After Friday’s ill-advised hike up North Mountain, I chose a much less demanding locale for Choppy and my morning walk Saturday: Papago Park. It’s the park in Phoenix where the zoo is located, as well as the Botanical Gardens. It’s also the location of such…interesting…sights as the tomb of the first Governor of Arizona, whose pyramid-shaped tomb is at the top of one of the park’s hills.

The hike was much more the sort of hike two Indiana residents are used to – some nice hills, zero mountains, and no puking at the end because of the physical exertion required to climb a mountain when out of shape.

Choppy and Bighorn SheepSomewhere during the hike. Somewhere in the distance, there are mountain goats. Exotic! As long as you don’t know it’s the zoo.

Yet, thanks to the nearby zoo and exotic desert location, it was much more fun than our normal hikes around the park at home, what with the many cacti and the ever-present potential to run into such deadly creatures as rattlesnakes, scorpions and Gila Monsters. And yes, I know that I could run into a rattlesnake at home as well (or, apparently, at nearly all of the rest areas in the United States), but the danger seems far more real in a desert.

Rodents = HmmHmm…as squirrels and rabbits definitely fall into the “rodent” category, one wonders what the mysterious “rodent” of no specific name could be. I would like to think something exotic, but my better sense thinks that “rodent” = “rat” but they just didn’t want to say it. Of course, thanks to the punctuation (or lack thereof), it could also be that Arizonans refer to “squirrels” as “rodents squirrels.” But that seems unlikely. Yeah, I’m going to have to go with rats.

Having been in the desert for a couple weeks, the aspect of the hike that Choppy seemed most thrilled at was the presence of ponds at the park. She’s not a swimmer, but she is most definitely a wader, and the chance to get wet in random ponds is something Choppy loves. She particularly likes dirty water. As in, algae-filled, muddy, probably disease-ridden water. And if she can’t get water that fulfills all of her desires, well, she has other means to accomplish her goals. Pictures below.

Water DogThis is Choppy lying in some muddy backwater of one of the park’s ponds. She even has her eyes closed, presumably a reflection of her ecstasy at having found water in a desert that met nearly all of her requirements to get as dirty as doggily possible.

Rubbing in the DirtOf course, she wasn’t quite as dirty as she desired after being in the pond. I mean, there really wasn’t much algae in there. And so, she decided the best thing to do after getting out of the water was to roll in dirt. This is Choppy exhibiting the classic shoulder into the ground move typically reserved for rolling in dead things, but sometimes also exhibited when she needs that extra bit of dirtiness that a regular roll just doesn’t impart. In related news, it was a rather smelly ride home.