It was Mom’s birthday dinner last night. Uncle Craig worked soooo hard to make her day very special. We headed to the lake, stopping to pick up some delicious Hutchins Bar-B-Que for lunch on our way. Geez it smelled so incredible. My pup cousins, Coco and Felix, arrived later in the afternoon and thats when I met Myrtle, a very lively young pup for sure. She’s a labrador greyhound mix who can run like greased lighting. She has gymnastic skills that enable her to walk a board fence like a tightrope. As darkness fell Myrtle ambled downhill to her cottage by the lake. Things are smelling good as Uncle Craig fired up the grill to prepare Mom’s favorite for dinner. Steak night! Hopefully there will be scraps for us pups. It was a lovely evening on the back porch where we decided to have dinner.Uncle Craig is scurrying in and out of the house while making certain the grill is just right before he plops the steaks on at the last minute. He prepped the steaks in his sous vide and placed the bag in the chair next to the grill. One more trip inside and he’ll be ready to finish those incredible steaks. Like a flash of light a blonde streak appeared out of the darkness. OMG…..Was that a bag I saw hanging from Myrtle’s mouth? No it couldn’t be. Surely not! Oh no…the ribeye is missing! The steak thief disappeared into the darkness with the stealth of a jaguar. I wonder how she’s gonna explain that messy plastic bag on her Dad’s porch? Myrtle’s pretty clever but she forgot one very important thing…the truth will always come out. And there’s always consequences. I do hope my new little friend didn’t have an upset tummy the next morning. I’m pretty excited to meet this gal Myrtle because she has some great skills. I’m hoping she decides to attend Camp Longhorn next summer with me and all my cousin pups. A steak thief might come in real handy!
This is the last night of camp and what a meal we had! The hot dog and hamburger scraps were divine. Now for the best part. Who’s bringing the marshmallows? “Marshmallows? What are those asks Willow.” “Hahahahaha silly girl. You will soon find out about the best treat at camp,” said Dallas. We sent Hank to scout for the marshmallows because we needed someone who could climb. Hank would need to discreetly climb thru the window of the mess hall. Nothing is air conditioned out at camp so the windows are always open. They have those big fans going all the time that provided plenty of noise distraction. Hank sees his chance while the kitchen crew was taking their break. In through the window he goes and snatches 2 big bags of marshmallows. He makes off with them like a bandit. Good job Hankster! What else do we have for our campfire tonight? Oh my, Hank jumped back in a second time and grabbed a big pack of gummy worms. Woohoo! Before the sun goes down we need to go out to the edge of the lake and start our bonfire. All the pups scouted for small limbs and brought them back and stacked them. Dallas grabbed small scraps of paper and put them under the sticks. Yay, Felix remembered to pack that little cheap magnifying glass the kids found in a box of Cracker Jacks. We carefully placed it above the paper and waited for the sun to cause combustion. Meaning first there was smoke then we had Bear slowly wag his big fluffy tail to provide enough wind for the paper to catch fire. And just like that we had us a bonfire! Now everyone has to find a stick for their marshmallows. Willow says, “what are we doing? I’ve never seen anything like this before. How do I find a stick?” Hank agrees to help get her situated.
Soon we were feasting on gummy worms and after the fire cooled a bit we roasted marshmallows. My my, this might be our best camp ever says Luke. He always says that every year.
Felix goes first and talks about the events of their hike up the mountain a few days ago. Felix said, “I have to apologize for leading a very dangerous hike. I failed to plan our route and as a result I accidently ventured over into the coyote territory. We promised old Aztec, the head coyote, a few years back we would never do that again. Thankfully the coyotes realized it was all a big mistake and that we meant no harm. We were lucky those wild hogs were in their territory tearing up the place.” Dallas said, “Felix when we go on a hike we have a leader but it’s also our individual responsibilities to speak up if we sense something might not be just right. It’s ok.” The other pups chimed in and agreed with Dallas. The howling of approval filled the evening air. They all howled at the top of their lungs. When it got quiet, they heard ole Aztec howling across the lake. Willow is shaking now and said, “oh no is that coyote coming to eat me up?” The pups had come to recognize old Aztec’s howl. He has a howl when he’s mad and a howl when he is just sending greetings. This night he was sending greetings. No Willow, Aztec howls in peace tonight. We can rest.
I would like to introduce you to our cast of pups in case you’re not part of our family.
I write these stories and send them to my grandchildren every year while they are at camp. The dogs listed in the story belong to them, their cousins and me. I will describe all the dogs for you so you know what kind of dog they are and can imagine their role in the story.
