Do We Take the Dogs?
By Michael T. Powers
From his new book, Straight From The Heart "A Celebration of Life"
It all started with the big decision. Do we take our dogs camping with us? Kristi said, "Yes!" and I said, "Definitely not!" Kristi wanted to take the dogs because I like to disappear for hours on end hiking, fishing and exploring, and she wanted to be able to take the dogs for walks during these times so that she felt safe. I said the dogs would be too much trouble and hassle... We took the dogs.
Our first day in the Nicolet National Forest in Northern Wisconsin went well as we set up camp and got situated. We enjoyed sitting around the campfire until we got tired, and then we went off to sleep in our tent. Around two a.m. one of our dogs started scratching at the tent door. Kristi let her out, thinking she was heeding the call of nature. About twenty seconds after she went out she came flying back into the tent, whining and rolling around on everything, including us. At the same time this incredibly overpowering smell assaulted us! Not only did we find it hard to breathe, but our eyes turned to water instantly. Those who have smelled a skunk along the highway have no idea what sniffing our wild and odiferous friend is like up close and personal. It was like having ammonia poured over our heads! I am a very, very, sound sleeper, and I slowly came to my senses...my sense of smell first! Kristi said, "I think she got sprayed by a skunk!"
Now, being the incredibly sensitive and mature husband that I was at the age of twenty-two, the first words out of my mouth were, "Kristi!!! I told you we should have never taken the dogs with us!!! I knew something like this was going to happen!!! Why didn't you listen to me!!!
After I got over my childish outburst, we decided that the best thing to do was to take the air mattress out of the tent, put it near the campfire and try to salvage what was left of a good night's sleep. There was absolutely no way we were going to go back into the tent...
I finally fell asleep again, but Kristi was having a hard time sleeping, mostly because of the way I made her feel... Just as she was drifting off, she heard a familiar noise, but couldn't place it. She heard what sounded like hundreds of people clapping from a long distance away, but the clapping started getting closer... Finally she realized it was the sound of very heavy rain as it moved its way across the forest. She woke me up and said, "Michael, we are about to get very wet."
The next morning was spent surveying the damage and salvaging what clothes and materials we could. Kristi went to the nearest town, about thirty minutes away, bought some tomato juice and washed all of our clothes at a Laundromat. I spent the day pouring tomato juice over the dog, rubbing it in, and then throwing her into the lake to wash it off. I repeated the process about ten times. Before long, my dog wouldn't even come near me. Tomato juice helped, but in no way took even half the smell away. We spent another smelly night, but this one went by without incident. We were awakened the next morning about 5:30 am to the sound of a person saying, "Whewwwwwwwwww! You guys stink!!!!"
There. It's out. Michael wore woman's underwear. Deal with it.
I know some of you are sitting there saying, "Why in the world would anybody want to go camping?" Besides the obvious advantages of getting away from it all and enjoying God's creation, there is something about camping that brings people closer together. Yes, things always go wrong, and there is always that moment when we stop and think, "Why are we doing this?" I obviously didn't handle this situation very well, but it is something that we have laughed about for the past eight years. When we talk about the trip, the conversation is like this: "Remember when you did that??Oh yeah, and then you did..." And the conversation goes on as we laugh and tell our favorite camping stories.
Camping brings a family closer together. I'm convinced of it. In fact one of our favorite authors, Gary Smalley, has done research on families that he has come across that are genuinely close and loving to each other. One of the things they had in common was that they all were camping families! Now obviously, it is not the only way a family can grow closer, and I'm not saying that it is the cure-all, but I am saying that our family has grown closer together because we camp.
As we head north this week, I look forward to camping equipment flying off the top of our car, flat tires, five hours in the car with our little ones, insect bites, rain dripping through the tent, fishing hooks getting stuck in our ears, raccoons getting into our food, and screaming kids...
Yes, all the ingredients needed to bring a family closer together.
I just have to keep Caleb away from the skunks!
Michael T. Powers
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Copyright © 2000 by Michael T. Powers, All rights reserved
Michael is happily married to his high school sweetheart Kristi, and has two
Several of his stories have been published, most notably, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Alice Gray's Stories From the Heart series, God Allows U-turns, and Heartwarmers.
Click here To See Some Recent Camping Photos and Read about camping with two little kids!
Click on the above link to view some new photos and read some short little stories about what has taken place while we have camped the past few years....