His wound is still healing but the big dawg is doing well.
Fall is settling in here with night time temps in the low 30’s and high 40’s. After over three months of living happily in a tent we may just have to find a place with a roof.
So here we are. At the beginning. I have come to the decision not to continue the canoe trip down the Missouri river this paddling season.
The decision was easy.
Any type of long distance journey has inherent risks. Illness, injury, or disability that can conclude in death of a team member. I use risk evaluation constantly to minimize the potential of these things occuring.
You see this has been a two member team of one dog and one man. Has been that way for ten years. We have gone all over the USA. 99% Of the time it is to someplace remote, mountains, deserts but we really love going to places they call “Wilderness”
The large open wound that Zeusy is carrying in his chest will take time to heal. He is also showing signs of being easily fatigued from his injury.
It is not worth the risk.
A quick risk evalution shows he is at risk for further complications if the wound becomes infected. His fatigue shows that he is probably not capable of self rescue if we wind up in the water. The Missouri’s is wide with quick currents.
It is not worth the risk.
He is an important part of this human-dog team. He has been vital in his role. When going up river, stuck on large sandbars and hauling the canoe distances overland to the river he has been incredible. I hook his leash to my belt, I grab the canoe or it’s ropes and yell “Go! ” He is a powerful one hundred pound German Shepherd and pulls me easily as we both pull the canoe and gear.
His role as security, tent warmer, comedic relief and protector has been invaluable as well.
He has also been friend maker too! Charming Kendar and Marshal at James Kipp. Melissa on the Turnbull ranch was enthused by him. Shyanne, Josh and others produced huge smiles when the formal introductions were made and he raises his paw to shake their hands when the greeting of “Nice to meet you,” was spoken to a dog who likes meeting new people.
One of the funniest things said to me as he took off at lightning speed down river to chase waves was ” I think your dog is going to beat you back to St. Louis.”
So here we are. At the beginning. The last two months has been one of the most incredible experiences for both of us.
It has never been about point A to point B. It is everything in between those two points that make a journey. The points are just the start and the end.
“This is the end” your mind is saying. No not hardly, this is a travel blog. That is what we do. Travel and share it with you.
There is next paddle season to try and complete the Missouri. Plus the fact that we are still in North Dakota and I scored a job at Bayside Resort in Linton, ND for a few months. At least until we head to St. Louis and then the East Coast. Still many places, animals, people and things to experience.
Besides there is still a ton to share from the last few months.
I pulled the canoe over to get my bearings and let the man chase the waves after earlier leaving my two day paddling buddy and local expert Sander.
Zeusy was doing his thing when he suddenly gave out the most awful yelp he has ever made. He immediatly laid down. He wasn’t getting up.
Something terrible just happened. While running he didn’t see the tip of an old tree jutting from the water. My best pal and adventure buddy just got speared and impaled on the tree.
“Oh god Zeusy !”
I was on an island in the middle of Lake Oahe. The sun is going down.
I checked his wound and he had a three inch tear in his chest. I could open it and see muscle but
I couldn’t tell how deep the wound was. I packed it to stem the bleeding, and he quickly went into shock. I covered him in every coat I had, opened my sleeping bag and wrapped him tight.
He didn’t want to move. My dog never stops. This is bad.
Not knowing how I was going to get him to help I called Sander. This is his territory, his water, he would know who to call.
Sanders said to use 911 and call the Sheriff. Uh,duh! What was I thinking! I was always a part of 911. I had never called it!
In no time they had me connected to the North Dakota Fish and Game Warden Erik Schmidt.
Warden Schmidt advised me to paddle down several miles and meet him at a concrete ramp that a rancher,Mr. Herb Grenz, uses for his pumps and piping for irrigation.
“Hold on Zeusy they are going to get us out of here! ”
I packed him in the canoe. The tent lined the bottom. The jackets and sleeping bags covered him.
As I pushed off I was looking backwards and saw the sun drop below the skyline.
