Written by Alice Munley
Cam’O is no little fluffball anymore. Those early photos showed a fuzzy little puppy who is now showing signs of becoming a mature male golden retriever.
A visit to my cousin marked the beginning of Cam’O’s summer adventures.
We traveled many miles by car for a family high school graduation and to visit a new home with a wonderful Labrador retriever in residence. This visit afforded Cam’O experiences with more new stairs, new people, and a very exciting high school graduation event.
Graduation was held in the large gym of the local university and packed full of graduates and their families. All the activity and noise that come with this scenario was a great opportunity for Cam’O. There were thousands of people talking, laughing, cheering, whistling and applauding continually. Add to that an excellent band playing very loudly, and you have a glimpse of Cam’O’s awesome graduation experience. His socialization in the months leading up to graduation, coupled with his maturing personality, suggested to us that he could handle such a large event. And he handled it all like a trooper, including climbing way up into the bleachers for a seat. Of course, these bleachers had fully closed seating—there was no chance little paws could slip through any opening.
Back home again
A summer morning with Cam’O might begin with a little discussion between Cam’O and Buddy Boy, our resident cat. Buddy Boy appeared one day at our front door several years ago. Because I’m highly allergic to cats, we couldn’t bring him indoors, so when we determined he had planted himself permanently at our home, we set up living quarters for him in our garage. Cam’O seems to really like Buddy Boy and vice-versa, so many mornings they may greet one another through an open window. When raising a service dog, it’s great if you can have a cat readily available for the puppy in training to learn how to behave politely with cats. So Buddy Boy educates and trains our service dog puppies about the finer points of the feline species and how there’s no need to switch gears into a chase mode when a cat comes prancing into view.
Cam’O the helper
Sometimes Cam’O tries to help around the house.
First we see him with his head partially in the open door of the front loading wash machine, feet squarely planted in the dirty clothes basket as he appears to be helping load the wash machine. Actually he is pulling the dirty clothes out of the machine as I attempt to load it. For some reason Cam’O seems to think the dirty clothes are put in the basket for him to sort and select his favorites and then wander off with the one of choice to parts unknown. Thankfully, that’s a habit he is finally outgrowing. However, I’ll still find an occasional sock adorning one of the dog beds and Cam’O lying beside it like he’s totally innocent.
Next we see Cam’O thinking about how he can get the clothes out of the dryer as he lays prone across the open dryer door.
Thankfully he’s not big enough yet to pull himself inside the dryer. He’s giving it his best try as he overlooks the situation and all those clothes. Perhaps he realizes that the clothes are now just too far out of his reach? I guarantee he wants to get to at least one piece of clothing, like a maybe a sock!
Ah-ha! It appears in the next photo that Cam’O may have been successful at garnering at least one special piece of clothing.
I’m guessing that he’s thinking that if he just holds on tight enough to that big red sweatshirt that he’s sleeping on now, that it’s his to keep. Well, at least it’s gets to keep it for a nap. Surely no one’s going to disturb a dog that is so quiet and napping. Never!
Heading to the mountains
The clothes were all clean and it was time to head out for some Colorado sightseeing with relatives from Oregon.
It was a beautiful clear day in the Rocky Mountains when we headed to Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s recommended that you bring something warm to wear as you travel the 11 miles of Trail Ridge road, over the top. The temperature on top is 20-30 degrees cooler and it can be very, very windy. Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in the United States, reaching an elevation of 12,183 feet. The Park has over 415 square miles of mountain terrain with 359 miles of hiking trails, 150 lakes, and 450 miles of streams, not to mention the awesome wildlife and spectacular views as you ascend up the mountains on Trail Ridge Road. This road connects the town of Estes Park on the east side of the park with the town of Grand Lake on the western side. The road is only open during the summer months as the winter snows bury it deep in snow for up to nine months. Many peaks in the park are in the 12,000- and 13,000-foot range with Longs Peak being the highest at 14,259. Rocky Mountain National Park and Trail Ridge Road are “must see” stops when you come to Colorado.
A plus for Cam’O on our visit was the cool pavement along the walking trails that overlook awesome canyons and lakes. It was a sunny, bright day, but the air and wind kept those trails from heating up too hot for little puppies tender toes. As you might imagine, Cam’O was a big attraction to all the other visitors that day.
As we began our short day trips in Colorado, Cam’O showed us that he is becoming a very seasoned traveler.
Come see Rocky Mountain National Park for yourself. You’ll love it. The awesome blue skies, magnificent wildlife, incredible mountain scenery, and wonderful fresh air, are just a few of the bonuses that await your visit.
As we began our short day trips in Colorado, Cam’O showed us that he is becoming a very seasoned traveler. He’s willing, even eager, to stop wherever and take a walk or go in a store or restaurant. He always seems ready for a new activity. He loves riding in the car but gets excited to unload and head off on a new adventure.
That’s not to say that something odd looking won’t get his attention. He notices everything that he’s never seen before as well as many things he’s already experienced, but doesn’t freak out. He alerts to it and accepts our invitation to approach slowly, and checks it out. He then goes on his way, seemingly fine with the experience. He’s a real trooper. One person mentioned to us that he thought Cam’O was an “old soul.” And perhaps that’s true.
More Cam’O summer adventures are in store, involving caves, more mountaintops, and ancient critters he’s not likely to find on any other outing. A big road trip is in the works too. That may be one big story all it’s own.
The 2016-17 school year is approaching very soon too.
Cam’O will find another new adventure in September as he moves into the high school scene. He will continue to spend time at his elementary school of choice, but will also test the waters at our local high school. He will start with visiting one day a week in order to ease him into the more complex environment of high school life. I expect him to do very well.