mystified me the first time around.

“And make sure he gets lots of rest,” she said. “He needs to be a Couch Potato,” she said firmly.

His total bill came to $12,643.

On a hike in Utah

Mark’s very kind and loving sister who couldn’t afford to do so had secretly called the hospital and paid $1,000 of our bill.

We hadn’t even talked to her or cried with her, but she had been riding the terrifying roller coaster ride with us in spirit throughout the ordeal as Mark’s daughter shared Buddy’s updates on Facebook.

The kindness from everyone was overwhelming, and we pondered it all as we quietly took walks together, read and rested together in and out of the truck camper next to the hospital over the next 24 hours.

At last, we felt confident that Buddy was going to be okay and we went into the hospital one final time to say goodbye.

We were astonished when we went inside to see the whole staff casually chatting with each other. For the first time in three days there were no crisis cases on the operating table or lines of animals and people out in the waiting room.

Every member of the staff took a moment to say goodbye to Buddy and to reiterate to us how surprised and happy they were that he’d survived.

Puppy at Bryce

The only person busy with a patient was Dr. Frost, so we wandered outside to wait until she was free.

Suddenly she came running out of the hospital, arms flung wide for hugs, a huge smile on her face.

“In 31 years of practice, I never thought I would learn anything new,” she said to us. “But I learned a few things from Buddy. His case was the most rewarding case of my career.”

We were speechless. We had all learned a few things!

Puppy dog in the wildflowers

When we first met Dr. Frost at the beginning, she’d told us she’d just finished a segment of Continuing Education on toxicology, “So I’m up to date on all the latest toxins.”

Throughout the ordeal she’d been consulting with toxicology experts that were advising her on strategies and treatments. I had assumed the experts were located downtown, but as we stood outside under the trees she told us she’d been speaking with the nation’s top toxicologists in two distant states!

She bent down to talk to Buddy and he looked up at her intently. “Now, I want you live to be 20, Buddy, and I don’t I want to see you in the ER again!”

She wiped away tears as she hugged him and said goodbye.

Elegant dog

When we got home we felt like we were floating on clouds.

Everything was exactly as we’d left it, but we’d made a huge turn in our lives.

“Now, where was I?” I joked when I finally sat down. Who knows what we had been doing or what had been the pressing issues of the day before all this. Our lives had been transformed.

As we lay in bed in the dark that first night home, we talked about the inner changes we had both decided to make. Neither of us had known that the other had made new plans with new intentions, but as we lay cloaked in darkness, we poured our hearts out to each other.

Puppy in glowing light

At the height of the drama, when I was praying for, commanding and visualizing Buddy’s miraculous recovery, I realized that I knew almost nothing about the Bible…or Jesus, for that matter.

I didn’t know Moses from Abraham or Isaiah, and the closest I’d gotten to the New Testament was, well, maybe, some music group called Peter, Paul and Mary.

However, as Buddy lay comatose in the ICU and I rode those powerful surges of emotion, I realized it was high time for me to find out what lay in the pages of that book.

It was also time for me to accept Jesus, something I’d never been interested in before.

Since those dark days last October, my thirst for knowledge and understanding of the Bible and divine healing has been unstoppable, and I keep coming back for more and more and more.

Buddy on a rock

We knew that Buddy’s sight and hearing had escaped unscathed, but it was our nightly game of hide-and-seek that confirmed his sense of smell was still 100% too.

Every night after dinner I grab a handful of treats, let Buddy sniff them, and then ask him to stay in the kitchen while I hide them all around the house.

Once they’re all hidden I tell him to Come, and he starts sniffing high and low to find each treat.

He absolutely loves this game, and if I forget it’s time to play it, he’ll start sniffing along the baseboards and in the corners as a pantomime to show me that it’s time for our game.

Our first night home we started playing and I was really relieved that he remembered how to Stay and how to Come (as well as to Shake, do Other Paw, go Down and Crawl). Better still, even with the lights off, he found every treat in every room, his little nose twitching excitedly the whole time.

Puppy dog playing

As I mentioned, Buddy was on 10 different medications when he got home, each with its own schedule and dosing, some requiring an empty stomach and some taken only with food.

It took me almost an hour to sort them all out and come up with a schedule that would work for us all. From 5:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. he got either a drug or a meal every hour for the first week.

The hospital sent us home with two cans of wet dog food that was ideal for hiding pills. Buddy loved that food, and Mark was very good at getting the pills-wrapped-in-food to the back of his throat so they’d go down.

Playing puppy tug

One of the meds was administered by spraying something in his throat that made Buddy sneeze, and the liver support pill was huge and required an empty stomach — no food for an hour before or after.

Mark had to shove that thing way way back behind Buddy’s teeth to get it to go down.

Buddy became adept at making it look like he’d swallowed the pill and then quietly spitting it out.

Soon, Liver Pill Time became a game between Buddy and Mark as the pill invariably wound up in his fur or on the floor.

But all the pills eventually went down and Mark got some belly laughs in the process and I suspect Buddy got some sly chuckles out of it too.

Fast puppy

About 10 days after he came home, we took Buddy to his regular veterinarian as requested by the hospital.

The kindly country doctor walked into the exam room holding a thick stack of doctor-to-doctor documents he’d received from the hospital about Buddy’s case. It looked like a book.

“This is incredible!” he said, waving the papers.

“We witnessed a true miracle from God,” I smiled.

“Yes, you did!”

He checked Buddy’s vitals and everything looked good. Most important, his lungs sounded clear. They hadn’t been clear when he left the hospital, but by now he’d finished the course of antibiotics for pneumonia and his lungs were well on the way back to full health.

Big puppy stretch

The veterinarian told us that his liver recovery was the final hurdle.

His liver had processed not only a lethal dose of poison but a boatload of medications round the clock for 10 days.

He held up the papers from the hospital and showed us that when he was discharged, the key indicator for his liver health was a number that should be under 100. It had been 1,500 at the hospital.

After drawing some blood, he called us the next day to let us know that the number was now down to 350. Phew!

He felt Buddy’s liver would be 100% healthy within a few months.

Taking a portrait shot of a puppy

Four months have now passed since all that drama, and we have cherished every minute we have with Buddy.

He was a well cared for dog before, but now we value his presence in our lives infinitely more.

It took him a while to get his stamina back. Even though he was perky and ready to run and chase right away, he would tire quickly and slink off to take a nap.

The first time we walked one of his favorite 1.5 mile loops, he faded in the last half mile, tongue lolling and head and tail down, so we carried him the rest of the way.

