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Small and Smelly's Mount Washington Sabbatical

The author and the Small Black Dog prepare for a getaway as skunks pow-wow on the perimeter.

It’s vacation time for the family, including the Small Black Dog. We’re going to separate hotels but I’m pretty sure we’re going to have an equal amount of fun.

Preparation is Stressful

It’s been said that for the amount of time a person spends getting ready for a two week vacation, he or she needs to be gone six months to make the stress and preparation worthwhile.  If that’s the case, I deserve about two years worth of time sipping Mai Tais in the tropics for planning my four day weekend.

The container garden on the balcony, which is doing quite nicely thank you, has to be moved out of the sun in the hopes that the tomatoes don’t turn into tomato raisins. The heat should probably be the least of my concerns, though.  The squirrels have gone into a frenzy of food gathering and can be heard thundering across the roof at all hours as they transit from tree to tree. It sounds like ordnance hitting the roof.  will probably require a Doggie Delight Day Spa experience to recover from his permanently cricked neck staring at the ceilings and his lightning-fast charges toward the deck to chase the furry miscreants away.

Mount Washington Aromatherapy

The Small Black Dog is due for a shampoo and between the heat of summer and his assiduous squirrel chasing, he’s now the Small, Smelly Black Dog(S²BD).  Still, he’s not the stinkiest resident of our neck of the Hill.  The skunks--who ambled on their odiferous way after invisibly haunting us for weeks—are back.  As was the case a few months ago, we never see them; their scent announces their presence.

A Good Night’s Sleep Before We Leave               

The night before we leave, the funk of skunk is strong enough to actually wake me up in my second story bedroom.   I don’t see any skunks convening in a combat confab outside my window, but they are certainly on the warpath toward something this night.

The S²BD has learned his lesson after myriad up-close-and-personal experiences with the business end of a skunk.  Accordingly, he’ll bark from the balcony when he sees the black and white visitors waddling through the back yard but one whiff of skunk and he quickly retreats to his crate, all but covering his snout with his paws.

The scent finally dissipates and the Small Smelly Black Dog falls back asleep.  I, however, am not so lucky.  As the S²BD snores adenoidally, I lie awake and count sheep jumping over turnstiles with boarding passes, luggage tags and to-do lists in their mouths.

Packing Light is Essential

On the morning of departure, the Small Smelly Black Dog can tell that Something Is Up.  He positions himself watchfully under a table by the front door, his stuffed fish in his mouth.  It’s hard to tell if he’s being a helpful packing pooch or clutching his equivalent of a security blanket.   Whatever his motive, I certainly appreciate not having to add the small fish to the mound of doggie gear--sleeping pillow, dry food, wet food, and chews--that I load into the car next to my single, small bag.

Before we leave for the doggie hotel, we head off on a pre-drive walk. The Small Black Dog drops his fish on the sidewalk in the general vicinity of the car.  I like to think he’s trying to help.  As we climb the Mount Washington slope, the S²BD sniffs every shrub, checking his “pee-mail”, as my friend Marianne calls it.

Small, peculiarly-shaped clouds dot the sky, backlit by the setting sun.  The air smells more of sage and rosemary than skunks and smelly dog.  We haven’t even left yet and I already miss Mount Washington.

Upon arriving at the doggie hotel, the Small Black Dog promptly poops on the floor.  The long-anticipated vacation has begun.

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