The True Story of an Island Dog
to an Alien Landscape!
to an Alien Landscape!
I'm just a simple island dog. I've been living on a tropical island for ten years. Ok, so I'm an OLD island dog. I answer to Dooley, most of the time. When I feel like it, basically. I'm good at the old "No Habla" thing. I learned that from watching cats. Cats are zen masters at ignoring people.
The big guy in my pack started typing blog posts about 8 human-years ago. I've watched him muddle through over 300 of them, and listened to countless explanations of the mistakes those software / hardware / marketing idiots make. I don't know who Google and Gates are, but apparently the Big Dude has narrowed the problem down to those two. But bottom line is that I think I've picked up enough to try my paw at this blogging thing, too. If you're another dog reading this who has similar ideas, I can tell you up front that you need to get voice recognition, a good translation app, a spell checker, and an online grammar editor. Otherwise all that walking and scratching over the keyboard will be for naught. Looks like gibberish without the right software. And you KNOW what it's going to cost you when they see the toenail scratches on the touchpad. That's no-treats / Bad Dog high drama time around this place. I will pay for this blog post. Believe me.
Normally I live quite happily on a dead end road at the end of a peninsula in a small neighborhood in a tiny city on a small island in a small nation in the deep blue ocean between the Bahamas and Hispaniola. The Big Dude has written about the place. What I want to write about is what he doesn't tell you, sitting there with his blog and his pretty sunrise and blue water photos. Nope. This isn't about that. This is about what's been happening to me since they hauled me off island for the summer! Yes, I was forcibly restrained, drugged and transported to a strange and exotic place far, far away from my home in the islands. This is my story.
I don't quite remember how it started, or when I first noticed that something was up. I can usually tell when they're getting ready to travel. They haul out suitcases and talk about places with names that I don't recognize. Typically, they drop me off at Pampered Paws and I hang out with a bunch of other island dogs until they come back and bail me out and take me home again. They always smell like someplace else, and when they open their suitcases it's like an Imax movie for olfactory glands. That's what I was expecting to happen this time. But it didn't go that way at all. Nope.
Big Dude gave me a suspicious smelling hunk of cheese, and although there was something just not quite right about it I swallowed it anyhow. I mean this is cheese we're talking about here, after all. Dogs don't pass up cheese. Even cheese with a pill shaped lump in it. Perfect bait. We're as bad as the rats when it comes to cheese. We can't help ourselves. And he's not going to take 'no' for an answer anyhow. So I ate it. Next thing I know I was in some kind of mesh tent being carried through the airport, and I dozed off and woke up in someplace called Texas.
We were only in Texas for a few days. Long enough to meet a bunch of people who look and smell a little bit like the big dude I live with. They laugh and talk a little like him, too. We went to a party in Texas, but that's all I can tell you about it. The people who had the party are really nice people, but alas, they like cats. Cats get to sit on laps and get petted and fed delicious little bits of things. Dogs have to stay out in the back yard. Need I say more?
Big Dude came out to walk me around and stop the howling. Then when he went back inside I peed in the flower bed and dug a few small exploratory holes. Maybe a dozen, to confirm my early results. Did you know they use manure for fertilizer in the flower beds in Texas? And they cover it with a thin layer of mulch to keep that wonderful odor trapped. I thought it was a great party. The pool area was smelling righteous by the time they hosed my feet off and hauled me out of there. Some of those Texans can sure get excited about their new carpet, can't they?
We spent the next six hundred thousand years in a strange smelling car that Big Dude said he got from something named Hertz. Well, maybe it wasn't actually years.... but it felt that way. The Nice Lady found a way that she can keep in touch while we're driving. Even in Mr. Hertz car. Which Big Dude calls a chitbocks, or something that sounded close to that. We travelled for two days in human time. I think that's about how long it typically takes to escape Texas in a chitbocks.
Don't misunderstand me on the Texas part. I loved it there. I met at least a dozen people who seemed to know my name and who wanted to scratch me. Things were just getting interesting when we left for someplace called Colorado. We did make plenty of rest stops on the way out of Texas, though. You know how road weary a little dog can get. Especially a dog who lives on an island that's only 17 miles long. Heck, if you spend three hours in a vehicle where I live, something's gone way wrong.
Here, we stop every three hours for a stretch and scratch. I could get used to this routine.
The time spent riding between the rest stops was brutal on me personally. I'm the Designated Watch Dog. I was forced to maintain constant vigilance for dropped trail mix peanuts and keep an eye on the road traffic as well. It's hard to do all of that and maintain a mandatory nap schedule at the same time. I solved part of it by keeping close to Big Dude when Nice Lady was driving. Nothing escapes me here.