Dallas is my little pup and she is a Jack Russell
Felix is a big Irish Crème Golden Retriever.
Coco is also a big Irish Crème Golden Retriever younger than Felix.
Hank and Willow are Catahoula hound dogs that live with my granddaughter in Mississippi. Willow is only 6 months old
My other older grandchildren live in The Woodlands. Their dogs are:
Luke, a Schnauzer is about 11 years old.
Bear, a huge German shepherd is about 3 years old.
I pretend that when the kids go away to camp that the dogs go as well. These stories are the dogs adventures at camp.
To read more stories you can go to www.thebigchickenblog.com
It’s taken me days to come to my senses after that mad dash off the hillside escaping from first the hogs and then our brush with the coyotes. Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think about hogs being out here. We see them at the deer camp all the time but we’re always in Dad’s truck. They look like harmless little farm animals from the truck; but baby on the ground they are something else! Thank heavens Felix put me in charge of that escape. Not that I don’t think for one minute Fee couldn’t have gotten us out of there. Fee demonstrated the most important quality of a good leader. When you are out of your range of expertise you reach out for the most qualified. Thanks for your vote of confidence Felix!
I wanna say right here and now my group of cousins are the smartest dogs ever. They listened and followed all my instructions to the letter. Even little first time camper Willow did a great job. Felix was a champ and gave everyone a sense that it was gonna be all right. Bear just by his powerful presence assured us we could get out of this problem safely. Little Luke helped Willow not be so nervous. Hank grew up a lot on this hillside and got serious when his fellow pups needed him. Coco followed Felix in standing tall in the face of danger. What a gang!
We’ve all learned so much at camp this year. That’s what camp is all about. So it’s off to bed early and we’ll have stories to tell for a very long time. Hey Dallas, asked Hank, “are we gonna tell scary stories tonight?” Little Willow starts shaking. Ummmmm, no Hank, I think we’ve all had enough action for a while.
What a narrow escape! I think the Lord indeed does answer those quick prayers! I have never been so scared in all my life. You know, my Mama told me I could pray anytime and I really believe her now. There’s no way we should have gotten out of that hog, coyote situation alive. But thanks be to God we made it. What a lesson we have all learned on this latest hike. First of all we didn’t plan well. Then we took the wrong trail. We ended up not only in the coyotes territory but encountered wild hogs too. Who knew those crazy hogs could run faster than a dog?
There will be lots of tales to tell tonight sitting around the campfire. Poor little Willow may never come back. Well I think she will. I will tell you, she was quite the trooper to be so young. Come on Felix, Hank, Coco, Luke, Willow and Bear we all deserve some treats. I think I know a good spot to snag some leftovers. The kids are having hot dogs and hamburgers tonight. Should be lots of goodies.
Dallas and Fee are standing on the edge of the big clearing peering out across to see a terrifying site. Underneath that grove of oak trees on the other side of the big open space they see a huge group of wild hogs. Because Dallas has been to the deer lease and Aunt Linda’s farm a number of times she is very familiar with all the dangers of the woods. At the deer lease she has seen those wild hogs. The big wild male hogs, also called a boar, can sometimes top one thousand pounds. They also have big tusks. Those big male hogs can have significantly larger tusks than the smaller female sow, as the female hog is called. Because of their size and structural differences, boars tend to slash and stab, while sows tend to bite, in their use of these teeth as weapons. Being a savvy country dog Dallas quickly informs Big Fee what they may be up against. They must get to the other side of that clearing to get back to camp. Dallas spotted a gate across that clearing that meant if they could get there they could crawl under the fence and get somewhat of a lead on the hogs. What a dilemma and lesson to always have a plan before you go out venturing in the woods. Can’t worry about that failure to plan just now. Fee says, “Dallas you’re in charge to get us across safely”. Dallas calls all the pups to their side and very calmly informs the rest of our gang what we’re up against. Poor little Willow almost fainted at the mention of those boar hogs with the large tusks and the fact they could all be eaten alive. Willow starts to wail and say I never knew camp would be like this! I am gonna be eaten alive by a pig. I thought pigs were those cute little chunky animals in the farmyard that said, “oink, oink”. She almost starts to yelp really loud but Hank put his paw over her mouth really quick. They couldn’t give away their location or that they were even nearby or the hogs would stampede them. There must have been one hundred hogs in that pack. Shhhhh. We can only use sign language until we are out of danger. Dallas lays out the plan. They are gonna sneak around the outer perimeter of the clearing, dodging in and out of the trees very quietly trying to stay out of sight. It’s decided that Bear will lead the way, then little Willow, Luke, Coco, Hank, Felix and then me. I tried to spread out the big dogs with the smaller dogs in case there’s trouble. We are all fast runners but a wild hog can run up to 30 miles and hour. They can jump over fences less than three feet high and have been known to “climb” out of hog traps with walls 5 to 6 feet high. I have given all the pups this grim information so they could understand the seriousness of our situation. No mistakes or we don’t make it out alive. I have told everyone since it’s really hot and the sun is bearing down if we have to make a run for it don’t stay in the woods. Hogs can’t take much heat because they don’t sweat so they tend to stay in cool moist areas to maintain normal body temperature. If they tried running across the clearing our best chance is to try and overheat them before they catch us. Little Willow just fainted. Oh great, now we have a sick pup on our hands. Bear to the rescue. He waves his big bushy tail in Willows face and she comes to. She said, “I’ll be ok, I promise”! I can’t let the team down.
