Thursday, October 11, 2018

High Water

After several days in a row of gray and rainy skies, it finally cleared yesterday afternoon! Blue skies were visible through dissipating clouds and the sun came out. It was beautiful.

So when I arrived home from work, I announced to everyone that we were going to the park to enjoy the weather before it turned cold and windy the next day. Mom got Peanut ready and we loaded all the dogs and Peanut's stroller into the car.

The air at the park was warm and humid and a  low level of mist swirled around parts of the field and path. On the path to the park, we could hear the Wisconsin River roaring along the banks below us, waves splashing along the shore.



Riverside Park is an island in the Wisconsin River just below the dam in Downtown Wausau, with a sturdy bridge connecting the park to the mainland. There have been times in the past that the entire island is underwater during particularly big spring melts, so we're always prepared to get off the island if we hear the alarm sirens on the dam.

The water was still low enough to cross the bridge, but we could see that most of the island was flooded and we would have to stay on the bridge to stay dry.

That's a park bench they're swimming past.

That didn't stop Charlie and Jake though! They took off splashing through the water and having a great time. I watched to make sure they stayed out of the main channel of the river since the flooded waters were flowing very fast but they seemed content to explore the flooded park.

Mom and I chatted on the bridge, watching the water flowing swiftly beneath us, enjoying the fall colors enveloped in a warm mist and laughing at the dogs running back and forth through the puddles.

Peanut was so happy to be along, safely ensconced in her stroller where she didn't have to worry about being trampled by the bigger dogs. It was so uplifting to finally be outside enjoying the colors of the season and probably one last blast of warm humid air before the reality of the cooler season rolls in tomorrow.

It's a little strange being in the presence of the power of nature. The way the river just goes where it wants, flowing fast and free. Hearing the roar of the water going through the dam just upstream. Watching the seasons change all around us, so fast and fleeting. I had been worried earlier this week that the leaves were going to fall before we had a chance to really enjoy them, but for today we got what we came for and it was bliss.

Charlie got into some burs! What a mess.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Jake @ the Dog Park

Jake had his first trip to the dog park today! I chose Sandy's Bark Park in Rib Mountain since it's only about 4 acres and it's close to home. Our other local dog park in Weston WI is about 40 acres and it's easy to lose track of your dog there.

Since it was Jake's first time, I wanted to make sure I could keep an eye on him and watch out for any aggressive dogs.

We had a great time! Jake did good meeting the other dogs that were there and definitely knew which ones he wanted to play with. This park happens to be really close to a major highway so the background noise was pretty loud.

VIDEO #1 (Sandy's Bark Park - a lot of highway noise and someone with an annoying whistle):

VIDEO #2 (Jake's first time at the dog park):

We stayed for only about 10-15 minutes and by then, Jake was panting pretty good and seemed pretty excited. I didn't want him to get over-stimulated so we cut our visit short. Plus there wasn't a water bowl there so I wanted to get him back to the car so we could get a drink of water from his bowl there.

I ran a couple of errands before heading home, but when we got out of the car at home, he was limping on his back leg. I think he strained it at the park running around too much. I gave him one of his leftover pain pills from having his baby tooth extracted and we're taking it easy the rest of today.

He seems more than happy to snuggle and nap with me. It's another gray, cloudy day so it's a good day for staying in and keeping each other warm.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Dwindling Daylight

This summer flew by way too fast and I'm more than a little sad about it. There's so much that I wanted to do with Jake that we never had time to do.

And as we try to squeeze the most out of these weekdays and the dwindling daylight left after work, I realize that it will likely be snowing in a month or so. What a strange thought.

Because evenings like last night, where the 46 degree temps still feel mild and the river is still open and flowing, and I'm only wearing a sweater, it's hard to think about wearing boots and hats and scarves and being almost too cold to be outside. And yet, it will be here soon.

The funny thing is, watching the dogs romp around and play, I realize there's no point in being sad. They have no concept of it being "too dark to be at the park" or "too cold to go swimming." They do what brings them joy no matter what the circumstances.

So I sit back on my picnic table at the park and soak up the dwindling daylight. I watch them chase each other. I laugh at Jake because he takes a quick dip into the water to go swimming whenever he gets close to the shore and then comes out, shakes off the water and takes off after Charlie again. I marvel at how much of a water-dog he is... you just can't keep him from swimming if water is nearby!



I gaze at the trees beginning to reach peak color and their blurry reflections in the water, enjoying the sound of the swollen river flowing fast, full to the top of the riverbanks from all the recent rain. The darkening sky seems to enhance the fall colors, the leaves turning a darker, deeper color as the light disappears from the sky.


