Monday, February 16, 2015

I Hate The Friggin' Desert (well, maybe)

I picked up Cousin Ann and we headed out to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. This isn't what you think of when you think Museum – it is more like a zoo or a botanical garden. Keep in mind, my cousin Ann is 89 years old. I asked her if she wanted a wheelchair or an electric scooter or a stroller :-) and she said didn't need one, she was a good walker and she was. Amazing how good she is at getting around.

What the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is, is a large open air showcase of Arizona flora and fauna. We went into a hummingbird aviary, underground to watch animals that were normally active at night sleeping, watched desert big horn sheep bounce around on their rocks, watched an otter and a beaver swim underwater and into a desert bird aviary. There was a docent in front of the Bighorns and he had a ram's horn and skull that we could cold. I don't know how those rams are able to keep their heads up in polite society, the horns are so heavy. They must have incredible neck muscles.
Ducks in the Desert?

Mrs. Desert Bighorn

When Ann got tired, we headed back to the RV so she could meet Miko. I made her dinner (I'm slowly learning to compensate for not having a microwave) and then I took her home back over the mountain. Sunset was incredible as usual. On the way back over the mountain, it was completely dark. The good thing about that was that I couldn't see the drop offs and cliffs on the side of the road.
When I got home, I had to take Miko out for her nightly walk. It was pitch black out so I took my little flashlight with me so I could see where the blacktop was so I wouldn't fall off of the road again. Miko goes off to the side to do her business, I go to pick it up. Miko is in the middle of the road and has stopped dead in the middle. She won't move. I put the flashlight on her and right on her chest, under her front leg is a huge cactus clump, thorns and all. They have these cactus down here called Teddy Bear Cholla. They are really pretty, they are soft and really cuddly looking until you realize that they are covered with a ton of nasty spines. They are also called Jumping Cactus because if you brush against them, a large segment will attach itself to you and cause untold pain. This is what Miko had attached to her. The spines were embedded in her skin.
She lay down in the middle of the road and I tried to pull the cactus out but every time I did, she screamed. It was killing me to cause her this pain. Every time I tried to pull a spine out, it would attach to me and I can tell you, it was painful. Miko was so good, laying there in the middle of the road hoping that I could help her. Because of where this cactus was, there was no way she could walk.
I was beginning to lose it – I couldn't get the cactus dislodged, we were in the middle of the campground road in the dark. We were about 100 feet from the nearest RV which just so happened to be the camp host. They had just rolled into the campground that day, I don't think they had officially started working yet. I told Miko to Stay (a task that we had hardly worked on before) and ran over and started banging on their door, all the while yelling at Miko to stay. The hosts opened their door, I asked them to help, told them my dog had gotten into cholla and bring tweezers. I ran back to Miko and bless her heart, she had not moved at all. I can't tell you how proud I was of her.

The hosts came out and said that they had just learned that day about how to get cholla out of fur. You take a comb, put it next to the dog's skin and pop the cactus bud off. I was a little skeptical because I had tried to pull the cactus out already with my fingers and all it had done was cause Miko pain. We had nothing left to lose, I couldn't pick Miko up to get her off the road so I told them to go for it.
It was amazing how quickly that cholla popped off of Miko. She did not yelp once and she laid still for the whole operation. She lay there for a moment, then she got up, shook herself and then she walked over to the host and started licking his hands as though she was saying thank you. I felt around in the area where the cactus had been and could not feel any more stickers.
I cannot tell you how grateful I am to these camp hosts. I don't know what we would have done if they had not been there and also if they had not just learned what to do in a situation like this. When I got back to the RV, I just grabbed Miko and cried.
The desert is really pretty in a sort of alien sort of way, but there are so many things out here that will hurt you. Things to think about – does warm weather, beautiful sunsets, lazy days outweigh vegetation that is out to get you?

1 comment:

  1. Ohhhh! It hurt just to read this!! I can't imagine. Poor Miko. Poor you! HT