The Dogs Suck at This

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While learning to live and love our new life isn’t terribly tough for Beth and I, we’re quickly coming to understand that we’re not the only ones who have a lot to learn on this journey.

Sedona's big fat schnoz

When I first imagined this life — living on the road in an RV with my wife and two dogs — long before we purchased our motorhome and began our journey, I envisioned us cruising gleefully down US Route 66, the dry, desert breeze blowing through our hair as Beth sits with her feet on the dash and two happy, goofy puppies sit smiling behind us, watching the scenery fly by.

Fast forward 5 months into our journey, and the reality isn’t quite so picturesque. Turns out, our dogs really suck at this.

Hamilton hiding under the tableAs I sit here writing this, it’s 5:30 AM on central Florida’s Space Coast, and my two dogs are panting loudly and shivering, one standing perfectly still and wrapped tightly in a Thunder Shirt, the other curled up in a ball on the floor beneath him. It’s raining outside and the sound of the raindrops falling loudly on the roof (along with acorns, leaves and the occasional tree branch) instill in these naive canines, the fear of God. They woke us at 3:00 AM, and after half an hour trying to keep them off the bed and prevent them from breathing hot, sweaty dog breath in our sleeping faces, I finally gave in and decided to just sit up with them in the living room to console them during this time of extreme panic. I only wish it didn’t happen every time it rains. I’d share a photograph of this moment if the flash of my camera wouldn’t frighten them as much as lightning and make the situation worse, but it absolutely would.

I actually find the tink tink tink sound of rain and the tap tap tap of debris skittering across the roof to be quite relaxing, as it reminds me that I’m living freely and with purpose, far from the humdrum, prosaic daily life that living in Atlanta so recently represented. Unfortunately, to my furry four-legged friends, living in a long aluminum and fiberglass tube isn’t quite as exciting as having free run of a wooded and fenced 1/2 acre domain to frolic in.

Of course, it’s not really their fault. As puppies, they grew up on a farm with my mom, running free on 300 acres shared principally with horses, cows and snakes. When they were just a year old, my mom moved from the 300 acre farm to an 850 square foot apartment and Beth and I agreed to take Hamilton and Sedona into our home to live with us and our other awesome dog, Cain. In very short order, these spastic and minimally trained mutts become permanent members of our family, and when Cain was taken from us by cancer a few years later, they burrowed even further into our hearts to become nothing short of our two best, if slightly special, friends.

Across the years, we observed that both dogs had their neurosis, not unlike ourselves. Sedona is rather frightened of loud sounds, and although we never hit our dogs, she cringes and ducks when she hears things falling in another room as if they’ll fall straight through the wall to bonk her on the head. Hamilton, on the other hand, is perfectly convinced that thunder is directed specifically at him, some sort of universal retribution for digging the wrong hole or peeing on the wrong bush. When we lived in a 2600 square foot house, their neurotic behavior was annoying and occasionally cute, but we could calm them with the TV, and if things got really out of hand, we’d simply shut them out of the bedroom so they wouldn’t keep us up all night. Unfortunately, as we planned to abandon the monotony of our former lives, we didn’t consider the late night implications of living in a small, narrow house with an uninsulated metal roof and nothing more than hollow, splintery doors to separate us from two neurotic 50 pound dogs when it sprinkles and they’re once again convinced the sky is falling.

So, I’ll conclude this post with my latest epiphany: while learning to live and love our new life isn’t terribly tough for Beth and I, we’re quickly coming to understand that we’re not the only ones who have a lot to learn on this journey. Patience, forgiveness and diligence will be increasingly necessary if we’re all four going to keep from killing each other as we wind our way across this majestic landscape of ours. Wish us luck!

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One Response to “The Dogs Suck at This”

  1. Beth says:

    UPDATE: People have asked about the dogs’ continued adjustment and surprisingly, after a whopping 7 months, the dogs are much better at this. They still have their moments, and are decidedly anti-tornado, but a number of things have helped everyone adjust. The short list is; keeping reasonable feeding and walking schedules, so their mornings and evenings are reliably the same, frequent walks to the same place every time, weekly hikes, and dragging them around everywhere in the car with us when it’s cool enough outside to do so, has helped them immensely. Avoiding parking under trees has saved us a lot of grief as well.

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