Sunday, October 22, 2017

Saturday With Charlie's Grandma

It's been a challenge balancing time between my new boyfriend and my mom. I know she's happy for me for finding someone to love and she completely approves of him being in my life, but she and I have been living together for the past 7 years and she's had my undivided attention during that time.

So Charlie and I decided to spend Saturday doing adventures with Charlie's "grandma" (my mom).

We headed up to Helene's Hilltop Orchard to purchase honey crisp apples, blueberry syrup and apple pie donuts to celebrate the flavors of the harvest season. Then we drove over to Council Grounds State Park to take a scenic drive through the woods and enjoy a short stroll along one of the river trails.

Mom's dog, Peanut, joined us for the trip and the four of us had a great time exploring the fall sights and smells. It was a great day for reconnecting with family and enjoying the last weekend of fall colors.

Leaves slowly drifted down all around us while Peanut plowed through piles of crunchy leaves with a huge smile on her face and Charlie raced along the shoreline looking for sticks and taking a dip in the water.

Peanut blends in so well to the leaves!

We sat on benches on the fishing piers to watch for eagles soaring over the river and enjoy the silence of the calm day. The weather was a balmy 70 degrees... so unusual for this time of year! There was no rush, just enjoying the moment and soaking it all in.

Snoozing on the front porch after a long day of exploring and road tripping.
We ended our afternoon sitting on the front porch back at home, talking about the warm weather and making plans for our garden and yard next year. Charlie and Peanut snoozed on the loveseat, while our cat, Sally, played with leaves in the front yard. The warm air swirled around us and peaks of blue sky shone through the cloud layer every now and then. It was just a whimsical magical moment on a warm fall day... sitting with content smiles and warm hearts.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Smiles on a Gray Day

This has been a gray and rainy weekend and Charlie is having some tummy issues, so we're staying in and taking it easy... but we wanted to share some of the fun we had last Sunday when the weather was absolutely beautiful!

We had come back from vacation a day early due to the weather and honestly we were just ready to be home. So Sunday, when the weather turned sunny and warmer, Charlie and I headed out to one of our favorite local trails.

The water had been drawn down a little bit on the reservoir so we were able to do some beach combing and even made it out to our secluded island that has been inaccessible for the past 2 years due to higher water.

It was so much fun!

My only challenge was trying to keep Charlie out of the toxic water. There was so much blue-green algae that the water was a glowing-green color. It was pretty, but not healthy.

The breeze was a blessing since the exposed damp shoreline smelled like mold and rot. It's been a while since any of that area has had a chance to dry out and with the nasty water, it definitely smelled unpleasant.

In any case, we had fun exploring the woods and romping on the beach. We found some fun "treasures"... Charlie found a new tennis ball and I found an artistic piece of metal that I brought home to add to my living room decor.

At the end of our hike, I sat on a picnic table along the shore and threw Charlie's ball onto the exposed sand as she tore around spewing sand up into the air as she chased the ball. She was so happy to be playing fetch again now that her mouth was a little more healed up and the weather had improved.

It was good to be home.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Thoughts on Vacation

Well, our week-long vacation in Hayward, WI has come to an end. I'm still processing everything that happened in the last week and probably will be for a while. I'm a bit of an over-analyzer so I tend to overthink just about everything. Sometimes I think I'm just so overwhelmed with input that it takes me longer to sort out what I want to keep and what I need to let go.

Spending money on a rental house for the week was a splurge, but one I felt was justified since I haven't had a "real" vacation in a long time. Having the rental house on the lake would allow us to do whatever we wanted without the weather impacting us as much as if we were to go camping instead.

It was my first time renting a house on and was a little harder to find what I was looking for than I had anticipated. There was just so much to consider... location, type of house, neighborhood, size of lake, price, and of course... whether dogs were allowed. That last item was something that drastically narrowed down our choices.

Fortunately, we found a house that welcomed dogs and didn't charge an outrageous "pet fee." The only downside of the house was that it was up on a big slope with a ton of steps down to the dock on the lake. When we arrived, I joked that there must be about 93 stairs! Haha.. joke was on us. There were exactly 93 stairs. Plus at least 7 landings between the different sets of stairs.

We quickly learned to make sure we had everything we needed before we headed down the stairs to the kayaks because "running back to the house" was not easy.

Then there was the task of getting the kayaks down the hillside to the dock. We could slide them down parts of the hill and then had to walk them down some areas. Getting them back up was another story... one that definitely had me questioning whether my heart could possibly beat any faster.

