JB always emerges from the water at the cabin with a happy sigh, briskly polishing himself with a towel and announcing “AHH, RIVER CLEAN.” I admire his manly pleasure in replacing a hot shower and actual soap with the great outdoors, but I do not share this perspective. I spent a good part of yesterday afternoon lying half-submerged on a little floatie (a terrible purchase, this thing is a mostly-mesh deal with only a small amount of plastic that actually gets inflated, which results in your body — once you get on the damn thing, which is no joke, or more precisely it is in fact a hilarious joke for anyone observing your tragic harpooned heavings — “floating” in the sense that you’re several inches under water, but yes, I guess technically you are buoyed somewhat; every time I use it I think of its cheery packaging, which shows a perfectly made-up lady posed on the side of a pool while the floatie lies nearby, which is clearly the only way it can live up to its promise of keeping you dry), face down and peering into the water as I was lazily moved this way and that by the sluggish summer waters, and while I was quite content — the combo of the hot sun and being permanently half-dunked turned out to be pretty nice — I was eyeballing all the things in the water that were lapping against or near my skin: clump of brownish whatever, dead bug, seaweed wisp, fish, fish, dead bug, wing of a bug, vague biological material of some sort, sodden leaf, bug, fish, giant spooky algae-covered tree snag in a deep section that didn’t actually touch me or anything but ugh that’s so creepy, severed crawdad pincer arm, brownish-green goop from where I brushed up against a rock, bug, wet feather that maybe has some goose poop on it. Just saying: “river clean” = no BJ for you.

Dog wasn’t particularly interested in swimming but she was happy to come along for various outings, even riding complacently in the canoe without a single look of bewilderment. (I sometimes wonder what she must be thinking, having gone from one home to another, and then we take her somewhere else completely and, like, put her in a boat. She’s so easygoing it’s almost suspicious, like maybe she’s somehow secretly wearing a little dog-sized vest of explosives.)

We took her out in the woods a couple times for some hiking and I had forgotten that full-bodied pleasure of being out in the middle of nowhere with a dog, no need for leashes or pockets full of poop bags. Why exactly is that so great? I don’t know, but it is. And here’s something I really love about her: I’m always the slowpoke when we’re making our way down some treacherous hill or scrambling over rocks or whatever, mostly because 1) I’m always wearing the wrong damn shoes, and 2) I’m kind of a giant pussy, and Ruby kept circling back to me. She’d go up ahead with the boys for a minute, then come gallumping back to gently snout me on the leg. Just checking on you, was the message of that snouting.

dog hike


41 Responses to “Just checking on you”

  1. Jen D. on August 4th, 2014 8:42 am

    Love the dog stories! There really is something glorious about a woodsy outing with your pup. My dog does the same thing as yours when my husband and I are out hiking. If there is some distance between us at any time, he circles back to me to check before running back to the front of our “pack”.

    My dog was totally unsure of the water at first. When we would go in he would stand at the edge looking a little concerned and like “You guys go ahead! I’ll just watch!” One day we started throwing sticks or balls into the water for him to fetch and now he absolutely loves swimming. He’ll run up and down the edge of a body of water waiting for us to throw something in for him and then he zooms after it like a little speedboat.

    Can’t wait to hear more about Ruby!

  2. LizScott on August 4th, 2014 8:54 am

    I always find that when my husband or I say something about what or dog likes (”Have you noticed he likes the mountains more than the city?” etc) what we’re really saying is something about ourselves.

    A dog romping off leash in the woods is just about the happiest thing ever. I’m always so happy to watch my dog lope along, coming back to check on me, running off to eat the bee or smell that smell or bound along to his hearts content. He has no desire to go on walks, ever, I think the leash offends him, like, why bother just WALKING if I can’t ENJOY the outside? And I suppose that’s true for me, too. I don’t want to go on forced marches either, I want to be out and about, doing what ever I want, with the people I love along side me, not leading me.

    Dogs in the woods, man. It makes me happy just to think about it.

  3. Ang on August 4th, 2014 9:09 am

    ““river clean” = no BJ for you.” – hahahahaha! Needed that this morning.