Here we go. We begin to make our way through the trees as planned. So far so good. Everyone is following the plan perfectly. All of a sudden a big tree limb comes crashing down in the woods. That happens all the time. But why did it have to happen right now. That spooked the hogs. Hogs can smell even better than deer. They can detect a scent that has lingered for days. Their eyesight is very keen and can detect a person over 100 yards away. But most of all they have an acute sense of hearing. The big boar out front starts grunting and pawing the ground and heads our way. Oh Lord, help us I pray as I say a quick prayer to God. You can do that you know. God is always listening. Even in the midst of a dangerous escape. I signal for everyone to run across the clearing as fast as their little feet will take them. We are almost across the clearing when all of a sudden right in front of us is standing the biggest pack of coyotes I can even imagine ever wanting to see. Lord, now what are we gonna do? I remember Radar telling me years ago in his pact with the Coyote leader, Aztec, that we would never come back into his territory. I guess we should have taken that other fork in the road. Those coyotes started advancing slowly towards us then broke into a fast run. I’m told a coyote can run up to 43 miles per hour. We’re goners for sure. Mama! Those coyotes split into two groups and ran right around us towards those hogs. I guess the hogs looked like a bigger meal than us piddly little pups. We turned to see those hogs making a turn really fast. It was a sight I will never forget. Come on gang, let’s get home.
Hi ho, hi ho, a hiking we will go. Come on guys let me hear everybody sing, says Felix. Hank sort of snickers to Dallas and says well that’s a little goofy, I’m not gonna sing that goofy song. About that time Big Fee (short for Felix) abruptly turns on those big heels and comes to a screeching halt and says “Hank, what did you say?” Showing a real toothy grin and cowering a bit on those long lanky legs Hank says, “who me”? Fee says, “I ain’t stuttering! You got a problem with my hiking song?” Terrifically embarrassed Hank says, “uh, no”. And off they went singing, well maybe it was more howling, at the top of their lungs. They climbed so far up and wound around so many trails everything began to look the same. Big Fee asked the tail end pup, Coco, if he had put any markers on the bushes so they could find their way back. Coco loves to daydream and chase butterflies. He is very easily distracted. Coco answers, “who me”? “Huh?” “I didn’t know, nobody told me to do that?” Fee says, “that’s always the tail end pups job to mark the trail!” “Geez, well I suppose we’ll have lunch and figure out how we’ll get back down. Spread the snacks Dallas.” Dallas came well prepared with lots of goodies. Good thing because they could very likely be spending the night on the trail. I do hope those coyotes are still friendly enough. They warned us about going through their territory a few years back. That’s when old Radar made peace with the coyote chief and the pups agreed to stay out of their territory. All this talk of being lost, coyotes, and the like were making little Willow real nervous. I tell you, she is sticking to me like glue and shaking like a leaf says Dallas. But that’s ok. I know what’s it like to be the new kid at camp. We all have to take care of each other. We’ve all had our first camp experience to tell.
After lunch we packed up and begin winding down the trail towards camp. A fork in the road. I always hate those things when I’m hiking and especially when I’m probably lost. We all agreed to take the fork to the right. After going just a short way around a bend we came to a gate. Another problem. Do we go through the gate and maybe meet up with a herd of mean cattle? Was the gate just there to keep people out? It’s getting on up in the afternoon and we don’t have time to waste. We go thru the gate. All’s good so far. After hiking about a mile, we came out into a cleared spot in the trees. Fee calls me to the front because he knows I am the levelheaded one in the pack. Dallas, is that what I think it is in the distance? I peer ever so intently across the clearing. Great jumping Josephat! We gotta sneak back out of here real slow and quick. Nobody makes a sound!
