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I love bad weather. I love the gray skies, the rain, the snow, and the kind of  winds that almost knock you over.

And that means I love Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota, especially in the late fall and early winter, when the roads are mostly still open and the hot chocolate slips down your throat like delicious black lava.

I admit that my love of storms and gray-on-gray landscapes is not what most folks find beautiful or relaxing, but getting out of the car to take a picture and almost being knocked over by blinding rain or snow gets my juices flowing. And Carmela loves it too, mostly I think because I love it, but also because it is bracing, exciting, and just a little bit dangerous. If anything goes wrong you are a long way from home, and have to find your own way out of your predicament.

Our pup Henry does not share our love for storms. Henry likes a nice comfortable place to lay down, quietly snooze, and enjoy his doggie life. He enjoys going out for walks around his own neighborhood, where he has memorized where his doggie enemies live and where there are children who love puppies and will give him a little doggie rubdown when they see him.

Henry is a tough little guy, but he is getting older, and the time we have left to share with him grows shorter by the day. Henry is a member of the Cunningham Pack – although there seems to be some confusion over who is leader of the pack.

But, where we go, Henry goes, and where Henry goes, we go.

Henry is not the only one getting older. I’m getting older too, and I don’t want to just lay around the house and go for walks around the neighborhood. I want to go adventuring into the wild.

And I’m willing to give up a little comfort to do what I want, even though frigid temperatures and high altitudes result in nosebleeds and make it hard to catch my breath. So I move a little slower, and I travel with small absorbent sticks called “Bleed Cease” that go up my nostril and stanch the flow of blood if needed. If my nose bleeds, out comes a Bleed Cease. The flow is stopped. Then, a while later, I will sneeze, open the wound, and begin bleeding profusely once more. No problem. Grab another Bleed Cease.

The joy of the trip is worth it.

The one thing I don’t have to do is go to the bathroom standing barefoot in the snow on ice-covered ground with my butt hanging out in the storm. For Henry, that’s a fact of life. But Henry is part of the Cunningham Pack, and so he bravely pressed on.

When we got to Bellevue, Idaho, 22 miles south of Ketchum, Idaho, Ernest Hemingway’s hometown and the Sun Valley ski resort, we checked into a very nice hotel and prepared to head north the next day, over the mountains and on to Racetrack, Montana.

Before we moved on, an early blizzard hit town – with temperatures dropping to 14 at night and the wind howling through the valley and daytime temperatures climbing into the low- and mid-20s. That’s not really a problem for me, but I get to wear pants and go to the bathroom in a nice warm room. Henry has to go outside, barefoot with only his little doggie sweater on his chest and his butt hanging out in the cold wind.

It soon became clear that the boy was suffering, and that trumps my bloody nose and my love of rain, wind, and snow. So we packed up my Bleed Cease sticks, bundled Henry up, and headed south, to Provo, Utah – still cold, but not snowy and frozen. Then to Cortez, Colorado and finally to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico – near where our friends Jonathan and Linda Beaty and J.R. Absher live in the hills south of town.

It was a lovely trip, and as we headed into lower elevations and warming weather, my nose stopped bleeding and Henry began to perk up as well.

You make your choices in life and you take care of friends and family – whether they’re human or canine. You do the best you can by those you love.

Unfortunately, that theory was about to be tested. Back home, Henry returned to his happy self, delighted to be back on his home turf, vigorously barking and growling at his doggie frenemies, gobbling up his food, and going for walks.

But within a week, things changed. Henry lost his appetite, he lost his energy, and we feared for his future.