Tuesday, March 25
Another lovely day at our camp off Vulture Mine Road south of Wickenburg, Arizona, although windier and cooler than previous days. As is my usual morning routine I’m at my table at the rear of the Best Little Trailer with coffee and laptop. Bridget lies beside me.
Crashing clumsily up the step at the door, Spike appears.
“OH, NO! SPIKE!”
Spike’s eyes are round and glassy with pain. Both front legs and paws are impaled with thorns! Damn cholla!
“Oh, Spikey, I’ll help you, boy!”
I grab a dishtowel and use it to yank out the 5-inch long branch of cholla stuck to one of his front legs, tossing the dishtowel and cholla out the door.
I fumble in a storage drawer stacked next to the refrigerator and pull out a pair of needle-nose pliers.
Kneeling on the floor next to Spike, I set to work pulling out thorns.
Spike bravely sits still during the painful procedure.
Some of the thorns in his paw are deeply embedded and when pulled, blood seeps. I check his face, chin, and neck. Thank God he didn’t try to pull them out with his mouth.
“That was a good boy to come to me right away, Spikey.”
All the barbs removed, the poor guy moves over to the scatter rug and lies down in a minor state of shock.
I sweep the floor thoroughly to remove all thorns. Spike gets up for a drink. A while later he’s recovered and he and Bridget eat a hearty breakfast. I tuck him into bed with soothing words. After a short spell of licking his front legs, he falls asleep.
The rest of the day passes uneventfully for which I am very glad.
Wednesday, March 26
I sit in the camp chair next to the fire ring and read another Dick Francis book on my kindle. I’m enjoying his light mysteries. I’ve read seven so far.
Suddenly Bridget and Spike commence barking.
“What is it, guys?” I get up from my chair and walk around the Perfect Tow Vehicle. A woman holding a small white dog stands at the entrance to our campsite.
“Hello!” she calls out.
“Just a minute! I’ll be right with you!” I dash into the Best Little Trailer and grab my camera.
I approach the woman with the dog.
“You can put her down. They”ll be okay together.”
The woman’s name is Rachel. She and her dog, Macha, are our new neighbors. Their van is parked on the other side of a cluster of trees up the lane.
“C’mon and sit with me,” I invite her, snapping photos of the three canines. “The best shots are always when they first meet,” I explain.
I like Rachel right away.
Our conversation flows naturally as we share a little about ourselves. I learn that Rachel is full-timing in her van (since last October) in an effort to live in as chemical-free environment as possible. This is not a philosophical decision. It’s essential for her survival. She has severe reactions to mold, pesticides, cleaners, propane fumes, and numerous chemicals. Not to be too personal here, but Rachel deals with several health issues, including electrical sensitivity (EMF),
A cancer survivor, Rachel’s attitude is upbeat in spite of her daily health challenges.
Little Macha, her eight-year-old, nine-pound Jack Russell terrier is a cutie.
Macha soon tires of the crew, as do they of her. She cuddles on Rachel’s chest and dozes off as we talk.
Rachel’s interested in fiberglass travel trailers so I invite her inside to look over the Best Little Trailer.
We sit outside and talk until the shadows stretch across the campsite and the air turns cool.
“We’d better be going. I have some things to get done before it gets dark.” As Rachel walks away with little Macha trotting alongside her on a retractable leash, I’m struck by how very extraordinary Rachel is. What a courageous and resilient person.
The crew and I go inside the BLT.
“Well, poopies, are you ready for supper?” At that moment I hear a dog yelp, followed by Rachel’s panicked yell, “SUE!”
I rush outside and around the PTV. Oh, God, no! Cholla!
“I’LL BE RIGHT THERE!” I holler back, running inside for the pliers.
The little dog is a mess!
Cholla thorns are all over her chin and legs. I yank off a cluster of thorns from her lower jaw. Macha cries out in pain, wiggles and squirms, and tries to pull out the thorns herself, making matters worse. Frantically, I pull thorns as fast as I can while Rachel tries to keep Macha still.
“Oh, no!” Rachel exclaims. “She has them inside her mouth!” We pull up her lips. A thorn sticks out of her gums. Thorns are way back in her mouth, outside her teeth, jammed into the flesh of her cheeks from the inside.
Both Rachel and I pry Macha’s jaws apart. Not once does Macha growl at me or try to bite me, in spite of her pain. Blood and froth collect on her chin. At long last we’ve removed all the thorns.
Macha keeps sticking out her tongue. Rachel discovers a thorn stuck to the UNDERSIDE of Macha’s tongue. How in the world are we ever going to get that out!
Have you ever tried to hold onto a dog’s tongue while the dog is in pain?
“You know, Rachel. We should put her on the pillows on my bed. Put her on her back under the light.”
Inside the BLT we work on the poor pup, prying her jaws open, pulling out her tongue, sticking the pointed pliers into her mouth. At times she squeals in pain.
Bridget and Spike sit in the aisle watching quietly with big eyes of great concern.
“We’ve got to get that thing out,” Rachel states, heartache in her voice, as we pause to give Macha a break.
“It would come out eventually on its own,” I respond. “It would get infected and fester and she’d suffer terribly.” I don’t know what I’m talking about. At times such as this, you think the worst and say dumb things.
With renewed determination, we try again.
Rachel adds extra firmness to her command to Macha. “Macha, hold still!”
Amazingly, the dog, pinned to the pillows, holds very still with her jaws forced wide open and her tongue extended. I can’t see the thorn but I feel it with the tip of the pliers, grab it and pull.
I hold up the pliers. Rachel and I look at the length of the thorn and are stunned.
Thursday, March 27
The crew and I walk over to Rachel and Macha’s campsite.
“How’s the patient?” I ask. Macha herself answers my question as she happily scampers over to Spike and tries to engage him in play.
AS ALWAYS, THANK YOU FOR SHOPPING AMAZON HERE!