A Dog's-eye View

I knew something was up the minute Joey got out that old sleeping bag, the one that smells like mosquito repellant and campfire smoke. For a while I watched him dump gear into a heap in the middle of his room—his fishing pole, flashlight, and the boots I chewed on last summer. Clearly this all spelled T-r-a-v-e-l, with a capital T. I tried not to whine, but I was really getting nervous, so nervous I had to get up and pace around a few times, nose Joey in the hand, and lie down on top of the heap.

That’s when Mom came in with my travel bowl and dish, and I knew I was GOING! GOING! GOING! Mom told me to stop barking, and I did. I’m pretty much the luckiest dog on the planet.

We drove for what seemed like a year, only stopping at two rest areas for marking and sniffing. I wasn’t sure where we were headed, but eventually the scene out the window filled up with forests of stiff green trees. Finally, Dad slowed the truck down to a crawl, turned, and rolled down the window so I could take a sniff. Smells of pine needles, wild animals, dens, burrows, and smoke poured in the window. I tried pawing at the door, but that didn’t make us go any faster—I had to content myself with hanging my head out the window, smelling. I’ve never smelled anything so terrific in my life.

At last, the truck stopped. Dad opened my door, and I burst out, landing in soft, bare dirt that was surrounded by trees. Joey explained that this was our campsite, kind of like our home while we were on this camping trip. We had our own picnic table, he pointed out, and a fire pit. Mom and Dad would sleep in the camper, he said, and he and I would sleep in the tent. I listened patiently, but I had important work to do, so it was a relief when he went off to see about pitching the tent. Someone needed to mark this campsite as ours. The job clearly fell to me.

Once my duty was done, I waited for Joey to get my leash, then we headed off. What a wonderland! Every two steps, I found another great smell—a raccoon, a fox, another dog, a squirrel, and something suspiciously cat-ish. We trotted down a trail (I went first, of course) and after a while, we came to a lake with ducks in it. I shooed the ducks off with a few loud barks, so Joey could look for a place to fish. He settled down by the water’s edge, leaving me to mark the place all by myself. It’s all right, though. I’m used to that kind of responsibility.

After a lot of fishing, I was starting to get hungry. I tried to tell Joey about it, but he didn’t seem to understand—not until he finally caught the smell of cooking hot dogs coming from somebody’s campfire. “Ready for dinner, boy?” he asked. I just about bounded out of my skin with joy. He’s really a very smart boy.

Back at the campsite, Mom and Dad had a fire going and dinner was just about ready. They had pasta with tomato sauce. My dinner was beef and cheese flavored—like I said, I’m really lucky. After eating, we all sat down by the fire. Mom and Dad sang some songs, then Joey sang one he learned at school camp last spring. I wanted to sing too, but my head was so full of all the new smells I’d found, I could barely keep my eyes open.

Maybe I did fall asleep, just for a little while, because when I opened my eyes again, Mom was handing out sticks and marshmallows. She had one roasting already and it smelled amazing, which was hard for me because she hadn’t offered me a stick. I guess it would have been too hard for me to hold. I had to sniff the air instead, trying to figure out if the dog I smelled two campsites away was a Great Dane or a German Shepherd.

But then, my good luck struck again! Joey had finished roasting his marshmallow, and he was pulling the brown skin off the outside to eat it, but he didn’t notice the rest of it—the soft, gooey, white part—slipping off his stick. I hoped, I prayed, I help my breath, and down it came! Plop, into the dirt. I sucked it down in two seconds. It was a little hot and very sticky, but ooooh, so good. In fact, I’d say, it was the perfect end to a perfect day for the luckiest dog on the planet.

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