Traveling With a Dog – The ICK Factor

traveling with a dog - the ick factorVan Travels – With a Dog

I took off a little over a week ago in the van to give this “living mobile” thing a whirl. I’m staying close to home, just in case disaster strikes. I joined AAA before leaving (for the same reason). I changed the oil, checked out the van, had the back seat taken out, removed the “easy-in-easy-out” two captain chairs behind the driver’s seat, loaded up my stuff and tried a little boon-docking and urban camping until I was sure I had *mostly* everything I needed and had eliminated *mostly* everything I didn’t.

The plan is to try it out locally, staying in Kentucky, until I am completely comfortable with the van, my selection of “stuff” and my ability to work effectively while traveling. For now, I want to stay close enough to run home, shower and make it into the office if I my technology fails and I have to meet, in person, with a client.

The Icky Side of Roughing It

Cut forward to two days ago when I’m on day three of my “out in the wilderness” leg of the journey. I’m at a campground way, way, WAY off the beaten path and it’s just me and my little dog, Puntin. We get there and so far, I’ve managed to be “en route” somewhere when I needed a bathroom for anything more than a pee. Now we are here and I’m thinking, “Gee, I should have brought a shovel. That was stupid. I need to add that to my list.”

In the meantime, I reasoned, I could just go WAY off the cleared area, do what I needed to do, bring back my TP in a baggie, cover stuff with leaves, using a stick, and everything would be fine. Right? Not ideal camper behavior, but seriously NO ONE was out there and with it being Sunday night, I doubted anyone was going to appear early Monday morning.

I was only going to be here a couple days and I didn’t even need to go… until I thought about it. Then… well, I needed to go. But that was going to have to wait because my traveling companion had other, more pressing issues. 🙁

Doing What Dogs Do

I had let Puntin out to roam while I was setting up my little stove and preparing to cook the steak I’d buried in the ice in the cooler. Half-way through my set-up, he comes back — absolutely COVERED in nasty. I don’t mean just a little nasty… I mean poo of the consistency that should have had someone running for the Immodium… pronto!

Was it human poo? Deer poo? Bear poo? I had no idea, but it was disgusting and his long beautiful hair that I had just washed in Laurel Lake was a mess. I hadn’t used shampoo on him in the lake, so it’s not like he was trying to erase product smell — he was just being disgusting and rolling in the nastiest pile of stuff he could find.

In short, he was being a dog.

The Issue of Accommodations

Now, Puntin *had* been sleeping with me in the van. Obviously THAT was not going to happen tonight. I decided that his fuzzy, poo-matted little butt was going to stay outside that night… and maybe every night thereafter, because EWWwwww! I was thinking that I hadn’t even brought a crate for him to be in when I was moving from place to place — so there was no way to contain the nasty little bugger.

Meanwhile, Puntin was so very proud of himself. He was running around all over, hiking a leg at this bush, against this tree, near that rock, and then immediately “scratching off” to further mark his territory. He seemed quite pleased with is new territory and was defining it further by rolling a bit, so just a little of the newfound nasty would remain behind next to his pee and his scratch-marks.

The dog was marking his territory like bears mark theirs… like the bear I had seen two days prior.

Then I had a vision of finding Puntin’s leash the next morning with a bear’s mouth attached to the other end. What a delightful little morsel Puntin would make for a bear — one of those bears that all the signs on the road leading in had warned me about. Leaving him outside overnight would almost be like fishing for bear.

I shook my head until the vision faded.

That was it, I couldn’t leave him outside and he couldn’t come INSIDE as he was. So, I got the leash, called the dog and tried to figure out how to hook him up without getting my fingers in the ick. On the fourth attempt, I managed to get him hooked up. I would have to wash my hands asap (even though I was pretty sure I’d managed a clean attachment of the hook) and in the meantime, I slathered myself up with Germ-x from the Van.

The Search For a Solution

I stuck my bottle of shampoo in my back pocket and off we trotted together to the area marked “water for stock only, not for human consumption.” This area was a horse camp, so that made sense. I could soak him three or four times under the faucet, then soap him up and soak him three or four more times, just for good measure. This could work!

When we got to the watering area… there was no faucet. It had, apparently, been taken out. That was really disappointing, since even before the ick incident, I had selected this location so I could fill up my makeshift shower and get myself clean without tapping my 5 gallon bottle of drinking water.

So there I stood. And stood. I was not going to leave the campground it had taken me so long to find because the dog was being disgusting. There had to be another way. I started the hike back in the direction of the van.

Solution Found

Then I saw it… a HUGE puddle in the road. Not one of those puddles you avoid so your car won’t be jarred. This was not a little bump in the road. This thing was huge.

I went over to investigate.

When I got closer, tiny frogs started jumping in every direction and I could see it was LOADED with tadpoles. It was about 8 inches deep (which, coincidentally, is about how tall Puntin is).

I looked at the happy dog, I looked at the puddle…I had my solution.

After working with Puntin for three days in the water, first at Lake Cumberland and then later at Laurel Lake, so that he wasn’t scared of the water and actually liked it, I drug his nasty self into the water and pulled him up and down by the leash until he was soaked. Then I did it a few more times. Then I splashed his head and neck with water until he was soaked and I could rinse him off a little less brutally. He wasn’t happy, I wasn’t happy, but eventually all the nasty was gone.

Needless to say, once this ordeal was finally over, I didn’t “lightly” cover my own waste in the woods. I was much more diligent about it.

And, yes, he got clean enough that he wasn’t bear bait. 🙂

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