My heart almost sank with it. Lake Oahe is full of tricks. Stands of old trees, Logs, sandbars. This could get much worse, and I don’t carry the hi-powered lighting to navigate at night. A headlamp and a Solarpuff were switched on.
“Paddle ! Damn it Craig you have to paddle harder! ” , I said to myself over and over as I forced a fast, steady pace. I had already paddled twenty-one miles. Everything on my body hurt.
Darkness dropped. I was having a hard time, seeing any distance. I stayed about 200 yards from the East Bank in hopes of avoiding those trees. The huge cutbanks could be barely discernable by their lighter shade against the dark sky.
The phone rings. It is Warden Schmidt. We work at my location. He said he turned on his emergency lights to locate him.
I could see nothing.
He said listen for the irrigation pump.
“Look at the water tower on the West Bank in the City of Cannonball. ” “Could I see it? ”
“We are across from there.” He said.
We were miles away. It got darker, and the temps were dropping. 50’s that evening was predicted. Not good for a dog in shock. The water tower had been consumed by the dark.
Warden Schmidt continued to call and orientate me about every thirty minutes. Still no emergency lights. No steady drone of pumps.
I was paddling so hard I soaked myself with the spray of the paddle. No worries. Zeusy has never given up on me, I never on him.
An eternity passed. The bank turned and there they were. I shouted out with joy!
The “They” included the rancher Herb Grenz who guided me to a safe landing using a flashlight. His land, his territory.
“They were getting us out of here Zeusy ! ”
Warden Schmidt had notified Dr. Malmedal of the Linton Veterinary Service that we were coming earlier in the evening. He was waiting.
We packed Zeusy in the front seat and off to Linton, North Dakota we went.
It turns out this is where Warden Schmidt grew up. His town, his territory.
We reached Dr. Malmedal. He and his wife were definatly kind, compassionate people as they cared for my best pal!
No internal injuries detected.
I got dizzy and almost slumped.
My fear was over!
In no time Zeusy was full of meds with more meds in the bottles for his recovery.
Warden Schmidt made motel arrangments for us at Don’s Motel. He soon had us there. He inquired if I needed anything from the store. Ham and cheese sandwich and a Pepsi? ” , I asked.
“Sure” he said easily and off he went. But realizing what the time was he turned back. Everything was closed.
As if everything he did wasn’t enough the man went home, made me a turkey and cheese sandwich, brought two Sprites, two clementines, and two fantastic cookies his wife made.
In North Dakota I have met the most kind and generous people I have ever met!
As I write this Zeusy is recovering, I have “Linton ” t-shirt one of the cleaning ladies brought to me when she asked why I had a jacket on. The paddling t-shirt has two months on it. Great for paddling, not to run to the store.
Don, the proprieter of Don’s motel a devoted animal guy hooked me up with a leash. A pink one. ”
“Probably not your dogs favorite color ! ” He smiled. My gratitude will out weigh Zeusy being seen in a pink leash.
Thank you Warden Schmidt and the fine people of North Dakota!
I will never forget what you did for us!
While Zeusy and I were eating a fantastic breakfast of grilled cheeseburgers I reflected on how this fortunate event came to be.
Yesterday I was one day away from resupply and around 1pm I had long past smoked my last one and was down to one potato and one small can of green beans.
This is when a gentleman named Barry showed up looking at the confluence.
He asked how I faired in the storm the night before. I told him we did well. A little more discussion and it turns out Barry for the last 15 years has been chasing hardcore whitewater rivers to paddle his kayak down.
Even more so he spent 8 months circumnavigating New Zealand paddling a bicycle.
In no time Barry was giving me a lift into Fairview, Mt. to buy smokes and a pepsi. If you know me well those are my vices.
As we drove he shared with me some great stories of his adventures while also saying that he is a Musher near Yellowstone (park) during the Winter.
Born and raised in ND Barry now lives in Bozeman, Mt.
