Tuesday, April 22
The crew and I are camped on BLM land north of Moab, Utah. Our camp is a patch of bare, flat ground shared with other RVers near a canyon frequented by Jeepers and OHVers.
The day starts early, as most do these days, with Spike’s potty run. It’s around one in the morning. I slip into my boots, open the door and turn on the outside light. Spike jumps out into the circle of light.
At that moment I have an urgent need to use the bathroom.
I leave the door open for Spike and duck inside the bathroom. When I go outside to fetch Spike, he’s no longer in the circle of light. I figure he’s walked away to poop. That’s his custom. He will not defecate anywhere near the Best Little Trailer. I wait.
And I wait.
A bitterly cold wind blows.
I run inside to put on my heavy shirt over the thin shirt I’m wearing. I stand in the circle of light waiting for Spike. I want to call him, but I know it’s useless to do so, Spike being deaf. He should be back by now!
I grab a flashlight and walk around the communal campsite.
Maybe he’s snooping around the other campers. Maybe somebody left trash out and he’s rummaging through it. I shine the light around and under their rigs. No Spike. I point the light at the grassy areas around the campsites, scanning the slopes. No sign of him.
I’m getting nervous.
No need to worry. This is Spike being Spike, running off or snooping somewhere. He’ll come back any minute now. I go inside and turn on every light inside the Best Little Trailer.
Another search around the camp is fruitless.
This is not good. Something is terribly wrong. Spike wouldn’t stay out in this wind and cold longer than he has to. He probably wandered off and became disoriented. Everything is strange to him here.
I hurry back inside. Bridget’s sitting up, wondering what’s the matter. “It’s okay, sweetheart. I’ll be right back.”
I grab the keys to the PTV and run outside.
I start up the engine and turn on the headlights with high beams. Surely he’ll see this and come back. I wander around with the flashlight, squinting to see his white form in the dark. I stand absolutely still, listening for the sound of his paws on gravel. Nothing. I sense he’s nowhere near. I’m sick at heart.
I break down.
Where did he go? Oh my God, he’s gone. Spikey’s GONE! My throat constricts, the tears fall, the wind blows my hair into my eyes. It’s so cold! Where IS he?
As I hurry back to the BLT, Bridget runs toward me.
“Oh, honey. You don’t need to be out here. Where’s Spike? Do you know where Spike went?” It’s no use asking Bridget for help. I had a dog once who would go fetch my other dog. Bridget isn’t that type of dog.
We go inside and wait.
I’m distraught. Sobbing, I make a pot of coffee, just to have something to do.
I could unhitch and drive around looking for him. No, that would be dumb. I’m liable to mess up, the state that I’m in. And where would I look? I don’t know these roads. No, I’ll stay here and wait. Our camp will look familiar to Spike and he’ll find his way home.
I pour a cup of coffee and wait.
Three cups later I’m still waiting. I’m sobbing uncontrollably, rocking back and forth chanting, “Come back, Spike. Come back, Spike.” Flashes of Spike . . . Spike soaking in the mud, Spike sleeping at the foot of the bed, Spike hopping up and down in anticipation of supper . . . .
“Please, God, please bring Spikey home!”
At first light I’ll unhitch and drive around looking for him. Maybe I’ll find him walking up the road. He’ll be tired and so happy to see me. Maybe I’ll see his white form on the side of the hill where his heart stopped beating. Maybe a coyote got him and I’ll find what’s left of . . .
“No, God, PLEASE! If I have to give him up, I’ll do it, but please, not now! Not like that! Not like that!”
I look at the time, thinking an hour has gone by.
“Will this night never end!”
By first light I’m out of my mind with despair. I’ve made several rounds with the flashlight. My eyes are swollen, my throat sore. Bridget gave up the vigil an hour ago and sleeps beside me. I sit at the table, leaning on my elbows. I hold my head in my hands, grieving.
The doorstep rattles!
I turn and it’s Spike! “SPIKE, YOU’RE BACK!”
I leap to my feet and scoop him up in my arms. “Oh, Spikey, you came back! You came back!” I place him on the bed, kneel down and bend over him, pressing my face into his shoulder. More sobs . . . tears of gratitude and relief. I check over his body. Everything looks okay. Poor guy. He’s exhausted. I can’t believe it! I thought I lost him forever.
Soon he’s sleeping soundly.
I sit next to him, petting him, reacquainting myself with each precious paw, his bent ears, his warm belly, his bony behind. I don’t know how long I sit like that. The sun comes up.
“Thank you, God. Dear God, thank you for bringing my boy home.”
What a night, from the deepest sorrow to the greatest joy.
The day is grey, windy, cold. Bridget and Spike sleep most of the day. I can’t sleep. I’m too wired from all the coffee I drank and stunned from the outpouring of emotion. Mostly, I hug Bridget and Spike and thank God they are still with me.
Wednesday, April 24
Three fifth wheels move into our communal campsite. Two of them are toy-haulers. They park next to us. Two pick-ups and a travel trailer arrive. One truck has a utility trailer. I make a count of my neighbors. . . five RVs, seven pick-up trucks, six dune buggies/ATVs/OHVs/whatever and three motorbikes.
I pack up and we hit the road in search of another camp.
NOTE TO ANY READERS OR TROLLS POISED TO PASS JUDGEMENT: Please, if you feel compelled to criticize and scold me because I let Spike out of my sight, drum up some compassion and refrain from writing a sharp comment. I didn’t have to share this with you, but I did it in order to keep this blog an honest account of my life on the road. You can rest assured I am sorry for what happened. Any hateful comments will be deleted.