Two weeks later we did the same trail and he leaped and sprinted right to the end.

Dog running down a dirt road in the Utah red rocks

A few weeks after that he was able to trot a more challenging 4 mile hike, and a month later, after finishing that 4 mile hike, he wanted to do a little bit more before going home.

Looking at him now, you’d never guess what he went through.

I used to say thank you every night for Buddy coming into our lives. Now I give additional thanks for our lives being transformed and for us each being given a second chance and a new beginning.

Baby pic of a puppy

A WORD ABOUT RAT POISON

We learned some scary things about common rat poisons in all this that might be helpful to you if you own a pet or live with toddlers.

In the old days, rodent control manufacturers used a poison that had an antidote. It was an anticoagulant that made the rodent bleed to death. So, if a dog or cat ate the poison, a simple injection of high dose Vitamin K would thicken their blood and they would recover.

The poison used nowadays, bromethalin, has no antidote. It causes a horrifying death by brain swelling and seizure that occurs anywhere from 4 and 48 hours after ingestion. All the veterinary staff at the hospital and at our local veterinary office agreed that it should never have been allowed to be on the market.

But it’s there on store shelves everywhere.

Tomcat Rat and Mouse Poison

The insidious thing about rat poison is that it is designed to smell delicious and taste truly yummy.

It is bait, after all.

I’d always naively assumed that “poison” is something distasteful with a nasty chemical odor that you would recognize as poisonous and not want to eat. But it sure smelled good to me when I sniffed the piece Buddy had left intact on the patio.

After we got home from the hospital, Buddy went out to the patio and began sniffing around where he’d left the poison bricks. You could almost see him thinking, “Where did my tasty dog treats go?”

The packaging touts that the product is “kid resistant” and says to use it only indoors.

Ironically, we saw identical rat poison boxes in the bushes next to several buildings in the huge medical complex around the animal hospital.

In addition to being aromatic and flavorful, the poison bricks aren’t biodegradable. Once the poison is out there on the ground somewhere, it will be just as lethal 10 years from now as it is today.

I shudder to think how many toddlers, pets and wild animals have died from this stuff.

Even worse, the veterinarian said sometimes angry people put it out deliberately to kill their neighbor’s annoying animals.

Dog playing in the snow in utah

A WORD ABOUT OTHER POISONS

As we chatted with the hospital staff about all the different ways dogs can be poisoned, they told us one shocking story after another of unexpected poisonings they have treated.

They’ve seen dogs die of poisoning from grapes, from chocolate, from the fake sweetener Xylitol (some people cook with it and then share the dessert with their pup) and from lapping up antifreeze that dripped on the ground (it tastes sweet).

The heartbreak these hardworking doctors and nurses have seen in their careers is mind-boggling. I don’t know how they keep going, but they said a case like Buddy’s will keep them floating on Cloud 9 for a long time.

As for unusual pet poisons, there are plenty of lists available of things that are poisonous to our pets that are not poisonous to us, and some things, like those above, are very surprising.

Best buds on recliners in the fifth wheel

DIVINE GUIDANCE and NOT SO COINCIDENTAL COINCIDENCES

In my mind, this whole event unfolded in a very unusual way, as if the stage were being set deliberately.

  • I am still astonished that I saw the uneaten brick on Buddy’s mat. I have no idea why I went out on the patio at that moment. I wouldn’t have normally been out there at that time of day and I had no reason that I can remember for going out there just then. If I hadn’t realized that Buddy had eaten the poison when I did, we never would have made it to the hospital in time.
  • Equally surprising is that the poison had been placed 20 yards away on the other side of the house, yet for some reason, Buddy decided to carry three bricks around to the back patio rather than eating them where he found them. After moving them, he ate one in its entirety, ate a quarter of another and left the third one fully intact. He couldn’t have carried all three of them in his mouth at once, however. He must have gone back for each one individually which is highly unusual behavior and shows just how enticing he found them to be.
  • If we had driven all the way home instead of taking a 15 minute break at the park near the hospital where we were able to observe his increasingly weird behavior up close, we wouldn’t have noticed the beginning of his seizures until we got home and, when every second counted, we would have had a full hour’s drive to get back to the hospital.
  • By calling our local veterinarian first rather than doing as the Tomcat poison center had recommended and taking him straight to the animal hospital, and by having a very knowledgeable person answer the phone there, we were given important instructions for how to induce vomiting as well as getting another round of urgent advice to go to the animal hospital ASAP so he would be in the care of the right people with all the necessary equipment.
  • I had no idea that spraying hydrogen peroxide in the mouth would induce vomiting. How fortunate that we had some on hand! Even though only some phlegm came up, it was better than nothing, and the green tinge to it told us he’d definitely ingested the missing green poison block, something we weren’t 100% sure of until we saw the phlegm.
  • If we hadn’t recently bought a truck camper, we couldn’t have stayed right around the corner from the hospital door for easy midnight visits for three nights. Sure, there are motels in the area, but it was so convenient to be able to walk in at any time of day or night without driving anywhere. The fifth wheel might have worked, but we would have had to park in a distant parking lot where it would fit, and we might not have gotten permission to do so.
  • Likewise, what a blessing it was that the hospital staff allowed us to stay in the parking lot and also allowed us into the emergency room to see and encourage Buddy (and even feed him our chicken soup) so many times.
  • I bake a chicken about once a week and make broth from the bones. Buddy gets most of it throughout the week with chicken meat scraps thrown in. Ironically, I had just made a fresh batch the night before all this happened. The hospital has top quality commercial pet foods, of course, and they give recovering animals real meats too, but how wonderful it was to be able to feed him something we knew he loved to eat, that was nutritious, and that was a reminder of our simple home life. It was as therapeutic for us to feed him as it was for him to eat.
  • We pay off our credit card each month and the payment had just cleared the day we went to the hospital. What good fortune that we could put such an enormous bill on the card in one fell swoop without exceeding our credit limit and scrambling for another solution. Dr. Frost told us that nine out of ten pet owners would have put their pet down — an expensive procedure in itself — because they couldn’t justify or afford the cost given a zero percent chance of recovery.

In many ways, as tragic as this event could have been, the way it unfolded included many extraoridinary blessings that nudged us towards a most beautiful outcome.

A friend of mine suggested these not-so-coincidental coincidences were the “synchronicity of divine intervention” and I added that they constituted “guided movement towards a more fulfilling end.” Whatever name we give it, there’s no doubt in my mind that we were the recipients of divine intervention.

