This weekend was the start of spring break at the university where Benjamin teaches, so we decided to take advantage of his relative freedom and go backpacking. We also wanted to get in at least one overnight trip to the woods this year before I get too big to enjoy sleeping on the ground and tromping through the woods with a large pack on my back. Since it was sort of a last minute trip, and because I had been wanting to give it a try, we took Miikka with us. Now, he is a very good hiker, especially for a dog with such short legs, but, and this is now a huge but, he is a terrible camper.
For starters, the day was quite warm - not for Arkansas in general, compared to the actual heat of summer, but for March, 80 with lots of humidity is still a bit much - and he doesn't really like the heat. I guess that is understandable, what with his fur coat and short legs that put him close to the ground, but it is sort of a pain when it comes to going for walks or the occasional hike. And the path was primarily composed of chunks of crushed granite or other rocks, so I am sure it was not comfortable for his paws. All understandable reasons why he wasn't at his best on the 4 miles in to the campsite. I wasn't at my best either. So, while the hike wasn't his finest hour, the problem that disqualifies him from all future camping trips was yet to reveal itself.
No, that came after dark, once we were all in the tent, preparing to get some much-needed sleep. When he started growling and wuffing at every crackle in the bushes, and every owl hoot. For hours. We would just manage to drift off, and he would hear something else and wuff. It wasn't full-fledged barking, except once (when I went out to find a tree and left him behind), but at close range, in a tent, while trying to sleep on hard ground... As Benjamin put it, the thing about sleeping on the ground is that you have to fall asleep fast enough that you don't really notice how uncomfortable you are. With Miikka grring and wuffing, that was impossible. Also, I am not supposed to sleep on my back, so I had to keep alternating from side to side to keep my arms and hips from falling asleep or getting too sore, but my sleeping bag is a mummy sack that doesn't do well with lots of wiggling - it gets all twisted. It didn't help that I was also trying to cuddle Miikka into submission, so he was on my bag or my arm for quite a while. In hindsight, I should have realized that his tendency to bark at random noises in the dark of our backyard would carry over to the woods. But in my defense, I honestly thought that he would settle down once we got into our sleeping bags and petted him for a bit. I thought he would enjoy being allowed to sleep with us, something he never does at home. I was wrong.
We eventually got a few hours uninterrupted sleep, but it took a long time to get there, and it didn't last nearly long enough.
So, Taking Miikka Camping can go down in the annals as one of those supposedly fun things I will never do again.