The weather was challenging as well. It was cooler than expected and was overcast and rainy for most of the week. During the one sunny morning that we tried paddling out on the kayaks, the wind was so intense that there were white caps on the lake. We didn't go far that day and pretty much stuck to the shoreline, which limited our explorations.

The only other day that the weather was decent enough for paddling, we explored the floating bog and made it all the way across the lake and around some interesting shoreline on the other side. It was a long paddle that day, about 4+ miles. But it was cold and breezy and my hands were numb by the time we got back to our dock.

Exploring the floating bog.
Floating bog was pretty interesting.

So we didn't get much use of the lake while we were there, but we did enjoy fishing off the dock and caught several bass. The loons sang for us almost every day. The eagle that we nicknamed "Joe" hung out on the floating bog which we could see with the binoculars from our deck back up at the house. And of course, there was the beautiful lake view from the house windows.

Full moon rising on the only clear night during the week.

We spent a lot of time being lazy in the house... drinking coffee and hanging out on the deck most mornings, cooking, watching t.v., napping, reading books & magazines. We also explored the town... visiting shops, museums, antique stores and restaurants. And of course, the veterinarian.

But mostly we just spent time together getting comfortable with our new little family of three:  me, Charlie and Alan.

Charlie absolutely adores Alan and he feels the same about her. They are so cute together and I can see that Charlie enjoys having a male person in our pack. Alan wants nothing more than to make "his girls" happy... and he does.

Dewy spiderwebs on a foggy morning.

So even though the vacation lake house didn't turn out to be everything I imagined it would be, we made memories together and enjoyed a relaxing week hanging out and having fun.

Sometimes it's all about finding the silver lining and focusing on the things that really matter... the people and pets we love.

Rainbow after the rain. Charlie's learning to be a fishing buddy!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Birthday Accident on Vacation

Charlie loves being on the deck!

Our new little family headed north for a week long vacation in the north woods of Wisconsin yesterday. Alan and I rented a lake house with plans to do lots of hiking, kayaking, fishing and exploring. One of the special things about this upcoming week, other than relaxing and enjoying time away from work, is that it's also Charlie's seventh birthday today. Our only goal this morning was to have fun and celebrate Charlie.

Lots of stairs! That's Charlie and Alan at the end of the dock... so tiny!

The morning started off rainy, so we played a bunch of fetch with Charlie's tennis ball inside. Alan even used her ball launcher toy, bouncing the ball off the floor so she would jump up to catch it. She was having a blast and then decided it was time for a little nap.

After a while, she was ready for round 2 and knew that the ball launcher was up on the fireplace mantle. She tried hard to figure out how to get up there to get her ball, but by then the skies had cleared so we decided to go down to the dock to cast a few lures and see what the lake had to offer for fishing.

See her ball launcher on the mantle? She's addicted!

Charlie watched Alan fish while trying to figure out if she was supposed to "fetch" the lure or try to convince him to throw her ball. Alan caught a couple bass right away and showed his catch to Charlie.

This is the first time she's ever been fishing, so she was naturally curious! She stuck her nose right in the fish's mouth while we were trying to take a picture. Then, as Alan released the fish back into the water, Charlie dove in after it, trying to figure out where it went! I guess we're going to have to work on teaching her about "catch and release."

She swam in circles next to the dock trying to figure out this mystery. It was super adorable.

But then she started getting annoying trying to play ball again, so I called her back up the hill to throw her ball and give Alan a minute to himself to fish without Charlie trying to instigate playtime.

She had a great time running around the hillside fetching her ball and sniffing out chipmunk trails; just a normal day of playing. The weather was momentarily perfect... a slight wind stirring up waves on the lake, leaves slowly drifting off the colorful trees, the smell of fall in the air and a happy dog enjoying her birthday.

Alan eventually joined us and unfortunately, after one particular throw of the tennis ball, Charlie dove for it and hit a rock with her front teeth.

I froze.

And then I ran to her to see if she was okay. She was licking her lips and as I grabbed her mouth to look in, blood ran into my hand. Ruh-roh.

Sure enough, two of her front teeth were pushed in and although they weren't loose, it was evident they were in the wrong place.

We immediately called the local veterinary office and they were able to get us in within 30 minutes. I was really glad that I had packed her rabies vaccine certificate and medical history. After a quick exam, the vet gave us the possible options and probable outcomes. By noon, I was signing consent forms and hugging Charlie good-bye for the afternoon.

