camping w/dogs

If you pay attention, you can overhear a lot.  For instance, I’m listening right now while a woman tells another woman how her cat recently had to be put down.  I’m sitting in my van, in the Lexington Music Academy parking lot.  The woman who didn’t just lose her cat invited the pet mourner to eat dinner (her treat) out with her and her kids.  The mourner turned her down.  Despite my desire to shout out my window, “I’m free for a little over an hour.  I could join you,” I did not.  Instead I stayed put and began this blog entry.  
Our family went camping this weekend.  Speaking of animals, we camped at the Kentucky Horse Park.  Despite the availability of all things horse at the park, we chose the campground due to the proximity to our home, the pool, and the overall niceness of the facilities.
We, along with most all of our fellow Horse Park campers, took along our dog.  For whatever reason, it seems, 
camping people = dog people  

Our dog, who is a full blooded female beagle named CJ, is now 11 years old.  She has entered full blown senior citizen mode, complete with arthritis and a personality that reads, “I’m old and I can now do as I please.  Even if that means growling.”  CJ also suffers from allergies and a severe case of the, shall we say, “snots”.  

We found on this camping trip CJ is not above the snarling bite.  She’s never been a biter, and has always been fairly sweet when meeting humans outside our family.  Well, those days seem to be over.  Twice she acted as an aggressor.  
Fortunately we have a pop-up trailer, and CJ can relax inside when she becomes haggard of being outdoors.  Or when we’re ready to catch a break from her allergy caused itching fits and snots.  I believe she was in the trailer when Killer the Seeing Eye Dog and his visually impaired master approached our campsite.
We were enjoying our campfire, having just finished our smores.  We’d noticed the man earlier in the day.  His dog, who I’ll from now on refer to as KSED (short for Killer the Seeing……) didn’t seem like your normal service animal.  He acted a little scattered and un-business like.  Although he did look like your typical Seeing Eye Dog, beings he’s a golden retriever.
Well, as you can imagine, since we were enjoying our campfire on an August night, it was dark.  KSED and his master slowly meandered towards our site, seemingly from the restroom, which was somewhat close by.  KSED’s master kept saying “trailer”, over and over to KSED.  KSED must have thought our trailer was the one he was referring to.  
When I realized he was getting pretty close to us, I said, “hello”.  The man replied, then quickly informed us he was looking for his trailer, not ours.  My husband Chip quickly stated we could help him.  I jumped up, ready to lend a hand.  Or shall I say, guidance.  I asked what his dog’s name is.  “Killer” was his reply, as he laughed in an odd fashion.   Much like you probably do, I found Killer an unusual name for a guide dog.  How about Rex or Buddy or maybe even George?  But Killer?  That’s almost creepy, or I suppose cute, in a different sort of way.  
Because we’d seen KSED and his master earlier in the day, while the sun was still shining, I knew where to lead them back to.  As we got closer, another camper in their party saw us, and began speaking loudly at KSED’s master.  When they got close enough to reunite, I headed back to our spot, happy to be helpful.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the female camper in KSED and his master’s party had long, blue hair.  Mind you, these folks were all way past 50 years old.  Her hair naturally would have been gray.  Yet it was a nice shade of Kentucky blue.  Very interesting people.  
Other interesting people we came across, who may or may not have had their dogs along:

  • The men who chose to cut limbs off a campsite pine tree for firewood (I desperately wanted  to report them to the park ranger).
  •  The men exchanging pleasantries at the [dump station].  Mind you, our [gray water] is solely from washing our dishes, no human waste, thanks.  Nothing seems to bond Kentucky men more than dumping waste through a large hose into the sewer.
  • All the people who own [or rent at the park] golf carts.  Why don’t they walk?  
  • Lifeguards whose idea of [rough horseplay] must be quite extreme.  A band of boys frolicking in the park pool wouldn’t have gotten away with such behavior at our local YMCA pool.

Perhaps I’m becoming old and cranky, like our beagle……… or more judgmental.  Really, can’t everyone be like me [and my dog]?

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