The Great Outdoors: The Old Dog Still Has Some Fight Left

Brandi-Winter 2017A few Saturdays ago, we were provided with the kind of weather that snow-lovers prefer in the winter. There was a fresh accumulation of the white stuff from a mid-week storm that dumped four to eight of inches of snow, depending on where you “play.”

Unlike many weekend days, it wasn’t 18 degrees with a wind-chill of 0!

So, I checked the Cherokee to make sure my shotgun was in there and then helped Brandi into her front-seat perch for a trip to State Game Lands 244.

If you haven’t read this blog before, Brandi is my 14-year-old beagle. She will be 15 in a few months.  She was a great bunny hunter and chaser in her younger days, but for the last few years, she has been more of an explorer.

She doesn’t care where I go, just that I do and that I take her along. She will join me fishing or hiking or hunting. She doesn’t dive into the deep brush anymore, but it’s not something I concern myself with. She likes to go and that’s all that matters.

On Saturday, we didn’t enter the woods until about 11 a.m. After all, this wasn’t some big-game hunt! We parked in a State Game Lands parking area near Fuller Bridge where Sandy Lick Creek flows beneath.

We started along the forest road and took the first fork to the left. I wanted to see what the area was like after bypassing it a few times.

We arrived at an area where game commission officers dispose of road-killed deer. It was actually a dumpster with a tarp over it. A black-capped chickadee flew in while I watched, no doubt getting some much-needed fat off one of the deer carcasses.

We continued along the forest road until it came to an area where an ancient strip-mining job had left a rock outcrop exposed. A friend had called while we walked, and we kept getting disconnected as I walked into and out of dead zones. At one point, I just sat down on an old oak log to ensure the conversation would continue.

Up we went, Brandi just sniffing and following along with me seeing what kind of critters were spending time in the area.

Several white-tailed deer had been busy digging in the snow, looking for acorns to eat. There were also signs of a gray squirrel rooting around.

When I thought we had went far enough up the hill for Brandi to endure, we turned around and headed back. But, I wasn’t quite content, and we headed to an area of the game lands that is managed more for waterfowl and small game. It was just nice and warm out for February, how could we not? We didn’t spend much time, but it was enough to satisfy us.

Brandi and I ate well that night, but she was worn out Sunday. She wasn’t feeling well and never did truly eat.

By Monday, I was wondering if she was on her last legs. She had hardly eaten or had anything to drink, and she wouldn’t leave the recliner without me picking her up and helping her go outside.

When I tried to feed her, I had broken up an anti-inflammatory pill into her food, but she wasn’t eating.

Tuesday was more of the same, until I broke out the lasagna. Dad’s church had a Sunday lunch, and it was the featured course.

When I warmed that up, Brandi started to come alive. So, I prepared a bit of that and another pill for her and down the hatch it went. Before I had even left for work, she was up and around.

I really felt bad that I hadn’t given her the pill with Saturday’s dinner and saved her some aggravation, but I still look at her as if she’s half her age and exertion doesn’t catch up to her as quickly.

Nonetheless, it was good to see her back to her old self, knowing there’d be another adventure for us.

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“The Great Outdoors,” sponsored by the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors, is a weekly blog by exploreClarion.com’s Scott Shindledecker. Plan your next outdoor adventure at VisitPAGO.com or call (814) 849-5197 for more information.


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