Tuesday afternoon, May 8
Ken comes over with some paper in his hand. “Gail’s found the dispersed camping area opposite the Sunset Crater Road!” We’ve been expecting a call from Gail. She left Willard Springs this morning and promised to let us know what she finds. Ken and I aren’t leaving until tomorrow morning.
“She says the road is easy and the campsites are nice,” Ken adds as he hands me a pen and paper to copy the directions to Gail’s camp. We’re standing at the back of the BLT. The crew and Ken’s dog, Scooter, are at our feet. I put the paper on the spare tire to write down the directions Gail gave Ken.
All of a sudden Spike and Scooter are tangled up together, snarling with a vengeance.
Ken and I try to separate them. The fight escalates. Scooter, who is considerably larger and heavier than Spike, has Spike on his back, his jaws at his neck. I yank Spike out from under Scooter and run with him to the open door of the BLT. I don’t see any gushing blood, so I close Spike up in the BLT and go back to Ken, Scooter, and Bridget.
“What the hell caused that?” Ken exclaims. “Is Spike okay?”
“Yes, he looks okay. I don’t know what caused that! There’s no food around. We’re standing here talking. That’s was very strange.” Bridget has her nose up to Scooter’s nose, as if to say, “Are you mad at us?”
“Bridget, for heaven’s sake.” I pick her up. “Well, I’ll talk to you tomorrow, Ken. I’ve got to check on Spike.”
As Ken walks away shaking his head, he thinks out loud, “They were playing together a few minutes ago.”
I go into the BLT and immediately I see that Spike is NOT okay.
He’s staring like he’s in mild shock. I pick him up, put him on the bed, and look for wounds. I find one on his back about the size of a nickel. Oh no, Spike! Poor little guy! I get a pair of scissors and cut the fur around the wound. I want to clean it but I’m afraid I’ll make it worse and I don’t want to cause Spike any more pain. Darn, I wish I had an instinct for nursing. I never know what to do.
Pain medicine! I wonder if I still have any. I pull out my dog first-aid kit and find Spike’s prescription bottle of pain meds from when he had surgery. Good! There’s plenty. I also find a brand new tube of triple antibiotic ointment. I wrap a pain pill in cheese and Spike takes it readily. Well, I guess he’s not in shock if he’s chowing on cheese. I apply some ointment. At least it’s on his back where he can’t bother it.
Spike falls asleep and I try to figure out what to do.
I go online and find a veterinary clinic located on Highway 89 northeast of Flagstaff. Great! That’s on the way to our next camp across from Sunset Crater. Since Spike isn’t in any pain and is sleeping so well, I’ll wait until tomorrow to decide what to do.
Wednesday morning, May 9th
Spike sleeps late. I walk Bridget around the campsite so she can do her business. About twenty minutes later, Spike’s head comes out from under the covers. I carry him outside. He stands as if he’s afraid to move. “C’mon, Spikey. You’re not paralyzed. You gotta go to the bathroom.” He has a pathetic, poor-little-ol-me face. Eventually he walks around and relieves himself. Well, things are looking up. Time to get on the road.
Spike takes another pain pill, I break camp, and we leave Willard Springs.
We go north on Highway 17 to Interstate 40 at Flagstaff and head east. At exit 198 I pull off and find the Conoco station that has a free dump station and free water. After getting water and dumping tanks, I go inside and buy an iced tea, a snack, and a quart of milk.
A few miles further up the interstate, we take exit 201 to pick up Highway 89. This is the highway that eventually goes to Page, Arizona, near the border with Utah. My goal is the primitive camping area opposite the entrance to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument .
However, first I want Spike looked at.
Aspen Veterinary Clinic is about three miles up Highway 89. Just when I think I’ve passed it, I see it on the right and pull over. The parking lot is too small for the PTV and BLT. Fortunately there’s a very wide shoulder so I back the PTV and BLT parallel to the highway and out of the way of the clinic’s driveway.
A pleasant young woman greets me.
I explain my situation and Spike’s wound. She says there’s only one doctor and she’s in surgery and has another surgery after that. I tell her I’ll be camping about six miles up the road. She advises me to put hot, wet compresses on the wound. If I see any redness or infection around it or if Spike becomes lethargic, I should call her. “We don’t suture puncture wounds anyway. The important thing is that it not heal too fast. Watch for any signs of infection.”
Much relieved, I thank her and put the crew and myself back on the road to our new camp!
Wednesday afternoon, May 9
Spike, Bridget and I are camped on a bluff overlooking a valley of pine trees. Gail and Ken are camped down the road from us. To the north is a wonderful, long-distance view that Gail says is the Painted Desert. We’re at a higher elevation now. It’s warm in the sun with a cool breeze. Ah, mountain air . . . I love it!
Spike’s a dopey, druggie dog.
He’s sleeping a lot. Already I can see progress. The wound is smaller, like a dime, and it’s drying. Bridget loves our new camp. She’s completed her investigation of the property and is asleep now, too.
I sit in the lounge chair in the shade of a pine, gazing at our million dollar view.