Soon enough, we'll be walking in the dark after work. But for right now, there's still a sliver of light and a chance for a fleeting sunset.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Charlie's 8th Birthday

Crazy to think I've had this girl for almost 8 years. Where does the time go?

When I look back at old blog posts, I remember what a pain in the ass she was back when she was a puppy. So demanding of my time and attention. Always wanting me to do something with her. The hours-long walks we did every single day. The miles of trails we hiked on weekends. All the puzzle games and food games we played to keep her mentally stimulated. The amount of dog behavior and training books I read.

Whew. It makes me tired just thinking about it.

But during those years, we learned each other's language. I can tell what she needs just by a look or watching her body language. She can likely do the same with me. We became a team along the way.

And over this last year, I've noticed she's slowed down quite a bit; not needing quite so much activity. Her anxieties toward other dogs and noises prevented her from getting out as much and she seemed more content and happy to stay home. I just went with the flow and let her do her thing. When I left for a walk or a hike, I asked if she wanted to come along and if she hesitated or walked away from the door, I left her home. That's what she wanted.

But then this spring we added a new dog - Jake. I had hoped he would give Charlie a playmate and bring her the things that she missed out on by being fear-aggressive with other dogs. And it worked! Charlie and Jake have a great time playing together and he's brought new energy into the house.

Charlie has her moments where I can tell she doesn't enjoy sharing attention but I do my best to share the love equally. Plus, now we have Alan in our family and there's so much love and attention to share with everyone.

Charlie's not the same dog she was when I adopted her off Craigslist almost 8 years ago. I'm definitely not the same person I was. We still live in the same house and our routine is mostly the same, but so much of our life has changed.

And that's what happens over time. Things change. Sometimes so slowly you don't even notice.

Happy birthday my sweet Charlie. My love for you still grows daily and I'm so grateful I took the chance on adopting you. You've made my life so much better than it was. You challenge me in ways I never thought a dog could. You make me appreciate when things go easy because of the difficulties we've been through. And you've shown me that going through difficulties only grows bonds stronger.

You'll always be my girl.

VIDEO (Birthday treat!):

Birthday bedtime snack... celery and peanut butter!

Charlie's birthday morning started with bringing out ALL the toys in the living room!
*This post is a day late (Charlie's birthday was October 2nd) because I wanted to actually spend her birthday paying attention to her rather than writing this blog post. Just one of those lessons I've learned from my dogs... live in the moment and be present.*

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Just a Normal Saturday

Truth: we don't go hiking/kayaking/exploring every weekend. We have a normal life where house chores and projects need to be done, we sometimes have to work at our jobs on weekends and we get sick. Sometimes there are outside requirements like family get-togethers, birthday parties and other social gatherings that keep us from doing the "Fun Stuff."

At times like those, the dogs get unlimited access to the backyard or we stop for a quick romp at a nearby park so they can get outdoors and run off some excess energy. This is one of those kinds of weekends.

VIDEO #1 (Charlie eating grass at the beach):

Alan is just recovering from the cold he had while we were camping and I just started coming down with the same cold toward the end of last week. Head colds suck but you can usually navigate normal responsibilities around them.

So yesterday, Alan worked on painting the trim on the backside of the house in preparation of tearing off the roof on the kitchen addition so we can get that replaced before winter (better to have the ladders on the old roof than the new one!). We'll finish the trim painting on the other sides of the house in spring next year.

While Alan worked just outside my kitchen windows, I stayed inside and baked some sweet treats for him to take to his weekly poker night with the guys. He listened to classic rock on the radio outside and I listened to inspirational TED Talks inside. Every now and then, though, I could hear him singing along to the radio - swoon!

And the dogs ran to the window to watch him every time he passed by. Occasionally he'd take a break, open the kitchen window to chat with us and sip from his coffee mug.

Peanut Butter Caramel Toffee Chocolate-Chip Cookie Bars from

Cranberry-Orange Shortbread Cookies from

After the chores were done and the treats were baked, Alan headed home and the dogs and I snuggled on the couch to watch a movie for a bit.

Soon, we headed out with Grandma and Peanut to take a quick walk at a nearby county park. The drive there takes longer than our actual time at the park, but the drive is part of the joy of getting out. Leaves are beginning to change color and the scenery was beautiful. The dogs inhaled the scents from their partially open windows in the backseat while we cranked the heat in the front seats to stay warm.

VIDEO #2 (Charlie finding her stick at the park):

It was a pleasant day where much was accomplished and we didn't over-do ourselves so I can continue focusing on staying hydrated and rested to get better soon!

Sunday will be spent much the same. Alan will be watching football, I'll be going into work to take care of month-end accounting tasks and Jake has a playdate scheduled at a new dog park. It's nothing super-exciting, but sometimes that's life. We take pleasure in the every day moments of just spending time together.