The Case of the Missing Alligator

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Max carried his lime green stuffed alligator to the Buick for our drive to Guerneville, California. The Russian River town is about 90 miles north of San Francisco and one of our favorite places for a weekend getaway. Our lodging choice on this trip was the Cottages by the River.

alligator-cropped

Yes, I was told on the phone, dogs were welcome for a $25 nightly fee, even big ones. “What is your dog’s name?” asked the clerk. When we reached the Cottages, we parked outside the fence surrounding the property. Max pranced alongside Nick and me as we passed through the gate.

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We checked in and signed the pet agreement. The innkeeper handed us a rectangular box with the words, “Welcome Max” on the top. Inside the box we found a water dish, dog biscuits, and a floor towel. The clerk invited us to join other guests for S’mores at the fire pit that evening.

max-cottage-exteriorWe discovered fourteen little houses  that flanked a carefully landscaped lawn. Brightly colored flowers — hibiscus, geraniums, calendula, and an array of emerald plants adorned each one.

Inside our unit, Max slurped the water and rested on his dog towel.  After we had settled in, we strolled to the gated pet area designed for dogs to do their business.

Carrying his alligator, Max sauntered along the path. He did his job and then leisurely sniffed the plants and rocks. Later on when it was time to drive to the ocean, Max simply refused to go.  Stubbornly, he stood on the path by the cottage. Usually, he the leads the way to the car.

max-pet-areaMax’s paws wouldn’t move until I realized what was going on. I retraced the route to the pet area with Max following close behind. He nosed through the gate and quickly found his alligator on the ground right where he left it.

Wagging his tail, Max rushed past me to show Nick and all was well again. Later that evening, we joined other guests at the fire pit and roasted S’mores, with ingredients provided by the Cottages.

max-fire-pitThat night Max stretched out on the floor beside our bed.  He sighed deeply, resting his chin on the stuffed toy and drifted into the land of dreams. Chasing squirrels. Retrieving ducks. Carrying the alligator toy. Sweet dreams, Max.

 

 

Dinner for one

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Max simply won’t eat in the presence of others. If I’m in the kitchen, he stands by his food dish and eyes me carefully. Until I exit the room, he won’t chow down.

If the cat wanders into his space, Max temporarily gives up on dinner. He walks away. Some of his food becomes a feast for the feline. His rule of life is clear. There’s no need to invite trouble.

It’s possible a miserable puppyhood accounts for Max’s solo approach to his dog dish. He was surrendered to the Northern California Rescue Society when he was two-years-old.

Before I adopted him, Max lived with five large dogs. My guess is the other dogs frightened little Max. They didn’t welcome him to share the food any more than Rudolf was invited to play reindeer games.

Max resolved his food issues without  professional assistance. He trained me to place his full dish on the floor and then promptly leave the room.

After each meal, he finds me, leans in, and thumps his tail, as if to say thank you.

 

 

Winter with Max at the Russian River

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Winter is an ideal time for a getaway to the dog-friendly Russian River area north of San Francisco. Max and I have a tradition of visiting friends near the small town of Guerneville each January. We indulge in simple pleasures– walks, naps, reading books, and eating well.

We take daily treks on a path alongside the river. The trees, bushes, and spindly saplings are so thick we can’t see the river along most of the path.

Whenever we reach a clearing and the sandy river’s edge comes into view, Max wades right in without hesitation. He swims toward the mallards that paddle about and feed in the middle of the river. The ducks always fly away and land downriver. But that never seems to stop him from greeting the waterfowl. He returns  to the shore dripping wet and wagging his tail like a flag.

We meander under towering redwoods, California laurel, Pacific madrones, and Douglas fir trees. The flat trail offers an easy hike. Now and then we sight a tall great blue heron standing in the shallows.  I hold Max’s leash and keep him close so he won’t try to visit the heron.

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Max likes taking walks along the Russian River.

One year our hosts pointed out the ospreys nesting in a tree on the river’s edge. Like us, the pair returns annually to nest by the Russian River.

On clear nights the moon splashes light on the river and the stars sparkle in the inky sky. Max and his canine buddies Jack and Bandit sleep while the rest of us talk into the night.

Our friend’s home, Dream Weaver, may be booked through Russian River Getaways at  http://www.russianrivergetaways. It’s one of the many dog-friendly accommodations near the Russian River. You’ll enjoy lower rates and miss the summer crowds when you visit the area in the winter. See you at the river!

 

 

Packing light, the things we carry

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Max prances to the door with a toy in his moth when he senses the slightest chance of an outing. Lately, the object of his affection is a stuffed green alligator. HIs packing list, if he had one, would include one item, a stuffed toy.

I travel with as few items as possible to avoid the hassle of checking luggage. My newest treasure is a travel vest. I love my Scott eVest as much as Max likes his toy reptile.

The vest’s pockets that zip close hold my passport, phone, phone charger, cash, credit and debit cards, and cash. The other pockets carry my prescription medicine, a small brush, a toothbrush, toothpaste, an eyeliner pencil, cotton squares, Argon oil, baby oil, a Lush shampoo bar, conditioner, sunscreen, deodorant a plastic razor, Q-tips, and a nail file.

I toss in a nail clipper even though a TSA agent may confiscate it. A medium-sized pocket holds a pen and journal. The large pocket in the back is a space for clothes: a wrinkle-free dress, an extra top, leggings, socks, and lingerie.

A Sholdit brand infinity style scarf provides yet another zippered compartment to secure some cash, an extra credit card, comb, and lipstick. Max also wears a scarf when he travels. His is a sporty bandana in red, blue, or green, depending on the season.My shoulder bag holds a MacBook, an adaptor cable, and an extra set of clothes.

I’m bound for Florida this week, so I’ll tuck in a pair of sandals. While I’m at the Key West Literary Seminar, Max will stay  home with Nick and his stuffed alligator. I’ll be missing both of my guys.