Yawn…..geez I slept good after eating all those pizza bones. Time to rise and shine my little pups! We gotta go and seize the day. After all we only have two weeks this year. Let’s have roll call camp chairman. Big Fee begins roll call. “Luke, Dallas, Coco, Bear, Hank, Willow, Willow, Willow.” Willow is not answering. Oh no, where could that little newbie be hiding? Hank says, “I think she might have eaten just a bit too much rat meatloaf last night.” That stuff is so rich and evidently if you, barf, have a taste for it you just can’t quite quit eating the stuff. Mercy me, I can’t for the life of me imagine even tasting that stuff. Well, we’ll need to see who is staying in camp with Willow while she recovers. About that time little Willow says, “I’m ok. I don’t want to miss out on anything. I’ll be ok.” Looking a little green around the gills she hops into motion.
OK guys, the weather is gorgeous, the lake is sparkling and the kids aren’t out quite yet as they are still at breakfast. I thought today we’d go on a rock climb. I understand Catahoula hound dogs are particularly good at climbing so I thought we would let Hank lead our expedition today. Hank jumps with excitement at being the leader for today. Dallas will pack the snacks and we’ll be off. Since Dallas has been at camp a few years already she knows where to find the quickest source of food. That would be right outside the kitchen where the kids are having breakfast. With her little backpack she loads up all the leftovers, donuts, waffles, pancakes, cereal bars. I do hope there’s some peanut butter in some of those cereal bars. Remember Dallas some of those kids are allergic to peanut butter. Geez, my Uncle Craig could not have grown up without peanut butter. His Mama said that’s about all he would eat when he was a little kid. Spoiled brat is what I think. I would’ve made him eat the broccoli. Hehe!
Here we go. Lead the way Hank. I tell you that Hankster can run with those long legs and right in back of him is Bear. I thought this was gonna be a nice leisurely hike up the rocks by the lake, pausing to look at all the beautiful scenery. Oh no, Hank thinks it’s a marathon. Here we go. “Watch out for snakes and coyotes Hank”, says Felix. Little Willow hears this and almost freezes in her tracks. “Wa..wa..wa wait a second, I might not feel so good”. No one said anything about wild animals!” “Dallas, are there really coyotes out here?” “Well, not too many, you’ll be fine”, says Dallas.
Geez, it’s been a long summer already! OK, it’s only the 4th of July but it seems like Christmas was two years ago. I haven’t seen my friends in weeks, I’m having to wear this goofy mask….wait a cotton pickin’ minute. Did they intend that dogs wear masks? I didn’t think so. I told Gigi but she insisted I wear that mask. It’s like a muzzle on me. She must think I’m gonna bite someone. Seriously this gals gone a little overboard on this whole Carona Barona Virus thing! Thank goodness I’m off to camp for a few weeks. I tell you Gig was just about to get on my nerves big time.
OK, guys looks like our little pup litter keeps growing every year. Last year it was Luke, Felix, me, Coco, and Hank. This year little Willow is joining us. She is Hank, the Catahoula Hound Dogs, baby sister. She is the cutest little pup ever. She is gray and white with those gorgeous clear blue eyes just like Hank’s. So load up pups, it’s gonna be a blast!
First day at camp is always crazy. Kids everywhere, lugging those huge lockers loaded with everything from home but the kitchen sink. I sure hope they brought tons of snacks. Gigi has been on a diet and I haven’t even had peanut butter in forever. What? Camp rules say no peanut butter? For real? OK. Well, there at least better be Cheetos, they’re my favorite.
At the close of camp last year as Camp Chairman I nominated Big Fee, Felix, to be Camp Chairman for 2020. Felix will do a great job. He is very level headed and confident. He likes to play and joke around but he also knows when to get the job done. So with that being said, it’s rat meatloaf for dinner says Big Fee. Ugh! Noooooo! Hank is jumping for joy as he remembered from last year how good it was. Not me, I’m gonna snoop around for some Pizza bones when those kids get done with dinner this evening. It’s every man/dog for himself tonight.
