Saturday, September 14, 2002

A Boaring Tail

On August 23-25th, Drew and I pulled together an impromptu 4th Annual Cool Coaching Campout. You may remember we were having trouble deciding between the Appalachian Trail and South Manitou Island for this year's campout. We asked you to vote and, interestingly, we still had a tie with half of you voting for the trail and the other half saying the island was the way to go. Only two of you were definitely coming to the campout if it was in your chosen area and you two were of opposite opinions, one for the trail and one for the island. That's what Drew and I get for not being able to make up our own minds. Anyway, we let the campout scheduled for the end of July pass.

And then, just a couple of weeks ago, Drew called to say he and Kerri were loading up the Land Cruiser and coming to Michigan. “Loading up the Land Cruiser” includes their three dogs, Thai, Tasha and Tucker. I was delighted. Tasha and my dog Styx are siblings and they were going to reunite for the first time in the two years since Drew and I found them in the woods on the 2nd Annual Cool Coaching Campout. I called a few friends at the last minute and invited them. My friend and fellow coach, Maggie, said she'd bring the banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, beer and limes. Yeah, Maggie!

On Saturday we loaded all five dogs and headed for one of my favorite hiking trails only 20 minutes away. It was a beautiful late August day with the air beginning to smell like fall. We unloaded the dogs and wandered to a high sandbank overlooking the river. The dogs were behind us enjoying a romp in the woods while waiting for us to start moving along the trail. So we're standing on the bank taking in the view and the day when Kerri asks me what that animal coming up the bank straight towards us might be. My poor brain wanted to deny what I was seeing. I knew what it was, but the words would just not come out of my mouth. I wanted to say bear, or coyote, or anything else that is more common to Michigan woodlands. Anything but Wild Boar!

Once able to admit that the beast was indeed a wild boar and coming our way, our first thought was to get the camera. At least until I came to my senses and remember we had five dogs loose at the top of the hill this boar was scaling. I left Kerri and Maggie to pictures and grabbed Drew for the big dog roundup. Back in the truck went 4 dogs pretty quickly. Styx was AWOL and refusing to be led anywhere near the truck. I had to trust that the boar would catch wind of us and alter her path while at the same time Styx would be clueless (something he can do pretty well). Drew and I went back to the overlook just as the boar was cresting the peak with a baby boar behind her. She was totally aware of us and could not have cared less that we were there. She and her baby passed us at about 15 feet distance and headed into the woods. Styx was still clueless. Whew. Drew followed her into the woods with the camera, staying a respectable distance behind but hoping to get some great pictures. I was about 20 feet behind Drew and Kerri and Maggie were strung out behind us.

It happened so fast. I heard Styx approaching me from behind and he was by me in seconds. I could tell by the way he was moving, his nose to the ground, that he had the scent. I yelled at Drew that Styx was headed his way and to divert him. Drew said something like “No problem,” or “I've got it,” about the same time Styx made a nifty little side-slip maneuver by Drew and now had nothing between him and whatever was at the end of that scent trail. The next thing I heard was one loud “Woof” and Drew yelling “Run, Run!” I don't know if he was yelling at me to get moving or just shouting support for the dog but I looked up to see my sweet Styx running back to “his people” (read safety) with that boar hot on his tail. While concerned for my dog and Drew, I must admit that my first thought was the old joke that you don't have to run faster than the bear (or in this case the boar), you only have to run faster than the other people you're with. I passed Drew’s “Run!” message on to Kerri and Maggie and I ran, knowing Styx and Drew were my first line of defense. One should not look back over their shoulder while running through the woods but I did without mishap. And I was rewarded with the vision of that boar finally backing off my dog and turning around to return to her toddler. And Drew was still standing, unharmed. Yahoo!

Well, there you have it, a tale from the 4th Annual. We'll keep you posted on the upcoming 5th sometime next summer. Catch us if you can. Or as Maggie put it around the campfire Saturday night, “I may be a city girl, but I've worked in the inner-city. I know what ‘Run!’ means and we don't look back!”

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