Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Product Review: Ruff Roots

There's no doubt that Charlie is a stick-chewer. She seeks out sticks, stumps and logs whenever possible. Sometimes she gets herself into digestive trouble over her addiction to sticks... I remember back to last summer when she dug up a submerged stump during a camping trip and ended up getting diarrhea for 3 days, most likely she acquired some weird bacteria growing on that mucky stump. We took care of that digestive problem with a little Slippery Elm powder, but I've been in search of safe alternatives to sticks every since.

So I was extremely excited when I came across Himalayan Dog Chew's newest "toy" called Ruff Roots!

Ruff Roots are 100% natural (awesome!), they're eco-friendly (the tuber roots are harvested and then sprout again!), they don't splinter and they actually serve as a natural toothbrush to help decrease plaque on teeth!

What more could you ask for?!

They come in four sizes (seedling, sprout, stump and stalk) with corresponding weight recommendations for each size. We started with the "sprout" size which is recommended for dogs under 40 lbs. since Charlie is 43 lbs and I thought this would be a good size for her.

At first I was worried it was too small and that she'd quickly chew through it. But actually it turned out to be the perfect size for her.

The wood is really hard so it's not too easy to bite off chunks. When she's gnawing on it, small pieces come off occasionally, but nothing too big. In fact, Peanut (a 15-lb. Chihuahua-mix), was picking up some of the smaller pieces and enjoyed chewing on them. I'll probably get a "seedling" size for Peanut soon.

I took a couple videos of Charlie chewing away on her new "toy" so you can see (and hear) how much she's enjoying it! I was going to wait a few weeks before posting this review to see how long it would last, but it is definitely going to take a while for her to chew this up!

VIDEOS (best viewed in Chrome, not Internet Explorer):

Overall, I think this is a great toy for dogs who like to chew on wood or for really aggressive chewers and would probably be great for puppies! It's extremely durable and I love that it's sustainable and all-natural. Plus it's actually *helping* Charlie's teeth by acting as a natural toothbrush rather than ruining her teeth like harder bones or antlers can.

Kudos to Himalayan Dog Chew for creating this awesome toy! We give it two big paws up!

Disclaimer:  We were not paid to write this review; this product was purchased with Charlie's allowance and our views are all our own!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Chasing Waterfalls

Photo of Pewit's Nest, courtesy of Rachel Roberts

Many people begin planning their gardens this time of year. All the gardening magazines feature design plans and advertisements to "buy your heirloom tomato seeds now!"... these are the things that help us "northerners" keep our sanity. 

By focusing on the future (summer) we can escape our current reality (winter). And surprisingly this works! Last year I measured out our garden space (in the snow) and determined what materials I would need to create a raised garden bed. I drew out a "map" of which vegetables would go where and by early spring I was ready to go! We had the best garden ever and it distracted me from a very harsh winter.

Today is the midpoint of winter and I'm starting to get a bit stir crazy. I miss hiking long distances with Charlie and hearing the rustle of leaves on the trees. Trails with packed snow have turned icy and the snow is too deep on untraveled trails to go very far. 

Charlie and I have become resigned to neighborhood walks and very short hikes lately. Nothing too inspiring.

But because we're halfway through with winter, there's light at the end of the tunnel. Days are getting noticeably longer - I get to enjoy a few minutes of sunset on my way home from work now. It's a good time to start making plans for our hiking/camping/road trip excursions this year. 

And last night, inspiration struck! 

This year, we're going to visit Wisconsin's beautiful waterfalls. Wisconsin has over 62 waterfalls and most of them are not too far from where I live. 

It's been amazing to discover so much beauty so close to home over the past 2 years, but there's so much more to see! At times I've been embarrassed that it's taken me so long to get out and explore and the fact that I have not had the chance to visit any of our state's waterfalls is just shameful!

Now the fun part begins... researching websites and blogs, consulting maps and penciling in dates on my calendar. I know I won't have time to see everything on my list this year, but I'll have plenty of adventures to choose from.

What adventures are you planning for this year?

Photo of Pewit's Nest, courtesy of Rachel Roberts

Saturday, January 3, 2015


Today will be the last warmish day for a while so I wanted to make sure I exercised Charlie with a lot of outdoor time today. My plan was to take her to a nearby local spot for a hike and a game of Chuck-it around the lake, go to the grocery store and grab a few things and then take her to a city park with some great paths and lots of other dog pee-spots to sniff.

