“Fido, what’s wrong?”
“I have never been so worn out in all my life!”
“But it was just an overnight!” I said. “Piece of cake, old man.”
“Yeah, well, so you say.”
Fido walked to his dog bed and more or less dived into it, like a locomotive that has jumped the tracks. Nose first, cloud of dust, then silence. In no time, he was snoring.
As for me, I was a little tired after our first overnight in the mountains, but nothing out of the ordinary.
For Fido, though, his first overnight backpacking adventure was more of a strain than I’d figured.
It had started easily enough, on the Duck Lake trail.
“Who made these steps?” Fido marveled at the climb above Barney Lake. “Boy, whoever made these steps for the Forest Service did a nice job!” He bounded ahead, exploring this, sniffing that, marking his way up the trail. “This,” he declared, “is the best time EVER! Could I bother you, perhaps, for a biscuit?”
“Gosh, Fido, 45 minutes into the hike and you’re thinking about biscuits?”
“I think about biscuits the way you think about … never mind.”
I broke one in half and gave it to him. He forded the stream easily enough. We were going up toward Duck Lake because there’s plenty of water along the way. He also found plenty of shade.
“Wow it’s hot!” he said at one point, and lay in the shade on a bed of pine needles. Suddenly he leapt to his feet. “What’s THAT?”
“Something’s out there, and I fear it is not a biped.”
“Fido, you have quite an imagination.”
Up and up we went, until lunchtime. After that, a little further and we’d found a nice spot for a camp. Near the lake but not so much where there were swarms of mosquitoes. Fido had a fine time. So did I. Soon the sun began to sink, and so did we.
Fido lay by the screen zip, with his snout just barely sticking out. I also lay toward the screen, the better to see the stars. Soon I was asleep. But not for long.
“What’s THAT?” Fido yelped, then lay down again. “Whoa!” he said at another point in the night. And so on.
At daybreak, he was wide-awake, although he had his eyes closed. He’s like that. I might think he’s asleep, but he’s on guard, not really sleeping at all. When Fido actually sleeps, he’s on familiar ground, not a worry in the world. He’s like that when I have to leave him in the car, too. He may seem like a big, red, passive lump, but he’s not. He’s always aware.
When we arrived home, as noted earlier, he was in bed and truly asleep as fast as I’ve ever seen him. Later that evening, after he awoke, I quizzed him about his behavior.
“SOMEone has to watch out for you, you know,” he said.
I patted him on the head.
“Thank you Fido, for watching over me.”