Oh no! Suitcases! I sigh. Long stress yawn. I hate suitcases so much, my anxiety kicks in big time. It means you are going away. Pouting is my favorite way to instill guilt and boy, does it work!
Wait! Are you packing my leash and my bowl? Does this mean – really? Oh boy, oh boy! Let me in the car and close the door, quick! The car is really full of stuff and my dog bed is lining the back seat. Where in the world are we going? My Grammy gets into the car too. My curly tail doesn’t allow me to really “wag” but I can shake my butt and wiggle with glee. One happy boy! The pack, all of us together. I am excited but nervous. We dogs live for the present and every day is a new adventure. I LOVE adventure but the roar of the engine causes me to slip into a dreamy sleep.
When I wake up from my nap, we stop for my pee breaks and the air feels different – drier and hotter. The heat carries the smells of my mom’s herbal garden: sages, rosemarys, fragrant wood. Hmmmm. Thirsty, thirsty. The rough, gravelly dirt is prickly on my sensitive paws. I hop back in the car and am blasted with cool air. Hey, I know it’s hot outside but this temperature switch is killing me! Turn down the A/C guys! I crawl onto the floor behind the seats for relief.
My ears! Something feels different. There’s pressure in my ears and it hurts. I am yawning way more than usual. Please open the window, even a crack!
Mom keeps talking about mountains. The landscape is flat with big mountains in the distance. We finally stop and the suitcases come out. Grammy tells me we are in Flagstaff. This isn’t our home! Why are we here? I really am a creature of habit! A homebody! I know all that stuff I said about living in the present. I take it back. I’m not used to being out of my comfort zone – my sweet backyard with cool grass, a shady patio, the occasional possum to kick my prey drive in gear.
All these noises in this Flagstaff backyard spook me. My barking mechanism is triggered with the crack of a twig. I am in protection mode for the pack. It’s my job and I don’t take it lightly. I’m not like those Golden Retrievers who gush all over everybody. I size up a situation and am super cautious. You might say distrusting. Sometimes it takes years for me to realize people are actually my allies, like my neighbor, Sandy who I now adore. Yes, I have trust issues but it’s too late now to teach this old dog new tricks. I’m too smart to buy into any kind of behavior reform! Thankfully, Mom and Gram pet me and scratch my chest until I calm down. I quickly fall into a deep sleep and dream of chasing cats.
Cats. I’m not really sure how I feel about cats. When I spot one, my bark turns high-pitched and I whine. I want to pursue but have never really interacted with one. Once, on a neighborhood walk, I barked and pulled on my leash to get a closer look at a big, gray cat on a doorstep. Another cat, I’m sure the porch cat’s friend, jumped out from behind a bush (she must have just been waiting for someone to terrorize) and landed directly in front of me. She arched her back, raised her hackles and fur and let out a “hiiisss” like I have never heard! I got the message but the experience shattered my ego. The cat terrified me! I leapt in the air several feet backward and whimpered like a baby. I am not proud of this moment but there it is. I digress.
The next day we hit the road again. Killer temps but I manage to relax into the drive. We arrive in a town Mom calls Santa Fe. I exit the car, do my downward dog yoga pose and enjoy the cool breezes. Sniffing with curiosity, I detect anointed pee on rocks from unfamiliar creatures. Birds softly chirp and the rustle of wind in the pines unlocks bold and stringent scents. My ears are perked straight up like radar, alert, on guard, pivoting to catch any and all unique noises.
Mom sits on the porch and writes while I zen out next to her taking in the clean air where I can really pick up scents like coyote and lizard. I even think I hear drum beats. I am an old soul and very intuitive. I feel an energy of connectedness to this natural wilderness. Am I in tune with the ancients who lived here so long ago? Mom seems especially comfortable here and I hear the word “love” a lot. Sigh. Traveling can be interesting!
The altitude is affecting my appetite and I’m not very hungry. I know it’s my anxiety too. Grammy sneaks me her leftovers from the dog-friendly restaurants we go to. I love my Grammy. People in the restaurants always reach out and want to touch me – usually my head. Well hellOH-HO. Can you please be polite and ask? Did you not take Dog Etiquette 101? Ok, scratch my chest and I’m yours.
Hey wait! I’m feeling comfortable here, in the wooded forests of Santa Fe. So why are we packing up and leaving? Oh well, as long as we are all together, I’m in. A few stops later and the visuals and scents are shifting. Big, I mean really big snow-capped mountains loom, so close their energy pulsates. Boulder is the word Mom and Grammy keep telling me. I guess we’re going to Boulder. All shades of green dot the landscape. Who says dogs don’t see color? Ahhh, refreshing. I LIKE Airbnb! My paws enjoy cool grass like my backyard. My nose detects water, more pine, and that familiar smell I know so well – cats!
Every evening my mom takes me for a walk around the condo complex where we are staying. Every evening, as we turn the corner, an orange tabby cat sits just inside a small wooden patio. Every evening she waits for me (it must be love) and when she see me, leaves the comfort of her condo to strut her stuff outside along the wooden planks, almost as if she is a lady of the night in an old western town, daring me to come closer, “Come on over, big boy,” she seems to say. It’s this game we play, night after night and I quite enjoy it. Of course, I whine out of curiosity. Each time I whine, my mom gets a fit of the giggles watching us. Maybe my mom should get us a cat to play with….
Packing up again! When will this end? The drive home is hotter and at the rest stops, my mom actually picks me up to place me in a grassy area so my pads won’t touch the searing pavement. I love my mom.
Exhausted from all the new sights and sounds, I sleep away, dreaming of tall forests and scents of herbs, and gigantic mountains and my favorite dream of all – cats!
That’s my story. As my mom always says,
Ciao for now!