Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Study in Texture

We're still on the cusp of spring here in northern Wisconsin and the buds on trees are just beginning to form. There's not much color in the woods yet, and on today's gray cloudy day, the beauty of the forest was hard to find at first.

But as my steps became a rhythm, my mind began to drift and I was able to focus on the texture of the landscape surrounding me.

The trails were blissfully devoid of people today and so I was able to let Charlie off-leash for most of our hike. I struggle to balance my desire to keep her safe (on-leash) with her need to run (off-leash), but today was easy.

And because she was free to explore on her own (nearby of course), I was not distracted by the constant tug of the leash.

As I continually scanned the scenery for possible dangers to Charlie (wild animals, approaching dogs, people on mountain bikes, etc.), things I would not normally have seen began to draw me off the trail to take a closer look.

This in-between time of seasons exposes different parts of nature for a brief period of time... the snow covering has been removed and the growth of the lush underbrush has not yet begun. Logs, fungi, mushrooms and tiny blooming flowers are all visible now.

And because there is little color to distract the eye, today's hike was a study in texture.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Mud Bath @ Hartman Creek S.P.

This has been a frustrating week. I came down with a horrible cold last weekend and have had absolutely no energy this week. With sunny days and temps in the 60's and 70's all week, I've wanted nothing more than to be outside and hiking with Charlie. Unfortunately, being sick, my body was not cooperating.

I've been trying to appease Charlie with short bouts of playing fetch in the backyard, but she's not happy about this. She wants to go have some adventures.

And finally, FINALLY, today I'm feeling better! So we're heading out to Hartman Creek State Park in Waupaca to do some hiking and swimming. I'm looking forward to the fun road-trip, outdoor activities at the park, lunch at Weasels in Waupaca (the best pizza ever!) and maybe stop at Jung's Greenhouse to check out their succulents on the way home (I have a "thing" for succulents).

Charlie's mud-bath last year at Hartman Creek S.P.

We went to Hartman Creek around this same time last year and Charlie took herself swimming during our hike around the lake... unfortunately that part of the shoreline was black mud. It was an adorable moment - a half yellow dog, half black-mud dog. Lucky for us, the other side of the lake was crystal clear shoreline where she could rinse off before getting back in the car.

I've heard people pay big money for mud baths... perhaps they're good for dogs too! If so, Charlie is sure to find some more mud today.

Hope you enjoy your weekend... and get outside with your dog if you can!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Napping in the Sun

Charlie found an orange ball during our morning hike today and she's been obsessing over it all day.

It's not a *new* ball, but it's new to her. However, it is extremely dirty. Which is probably why she loves it so much... it's got "flavor."

Under all this dirt lies an orange tennis ball.

After being cooped up in a stuffy office all week, I long to be in the outdoors as much as possible on the weekends. Today, however was extremely windy, and I hate wind. 

On windy days I always try to remember the quote, "Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair", but I really hate wind.

Instead of fighting the elements, I decided to hunker down in the backyard for the afternoon. I bundled up and lounged on a lawn chair while soaking up sun and avoiding most of the wind gusts.

I brought a book out with me, but Charlie was persistently placing her orange ball in my lap to throw for her, so I quickly gave up on reading.

Instead of staring at the dilapidated garage in front of me, I reclined the lawn chair until I was positioned to view only the blue sky above. I kicked off my shoes and let the sun warm my purple wool socks.

White clouds scuttled across the sun, dousing me in coolness until the sun returned to warm me up again. Like a child on a lazy day, I imagined "cloud animals" in the shapes of the cottony puffs above.

Before I knew it, I had drifted into a light sleep. But after a few minutes I felt Charlie setting her ball on various parts of my body trying to get me to play fetch again. Her persistence paid off. 

I remember my dad telling me about the time that he fell asleep in a field and woke up with spider webs all over him. He loved the outdoors and napping outside was one of his guilty pleasures. 

Napping in the sun today made me feel like he was with me and it was a sweet moment.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Flashback: Charlie's 1st Spring (2011)

I ran across some cute photos and videos of Charlie's 1st Spring while cleaning out old files on my computer.

I just HAD to share these with you guys!

These photos/vids are from Charlie's 1st Spring back in 2011 when she was just 6 months old. What a cutie pie. I was curious how she would take to water since she's part lab. This was her first time in water... a snow-melt puddle at the dog park. She took to water like a fish and has loved water ever since!

VIDEOS (best viewed in Chrome or Firefox):

Sunday, March 29, 2015

How to Deal With Ticks

Charlie: "Do we have to talk about this? Ticks are yucky."

In our part of the world, they're inevitable. I've become nonchalant about picking them off both Charlie and myself. I'm scared to death of spiders, but I can pick ticks off us like it's nothing.

Most of the trails we hike are pretty "natural" and I know that ticks are just a part of the "nature" that we're out there enjoying.

And since this is a risk that I accept, I also take as many precautions as possible, because ticks sometimes carry diseases.

  • All the research I've done about vaccinating Charlie from these diseases leads me to believe that a relatively healthy dog whose dog-mom is keeping an eye on her health will be better off being treated for such disease if it ever presents itself rather than the risks involved with over-vaccination. So I've opted to NOT vaccinate her for Lyme's Disease.
  • I apply monthly tick-meds (basically pesticides) to Charlie only for the absolute necessary months during peak tick-season. While I loathe doing this to her, I feel it's worth the trade-off of keeping her mostly safe from tick bites.
  • After hikes, I brush Charlie thoroughly and give her a good rub-down, inspecting for ticks the whole time. Her light-colored fur is a blessing for this!

Even so, some ticks still end up biting and attaching to her.

Charlie says "YUCK!" to ticks!

I used to use regular tweezers to pull them off, but unfortunately this method sometimes left parts of the tick still embedded in her skin. I also read somewhere that squeezing a tick's body can actually push diseases into your dog!

So I looked into getting a tool made specifically to remove ticks. And I found one that works great for me! You'll likely find many styles and brands of these on the market, so it's important to find one that works well for you.

My top choice is the Tick Twister. It's small enough that it fits in our hiking first-aid kit and it's easy for my small hands to use. I also like the twist-off method and feel that it gets the tick off Charlie more quickly and easily than other tools, which means less pain for her.

On the first weekend of Spring this year, Charlie happened to pick up a tick that I didn't notice and it attached to her. A few days later while I was petting her, I felt the bloated tick on her neck and immediately went into action! It's important to remove the tick as soon as possible to prevent it from passing any infection or disease to your pet.

Here's a video of me using the Tick Twister on Charlie... you can see how quickly this works!

VIDEO (best viewed in Chrome or Firefox):

Remember to watch for ticks on yourself as well. I wear light-colored pants with my socks pulled up over the cuffs, I also check myself for ticks after a hike and all my clothes go into the hamper when we get home.

Tick season is definitely here, so if you happen to live in a part of the country where they are prevalent, take caution and be safe out there!

Charlie likes the Tick Twister.

Disclaimer: We were not paid for reviewing the Tick Twister; it was purchased with my own money for my own purposes. My opinion is all my own.