And yet another. I wrote this one when we moved. I hate moving, have always abhorred the upheaval, the mess, the overwhelming sorrow of Good Byes inherent in moving. And yet, and yet.... There is a Dawn-ness about it. An expectation of new beginnings. This was my Big Adventure. (well, one of them, anyway.. There was that trip to Cancun....But that is for another post) Anyway.....
Travels With Teeghkii
It’s time. The dawn is fading from the sky, and we are all packed. We have been living in a motor home, squatting in my husband’s mother’s driveway, awaiting the time when we could journey to our new home. We are all in crates, all of us, living between worlds After 46 years of living in San Diego, after 37 years of living in the same house, we are leaving for a new state, and we are taking our animals, our furry family, with us. It is time to begin our new life, and time to say good-bye, finally, to the old one.
Both of us must drive a vehicle, caravanning from San Diego, California, to the upper Western Cascades of Oregon. My husband drives our crate, the motor home, and I drive the truck, the back loaded with six cats in four extra large Pet Porters, and two wolfdogs, Spirit & Teeghkii. We have an old couch mattress and an armload of extra towels laid out for him, for comfort. The cat crates have a plywood roof braced over the top, and all of the accoutrement necessary for a 1,200 mile interstate journey with animals is stacked in neat piles atop it..
We have water bowls, bottles of water, a five-gallon “workman’s” water container, handi-wipes, ACE, (a canine tranquilizer) Dramamine, extra leashes, cable tethers, an extra large metal crate that breaks down, blankets, extra collars, cat litter, pooper scoops, sealed bins of food for both species, four ice chests full of frozen foods, chew toys, stuffie toys, squeakie toys, bones, laundry soap, paper towels, camp chairs, ropes, two emergency medical kits, trash bags, flashlights and lanterns. We are ready. It is time.
We have placed my other four wolfdogs, two bonded pairs, with a sanctuary for fosterage until we can get settled and build inescapable containments at our new home. We didn’t have a vehicle large enough to keep each pair completely separated from one another, and with the addition of the cats, we decided only to travel with the two who were cat friendly. Additionally, these other four have specific containment requirements, which will take us some time and money to properly build once we arrive at our new home. I know they will be safe and well-cared for, and I cannot take the chance that some ill-fortune will befall us on such a journey. It will be too long, until we are all re-united, and I will miss them. But their safety is more important.
Spirit is an old hand at this. She loves to travel, and will gleefully ensconce herself on the front seat of any vehicle, with a smile on her face. Teeghkii is not so sure that all this newness is desirable. What was so bad about the old house? He seems to say as we drive away. I watch the house dwindle in the rear view mirror, and he watches it from the rear window. I wonder if he feels the same sort of wistful longing as I do. He doesn’t know of the new housing development, of the new attitudes regarding dogs. He has no idea that people would move to rural areas, and then complain about how rural it is. He will never know the reason Tica is no longer with us, poisoned by those city neighbors. He will never understand how we were given the legal choice of get rid of the dogs, or move. To us, there was no choice. Spirit looks ahead, into the future. I hope Teeghkii will listen to her canine wisdom.
We drive up the coast and camp out at the beach with friends. A send-off party, and a place of particularly joyful memories. Teeghkii & Spirit love the beach, with its’ rich, fecund smells of surf and seaweed, of tides and all the little creatures who live by them. That night, we set the tone of the week to come. We tether up the dogs on nice long cables, and set out food and water for them. We unload the truck and I crawl into the back and shut the hatch in order to feed & water the cats, & clean litter boxes. This way, there can be no bolting accidents. We fire up the bar-b-q and cook our dinner, saving some delectables as treats for the dogs. We set up the metal crate, and line it with blankets. After a nice long walk along the beach, I give Teeghkii a nice meaty bone to chew and we put him in his crate for the evening, right outside our door, right beneath our window, so he can hear my voice, and I can hear his. The motor home is crammed with the rest of the accoutrement for the humans, briefcases full of insurance papers, escrow papers, Grammy’s will. Down pillows and hand-made quilts. Suitcases full of what clothes we thought we might need for as long as it takes for the rest of our belongings to make it up. All my photo albums. Since Teeghkii firmly believes that God made down pillows & paper for his enjoyment, and that beds were made to bounce upon, I can’t take the chance that he won’t decide that something else might be fun to chew up while the humans are unconscious. Escrow papers might be considered a delicacy in his wolfdog mind. So he gets his own crate. We padlock the crate, because I am so afraid that someone might sneak through my barricades of cautiousness and steal my furchild.