If you have a loved one who is in need of healing, wether a pet or a person, I hope that you carry our miracle with you and feel encouraged to pray for them, not by begging or pleading or bargaining with God, but by commanding it is done, visualizing the recovery with conviction and believing in your soul that it is being accomplished as a demonstration of a deeper truth.

Puppy dog on a dirt road at dawn

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Dog’s Life – Buddy’s Got It Covered!

While I’ve been typing away during this past year to bring you a glimpse of our travels on America’s less traveled roads, roaming about with a little pup in tow, I had no idea that Buddy was working on his own pet project for his canine RVing friends.

Dog's RV Life Magazine - Buddy's Got It Covered

Buddy explains to Mark what it’s like to live a Dog’s Life!

I thought he was just licking his paws over there or maybe surfing the web for better dog treats. I had no idea that he’d created a popular dog magazine…!

Puppy publishes magazine on a laptop-min

K9 Publishing by Puppy Chow

It turns out that for the past year our friend Bob (a PhotoShop and photography expert) has been working with our little Buddy (whom he affectionately calls Puppy Chow), and together they have created quite a library of magazines for RVing pups and their owners.

I had seen the first issue last year and had shared it on the blog post where I introduced our new furry roommate:

Dogs RV Life Magazine Dec 2017-min

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Since then I’ve seen a few of these unusual magazine covers float by every once in a while, but I didn’t realize just how many there were until recently when I noticed there was quite a collection.

For a change of pace from our ordinary blogging fare, here are a few covers from these fun magazines. Hopefully they’ll put a smile on your face today!

Dog's RV Life Magazine Feb 2018-min

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Each issue reflected a bit of what was happening in our lives at the time, so when Camping World brought a camera crew out to make a video about our RV lifestyle, that special event was highlighted…

Dog's RV Life Magazine March 2018-min

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Dog's RV Life Magazine April 2018-min

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Dog's RV Life Magazine May 2018-min

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Dog's RV Life Magazine July 2018-min

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When we got out into the snow-capped mountains and had some wintry feeling spring mornings where we could see our breath in the air before we got out of bed, that unique tid-bit of RV life made it onto the cover…

Dog's RV Life Magazine October 2018-min

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Buddy’s mouth was too small to grasp a baseball at first, but when he grew a little bigger he could hang onto a baseball in his teeth just fine. This was just in time, too, because he’d found one under a tree near our campsite…

Dog's RV Life Magazine November 2018-min

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Dog's RV Life Magazine February 2019-min

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Despite spending a lot of months in very buggy places last year, we avoided getting too bitten until we got to Missouri where Buddy got four tick bites in a week and I got one too! Apparently, after that bout with those nasty little biters, Buddy came up with some tips for avoiding them…

Dog's RV Life Magazine March 2019-min

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Now, “Dog’s Life” isn’t the only publishing project that Buddy and Bob have been working on. They’ve put together a few other periodicals too, from “Trailer Dog” to “Gun Dog” to our very own Roads Less Traveled magazine.

The first “Trailer Dog” issue came out when Buddy was very young just shortly after he’d found a very old dead bird and made a meal of it…only to have the meal come right back up again a few minutes later…

Trailer Dog Magazine February 2018 -min

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Gun Dog Magazine October 2018-min

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Gun Dog Magazine September 2018-min

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The movie reviews were lots of fun, and we were especially tickled when Buddy reviewed the all time classic, “Old Yeller.”

Road Less Traveled February 2019-min

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Roads Less Traveled February 2019-min

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The arrival of our new RZR made the cover (yay!)…and Buddy solved a very important mystery that has been puzzling a lot of folks!

Road Less Traveled March 2019-min

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Road Less Traveled March 2019-min

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Road Less Traveled March 2019-min

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And that’s it for today from the Buddy-and-Bob K9 Publishing team. Hopefully they’ll keep ’em coming!

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2018 RV Travels – The Year of the Dog

When we rang in 2018 on New Year’s Day last year, we had been traveling full-time for over ten years, and our traveling lifestyle and methods were a well oiled machine. We had lots more travel adventures planned for the future, but we figured they’d be similar to what we’ve been doing for over a decade involving two people, several cameras, a bunch of lenses and a rolling or floating home.

And then we unexpectedly became the owners of a puppy, and our lives were turned upside down!

RV travel with a dog 2018 RVing trip recap summary

2018 RV travels – The Year of the Dog!

We didn’t know at the time that in the Chinese calendar 2018 was the Year of the Dog, but we soon discovered that in our own personal calendar that’s exactly what was going on!

Our sweet little puppy, Buddy, stole our hearts. He also stole a bunch of our living space and a lot of our time, but we were happy to give those things up because he was so dear.

The Christmas Puppy-min

Buddy goes from Pound Puppy to Travel Pup!

Suddenly, we were emptying our shelves and closets to make room for bags of dog food. In no time at all we’d acquired 100 lbs. of dog food to feed our 20 lb. dog!

And everywhere we turned we were stumbling over little dog toys. Not only did Buddy have an indoor toy box full of toys he’d received from friends and his indulgent owners, but he also had an outdoor toy box full of treasures he’d found on his own during our walks, from balls to sandals to sticks and gloves.

Puppy Chow our little Buddy Dog-min

Adorable Puppy Chow with the first toy he found.

Suddenly our time was no longer entirely our own either. Not only did we need to make time for energetic walks with our puppy morning and night and monitor his nature calls, but every so often a little furry face would pop up in front of us wanting to play.

Playing with puppy-min

Let’s play tug!

All of this took quite a bit of getting used to, so we began 2018 by sticking around central Arizona and not traveling too far. At Lake Pleasant and Canyon Lake we got into a rhythm of twice daily walks and training sessions to teach Buddy some basic manners. He proved to be an eager and fast learner.

This was good because in early February we had the extraordinary experience of spending three full days working with a video team to create a video for Camping World’s “RVing is for Everyone” ad campaign.

As part of the video shoot we took Buddy on the fun Dolly Steamboat excursion on Canyon Lake, and we walked all around the Superstition Mountain Museum and the Goldfield Ghost Town near Lost Dutchman State Park.

Dolly Steamboat ride Canyon Lake Arizona-min

The Dolly Steamboat ride is a fun excursion on Canyon Lake in the Sonoran Desert.

Puppy in outhouse Goldfield Ghost Town Apache Junction Arizona-min

Buddy peeks out of the outhouse at Goldfield Ghost Town.

