Ode to an Adventure Pup

By Jenna Herzog

Banner Image by Kat Carney

Adventure starts when the predictable ends, when the only part of the story you know is the beginning. Well, for humans at least.

Dogs don’t have the luxury of planning out specific outcomes to their antics. They live their entire existences unhindered by expectations, running about from one adventure to the next.

That’s why Rodi and I get along.

For me, the adventure started when I adopted the shy, scrappy heeler mix who I now call my best friend. Less than 30 pounds, a man of few words, content to scratch his ears with his own foot, Rodi “Rodrigo” Herzog fits my definition of the perfect companion.

Since the day I took him home, Rodi and I have spent half our time together living in a house in California, the other half living on the road in a van. Over the past nine months we’ve traveled nearly 18,000 miles through 24 states and two countries in my somewhat-trusty and only-slightly-rusty Sprinter.

Rodi didn’t need a van and a trip across country to have an adventure. But he came along for the ride anyway.  

Still scrappy but now anything but shy, Rodi didn’t need a van and a trip across country to have an adventure. But he came along for the ride anyway.  

So here’s an ode to Rodi, whose playful spirit, rugged good looks, and unwavering affection make him my ideal partner in crime for a lifestyle of jumping into the unknown without fear and keeping it cool when things don’t go as planned.

If I could, I would ask Rodi what moments on this trip have been his favorite so far. I’ll guess instead:

Knowing my pup, the two things that make him happiest in life are freedom and food. Escaping through the back door of a party in Chattanooga and finding his way to an upscale burger joint a few blocks away was surely one of his shining moments.

Summer climbing season in Squamish opened up Rodi’s world to a whole community of people in need of dinner bowls licked clean and van floors cleared of crumbs. Especially on Saturday potluck nights at the campground, which only one time resulted in my overfed pup regurgitating the evening’s splendor in my bed (well, two times actually).

Enjoying his freedom to explore the base of desert towers while I climb, to play with other dogs at the campground while I catch up with friends, or to charge his way up granite slabs while I hike—these are what I imagine to be Rodi’s favorite moments on the road.

The time he swallowed a fish hook and ended up needing emergency surgery to remove it won’t go down in his (or my) list of happy moments.

Nights spent cuddling in the van during unexpected snowstorms in Colorado or in the uninspiring scenery of a Wal-Mart parking lot in Iowa were not the best times, but certainly not half bad either.

 

Even when our only certainties in life are kibble for breakfast, sun rising in the East, and van needing more repairs, Rodi wakes up each morning just as excited as the last.

Even when our only certainties in life are kibble for breakfast, sun rising in the East, and van needing more repairs, Rodi wakes up each morning just as excited as the last. With this little guy by my side, I’m content to let the discomforts and uncertainties fly, to not shy away from the unknown endings of life’s adventures.

Nearly a year on the road with Rodi has taught me that whatever comes our way, Rodi and I will have a good time or, at the very least, a good story. The outcome of our nomadic life isn’t something for Rodi and me to fret over at the moment. For now, we’ll just enjoy the ride.

Photo by Kat Carney

 

Photos by Jenna Herzog unless otherwise specified.

Jenna Herzog is a freelance writer who travels solo in pursuit of outdoor adventures, good beer, and good company. See more of her writing in her Portfolio and find her on Instagram.