He said his whitewater days may be coming to an end. He has lost a few friends to such extreme adventures and may be getting into something like long distance paddling.
A great guy to talk to and I am sure whatever he is into next will be thrilling. (Did not get a pic, crap)
So later in the evening when I had drank the Pepsi and smoked almost all of smokes of the pack I bought earlier I was sitting there contemplating a few things.
Should we go to bed now and why did I need to use up a lot of my water after flushing my eyes out.
Why I kept my eyes open when spraying insect repellent on my head I have no silly idea.
So two more guys show up to check out the confluence. Shortly after they came over to talk canoes. Renting mine.
There was a Girl Scout troop at the other end of the campground that had six canoes on it. He wondered if those were for rent first. They wanted to paddle around in the confluence.
I told him I had no idea about the other group and was initially negative about mine. I really thought he was just messing with me !
So after talking for a few minutes I realized they really wanted to paddle around in the confluence.
After they reassured me they wouldn’t sink it and were very good swimmers we dumped out the mess of rainwater and mud and in they went.
They paddled accross the Missouri into the fast current of the Yellowstone. They looked like pros.
Soon they paddled back in returned the canoe and we talked for a bit.
Jake and Waylon work over at the Casino in Trenton, ND. and were just out sight seeing. (Pic above)
The both hale from Belcourt, ND which is the Turtle Mountain reservation. Their people own the casino in Trenton.
We talked further about geographical locations of the places they mentioned and Waylon said he likes the very cold Winters because of Ice fishing on his local Lakes. That is sounds like a ton of fun!
Jake says he is going to go to Lewis and Clark State park in ND and do a 13 mile canoe paddle they have there.
We exchanged names and such and they got ready to leave but not before they hooked me up with more smokes and a warm coke with the name Jessica on it as Cokes ad Campaign. I told Waylon all the Jessicas I know are hot so I will take it.
Off they went.
So I sat for awhile enjoying the sunset and they fact my eyes no longer burned and found Waylon on Facebook.
In no time I had a FB message that said they were bringing me food and asked if I needed anything else.
A short time later they returned with their friend Blake with bread,cheese, raw hamburger, a bunch of Mountan Dews. Many large cans of beef stew and chicken. Topped off with a small bag of charcoal to cook the burgers !
Wow! I was floored ! They didn’t have to take the time to do that for us! But so grateful I am they did.
The mosquitos made any more socializing an impossibility and off the went to kick around in Fairview.
I went to bed excited. These four guys truly made my day with their kindness to this complete stranger. And for that I thank each and everyone of you !!!!
By the way, Zeusy loved his cheeseburger breakfast too!
While waiting at the James Kipp Rec. Area which is the end of the Upper Mo. river breaks, and into the Charles M. Russell Nationional Wildlife Refuge I had the most amazing campsite mates anyone can imagine. Marshall is from St. Coix, Wisconsin, and spends his summers with his dad a resident of Montana. What a great opportunity for them and for a few days for me as well.
Now Marshall is a first class kinda guy that has a big heart for dogs and others. Now if you talk to Marshall be ready to talk hunting, fishing, and dogs. He taught me everything I need to know about fishing that section of the river. Types of fish, and how to catch them. He also talked a lot about his four pawed pals Trigger and Bruto.
His dad is first rate as well, an experienced outdoors man and awesome father who spends a lot of his time with his boys. It shows in his son, a happy 13 year old who is glad to be in Montana with his dad.
Now Marshall would catch the fish, and his father would cook it with potatoes, carrots, and onions as well. They invited a waiting river traveler to dinner every night. It was an amazing meal !
I hitched a ride with them to Roy, Mt. To the Roy’s Market. While there Marshall made sure Zeusy would get a brand new rawhide bone. When we returned to camp Zeusy got spoiled with the new rawhide and ate it until one end knot was left.
The day Nathan and Marshall left Zeusy got a little down. It was obvious that he missed them. Why wouldn’t he ! Marshall would throw a stick for monster dawg in the river, at camp, and he always got a ton of attention.
