Year of the Dog(s)

Journal

2014 was a year of big changes. Sorely missing our little whippet, Willow (she died in 2012), we finally felt ready to find another sight hound. Enter the newest member of the Beyond family, Prospect.

Prospect is a 3-year old brindle-colored retired racing greyhound from Kansas. After arriving in Portland in August 2013, he spent several months in the GPA-NW kennel before being fostered by a local family.

He went on his first-ever hike, on January 4, 2014. We chose the nearby trail down to the Sandy River because it’s close, easy and only two miles. Prospect did really well and was not bothered by the uneven footing or noisy river. He was pretty tired by the time we got back to the car (needed a little boost up). We hope he’s going to be a terrific trail buddy.

A few months later, we decided to foster another greyhound. Rhythm is a year younger than Prospect and came to us directly from the track in Tucson, Arizona. He’s got a much goofier personality than very reserved Prospect.

One of the many challenges we discovered about greyhounds is their need to be on a leash. Always. No exceptions. No excuses. Off leash, their instinct is to run and run and run. Across roads, into traffic and/or at any small animal that moves. So when we went hiking, we had to put away our poles and manage leashes instead. We also found that greyhounds have little stamina. Yes, they can bolt quickly and for short concentrated distances (such as a few laps around a fenced dog park) but after that, they’re done and ready for a nap. They also take up a lot of room. We’d need to get another tent, perhaps split up and sleep one dog one person per tent, and or not go camping at all.

That wasn’t an option, so we started researching tent trailers. Our 2014 Subaru Forester has a maximum tow rating of only 1500 lbs including gear. Rather than buy a more powerful hauling vehicle, we decided on the Livin Lite Quicksilver 8.1 pop-up tent trailer. We needed the ability to confine the hounds to the inside but still be able to cook and move around ourselves. These compact little 8 x 7 foot trailers unfold to become 16 x 7 feet.

Over the next year, we substantially modified our hiking and travel routines to accommodate our new buddies. No more backpacking or tent camping for us! Now it was all about leashes, kibble, extra water, less sun, shorter distances, etc. We actually went fewer places for shorter distances and slowly lost much of the tone and muscle we had gained over the previous two years. Yes, there were many more short walks down the road, poop bags in hand, but the pace was slow and meandering because two 70 pound curious creatures with powerful noses and keen eyes tend to go where THEY want.

Nevertheless, here’s a very brief run down of what we did, where and when we went:

Clackamas River Trail (hike): May 25:

Sunshine Guard Station in the Malheur National Forest (camping): June 21 – 23

Indian Rock Lookout and Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds (hikes): June 23 – 24

Kingfisher Campground on the Collawash River (camping): July 1 -2

Palisade Point, Lookout Mountain: July 6. On this hike we realized that black dogs easily overheat in the sun but don’t necessarily understand how to cool off in the snow. Brindles do:

Cape Lookout State Park, July 7-10 and August 26-28. This large family and dog-friendly campground has miles and miles of beach and serves as a great starting point for one of our favorite hikes.

Tillicum Beach Campground, July 20 -24. A great spot on a beach-side cliff overlooking the ocean just south of Waldport. We tried a little off-leash action with chicken bits as treats. These dogs run insanely fast in the most irrelevant direction. Instantly.

Beachside State Recreation Site, September 1 – 5. Because of a last minute cancellation, we scored the most sought-after spot in the whole Oregon State Park system. From there, we visited Devil’s Churn and Cape Perpetua, both south of Yachats.

Memaloose State Park, October 3-5 (camping). Memaloose is a great location on the mighty Columbia River if you love freight trains. 24/7. From there, we explored a nearby lake and then hiked the HCRHST (read more after the photos)

Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail between Rowena and Hood River, October 4. We started at the eastern Mark O. Hatfield Trailhead near Mosier and walked to Hood River. This five-mile Twin Tunnels segment passes through two climate zones and leads through semi-arid terrain dotted with ponderosa pine for about a mile until you reach the Twin Tunnels. Spectacular geologic formations tell the story of the gorge’s creation. Viewpoints along the 3.5-mile segment from the tunnels to the west Mark O. Hatfield Trailhead overlook the river. Then back again.

This photo of the Rowena Loop eventually became the background photo for “Big Day” an iPhone app that serves as a countdown for big events— like Chris’ retirement in June 2015. Discovering that we could afford to take early retirement after 27 years of teaching at MHCC was the watershed moment for both of us in 2014. David could easily continue his Thirddoor web development and design business wherever we happen to be as long as there’s an internet connection.

It slowly dawned on us that we were mow really tied down by these two animals. Since getting the hounds, we rarely went out for dinner, to the theater for a movie, or headed downtown for the day. Wrangling two large beasts on leashes even at dog-friendly brewpubs like the Lucky Lab was just not relaxing. It was like having two toddlers again who we knew would never grow up.

Much to our relief, the adoption coordinators at GPA-NW very graciously understood our dilemma and quickly found new forever homes for these two guys. No guilt trips. We learned a lot during 2014, our “year of the dog(s)”. We finally put our needs first. And you know what? We’re okay with that.

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