Update from the Traveling Comedy of Errors Road Show

Roo has no idea how valuable she is. If it weren't for her, there wouldn't have been anything to smile about in the last two weeks. But you know how the little things about a dog make you smile—how beautiful they are when you sight them running in the woods, or the sound of a long snore at the end of a dream coming from their hiding place (Roo still relies heavily on hiding places, and always will), or just watching her gnaw at a bone. If it wasn't for Roo, I'd be ready to volunteer to parachute a load of explosives into Aleppo.

When last I wrote, it was about all the trouble we were having with the camper. I took that piece down, because I received so many emails and a few public comments from people wanting to know if they should cancel their deposits or thanking me for steering them away from that brand, that it looked like the article could do too much damage. I was pretty steamed up by a week—it turned into a total of nine days of waiting in a dealer's parking lot—of waiting for proper warranty response, that I let loose in that article. 

The problem is that because there no in-depth reviews of RVs, as soon as my terrible review went up, it stood out. It made it seem like this thing was the sole piece of junk out there in the world of RVs. The truth is that most of them are utter junk. This one seems to be better than almost all, but still.

My argument with the factory was getting them to commit to the extensive repairs necessary, At first, they seemed to have been saying that they would if such damage existed, which might sound reasonable, but it wasn't, because the damage couldn't be spotted unless the entire trailer was dismantled. Whatever, they agreed, and the damage was there. Water had been leaking through the floor, and the floor needed to be replaced and they did the work and that was that.

Rooki Kahoo and I had driven about 500 miles to get to the dealer where we ended up stuck all that time, and now we had another 600 miles to the factory. We did that and delivered the camper to them on a Wednesday. That Saturday, they returned it. They did their best. The camper was essentially rebuilt. The camper is not able to withstand freezing temperatures, so I took advantage of a hole in the weather to drive south.

On the way, I gave out after 500 miles, somewhere in Missouri. We parked in a rest area, and, thinking that I'd just lie down a little, after half an hour I realized that I couldn't continue. 

Rain began and quickly escalated into thunderstorms. 

Now, Roo had been having a bad time of it. There's something about that factory that scares her badly—I think the noise of staple guns. But she was spooked to begin with, and the three nights in a motel... oh, let me stop there for a second....

We stayed at a motel called Der Ruhe Blaz. Meaning, 'a quiet place.' Supposedly Amish, as everything up there in Lagrange gloms onto the Amish vibe. After I unloaded the trailer, an exercise that took about two hours, in an attempt in freezing cold and high wind, to keep things organized, I entered the bathroom. It had one of those little sanitary paper strips on the toilet popularly used to convey the impression that a specially qualified sanitation team in hazmat suits had been in with a high-pressure steam apparatus to see to its proper sterilization. I lifted the seat onlyk to encounter a large brown smear. Not kidding. I called the Gujarati owner, who came and sort of cleaned it up. It was a good thing I had all the necessary bathroom cleaners from the camper.

Anyway, being back in a motel was not good for Roo. She was frightened all the time, and hiding behind the bed, the way she used to. A wave of extreme cold blew into the area, which meant that I was unable to get her as much exercise as usual. She had one good romp in the snow, but at a park that was only open for one day. So, it was a rough trip for Roo, and she was a already a little beat up by the time we were out of there and in those thunderstorms in Missouri.

In the unpacking and re-packing, I saw that I had packed her Thundershirt. Not that it ever worked for her, but I figured, why not. She's older, now, who knows. I put it on her, and just like before, it did nothing. She was just as terrified. If anything, it might moderate the trembling a little, but she usually stops trembling after a while anyway, so maybe not.

Only when Roo is that terrified does she want to come up on the bed, and then it is to jam herself in behind my pillow, and this is a new solution for her. Of course, there's something sweet about her wanting to do that, but not sweet enough to make up for the terror she experiences.

The next day, we were 900 miles south of the factory. I selected the same place we were in Oklahoma previously because Roo could run around and hunt mouses there, can outside by herself, and it's safe, and so that I could try to catch up on work.

After emerging from THAT pipe.

After emerging from THAT pipe.