Girl, it’s been a week! What began as a perfectly normal week got real crazy by the minute. Monday was a great day walking in the neighborhood with Mama. I love my new neighborhood but more on that later. Tuesday was my annual checkup. The usual round of shots I get each year. You know that song, “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger”? Whelp, those shots threw me for a loop. The next day, I had a fever and was so lethargic Mama had to take me back to the vet. They hydrated me and gave me something for the fever. I wasn’t good for nothing for several days. Mama was real worried about me. I could hear her praying and crying out to God to help me get better. To tell you the truth, I was saying my little prayers myself. After a few days of TLC I am all better, although I have developed a taste for the yummy baby food meat Mama has been giving me the last few days. I know that’s coming to an end.
Mama signed up for an art class in a neat little town named Lindale, Texas. Too far for Mama to drive home at night so sweet Uncle Derrick decided we would just make a road trip today. What a day it was. I saw all kinds of new stuff. While Mama was in her art class Uncle Derrick and I walked all over Lindale going in and out of little shops. I just knew I would run into Miranda Lambert but that didn’t happen. I really wanted to go in that candy store but he said no. I was really bummed about that. I know those kids drop candy all the time in those stores. I suppose my favorite Daddy told Uncle Derrick how much I love chips because I got to have a big bite of a chip. Just one bite cause he knew Mama would have a fit. I promised I wouldn’t tell. Shhhhhh!
We drove straight through to get home tonight. Uncle Derrick and Mama hadn’t eaten dinner so they decided it would be fine to take me inside for a burger, well not me but them. I was on my very best behavior. I sat like a little lady right beside Mama and put my head on her lap while she and Uncle Derrick ate dinner. I didn’t make a peep. I suppose those nice ladies in Hamburger Depot thought surely I was in training to be a therapy dog. I did get a few looks and one man said he thought I was a purse until he saw me move. Mercy, a purse?
So, what started as a very scary week turned out to be great fun! Mama’s painting was sort of cute. A little weird but cute.
Over the hills and through the woods to “The Cousins” house we go. Not just any ole cousin. You see, these two cousins are aristocrats. They are Irish Crème Golden Retrievers named Coco and Felix. I sort of blend right in with their color, in other words I match them very nicely. Size matters not to me at all. I mean I can run with the big dogs. The minute I arrived Coco went nuts! Mmmmm, let me see, I thought you were an aristocrat? Settle down. I’m sure she’s saying to herself, “Mom, we’ve got a new puppy in the house!” Coco says, “let’s run and play and jump on the furniture”. I say, “I really have to tinkle first, ok?” I mean I’ve been riding for five hours with only one potty break. That’s fine with me because I love to sleep while I’m riding. As you can expect the entire first day is pandemonium. I’ve run and played so hard I can hardly wait for dinner and go to bed. Speaking of dinner, I’m not quite sure why Mom brings my food because I always eat what the cousins are having. I eat like a hound dog while I’m there. I graze at home but here when the food goes down I eat it all right away. That’s because these dogs give a good first impression but sister when the food goes down it’s a free for all. They might look a little regal but don’t turn your head.
Day two and the Pet grooming van arrived out front. Good, a little peace for a while as the cousins are having their spa shampoo out in the van. Wait a cotton pickin’ minute. What? The grooming van peeps are coming for little ole me. What if they kidnap me? Mama, I never said I wanted a bath. I don’t care if it’s Christmas! Inside the van, there’s soft music playing and a luxurious tub awaiting little ole me. The ladies speak very softly and ask if I want a manicure, what shampoo would I like, and if I wanted a cream rinse to make my hair shine. Oh, and what treat would I like while my hair is drying. I tell you, I might just move to Dallas with “the cousins”!
Christmas arrives and the cousins’ stockings are full of treats, toys and a gadget called a Furbo. Their Mom and Dad plug this Furbo thing in and load it with treats. It has a camera that can spy on them during the day and actually talk to them from their parents phone. Mom and Dad can’t wait to show their two retrievers. The Furbo spits out a treat and hey those two cousins ran for the hills at the sound of that machine. Not this junkyard dog, I ran right after that treat and gobbled it up. I mean I came from the Wal-Mart in Jasper Texas. You don’t exactly sit back and wait your turn when the treats are flying right in front of you. I hear that treat machine sound again and this time there’s two treats. Yum, this is a walk in the park. Those two big dogs are scared of the treat machine. Buzz, they just keep popping out. I’m really loving the test of this new little gadget. I must’ve had ten treats before they stopped testing that thing. I drank so much water that evening I had to go out at midnight to potty. I’m thinking I may move in with the cousins. Let’s see the pet van spa at the front door, their backyard is covered with artificial turf and the coup de grace is this Furbo! Yep, that’s it, I’m moving to Dallas!