Back when we started group camping we were dog owners. We had an aging Boxer that we rescued as a puppy. Back then, I would never have considered myself a dog person even though we had a dog. I think I have always been a cat person. My husband, while he will deny it, is a dog person. It was his idea to rescue Sugar, the Boxer.
When we first started camping, Sugar, was a great camping dog. She was well mannered, tolerant to other dogs in the campground, and friendly to children and other campers. Sugar would alert us when people entered our camping space but often she never even lifted her head to those who strolled by on the road. However, as she aged she became less tolerant, less friendly, and a lot more temperamental. It got to the point that we felt badly taking her camping and eventually took to leaving her home with the dog sitters; aka Nana and Papa.
We said our final good byes to our beloved Sugar in May 2016.
Through our grief, we learned to camp without our dog. Life became easier. No dog sitter needed. No packing dog food or the plethora of other dog needs for a camping trip. Long vacations no longer needed a lengthy pet boarding plan. One less dependent to prepare. Easier.
This is where our story could end. I am not sure it would be a very good story but it could end with us moving forward enjoying the “easy” camping life. Except, I found myself looking at every other dog in the campground. The Short Chic started watching Youtube videos of dogs. She worked her dad hard but at every new play, he remained firm. No. He was enjoying the dog free life.
Then one day last fall on our way home from a family reunion. our story took an unexpected turn. At the family reunion, our relatives were giving away free bird dog puppies. We said no, knowing our lifestyle was not suited for such a breed. The Short Chic, heart broken, cried nearly the entire way home. Less than six miles from home, we stopped at a stoplight. The kids noticed a gathering and a sign in a parking lot just off the side of the road. The sign said “Puppies”. Wayne turned the truck around and we went into further investigate.
I will save you all the begging, pleading, puppy dog eyes (pun intended), negotiating, and even worry that we went through. But, I will tell you we added an adorable Yorki-Poo to our family that day and once again became people who camp with a dog.
Moose has been on three camping trips with us so far. Two of them he was so little, under three months old. He is a little more active, a little bigger, and a lot spunkier than before. He loves to play fetch. He loves to dig. He loves to chew on sticks. But mostly he just loves being with us.
Some stories are just ready to be told and those post just pour out of you. Other stories are very difficult to tell. They invoke so much emotion or have such a depth of self reflection they are harder to write about. I have not been able to put words to Sugar’s passing…ever.
Sugar’s story is so bittersweet. Yes we had to say good bye to her and that hurt so badly that I still tear up thinking about it. But, through our grief we found Moose. Moose brings so much happiness into our lives and we are so smitten with him. For goodness sake, for the first time in my life identify as a dog person.