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!
I have peeled gobs of peaches this week and put them in the freezer for enjoyment later. I have always been fascinated with peach seeds. As a child I remember old men carved peach seeds into the shape of a monkey, which would then be placed on key chains. I think peach seeds (pits) are very unusual and actually very pretty. They have the distinct shape of a heart with valleys and peaks that make up their physical appearance. Maybe they even resemble a brain, not that I’ve ever seen a brain but I’ve seen photos. Everyone knows peach pits are hard as a rock. One fragment from a pit in a cobbler will remind you quickly to remove the entire pit! For whatever reason a tiny fragment of a pit will sometimes separate from the main seed and hide out in the wonderful soft flesh.
I am amazed that in one short growing season a peach tree sends forth tiny blooms. That bloom turns into a tiny peach the size of an English pea. That pea size fruit grows quickly into a luscious peach. The outer skin is soft as cotton with smooth fuzz. Directly under that thin skin is a wonderful flesh which when fully ripe drips with juice almost sweet as sugar. When you get to the middle of this soft flesh you encounter a seed that resembles concrete! Yikes. How did that happen so quickly in such a short growing season? Every now and then as you peel a peach the seed will split in half. Inside that hard seed there’s a kernel that resembles an almond. Don’t eat this folks! You may not live to tell about it.
A design and mystery only God could conceive.
Camp is coming to a close again this summer. It always makes me so sad to leave. Coming together with my cousins each year is something I look forward to all winter. Every year is different and that’s what makes it so much fun. The same location but different cousin pups make this the greatest camp in Texas. Well fellow pups let’s get this last few days going. We don’t have a minute to spare.
I need to ask what were some of your favorite events, favorite foods and favorite memories. OK, we’ll start with Felix. Felix says his favorite event was of course the ever-popular blob. He had great fun plunging down with all his might heaving Hank a mile high! Felix’s favorite food was rat meatloaf. Ugh, that’s the request he always puts in the first night we are back at camp. Yuk, he’s the only who likes that weird stuff. His favorite memory was standing by the big slide guiding us to shore while we rescued Hank on the sailboat.
Coco’s favorite event was the hike up to the big rock for the picnic. Even though it was cut short by Hank’s dilemma he enjoyed the hike. Coco went crazy over the tossed out apple slices. He loves them so much and begged everyone for their share. His favorite memory was meeting Hank for the first time. Little Hank won everyone’s heart with his goofy little smile and winsome personality. Hank is still growing so when he runs it appears that he will trip over himself because his legs are too long for his body just yet. Hank is just the cutest pup.
Bear’s favorite event was also the blob. He took great joy in launching me into outer space. I thought I would never come back down and when I did I went so far underwater I thought I’d never come back up. Whew, it was a close call. Bear’s favorite food was all the pizza bones. Those tasty crust all kids toss out almost every time they have pizza. Bear’s favorite memory was pulling little Hank to safety on the sailboat. What a champion swimmer Bear turned out to be. Not only was he strong but he was so sweet to little Hank once we got Hank back to shore.
Hank’s first camp and what memories he made. His favorite event was his trip headfirst down the big slide. His favorite food was surprisingly rat meatloaf. And I thought Felix was the only one who liked the stuff. Who knew? His favorite memory although really scary was hearing his first coyote howl at night as we camped on the big hill.
I have to say I loved every minute of camp. I was proud to serve as camp chairman although it was pretty scary at moments. My favorite event was sailing. I suppose I’m the reason Hank drifted off on the sailboat I forgot to tie down that day. My favorite food is and will always be the left over hot dogs. Yum! My favorite memory was watching Hank’s face during scary stories on the big hill the night of the camp out. A scary story is always the initiation of every camper! I am so sad that camp is over but geez I had a great time. I now nominate Felix to be next years camp chairman. I’m sure he’ll do a great job. Can’t wait to see all of you next year.
Author and creator of Dallas Tales
Hank’s rescue yesterday was such a great team effort. As camp chairman this year I could not be more proud of all of the cousins. Everyone pitched in and didn’t complain even once about pulling Hank all the way to shore. That took a great deal of energy from everyone.
