Sunday, July 29, 2012

Fry Goes to the Gravity Nationals

Less than a week after the practice camping run, it was time for the real thing. Fry's first big camping trip would be to Beech Mountain, North Carolina for the 2012 USA Cycling Gravity Nationals Mountain Bike Downhill Championship race. This trip, running Thursday through Sunday, July 19-22, would offer our days and three nights of all kinds of new sights, sounds, dogs, people and activities.

Since Steve would be racing on Friday, it would be up to me to manage Fry during Thursday practice and Friday morning's race, and I was glad his first camping experience had been a positive one that would hopefully carry over to this trip as well. Fry did great on the drive up and was an excellent traveler during the ride, the rest stops and even the extremely tight twisty mountain road up to the top of Beech Mountain. On arrival, we found a nice spot in the lot designated for race camping - Parking Lot #3 - got the Rockwood trailer set up and opened the top half of the door so Fry could survey his new "home" for the next few days.

Beech Campsite
I was glad I decided to bring Fry's fleece jacket and rain coat, since the weather was significantly - and pleasantly - cooler than the high 90 to 100 degree temperatures we've been enduring for the past month or so at home. In fact, it wasn't long after we got our campsite set up that a storm began approaching.

Storm Approaching
Within minutes, a few "splats" of huge raindrops turned quickly into a downpour. I must admit, though, our little camper was quite cozy during the storm and I was more than happy to not be in a tent...

Even Fry seemed to think the camper was cozy in the rain.

Likely a result of all the newness and excitement, Fry had a restless night Thursday, but wished his Daddy good luck in his race Friday morning.

Good Luck!
Steve headed out early to catch the ski lift ride to the start line, and Fry and I walked up shortly after, to find a comfortable spot near the last rock drop before the finish line to take some pictures of the amateur riders.

Watching the Amateurs
Steve managed to take seventh place in his class! Looks like the collar bone is doing well, thank goodness.

Steve Taking Seventh Place!
And since Fry was donning his glorious green multi-stripe collar from If It Barks, he naturally had to have his photo taken with "The Green Guy"...

Fry and The Green Guy
After the amateur races were complete, Ryan brought Fry's best girl, Farlow, over for a visit.

Fry and Farlow
And then Fry relished in being the center of attention with lots of petting.

Center of Attention
Finally, after a long day of meeting bunches of new friends and walking all around the race venue, Fry decided it was time for a nice long nap back at the campsite.

Nap Time
After a good rest, Fry was ready to go for a long fun hike with his new friend, Morris. Mark and Steve let Mo and Fry play in the creek after watching a little of the dual slalom.

Fry and Mo at the Creek
Then the five of us walked up a good bit of the Pro course to watch the pro racers practice and to let the pups get some exercise as well.

Fry and Morris
And it was time for another doggy nap.

Fry had already seemed to start settling in to a happy routine. He was great meeting new people, even if still a bit hyper excitable on first seeing other dogs. He was very reliable, though, about staying at his own campsite and seemed to enjoy helping Daddy with the grilling. :-)

At the Campsite
He seemed to very quickly accept the camper as his home-away-from-home and would frequently go inside of his own accord, either to lie down on the bed or just watch the world go by from the doorway.

Of course, on occasion he also enjoyed hanging out with us under the shade tent, either standing next to us or lying on his cushioned mat.

Fry and Daddy
But he also had no qualms about nabbing an unoccupied camp chair...

Fry in the Camp Chair
We walked up part of the mountain to watch some of the pro qualifying runs, and Fry was my superb photography assistant.

Photographer's Helper
He had a blast watching the riders jump the rocks exiting out of the woods...

Watching the Riders
And always let me know when the next rider was approaching from the upper rock garden.

Rider Up!
All in all, I'd say Fry's first big multi-night camping trip was a success and he's definitely a wonderful vacationing companion.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Happy Camper

This past weekend seemed like a perfect time to take Fry on a local overnight camping trip to get him accustomed to the pop-up and also to see how he was going to handle the whole camping situation. We chose Holly Point since it's a fairly short drive - on the off chance we needed to come home early for any reason - and close to some very pretty trails and the lake. Site 85 was nice and shady, with a large tent pad.
Site 85
As soon as we got the camper set up, Fry eagerly jumped inside and was an adorable Welcoming Committee.
Welcoming Committee
Once we got everything unpacked, settled in and showed Fry around his "home" for the weekend, we then headed out hiking at a nearby trail.

Trail Dog
Fry had a blast, trotting along the trail, and playing in the tall grasses with his signature unbridled puppy joy.
Unbridled Puppy Joy
And on the way back to the trailhead, what doggy luck on a toasty afternoon to find a cool refreshing MUDHOLE!!!


Muddy Dog
As much fun as it was for Fry to play in the mud, we didn't really want all that tracked back into the camper, so off to the lake we went to get him a nice rinse. Being the water-loving boy that he is, Fry happily obliged and dove right in.

We arrived back at the camper where a tired little Fry flopped down on the bed in the air-conditioning while Steve and I took a short walk to check out the campground's swim beach and bathhouse. On our return, we were delighted to discover Fry had his "big boy manners" on and had behaved like a camping pro, napping quietly while we were gone.
After cooking a yummy dinner on the grill, we all headed inside to eat and relax, with a beautiful view of the stars through the camper's skylight. Fry had already become quite comfortable in his home-away-from-home and settled in contentedly with a chew toy.
Happy Puppy

On awakening this morning, I took Fry out for a tinkle-walk and a short tour of our campsite loop. He was so good on his leash and continued to display excellent manners, including politely greeting the ranger who came by to empty the garbage cans at the campsite.

