Late Sunday afternoon, having completed the various tasks outside, in a casual tone, I asked my wife if she would like to go for a ride over to Lake Wapello. Billie, the poodle, who had been on the couch, exploded with excitement. We thought he was asleep, but he was actually wide awake, eyes closed, eavesdropping on our conversation. Lake Wapello is his favorite place to go. It is even more fun than going to the bank, where they sometimes give him a treat.

Lake Wapello State Park is a beautiful area of rolling hills and hardwood forest surrounding a small lake located just a few miles from our place. With paved roads and camping for tents, trailers and cabins, it draws people from several states that are looking for a peaceful getaway. It also attracts a large variety of wildlife.

Billie does not care so much about the scenery but does love to drive through the park and bark at deer, squirrels, raccoons and rabbits. Nearing the park, Billie is barely able to contain the excitement. He bounces from one side of the vehicle to the other, trying to watch out of both side windows and the windshield at the same time. If he spots some form of wildlife at the side of the road or in the nearby timber, he hangs his head out of the window and barks ferociously.

This is only mildly annoying to passengers in the vehicle as most of the noise stays outside. If a deer happens to be crossing the road, it gets barked at from one window, through the back seat and out of the other. This will make a person’s ears ring for several minutes. The deer seem to ignore the loud animal in the passing vehicle. I am sure it is not their first time being barked at.

We picked the wrong time of day for a peaceful ride in the park. Most of the park visitors were gone and deer were everywhere. It was almost more excitement than Billie could stand. It did not take long before his excitement was more than my wife and I could stand.

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We stopped and took him for a nice long walk. Finding it necessary to smell every animal track and blade of grass while watching for wildlife in the distance can be exhausting. It did not take too long before he calmed down and started acting like the good dog he usually is.

After a long drink of water, we continued our drive through the park with a much calmer dog in the back seat. He was still attentively watching but did not act like a maniac. Several fishermen in boats were still out on the lake and several campers remained.

We drove down to the beach area for just a short walk and to let Billie get another drink. We carry his water dish and bottled water with us, but he will usually not take the time to get a drink while the vehicle is moving. He is afraid he will miss something.

We met a group of six little girls and what appeared to be their scout leader. They oohed and awed, and one little girl asked if she could pet Billie. When we said yes, the whole pack mobbed him. Billie thought this was almost as good as chasing deer from the back seat. They ran their fingers through his soft coat and told him what a pretty dog he was. He soaked up the attention like a sponge.

The ride through the rest of the park and home was much more relaxed than the trip over. Billie was worn down and ready to relax. My wife and I felt refreshed from spending a short time at the park.

Read more from Walter Scott.