We have entered the dog days of summer. The ancient Greeks took notice that Sirius, the dog star, rose in the sky along with the sun during the 30ish day span, and they believed that it added extra heat to the already hot summer days. And, we have felt the warmth of the old dog star this week. I don’t know if he also brings humidity, but that was here too.
Miles, the oldest camp dog, has had some health issues as of late. In his old age he has developed arthritis, and he has some digestive issues whose details I will skip for your sake. I remember when he was a lively puppy who terrorized the older camp dogs, jumping all over them, biting on their ears, and waking them up when all they wanted to do was take a nap in the yard. Now Miles is like a crotchety old man. He enjoys getting in the air conditioning, laying down (sometimes on his back) and passing out for longer than we can keep track of. There was a time when Miles would follow any group of campers he saw. He was a constant companion to the creek stompers. He would wade into the creek, lap up about a gallon of creek water, then get out and shake off enough water to give an elementary camper a good shower. Miles was a puppy trapped in a 95 pound lab mix’s body. Now he rests on the cool concrete slab, and while the creek stompers wait for the rest of their group to arrive, he looks up with his dark eyes at them. They pet him and fawn over him, and I think he imagines taking another trip there to run neck and neck with the little campers. But, he has much fewer trips in him per day now, so he lets them scratch his thick black hair and relives the glory days from a comfortable spot.
Jock spends a great deal of his time hiding. He continues to confound everyone who meets him. Jock has lived at camp for years and years now, but he still does not feel comfortable being touched or petted unless he initiates it. Jock is not an aggressive dog, and he doesn’t attack anyone. Fortunately for him, he is incredibly fast, so if he doesn’t want you to touch him, you probably won’t. Jock will follow the right people around. He seems to like the company, but something from his past just won’t let him have human contact. It is a shame to most people, too, because Jock is a beautiful dog. He’s a tall thin dog with a black coat, white on his paws, and giant green eyes. Everyone wants to pet him. There was a camper here who claimed that every dog liked her, and she could get any dog to let her pet him. She failed with Jock. But if you catch him on the right day and don’t make a big fuss over him, you may be on your way down the road to wilderness camp or the creek. You will be looking down the road, enjoying the breeze, watching the trees sway back and forth. Then without notice, you will feel a soft nose, nuzzle up to your hand for just a moment. Don’t be alarmed. Don’t even act like you realize what’s happening. Enjoy it, it won’t last forever.
Lily is completely obsessed with Gary. Everywhere he goes, she follows. She knows his vehicle, and sometimes accidentally follows it when someone else drives it. If Gary leaves the camp, Lily will wait for him to come back, and if he doesn’t return soon, she will howl, setting the rest of the dogs off to howl. She is a Weimaraner, and so many who visit comment on how pretty she is. She has a princess mentality, and expects to be petted if you are in arms reach. If you fail in this expectation, she will paw at your knee until you do pet her. If you see Lily walking around camp alone, you can figure she is in pursuit of Gary, wondering how he might have evaded her. A cabin of girls sees her, and they surround her. They pet her on the head, behind the ears, on her back, and looks up with her sad eyes, allowing them to pet her. It’s not Gary, but for now, it’ll do.
The newest dog to spend a lot of time at camp is my new dog, Digby. My wife and I got him from the Benton County Animal Shelter, and we believe he is a Cairn Terrier. It is the same breed as Toto from The Wizard of Oz. It seems that nearly everyone on earth is drawn to him. When you walk him up the hill you hear squeals from boys and girls alike, gawking over how cute he is. Digby is content to eat up all of this attention. He is easily distracted and often acts like he can’t hear you calling him to come sit in your lap, but I think it just thrills him even more that someone is spending this much time on him. He loves for campers to chase him and run from him, so he can get out part of his endless supply of energy. If I unleashed him, he would sprint out onto the basketball court and play hardest of all (at least until he got stepped on). At the end of the day, Digby will find a place among the couches in the Library and lay down. I don’t know if he realizes how lucky he is to have landed here (I wonder that about all of us), but I know he’s enjoying it.
Pray for us and the dogs, as the dog days go on. We have 3 more weeks to enjoy campers with us day after day.