Buddy was a trooper through all the commotion of endless re-takes in front of the camera, even though he was just a few months old. The producers didn’t give him a speaking role, but there’s no question he was the star of the show.

We returned to Lake Pleasant to chill a bit after all the excitement of being part of a professional video shoot, and then we headed west to the Colorado River on the Arizona/California border.

Puppy jumps for joy Colorado River Arizona-min

Buddy jumps for joy near the Colorado River in Arizona.

As we traveled north along the California side of the Colorado River, Buddy met his first wild burros. One came right up to the truck window to say hello!

Puppy and burro Lake Havasu Arizona-min

On the Colorado River Buddy saw wild burros for the first time.

We continued north along Lake Mead in Nevada where we explored some beautiful red rock outcroppings.

Climbing red rocks Lake Mead Nevada-min

Red rocks are fun to look at but even more fun to climb.

Continuing north into Utah, we drove the eye-popping Scenic Highway 24 through Capitol Reef National Park. This is an “All American Scenic Drive” that is a definite “must do” for all RVers!

Red rock views Scenic Highway 24 Utah-min

Utah’s Scenic Byway 24 is one America’s best scenic drives.

Going north from there, we came to the fabulous red rocks of Goblin Valley State Park where crazy hoodoos fill a valley and kids of all ages and furriness love to play.

Goblin Valley Utah red rock views-min

At Goblin Valley the cliffs were multi-colored and the hoodoos were a hoot.

It was early April, and as we continued our northward progress through Utah we soon encountered snow and ice in the mountains at Strawberry Reservoir. This is a summertime hot spot, but we loved the stillness and peace of the pre-season.

Strawberry Reservoir ice melt in Utah-min

Strawberry Reservoir is a popular summer getaway, but we loved the quiet of the ice and snow.

In the village of Wanship, Utah, we made a turn in town and suddenly found ourselves right in front of Escapod Teardrop Trailers. This small shop turns out terrific, rugged off-road teardrop trailers, and we got an impromptu and inspiring look at a few.

Escapod Teardrop Trailer in Utah-min

If you want to get off-road in a rugged teardrop trailer, Escapod has a rig for you!

We continued to press north past Salt Lake City and visited several small lakes and reservoirs that oozed a fairy tale charm when blanketed with a layer of snow.

Snowy hillsides Mantua Utah-min

We saw fairytale landscapes in northern Utah after a dusting of spring snow.

Buddy had his first taste of snow and left his little paw prints on our stairs.

Paw prints in snow from puppy in Utah-min

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Bear Lake, located in the north end of Utah, is known for its inviting vivid blue water and is lovingly nicknamed “The Caribbean of the Rockies.” In mid-April it was way too cold for swimming, but with few campers wanting to brave the wintry air at the water’s edge, we were able to watch the wildlife and enjoy the lake in solitude undisturbed.

Loon at Bear Lake Utah in Spring-min

A loon shakes out his feathers on Bear Lake in Utah.

Seagull mirror reflection-min

Bear Lake, Utah.

Glassy water at Bear Lake Utah with puppy-min

It was cold at Bear Lake in Spring, but it was wonderfully quiet too.

We headed north and east for a while along wonderful back roads in Wyoming. Winter wasn’t exactly over in this neck of the woods, and as we climbed over mountain passes storms threatened.

Snowcappe mountain pass in Wyoming in Spring-min

The Wyoming mountain passes were a little forbidding.

When we pointed our trailer west again, we found sunshine at lovely Keyhole Reservoir where Buddy posed amid the evergreens and craggy rocks. Mark snapped a pic of him that won a small jackpot in a photo contest a few months later!

Beautiful dog in the trees-min

Buddy is faster than a speeding bullet and leaps tall bushes with a single bound…
At a quieter and more statuesque moment, Mark took this image and won a photo contest!

We then continued west into Montana to hook up with vacationing family. We explored the National Bison Range and the historic St. Ignatius mission church and enjoyed several outdoor eateries along the way.

Happy campers in the wildflowers and mountains of Montana-min

The National Bison Range in Montana is known for bison, but we loved the flowers!

The gorgeous east side of Glacier National Park was a glorious next stop with views of soaring jagged peaks, clear blue alpine lakes, and a cool historic lodge.

Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier National Park Montana-min

Glacier Park Lodge at Many Glacier on the east side of Glacier National Park.

Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier National Park Montana-min

What a spot!

It was early June and the Going to the Sun Road was still closed because of icy and avalanche conditions at the peak of Logan Pass. So, we drove, walked and wandered all around the eastern parts of Glacier National Park, especially spectacular Many Glacier, and we took endless photos of wildflowers in front of a snowcapped mountain backdrop.

Wildflowers and mountain views in East Glacier National Park Montana-min

Wildflowers and snowcapped mountains are a great combo!

Our original goal for the year had been to visit the Upper Peninsula of Michigan over the summer, so we began moving east and a bit south with an eventual arrival there in mind. We visited tiny Choteau, Great Falls and Harlowton in Montana. On the way we were surprised to find ourselves near an Amish community when we turned at Eddie’s Corner.

Amish buggy trots through Eddie's Corner Montana-min

We came across an Amish community in rural Montana.

We love small towns, and the town of Red Lodge, Montana, charmed us with its main street full of cute shops and bistros. Buddy was particularly fond of the store, “Lewis and Bark’s Outpost.”

Lewis and Barks Outpost in Red Lodge Montana-min

The canine explorers that were left out of the history books: Lewis and Bark.

Red Lodge sits at one end of the jaw-dropping Beartooth Scenic Highway, and we drove it several times. Our mouths hung open in awe every single time. It was mid-June and the vast mountain-scapes were still covered with beautiful patterns of snow.

Beartooth Scenic Highway view in Spring-min

The Beartooth Scenic Highway is stunning.

Beartooth Highway vistas in Wyoming in Spring-min

If you don’t mind cold nights, early Spring is an incredible time to drive the Beartooth Highway.

The Beartooth Scenic Highway is another of those “must do” trips for all RVers, and seeing it before the snow melts is wonderful.

Happy campers on the Beartooth Highway vistas in Wyoming-min

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By now we were pretty used to having a dog in our lives. Oddly, it seemed as though Buddy had always been with us, and whenever we’d chat about memories of different places we’d have to remind ourselves he hadn’t been with us then. So strange! It seemed only natural now to have all three of us together all the time and for me to look over and see his fuzzy face next to Mark’s in the truck.

Puppy watches the scenery on the highway in our RV-min

We were getting used to having a canine companion.