It was an easy decision to extract the two teeth. It's just not always so easy to give consent to put your dog under general anesthetic when you know that sometimes dogs die under anesthetic. I was worried, but I knew it was the right decision.

Four hours later, we picked up our slightly drugged dog and brought her back to the cabin. She's doing good and already has her appetite back. She had a fractured tooth and another fractured socket, so in total she lost two teeth. It turned out to be the right decision since the broken teeth would have eventually gotten abscessed and caused more trouble. She'll be on painkillers and antibiotics for the rest of the week too.

We'll have to limit her activity and keep her from chewing on sticks and balls for the rest of the week. It's going to be hard, but at least she's okay. I guess things could always be worse. I'm grateful our little family is together and we still have the rest of the week to enjoy our vacation... just a little differently than we originally planned.

**Thank you very much to Hayward Animal Hospital for getting us in so quickly and taking great care of our baby!**

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Camping @ Brunet Island State Park

Last weekend I took a few days off work so I could enjoy an extended weekend camping trip at Brunet Island State Park in Cornell, WI. I've camped at this park several times and always enjoy my stay.

This time my new boyfriend would be joining me & Charlie, and we brought our kayaks along to take advantage of the water access at most of the campsites.

Since the campground is on an island, almost all the campsites are on the water with access to the Chippewa Flowage, which makes it super easy to launch your boat without leaving camp.

I was a bit nervous having Charlie on a 5-day camping trip after her issues earlier this spring with noise-reactivity and fear-aggression toward other dogs, but after her recent Reiki treatments I was hoping she'd do well enough to stick it out for the entire duration.

We succeeded! Everything went perfectly and all of us had a great time.

Hanging out at camp next to the fire.

Charlie stuck to Alan like glue and the two of them played games of non-stop fetch, collected fire wood and kindling together from the woods (Charlie shredded most of her sticks, and stole ones from Alan's pile) and the three of us attempted a few kayaking/fishing excursions on the water.

Charlie snuggled up next to the fire in the evenings, tired out from the day's activities... something she'd never done before since she's usually scared of fire. This time, though, she was relaxed and calm.

Chillin at camp while the sun sets on the water behind her.

Nodding off after a long day of outdoor activities.

A few of the neighboring campsites had dogs, which normally would have sent Charlie into frenzied barking, but she didn't even seem to notice the other dogs. We even had her off-leash several times at the campsite and she never made an attempt to visit the other dogs or bark at them. She seemed content to just hang out with us.

The kayaking was a bit tiresome for us humans, though. Charlie, being part Border Collie, has herding instincts and doesn't like her "pack" separated. Having her people on two separate boats is something she's not sure how to deal with. She's constantly trying to get on the other person's kayak, only to turn around and want to go back to the kayak she just came from.

We roped the two kayaks together at one point and drifted on the water for a while, which seemed to appease Charlie but wasn't very practical for too long. Once the boats were untied, she again whined and paced to get on the other kayak.

Steering a kayak with a 45-lb dog shifting her weight around all the time is completely tiresome. My wrists and shoulders were so sore from correcting the boat constantly. It was quite the workout! I suggested leaving Charlie in the car back at camp since the weather was cool and I knew she'd just lay down and take a quiet nap while we were gone, but Alan insisted on us all staying together.

Charlie waiting for me to throw her stick for a game of fetch while taking a break on a sandbar.

"I'm ready..."


Charlie's fetching instinct is so strong that Alan couldn't do much fishing while we were out either. Casting lures looks like something she's supposed to retrieve so there was no way that was going to work. But Alan was kind and patient and just happy to spend the day together. He's a keeper for sure.

I was so proud (and surprised!) with Charlie's good behavior and calm demeanor. Even as I packed up the car on our last day, she just laid on her mat and waited patiently for me to give the cue that it was time to go. During past camping excursions, she'd be sitting in the car whining to leave on the last day.

Camp is all packed up and Charlie is snoozing.

I know for a fact that the Reiki sessions are the main reason for her change in behavior. Her energy is aligned and she feels more confident and sure of herself. I also know that Alan's presence is reassuring to her and the two of them are bonding beautifully. The combination of the Reiki treatments and having Alan in our lives has been magical - for both Charlie and myself.

Life is so good.

Tent sleeping.