The national parks are quite intolerant of dogs. Dogs aren’t allowed on trails, period. They’re allowed in other areas of the park only if kept on a short leash. Mary was reminded of this the other day by a park ranger who made a sudden u-turn off the highway to deliver her a lecture. She was walking with Vera at her heel twenty feet to the side of a deserted stretch of road. Death Valley has hundreds of miles of dirt roads on which one is likely to see only an occasional vehicle. Nevertheless, the dog MUST BE ON A LEASH AT ALL TIMES! (Uhh, Mr. Ranger (I meekly raise my hand). When my dog gets out of the truck and jumps into the trailer, does she have to be on a leash?)

Since we spend a portion of each day hiking trails in the park this situation has presented something of a problem for us. Poor Vera now has to remain in the truck at the trailhead when we hike a trail. While in the truck she is confined to a kennel and she is more or less content to be in the kennel but we’re concerned the temperature in the truck cab could get uncomfortable in the afternoon.

One alternative that we considered is to leave her in our trailer in the campground. In the past, we have seen evidence that she panics when left in the house by herself so we decided to try a little test yesterday to see how she would react to being left in the trailer. We figured, hey, we’re smarter than that dog. We’ll hatch a clever plan.

What we came up with was this: With Vera in the trailer, I would start our noisy diesel truck. Undetected by Vera because of the engine noise, Mary would creep around behind the tailer to the other side where she would wait below the window until I drove into the distance. After a short wait, she would slowly rise and peek in the window to see how Vera reacted to our absence.

I drove off. Ever so carefully and silently, Mary slowly rose until just her eyes and forehead were high enough to peer into the trailer. What she saw was……………two brown eyes staring back at her! Drat! Outsmarted by a dog! I guess we’re not quite as smart as we thought we were.