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If porcupines were tree branches, they would look like this.


Long-haired Luke picked this up in his golden tailfeathers last night during our jog along the Trolley Track Trail.

He squatted down to do his business, and when he stood up, this foot-and-a-half-long weapon was swinging from the underside of his tail. Because his fur kept him safe from the thorns, he seemed more confused than anything – like a cat with a string tied to its tail.

Never have I more wished to be carrying a pocket knife on an outing.

However, instead of cutting around the evil entanglement, I spent ten bare-handed minutes, gingerly tugging strands of hair away from the sticky, hair-like thorns, many of which lodged themselves in my skin throughout the process.

Charlie Machete seemed to be laughing at us all the while.


Oh well, it was an adventure!

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, several thorny varieties of deciduous trees grow in Missouri. I think our spiky branch was new growth from a black or honey locust that fell off due to the recent snowstorms.

Many honey locusts grow along the part of the trail we were on. They have a terrifying appearance, their own branches wrapping around the trunk like wooden barb wire.


What hazards must you watch out for on your outings?

From foes to bros

Wayward House is full of dudes.

There’s also this guy:


Everyone hasn’t always gotten along.

That little one can be very possessive of his mama. And he does get the bragging rights, having been with me longer than any of the other dudes.

Truthfully, Scooby still likes to bite someone (ahem, Charlie Machete) in the face for encroaching on the mama territory or getting too close to where treats may be distributed.

Luckily, Charlie Machete seems to respect his elderpin.


Our real concern has always been the vibe between the big boys.

We used to think Luke hated Charlie Machete.

But now they do this:


How does your pack get along?

Tara the neighborhood elderbull

Sometimes, helping a wayward dog get home isn’t that big of a deal.

If you’re a fan of Wayward Dogs on Facebook, you may have caught a recent status update about me stopping to help a neighborhood dog before work.

That dog was Tara.

Tara the elderbull

She’s a tough tank of an elderbull who lives around the corner. She belongs to a retired couple who take her for a walk along the Trolley Track Trail every afternoon.

This pit bull type dog was found wandering a dangerous street in Kansas City in her younger days. She landed with a rescue group and eventually with my neighbors’ daughter. They took over Tara’s care when their daughter was deployed in the military.

When I saw Tara trotting down the street without her people I knew something wasn’t right, so I pulled over.

When I knelt down and solicited her, she just cocked her head and turned in the other direction — toward home.

I followed her in the car, arriving in front of her house about the same time that her owner screamed around the corner in his truck. His face was stricken.

“Have you seen Tara?”

“Yes!” I said and pointed to where she was just emerging, nose in the grass, from behind a neighbor’s house.

He leapt out of his truck and ran to her.

Although Tara probably would have made it home on her own — and if not, she is licensed, wears an ID tag and is microchipped — I was glad I stuck around to make sure she got back with her people.

Have you ever helped a neighbor dog get home?

Two Bikes and a Dog on the Katy Trail

The Wayward House exists along the Trolley Track Trail, a former trolley line transformed into a popular walking and hiking trail in Kansas City. The Trolley Track Trail stretches across 4.5 miles of urban landscape, passing through business districts, residential neighborhoods, woods and creeks.

The Trolley Track Trail is kid stuff compared to another repurposed rail line in Missouri.

Recently, Zach and I loaded up our bicycles and Luke, the most athletic canine member of our pack, and drove just under two hours away to Boonville, Missouri, where we picked up the Katy Trail.

Popular among cyclists, runners and nature lovers, the Katy Trail is part of Missouri’s State Park System.

Built on a former route of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad that ceased operation in 1986, the Katy spans approximately 240 miles and passes through small towns, farmland and a diverse array wildlife habitat.

We rode only a tiny portion of the trail – approximately 24 roundtrip miles between the towns of Boonville and Rocheport, Missouri.

But our escape — from the city, jobs, housework and most of our pets — was sublime.

On the Katy, we saw turtles, frogs, toads, geese, ducks and other birds I couldn’t venture to name. We saw neon green comfrey plants, free growing garlic and wild blooms of purple, blue, pink and white.

We saw bathouses, snakes and snakeskins, a sun-bleached rodent skull in the middle of the road and little bone piles in stone caves.

It was wild.

And Luke? He had the time – and workout – of his life.

Come back tomorrow to find out some what this trip taught us about bike trips and dogs.

Do you have a favorite bike trail in your city or state?

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