First of all, today is one of my favorite people’s birthdays! Who? Jeremiah! Today, the world has known Jeremiah for 35 years. If you know Jeremiah at all, you know he loves something more than anything else in the world: dogs. I can freely admit he likes dogs more than he likes me, more than he likes his family (sorry guys, but you knew it was true) and more than he likes Indian food.
It was fitting for his birthday then for him to be introduced to Apple, who is, in fact, a very cute dog.
Lake Tawakoni State Park
On Saturday, we rolled into Lake Tawakoni State Park, and nabbed the very last open spot in the entire campground. It was busy! As soon as we started backing up the HOW into our spot, Jeremiah radioed over our walkie-talkies to me while I was in the exploder.
“Sushdawg, do you come in? This is Jerms. Over.”
“Sushdawg here, What’s up Jerms? Over.”
“There’s a dog not on a leash in the campsite next door. Over.”
Our Aggressive and Skittish Bernadette
Bernadette is not known to be friendly towards other dogs. Her anxiety and overall enthusiasm for life overtakes her, more often than not. Her high-pitched yip when she sees with an off-leash dog breaks window panes. Additionally, she’s fear-aggressive despite loads of work on our part and RX medication. She’s great with some dogs, like my mom’s dog, who she kinda just stands next to in the middle of the yard when she visits. She understands that he’s part of our pack, and has never shown any aggression to him, which is the best thing in the world to Jeremiah and me. However, when a dog isn’t on a lead and she is, she is full-on bananas.
When Bernadette sleeps, we have to be careful of where our limbs lie. She dreams with the same intensity she lives her daily life which means she runs, kicks, and wags her tail with a force that Luke Skwalker would envy, all while dreaming. I imagine that she’s beating up other bigger dogs in her dreams.
So, when Jeremiah told me there was an off-leash dog, we were both frustrated. There are signs everywhere to keep your dog on a 6 foot lead, and we abide by that. It wasn’t until a few minutes later when I was hooking up our water and electric, our singing dog safely in the coach, that I heard Jeremiah hollering from the window.
“Hey! That dog is in our campsite!”
I wasn’t sure what to do, but we both figured we should round him up and get him to his pawents. (This is pronounced like parents, but you know, for paws.) So, we whistled and called, and the very colorful dog seemed relatively scared and simultaneously interested in what Jeremiah had to offer. The dog scooted off into another campsite as soon as he heard our demon’s bark. (When we first adopted Bernadette, we considered naming her Demon because of the exorcism-like noises she makes while sleeping. It has become her nickname since.)
Heading out of the park to the local grocery store, we stopped at every group that was outside. Are you missing a dog? We asked. Nobody was. We flagged down the park ranger as we exited the park.
“Hi!” I said, our driver side car windows side-by-side. “There is a dog loose and we haven’t been able to locate his owner.”
“Oh, yeah I know that dog and he doesn’t have an owner,” The park ranger replied. He continued to chat, letting us know that he had in fact captured the dog once, and taken him into town to find that he had no owner. A local dog-foster family took him in, only for him to escape and run the miles back to the campground. Clearly, the dog wants to be here.
He’s not aggressive, but he’ll eat any food you leave out, he mentioned.
That evening, I left a bowl of water out for the dog, but didn’t say anything to Jeremiah about it. We both love dogs, but I wasn’t sure how he’d feel about me tempting the dog to our campsite with the allure of cool, clean tap water. (Yes, there’s a whole lake available for the dog.)
The next morning, while lying in bed, Jeremiah asked, “What would you name the dog?“
I paused, thinking of various magicians and escape artists, trying to find one that made most sense. Not sure, I asked Jeremiah.
“Johnny Appleseed, of course.”
“You want to name a dog John? John. Johnny. John.”
After laughing hysterically, we decided sure, we’ll name him Johnny Appleseed… which soon turned to Apple Seed, Apple Crisp, and Apple Jacks. Now, I just refer to him as Apple.
That morning, Jeremiah emptied the water bowl and refilled it with fresh water.
A short game of fetch
By Sunday afternoon, the majority of the campers had left, and what was a very full campground was littered with fires not quite put out, and random pieces of floating trash. While I was putting out 2 fires (Not one, but two. One had active flames even though there were no campers there anymore. I don’t understand it, but let’s move on.) Apple made an appearance.
The fuzzy mongrel sat about 8 feet from me, watching me put out the fire. While I did notice him, I didn’t make much of a move to attract him. That didn’t matter – he might be scared of people, but he was still intrigued with what I was up to.
Three boys about 10 years old rode by on bicycles, “We like your dog!” They hollered.
Apple looked at the boys, still sitting near me. “Hey thanks,” I said. “But he’s not mine. We’re just hanging out.”
(Note: I could have written a whole blog on how cool those boys were, honestly. Kids don’t just play video games as much as the media pretends that’s all they do.)
Still too far away for me to ever thinking of petting, Apple darted in to grab the lid of the pitcher that I was using to put out the fires, then ran to the nearest tree where he hunkered down. Jeremiah leaned out the front window of the coach and tossed me a ball, having watched the scene from the front of the coach while he worked.
I didn’t think Apple would care much for a ball since he was a stray, and assumed he had grabbed the lid of the pitcher for the water, but I was wrong. The spotted pooch, about 40 lbs with thick short fur, was enamored. I bounced the ball once, then I looked over under the tree to see his reaction. Apple had stopped chewing on the lid of the pitcher and was making his way out from the brush; this wasn’t his first rodeo. I tossed Apple the ball and he chased it, then ran quick as the dickens to hide again under the tree. When I got close, he dropped the ball and ran to another tree. Again, I grabbed the ball and threw it, and he chased to grab it, ran to another tree, and lied down to chew.
While he was skittish enough that the closest I got was three or four feet, he was intent on playing. After a few minutes of me calling him, throwing the ball, and tossing him a few snacks, Bernadette, in the motorhome, looked out the window. Did I mention her bark is like nails on a chalkboard? She did not disappoint as her yipping howls filled the air. Jeremiah slammed the window shut, partially afraid she may jump over him and out the window. Apple was not impressed, and ran to hide under the tree while I made my way back to the motorhome.
One skittish dog is enough for us
We’ve seen Apple a couple times since then and I left clean water out again last night that is now a bit littered with dirt. I also put out a handful of dog food, but I left that part of the story out when I told Jeremiah – I’m not sure how much he wants me attracting a tick-ridden dog. The food was gone within the hour last night.
I’d like to think that we’ll leave Apple here for other campers to give treats to and play ball with, but there’s still a part of me that thinks he would be coming on the road with us if it weren’t for my allergies. Can you imagine it? Two skittish, fearful dogs pacing in a moving home on the road? It couldn’t get any better than that. Well, maybe if there were 3 or 4 of them.
Apple is happy here, and we’re most likely not the first people to give him a nickname or leave bowls of water out. Maybe next time we stop by, he’ll remember us and bring us the ball to fetch. Or, maybe some other RVers will have adopted the pooch and he’ll be traveling the US, stopping at state parks to make friends on the way.