Monday, October 4, 2010

Camping With Shibas

Back from my camping trip, hullooo out there in teh interwebz!  I hope you all were warmer and happier than I was this weekend, but that doesn't seem likely because I was freezing and happy as all get out for most of it.  I'm like my dog:  I relish the cold weather.  I get frisky and sleep better.  Cold is good.  Let's all move to Baffin Island and call it a job well done.

I tell people we took the dog camping and the universal reaction is a raised eyebrow and "Oh yeah?  And how did that work out for you?"

Shibas make camping legit.  No, really.  You're not really roughing it unless you have no electricity, a roaring fire, and a primitive dog sitting just inside the light of it.  Pleading with his eyes for marshmallows.  So he can thrash them around, pounce on them, thrash them some more, and "kill" them for 7 or 8 minutes before he finally eats them.

Yeah, it's like that.  As Kitsune fiercely dispatched the first marshmallow, my SO calmly asked me, "What the hell is he doing?"  My only answer:  I dunno.  You get the Shiba in the woods and apparently they feel the need to kill everything before they eat it.

They also feel the need to defend the new home-place from every comer.  This isn't the first time we've taken Kitsune camping.  The first time we went to Cherrystone, VA in the summer and the hot Shiba dug himself many cool, damp sand den places all over the campsite, and enjoyed lurking under the car to dart out and scare passerby silly.  This time, I forgot that we no longer have a tie-out stake and upon arriving at the campground, discovered that dogs are not allowed to be attached to any posts, poles or trees currently existing in the campground.  Well, now what?  Luckily enough there was a huge (seriously HUGE, about 60 pound) log at our site, and I just wrapped a leash around that.  He still managed to drag it around some, but it slowed him down significantly enough that he couldn't terrorize the entire state park.

Kitsune sat there next to his log and made us feel like we were really surviving.  He was quiet until the sun went down.  Then some other doggish camper came walking by in the night being towed along by some large-ish whitish colored animal, and mine started sounding the alarm.  Of course, dogs began to answer all over the campground, reminding me of the barking phone-tree scene from 101 Dalmatians.

"Now look what you started," I told him, and he quickly glanced at me and then back out into the night, chuffing for that last word in.  He barked a few more times at people walking by.  He really got started when the guy in the next campsite over would raise his voice.  Most of the time that guy was talking in a normal tone of voice and I couldn't hear him at our campsite.  I'm sure Kitsune could.  Every once in awhile, he raised his voice pretty loudly and very suddenly, and his tone would get sort of hostile, and Kitsune would go berserk.  When Kitsune is truly concerned by something like that, it's very hard to settle him down.  Shibas take commands like, "Quiet!" with a grain of salt anyway, but when they're certain that life and property may be in jeopardy, there really is no stopping them.  With the people just walking by who needed to be warned, telling him, "Hey.  They're allowed to be here.  Enough," is all it takes to bring him down from brass section to piccolo solo.  With the guy in the next campsite, Kitsune just launched an all out verbal assault.  Shock and awe, baby.  That'll show him.  He won't think about coming over here with that tone.

Putting him in his crate in the tent settled him down pretty good for the night.  He let off one more tirade at the guy in the next campsite, and was quiet for the night.  For the most part.

Around 4:30 in the morning, I had to pee really bad.  It was really cold, about 39 degrees, and I did not want to get up and go trekking across the campground in the dark to the bathrooms.  As I laid there in the dark trying to talk my bladder out of exploding, I heard a subdued yodeling howl that dissolved into the chirping noises dogs only make when they're dreaming.  Even sleeping Kitsune is not a quiet dog.  Finally I decided to get up and just go already.  When I came out of the bathhouse, there was some guy waiting for me.  (This always happens to me.)  His friends and I were probably the only people awake in the campground and in the course of talking to me he offhandedly mentioned, "Yeah I just heard someone's dog whimpering and howling.  It probably needs to go out."  I almost giggled because I know what he'd heard was Kitsune's dreaming noises.

Kitsune gets progressively better as he adjusts to new surroundings.  The next night there was much less barking at the random people.  The guy who freaked Kitsune out was gone and replaced by two other guys and their kids, and these guys didn't suddenly and loudly become annoyed in the course of a conversation, so Kitsune didn't suddenly and loudly bark as much.

He did decide that his collapsible bowl needed to be killed, and this sparked a Shiba 500 around the 60 pound log that was so comical my SO almost spit his cigarette out of his mouth.

He also laid down by the campfire, curled up so tightly, and in such a heat efficient manner.  He had his head resting on his pads so they didn't get cold, and he was balled up so close he could put his nose under his tail, so his nose didn't get cold, either.  Shiba tails are not very long.  Making himself small enough to put his tail over his nose was pretty impressive.  Kitsune likes to curl up in the house but I've never seen him really bed down like that before.  I told him, "Now you're prepared for a snowstorm," and he pointed an ear in my direction.

We sat around the campfire, drinking fire warmed apple cider with cinnamon sticks in it, talking and eating and watching the Shiba, until we were tired and had no more wood.



  1. Sounds like a good time!

    We did an overnight camp out with our two shibas on the Delaware once, and my male was so freaked out from all the people that I barely took notice to how aware and happy our female was that night. Since then I've wanted to try legitimate camping with them but my SO is a little weary :)

  2. Happy and aware, you've just nailed it. He was on high alert and happy to be there, thrilled to have a legit reason. Although it is sort of unsettling when once the first night I glanced at him and he was facing the woods with his back to the fire, just staring, and every once in awhile lifting his nose and questing around the scents blowing in on the breeze. That'll make you take pause and go, "So what exactly is out there?" Was he just enjoying the scents of the woods? Probably so, since he didn't seem concerned, just interested. The second night he had fits of whining and pawing at me without end until I unhooked him from the log and he dragged me off to the south side of our campsite, where I distinctly smelled skunk and reigned him in. I'm not sure if it had sprayed somewhere back in the woods or was just in the area, but Kitsune knew it was there and wanted me to know it. Thank youuuuu Shiba. Startled skunk, do. Not. Want.