I have done some stupid things. This is the tale of one such thing.
I enjoy camping. While I prefer to camp in the absence of other humans, especially strangers, just dumping a tent off the tail gate at a crowded campground is fun. I hadn’t been camping in several years. When Lady was about 2 years old, I decided to get off my butt and take her camping. I couldn’t talk any of my friends into going with me. I didn’t try very hard. The idea of a solo trip really appealed to me. I needed some alone time.
On a Friday afternoon, I packed up a small 2-person tent, a small back pack, some junk food, some dog food and my sleeping bag. Lady hopped up on the truck seat and we headed off for an adventure. We drove up to Fairfield Lake State Park. It was a few hours from my home and the drive went by uneventfully.
We checked in at the park and drove over to our campsite. I tied Lady’s leash to the picnic table and I set up our tent and my chair. I managed to make a small fire and we sat by the fire near the lake until it burned itself out. It was a great night.
We snuggled into our tent around 11. I was ready for some sleep. Lady had other ideas. She barked at every stupid thing that moved all night long. The early barks were followed by an “It’s ok Lady, just go to sleep.” Later barks were followed by “Lady! Quiet!” Still later barks were followed by “Dude! Shut up!” Around daybreak she started shoving her cold wet nose in my face. I buried my face in my sleeping bag and managed to get her to go to sleep until about 8.
I plunked down on the picnic table and shared some Doritos with Lady. As the caffeine helped me pry my eyes open, we formulated a plan. I fed Lady and grabbed the park map from the cab of the truck. We picked a hike for the day. It was about a six mile hike. Not terribly long. We were looking forward to a nice afternoon.
I tossed a couple things in a back pack and we headed for the trail head. I diligently kept her on lead until we were about a quarter of a mile out. Then I decided I was tired of being dragged down the trail. I unhooked her and let her loose. She always stayed within about 20 yards, so I wasn’t worried about her. She was having a blast checking everything out. She loves new places. We made it all the way out to the end of the trail and turned around to head back in.
A horrifying thing occurred. We saw a deer. Most people like to see critters when they hike. I am not most people. The following will help you understand why.
Not gonna lie, Lady spotted the deer first. For a split second, everyone froze. Then deer levitated and bolted. Lady was nothing but a speeding streak in hot pursuit. I screamed at her to leave it. Pretty sure they heard me back in Michigan, but the dog swears to this day that she never hears me. I yelled for her and tried to find her for what seemed like eternity.
About 20 minutes later she came loping up with her tongue dragging on the ground. She had a huge smile on her face. I’m not allowed to say what she had in her mouth. Pretty sure the statute of limitations hasn’t expired. Let’s just say, I’m pretty sure she caught up with the deer.
I grabbed her collar and started looking for injuries. Her face was fine, right down to the huge grin. On her right shoulder was about a 4-inch-long laceration. Right through the skin. It didn’t look like the muscle had been damaged, but I couldn’t be sure. There was no way for me to bandage it. I was mad at her for blowing me off. I sure as Hell wasn’t carrying her back to the truck. I clipped her leash on and we walked about a mile back to the truck. She was limping a little, but she was still so high from her chase, she didn’t seem too concerned about the pain.
We arrived at the truck and Lady hopped up in the front seat. I tossed my backpack in the back of the truck. While I had a cell phone, this was long before you could connect to the internet from your phone. I decided to drive up to the park office and see if the staff could help me find a local vet. Fortunately, the office was still open. The Park Ranger looked at me like I sprouted an eyeball in the middle of my forehead when I told her what I needed. She grabbed a phone book (remember those?) and found the only vet in town. She gave me the number. I thanked her profusely and walked out of the office.
I stood in the parking lot, dialed and crossed my fingers. It was late Saturday afternoon. Naturally. This crap couldn’t happen during regular office hours. I got an answering machine, left a pathetic message explaining that I was staying at the park, that my dog needed stitches and left my cell phone number. We drove back to our campsite to wait for a call.
I unloaded her at the campsite. Apparently, the adrenaline had worn off. She was in full blown “milk it” mode. She didn’t want to get out of the truck. She limped to her blanket and lay down next to the picnic table. I sat at the table and nervously bounced a foot. I was trying to decide if I should pack up and head for home. I knew I could get a vet to sew her highness up in College Station. For a small (OK probably large) fee. Fortunately, mid-debate my phone chirped.
The vet sounded exhausted, but said he would meet me at his clinic in an hour. He gave me directions from the park. I thanked him and lifted Lady into the truck. We wound our way out of the park and through town. I pulled into the dirt parking lot of the clinic. I shut off the truck, flipped on the radio and listened to the Aggie game while I waited. About 10 minutes into the half time show, the vet pulled in the parking lot.
Lady and I hopped out of the truck and walked over to introduce ourselves. I apologized for the inconvenience. He saw the Aggie sticker on my truck and the Aggie ring on my hand. He said “I guess I forgive you. What year are you?” I told him. He was also an Aggie. He told me what year he was and I admired his Aggie Ring. It was worn almost smooth. Someday, I wanted my Aggie Ring to look just like that. He remarked on the newness of mine.
He looked at Lady’s shoulder while we were still in the parking lot. Yep, she was gonna need stitches. “I think I can do it in 4. I want to sedate her. If I knew her and I had a vet tech, we might be able to do this without sedating her, but let’s just knock her out.” I told him I had some tech experience and that knocking her out was fine by me. We walked into the clinic and he told me to bring her in the back. I lifted her up on the table, while he gathered up supplies. He flipped on the radio and hunted for the Aggie game.
I restrained Lady and held off her vein while he gave her the knock out juice. A drunken dog is a funny thing. She started to wobble a bit and kept trying to lick her lips. She finally sacked out on the table. I flipped her over on her side and the vet cleaned up the wound. He quickly went to work. He was right. He got it done in 4 stitches. While he was sewing, he told me hadn’t made it through an Aggie game without having to go into the clinic in over 10 years. He finished stitching before half time was over.
I lifted Lady down to the floor and sat down with her head in my lap. While we waited for her to wake up, we chatted about the campus and how it had changed since he had last made it to Aggieland. When the game came back on, we both shut up and listened to the game. We hooped and hollered for the boys at Kyle field. The hollering seemed to help Lady wake up a bit. It started with her whiskers and eyes twitching. Then her feet started. Apparently, she was reliving her chase. When her tongue started twitching and she started stretching, I knew we were getting close to having a drunken awake dog.