Chuck

Chuck gets stuck

Chuck gets stuck on a small log

Perhaps the signs were right there in front of us the entire time.  From an early age it was clear that Chuck simply was not an outdoor dog.

He preferred luxury and comfort, and enjoyed the fast, hard city life.  He filled his days with lounging, and his nights with fancy swirled drinks and belly rubs.

Chuck on the town

Chuck on the town

City life for a dog only 13 inches from floor to shoulder can be rough.  He recruited security, and trained with dogs ten times his size.

Chuck and Casino

Chuck’s personal body guard- Casino

Then the signs really started showing up and patterns of reckless behavior increased.  He started sleeping on the furniture, shredded stuffed toys, stole socks and underwear from the laundry, and on more than one occasion stalked and killed a bug.  The cruel world of nature dealt him one last final blow when he was stung in the nose by a bee.  This rejection from nature thrust him only deeper into the sinister indoor and urban world.

Chuck at the vet

Chuck- rushed to the vet after bee sting

Determined to be an indoor high roller, he flew with his people to Minneapolis and demanded breakfast in bed at the Eden Prairie Marriott.

Soon after the trip to Minneapolis he started dressing in questionable outfits with sculls and crossed doggy bones.  The other dogs found it disturbing.

Punk rock dog

Chuck on the edge

This fall, we decided it was time for an intervention.  We took Chuck on a family campout to try to break the cycle of sleeping on the sofa, lounging on the chair in the back yard and demanding endless belly rubs.  But camping proved too much, and Chuck snapped.  In a daring attempt to align himself with another pampered pooch from the ritzy RV side of the park, he escaped his harness for a full 15 seconds and made a run for it.  Park police were called in, a two hour investigation ensued and with out a mention of voluntary compliance to the leash laws, Chuck was made into a known criminal in Kimble County Texas.

The intervention was a bust.  Chuck was grounded from sleeping on the furniture for a week and was subjected to rigorous walks in the neighborhood.  It will be a long road to rehabilitation. I am proud to report he is 20 days clean from escaping his harness. But he did growl at the rain this week.

 

 

 

Why I Trail Ride

I’ve never been one to want to spend my time in the saddle just going in circles around a dusty arena. As a kid I did my time in lessons and horse shows, but it was never where I wanted to be. I’m happiest while riding when I’m on a trail, enjoying nature.

Last ride with Pinto- one of the best.

Last ride with Pinto- one of the best.

When I was six I got my first pony for my birthday. Squaw (she came pre-named) was a fearless Pony of America that would do anything and looked great while doing it. My mom would hike along with us and we would ride from the corner of Loop 360 and Bee Caves Road down into the Wild Basin Nature Preserve and be gone all day. Loop 360 was just being built back in the 1970’s so the cars, houses and businesses had not yet filled the wooded hills of Westlake. I loved those early days of walking slowly along the loosely defined footpaths and game trails- exploring what seemed at the time to be an endless forested world.

Winter shadows of me and Ranger.

Winter shadows of me and Ranger.

As I got a little older, the freedom of riding was even more desirable. In those hard early teen years when nothing else seemed to make since- being on a horse’s back, riding in the woods offered sole-soothing comfort. I could lose myself for hours in the woods, riding without a saddle, getting to know every tree and every rock, and constantly looking for evidence of wildlife. But I wasn’t always alone. I had several friends that also held in them a fearless heart and they would swing up on their horse to ride for hours with my bold pony and me.  I still get to ride with those lifelong friends and they still have fearless hearts.

 

As an adult, I feel exactly the same now as I did as a child. I still love to ride the trails either alone or with friends, looking at nature from the slow, easy pace of a horse. Oh sure, it’s much harder to get on and off my mount these days, and I can’t imagine riding without a saddle and helmet. But I also can’t imagine a life without horses or friends to ride those horses with.

Watching the coming storm and trying to get back to the barn in time.

Watching the coming storm and trying to get back to the barn in time.

Along the way I have made new friends to ride with when the old ones are too far away and it is always nice to find a kindred soul who is still willing to venture out into the woods.  Some day I might have to make my peace with riding quietly in a circle when I get too old to do much else or when there is no more open land to ride. Until that time, I will enjoy every day that I’m able to ease along a trail with my trusty horse(s).

Trail ride with the Rocking B Riders

Trail ride with the Rocking B Riders

 

Outdoor Skills

Giving people the tools to feel confident in the outdoors is something that I enjoy taking part in any way that I can.  My latest effort was to write a “skill builder” article for Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine.  The article I submitted on how to build the perfect campfire was published this November 2014 issue.

The pyramid method

The pyramid method

Some of my fondest memories involve sitting around a campfire, telling stories, keeping warm and even just staring into the flames and letting my imagination wander.  I firmly believe that my strong connection with nature helps my creativity and is the core of my confidence.

Knowing how to build a good fire is part of that confidence foundation. Being able to build a good fire is enjoyable and gives me the confidence that I  can control of one of the basic elements that sets humans apart from other animals.  If I was lost in the wilderness, I know that I could build a fire to stay warm, cook food or signal for help.

The odds of me getting lost in the wilderness are low, but the odds of me camping with friends and family is high.  I love creating the perfect campfire to sit around and share an evening under the stars.

With people spending more time than ever indoors, passing basic knowledge like how to build a good fire is slowly being lost.  I want to share that wisdom with anyone that wants it.  Hopefully the article will inspire someone to take the time to learn how to build the perfect campfire as well and take ownership  of one of the most basic human skills.