My Nemesis

Kate the Springer Spaniel here. As you may know, I love to go camping. We live in the desert, where it is usually hot, hot, hot. So hot that you can burn your paws if you walk down the street in the afternoon. So it is great fun to go up to the cool mountains and sit in the shade of the trees. I take a nap every morning and every afternoon, enjoying the cool breezes.

Dee gets mad at me sometimes because I forget to come in the tent when it starts raining. She doesn’t like “soggy doggies” in the tent. When I’m really wet I make sure I sit on Brian or Dee’s pillow on the bed. They get upset, but just for a minute, because I look so darn cute lying there. When you’re cute, you can get away with a lot of stuff.

There’s not much I don’t like about camping except for my nemesis, THE SQUIRREL. I call it a tree rat because it has this bushy tail it waves at you and it scampers up a tree when I try to chase it, then taunts me because I can’t go up the tree after it. Don’t think I haven’t tried, though.

Brian says it is called “Abert’s Squirrel.” Well, this Abert guy should keep it in his own backyard. It follows us wherever we camp. I’ve seen it all over Arizona. How did it follow us all the way from Tucson, to Flagstaff this year? What does it have against me and my sister Rose the Irish Setter?

When we get to a new campground, I sit outside the tent and wait for it to show up.

I chase it out of our camp because I think–no, I’m sure–it wants to steal our food. It eats those yucky wild mushrooms that pop up after it rains, so it must be really hungry.

One time, just after sunrise, I spotted the squirrel in a clearing. I pulled so hard on my tether to chase it that I broke my collar. All of a sudden I was loose. You should have seen the look on the squirrel’s ugly face when I came charging after it. Brian had to put on his shoes before he could run after me. I chased that tree rat deep into the forest, but pretty soon I felt sorry for Brian and came back to him. He’s not used to running and got tired. Dog are better athletes than humans, you see.

The squirrel got away that day, but there’s always tomorrow. When it shows up in my campsite, I’ll be ready.

By the way, Mr. Abert, if you want your squirrel back, please contact me. I know where it is.

At all times.

And Mr. Abert, you might keep it on a leash. If a good girl like me has to be on a leash, so should a naughty little tree rat.

Even better, get a more respectable pet. Who wants a tree rat for a pet? Even a cat would be better. Sheesh.

Posted by Kate, the Watchful Springer Spaniel

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Danger in the Desert for Dogs: Rattlesnakes

I got bit by a rattlesnake when I was young. It was my second summer. It was in the yard. We had a fenced yard but somehow it got in.

Brian was digging in the yard and I tried and tried to get him away from the snake but he wouldn’t listen. So the snake bit me instead of Brian. I saved Brian. I still get treats for that today even though it was a long time ago.
Now there are rattlesnakes in the desert. Most of the time you don’t see them or hear them. There is nothing that sounds like a rattlesnake.

When you’re out with your two-legged companion, keep them on the trail. Don’t go off into the bushes. Don’t put your nose where you can’t see like behind a rock. Snakes like to hide behind rocks when it gets hot because the rocks provide shade.

A couple more things. Rattlesnakes don’t always rattle before they strike. The one in our backyard didn’t rattle. Also rattlesnakes don’t hafta be coiled up to strike. They can strike more than half their length, which means if the snake is four feet long it can bite you up to two feet away. And it’s hard to tell how long a snake is when they’re all coiled up.

Some gopher snakes — I dunno why they call them gopher snakes, I mean do they like gopher pizza, or gopher a walk — look sort like rattlesnakes. Rattlesnakes have eyes with slit pupils and gopher snakes have round pupils. Yeah, like I’m gonna look a snake right in the eyes to see if its poisonous. No way.

Always be careful for snakes in the desert.

Rose, the Irish setter

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Dangers in the Desert for Dogs: Cactus are Not Your Friend

There’s all sorts of stuff in the desert that can either sting, stick or bite you. And us four-legged companions hafta be careful. Don’t just go running around all over the place — Kate does that she sees a bird or a shadow and she’s off.

Now Brian and Dee keep us on leashes while we’re out camping, but sometimes Kate manages to get loose. Anyways here’s more stuff you hafta be careful with.
Stickery stuff like cactus: Some of the cactus have big broad needles like saguaro or barrel cactus. You hafta really work at getting one of those stickers in your paw.

Other cactus like cholla are nasty, nasty, nasty. See they have fine stickers or needles they almost look fluffy. But those needles get loose from the cactus really easy and they’re really hard to get out of your paws or anywhere else. If you try to bite the needle out of your paw you get it in your mouth. And let’s not even talk about getting the stickers in your nose. Stay away from cholla cactus.
Prickley Pear cactus hae two kinds of needles. Really tiny ones and then bigger ones. Both hurt. Prickly pears have pretty flowers in the spring and red fruit in the summer. Dee tries to pick the fruit but can’t get all the stickers off. You don’t want to eat stickers.

If you’re going to hike in the desert make sure your two-legged companion takes along a first aid kit that has pliers and a fine toothed comb. The comb gets the stickers out.
Rose, the Irish setter

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Rain, Rain, Don’t Go Away

Soggy doggy Kate

It’s raining. I like the rain. I like to jump in puddles and get my ears all wet. Then I shake. And guess what? Brian and Dee get all wet too.

In the backyard the grass gets wet so I roll in it. The grass feels good on my back. Okay, so I get a little on me, then Dee calls me a muddy mutt, but I’m not a mutt I’m a purebred English springer spaniel and I have three colors, not just one like Rose. She’s just red. I’m black and white and brown. Mutts are fine. I like mutts, but I’m not a mutt.

