Titus experienced a bunch of firsts during our camping trip last weekend. I think I'll give you more details about our trip through the eyes of the dog.
1. For the first time ever... Titus camped in TX. HUGE difference from camping in Washington or Oregon. Instead of snuggling up next to me at night to stay warm, he hardly slept at all because he was too hot. His constant panting only added to our discomfort.
2. For the first time ever... Titus encountered an armadillo! I've been waiting for this moment since we moved to TX. I was hoping it would happen at home where he would be free to chase it and play, but oh well. Watching the armadillo run was pretty funny. Titus could have easily caught it if he hadn't been on a leash. Armadillos were pretty common at the park, so maybe he'll get another chance in the future. We had 2 at our campsite one night, but Titus was resting in the tent and missed both of them.
3. For the first time ever... We swam with Titus. Yes, we've taken Titus to the lake/river for years, but usually we just wade around and make Titus do all the swimming. We might take a quick dip to cool off, but water up in the north can be pretty cold for any real swimming and TX waters are pretty murky. At this park, there were several natural spring pools that were very clear and cool. We spent 2 afternoons just swimming around to avoid the heat- it was wonderful!! Let me tell you something- swimming with Titus is hilarious. He didn't know what to think of us being in the water. Most of the time he would just swim around us in circles and go back and forth between me and Josh. He also got very concerned when Josh would float around on his back or on his stomach. If Josh put his face in the water to watch the fish, Titus would swim over and paw/scratch at his back. Oh, and forget about going under the surface! Anytime Josh would dive down, Titus would go to the spot he last saw him and swim around in tight circles until Josh resurfaced. It was too funny! It was almost like he had some kind of rescuing instinct, but it was not accompanied by any real skill. In the future, I might try working with him to see if I can get him to dive. We'll see.
4. For the first time ever... Titus swam with a life jacket. I know, I know- he's a lab, he can swim just fine on his own. I agree- Titus is an excellent swimmer and can't help but be in the water anytime he sees it. We bought him a life jacket a few years ago when we got the canoe. At the time, we didn't know how well he would tolerate staying in the canoe when he could easily jump out and swim instead. We figured if he jumped or fell out, he would be stuck swimming until we could reach shallow enough water for him to jump back in. If we were in the middle of a lake, he might have to swim quite a distance and get very tired. Anyway, after a couple of canoe trips and only 1 fall/jump out of the canoe, Titus grew quite content with laying down and enjoying the ride. We never even used the life jacket. Then one time while we were dogsitting, the other dog decided the life jacket looked like a good toy, and he shredded one of the straps. I just got around to mending it this summer, so we were back in business. We knew this camping trip would be very hot and that we would spend a lot of time in the water, so we brought the life jacket along. I'm so glad we did! With the heat, lack of sleep, a good amount of walking/hiking/swimming, Titus was one tired pup. It was obvious that we were working him too hard by the last day, so we tried the life jacket. He definitely seemed more relaxed with it on since he didn't have to work as hard. Unfortunately, I think we waited too long to try it out because...
5. For the first time ever... Titus actually got too tired to swim. It was crazy. We were in the water and he just made himself a bed in the weeds and watched us. He whimpered and whined for a while- it was so pathetic. He wanted so badly to swim with us, but he was just too exhausted. About every 20 minutes or so, he would jump in and make a lap around the pool to make sure we were ok. Then he would get back out and go back to his bed of weeds. Poor guy. He was also so tired that he gave up being obedient on Sunday afternoon. All he wanted to do was lay in the car or the tent and rest. Of course we were trying to pack up the tent and load the car, so he was in the way. At one point, he wouldn't get out of the car at all. I tried pulling him out and he growled at me. It was funny and frustrating at the same time. He was such a tired, grumpy, old dog. I'm sure if he had gotten sleep at night, he would have been just fine. He has pretty much slept non-stop since we got home. Poor pup.
6. For the first time ever... Titus got to sniff/lick catfish and white bass. We never caught these fish in the north. I think Josh enjoyed fishing for something other than trout. We took the canoe out Friday evening, Saturday morning, and Sunday morning. We saw heron, vultures, eagles, waterfalls, and of course fish. The river was very slow moving, so paddling was pretty easy and peaceful.
I think that about wraps it up. I really hope we get to visit Colorado Bend State Park again, but I think we'll wait until early fall or late spring so that we can actually sleep at night.
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