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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 sense of smell first! Kristi said, "I think she got sprayed by a skunk!"
While we discussed if it were indeed a skunk or if some evil entity had taken possession of our beloved pet, our dog was rolling all over us, our clothes, and our sleeping bags in her attempt to get her eyes to stop burning.  Needless to say Kristi and I and our other dog went piling out of the tent as fast as we could.  Both our dogs are females, and I usually let ladies go first, but this was one time I was glad for my athletic ability, as I was the first to stumble out into the fresh air.

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."
I could hear the rain getting closer, and, when we could hear the droplets hit the other side of Bear Lake and start to make their way to our campsite, we had to make a decision.  Do we stay put and get soaked to the bone, or do we climb back into the tent of horrors?!  Our decision was made for us when we began to be pelted by huge drops of cold, stinging water.  We decided to climb back into the tent.  In we went, all four of us.  Seconds later, out went a very bad smelling dog.  It was unbearable to be in an enclosed area with her.  Our poor dog was so afraid of being paid another visit from her striped friend that she was frantically trying to get back into the tent, and I had to go back out into the downpour to tie her up to a tree...  Hey, call PETA if you want to, but there was no way we were going to be anywhere near that dog.  We spent a cold, stinky, miserable night.

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!!!!"
The night before, we had phoned our friends, Steve and Sarah, who were going to be camping with us for the rest of the week, and explained what had happened, but nothing had prepared them for what they smelled.
We went on to enjoy the rest of our camping trip, but I do have to admit that towards the end of the week, (and I'm not proud of this) I wore my wife's underwear.  I didn't bring enough to last the week.

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

Send Michael an email and let him know what you thought of his story!

Copyright 2000 by Michael T. Powers, All rights reserved


Michael is happily married to his high school sweetheart Kristi, and has two
young boys.  The story above is from his new book:  Straight From the Heart "A Celebration of Life" which is now available!!  Click below to get your copy!

      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.
      Michael owns a video production business, coaches high school girls'
sports, and is the founder of "Straight From the Heart," a free daily E-Zine
on the Internet that features inspirational and uplifting stories, often by
published writers.  To subscribe send an email to:

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....
Transfer your photographs or old home movies over to DVD all set to music that makes your memories come alive! Give the gift that will touch your family's heart and soul.
Chimney Balloon Fireplace Damper

Do you have a drafty or stinky fireplace? A Chimney Balloon fireplace damper can stop the cold draft, bad smell and save you money on your heating bill.


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