I have a stressful job. I work in the legal system and my cases involve abused and neglected children. Sometimes it’s stressful. One of my favorite ways to unwind is to take our camper to a campground with no wi-fi and very spotty cell phone coverage. My husband and I stay for 2-3 nights. We typically take the smaller of our two dogs (the other dog prefers sofas and air conditioning). Poppy is a medium-sized tri-color short hair mix of unknown origins. The (allegedly) has some Australian shepherd and border collie in her heritage, but I think that’s pure speculation.
Poppy takes long hikes with me. Between our forays into the wilderness, she is content to find shade under her dad’s chair and occasionally reluctantly offer a paw in exchange for a treat.
I have a favorite camp site. It has a sunny pad with lots of grass in the front (that’s where we park the camper) and in th eback, it has a large clearing in the woods. The clearing is surrounded by tall trees with overhanging branches. It’s shady on the sunniest day. The first time I was here, the clearning was filled with gold finches and rays of sunlight. I dubbed it “the cathedral,” and I reserve it whenever i can. Unfortunately, it’s a popular spot, and it’s often bookd out for several months in advance.
I was lucky enough to secure ”the cathedral” for this past 4th of July holiday weekend. We arrived on Saturday morning and got the camp set up. The campsites on both sides were still empty. We grabbed some lunch, and Mike decided to nap. I took my journal and some drawing supplies back to ”the cathedral” for a short time. I should have stayed longer.
I decided to spread a mat out on the grass and stretch out on the ground. Poppy joined me (actually, we wrestled on the ground as she burrowed under me and I tried to stop her). Eventually, we both found a comfortable position and snoozed.
A short time later there was a commotion as two cars pulled up to the camp site on the north of us. Two adults and three children poured out of the vehicles. The adults began hauling tents and coolers out of the cars, and the children (approximately 9-11 years old) screamed ”it’s a dog,” and interrupted our nap.
The woman screamed (yes, screamed) ”you have to ask before you pet the dog” and the children started petting and then asked, ”can we pet your dog?” Poppy likes children of this age group, so she allowed herself to be smothered with pats and offered a few kisses. One of the girl declared Poppy to be her ”new best friend.” After a short time, the children were (loudly) summoned back to their camp.
Poppy and I went for a short walk. When we returned, the camp site to the south was occupied by a young couple and their two-year-old daughter, who we will call Hattie (not her name). Although ”the cathedral” was clearly not on their camp site, they had set their tent up on the outskirts of my sanctuary. The clearing is large, so I decided to ”not sweat the small stuff,” and share the space. That was a mistake.
I took a seat outside the camper (the side away from Hattie’s family) with a book and a cold glass of water. Poppy was clipped to a cable that kept her well within the limits of our camp site. She wandered a bit and came to sit by my chair. Moments later I heard Hattie shriek ”doggy” and she appeared around the corner without a grown up. Mom made her appearance a few seconds later and said, ”Hattie loves dogs.” Poppy is not used to tiny people, and I told Hattie’s mom so. Hattie’s mom assured me ”Hattie’s grandparents both have dogs, she knows how to be nice,” and proceeded to try to ”help” Hattie pet Poppy. I told Hattie ”that’s enough,” doggy is tired.” A melt down followed.
Hattie ”visited” another 3-4 times in short order. Poppy and I finally went inside for a while. We had really both had enough.
The next morning, I looked outside and saw that ”the coast was clear.” Hattie was nowhere to be seen. Poppy and I headed for ”the cathedral” for some quiet time. We had just made ourselves comfortable when Hattie screeched ”doggy” and came out from her tent. Mom said, ”she wants to relax. Let here relax” but little Hattie was on a mission.
Hattie was wielding a bag of gold fish snacks. Poppy loves gold fish snacks. Hattie waved the snacks at Poppy. Poppy thought it was a game and snapped at the snack bag. Hattie shrieked. Poppy jumped into my lap and the next several minutes were filled with me turning away from Hattie with Poppy in my arms and telling Hattie (and her Mom, who had finally arrived) that Poppy wanted the snacks, and this was no longer safe. Mom again assured me that ‘Hattie loves dogs and her grandparents have dogs” and I told Mom, ”Poppy doesn’t have experience with little people and she is afraid. Please take Hattie back to your camp” Mom reluctantly dragged Hattie back to her camp site and another melt down commenced. I may or may not have been called a rude name loud enough for me to hear.
The afternoon had turned very sunny, but my shady spot in the forest was unsafe. Poppy and I walked several camp sites down the road to a picnic table that was (partly) in the shade and far enough away that Hattie wasn’t likely to appear. Poppy missed her Dad, who was comfortable in his favorite spot at our camp site, so we ventured back to our own camper and hoped for the best.
On Sunday, Hattie appeared during Poppy’s breakfast and again during her dinner. She appeared again around dusk, and I told her “doggy is going to bed” and closed my faithful dog inside the camper for the night for her own protection. By this time I had lost track of the number of times that Hattie had walked from her camp site and around to the other side of our camper without an adult intervening.
Although we carted in enough fire wood for two nights’ camp fires, we never lit one, as Hattie was sure to appear. Poppy and I did spend lots of time walking (away from Hattie) and managed to have a nice weekend. It wasn’t the weekend that I had planned and hoped for, but it was still a nice weekend away from most responsibilities.
I hope that little Hattie grows up still loving doggies (and with all of her fingers intact). I hope that Hattie’s mom gets a rash somewhere uncomfortable.