Archives for posts with tag: Family

I know some dogs are lazier than others but when it comes down to it, all dogs need exercise.   Just as with us humans the benefits to their health and general well being are countless.  While our two preferred methods are running and fetch, there are of course days when it’s impossible for us to get outside.  This Winter alone we’ve seen blizzards, temps below zero, and I’ve been nursing some knee issues on and off.  Now we’re entering the rainiest season of the year and it won’t be long before temperatures climb into the triple digits.  Needless to say we have to get creative with our entertainment and exercise now and then.

First of all there is tug-of-war! I know this option isn’t for everyone, particularly dogs who get aggressively possessive.  Some people will also tell you not to let your dog “win”.  All I can say is know your dog, read the signs and quit if things get ugly.  But if your dog can handle it and enjoys it, tug can work a lot of muscles your dog rarely gets to utilize.  My dogs love it.  What’s more is a lighthearted game of tug is often encouraged in puppyhood to strengthen the bond between dog and human!

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The  FitPAWS-Peanut  While this won’t necessarily tire your dog out quite as much as cardio, it’s a great option for strength training your dog between cardio sessions as well as rehabilitating injured or aging dogs.

The Chase-It  This one might require you to move some furniture around if you have a big dog or a tiny space but it’s so worth it if your dog has any kind of prey drive.  In fact this is the first “game” that Elsa and Bardia participated in together.  It’s irresistible to my guys.  If we can get outside I swing it around so they can chase at full speed.  Inside I either bounce it around sporadically so they have to hop and dodge or I just run through the house dragging it on the ground.

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Agility.  Many agility classes have indoor options for inclement weather or easily distracted dogs.  Even if you don’t plan to compete, this is such a fun option for a hobby.  Not only will it keep your dog on point during off seasons, but they will love it and you two will be closer than ever.

There you have it! Now, I’d love to hear, how do you keep your dog happy when stuck indoors?

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

Today I woke up to the best text message anyone who hates their job can receive, “No need to come in today”.  One peek outside revealed a world that looked like thisDSC_4916this DSC_4912and thisDSC_4915 I love a good snow day.  Slow lazy mornings, drinking sweet milky tea in my pajamas, with my two best pups curled as close to me as they can possibly get.  We thought about heading outdoors…DSC_4749We bundled up, and tested out the waters,016

But playing inside seemed like a much better idea 😉DSC_4838DSC_4856This damn frog has been around since Elsa was about 4 months old.  It was a gift from our old Landlords.  It’s the rattiest, stinkiest toy in the house so naturally it is a favorite of them both. DSC_4832DSC_4854And of course, we did lots of laying around.  DSC_4772 DSC_4823 How did you all enjoy your snow day?

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.

As usual Elsa’s kind heart and adventurous spirit have pulled me out of my hole. Fall is in full swing and October already holds a lot of promise.  We hit the pumpkin patch this weekend for some cold cider, cool breezes, and deep belly laughs.

Elsa John and I are all so close, and as blue as I have been feeling and all of the struggles I have written of here, apply to them as well.  They have been suffering right along with me and have shown a hell of a lot more strength and courage than myself.  I hope, in my depths of my heart, that I have brought them even a fraction of the comfort and joy they have brought to me in these trying times.  They are the reasons I wake up in the morning.

And I’d like to thank all of you too.  Those of you who commented here or messaged me your stories, most of who I never even knew were visiting us here- sharing with me your experiences of loss and recovery have helped me immensely in my loneliness and my heart ache.  I know it is hard to drudge up past pains but I will never ever forget your kindnesses.  Thank you so so much. 

I would love to report to you all that this week has been a smooth sailing welcome for the new puppy.  Truth is it has been one of the most emotionally ridden, bittersweet episodes of my life.  I have always wanted a house full of dogs and when we finally found the breed and breeder we wanted for our second, I could barely suffer the months of waiting before he arrived.  But something happened last Saturday.  I realized, with a huge lump in my throat, that in two days, it was no longer going to be just me and Elsa.  That not only was something going to interfere with our relationship but that her life was going to be turned upside down.  I’ve mentioned a thousand times that Elsa is very special to me- what I consider essentially to be my canine soul mate-and now I was expected to love another dog?

Of course when we picked Fable up from the airport I was smitten but I knew her heart was hurting.  She wouldn’t look at me, she hid in her crate, she foamed at the mouth.  Instead of being over the moon about having a new puppy I was mortified that I had upset my best friend.  Luckily for me, Elsa has the biggest heart in the world and made sure to let me know that nothing could ever really disrupt our relationship-that night she curled up to me with her head in the crook of my neck like she always does.  I think she learn to love him just as we do.