Travels with Tigger & Solomon
The 2nd year we owned the dogs my wife and I borrowed my dad's 28' motorhome and took a vacation to Ocean City, MD. We stayed at a campground just a couple miles inland. They gave us a nice site, with a brand new treated wood picnic table. You know, the heavy kind made out of 2x6's. Of course, we couldn't take them to the beach. But by then we thought, hey they're pretty settled down, we'll just keep them in the motorhome for the 6 hours we planned to be gone. They could handle that at home, no problem. What a mistake. We came back to find all the foam cushions had been deconstructed. The covers were partly torn and the foam had been torn to shreds. I suppose it could have been worse though. Tigger had found his way on top of the kitchen sink and didn't know how to get down. Now, this sink & counter were only 2' x 4' wide. I had no idea how long he'd been stuck there. This was the first day in OC. We still had a week to go.
The next day we tethered them to the picnic table and left their water buckets nearby, another mistake. Imagine what a wood toothpick looks like that you've been sucking and chewing on for an hour and a half. That's what the entire picnic table looked like when we got back. It was more like kindling. The Dales were happy to see us, the park owners not so much. They left a note taped to our door asking us to leave immediately. I swung by the office on my way out and settled up with the owner. We left Ocean City that night and stayed in a relative’s driveway some 60 miles away.
I don't discount the fact that some of my stories are the result of my own stupidity or ignorance. These were my first two Dales. Remember I said we thought "how bad could two be compared to just one?" Pretty bad. It's like trouble squared. What one doesn't think of, the other does. Still, these stories are not too much different than from the five Dales which followed.
Just occurred to me, if you young potential Dale owners are turned off by chewing and counter surfing, perhaps someone should explain the finer points of anal gland expression.
Everywhere else on FB people post selfies for their avatars. Less so on these Airedale forums. Here most have a pic of their Dale! Face it, folks, we are not normal!
Later years we took the boys on vacation up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway. At Lynnville Falls we just came down from hiking the upper trail (the observation trail to the scenic lookout over the falls) with Solly and Tigger. Near the bottom of the trail was a water fountain, you know the kind, where you have to pick your little kid up high enough to get a drink? Anyway, we waited patiently while the family ahead of us got a drink, including several kids who appeared to be sucking on the spigot-part of the fountain. They were standing nearby when I let the Dales up to get a drink. Neither dog so much as touched anything but the water stream but the woman with the kids had to come up to me and berate me for letting them have a drink. And didn't I know that this was just for humans, and how thoughtless I was for contaminating it for the rest of us, et cetera, et cetera. I gave her my best passive aggressive-like apology and told her how sorry I was she had to see that.
We also hiked the trail down to the bottom of the falls to use the swimming hole. Not many people took that one so we were mostly the only people down there. We packed sandwiches and fruit for lunch and brought along our bathing suits. As any Dale owner can attest, when lunch is served you always know where the Dales are. Afterward, the kids went back for a swim. Tigger too. After some time it occurred to us we hadn't seen Solomon. On the far side of the falls and about 60 yards away he had parked himself next to the only other hiker who'd descended to the pool, a woman who was trying to eat her picnic lunch. He makes friends so easily and is such a lovable mooch that this woman shared her lunch with him.
Tigger took to the water like a champ. This was really the first time we had ever had either of them swimming. He went everywhere in that sizeable pond. Solomon, not so much. Solly was reluctant to even go in. No problem, I thought. I picked him, cradled him in my arms, and dumped him in what looked like a shallow part pond next to an outcrop of rock.
My heart sank as he disappeared from sight. It might only have been two or three seconds but it seemed like an eternity. Thoughts raced through my head, “my God, what have I done!? I’m gonna have to go in there and get him!” Just then he bobbed up to the surface and promptly got out. That was the last time we ever saw Solomon with water any deeper than his ankles.
After that first trip to Ocean City, we had purchased our own motorhome and loved to hike different stretches of the Appalachian Trail. Both dogs were pretty well trained and heeled well off lead. One time, somewhere in Virginia, we had hiked about 45 minutes when we were all set upon by swarms of gnats. I’ve never seen anything like it. If you kept a brisk pace you could turn around and see a cloud of gnats trying to keep up with your head.
They were on everyone: wife, son, daughter, AND dogs. We did an about face and marched, no trotted the several miles back to the camper. It was every man for himself. None of us could stop without being driven crazy by the gnats, including the dogs. When we finally got back, Solly was so tired I had to help him into the camper. He threw up from the stress. Tigger did better but none of us wanted any more walks or hikes for a few days.
Next year, when we came back I bought the whole family bug hats. They were olive drab hats surrounded by mesh, kind of like what beekeepers wear. We went back to where we first encountered the gnats. Sure enough, they were there again. We felt like such dorks wearing these hats, but viola, no more gnat problem. We did look pretty silly, though.
Years later when my son was in the Navy, he was doing a land warfare exercise at Fort AP Hill in Virginia, not far from where we met the gnats. Sure enough, they issued him the same hats we had worn on our return trip. He told us how hard everyone laughed when he told them the story.
PS. I know these pictures make us look like a bunch of dorks but that's what happens when you go "all-in" on a breed. You start buying Airedale T-shirts, and eventually end up with a 100 piece Airedale bookend collection." Besides, we ARE dorks.