The Beartooth Scenic Highway crosses from Montana into Wyoming, and from there the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway branches off. This is yet another “must do” for RVers (we were so lucky to hit so many “must do” spots in 2018).

We drove the exquisite Chief Joseph Scenic Highway several times, and in our explorations we came across groves of wildflowers that were like nothing we’d ever seen. Flowers of every color were in the peak of bloom. It was a photographer’s dream.

Extraordinary wildflowers Chief Joseph Highway Wyoming-min

The wildflowers on Chief Joseph Highway were the best we’ve ever seen.

The views on the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway were dramatic as the road climbed and fell and swooped around the mountains. One morning we got up before sunrise so we could catch the pink light at an overlook at dawn.

Chief Joseph Highway views in Wyoming at Dawn-min

Dawn on the Chief joseph Highway in Wyoming

The Chief Joseph Highway is anchored at its south end by the town of Cody, Wyoming, an ideal spot to spend the 4th of July. Cody celebrated Independence day with so much gusto that there were parades on three consecutive mornings! If you’re looking for a fun place to spend the 4th of July, Cody is a great one (as is Custer, South Dakota!).

Gatling gun 4th of July parade Cody Wyoming

Cody, Wyoming, brought out the big guns for the 4th of July parade!

Puppy in American Flag bandana-min

Patriotic Pup.

After all the cold weather in the mountains of Wyoming and Montana, it was quite a shock to visit Big Horn Canyon which is a lot lower in elevation and very hot in mid-July. But the red rocks were spectacular in the early morning light, ideal for a photo shoot.

Bighorn Canyon at sunrise in Montana-min

Family photography outings became the norm. Buddy loves it when he sees us grab our tripods and head out the door!

Red rock lake views in Big Horn Canyon Montana-min

Bighorn Canyon lit up beautifully in the early morning light.

In the heat of mid-July we kept looking at the map and the various routes that might take us from Wyoming to Lake Superior, but the temps in those places were scorching. We decided to wait for cooler temps rather than burning our toes hop-scotching across the country. A stop in Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains and Lake DeSmet gave us some fun photo ops and a slight respite from the heat.

Puppy at the lake in Big Horn Mountains at sunrise-min

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Sunrise at the lake in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming-min

Trotting down a dirt road in the Big Horns!

Moving east and north into South Dakota, we explored some badland areas in the prairie (not the famous Badlands National Park which we’d visited the year before). In the tiny hamlet of Buffalo, South Dakota, we watched the Soap Box Derby races over Labor Day Weekend. Little kids rolled down a small hill in wheeled contraptions of all kinds amid whoops and hollers from parents and friends.

Soap box derby races in Buffalo Souh Dakota-min

The Soap Box Derby in Buffalo, South Dakota, was a unique Labor Day event.

Just over the border in North Dakota we stopped at Roosevelt National Park with plans to do some extended exploring.

The greeter they’ve hired at the Visitors Center is the wild bovine kind with big horns and a thick furry neck. What a surprise it was to see him on duty as cars and trucks rolled in and out of the parking area!

Bison greeter at Roosevelt National Park visitors center in North Dakota-min

The greeter at Roosevelt National Park had hooves and horns!

By now it was mid-September and the temps had cooled sufficiently between our neck of the woods and Lake Superior to make a dash for it. Seeing the leaves changing color at Roosevelt National Park, we worried we might miss the show in Michigan if we didn’t leave soon, so we decided to save that National Park for a future visit and hustled across the top of the country.

At Walker, Minnesota, we pulled into town on the weekend of their Ethnic Festival. This is a town that has a festival every weekend it isn’t snowing — and even a few when it is — so it’s a good one to add to any itinerary since you’ll be swept up in a celelbration no matter when you go.

What fun it was to see and hear real alpen horns being played by two women in Scandinavian garb!

Alpen horns at Walker Minnesota Ethnic Festival and Parade-min

The mellow tones of alpenhorns were a highlight of the Walker, MN, Ethnic Festival.

We finally landed on the shores of Lake Superior at charming little Cornucopia, Wisconsin. Big sailboats and little kayaks bobbed in the water.

Kayaks and sailboats on Lake Superior at Cornucopia Wisconsin-min

Cornucopia, WIsconsin, is a tiny piece of heaven on Lake Superior.

In our new travels-with-dog we’d discovered that dogs are as particular about their friends as people are. Buddy loves dogs his age and size, and even though we’d met hundreds of different dogs all across the country, few were a matching size, age and temperament for a lasting friendship. On the docks of the marina at Cornucopia, Buddy found a soulmate in the resident pup, and they tore all over the place in a rolling heap of happy puppiness.

Lakeshore Drive along Lake Superior is a beautiful scenic drive, and we stopped at all the pretty towns along the way. Bayfield, Wisconsin, was particularly enchanting in the early morning hours of a blustery day. But it was an accidental upside down photo of Buddy reflected in a puddle that stood out for us as a favorite pic from Bayfield.

Buddy in the Sky with Diamonds at Bayfield Wisconsin on Lake Superior-min

Buddy in the Sky with DIamonds.

With any new place we travel to, we always arrive with some preconceptions of what it will look like and be like. These usually prove false in one way or another, and the Upper Peninsula shoreline of Lake Superior in Michigan was no exception.

In the waterfront town of Ontonagon we strolled the beach at sunset and got some wonderful photos of the sun setting. This was one of our first Lake Superior shoreside stops in the U.P., and we assumed we’d have afternoons and evenings like that every day for the next few weeks. So, we glanced at our photos and shrugged that we would do so much better in the coming days.

Well, Mother Nature had other plans, and that was the last we saw of sunrises and sunsets for the next few weeks. What a wonderful life lesson was reinforced as we looked back at that evening on the beach: always treasure the moment you are in right now!

Sunset on Lake Superior in Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Sunset on Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We thought we’d have a dozen sunsets like this!

Despite dreary cold weather, we saw lots of stunning beauty in the U.P. The area is dotted with ponds and small lakes, and we caught the leaves changing color in many spots.

Fall color at Worm Lake in Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Fall color at Worm Lake, Michigan (Upper Peninsula).

Buddy was loving the lush grass that grows everywhere east of the mountain states, and having a few leaves in the pics added a colorful touch!

Puppy in fall leaves Michigan-min

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This area is known for the little meat pies that were beloved by Cornish miners across the pond a century ago. Yummy “pasties” were sold everywhere in the U.P., and we ate quite a few. It was fun to warm up the cold, damp interior of our trailer by popping one of these meat pies in the oven to heat it up!

