Home on the Range


This post is dedicated to Rebecca and Scoutie Shelor with all our love.

The drive from Maine to Oklahoma was grueling. Man, I hated to leave Maine, but the cold weather was blowing in and we had to try to beat it. The little camper just can’t handle it. Cold, wind and downpours hounded us all the way. One of the overnight stops was particularly brutal. The temperature only dropped to about 19 degrees, but the wind was blowing at 35 miles per hour and gusting to 55, buffeting the trailer and making it rock all night while we tried to sleep. It spooked Roo enough, and it was cold enough, that Roo actually slept up on the bed, which normally she only does in thunderstorms.

We barreled through, which, with the trailer dangling from the tail of the car amounted to about 500-600 miles a day. It was hard on Roo, and though she’s used to long drives now and understands when I tell her we have a drivey day ahead and she settles in to it, it’s no fun for her.

Those of you who remember Roo’s early days know that when she came from the shelter she was mistakenly estimated to be a three-year-old. Within a few weeks, though, it was clear that she was just a puppy. When the vet and I settled on a final estimate of eight months, it meant that she was probably born in November. She needed a birthday, and I didn’t, so I gave her mine, November 11th. That way, her birthday was 11/11/11, the only date to line up with six aces like that, and one that only repeats every century.

On the night of the 10th, Roo was looking so harried by the long drive that I took her to a state park in Tennessee so that she could have the birthday present of running around like a mad dog in the woods. It wasn’t much of a park, but at least she got to chase a few deer, try to dig up a few mice and go swimming in a lake.

From Tennessee we made the drive to east Oklahoma in one day and arrived late at night. I thought she would be happy to be back at this ranch, but she wasn’t. I don’t know why. I suppose she was just feeling too beat up. That, and the stresses of living in this cramped space on top of the 2000-mile drive. Either way, she was miserable.

Then she got sick again. Not very sick, but Roo has a sensitive stomach, and she prescribes the worst possible thing for it: she eats as much grass as an elephant. There might be something in the grass here that irritates her even more, because once she starts eating it, she can get sick for days. That means that I have to leash her, which is the last thing she wants.

Her dose of the allergy medicine Apoquel had been scaled back to one pill a day when it got colder in Maine and there weren’t any allergens that seemed to be bothering her. As soon as the normal two pill dosage came back on board, she began to feel better.

My original plan was to spend a week or so here and then press on to Arizona, but Roo needed her checkup and her vet, Dr. Stokes, one of the world’s truly great vets, was in Okinawa for Thanksgiving with his son who is in the military and wouldn’t be back for ten days. Stokes is worth waiting for, and so we did. It’s not hard to imagine how nervous Roo gets at the vet, but she’s okay with Stokes. She needed a blood test, to make sure the Rimadyl she takes for her arthritis isn’t damaging her liver, and with a field dog like Roo, I like her to get inspected anyway.

When we left Maine, Roo, who puts weight on as if you’re just throwing lard at her, was down to a pretty good fighting weight. She might have had a couple of extra pounds on her, but nothing dramatic. During the week it took to get to Oklahoma she started packing it on. By the time she got onto the scale at the vet’s, she was a gargantuan 83 pounds. This was terrible news and has resulted in a crash diet for her. She’s on half rations and spends much of the day giving me a seriously disappointed look that seems to extend beyond just my shortcomings. Her look seems to question the entire purpose of cruel humanity. But I have to weather it. That weight has to come off. She’s feeling all right, though. Her mood is improving and she’s back to wanting longer walks and enjoying herself again.

I don’t know what’s next for us or how long we’ll stay here.