There’s an animal that looks like a rock that lives in the backyard. He’s called Bruiser the tortoise. He likes the rain too. He walks really, really, really slow. He doesn’t have fur, just the hard covering over him. When he gets surprised he pulls in his head and legs and tail underneath the hard cover. I like to surprise Bruiser, but then Dee fusses at me. She fusses at me a lot. Oh well.

I hope it rains again really soon.

Kate, the cute one.

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Go Find

See it’s this game we play. Our two-legged companion, this time it’s Payton, tells us to sit. You can see me sitting with Rose, Harley and Malibu. Harley is the little black guy. I like him. I want to play with him, but he doesn’t want to play with me. He likes Malibu and plays with her. She’s the mostly white one. She wants to play with me, but I don’t want to play with her. I want to play with Harley. Rose plays with anybody. Anyways back to Go Find.

Another two-legged companion hides these treats all around the house. Sometimes they’re on a table. Sometimes they’re on the floor or on the stairs. Then she says “Go Find!” and we all run around finding the treats. I win ’cause I get the most treats. At least I think I win. Maybe there’s no winning or losing, just lots of treats.

It’s a fun game and we can play it anytime.
Kate, the cute one

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It’s My Job When We’re Camping

Somebody has to do it so I picked me. If I don’t there will be squirrels all over the place. So it’ my job to chase away those pesky squirrels. You wouldn’t believe how cheeky they are. They wave their big bushy tails around like a flag that says “chase me, chase me but you can’t catch me.” Yanno Why? Because if I get close, those squirrels run up a tree. Now I don’t think that’s fair. If I hafta stay on the ground so should they.

I tried climbing a tree once. There was a nest of yummy baby birds on one of the branches. I tried and tried but couldn’t get up there. It worked out okay ’cause one of the birds fell out and that way my morning snack.

Anyways I don’t mind the little birds so much. It’s the big black birds called ravens I don’t like. If I wasn’t around to chase them away they’d come right up on the pic-a-nic table.

One time Brian put a bag of chili on the pic-a-nic table to thaw out. Well those ravens came right up and pecked through the bag with their big black beaks. Couldn’t have chili for diner ’cause you never know where those beaks have been. Maybe we could send all the ravens back to Baltimore. I bet the football team there would like a a stadium filled with big black raven birds.

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Woofing in the Woods

While we were camping up in the mountains this past weekend somebody was playing a guitar. It sounded really nice with the wind rustling the pine trees. My two-legged companion asked the player what he was using to make that pretty sound and he said it was a subwooferjbl jrx100 . Now I woof a lot, but I never sounded like a guitar. Maybe I need to get a subwoofer.


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Three O’clock Celery

Three O’clock is a long time from breakfast and a long time from dinner, so we get a snack. We used to get those snacks you buy in the store, but have you ever read the labels? Some of what they make them from is kinda yucky. Anyways, I don’t remember how it happened but one day Brian gave us a stalk of celery. It was yummy, all crunchy and juicy. Then because me and Rose liked it so much, Brian tried some kale, that was good too. The cucumbers were okay and Rose really like the carrots. Me, I like sweet peppers. We don’t like spinach, there’s no crunch and it sticks to our teeth.

Celery is the best and what we get most of the time.

Kate, who likes vegetables

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Kate Travels the Carefree Highway

Carefree Highway is a road that runs east-west, north of the Phoenix, Arizona area. It is also the title of a beautiful song by Gordon Lightfoot.

Recently, we went home to Scottsdale after a long road trip, and Kate found herself in a reflective, albeit hungry, mood that night as we drove the Carefree Highway. She was thinking about her lifelong friend Rose, our Irish Setter, who recently passed away. She’s not used to being without her best friend.

So Kate has her own version of the song.
Take it from here, Kate (never knew our madcap Springer Spaniel was capable of tender ballads):

“Sittin’ in the back seat as we glide down the road
I wonder when we’re gonna stop and eat
Her name was Rose and I suppose we’ll miss her all our days
She left us at least a year too soon

Carefree Highway, hope we see fast food on you
Carefree Highway, a Carl’s Jr. let me find
French fries to ease the pain of never seein’ my best friend again
Carefree Highway, let us stop to eat on you

“Lookin’ through the mem’ries of the fun we all had
I wonder how the years went by so fast
I was a tiny pup when we first met, you made me feel at home
And every day, you took great care of me

Carefree Highway, I’m lookin’ for a sign
Golden arches would be fine
Got chicken tenders on my mind
(Just not Taco Bell, this late it won’t sit well)

Now we’re stoppin’ at an Arby’s to get some hot roast beef
Dee and Brian always give me what I like
Though sharing would be much better…
…with my big ‘ol Irish Setter
Rose, I’m sorry a big bunch that I always stole your lunch

Carefree Highway, our back seat’s lonely it is true
But I guess that’s how it goes, when you say good-bye to Rose
Carefree Highway, let us weep a bit on you
Carefree Highway, let me weep a bit on you

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Treats, Treats, and More Treats

There are treats on the shelves. Treats in baskets. Treats in Buckets, Treats behind the glass. Big treats. Little treats. Chewy treats, Soft treats. I love Whiskers Barkery in Prescott Arizona. And you know what? I got treats. I also got lovies and I like lovies as much as I like treats.

There was one thing I didn’t like about this place. It has grooming like buzzing and baths and brushing. Don’t like that at all.

Besides treats, there are leashes, and collars, and beds, and vitamins. That’s all good stuff.

Oh, after all the treats I got a big drink of water.

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