(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

I’m back—and not from outer space, but from Arizona and New Mexico. That’s right—our puppy, Furgus, celebrated his nine week milestone right here in our Colorado home.

By the beginning of this week, Sherman and I had puppy fever—bad—and we were over waiting for the puppy transport company to bring us our puppy. He was signed, sealed, and . . . not delivered. This was supposed to be the first time we had a chance to start from the beginning with a puppy. I know these early weeks are the most influential for developing a puppy’s lifelong character—we were not about to let him grow old before he came home to us.

Christiana finished finals this past Monday, but we didn’t get the details until it was too late to find a good price on a flight for her. Since she is working at the college this summer, she only has one week off before her job starts. Both Sherman and I really wanted her to have a break first.

(c) Christiana Lambert 2011

But, why couldn’t I go get her and take her with me on a road trip to spring the little tike from his birthplace outside Tombstone, Arizona? We could take a classic southwestern tour through New Mexico and Arizona minus the dramatic Thelma and Louise ending—well, without most of the Thelma and Louise experiences other than the scenery.

Talked with his breeder on Monday and left first thing Tuesday morning. Despite not sleeping well the night before, I was relaxed and singing along with my iPod as I drove through the back and forth of spring and winter. I was on a mission: a mission for dog.

Following a late lunch with both Christiana and Jackson in Durango where we left Jackson to finish school and return in the car on his own later in the week, she and I set off toward the Land of Enchantment. With an exhausted former college freshman sleeping by my side, I drank in the wide open spaces and fought the winds with my hands firmly on the wheel.

However, once I discovered we were lost, I woke my navigator. Then we continued on in the right direction through a whole lot of beautiful emptiness, with the setting sun’s rays bending light into pinks and purples. Once the sun disappeared, we reached utilitarian I-25, turning south past Albuquerque’s erratic drivers and into a starlit night that made us feel as if we were on some long and lonesome highway heading for the Hotel California.

No, instead we were on our way to Motel 6 in the town of Truth or Consequences, with Christiana doing battle with the winds that threatened us and caused our gas tank to slip dangerously low while we dipped up and down through canyons.

The next morning, the early birds (outside in the tree and in the motel lobby) awakened me, even if my dorm-trained daughter slept through all the noise. Yes, I couldn’t wait to get back out on the road again—soon, with a full tank of gas and anticipation in our hearts, we were back to cruising speed.

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

How often the landscape changed in this Wild, Wild West as we headed further south, then cut across to busy I-10, full of its semi trucks and fear-inducing dust storm warning signs. Across the border into Arizona, the rest area sported signs warning of poisonous snakes and insects. This was no sterile movie landscape, which we noticed even more with our first personal encounter with the Border Patrol on the way into Tombstone.

Once I finally deciphered the breeder’s desert southwest terms on the directions (wash does not equal a carwash and a mare motel does not have a neon sign), I was able to help Christiana navigate up a primitive road—as the sign warned—to a fenced-in house where English Springer Spaniels, big and small cavorted. We had reached the II Shea Ranch and Kennel.

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

We met Sue Shea, who told us our puppy was inside. As I watched dogs taking dust baths, I realized why our freshly-washed pup remained inside.

Then we were inside, too. Finally, we got to meet the Bret, now Furgus, we had only known from the pictures on II Shea website. No doubt about it, Sir Furgus was worthy of our dog-seeking quest.

This would turn into an even longer post if I told all the tales of our return journey. Suffice it to say, the day we picked up Furgus, our traveling efficiencies decreased due to frequent stops at rest areas, beside the road, parking lots, etc. We learned to sing louder than the puppy whining in the crate and managed to keep ourselves from getting ousted from the motel only by taking turns sleeping on the floor with the guy to prevent him from making that very loud-monkey-like howl of his.

The next day, though, he slept like a dream on the road trip’s final leg from Bernalillo, New Mexico to our home in Colorado. We, however, had to work to keep our sleep-deprived selves from joining him.

We reached metro Denver just as rush hour was working toward the rush in the hour(s).

Furgus was finally home—and so were we.

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert