Pets have often been a part of Cabin trips. As a kid I remember we had a German shepherd mix named Chena as well as two cats, PC (for Pussy Cat…original huh?) and Lucifer (‘cause he was solid black, another original.) I don’t remember if PC ever went with us, but I do remember Lucifer being up there once and Chena always went along. I was pretty young and had only recently been granted boating-by-myself privileges and Lucifer decided to join me. He thought he was really something sitting in the bow and peering at the water as I paddled around. There is photographic evidence somewhere in Dad’s slide collection which I’ll have to try to get my hands on someday. Other family dogs included a Corgi mix named Frisky and the current Corgi named Bitsy. Frisky’s favorite part of trips to the Cabin was picking blueberries…although none of his ever made it into the bucket. Bitsy loves exploring anywhere Dad goes. She hasn’t discovered blueberries yet! She is the smallest Corgi I’ve ever seen (she’s itsy “bitsy” you know…) and if it weren’t for her bold tri-color markings, she would be hard to see in the woods and tall grasses.
In more recent years my friend’s dog, Shortie joined us for several trips. He was a big goofy black Lab who was unreasonably attached to his momma and she to him. Actually all who met him loved him, including Mr. Chitters who considered Shortie his personal dog.
We spent the first year or so of Shortie’s life trying to convince him that Labs are water dogs and he should swim. At the dog park he would go in the lake up to his belly but no further… wayward Frisbees had to always be retrieved by another passing dog or lost to the lake currents.
One day I had a brilliant plan. I told my friend “Watch this, he’ll do anything for a Dorito. I’ll get him to sit in the water and then he’ll realize it’s ok to get wet.” I lured him into the little wading pool in the yard with the chip. Then I told him to sit, the one command he consistently obeyed. Sure enough, his butt would lower, back legs trembling, tail wagging and then his private parts would touch the water and he would bounce back up, eyes on the chip the whole while. It was funny the first time. And the second time… And half of the afternoon! We nicknamed him the hydraulic dog.
Anyway, she brought this non-swimming Lab to the Cabin for a long weekend. He hiked in with us, and then sat in the boat between us when we went back to get the rest of our gear. Other than rocking the boat a little in his efforts to peer over the gunwales, he was a pretty good passenger, but he was willing to do almost anything as long as he could be with his momma so that was no real surprise.
The next day we decided that we wanted to go take pictures of the loons, so we elected to leave Shortie on shore. That day went down in Shortie’s history as the day he realized he could swim! Actually all of us were in danger of learning about our swimming ability as we fought to lift a 95lb dog into a boat. He was NOT going to let momma go without him!
From that day forward Shortie was able to retrieve his own Frisbees from the lake at the dog park. He learned that he loved to swim, though he was never very good at it. If another dog spotted the Frisbee in the water there was no contest…Shortie had to concede the race every time, which he did graciously, sometimes turning around as soon as he realized the other dog was going to get it and meeting him with a big doggie smile back up on shore.
He succumbed to cancer a little over two years ago and a little bit of sunshine went out in the world.