Sunday, December 29, 2013

An Adventure

Artemis experienced her first steps towards her ultimate day job: Being my ridecamp dog that will accompany me to endurance rides with the horses. Seeing as the breeder I got her from is also an endurance rider, and the ridecamp environment was how I first encountered these dogs, I figured it should be right up her alley.

I was right.

We did her first overnight camping trip this weekend, and she did wonderful. I loaded up my pony and puppy and drove down to Catalina State Park, about two hours away on the north side of the Catalina Mountains on the north side of Tucson.

Small Puppy goes on An Adventure
(with apologies to Bilbo Baggins and
'The Hobbit')
The most challenging part was getting ready -- she was a bit overwhelmed down at the barn with all of the strange new sights and smells, and lots of loud noises from all around. I eventually put her in her kennel in the shade where she could see me as I finished loading the trailer, and that made it easier for all involved.

She travels in her kennel, and once she was in the truck, all was well and she snoozed most of the way down.

First introduction to the camp site
Being a between-holidays weekend, it was quite crowded at the park. Fortunately, I was joining friends who had been there since the beginning of the week, and had saved me a camping spot as well as a corral for Mimi-the-pony. It was a great setting for socialization -- lots of new people to meet, controlled dogs on leashes to meet, interesting happenings like children on bicycles, and of course, horses.

Friends Lucy and Patrick also brought with them Finn-the-poodle, a year-and-half old standard poodle of infinite playfulness and fun, and Artemis had a new best friend.

Her first challenge was doing her business on leash. She's a rather private dog, and prefers to take care of her after-meal business in the most private corner of the backyard. Considering that: 1) it was park rules, 2) there were coyotes and javelina wandering around near the camp site, and 3) she has no recall, she was on leash the entire time. She whined about it the first couple of times ("Why are you watching me?") but by the end of the trip, it was no big deal.

It got quite cold overnight (by desert rat standards), and although we had a portable propane heater, it ran through one canister partway through the night, and at the time I figured it would be colder to get out of the sleeping bag nest to install a new canister than to just add another sleeping bag. Not sure if i was right or not.

I also broke one of my cardinal rules, which is "no dogs on the bed." I figured with as cold as it was, and as much as she hates the cold, even her little coats and fleece blankets might not be enough to keep her warm. So I let her sleep in my sleeping bag. That was one program she could happily embrace, as she snuggled right up to me and stayed there all night.

Of course, it was a slightly less than restful for me, since I was worried about squishing her during the night or something.

Our typical 5:30 wake-up rolled around, she poked her head out of the sleeping bag, and burrowed right back down in. Okay, no complaints here...we slept for another couple of hours, until the sun was peeking up over the mountains and it was slightly less frigid. She got bundled in her coats and outside we went. She very quickly took care of business, then went scuttling back into the trailer, where she proceeded to whine and stare longingly at the bed of the gooseneck trailer and out sleeping bag nest.

So up she went. I put her back up there (she's very sensible and a bit scared of heights as far as getting down from things, so I wasn't worried about her trying to jump down from the gooseneck area), she snuggled into her nest, and stayed there for another couple of hours while I did pony chores.

it's like a puppy version of 'Where's Waldo'

There's the hidden puppy!

"Look how well I burrow!"
She eventually decided that it was warm enough to come out (and that I was having too much fun without her), so she whined for me to come fetch her. She did learn the concept of steps, using the solid mounting block in and out of the trailer.

Once outside, she hung around with me while we lolled about in the sunshine, and ate breakfast. And we broke another rule: No dogs on the furniture. That rule has now been amended to "No dogs on the furniture except for camping chairs." Who knew why made for perfect puppy hammocks/nests?

"I would like lap time, please."
Once I figured out how comfy she was in the chair after I vacated it, I clipped her leash off to the fence rail, left her kennel open and next to the chair should she wish to go in it, and a full water bowl for her and Finn to share. She stayed up there while we did horsey stuff, then when it was time to go ride, she was put in her kennel and went into the living quarters area of Lucy and Patrick's trailer, along with Finn. She's at the point where she can comfortably stay in her kennel during the day for 3-4 hours if need be, and that's what we kept out riding time to.

 Making sure I'm still within eyesight

Princess Puppy surveying her domain
I packed up camp once we got back from our ride, and we headed back home. It was late evening by this point, and she slept the entire way home. Once home, she was totally revved up and very happy to be back in her comfort zone, as she proceed to do puppy zoomies for about 15 minutes around the backyard while I unpacked the vehicle.

She's now basking in the sunshine in her leaf pile, and I'm plotting our next Adventure -- another horse camping trip next month. I think she's well on her way to becoming a ridecamp dog.

gratuitous scenery shot of me and the pony

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