I’m a big fan of letting Peeper get dirty. I have no problem with grass stains on her pants, hands covered in dust or tasting sticks and pine cones and tree bark.
I absolutely love the outdoors, and I want her to explore, too. But there came a point this weekend when enough was enough.
On Sunday, Peeper, Finn and I met a friend of mine from grad school for this hike on Sauvie Island (which is bigger than Manhattan, if you want to squirrel away that fact for trivia night). The 3-mile loop on the wildlife refuge stipulates that dogs must remain on leash, and I was more than happy to keep Finn on lockdown: Cows, and the poopy evidence thereof, were everywhere. Finn has a disgusting track record with hikes through pastureland.
The scenery was gorgeous. We caught glimpses of Mt. St. Helen’s—or maybe it was Mt. Adams, but I couldn’t be sure because the top was obscured by clouds. Birds swooped this way and that. Old barns punctuated rolling fields.
Halfway through, we stopped for a picnic lunch. Peeper practiced standing on her own and chowed down on tomatoes. Finn waded in the lake. It was perfect.
Until I spotted the tick.
Thankfully, it was crawling on Finn, not Peeper, and I spied it before it burrowed its creepy little head into him. I had just finished smooshing it in a diaper wipe when I heard something odd.
I looked up and a huge cloud of insects was coming toward us. At first I thought the bugs were mosquitoes, but once the buzzing mass got closer, I realized they were bees—a whole hive’s worth.
Instinct kicked in and I shielded Peeper with my whole body. Luckily, the bees had no interest in us (or the tomatoes), and they passed overhead without incident.
After that, I was pretty done. I thought every tickle from a blade of grass was a tick crawling on me, and every bumblebee investigating a flower was a threat. (I’ve had borderline PTSD regarding blood-sucking creepy crawlies ever since a trip to Thailand, when land leeches—yes they exist—made a meal of me. Shudder.) To make matters worse, Peeper wouldn’t nap in her carrier and cried/screamed the majority of the rest of our hike.
Apparently she’d had it with nature, too.
The ticks and swarm of bees might have put a damper on our outing, but I refuse to let them win. So we went out again yesterday. I packed another picnic for us to enjoy, this time at Torii Mor winery, where Eric worked over the weekend. No critters bugged us, and Peeper didn’t skip a beat returning to her outdoors antics. She pulled grass, stamped red dirt under her bare feet and, of course, tasted a stick or two.
You can’t beat us, bugs.