Monday, 26 May 2008

Speed blogging because lately ...

... I am dehydrating. Everything. It's the best science experiment I've done in years. To take camping of course. Little bags of mexican chicken in the freezer. Making my own instant mashed potato. The miracle of putting the water back in and it all going back to how you made it is quite thrilling.  Water eh? Oxygen and hydrogen ... who'd have thunk it?

Our trip to Scotland was amazing, thrilling, terrifying, exhausting and the most exercise I have done ever. 5 hours hiking with gear in difficult terrain to get to the most amazingly remote spot out the back of Ben Nevis, at the foot of Stob Ban. Gorgeous, remote, breathtaking, great weather ... I was actually thinking that I might be the happiest I'd ever been in my life.  The next afternoon, Ms M and I said goodbye to our friends and their boxer dog at the peak, as they descended north whilst we went back south to camp for another night, having the monday off. We made good progress down to the coll between the 3 peaks, and then suddenly we lost Ruby.

An hour of shouting later, the weather came down hard and fast and we left the coll to descend, heartbroken, sobbing. I stuck a pole in the ground on top of a mound of dirt in the hope that we might return to look for her again in the morning as we dragged ourselves back through a bog for 2 hours and struggled to cross the swollen river. Suddenly the vastness of the landscape and remoteness of the location felt overwhelming rather than exhilarating. Back at camp we concluded that Ruby must have succumbed to her heart valve problem - she's never had any symptoms but the vets do warn me that her life could end suddenly at any time. Lots of tears. I kept telling myself that this was not the littlest Hobo. There would be no happy ending, my baby was lost and probably dead or badly injured and I would never cuddle her again.

And then. Five hours after we lost her. A woof. Far away. I know that is Ruby's woof. Ms M and I stared at each other. I blew the whistle. Two woofs. Definitely Ruby's woofs. Far away, but getting closer. And then, coming from the other side of the mountain, a little brown spot running in the distance. 

She ran and ran and ran until she reached us. It was like the end of a made-for-tv movie. I hugged her and she shook next to me. She was bleeding quite badly from a ripped claw and cut paws, and suddenly instead of looking like a paranoid overpacker I looked like a well prepared sensible person as I took the dog supplies out of the first aid kit and bandaged her paw.

She slept as late as possible the next morning as we packed up around her. I carried her pack as we limped collectively back to the car for four hours. Where had she been? No answers, but a theory - she thought the others were lost. The point at which she left us was where our path would have had line of sight / hearing / smell with their path. She almost certainly went to try to round them up, but couldn't catch up with them, and miraculously made the decision to return to the place we had slept the night before - even though that would have been three or four miles away and on the other side of a huge peak. I am sure she thinks it was us who were lost, and is relieved that we had the good sense to go back to her tent ;)

Other than that I'm writing. Writing the book. Need to blog some of it soon. Get your feedback if that's ok? Planning a couple more books. Planning on doing something different when I grow up. Planning another camping trip in June, and making my own dehydrated packet food. Suggestions for recipes very gratefully received!


Miss Tickle said...

Oh Stray! You poor things and I am so glad she found you again! We lost one of our dogs a few years ago for about two days and it was awful. I am so pleased that it turned out. Big hugs to all concerned. x

Caroline said...

Oh God oh God oh God!

Oh God!

Oh honey. This post made me cry.
I am so glad for the happily ever after.

hugs hugs hugs.

Reading the Signs said...

So glad you found your dog again - or she found you.

How do you go about dehydrating stuff? And does it keep?

Stray said...

Lovely miss tickle, many thanks for knowing how it felt! I'm sorry you went through that for two whole days. Ug. I felt like all my insides were going to come out or something. I shall pass your cuddles on to Ms M and Ruby too.

Cas honey - I know I know I know! It was sooooo horrible. But then ... yay! I can't imagine how horrendous it would have been to hike back to the car the next day without her. eek. But phew, she found her way back. I am still randomly blubbing about it. She has been very brave and good about having her paw all bandaged up, bless her.

Ms Signs - thanks for popping in :) Yes - she definitely found us (and will be keeping a closer eye on us in future in case we wander off again).

The dehydrating thing is fab. Basically the machine blows warm air up through five gridded trays. Big stuff you can put straight on the tray (eg sliced apple) and little bits you lay on muslin first (eg chicken stew or mashed potato). Then you just wait for 8 - 12 hours ... and from time to time you move it around a bit just to feel like you're doing something.

Things like dried fruit and peppers you can just keep in a jar - they say for six months or longer. Stews and soups you pop in a ziploc bag in the freezer for up to a year to prolong the life of them as they have a tendency to suck water out of the air otherwise.

It's great fun! Better than pot noodle :)

Böbø said...

Bloody hell, that must of been a massive jolt to Ms Melancholy's melancholia-world view. I'm staggered myself. WHO would of thought that Made-For-TV films might actually be true?

YAY for happy ever afters

PS: I'm noticing a discreet veil being drawn on how Ruby was able to sniff you out.

PPS: Wither the shewee stories?

PPPS: Is there actually anything worse that pot noddle?

sheepish said...

So glad for you and Ruby, I too lost a dog on Dartmoor many years ago and she eventually came back. Dogs are much more intelligent than we give them credit for. Hope her paw has recovered.

TJam said...

omg I'm blubbing like a fool and having flashbacks to The Incredible Journey (book and 2 film versions). Only your story is nicer because I know Ruby (in a virtual sense of cours).

Yay for Ruby.

and for dehydrating things.
(I think)
and big up the Pot Noodle.

Random Reflections said...

I am very relieved that Ruby was found (or found herself...). Had you packed roller skates in the first aid kit? I'm thinking this might have been a handy item in the circumstances. Perhaps it's a new item to add to the list.

drastic said...

thank goodness your super Ruby found you again

JJ said...

OMG, I read this yesterday on RSS but couldn't get onto Blogger to say 'OMG, Ruby...' so I've come to say it now: 'OMG, Ruby, I'm so glad she found you again.

Thanks for your nudge over at mine - I will be in contact.


trousers said...

Wow - aren't animals just amazing?
Loved reading this - I couldn't quite believe you'd find Ruby ok (or she'd find you) though neither could I quite believe that if you hadn't found her, you would have written this in quite the way you did. If that makes sense. But it was heartwarming and lovely to find her turning up. Please pass on some virtual doggie treats from me x

Stray said...

Bobo - I think you may have a point there ... she finally found us once we were a mile or two upwind of where she was lost! Personally I abandoned my shewee at home after I managed to entirely misjudge it during a practice on the day before we left. Luckily there were plenty of hidden dips around!

There are things worse than pot noodle. Like war. And chicken pox. But .. eating wise - I'm not sure ... though I'm rather partial to a beef and tomato ...

Ms Sheepish - her paw is much better thanks. Phew. She did get a nasty infection in it (I knew she would after we'd hiked back for a few hours through deep bogs, but it's all cleared up now. She is snoozing blissfully next to me.

tjam I think I broke some sort of blubbing world record in the 5 hours between losing her and the lovely moment when she came back. Phew.

rr - it's a good suggestion ... but I'm guessing that the effectiveness of rollerskates is reduced by deep peat bogs. I was so relieved to at least be able to protect it and stop the bleeding though!

drastic - ta. Muchly :)

JJ - glad you got the nudge :)

trousers - you are describing exactly my own experience ... I couldn't believe it was going to turn out ok, but I also couldn't really imagine that it wasn't going to. Sigh.

nmj said...

Ruby rules! x