Archives for posts with tag: Adventure

You finally found us…

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We can learn so much from watching our dogs enjoy themselves outdoors

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They know no comparison, or criticism

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They move their little bodies with confidence and curiosity

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They are in touch with the earth, they let the grass tickle them and mud cake their feet.

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They smile

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They are present

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About six months ago we reached a point where the long leisurely walks I had been taking Bardia on stopped being enough to quell his excess of energy.  I’ve long been inspired by Aimee over at  http://runningwithsam.wordpress.com/ so I decided to start my own regimen with the gang.  It’s been a tremendous success for us so far so I wanted to talk a little bit about our experiences.DSC_4988Let me just start by saying it sucks…at first.  Especially if you have crazy dogs like mine.  I used to get so frustrated I would have to sit down on a park bench and count to ten before I could keep going.  It took us months to really get into a groove and to this day it can take almost a whole mile for them to get out their crazies and for us all to match eachothers’ pace.  But it gets really great, so don’t quit!DSC_4992Runner’s high: It’s a real and beautiful thing.  And when both you and your dog get it, the bond you already shared is going to get even stronger.  It’s also a very dangerous thing because you’re going to reach a point in your mileage where you don’t feel any pain.  Seriously.  Which means you, or your dog, could very well have an injury that you don’t notice while you trot on in ignorant bliss.  Don’t let the high fool you into going extra miles that you aren’t ready for and fall victim to TMTS (too much too soon) syndrome.  Some days it’s going to be hard to stop and you may want to head out on your “off” days but give your bodies breaks, especially when you are just starting out.  Know your limits and your dog’s.  Remember that you’re bigger than they are (usually) and what feels right for you may not feel right for them.   This is where knowing your dog is really important.  Take mental notes before and after every run.  Learn to read the signs and act accordingly.  DSC_5040Gear: The waist jogger that we use is the Buddy System (http://www.buddysys.com/).  It’s really affordable and customizable with options for large or small dogs, reflective or non reflective nylon, and the option to add a “lunge buster” which is basically just a bungee that absorbs some of the shock when your dog pulls.  Though I bought the longer leash for Elsa we ultimately went back to her regular leash.  The Buddy System small dog leash was just too long and would get all tangled in my legs if she pulled back at any point.  The regular dog leash with the lunge buster is just perfect for Bardia.  It’s adjustable too so I can keep him closer if we’re running through town and let him run a little farther ahead when we  hit the trails.

We use Ruffwear’s Approach Pack (http://www.ruffwear.com/Approach-Pack-Dog-Pack) on Bardia in cooler temperatures because the excess weight(we just put his pick-up bags in it PSA PLEASE PICK UP AFTER YOUR DOGS) tires him out a little more and also gives him a sense of duty which helps with the crazies I mentioned earlier.  It utilizes the Webmaster Harness as it’s base so I know he’s nice and comfortable and secure in it as well.  As for myself, I wear whatever is comfortable and for the most part moisture wicking.  On my feet I wear Vibram five fingers.

DSC_5100Advice: Turn your headphones down.  I know it can be rough to listen to your feet pounding but for your own safety and your dog’s, you need to be aware of your surroundings.  That means oncoming vehicles, wild animals, your own breathing etc.  I heard Elsa whimpering once and when I stopped to check her I found she had accumulated big snow balls under her belly and the cold must have been irritating her skin.  I would have never known by how fast she was running, so I was grateful she let me know somehow.

Most importantly though, lighten up.  You’re dog doesn’t care about beating your best pace, they don’t care if it’s raining or if the temperature is in the single digits.  They just want to run with you.  Enjoy it!DSC_5061

Elsa isn’t pictured because it was really muddy outside and she JUST had a bath.  Ok fine, here’s one because she’s just the cutest.      DSC_5116

We have a term for Autumn here on the NJ Coast-Local Summer.  Come Labor Day most tourists have headed home and kids returned to school.  While the air may cool a little it’s still mild enough for us to head out without the noise and crowds of July and August.  While I enjoy Fall foliage as much as the next person, there’s something about the beach in October that really livens me….and the dogs.

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It was too chilly for us to go into the ocean but the dogs didn’t give it a second thought.DSC_2883 DSC_2938

My heart

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When I look at Bardia in these pictures I can’t believe it’s the same dog who 6 months ago would run from any body of water.  There are few things more wonderful to witness than a puppy finding joy in something new.  (Yes Bardia is still a puppy to me.  He always will be.)

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Bardia will be one year old next month and, so long as the vet says he’s in tip top shape, I plan on beginning a biking regimen with him.  Of course I can’t be expected to leave my best girl at home though so I’ve been researching ways to bring her along.  You see, Cavaliers are kind of in a weird weight range, being essentially, large-small dogs.  Even Elsa, who is small for a Cavalier, being between 11 and 12 lbs tops out the weight limit (10lbs) for most carriers and baskets.  That being said, she’s much too small to run alongside a bike, though she does jog with Bardia and myself and we usually tire long before her- all those hours of fetch have made her a running fool.  Another options is a trailer but I feel that will be too cumbersome and also a little lonely being so far back from the action… so back to the basket.

