Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Merrimac Ferry

The correct name for the only moving section of the Ice Age Trail is the Colsac III Ferry, but most people refer to it as the Merrimac Ferry.

I have several childhood memories riding this ferry across Lake Wisconsin on our way from Madison to Devil's Lake or Parfrey's Glen.

It's funny how this ferry ride always seemed longer to me as a child, and perhaps it was. I'm not sure if any modern changes have been made to the ferry in the past couple decades, but the trip I took across the ferry last weekend seemed to be only a few minutes; barely time to get out and stretch and take some photos.

If you're curious, or want to relive childhood memories through my lens, here's a video for you:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Gibralter Rock

Last weekend I had to leave Charlie home while I went to Madison for a family visit. I wasn't sure if dogs would be welcome at this particular event and didn't want to take a chance that Charlie would have a problem when we got there. Plus it was a hot day and I wouldn't be able to leave her in the car.

Since I was going on a road trip without her, I figured I should take advantage of hiking at Gibralter Rock, which was on my way. This is one of those places that I would not be comfortable taking Charlie to and I knew, unfortunately, it would be a segment of the Ice Age Trail that I would have to hike without her.

But as I drove away from the house looking at her silly face as she stood up with her paws on the screen door, my heart literally broke into pieces and tears streamed down my face.

Obviously we don't do much apart from each other and it was extremely difficult for me to leave her behind. But I cheered myself up with the prospect of taking the Merrimac Ferry, the only moving part of the Ice Age Trail, across Lake Wisconsin on my way to Gibralter Rock and reliving childhood memories along the way.

The last time I was at Gibralter Rock I was a child hiking up there with my family and I have a clear memory of my mom getting a bad case of vertigo and constantly pulling us back from the edge of the trail.

I've had a fear of heights my whole life - probably inherited from my mom - so I was curious how I would feel revisiting this place.

The trail leading up to the top of the rock is winding and steep in some places, giving my lungs a good workout, but within 15 minutes I was at the top. That's when I realized that my happy-go-lucky hiking was at an end and I needed to really pay attention to my footing.

There are no guard rails and the trail winds very close to the edge in several places. There are flat rock outcroppings from which to get a great view or just sit and contemplate the turkey vultures floating below. But I get nervous out on those areas... I'm always afraid this will be the day that the rock ledge breaks free and tumbles below with me on it.

Regardless of my fear, I stuck it out and kept my GoPro camera rolling so you fine readers could get a sense of what it's like up there. But I have to admit I was relieved to head back down and get my feet on lower ground. I guess I'm just better-suited for hiking forests and river valleys; I'm not a mountain hiker.

Enjoy my little video...

p.s.  If you see my hands waving off-screen once in awhile, I'm swatting away bugs since I forgot to bring along bug spray! I tried really hard to keep my hands out of the picture, but I'm pretty sure I failed a few times.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Don't Go To Wisconsin

I'm a big fan of WPR - Wisconsin Public Radio - and whether that changes your opinion of me one way or another, I don't really care. I haven't always been a willing listener though. In fact, I can recall being subjected to public radio during road trips with my dad throughout my childhood and being VERY irritated having to listen to it. I had difficulty understanding the programs and was a bit unnerved when my dad would laugh out loud at some of the segments.

But now I listen. Almost every day. I enjoy listening and I understand the programming. I also laugh out loud sometimes. It's weird how that happens... when we become our parents. I get it now.

So the other day, while at work, I was listening to NPR on my little desktop radio and was enjoying one of the segments so much that I almost started laughing out loud. When I got home later that day, I looked up the segment online to listen again. And I laughed as loud as I wanted to.

It was such great segment (and I could relate so thoroughly to it) that I feel the need to share the link with you here. So, if you're up for a little Wisconsin humor, click the link below!

(Listen to the MP3 version if you get a chance - hearing it is WAY better than reading it)

And if you're not from Wisconsin and wondering if this is all true, I can assure you as a resident and someone who LOVES living in Wisconsin, this is definitely all true. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did... even if you're not a fan of WPR.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Charlie in the Jungle

Charlie tried to sneak up on me while I was eating my bowl of cereal on the window seat in the living room. Doesn't she look "stealthy?"

Then she gave up looking "stealthy" and decided to try a more direct tactic... begging!

It worked. She got a milk-soaked mini-wheat cereal biscuit. So stealthy. But seriously... could YOU resist those sweet brown eyes???