That night Zeusy and I went to bed and he went into the tent and I followed. When I laid my head down I noticed that he fell asleep with the knot of the rawhide bone. He carries it around now not chewing on it.
I think he has happy thoughts about a first class kid who treated him like he was one of his own.
Thank you both gentlemen ! Your freindship I will always brag about having !
PS I dont have the means to download pics from the camera, but when I do I will add the Dixie chopper boat right here.
In Eastern Montana you can watch a storm coming at you from the middle of the river for a long time. You can see forever here. It is part of the beauty. Wide open spaces wherever you turn.
Zeusy and I was watching one for 45 minutes and as it grew closer a strong wind gust hit us right in the noses. The canoe was pushed sideways and the wind carried us 500 ft upriver. Time to hunker down.
The only landing I could find was a long mudbank. As I watched the lightning streak out of the sky and hit the ground the mudbank was all I had.
I steered in and Zeusy jumped out and headed for the trees. I got out of the boat and sunk to my knees in the most clingy hard to walk mud.
Then I heard a goose calling loudly from the bush. Then it came flying out and landed in the river. Followed by Zeusy who thought it wise to leap into the river and swim for the goose.
I screamed above the now high winds for him to return but could not chase him. I was still stuck in the mud with about three minutes until storm time.
He returned knowing I was mad. I made him stay on the bank while I struggled in the mud. I grabbed the gunwale of the canoe to bring it with me. I couldn’t loose it. The river is a long way off from any help.
Just then I looked down and saw four eyes. I had two mice in the form of stowaways. Looking me dead in the eye. Desperate, all I could do was to plead with them ” Please get out! ”
I pulled my left foot out only to feel the sandal rip. It was now only around my ankle. It helped! Mud is best negotiated barefoot.
So I finally got on solid ground, put on my raincoat and backpack, staked down the canoe and walked exhausted in my one broken sandle, and knee high mud into the bush.
I sat down, Zeusy laying next to me as the storm hit hard. I had one hand on monster dawg as I bowed my head from the storm. It friggin’ poured!
I then smelled a familiar odor. I had sat in a mint patch! Imagine the great luck! I sat and chewed on mint leaves for the 30 minutes the storm hit us hard. Even small hail for the reminder of who was boss. The planet I love.
Zeusy did not like the mint. No ranch dressing I guess.
So the big boy went and visited his Veterinarian Dr. Stacey Schaeffer of the St. Louis Veterinary Clinic located in South St.Louis City. As the weeks now have turned into days before our departure it was prudent that I have my partner as ready as I am.
I first met Dr. Stacey at the World Bird Sanctuary where she volunteers her time to care for sick and injured Birds of Prey in the wildlife hospital. I soon learned to pay close attention because I was going to learn faster performing as a wildlife rehabilitator by listening during her exams of the birds. I then put what she wanted for the birds into my brain as well as practice. Taking Zeusy to her veterinary practice in South St. Louis I knew I wouldn’t be let down .
Once in the clinic the exam began with the super amazing Page being the Vet. Tech who would handle Zeusy as Dr. Stacey performed her exam. I was concerned because I knew he was not going to tolerate being pushed, poked and prodded. He never does.
Before I or Zeusy knew what was happening super amazing Page had him muzzled and restrained in a hold worthy of any MMA victory. Zeusy would have tapped out if he could have. In 9+ years I have never seen the thrasher so held in one spot so safely. I am still impressed !
This allowed Dr. Stacey to perform her always thorough exam, while giving me the best advice for this upcoming trip. Everything from explosive diarrhea to snake bites was covered. Zeusy is my best pal so watching him get the best of care just swells my heart and makes me happy.
Have an animal and want to go to the best veterinary practice ? Call St. Louis Hills Veterinary Clinic and make an appointment. Everyone there are great animal people and your pet will be well taken care of !
And thanks Catamaran for making it happen.