A few options that I’ve found for dogs over 10lbs include

The DoggyRide Cocoon Basket  http://www.doggyride.com/us/en/ECommerce/US/Cocoon-bike-basket-P.215.aspx

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This seems like the best option, but to be entirely honest, I purchased their trailer earlier this year for both dogs and have yet been able to fully assemble or attach it to my bike.  The directions are unclear and every time I get close, I find I need to order a new part.  The thing has cost me a fortune and it’s just sitting in my closet.  While the Cocoon looks much easier to handle, the experience has turned me off of this company a bit.

The Basil Pasja rear mount basket. http://olivegreendog.com/biking-outdoors/basil-pasja-pet-bicycle-basket-2/

Aesthetically beautiful and comes in a medium and large size.  However, the reviews on Amazon make me worry as to the safety.

And finally the Buddy Rider  http://www.buddyrider.ca/  I really love the idea of having Elsa right up front with me, so I can see her and she can feel the wind in her ears.  I wish there were more reviews online though and I worry about the lack of protective covering.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, guys!  Have you ever taken your small dog biking?  Have you tried any of these products?

Sorry we’ve been absent.  We just really wanted to soak up the summer-hitting the beach and trying to knock out as many of these as we could hiking book

DSC_1795 DSC_1857 DSC_2010 DSC_2194 DSC_2427  DSC_1483 DSC_1567 DSC_1647 DSC_2235I have a lot I want to talk about though, so we’ll be back with our regular programming soon!

 

Ode to the Dog by Pablo Neruda

The dog is asking me a question
and I have no answer.
He dashes through the countryside and asks me
wordlessly,
and his eyes
are two moist question marks, two wet
inquiring flames,
but I do not answer
because I haven’t got the answer.
I have nothing to say…

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The dog makes stops,
chases bees,
leaps over restless water,
listens to far-off
barking,
pees on a rock,
and presents me the tip of his snout
as if it were a gift:

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it is the freshness of his love,
his message of love.
And he asks me
with both eyes:
why is it daytime? Why does night always fall?

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why does spring bring
nothing
in its basket
for wandering dogs
but useless flowers,
flowers and more flowers?
This is how the dog
asks questions
and I do not reply.

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Together we roam,
man and dog bound together again
by the bright green morning,
by the provocative empty solitude
in which we alone
exist,
this union of dog and dew
or poet and woods…

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and the ancient friendship,
the joy
of being dog or being man
fused
in a single beast
that pads along on
six feet,
wagging
its dew-wet tail.

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This past weekend, we had the wonderful opportunity to stay at Glen Highland Farm, an off leash ‘Canine Country Getaway’ in Morris NY.  This place is a paradise for dogs. 175 acres of grassy hills, woods and crystal clear creeks for dogs to explore OFF LEASH.

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Settled on an abandoned dairy farm, the property contains 5 miles of trails, each chosen by and named for the dogs that blazed them.  The owner, John, explained that he literally let the dogs go and followed behind with a tractor and a chainsaw… meaning some of the trails are not for the faint of heart.  The climbs are steep and riddled with slippery roots, mossy patches and shoe sucking mud.  That being said, this isn’t your grandpa’s camping.  Our cabin had lights, working outlets and a fan.  The facilities had hot running water and flush-able toilets.  The cooking pavilion had wi-fi and though it feels like you are in a remote corner of the world, you can leave the campsite at any time to drive into town for supplies.  We even picked up a (delicious) pizza our second night there.DSC_0618 DSC_0644 DSC_0652 DSC_0693 DSC_0781 DSC_0828

What was especially wonderful was the freedom.  No guided hikes or scheduled activities.  We let the dogs lead the entire duration of our stay.  What’s more is, at full capacity the camp only has 26 guests total, giving you plenty of privacy on the trails.  In fact my favorite experience was finding a secluded little stream where we could break and swim and play, and not another soul disturbed the four of us.   If you’re a little more social than we are, there’s an area for a bonfire near the cooking pavilion surrounded by a number of cozy lawn chairs, where guests can relax and chat at the end of the day.DSC_1028 DSC_1310 DSC_1368

As if this place doesn’t seem enough like dog heaven, the farm’s most base job is rescuing Border Collies.  They have a full time staff on board to  care for homeless Border Collies and rehabilitate dogs who had rough starts to life.  Lovely no?

Sound like something you may want to do?  A few things to remember:

  • Bring bug spray.  Extra strength.  Bring like 5 bottles.
  • Bring twice the amount of clothes you think you’ll need and quadruple the amount of socks.  You will sweat and get muddy and the grass is perpetually wet.  Bring two pairs of shoes too.
  • Bring dog shampoo and grooming supplies-especially if you’ll be visiting with your very hairy Cavalier like myself.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, I completely underestimated the mud and muck.  I mean, we actually pulled a leech off of Elsa.  It was…unspeakable.
  • Bring booze, cuz hey,  you’re allowed to.
  • Bring bug spray…just bring a lot of it.