Dog celebrates homecoming in most unorthodox fashion

January 22, 2014 10:12 am

In a recent discussion I was told an apartment is not a home. I disagreed. An apartment might not be a house, but it indeed is a home, if its inhabitants think so.

As a peripatetic college student I would say, “Home is where I hang my hat.” I wear a lot of hats, hating both a cold head and sun in my eyes. In those days, I went from dorm to bunkhouse to my parents’ house and back to school for several years, living out of suitcases and borrowed furniture.

When Finnegan, my chocolate lab, came to live with me in 1999, wherever Finn was I deemed home. He and I lived in a house with a variety of dog and human roommates for five years. Then we started to move around. More than a year later, if we walked by the North Street house, Finn would head up the walk to the front porch, forgetting we no longer lived there.

When Bridey joined us, we were on the road a lot and stayed many places for a couple years. No wonder it took her 14 months to housebreak. Finn made a home wherever we landed and would bark at any newcomers like he owned the place.

For the past four years, the dogs and I called home an old farmhouse outside of Lostine with a million-dollar view. Looking at a photo of Finn when we first came to Wallowa County shows him with a dark brown coat, but after five years of spending time lying in the sun, his fur bleached out to a reddish-brown — the benefits of the work-at-home mom, besides wandering the fields and cooling off in one of the close-by ditches.

This weekend, my scout and I settled into a rented townhouse with a view of the Pacific. We made ourselves at home, moving the furniture to accommodate the best view of the playoff games and the ocean, filled the refrigerator with victuals and beverages and left our toothbrushes on the bathroom sinks. 

Venturing out into the neighborhood, we realized our home for the weekend was on a cliff and the best access to the beach was a short walk down a shoulderless road. Exploring the vegetation along the side of the road, we discovered a path into the bushes and trees. It was not an access to the beach but provided a good view just a few steps from the back deck of the condo. 

Inside the tiny enclosure, my scout discovered a pulley attached to a tree, indicating someone had camped there. Then we saw the note in a plastic jacket from the state parks department declaring this oasis was “not a campsite” and the contents would be confiscated within 24 hours. The date was October 2013. Apparently, the parks department got its wish and the site was vacated, but neglected to remove its note.

I could have happily spent more days exploring the state parks along the coast, eating fresh seafood and snapping photos of wildlife from elk to otter to sea lions, but we both had to return home for work. Quickly, bags, boxes and bins were unloaded, a pizza heated in the oven, a fire built and daywear traded out for night clothes. No longer the Pacific out the front window, but the view of the Lostine Canyon and the neighborhood livestock. 

Bridey celebrated her homecoming as she usually does with an early morning roll in cow manure. It’s good to be home.