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sojos ~ A Treat Review

Sojos was so kind to send us a sample box of their new treats recently! I love the fact that these treats are 100% raw freeze-dried meat... a perfect fit for Charlie's diet.

And honestly, the treats couldn't have come at a better time.

I've probably said this before, but training isn't something you do once and then you're done and your dog is perfect.


Training is something that is a constant, ongoing effort. It needs tons of reinforcement - the positive kind.

And good treats are the key!

I'm a big fan of Tamar Geller's book, The Loved Dog. I've read and re-read this book several times because just like dogs, humans need constant training too! As her website declares, "It's a lifestyle." So true.

One of my favorite parts in her book is when she "throws a party" when the dog does something correct, rewarding them with "gold" treats.

For those of you who don't know... "gold" treats are the REALLY yummy ones!

So why was this a good time to get Sojos treats? Because Charlie has been pushing her luck with me lately and I realized it was because I've let my training slack off a bit. You know how it is... summer is busy.

Anyway, Charlie has been enjoying all this "outside" time quite a bit and sometimes when it's time to leave a park or a hiking trail or a campsite, she throws a fit (like a 2-year-old having a tantrum) and decides she's not going to listen to me.

But if I have a jackpot of treats in my pouch, she'll do whatever I want. And that's exactly how positive reinforcement training works! She does what I want and I reward her with yummy goodness.

Gold treats, people. Sojos has them.

Peanut photo-bombed me! She couldn't wait to get a treat!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Charlie and the Kayak

Some of you might remember back to last year when I posted THE CUTEST picture of Charlie standing on the front of my kayak on Facebook*:

You might also remember a subsequent blog post where I explained just how many pictures and tons of patience it takes to get a shot like that!

Now that I have a GoPro camera, I have the ability to provide you some video of what it's like to have Charlie on a kayak. Keep in mind that balancing a wiggly 42-lb. dog on the very tip of a kayak while sitting in 3 inches of water (inside the boat) is quite the challenge. Plus, this was my first time using the GoPro camera (mounted on a head strap) and also my first time editing videos.

I've got a long ways to go but I really liked the results!

Hope you enjoy...

*If you're a member of Facebook, stop by and give us a "Like" and keep up-to-date on what's new with me and Charlie!

(If you have problems viewing the video, try using a different browser like Chrome or Firefox)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Slippery Elm + Digestive Problems

(Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian and I highly recommend consulting with your veterinarian before starting any treatment on your dogs - conventional or holistic. Many human medications are extremely toxic to pets and holistic medicines can also cause problems if not administered appropriately. The following information documents my own personal experience only.)

Charlie had a rough week since we got home from camping last weekend. At first I thought she was just tired out from too much activity.

But then she had diarrhea. And then she wouldn't eat her dinner. She had no energy.

Not eating is a HUGE red flag for me because Charlie loves to eat. Thursday's breakfast was picked over and by dinnertime, she would only eat the broccoli pieces.

Later that evening I found vomit in the yard containing her entire breakfast; it was not digested at all.

The previous weekend she had spent so much time in a new body of water and had been chewing on rotten tree roots (slimy & black), perhaps she picked up some weird bacteria and got her digestive system out of whack. Charlie has been known to have a touchy digestive system, but her previous almost-daily vomiting had completely stopped when we switched to a fresh/raw diet over 6 months ago.

Since I've enrolled in my Clinical Pet Nutritionist program and my first assignment consists of a book on Natural/Holistic remedies for common ailments, I quickly looked up her symptoms to figure out what to do.

After reading ahead a few chapters, I found what I was looking for and headed to our local health store - Wausau Wellness Center. I presented my list and showed the store owner my book; she knew exactly what I needed.

A few minutes later I left the store armed with Slippery Elm powder, Nux vomica 30C and some probiotics. I started Charlie on the Nux vomica 30C when I got home since you're supposed to administer that without food and then the next morning I gave her the Slippery Elm powder and a capsule of the probiotics in her breakfast (to be taken with food).

Amazingly she seems almost completely back to normal by this evening - after just one dose! I'm amazed. And since my book recommends giving dogs a regular probiotic, Charlie and I are going to start taking these regularly from now on. You heard that right - we're both taking the same supplement.

I highly recommend that you talk to a holistic vet or an expert at your local health food store to find out what home remedies you may be able to use for yourself or your pet... you might be surprised!