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has dozens, maybe hundreds, of waterfalls, and a few are quite famous, for good reason. Taquamenon Falls is a true beauty, and the upper part of Bond Falls is a favorite among photographers.

Taquamenon Falls in Michigan Upper Peninsula in autumn-min

Taquamenon Falls, Michigan (Upper Peninsula).

Happy campers at Bond Falls in Michigan's Upper Peninsula-min

Bond Falls, Michigan (Upper Peninsula)

At the bottom of Michigan’s U.P., just before crossing into the Lower Peninsula, we took a ferry out to Mackinac Island. This special island never took to motorized vehicle travel, and everything is done by horse and buggy or by bicycle. We had a ball watching the carriages and flat bed trailers being towed down the street by teams of horses.

Horse and buggy on Mackinac Island Michigan-min

Macinac Island, Michigan

Down in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan we stopped in at Metamora-Hadley State Park. All of the state park campgrounds in Michigan — and many throughout the midwest — entice folks to go camping even when it’s cold and wet in October by hosting fabulous Halloween events. We arrived on a Sunday morning, and not only was every campsite full but each one was decorated to the hilt with ghosts and goblins and witches and pumpkins.

Halloween at Metamora Campground in Michigan-min

Halloween is a big deal and a fun time at many midwestern state park campgrounds.

It was mid-October and high time to start dropping south. But first we visited Elkhart, Indiana, and the surrounding towns of Goshen, Shipshewana and Nappanee that are all home to the RV industry manufacturers. This area is fascinating for its long history as the heart and home of all things RV, and the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum was a highlight of our stay.

Visiting the RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart Indiana-min

The RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum offers a fascinating glimpse of the RV and Manufactured Home industry.

Trailer Life Magazine page from 1937-min

The antique trailers were fun to see in the museum, but I loved turning the pages of old issues of Trailer Life from 80 years ago.

We made a few pit-stops on our way south and west from Indiana, but we were on a mission to get to a place that was warm and dry so we could thaw out a little and regroup.

At that point, as we looked back at our year of travel to date, it felt as though we had made two big journeys — one from Arizona up through Utah into Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota, and a second one along Lake Superior and down through the midwest. It had been an outstanding year, but we were absolutely pooped.

Buddy was affected too. He had loved being in our truck early in our travels and had happily sat between us as we drove. But the weeks of long 150+ mile days in stressful rainy driving conditions on scary busy roads that made our tempers rise each time we got lost (which was about every hour or so), wore on him as well as us. Suddenly, he developed an outright shivering fear of the truck.

So we spent several weeks in the beautiful state parks of New Mexico, hiking every day, soaking in the sunshine, and leaving the truck parked.

Sunset in New Mexico - Fire in the sky-min

We finally slowed down and caught our breath in Oliver Lee Memorial State Park in New Mexico.

Moonrise over Alamagordo New Mexico-min copy-min

By the light of a silvery moon.

Inching our way from New Mexico to Arizona, and driving short distances and staying for a week or two in each spot, we slowly recovered and Buddy grew to like the truck again.

When we arrived in Phoenix he was beside himself with excitement as he saw the people and homes he had known as a young puppy. We were very surprised to find he not only remembered them all but was thrilled to be back.

Before we’d left Arizona the previous winter, Buddy had become best friends with our friend’s pup named Mason. Mason was a rescue dog too. Whereas Buddy had been left in “a box of puppies” at the Animal Welfare League in downtown Phoenix, Mason had been dumped in the desert on Table Mesa Road north of Phoenix as a puppy and left to fend for himself. Somehow he’d survived, despite being an ideal coyote snack, although he was in very tough shape when we was found hiding from the rain under some debris.

He and Buddy took to each other the moment they met last year. It was truly love at first sight — or sniff.

This year, as we drove to a parking spot on the street by Mason’s house, both dogs went crazy before they even saw each other, Mason in his fenced yard (he couldn’t see us arriving!) and Buddy in our truck (he’d only visited a few times last year!). How did they know?

After 8 months apart, the two dogs picked up right where they left off in a happy tussle of fur and paws rolling around with each other and running across the grass.

Puppies play with a ball-min

Buddy became best friends with Mason in the beginning of 2018.

Puppies play with a rope toy-min

The dynamic duo didn’t miss a beat when they met again at the end of 2018.

Like all travelers, Buddy has learned the wonders of seeing new things and meeting new friends. But he has also learned how heartwarming it is to return to a favorite place and be back with loved ones.

As for us, we have learned that traveling with a dog has its complications, but there’s nothing like living with a little fur person who is absolutely thrilled to jump out of bed each morning and is unabashedly happy to be alive each and every day.

Happy campers in Custer South Dakota-min

2018 was a great year.

HAPPY TRAILS and HAPPY TAILS in 2019!!

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How We Got a Puppy

Puppy Chow – Is There a DOG Living in our RV?

TRAVEL RECAPS from PREVIOUS YEARS:

An Overview of Our First 10 Years of Full-time Travel + Reflections after 9 Years!

Summaries of Each Year on the Road - All of our travel posts in chronological order:

All of our non-travel articles from 2018:

(Mostly) chronological list of our travel articles from 2018:

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Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, New Mexico – A Dog’s Eye View!

November 2018 – Hi Everyone. This is Buddy here.

I’m writing our blog post this week because Emily (she’s Mumma to me) has been very busy all week long working on a project for something called Tail or Life!

Puppy writes an RV blog post-min

She left her chair and her laptop, so I’m blogging this week!

Oh, wait. She just made a face at me and is saying something really slowly.

Oops! Ahem. It’s for something called Trailer Life.

Anyway, she has been glued to her computer for days to get it done, and she says she doesn’t want to sit in her chair or stare at her computer any more for a while.

But we recently spent a week at a really nice state park that you’ve just gotta go see. It’s called Oliver Lee Memorial State Park and it is about 12 miles southeast of Alamagordo in New Mexico, kinda near White Sands National Monument.

So, I want to tell you about it.

Riparian nature trail Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

The Riparian Nature Trail in Oliver Lee State Park

The best part about this park is that the main attraction — a beautiful hiking trail — goes into a place called Dog Canyon.

Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico Riparian Nature Trail-min

Dog Canyon is made for dogs!

If you run (or hike) past the picnic table that seems to be the end of the trail, you’ll find some fabulous rocks and a little stream that flows through them all. We didn’t find it the first time we ran this trail because we didn’t know the trail went beyond that picnic table, but it does. So don’t miss it!

Water in ravine Riparian Nature Trail Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

There’s a trickle of a stream in this pretty ravine.

