We were in Idaho over the weekend, visiting K&A, who happen to be the parents of Dr. Jason. It was actually a little funny in my appointment a couple weeks ago with Jason, when, after much official, formal doctor discussion with him and with a resident, he asked if I had any other questions and I said "Yes, actually, we're thinking of visiting your parents in a couple weeks—will that be okay?" I didn't look at the resident's face, but I assume he was at least bemused.
Anyway, where K&A live, outside Harvard, Idaho, and pretty much just past the eastern edge of the Palouse, is a forested and fielded paradise for humans, horses, and dogs alike. For the first several years when we (and occasionally just I) went over, Spackle (our 7-year-old Lab) would always come on horse rides with us and Kit, their Australian shepherd. It's great fun for the dogs—they tear around the woods, following scent trails for elk and deer, bear and wild turkeys, but alas it turned out to be too much fun for Spackle's weak leg joints. One year he tore his ACL, and after the $3,000 to repair that (and we'd already spent twice that on repairing his two dysplasia-ed hips), we decide leaping and racing around through the woods after horses for several miles and several hours at a time was too much for him (and our pocketbooks).
Kit died late last winter (the first of Spackle's close friends to go, and he missed him when we were out this weekend), and K&A's new dog, Sadie, is about 2 years old now. She and Hoover get along great with their puppy energy, so we decided they would both accompany me, Ian and K on our Sunday ride (Saturday it poured rain), and A would stay at home and keep Spackle company.
The first thing that happened was that Sadie ran to the front of the line of horses, and Hoover, afraid to pass too close to them, stayed at the back of the line, distressed. "Ar, ar, ar, ar, ar, ar, ar, ar, ar," he hooted, in time with his running. We finally figured out what was wrong—he wanted to be with Sadie but was afraid to get to her—and I, on the lead horse (Shadow hates to be behind anyone), called back that it was okay, and he could come up. He girded his loins, put on a burst of speed, and raced past us to catch up with Sadie. He immediately shut up. The horses, of course, took no notice of him at all.
We continued on our ride, and the two dogs took off into the woods. After about five minutes, Sadie came back. No Hoover, and even after we paused to discuss, still no Hoover. K was of the opinion that Hoover would either catch up with us (we were going to be taking a big loop, around the bit of forest that the dogs had gone into) or go back home; it seemed reasonable to me that that was the case, and Ian reluctantly agreed to go on instead of going back. We periodically shouted for Hoover, but he didn't show up at all.
Finally, just as we arrived in the yard at home, K and Sikem (A's horse, which means "horse" in Nez Perce) saw Hoover behind us. A and Spackle had come out of the house to greet us, and as Hoover approached the driveway from the other side of the Jerome Creek Road, we all started yelling for him. He came tearing down to the cattle grate crossing Jerome Creek and stopped, afraid to walk across and too tired to jump (which he'd done on the way out—at least a 4-ft lateral jump, from practically a stand-still), and unaware of the board placed across the cattle grate for humans and dogs to use. We all turned our horses toward the grate so that we could go help him, and he took one look at us and leaped away into the woods up the road. The dog was, it seems, completely wigged out. Here he'd been lost in the woods, now he was at a place he recognized but he couldn't quite get to, and he heard voices he recognized but they seemed to be coming from these weird Giant Dogs and he couldn't take it. I quickly dismounted so I looked more familiar and ran down to the grate. He came back pretty quickly when he saw that I was, in fact, still human, and that I had a dog treat in my hand. He was too jittery to learn how to walk the plank, however, and I was starting to wonder what to do (I knew I couldn't carry a 55-lb wriggling mass across the plank myself—my legs felt pretty tired from the ride as it was), when Spackle rushed in and saved the day.
For Spackle, any excuse to enter water serves, and so he forded the creek below the bridge and showed Hoover how to get home that way. Let me tell you—that was one relieved puppy, and four relieved adults. K then suggested a bit more riding, this around their property (84 acres), and we all, including Spackle, obliged. Hoover stuck pretty close to his older brother, and looked back frequently at the horses, for about the first half of that ride. Then he saw elk and had to chase them (that's his "job" out at Mom's—no matter how hard we try we can't get him to stop badgering the herd that wanders around her place) and he disappeared again. I took it upon myself to stay in one place until he returned. He'd gone through a barbed wire fence in chasing the elk and pretended to not be able to figure out how to get back through, but he rejoined us quickly enough and stuck more or less around for the remainder of the excursion. We're all pretty sure he's figured it out now, and he'll be the fine trail dog whenever we're there.
In all, a good weekend.
I started my official riding lessons yesterday, and I was glad to only go for 30 minutes. My legs (and crotch) were already stiff and sore from the couple hours of riding the day before; fortunately, I think they're a little less so today. And I'm sure I'll be completely recovered by next Monday. So now, for the foreseeable future, my infusions will be on Tuesdays.