  4. Kristin on August 4th, 2014 9:11 am

    My dad’s dog would do that when we went for walks in the woods. We lived in the Midwest with long winters, so on winter walks, my dad would hide when the dog had gone off on a hunt. The dog would come back and search frantically for him. Of course, she was overjoyed when she found him.

    She would also always check on us at the bottom of the sledding hill (behind the pond) and make sure that we were okay when we reached the bottom.

    Sounds like you are having a great summer!

  5. Kris on August 4th, 2014 9:46 am

    Oh dear God, she is *so* stocky and squishy and lovely. Just looking at her makes my heart happy, and I’m truly overjoyed you guys found each other. Much, much love.

  6. LA on August 4th, 2014 10:02 am

    I am loving reading the stories about Ruby! It is so obvious that she was meant to be with your family.

    We lost our beloved mutt about a month ago. I cannot wait until we are ready to add another 4-legged member to our family again. I hope we find one just as perfect for us and Ruby is for y’all!

  7. Jen on August 4th, 2014 12:08 pm

    I love Dog stories already!

    River clean….no BJ is right! I really don’t like river or lake water. I guess I’m a princess that way. Chlorine for all!

  8. Mandy on August 4th, 2014 12:11 pm

    So glad you are posting so often.

  9. Maggie on August 4th, 2014 12:30 pm

    I love the “circle back” on walks with our dog. Not only does it say she loves us and wants us all to be together, it results in her getting twice the exercise and becoming nice and tired.

  10. Kim on August 4th, 2014 1:09 pm

    I can’t express how happy this made me. But because of what you described in the river, I’ve lost the ability to relax while in our lake. “Water shoes” helped at first, but since they can’t protect the random things that brush up against my legs, when my mind automatically goes to SNAKE, SNAAAAAAKE, I’m now too chickenshit to enjoy what should be a seasonal treat (and good exercise).

    But man, do I love the leash-less walks with our dog and I’m so happy for you-all and Ruby.

  11. sooboo on August 4th, 2014 1:27 pm

    My husband thinks swimming in a public pool with band aids on the bottom replaces a shower. It does not. Ruby sounds like the very best dog. She’s probably thinking that you guys take her to the coolest places.

  12. Sandy on August 4th, 2014 2:21 pm

    You’re her favorite. I vibe it.

  13. Sally Reynolds on August 4th, 2014 3:53 pm

    Just – Lucky You (apart from the goose poop, that is!)!

  14. TinaNZ on August 4th, 2014 8:49 pm

    This is making me want a dog more and more. Just picturing that happy, smile-y Lab face and that mellow swinging tail…

  15. Cas on August 5th, 2014 12:58 am

    “…tragic harpooned heavings.” The name of my autobiography. Or next indie band.

    Love :)

  16. Christine on August 5th, 2014 9:10 am

    Squee. Such a happy little glimpse of your life.

    Although I’m with you on the “river clean”. Blech.

  17. AnEmilyB on August 5th, 2014 11:32 am

    I love this. I also agree about the scam of “river clean.” Not sure I get the concept of hot springs either, I think of them as people soup. Scabs and skin tags and whatnot getting cooked off and floating around in there.

  18. Molly on August 6th, 2014 1:04 pm

    We have a new Lab puppy, and she’s so great, but challenging (nipping a lot, occasionally peeing right INSIDE the door to the back yard – when the door is open). Your posts about Ruby have me excited for when our dog is older and ready to do fun stuff like this!

  19. Cassie on August 7th, 2014 7:25 am

    1) I’m always wearing the wrong damn shoes

    Thank the Lord, I am not the only one! Husband is constantly complaining because he wants to go on a spontaneous hike and I have flip flops or cute sandals on. He always want to know why. Because I’m a girl, OK?! I like cute, girly things!

    (PS: I’m really glad you’re writing more lately. Of all the bloggers out there, you appear the most real and relevant to things I’m dealing with on a daily basis, especially the raising of boys. :))

  20. Niki on August 9th, 2014 4:59 am

    So glad Ruby found you.

  21. Bethany on August 10th, 2014 1:02 pm
  22. Bethany on August 10th, 2014 1:03 pm

    P.S. Sterilite makes this convenient can that matches the bronze color perfectly. We keep the dog food in it – Fabulous! Just FYI


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