Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ray's Trip - Part 1

Ray and his Grandpa

Well, the trip to South Carolina couldn't have gone smoother. Ray is a great traveler. I was a little worried that maybe the trip up here when I first adopted him had been an anomaly, that maybe Ray was so good in the car back then because he was exhausted from being in the kennel for so long. But Ray is a great traveler. He settles down quickly and sleeps like the dead. At rest areas, I would stop open the back door and say "Ray wake up! Time for a walk!" and he would groan, lift his head like it was an incredible effort, and look at me over his shoulder as if to say "Do I hafta? Really? Do I?" Then he would drag himself upright and jump out of the car. We'd take a quick walk and without any complaint or hesitation he would get back into the car for the next leg of the journey.

Preparing for the trip was a little like preparing for the Normandy invasion. I now have an inkling what it must be like to take kids on vacation. I packed all the random stuff that I usually take, plants and gardening books for my dad and my sister-in-law, Yuko; knitting, suitcase, cooler, gardening paraphernalia, etc. But this time there was Ray's stuff too, dog dishes, leashes, tray for under the water dish, food, bed, pillow (to elevate his bum leg), treats, rawhide bone (to keep him busy), and toys. Ray prepared for the trip by trying to roll in a dead slug that had been cooking on the back patio all day. I caught him in the nick of time and hosed the slug off into the nearby shrubbery to keep him from trying to do it again. 
We had planned on staying at my brother John's house, so we went there first to unload our stuff. I kept Ray on the leash for the first few minutes while he tried to eat my four-year-old niece, Hannah (Ray LOVES Hannah.). I gave Hannah the spritzer bottle and told her to spray Ray whenever he got too close but she would just turn away and scream while Ray tried to eat her hair and lick her face. Eventually, Ray calmed down enough that I could turn him loose. Ray ecstatically ran around the big, open back yard yelling his head off. One of John's neighbors came over to investigate. She wanted to know where the injured dog was. 
Ray and I decided to not stay at John's, because John didn't want a dog in the house. There was an enclosed porch on which Ray could sleep, but all Ray did was whine and scratch on the door to get inside with the rest of the pack, so we moved to mom and dad's. I hadn't wanted to stay there because, although they have a big yard, it's not fenced and Ray had to be leashed whenever he went out.
Ray was thrilled to see his grandparents. He tried to plant a kiss on dad's lips but was soundly discouraged. He also tried to kiss his grandma but was restrained from doing so. However, he did manage a quick wrist-grab and a couple of chews before I could stop him. (My poor mother). 
Once Ray calmed down, I let him off the leash so that he could pace the house and memorize the furniture. It didn't take him long, although the kitchen was tricky; people kept pulling chairs out from the table and leaving them in odd places. Ray took his lumps with his usual stoicism. 
Are you finished with that?
We all retired to the living room for a nice chat. Ray wandered over to dad's chair and decided to give dad an ear-cleaning. The dog climbed up on dad, licking his ears and shredding his arms. Dad was laughing and ineffectively pushing at the hound to get him away. I dragged Ray away from dad's ears, then turned him loose again. 
Ray continued his pacing until he was tired, then he climbed up on the couch, curled into a ball, and let out a long sigh. It had been a long day.
I had planned on leaving Ray closed off in the kitchen with his bed (well, it works at home) but Ray had other ideas. He whined and scratched and whined and scratched. I went into the kitchen and sat down to watch him and talk to him a bit. Now that he had company, Ray was perfectly happy. He roamed around getting into things. As he found new things to mess with, I moved them up and out of reach. It was absolutely amazing how many things Ray considered play-worthy.
By this time, mom and dad were in bed, and I was worried that Ray would disturb them, so I picked up his bed, moved it to the guest room where I was staying, and settled it into a corner of the room. 
Ray, seeing no reason not to enjoy the second empty bed, crawled up on it, curled up, and went to sleep. I retrieved an old afghan, moved Ray off of the bed and onto his own, covered the bedspread with the afghan, and went to bed. When I woke up the next morning, Ray was curled up, looking all comfy on the guest bed. 

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