Donner Pass

In early 1846 a group of California bound emigrants got stuck at a place called Donner Pass. 22ft of snow, no roads, only a bear and a couple of native American Indians to eat between them. Bit of a tough time ensued, suffice to say, 42 of them made it out alive– the Indians didn’t have a great time and the survivors were a bit cagey about what happened to the bodies of the other 48.

Luckily, no food shortages when we visited. Although it was a close call on the flight over –3 hour delay before departure, 11 hour flight and then SFO customs decided me and Giddy looked like pirates so went through the bags. At least Giddy had an excuse with a line of stitches across his eyebrows. All three kids were definitely a bit peckish by the time we cleared customs – Security need to thank their lucky stars it wasn’t snowing.

Abe, my brother in law, whose family home we were invading, was in fine form trying to initiate me into the Sons of Anarchy. I don’t know if a vet has a major role to play in a hardcore motorcycle gang – but I reckon these guys could be good for the animal welfare movement. At the very least they would get the rabies truck clear of Indian customs pretty sharpish.

Aside from eating vast quantities of food, trying not to drown any small children in some rapids and generally having a great holiday, I also spent a bit of time chatting to Billy, a profession rodeo rider.

Now that’s a tough job. You literally need balls of steel for it. Billy was a ‘bull rider’. This aspect of rodeo has the highest rate of injury across the board – described as the most dangerous eight seconds in sports – the mission is to hold onto a wild bull for, you guessed it, 8 seconds. Sounds easy – check it out on youtube. Seems a bit harsh on the bull in my book, but Billy seemed to have the highest respect to his charges and to be honest, I wasn’t going to argue with him. Lots of rules surrounding it, he assured me. Whatever you say Billy, I replied.

Anyway, come this time in a week or so, I’ll be wishing Billy was joining the team in India. I have no doubt that some of the slightly more feral street dogs might require a few fearless nimble reflexes to hang onto them. Loads at stake with this trip – 50,000 dogs in 30days. Let’s hope Team Rabies can deliver. Meanwhile, in the build up, I’m practicing my jabbing technique, weighing up the options as to how easy it will be to sign up to a life with wild motorcycle gang if it all goes horribly wrong…and checking the weather stays fine outside. Will keep you posted.