Irish Wolfhound Run

Lillian, Texas, March 2003

In which the zoo travels to D/FW, to pick up an addition.

On this grand trip, there were several passengers, besides Gryphon and Butterfly:

The two dogs—Lionel and Rowdy (a foster greyhound) have very different reactions to taking a long trip in the RV. The grey just finds a bed and sleeps. All day. Lionel, on the other wing, is obsessively worried about EVERYTHING, and spends the entire time clenched... even when he naps, he's clenched.

The birds—Six and Kiki travel in the RV very well—they have a nice high spot for the cages to rest on, nicely padded so it doesn't pick up ALL the vibrations of the road, safely bungee'd down... even better than the spot on the couch we started them out with. But it's still exhausting, as the ancient beast sways and yaws and bounces quite a bit, so they're constantly haveing to work to keep their balance. Sort of like living in trees during storm season in the tropics, I guess.

Thankfully, the three cats were left behind, as were the budgies.

Everybody did fine on the way to Fort Worth—even though it was snowing (!?) when we left, and blowing like mad, we made pretty fair time to Amarillo. It takes quite a few miles to get the hang of driving this behemoth again. Oh... and a word about the RV. It's a 1978 Dodge Southwind, 25' long, with a 440 gasoline engine, 3-speed automatic transmission, and a differential that's geared 'short'... which gives it a top comfortable speed of about 65 mph. It also gets between 5-10 mpg, most of the time... with occasional excoursions to 4 or 11. However, since the wind was quite persistently against us on this trip, it's closer to the 4-6 range. Oh, and it burns a quart of oil every 150 miles or so. Ungainly, cumbersome, and this trip was the maiden voyage of The Bobble Board—a board that runs across all 90" of the dash, and is decorated about a dozen various bizarre bobble-head dolls.

After about 5 hours we made it to Amarillo, and stayed the night at a KOA located between the airport on one side, and the train tracks on the other. The planes were far enough away not to be loud (and we weren't in line with the runways) but there was a crossing near to the KOA, so the train whistles were pretty loud all night. I got used to them quickly, and I really like the nice rumble of train cars going past, especially when mellowed by a bit of distance.

Anyway... up in the morning a bit late... much dinking around with various minor RV problems. I don't think we actually got on the road again until nearly 11. But we made FW in good enough time, despite it being incredibly windy—most of it head-on or quartering from the left—and numerous stops at WalMarts along the way. (Flypaper for RVs.) Whee.

Six & Kiki normally have a very vigorous squawk a couple of times a day, but we've noticed that they don't do this in the RV. Six 'talks' a lot—squeaks and skrrrks and griiiis and so on. Kiki occasionally joins in, or offers the random people-babble or 'hello', until it starts getting dark outside, then they both get quiet. Butterfly took a shift at the wheel about mid-way, so I got to crash out for a bit on the bed, and was instantly covered in dog! Lionel was feeling very anxious about... well, everything, really. But he was happy to have me back there to 'guard'. Apparently he did the same thing with Butterfly when she was resting, too.

We parked the RV at our friends Rose & Ron's, ate supper, and fell over. The next morning, up fairly early, fed everyone, left the critters in the RV, and went off to visit the keeper of Wolfhounds. NOT in the RV, thankfully, as there was much twisty back roadage, but in our friends' station wagon.

Cu (pron. "coo", Gaelic for 'hound') is a gorgeous red brindle, who's still retained some of the subtle striping. He's also huge. He's about 160 lbs, and his shoulder comes nearly up to my waist. He is also sweet as the day is long, and quite clever. The cleverness will be an interesting thing to work with.

Cu on RV bunk

Anyway... no surprise, dog loved me, I liked dog, all were happy, and adoption papers were signed. Loaded up, and get a tiny taste of what the next day will be like, Cu—a drive back home. The introductions went quite well, with Lionel just about busting a seam trying to supervise EVERYTHING. Goofy border collie instincts. A little lip-curling and growling by the greyhound, but Butterfly & I have made it very clear to everyone who the alphas are in this pack, so fights simply aren't an option.

A day of letting everyone sort stuff out, spending time in the RV, and the yard, and walking on leash. The yard-time for dogs is shoulder-time for birds, which makes them quite happy. They really could care less about the canine contingent, and just want to be OUT of those cages! We've got some nice sisal ropes and swings for them that hang in various spots in the RV, and they're very happy for the minor change of scenery. I think they like the trip as a whole, so far, since they're spending LOTS of time in view of their people. And they get more junk food!

We went out for a wonderful supper, had much talking and hanging out, and then trundled off to bed at a fairly early hour. The dogs have a big 'changing of the guard' shifting around at 4:am, and I simply can *NOT* get back to sleep, despite repeated attempts. Grah! So... I sit up & play a game on my Handspring Visor PDA until the scheduled wakeup time of 6:30. Ooog. We get all the critters fed, then Rose & Ron feed us... and Butterfly gets sick. Yay. Poor pukey sweety. We get under way about 7:45 local. Gas up, check oil, and hit the road again.

And discover, to my great annoyance, that the wind has shifted about 90 degrees. So... instead of blowing into the RV from the left front, it's now blowing from the right front. And, as the day progresses, it continues swinging around until once more it's a straight on headwind. The weather is gorgeous and clear, however, and about 1 or 2 Six starts squeak/skrrk/kree/graak-ing to herself, and does so off and on most of the day... with an interruption for some SERIOUS bath fun in her water bowl. Which is pretty amusing, since she can only get a tiny bit of herself into this small travel cup.

Butterfly feels better enough to take a shift driving sometime in the afternoon, so I get a little more time to observe the interactions on the road. Very mellow... this new addition to the pack is settling in comfortably. I can see that Rowdy's fairly worried about it, so I spend time making sure he knows he's still part of the group.

At one point when I'm driving we get hit by a side-wind so powerful that it quite literally flings the RV across into the next lane! I'm halfway there before I have even the faintest chance of reacting, and fully there before I get this mad sideways plunge stopped... VERY scary! Thank goodness there wasn't anybody next to us!

Otherwise, the trip was really relatively uneventful, but... LONG. We made it to Amarillo easily enough, and I felt good enough to keep pushing on. Butterfly was still feeling too bad to drive, so I just kept pushing on. We stopped right at dusk, and got some gas, and took a nice long break, watching the incredible sunset as we ate our sandwiches... and were stared at by ten eager eyes. Cu is very fast to snatch something up if he thinks he can get away with it. This is part of the challenging part of a smart dog.

We finally dragged in about 9 local... 15 hours on the road. Six was so sleepy she was leaning her beak against the space between the bars, and when I snuggled her she only barely moved, just sort of fluffing out a tiny amount. Kiki, as usual, had a bit more energy, but not much... the girls were very happy to be put into their cages, and the dogs were very happy to be let out of that little bouncy house and into a nice big stable yard!

So... we drove 2,243 miles, drank 273.8 gallons of gas (for a whopping 8.2 mpg) and about 14 quarts of oil. And now, the next day, all the dogs are splayed out flat as rugs, snoozing away. Oh, and the wolfhound loves the cats, and our youngest cat, Phineas, is absolutely entranced with him. The birds seem to be fully recovered, after a good night's sleep, and are just hanging out being their birdy selves. And I... am tired! Pictures will be forthcoming soon...


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