Fry kept an eye on Steve's coffee and supervised the preparation of both his and our breakfast.
The Supervisor
Then came inside with us and lounged on the bed while we finished our coffee.
Fry and Daddy

Rub My Tummy!
After finishing breakfast and showering, Steve and I took Fry for a longer walk around the campground, where again he politely and happily greeted everyone he saw with a friendly smile and wagging tail. He seemed to be quite content and comfortable on this short trip, and we look forward to many more vacations with our little Happy Camper!
Happy Camper

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Joy

My joy has four paws, soulful eyes that speak volumes without saying a word, a perpetually wagging tail, and velvety floppy ears. My joy's name is Fry.

His enthusiasm for living has brought me back to my previous loves of mountain biking, swimming, hiking and running, each of which is all the more sweet when shared with my little Fry-man.

His spirit is unstoppable, his happiness contagious. Watching the way he fully lives every single moment, it's impossible to not smile, just impossible.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


As far as I know, he has no name. At least I’ve never heard anyone call him by one. So I call him “Buddy”. His story probably isn’t national newsworthy. He hasn’t suffered beatings. He hasn’t been burned with fire or chemicals. He wasn’t mutilated or dragged behind a car. But to me, his story is no less important. His solitary life of silent misery is the result of human callousness, and the failure of my community, its leaders and yes, us residents, to insist on stronger anti-cruelty laws and anti-tethering legislation. As a result, Buddy’s life consists of a roughly 10-foot circle at the base of an old tree at the end of a heavy bull-chain that is padlocked to a thick leather collar buckled tightly around his neck. Under his feet is dirt, trash and various items of other debris. His only relief from extremes of weather – snow, ice, rain, wind, heat, humidity – and insects such as fleas, ticks and biting flies is a makeshift doghouse and whatever shade is provided by the tree supporting his chain. He is underweight, with his ribs clearly visible, and hipbones and shoulder blades prominent. The only nourishment I am certain he receives is the dog cookies I offer him. There is an old bucket next to his doghouse that I hope has water in it, but the bucket is often overturned as a result of Buddy’s bull chain dragging across it. So I tried to help during this current heat wave by lowering another bucket over the fence and filling it with my own water hose.

My husband and I have made efforts to contact Buddy’s owners, but no one appeared to be home, so we left a note to let them know we gave Buddy some water since his was empty. When we got no response, I called Animal Control who referred me to the Wake Forest Police who referred me to the Wake County Sheriff who referred me back to Animal Control. I was initially told since it was after 5 p.m., they would only respond to emergencies and apparently a chained dog in 100 degree temperatures with no water did not constitute an emergency?!?!?!?!  I called again on July 4th after still getting no response from the owner to our note, and after noticing blood on Buddy’s head. Finally, an Animal Control officer did arrive at Buddy’s home. Apparently by this time, the owner was home. After talking with the owner, the officer came to my house to let me know what was going on. This is where I realized how woefully inadequate our animal protection laws are, and to be honest, I felt very sorry for the officer as my gut told me he really wished he could rescue Buddy from his miserable life but didn’t have the legal right to do so.

I feel like I failed Buddy by not calling to report the owner to Animal Control previously, as now this was his first offense so he basically got a “pass”. I believe the officer did all he could and I do appreciate that. And this is all he could do, since we have essentially tied his hands by not making sure animal welfare is addressed sufficiently in our legal system. This is inexcusable.

The owner has 24 hours to, at a minimum, get a swivel for the chain so Buddy won’t get his tether twisted and tightened. The officer also strongly suggested getting something lighter to tie him with since that bull chain is very likely more than 10% of Buddy’s total weight.

The owner was given a warning for not having Buddy vaccinated for rabies and was instructed to get that done immediately. He was also told to take the dog to a vet for treatment of multiple head and neck wounds due to a severe flea infestation and resultant excessive scratching.

The owner was told that Buddy had to have clean water accessible to him at ALL TIMES 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

The officer said Buddy was to have sufficient food. He did mention to me that “there was food on the property” and sadly that is all the law currently requires, but fails to address the problem that that does not mean the dog is actually RECEIVING any of that food. Ridiculous. Also, the officer said although Buddy was clearly undernourished, he wasn’t “skinny enough yet” to be considered neglected. Again, ridiculous. You can easily see every rib, and the hips and shoulders are extremely prominent.

The officer asked us to keep an eye on Buddy and to call him back if any of the above conditions were not addressed, and I will absolutely do that. But I believe we as a society and our entire system have failed this poor dog. Look at this picture and tell me honestly that this is any kind of life for a sentient, living being whose only desire is to be Man’s Best Friend. I know my own heart is breaking into a million pieces, and I will do everything in my power to get laws established to redefine animal cruelty and prevent the perpetual tethering of dogs. It is up to us to stop tying the hands of our animal control officers and give them the capability to help those who cannot help themselves.

Apparently our lawmakers think this is a dog who is "okay". I, for one, DO NOT think there is anything "okay" about this in any way, shape or form, and I will not rest until our laws are changed. Will you help?
Our Lawmakers Think This is "Okay"?!?