I did get woken up once by Big Dude laughing and taking photos of me. It makes it hard to maintain my concentration sometimes, but it all goes with the job.
When we got to Colorado we stopped to visit some people in a place called An Apartment. They have strict rules here on where and what a dog can get away with. Ask me how I know....
I spent a lot of time staring through those steel bars. Looking at the world outside, going on without me while I waste away here on the cold concrete floor of a merciless patio cell.... It's not fair. Not fair, I tell you. I'm an island dog!! I have a right to the sunshine!
Then just as I was about to start rattling my tin cup on the bars and trying to lead a revolt, I heard Big Dude say something about taking the dog for a walk before dinner. Suddenly, it didn't seem all that bad any more. I think it was Ringo who sang that you got to pay your dues if you want to sing the blues, and you know it don't come easy.
We finally left The Apartment and headed on up north. I could tell we were going north. It was getting colder. And the air was getting thinner. We had one amusing incident when Big Dude tried to open a truck door that had been sitting in storage. A family of wasps had cleverly concealed a nest just inside the door handle in the months that the truck sat unused. Precisely where Big Dude would put his fingers when he went to open the door. Things got real exciting around the old storage lot there for a few minutes. Stinging insects apparently make Big Dude want to sing and dance with a lot of emphasis. He can move pretty quick for a fat guy. And the vocabulary. Oh my goodness, I learned several new words and even some biology. I thought their surprise homestead showed thoughtfulness and planning, myself. Big Dude, not so much. He went all scorched earth on them. I bet they don't rebuild in the same location.
This is what that nest looked like after he stuck his fingers into it and highly annoyed the occupants.
It got ugly there for a moment.
Once we got the truck straightened out (there were more wasps in the back) we hooked up this big silver portable den on wheels and pulled it even further up into the hills. The rest stops started getting more and more interesting. Eventually we left the smooth paved roads behind and drove up smaller, rougher roads. Then we left the road altogether and drove across some fields of strange new smelling plants and flowers. I met some new friends in a nearby field on the way up. I think we hit it off famously. You know how sometimes you will meet a perfect stranger and and after only a few moments of conversation you feel you've known them for years? That's how it was almost instantly with these guys. We had an immediate rapport that I know will stand the test of time going forward. I plan to keep in touch.
Finally we pulled off the dirt road, through a ditch, up a hill, around some trees, by a big rock, and across a field. I pretty much thought he'd finally lost his mind. He stopped the truck, turned the noisy thing off, and said "Well, here we are".
Finally! They let me out of the truck without a leash! I could run and bounce and jump and roll and dig to my heart's content. Nothing here smells like it does on Providenciales. The hills are different. The sky is different. There is no ocean. There is no salt. There are no big lizards. The very dirt itself is different. It took me a long time to figure out what was different about this dirt, it's made out of hard stuff. The rocks here are like iron. We don't have dirt like this on the island. This dirt would rust away on my island. I'm thinking the south side of Providenciales could eat up a medium sized iron mountain in just a few years. We'd have to use helicopters to dump WD-40 on it to keep it.
This stuff sure digs differently than the sand I am used to, also. I would have had an iguana dug out of here in about a minute tops. This stuff is some solid dirt.
It really didn't take much for the smell to be scattered around, and I could tell that whatever made this footprint didn't live in the ground around here.
This strange footprint led me to start paying more attention to my surroundings. I got so excited about the big hills and the huge views and the fresh air that I was overlooking a lot of small things. Like, there's no ocean here. Nada. Not a whiff. This is something else totally new to me. The world smells a lot different without salt.
I quickly found out that mushrooms grow wild here. Nice Lady brings these home from the store and cooks them, or some version of them. And here they are growing right out of the ground. You won't see that in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
I tried one of these out, of course. I mean, who wouldn't be interested in a free food source?
Mushrooms are just one of many strange plants growing up here in this country. Look at these fuzzy things growing right up there in the wind. Do you realize how long something like this would last on the south side of Provo? Three seconds, I'm guessing. The wind would own this sucker tout suite.
As I looked around I noticed that Nice Lady and Big Dude were also looking at the fields and mountains. I wanted him to start looking at all of these strange tall flowers and bushes and plants. Oh My. This place is alien.
We were cruising along, sniffing the bushes when another one of those striped rats jumped up and dove underneath a bush. The big guy said it was a chit monk, I think he said. Something like that. And he laughed when I tried to catch it.
The little booger seemed to know the layout of the land pretty well. He'd run under this old log and get just out of reach of my paws. I could smell him in there. I could see his beady little chit monk eyes.
But as soon as I got started on a good dig, I could hear him scoot out the other side of the log and run up to another little hidey hole he has hidden on the other side of the log.