The trouble with Roo lately is that her earlier penchant for suicidal daredeviltry (cliff-jumping especially) seems to be getting worse. In Mississippi we were walking in a quiet place when someone blew off five rounds from a 12-gauge shot gun. Roo stuffed herself into a drainpipe much too small for her. All I could hear was a sucking sound as she corked herself farther in. I was terrified, because we were near the bank of the Mississippi, which was expected to crest from the flood there in two days, meaning that all emergency equipment was positioned in anticipation of that. This drainpipe was 40 feet long, and curved. Barbed in by her hair, I didn’t see how Roo would come out. The other end was over a 20-foot ravine, was eight feet down and out of reach, and covered with a year’s worth of sticks and fallen branches. She couldn’t come out there even if she made it that far.

I started thinking of how to ask the authorities to help free Roo. It would take excavation equipment, and some kind of jaws of life or Sawzall team to chop through the galvanized steel. I imagined Roo's terror at the noise of the grinding and sawing. But I knew I was getting ahead of myself— the authorities would deny the request because of the flood.

I stood by the end of the drainpipe, repeating over and over again, “Rooki, you have to come out of there, little bear, you have to come out….”

After about ten minutes, the vacuum sound—like the sound of a seashell you hold up to your ear, reversed, and somehow, Roo managed to inch herself back out. As soon as her tail came into view I started pulling, and it still took another minute to unclog her.

Well, it only gets worse. Since then, she’s decided that going into those pipes is fun. A challenge. I have to keep an eye out and pre-empt her every time She knows she’s not allowed to go in, but the thrill of it seems to be too much for her.

Since she knows she’s no allowed in those, she’s always on the lookout for other ways to satisfy her adrenaline addiction. That’s why she decided to go swimming in a buffalo watering tank.

She knows damn well that she is prohibited from entering such a tank. She has received plenty of warnings. There are two reasons. The first is that it’s behind a barbed wire fence that she’s not allowed to cross, and the other is that it would be a lot easier to get into the tank than to get out.

Only moments after letting her off her leash, which she was only on to prevent her from going into another drainpipe, but which she saw as an injustice, a clear abrogation of her autonomy, she bolted straight for the buffalo watering tank. I yelled at her to stop, but she scooted right under the barbed wire and up the side of the tank and in she went.

I knew she couldn’t get out of there. And I had no plans to help her until she had a chance to stew in there for a while. 

She found out that getting in was a lot easier than getting out. I let her try for five full minutes, until she recognized that it was hopeless before I reached through the wire to drag her out.

Was that heartless of me? I hope so. That’s what she needed. The lesson seems to have worked. She hasn’t dared to go near that tank again. 

Anyway. The exhaustion of the extra 2000 miles of driving, the loading up of credit cards to cover it all, being too sick to see straight… you name it.

And then, Saturday, came this. I looked down on the floor, and what was there but a puddle of water. Exactly the same puddle of water that had started this whole fiasco weeks before. I opened up the access panel there, and the wood was soaked. A hole in the floor hadn’t been sealed, so the water went back down there.

In other words, we’re back at square one, back to waiting for the factory, once again, to get off their butts. They were supposed to have called back by now, but haven’t.

That same night, I had to go get something at the store. Roo always comes with me. I can’t remember the last time I drove in a car without her. She never does not come. But that night, Saturday, she just didn’t want to. 

I drove the mile into town myself, and at an intersection, two kids, one in a pickup and the other in a halfway hopped-up little Japanese car, came flying through a re light, racing. One of them nearly t-boned me and the other nearly clipped a guy in an expensive pickup. The guy in the pickup went after the boneheads. I didn’t hear of any murders around here, but I have a feeling that when caught, those boys weren’t getting off with just a warning.

But it made me realize that if something had happened to me—if I landed in the hospital, Roo would just be sent to a local shelter. And, terrified as she would be of anyone, she would have a hard time getting out.

That, in turn, brought me back to the key regret of the last three years, that I couldn’t figure out how to make a go of Roo’s List, the best idea I ever had, the idea that would save hundreds of thousands of dogs from misery. It’s up in the navigation bar at the top of the page still, if you don’t know what that was.

But, Roo’s List aside, I need to find someone who would take Roo if something like that didn’t work out the way it did—another three feet and I would have been squashed like a bug. Who would understand this dog, get her the exercise she absolutely must have every day to deal with how disturbed she is? So, that’sbummer to think about, but it’s something that it’s just idiotic to leave to chance.

That’s about all I’ve got for the moment. I know this thing must be full of typos, but we’re on limited bandwidth right now, so up it goes….