Sunday, January 15, 2017

Zen Forest

Charlie and I headed out for another day of snowshoeing. I think I'm addicted! It's so nice to be able to get out in the woods when the trails are deep with snow.

In the past, I'd attempt hiking these snowy trails only to find myself yelling and swearing because it was so much work. Oh how I wish I would have tried snow shoes long ago!

We headed out to Dells of the Eau Claire County Park this afternoon and most people were already leaving, presumably to head to a Packers party to watch the big game.

We took the opportunity to enjoy the quiet peaceful woods all to ourselves.

I kept Charlie on leash for the first part of the trail, which proved to be a bit challenging with the snow shoes, although we quickly fell into a rhythm and she realized no amount of pulling was going to get me to go faster.

Once we were on the less-traveled trail, I let her off-leash. She explored the deep snow for sticks to chew on and sniffed at the deer trails crossing our path. I enjoyed the freedom of being able to stop and listen to the snow falling from tree branches and distant roars of snowmobiles. Everything else was blissfully silent.

The late afternoon sun glimmered through the trees and loose bits of snow floated through the air, sparkling in the sun like glitter.

I spent a good amount of time stopping for short breaks to breathe in deeply, look up at the sky and letting the sun shine on my face, making me smile.

Although my heart is hurting, a walk through the woods to reconnect with nature has soothed my worries and I can feel the beginning of its healing powers at work on my soul.

Snow Shoeing

At the end of December, I signed up to win a pair of Redfeather snowshoes on a Discover Wisconsin Facebook promotion. Part of the entry requirement was re-posting the picture of the snowshoes on your Facebook page. A few days later, a box arrived at my house with the exact pair of snowshoes in it.

I couldn't figure out if I'd won them or if someone had bought them for me. It was a complete mystery.

So being the sleuth that I am, I called and emailed Redfeather to find out the story behind the delivery. As it turns out, my sweet sister bought them for me but wanted me to "think" I had won them. Pretty cool. And super generous of her!

I have never been snow-shoeing before but was really curious to give it a try. And this past week we got a record snowstorm... 9 inches of snow! So yesterday I had the perfect opportunity to try out my new gift.

Charlie and I hit the trails at Big Eau Pleine County Park along with my neighbor-friend who sometimes babysits Charlie. No one else had been on the trails yet and the snow was really deep. But amazingly, the snow shoes just glided right through the powdery layers.

I couldn't believe how easy and fun it was! Charlie, of course, made her own trail... hopping and diving in zig-zagging lines. We both wondered if she would figure out to walk in our trail and save herself some effort, which eventually she did.

I could tell she was getting pretty exerted in the deep snow (almost as high as she was!), but she was having a blast and refused to stop. Her pace eventually slowed a little on our way back and she fell in line behind us, using our already-blazed trail.

I'm so grateful for this gift from my sister and to have a new mode of hiking in the winter when the snow becomes too deep. This will definitely broaden our outdoor capabilities for the rest of the season!


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Zero Degrees

Temps have been sub-zero for the past week and we've been severely limiting our time outside. Charlie runs out to do her potty business in the backyard and runs right back in. I haven't been taking her on car rides to run errands either because it's just too cold to even leave her in the car for very long.

It's been so cold that it literally hurts to be outside.

So today, it finally warmed up to a balmy zero degrees and I saw it as an opportunity to try and get some hiking in. Even if only for a short while.

So we headed to Dells of the Eau Claire County Park and spent about 45 minutes hiking at a very brisk pace. Charlie wore her Pawz Dog Boots to protect her feet.

I absolutely love these boots for cold winter walking. I don't have to worry about them falling off like her Ruffwear Boots and even though they're "disposable," you can get quite a few uses out of them before they need to be thrown out. Plus, they really do help keep her feet warm and protected in these extremely cold temps even though they are just a thin piece of rubber. They are truly unbelievable, and I'm so glad I decided to try them! I always have them on hand - both for winter weather and in the first aid kit in the summer in case she gets a foot injury that needs to stay clean until we get off the trail.

Saturday, November 26, 2016


Charlie and I didn't get to go hiking yesterday in honor of OptOutside, the movement intended to replace Black Friday shopping with spending time outdoors, since I was one of the unfortunate people who had to be at work.

And even though it's still gun-deer season in Wisconsin, the nice weather lured us outside today to one of our favorite county parks that was blissfully free of hunters and gunshots.

The water level of the reservoir was finally low enough to allow access to the tip of the peninsula that we haven't been able to explore since last year.

We took the opportunity to comb the shores and walk the waterline along the beach. I admired shiny bits of exposed quartz rocks and the swirl of sand beneath the water as the waves rolled in, while Charlie purposefully dropped her tennis ball in front of each of my footsteps in hopes of a game of fetch.

On days like this, when I can walk on a beach in late November with a warm breeze blowing my hair and the sun shining on my face, I feel like a kid getting away with something.

Like it's almost too good to be true. But at the same time, it absolutely is true.

And I glow.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sometimes You Need a Break

With colder weather arriving and the beginning of gun-deer season this weekend, Charlie and I are taking a short break from hiking. Charlie's noise-reactivity has grown over the years, and even the echo of a distant gun-shot sends her into a stressed-out frenzy and she just wants to seek cover and hide.

So we'll be sticking to long neighborhood walks after work on weeknights and fetch in the backyard on weekends for a bit.

Our hiking excursions always slow down during this time of year. Once the snow sets in, many of the parking areas for our favorite trails are snowed-in and not accessible. Some of the trails are taken over by cross-country skiers and therefore off-limits to dogs. And because of the temperatures, we often can't hike as long or far as we used to.

In essence, winter kind of sucks for hikers.

And for a highly active dog, like Charlie, the lack of exerting activities can cause some behavioral problems and a certain level of stress when cabin fever sets in.

So what is there to do?

Well, we've always been able to find indoor "games" to play and work on training exercises. But sometimes I want a break too... just to watch t.v. or read a book. And at those times, having a long-lasting treat like a bully stick, helps tremendously.

Earlier this year, I was contacted by asking if I'd be willing to try their bully sticks and write a blog post reviewing Charlie's experience with them. We received a free 5-pack of 12" bully sticks and Charlie happily enjoyed them over the summer.

I like giving Charlie bully sticks because they're all natural and they take her a little longer to consume than a raw hide (which I don't give her).

I was really impressed with the quality and size of the sticks and when I checked out the pricing for their monthly bully stick delivery, the value is impressive. I've always seen bully sticks as a VERY occasional treat for Charlie due to their expense, but after calculating the cost of the price per stick on, I signed up!

Winter season is a good time to find something constructive for your dog to do when they're bored. Along with finding fun indoor games, you might want to consider signing up for monthly delivery of bully sticks from as well.

And if you're looking for a thoughtful gift for a dog-lover on your holiday list, this would be high on my list of favorites!

Because sometimes you just need a break.

*Disclaimer: I received a free 5-pack of 12" bully sticks from for this review. All opinions and thoughts are my own and I would never recommend something I didn't believe in. I promise!