Call it seasonal allergies, what have you. I am suffering from them. Every couple of hours, it feels like two corks have been shoved into my nose and except when occasionally, I have to sneeze. The tongue, which suffered from thrush not too long ago, has canker sores and I’m just a mess from my tastebuds to my forehead.
But I, perhaps, pale in comparison to Simon who is lying here next to me and has been on the tiger blanket all evening-even during dinner. This is rare, of course, because dinner is Simon’s time to beg, cajole, whine and generally be a nudge.
The day was innocent and fun–had a quick story to do and Peanut had her annual Christmas Pageant at church. Last one, it seems. Sixth graders don’t do them–too old, you know. So, she was a shepherd and played the role so well. I was so pleased. She’s a great actress.
Off we went to lunch at the deli called Pickles, a turkey ruben and some fruit. And then, the walk.
We learned some time ago of a park not far from here in the Santa Rosa Valley that goes back into the hills and actually becomes the city of Thousand Oaks, which by freeway is about 13 miles from here. Apparently, their border comes down the hills and over to the border with Camarillo.
In any event, the hills are sharp cut cliffs angling inward from the top down grown over with sage brush and coyote weed. The trail that cuts through the middle and leads to the unimaginatively named Hill Canyon Water treatment plant is indeed a canyon. The clouds hung over and temperatures stayed low in the 50’s while Simon and I went up the trail, the dog bounding through the weeds and muscling over the brush and thickets as he went in search of the myriad smells. Tick check revealed two that were close to burrowing, but I got them before they got him. Ticks are ubiquitous here and year-round. In my estimation, it makes hiking here a real drawback. If you go in summer, you’ve got your rattlesnakes and ticks. If you go in winter, you’ve got your coyote droppings, ticks and more ticks.
For Simon, though, the ticks weren’t the issue. Simon, as it turns out, is something of a pansy. I’ve guessed this from time to time when he steps on a thorn or gets shoved around by Lucy-dog, and he whimpers or cries. Part of it is because he’s so young. We were told he was two when he came to us one year ago. It appears he was a bit younger than that, though we’re calling him two and a half this year, simply subtracting six months from his supposed age.
So, Simon leaped in over hill and dale and about a mile up the trail, he came out of the brush, limping mildly. But when he sat down, out of breath and panting with his tongue fully six inches out of his mouth, he cried to beat the band.
On the trail, a mile up toward the water treatment plant, the sharp cliffs growing sharper with no cell service and a lame dog whose limp grew pronounced as I examined him. His crying was so loud I grew a bit nervous. I wasn’t sure what was wrong-examination revealed nothing. No blood, no thorns, no cuts, scrapes or abrasions. He just cried-a hound-dog, full-throated, whiny cry. I leashed him up and talked gently to him. “I know, boy. There’s no other way. We’ve got to get down the hill and I’ll get you in the car.”
He started walking with me, slowly at first, by my side-another sign something was wrong-Simon always pulls out ahead. As he did, I started going through in my head what to do. Our vet is a handy young lady and I thought to call her, but it’s Sunday and that wouldn’t be fair. So, I thought, emergency vet hospital. Expensive, 14 miles from here. But I could do it if I have to. While I am so ensconced, I feel the yank on the leash and note that Simon is out ahead of me, now, marching along at a crisp pace, panting and no longer whining.
He was fine. A few ticks–all pulled off by yours truly, but then he was fine. We had a quick walk back over the bridge and back to the car–one more tick check, damn things are more plentiful than fizz in root beer, and then back home for a bath.
Now, Simon does not like a bath. Scoop the wonderdog didn’t like them either, but he resigned himself to them and, I think, as he got older, rather enjoyed the massage portion of the thing. I spoil my pets, so bath time is in the shower with warm water and a clean towel ready to roll him up. I’m not sure what wiped him out more–the hike, the bath or the combination.