The next morning, I crawl into the back of the truck again, and clean all the cat boxes, and refresh their food and water. We take the dogs for a nice long walk, pooper scooper and plastic bag in hand. We pack everything up, fasten the traveling water dish, pull out another nice bone, and load the dogs up in the back.
We drive from morning until dusk. We have paid for a Kampsites of America (KOA) membership, so we can easily find a dog-friendly campsite off the freeway, and not have to search. We decide to stop at dusk, so we’ll have plenty of light to see the area, and know where we need to set up our camp, for the maximum protection and comfort for the dogs. Several of the campsites are lovely, and offer walking trails. We select the sites with the most isolation.
We take potty breaks periodically, and there are days when Teeghkii does not wish to get back into the truck. He makes it known that he’s none too pleased with the confines of the back of the truck. There are times when it takes up to an hour to convince him otherwise. We are patient, since we have already scheduled in “walk-times”. On one such “unscheduled pit-stop”, we had to bodily lift him up onto the tailgate before he’d settle in. An action guaranteed to torment any human back, since Teeghkii is weighing in at 125 lbs now. He is a good boy, but this is a long trip for him, and he is not as enamored with vehicles as Spirit is. Spirit decides she wants to ride in the passenger seat with Vin in the motorhome, so Teeghkii gets a bit more elbow room. We have opened the top vent and the side vents, because they are way up in the front of the camper, and due to the cat crates, are inaccessible. This was an important issue, as I know that wolfdogs are prone to creative escaping, and I do not want to deal with a stuck dog wriggling through the window of the camper shell as I am trundling down the hiway going 65 mph.
I am glad that I took the time to get Teeghkii crate-trained, to get him tether-trained, and leash-trained. I am glad I went to such great lengths to socialize him to people and other animals. I am glad he is who he is. All of these things have come in so handy on our journey, making it so that we could keep him with us on our exodus, and not have to be fostered out like the other kidz.
That transport will be more stressful, less leisurely. We will not take walks on that transportation, nor will we camp out. We will be making that run in one straight shot. We will be loading up the rest of my dogs in their crates on a trailer, with plywood sides, and plywood partitions separated the pairs, so as to decrease stress, and a plywood roof. We cannot use a covered U-Haul because of the lack of ventilation. The crates will be stuffed with straw to absorb any spills or accidents. We’ll be wiring small metal buckets to the side of the crates for ice cubes and water, as any of the commercial water dishes will not last. The morning we leave, we will be administering ACE one hour before we leash them up to get loaded in order to give enough time for the medication to kick in with no stress. They will have been fasted the day before. We’ll be bringing the same list of accoutrement, but we do not expect to be using it, as these kidz have fear issues, and I cannot chance an escape.
But that time is not here. It is dawn of the last day of travel, and we begin our routine for the day. The mists creep along the ground, everything is damp and sparkling with dew, and you can hear the tinkling sound of the streamlet we have camped beside, laughing. I unlock Teeghkii’s crate, leash him up, and take both kidz for a walk while Vin makes breakfast. There’s cattle on the other side of the streamlet we discover, as the sun parts the mists, and Teeghkii is enthralled. He sniffs one brave heifer’s nose, and they both snort back amazed at each other’s differences. We amble back from a leisurely walk for chores and breakfast. We save some scrambled eggs for the kidz’ breakfast, which is light in preparation for another couple hundred miles of travel.
We are almost there, almost to the new country where we will make our new Forever Home, Wolfdancer Creek, all of us, castaways who have discovered a paradise to share. There is much work ahead of us, new containments to build, an orchard to reclaim, work to be done to clean up the house and property. But this is our time, and we are embracing it, all of us. And thanks to careful planning, careful consideration of the dangers on the road, and careful preparation, it has been a good time. A bonding has occurred, another layer in the quilt of trust that we have woven with Teeghkii and Spirit. On this journey, Teeghkii has grown up some. And I have to say, so have I.
Kat Wolfdancer Feb. 2004