One time we hiked this trail we saw a huge tarantula crawling around on the rocks. We found out later that the tarantulas were in their mating season, so they were on the prowl trying to find each other.

Mark takes a photo of a tarantula-min

A tarantula!

tarantula in Oliver Lee Memorial State Park New Mexico

Looking for love!

Photo shoot Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico Riparian Nature Trail-min

I’m more lovable than a tarantula.

This is such a great trail. Every dog that visits Oliver Lee Memorial State Park loves it. And why not? It’s Dog Canyon!

Puppy on Riparian Nature Trail Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

We hiked this trail everyday.

The other hiking trail goes up the side of a huge mountain. There are lots of switchbacks and some really fun scrambles. You can see the campground from some of the lookouts.

View on mountain hike Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

The hike up the mountain is steep and can be hot — bring water — but the view is wonderful!

About 0.6 miles into the hike the map said there was a place called the “First Bench.” So we went looking all over for a park bench. Little did we know that the “bench” was just a quarter mile long plateau with a fabulous view looking into Dog Canyon!

Canyon view on mountain hike Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

A dog’s eye view of Dog Canyon.

One day when we were out walking we came across a big snake.

Puppy sees a rattlesnake Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

A snake!!

While I was looking at it I cast my shadow across him.

Puppy sees a snake Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

What does that snake think of my shadow?!

If you go to Oliver Lee Memorial State Park in November, it can be warm and it can be very cold too. On the cold days I hung out in my fort.

Puppy plays house in RV-min

We had some rainy days and even got a dusting of snow. So I played house inside.

And sometimes I played peekaboo.

Peekaboo

Peekaboo!

Sometimes in the morning it was only 42 degrees inside. So Mumma made me a special superman outfit from an old sweatshirt to keep me warm all night long.

Cold nights puppy wears superman outfit-min

My superman outfit keeps me warm on those cold nights.

One of the best things at the end of the day was watching the sunsets. They were spectacular.

Sunset over RV Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

We saw some incredible sunsets.

Puppy watches sunset Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

I like watching the sun go down.

Sunset over RV campground Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

Fire in the sky!

In the very early morning, the whole desert would glow pink and blue. Smoke from big wildfires in California arrived just as the moon got full, making it hazy near the horizon.

Full moon in California wildfire smoke Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

We had a full moon and it set just as the sky did its pink-and-blue magic in the early morning.

Full moon with wildfire smoke Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

The skies had been totally clear, but wildfire smoke that blew in made the moon a little hazy.

Desert sunset skyline Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

The New Mexico desert at dawn.

I’ve heard there was a famous photographer named Ansel Adams who took a photo in New Mexico that he called Moonrise over Hernandez. I don’t know where Hernandez is, but Dada got a cool shot of Moonrise over Alamagordo.

Moonrise over Alamagordo New Mexico

Moonrise over Alamagordo New Mexico

When the moon rose the next night it was huge and you could see lots of detail.

Full moon Oliver Lee Memorial State Park New Mexico-min

I’ve heard the moon is made of cheese… maybe so!

I’m a little bit of a fussy eater, and we have a huge bag of dog food I don’t like. One night I was told if I wasn’t going to eat it then it would go to someone else who would.

In the pitch dark I heard something outside and I woofed a little to let them know that the “someone” had showed up to eat my food.

It was a gray fox!

She didn’t stop eating, even with a flashlight on her. Later on in the night we went outside and I sniffed around and found out she had tiny baby cubs in the rocks on the edge of our campsite.

I’ve been told I look like a fox. I don’t know about that, but her cubs looked just like her, only much smaller.

Gray Fox at Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

We found out a gray fox lived in our campsite and had some really cute cubs in the rocks!

Well, that’s my story. I hope you liked it.

I’m going to take a nap now!

Puppy sleeping

Thanks for reading!

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More info about Oliver Lee State Park in New Mexico:

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Puppy Chow – Is There A Dog Living In Our RV ???

Christmas in our household included a very special gift this year.

Puppy love

Puppy love.

It wasn’t a gift to us or from us, but on Christmas Eve, as we were hanging around with our granddaughters in front of the Christmas tree at their house, they suddenly announced: “We’re getting another dog! For Christmas!!”

Puppy Dog in the RV lifestyle-min

The Christmas Pup.

They already had two dogs, but earlier that day they had seen a little puppy at the Humane Society, and they had fallen in love with him.

Puppy Dog and RV life-min

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And he was going to be moving in!

Puppy Dog playing in the yard-min

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At the moment he was doing the rounds with their mom being introduced to friends and family, but a few hours later he arrived at his new home.

Puppy dog plays in yard-min

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I have to confess, I’ve never been a dog person.

When I was four years old a very large dog with big paws and a huge mouth full of teeth knocked me down. He was playing, but I was terrified. Ever since then I’ve been an avowed cat person and bird person.

But when this little pup walked into the living room late on Christmas Eve, something in his spirit spoke to me.

Dog and RV travel-min

You see, I don’t like dogs.

I picked him up and he was surprisingly calm and self-contained. He didn’t quiver and he didn’t struggle to get out of my arms.

Portrait of a Dog as a Young Pup-min

Portrait of a Dog as a Young Pup.

Over the next few days he got to know the other two dogs in the household, a part-papillon and a chihuahua. The results were mixed.

Puppy dog tests his paw in a puddle by our RV-min

Puppy discovers his reflection in a puddle.

Slipper and puppy dog-min

Peek-a-boo!

The little pup was so cute, Mark and I couldn’t stop taking pics of him. Friends and family who are accustomed to receiving emails from us of pretty landscapes started getting inundated with photos of this puppy!

Puppy dog trots on the hiking trail-min

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He had been given a variety of names, but none of them had stuck.

The Humane Society had called him Perry, and he had arrived on Christmas Eve with two possible names, Miller and Bailey. The votes were evenly split between the two.

Our friend Bob who is a wiz with with Photoshop put the pup on the cover of a book that he thought the dog could write if he spent some time traveling with us. After seeing all the shots of him jumping in the grass he had anointed him Skippy.

Book about puppy Skippy-min

It would be a bestseller.

We were enchanted with the puppy. He was as sweet as could be. As I ticked down my list of reasons I didn’t like dogs — they bark, they jump on you, they drool all over, they lick you incessantly, they pant, they shed, they chew things, they smell yucky — I realized he didn’t have any of those traits.

He was silent and observant. He was extremely calm. In fact, he was eerily catlike. He liked to sit like a cat and he even rubbed his paws on his face like a cat.

