Skidder, being half Newfoundland, was a water-dog. No matter where we were, if there was water to be found, Skidder was drawn to it like a magnet. It didn't matter if it was a lake, a river, or a puddle, Skidder would lay in it, play in it, swim in it, dive into it, and remove objects from it! He especially loved a rocky stream. He would walk into the water and plunge his head under and bring up a rock in his mouth. He would carry it to dry land and set it down in a growing pile. This he could do for hours. Skidder also loved to watch people fish in water. One time, I was fishing in a small lake (or large pond). Skidder sat next to me and waited for a flipping fish to magically come toward the shore. He would get so excited and want to hold the fish in his mouth. If my line ever got stuck, I could send Skidder out toward the bobber and he would inevitably free the line as he grabbed for the bobber.
As much as he loved water, Skidder also loved to carry things in his mouth: eggs, milk jugs (full), rocks, my hand...anything, especially golf balls. He loved to chew them apart and jump and bark as the rubber bands snapped. One time I was walking with Skidder through a forest lining a golf course. Skidder saw a golf ball come from nowhere and smack the ground before him. Of course he shot out of the trees onto the green and snatched up the golf ball, happily tossing it as he bounded back into the woods. I could hear faint yells of dismay and make out a few golf clubs waving in the distance.
couple of weeks into the journey, I noticed the pads on Skidder's front feet
were wearing. His back feet were fine. He was 'front heavy'. This was easily
remedied with home-made boots: socks over his feet wrapped with duct tape,
not too tight of course. Skidder didn't mind these at all and his feet were
fine. They had to be applied every morning before setting off for the day's
trek. When we stopped for the evening, Skidder would laydown and methodically
pull his boots off with his teeth while we unpacked the horses. He never tried
this during the day.
When we reached the Florida pan-handle after 6 months of travel, we took a break and stayed for a month with a relative of DC's. We all enjoyed being in one place for a while. Skidder especially loved it there because we were near a river. By this time we had incorporated Myles into the group (or he incorporated himself!). He and Skidder would romp around together through pine forests and saw palmettos. One day, Myles came back without Skidder. We searched and called for days. I made 'lost dog' posters and hung them up everywhere. Even the radio announced his dissappearance. I walked the banks of the river looking for any signs. The days went by and it was time to continue our journey. It was hard to leave without Skidder. We learned that it was not uncommon in Florida for alligators to make a meal of a dog, and the rivers were full of them. This particular river was the color of Coca-Cola because of a paper mill upstream. Skidder would never have seen the alligator coming.