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…Previously, in South Dakota

… When you last saw your handsome hero (that’s me!) he had just finished an exciting adventure full of danger and intrigue, and was facing an impossible decision: What next? Would he visit Mt. Rashmore and peek behind trees like Indiana Jones, searching for an undiscovered bust of Grover Cleveland or James Buchanan?  Or would he follow the advice of a stranger and visit the Badlands, whatever the heck that is…? Or would he do something entirely unexpected???


Note: “The Land of Lincoln” is Illinois, not Nebraska. Mom knows that now. What a dope! She’s so ILLANOYING! Amairight?!?!?!

Once we got back to the car kennel, Mom walked around pointing The Witch at the butts of all the cars. “Mom, I’m in here,” I barked when came to the Wagon. “What are you taking pictures of without me?” “There are 9 cars in this parking lot, and only 2 of them are from South Dakota,” she said. “Is 2 most of 9?” I asked, trying to guess her point. “No. Most of these cars are from out of state. And not from nearby either. They’re from Virginia, Arkansas, South Carolina, Illinois… all over the place!” “What does that mean? That there are a lot of refugees like us out here?” “I don’t really know. Either that or people are hitting the road because they have nothing better to do.” “But they’re going to kill us all!” I squeaked. “Only if they’ve been exposed. And you’re less likely to get exposed in the woods of South Dakota than Chicago, or Raleigh, or DC. How many people have you and I met on the trails? I see more people in 20 minutes in a supermarket than we see in a 4 hour hike. And in the woods we’re not really touching stuff. It’s a good place for healthy people to hide out.”





white hills and onto the empty prairie where I kept waiting for the land to do something interesting, but the only thing that happened was that the roads turned to dirt and everything but the grass went away. There were still cows, though. There are always cows. Suddenly, Mom stopped short at the side of the road and got out of the Wagon. “C’mon, c’mon Oscar, hurry!” she said. 

“What?” I asked, stretching out of my nap and leisurely climbing over the seats to join her. When I climbed down onto the road, I followed her gaze and… “WHAT THE DUCK IS THAT?!?!?!?!?!” I barked. On top of the hill were a pawfull of the biggest, ugliest cattle I’d ever seen. They looked like their father was a cow and their mother was a warthog, because they looked like someone had taken a cow and squeezed all of its extra parts up around its shoulders until it had no neck at all. And their haircuts were just terrible, like Julia Child or Norm MacDonald, but worse. And they were wearing this terrible cape… no, not a cape… a STOLE around their shoulders. “YOU GO BACK TO WHATEVER MUTANT RANGE YOU CAME FROM, YOU FREAKS!” I barked. “They’re buffalo!” Mom said. “Or… bison? Is there a difference?” “I thought they were extinct,” I said. “Isn’t that what Dances with Wolves was about?” “I don’t remember,” Mom said. The king mutant-Julia-Child-wartcow looked at me with his enormous round Meryl Streep eyes and chewed on his gum. “DON’T MAKE ME COME OVER THERE!” I barked, stepping behind Mom. “Oscar, sit over here so I can take a picture,” Mom said. “No way, José!” I said. “If you put me between you and It, then you’ll run away and leave it to eat me first.” As Mom tried to walk around me, I just walked right back around her for safety. Why even maintain a human if you’re not going to use her for protection?

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We got back in the Wagon, but not for long. Every couple of minutes, Mom pulled over again to take pictures of the Badlands. It turns out that a Badlands is a hole in the ground a little bit like a canyon, and a little bit like a castle. Sometimes it has stripes that go back and forth like the lines in a book, and sometimes it has lines that go up and down like bark on a tree. The only cool thing about it was that once we saw some sheep. “Mom! Mom! Let me chase ‘em!” I barked with so much friendliness that my voice cracked. “Hell no!” Mom said. “Anyway, you’re not allowed away from the road.” “Why not?” I screamed. “I was born for this!” “Because dogs carry fleas…” she said. “…I don’t. I just had my pill yesterday, remember? I’m poison to fleas.” “Because some dogs carry fleas,” she corrected, “…and the fleas could infect the prairie dogs.” “There are dogs out here?!” I squealed. “Well… they’re called that. They’re more like… ground squirrels.” “THERE ARE SQUIRRELS OUT HERE?!” “No, shut up. So the prairie dogs can get really sick from fleas and die.” “But Mom, I don’t have fleas because I take my medicine. And if I don’t have fleas, then the squirrel-dogs can’t catch fleas from me, so I can scatter those sheep like a bunch of wooly bowling pins.” “So here’s the thing, we can’t PROVE that you don’t have fleas, because you might have fleas on you that haven’t died yet. And those fleas could jump off you onto a prairie dog. So even though we’re 99.99999% sure you’re clean, you can’t go.” “Innocent until proven guilty, Mom. Doesn’t it say that in the Constertution?” “Well… fleas don’t really follow the law any more than viruses do. If I can’t sit in a Starbucks and charge my laptop, then you can’t chase the sheep through the Badlands. Tough titties.”

And so, with no more excuses to travel further east, we turned toward the sunset and let responsibility squeeze us like the last two drops of toothpaste in the tube back toward confinement in California.

Oscar the Safari Pooch


#wildlife #crazyhorse #nativeamericanhistory #americanhistory #badlandsdog #southdakota #bison #badlandsnationalpark #badlands #quarantine #Travel


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