He also had a very cute floppy ear.

Puppy dog portrait with floppy ear-min

Even the vet loved his floppy ear.

Puppy in the grass-min

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He was so quiet he would go for several days without barking. He wouldn’t make much of a watch dog like that, but he looked good posing as one.

Puppy dog on the doormat-min

The Watchdog.

One day we took a family trip to Cave Creek, north of Phoenix. We had a ball playing around with the western themed photo cutouts around town.

Puppy dog in Cave Creek Arizona-min

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The Humane Society had said the pup was an Australian Shepherd, and we thought maybe there was some short haired Border Collie in him too. The vet thought there might be some terrier. Whatever his heritage, he likes to herd the people around him, and he sure knows how to sprint.

Puppy dog plays with ball in backyard-min

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Running puppy dog with ball-min

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Running puppy dog with ball-min

This little guy can sprint!

He had just a little tiny battery, though, and after a few wild sprints he was done. You could throw the ball or his rope toy all you wanted and he would just lie there and watch.

Puppy dog on his back-min

All done running.

Sometimes he was such an adorable little angel Mark would call him Puppy Chow.

Our friend Bob was loving our pics and he put him on the cover of a magazine too.

Puppy Chow Dog's Life Magazine Cover

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We were visiting with a family whose dad is a city cop, and one day he took a big group of us — kids and adults — to see the precinct police station.

There were three dogs and ten people along for the trip, and while we were all busy staring at the interrogation room and learning a little about police life in a big city, the pup suddenly felt Nature’s call.

Unbeknownst to any of us, he sneaked off to a corner to take care of business.

RV life and puppy dog-min

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We left in high spirits, but a few hours later our friend got a call from the police chief. “One of the dogs you brought in today left something behind!” The other two dogs had been on leashes, so all fingers pointed at the puppy.

Oh dear. Now our little buddy was a Wanted Pup.

Puppy Dog Wanted Poster-min

Dead or alive!

We took a few hikes on the beautiful trails around Phoenix, and the puppy was amazing. He trotted right along and greeted everyone on the trail with a happy wagging tail and a friendly sniff.

Hiking and RVing with a puppy dog-min

He’s a great little hiker!

Mark has been a dog lover all his life, and I’ve often heard tales of his beautiful Afghan Hound, Hoover, that he’d raised with his kids.

As a little boy, though, he had begged his parents for a dog, preferably a real boy’s dog like Lassie. His mom wouldn’t dream of it, but finally she relented and the family got a dog — a French Poodle. This was great for his sisters, but it wasn’t the dog Mark had dreamed of playing with.

As he hugged the little pup one day, he said to me, “If only this dog had come into my life 50 years ago!”

Since three dogs was a bit of a crowd in the puppy’s new household, Mark offered that the pup could stay with us in our rig for a few nights while we were there.

Frankly, I think he just wanted more snuggle time with the pup!

RV welcome home to puppy dog-min

An extra special welcome home.

The puppy was supposed to be returned to the family that weekend, but the few nights with us stretched into a week, and then to two weeks. By then the kids were back in school and it was time for us to leave the city and start traveling again.

RVing with a puppy dog-min

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We had joked that the dog should be called “Loaner,” because he was supposed to be on loan. But we began to call our little buddy “Buddy.”

He looked very cute when he sat in my chair in the trailer.

RVing with a dog-min

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It was winter and our trailer was often very chilly in the morning. Sometimes when he yawned first thing in the morning we could see his breath. Not surprisingly, he liked to snuggle up.

Puppy dog in an RV recliner-min

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Puppy dog in a blanket in an RV-min

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Somehow he would end up in bed with us too. I mean, who can resist?!

Puppy dog in bed in an RV-min

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Another thing that amazed me about Buddy was that not only did he never bark or jump up on people or drool, but he never shed his fur. We could pet him and bathe him and comb out his fur, and not one hair would come off.

“He’s the ideal dog!” I would say to Mark as I wondered to myself what I meant by that.

He adapted extremely well to RV life on a test run to a camping area at Lake Pleasant. There was a lot for a young puppy to see at the lake.

Puppy dog checks the view out the RV window at the lake-min

“What’s out there?”

He’d sit on the water’s edge and watch the water lap the shore.

Puppy dog sitting at the lake-min

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Whenever he went to down to the water the ducks would swim over to him and check him out.

Puppy dog and duck at the lake-min

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As we fell head over heels in love with this little puppy, we thought long and hard about how a dog would impact our lives.

The grandkids were fine with Buddy becoming a traveling dog, and they encouraged us to keep him because they felt he’d be happiest with us out camping and hiking.

But it’s a huge commitment to set aside 15 years of your life to care for an animal. We’d both done that years ago and we had both sworn off of pets for good.

For the last ten years we’ve been blessed to live our lives focused entirely on ticking things off our lifelong bucket list. But owning a dog wasn’t even on the list!

Needless to say, we had many long conversations and more than a few sleepless nights. And we read every essay on the “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan’s website and downloaded every video of his that we could find.

Puppy with a floppy ear-min

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In no time we realized Buddy had been with us for a month!

As time passed we noticed he had grown up quite a bit. His floppy ear didn’t flop over any more and he started losing his baby teeth. We found seven of his baby teeth in four days! And he grew an inch or two in each direction and gained a few pounds.

But he was still an angel.

RV dog life puppy sits in RV doorway-min

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Perhaps the coolest thing was taking him out on the hiking trails. He loved it and we loved having him along.

Puppy dog hikes the hiking trail-min

He’s a happy pooch on the trail.

When we got out into the desert near Quartzsite, Buddy really came into his own and sealed his fate in our lives and our hearts.

We took him through the massively crowded Quartzsite RV show where his view was a sea of shoes and legs and knees — with the occasional German Shepherd’s or pitbull’s nose thrown in — and he was as calm and cool as a cucumber.

Even better, we took him off his leash whenever we were at our campsite, and he stuck close by, hanging out on the patio mat with his chew sticks and rubber ball and patiently waiting to be let in or let out like a cat. And, like a cat, sometimes he’d go out only to come right back in again.

Puppy dog and RV life-min

Buddy may be part Aussie, but he’s also part cat.

Who knows how this will all turn out, but sometimes life takes funny twists and turns. And if we’ve learned anything in our time on this planet so far, it’s that the biggest blessings in life come to us of their own accord, unbidden and unexpected, moved by a hand greater than our own.

RV boondocking in the Arizona desert camping

Our little buggy now has a pup inside!

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