That plan would give Charlie a little bit of everything... a quiet nature hike, ball fetching, riding around in the car and a city hike with lots of smells.

The first part of the plan went well, although we had to turn back halfway around the lake because someone was cutting a hole in the ice with a chainsaw for ice fishing and it spooked Charlie. That was okay though because she was panting pretty good by then and had had tons of fun already.

Errands went okay.

But after errands, I was hungry. It was 1pm and I needed lunch. So I stopped at Panera and got a Thai Chicken Salad (my favorite) and rather than eating it in the car in the parking lot, I drove us over to the city park on our agenda and ate it in the parking lot there.

Problem was, the parking lot was in full view of about 20 squirrels digging up buried nuts out of the snow and chasing each other around the trees. While I ate my salad, Charlie worked herself into a frenzy watching them. She was making me a little nervous.

I put on her hiking harness, attached the flexi-leash and prepared myself for her excitement once the car door opened.

I did not prepare myself enough.

She totally bolted over the snowbank I was parked in front of and toward the squirrels.

I went down. Hard. And she dragged me a couple of feet through the snow before she stopped.

And all I could do was laugh! I had never experienced the feeling of being dropped and dragged behind my dog before.

I didn't even think a dog of 42 lbs. could drag a full-size person, but she did. Lesson learned. Although I have to give myself props for not letting go of the leash.

I've always had this fear of Charlie lunging for a squirrel and running out into traffic because I couldn't hold onto the leash. Now I have the satisfaction of knowing I can hang on!

With snow shoved up both sleeves of my coat, down both boots and my jeans completely coated in snow, I decided to put Charlie back in the car and abandon plans for our second walk. I knew I would be too wet/cold to stay outside much longer. Plus I didn't want to take a chance of her repeating this scene again; there were plenty of squirrels out in the park today! As I got in the car, I glanced back at the spot where she dragged me and giggled to myself again, thankful that no one was around to witness this truly embarrassing event.

I laughed in the car all the way home, still in disbelief over what had just happened. And I laughed harder when I got home and found snow in both front pockets of my jeans.

She got me good today, little shit.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Lemons Into Lemonade

Waking up to a blanket of freshly fallen snow, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning! I absolutely could not wait to get to a quiet hiking trail and take in the transformation of forest to fairy tale!

Unfortunately... waiting is exactly what I had to. I had to wait for the snow to stop falling and the snow plows to catch up with getting the roads cleaned up.

And then after almost 45 minutes of white-knuckle driving to our favorite Ice Age Trail segment, the parking area wasn't plowed out.

Figuring I could just pull off as far as possible and road-park, I got stuck. While in the process of getting myself unstuck, a nice man pulled up in his pickup truck (extremely handsome and snacking on an apple - how adorable?!) and offered to give me a push while I rocked my transmission and got out of the hole I had dug myself. Luckily I got myself out without needing a tow truck and thanked the nice man for stopping to help.

After all that heart-racing activity, I didn't even feel like hiking anymore. Charlie had given up on us doing anything fun and was napping in the backseat and all I wanted to do was go home and take a nap.

But since I was all bundled up and had already promised Charlie a hike, we headed back into town where I was sure we could find an urban trail with a plowed-out parking area, or at the very least, safe roadside parking.

Someone decorated this tree with ornaments!

At Fern Island in downtown Wausau, we were rewarded with the idyllic scenery I was looking forward to, unfortunately it came with a "city-sounds" backdrop. Throughout our walk, we were surrounded by the sounds of traffic, sirens, beeping of snowplows backing up, kids playing with snowboards across the river and the maddening sound of steel snowplow blades dropping and grating along cement.

Charlie ended up getting spooked by all the sounds and bolted back toward the parking lot, with me still attached to her.

Still, we enjoyed the distinct beauty of a new snowfall and some fresh air. All is good. Lemons into lemonade.

**Thank you to the guy who kindly stopped to help me... and to all of you out there who take the time to offer help to a stranger.**

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day Footprints

Some cute little footprints were left by my garage door Christmas Day. Just adorable.