So around the campfire last night I asked Hank just how his sailboat experience happened. Hank said he was out chasing butterflies and drifted further and further from our little group of cousins. He said it was like someone turned down the volume and he no longer heard our voices. He knew we were set to hike up the hill to the big rock for our picnic but he let his distraction of chasing butterflies cause him lots of trouble. Like I mentioned before catahoula hound dogs are great at climbing. And since Hank’s a catahoula he is really good at jumping and very sure-footed. He thought it would be great fun to explore the little sailboat. It would be great fun to drift a little way then he would jump in and swim back to shore. However before he realized it he had drifted out into the middle of Inks Lake. He’s still a young pup and wasn’t sure he could swim that far back to shore. He made the right decision to stay with the boat! Hopefully that will be our last Hank episode! Right Hank? Hank gives us a toothy grin and wags his tail sheepishly. Little rascal scared us all to death!
Ok, cousins, let’s go make the best of our last few days at camp. Who wants to try jumping on that big blob in the lake? That’s something I have wanted to do every year. Who will be first? Bear jumps up and down and volunteers. Bear is the biggest dog in camp. The kids are in rest time so it’s a perfect time of day to try the blob. I will jump on the blob then Bear will jump next. Mercy sakes alive, I didn’t want to go to the moon but I thought for a minute I was blasting off into space. What fun! Next Hank jumped on the blob and then Felix crashed down. Poor little Hank went flying into the air! I see why the kids love this thing. So fun! Well speaking of kids here they come out for their afternoon swim so let’s hit the road. What do you say we hike up to that rock again today since Hank didn’t get to see my favorite trail? Here we go. I will lead and Felix you cover the back and for goodness sakes don’t let Hank out of your sight! By the time we reached the rock it was getting late in the afternoon so I thought it would be a great idea to make a campfire. Bear and Felix had Hank help them find sticks for the fire. I rolled rocks into a ring for our campfire. I found some scraps of paper and lots of pine straw to help start our fire. We worked and worked and finally got the sticks in place on top of the straw and scraps of paper. We’ll start our fire before the sun goes down. The only way we can start a fire is to find a piece of glass and hope the sun shines just right thru the glass to ignite our straw and paper. It’s always worked before. We wait and wait. I was getting a little worried when I began to see a puff of smoke. Yes! We have our campfire. There’s nothing more fun than sitting around a campfire telling stories. Especially scary stories. It’s so much fun to tease the young pups at their first campfire. I begin by recounting the story I told a few years back about spending time on the farm with old Radar. This was the time when as I was slipping inside for the night. Just then my paw slipped off the old screen door and a colony of bats swooped down towards my back. Old Radar told me if a bat ever lights on your back it’s light out. Sayonara, goodbye, adios, see ya in heaven buddy cause it’s over! I was terrified and ran screaming and howling to the river and jumped under water. I escaped those flying devils that night. I look over to see little Hank shaking. Hank asked, “are there bats out here”? By now it’s dark and all you can see of Hank are those blue eyes. Well Hank I’ve never seen any bats out here but you just never know. There could be bats up in those really tall trees in a hollow. Hanks throws a few more sticks on the fire so it lightens up our campfire nicely. Bear says, “tell Hank about the old coyote who lives out in these woods”! He doesn’t especially like us pups being out here in his woods. He runs us out any time he lays eyes on us. Well, Bear, we’re not near where the coyotes live. It would be dangerous to camp too close to them at night. “Camp?” said Hank. “You mean as in camp out?
“Oh no, I didn’t sign up for a campout in the woods at night”, said a terrified Hank. I’m ready to go back to the campgrounds. Settle down little pup I told Hank. We’re not gonna let anything hurt you. It’s fun to sleep out under the stars on a gorgeous night. There’s a full moon and it provides a lot of light naturally. Hank immediately goes over to Bear, who is the biggest dog in camp, and says, “I’m sleeping right next to you!” Yawn, I’m getting sleepy. Let’s all tuck in for the night. Just when everyone is almost asleep far up into the hillside our old coyote friend Aztec lets out a long low howl. Hank jumped completely over Bear and runs to my side. I tell Hank to settle down, I can tell by old Aztec’s howl that it’s merely a greeting and not a threat this time. Goodnight!