How Dilly spent his summer vacation

It’s hard to believe but last summer Dilly wasn’t alive yet. For half of it, he wasn’t even a twinkle in his mother’s uterus. He’s only been living with Steve and me for 8 months, but he’s such a big presence, it feels like he’s been with us for ages.

Had the coronavirus not followed him into the world, we would have missed several weeks of his puppyhood when we traveled to Europe in May. But like so many people’s plans, that trip was canceled. Instead we cobbled together a more pandemic-friendly adventure: a California road odyssey for which Dilly was our game fellow-traveler.

Packing our van with 3 weeks worth of dog provisions reminded us of when we took our oldest son on the road as a toddler. Instead of diapers and child seats and snacks and toddler toys, we had bags of dog food, Dilly’s bed, bowls and brushes and balls and more.

Along with all our gear, it barely fit.

We hit the road July 3. Over the next 21 days, Dilly got to hike in many awesome landscapes: in meadows and mountain trails at Mammoth and Lake Tahoe:

On the Jeep trails that laced through the 75-acre ranch we stayed on in the far reaches of the Sacramento River Valley. We traded our house to stay in that place.

At the foot of volcanic Mt. Lassen.

He got to sniff the needles of the oldest trees on Earth…

Bristlecone pines

… and some of the tallest…

Old-growth redwoods

He met exotic wildlife.

Felina, our son’s family’s feisty Corgi
Madonna, one of the resident horses on the ranch
A fat resident cat at our cabin in the redwoods

The most interesting rug Dilly has ever stretched out on
A touristic bear

He discovered that the world can feel and smell very different from the way it does in San Diego.

Snow on Mt. Lassen
Waterfalls near Mt. Shasta. The air somehow tasted like water!
The headwaters of the Sacramento River tasted like water!
Not far away, the river gets big.
Who knew there was this much fresh water in the world? This was in a canyon whose walls are lined with ferns.

Probably the funnest place was the enormous yard in back of the ranch house. Dilly got to run around in it, off-leash, at 90 miles an hour. He NEVER gets to do that at home.

Most of the time, he brought us daily pleasure. Countless folks admired him, and he reciprocated with love for one and all.

But he wasn’t wild about all the time on the road. For most of the more than 3000 miles we covered, he rode in his kennel, but he often didn’t sleep. We speculated that the twisty blue highways made him uncomfortable. Or maybe he was too warm back there.

For a while, he went out strike, refusing to jump up in his kennel as ordered. Then we had to muscle him in.

A few times I took pity on him and let him sleep at my feet up front.

Then he slept. Sitting up.

He seemed to enjoy everything else about traveling, though. We sensed that what he loved most was getting to spend more time than usual being paid attention to by us.