I spent a lot of time chasing this rascal back and forth. I finally gave up when I realized he was enjoying it. I could hear him laughing at me through his little mousey rat whiskers. These Chitmonks must be incredibly fast if even Dooley the Determined can't catch one. I mean, do dogs get slower when they get older? Nah.. The rats are just reeeeeeal fast.
This place is about as different from the island of Providenciales as I can imagine. You remember those photos of Provo's Blue Hills that Big Dude wrote about some time ago? Well this place has blue hills, too. Except these have ice on the top of them. Just laying on the ground up there in big white frozen patches.
Remember those footprints I ran across earlier in the trip? Well, I found out what makes them. Lucky for me, I was in the shiny den at the time. Come to find out, these guys come around every morning for breakfast. I'd never seen anything like it.
I might could have taken on one of them, mind you, but hey I was way outnumbered here.
I tried to get a good photo of them, but it was pretty early in the day and the light was low. Still, I think you can get the idea from this one:
It occurred to me that these strange looking things are walking all over MY property, but until I know what's what I think I will just observe. I wouldn't want to hurt them, you know. I can play pretty rough. They don't look so big from a distance, either.
It's just a matter of time before I run into one of these guys alone. Out in the woods. Then we'll see how tough they are when they don't have their buddies right there behind them....
Unlike all the uptight rules at The Apartment, I am allowed to pretty much run free here. Just like I do in Provo most of the time. But this is definitely NOT Providenciales. The trees are different. The rocks are different. The rats are different. And I have no clue what those big things with the pointed feet are. And what's with those horns??? Don't they need a license to carry those things?
We haven't been spending all of our time in one place. Every few days we hook up the wasp house truck to the shiny den on wheels and go somewhere else. It's been interesting. There are places here with spots specifically for shiny dens to park in. This is way smoother than living in the middle of a field in the mountains. The woods are more fun than the state parks, though.
Big Dude got real excited about this old trappers cabin. He likes to look at logs and rocks that someone has cut and piled up in intricate patterns, for some reason. Especially when they know what they're doing. Evidently, whatever old Frenchman built this place knew what he was doing. The Big Dude doesn't like this Google character he says is spying on him, but he likes some hundred and fifty year old French trapper who could pile up rocks and logs and make it last a century. If he had a choice of spending the day with that Gates guy or this old Frenchman, I know for sure which one he'd pick. Go figure.
What I noticed was that they apparently put the bathroom on the roof. That's got to be a nervous moment while standing on three legs. And this is definitely tall dog country. I headed back to the shiny den.
One morning we woke up to a bunch of big 'whooshing' sounds. I barked. I hid. Then we all ran outside. We saw things that I don't even know how to describe to you. It looked like a couple of guys were trying to barbeque a big yellow trash bag. I was mystified.
But a few moments later they were gone. Whoosh, whoosh, sayonara. Basically. I'm surprised the Big Dude didn't try to put a camera on one of these. Or me, with a camera. I'm going to try not to give him any ideas.
We go a lot of places by bicycle here. Oh, they don't let ME ride the bike. Nope. Of course not. I'm just a clumsy little dog with no thumbs I guess. They lock me up in one of those carts like people used to transport condemned prisoners in Medieval times. Well, maybe not quite that bad.
Finally, after hours of riding in this bumpy little cart they let me out to run and jump and climb. And I have to admit, after a few hours of working out in this thin air I started to appreciate the fact that I had a ride home. I think the cart thing is going to work out okay.
For you other terriers reading this, I have both good news and bad news. The good news is that this place is absolutely infested with rodents. No kidding. We are seeing them everywhere we go lately.
Now the bad news. For some reason, whenever we're in one of these parks that deseperately need a good ratter, Big Dude ties me up to something solid! I asked him about it and he pointed to some sign with a graphic of a happy dog in a red circle with a slash running through it. Oh man.
We've been sleeping in a different place every few nights, too. This is getting stranger and stranger as we go. The radio is on all the time here, unlike Provo. But here the old guy listens to music about bars and trains and pickup trucks. Makes me want to bury my ears under my paws, sometimes.
So that's what's been happening to me so far this summer. I've been transported to another universe. A planet of large scary animals with horns, walking cheeseburgers, snotty little rats with attitudes, no iguanas, no ocean, and thin air. I've been tied to inanimate objects and locked up in small containers for long stretches of time. Strangely enough, it's not all bad. Big Dude says I should relax, stop complaining, and just sit back and enjoy the ride. Well, sometimes that ride seems a bit..
These people take a lot of photos. Let me know if you want to see more, before we go back to the boat and the island in a few weeks. .