Sunday, January 29, 2017

Remembrance, Love and Respect

This has been a tough month for friends/family losing dogs. My friend Sarah, lost her dog, Dudley, shortly before Christmas; my other friend, Rebecca, just lost her dog, Gypsy; and today I found out that my cousin, Maggie, lost her beloved Bear yesterday. Anyone who has had a dog knows how profound and difficult these losses are.

While watching the CBS Sunday Morning show today, there was an interview with Dennis Quaid, including his take on the recent turmoil surrounding his new film, A Dog's Purpose. It's obvious that he's a dog-lover and wasn't happy about the incident. And I agree with him that it's probably wrong to boycott the film over this incident because of the actions of one ridiculously inadequate trainer. The film (and book) still embody the spirit of what dogs mean to us. Dennis Quaid was almost brought to tears when he said, "dogs remind us of the wonderful feeling of being alive."

I couldn't agree with him more. The fleeting life of a dog reminds us just how precious every minute is and their unending joy and pureness of spirit make us better people. I couldn't imagine my life without a dog and I know my life is exponentially better since I found Charlie.

Can you find Charlie in this photo?

So I spent the day letting Charlie do what she loves best... hiking! We went to the Plover River Segment of the Ice Age Trail and snow-shoed a couple of miles of the northern section. Even though winter weather has returned and temps were in the 20's, there was a bit of a wind block in the woods and intermittent flurries of snow swirled through the trees. It was a magical day enjoying Charlie's exuberance and I took a few moments every now and then to pause and pay gratitude for Charlie and remembrance to all the dogs who have touched our lives before crossing the Rainbow Bridge.

If you still have a dog in your life, give them a big hug and appreciate all that they bring to your world.

If you've lost a dog, please consider fostering until you're ready to adopt again. Fostering is a great way to help a dog find a home and may even help you find your next dog. My friend, Hannah, works at the Iowa County Humane Society and is currently fostering two spectacular dogs (Ember and Molly) who are in need of an experienced and active owner.

If you're looking for a new dog, please consider adopting from a shelter or rescue instead of buying. There are so many sweet dogs out there that are deserving of a loving home.


One final note... the Ice Age Trail has a strict policy of dogs being on leash. You'll often see photos or videos of Charlie off-leash while she is on the Ice Age Trail, however 90% of the time Charlie is on-leash. I take short-breaks to let her off-leash when we are on sections of the trail where I can see if anyone is coming and we use these breaks to play fetch, swim or take photos. I totally respect that some people are fearful of dogs and I do my best to keep her leashed when we approach people. Also, as an owner of a fearful dog, I know some dogs don't like other dogs and we respect their space as well. If you don't have complete voice control and recall over your dog, like I do with Charlie, please do your best to respect the rules and keep your dog on leash whenever possible.

VIDEO (Charlie on-leash on the Ice Age Trail):

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Fun in the Mist

The recent warm weather has melted much of the 9+ inches of snow that fell in the previous week. Snow banks are finally low enough to see over and the icy sidewalks are getting clearer. The melting snow and warmer temps are causing a lot of fog and drizzly conditions though, making for a dreary weekend. I could use a good dose of sunshine about now.

Even though the weather was gray and wet, we made the most of it and played at Bluegill Bay Park in Rib Mountain yesterday.

Charlie had a blast playing fetch with her tennis ball and making her own game of burying it and digging it up over and over again.

There's something really peaceful and calming about standing in the mist and having an almost-warm breeze blowing on your cheeks, while listening to droplets falling from pine boughs and everything else silent.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Zen Forest

Charlie and I headed out for another day of snowshoeing. I think I'm addicted! It's so nice to be able to get out in the woods when the trails are deep with snow.

In the past, I'd attempt hiking these snowy trails only to find myself yelling and swearing because it was so much work. Oh how I wish I would have tried snow shoes long ago!

We headed out to Dells of the Eau Claire County Park this afternoon and most people were already leaving, presumably to head to a Packers party to watch the big game.

We took the opportunity to enjoy the quiet peaceful woods all to ourselves.

I kept Charlie on leash for the first part of the trail, which proved to be a bit challenging with the snow shoes, although we quickly fell into a rhythm and she realized no amount of pulling was going to get me to go faster.

Once we were on the less-traveled trail, I let her off-leash. She explored the deep snow for sticks to chew on and sniffed at the deer trails crossing our path. I enjoyed the freedom of being able to stop and listen to the snow falling from tree branches and distant roars of snowmobiles. Everything else was blissfully silent.

The late afternoon sun glimmered through the trees and loose bits of snow floated through the air, sparkling in the sun like glitter.

I spent a good amount of time stopping for short breaks to breathe in deeply, look up at the sky and letting the sun shine on my face, making me smile.

Although my heart is hurting, a walk through the woods to reconnect with nature has soothed my worries and I can feel the beginning of its healing powers at work on my soul.

Snow Shoeing

At the end of December, I signed up to win a pair of Redfeather snowshoes on a Discover Wisconsin Facebook promotion. Part of the entry requirement was re-posting the picture of the snowshoes on your Facebook page. A few days later, a box arrived at my house with the exact pair of snowshoes in it.

I couldn't figure out if I'd won them or if someone had bought them for me. It was a complete mystery.

So being the sleuth that I am, I called and emailed Redfeather to find out the story behind the delivery. As it turns out, my sweet sister bought them for me but wanted me to "think" I had won them. Pretty cool. And super generous of her!

I have never been snow-shoeing before but was really curious to give it a try. And this past week we got a record snowstorm... 9 inches of snow! So yesterday I had the perfect opportunity to try out my new gift.

Charlie and I hit the trails at Big Eau Pleine County Park along with my neighbor-friend who sometimes babysits Charlie. No one else had been on the trails yet and the snow was really deep. But amazingly, the snow shoes just glided right through the powdery layers.

I couldn't believe how easy and fun it was! Charlie, of course, made her own trail... hopping and diving in zig-zagging lines. We both wondered if she would figure out to walk in our trail and save herself some effort, which eventually she did.

I could tell she was getting pretty exerted in the deep snow (almost as high as she was!), but she was having a blast and refused to stop. Her pace eventually slowed a little on our way back and she fell in line behind us, using our already-blazed trail.

I'm so grateful for this gift from my sister and to have a new mode of hiking in the winter when the snow becomes too deep. This will definitely broaden our outdoor capabilities for the rest of the season!


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Zero Degrees

Temps have been sub-zero for the past week and we've been severely limiting our time outside. Charlie runs out to do her potty business in the backyard and runs right back in. I haven't been taking her on car rides to run errands either because it's just too cold to even leave her in the car for very long.

It's been so cold that it literally hurts to be outside.

So today, it finally warmed up to a balmy zero degrees and I saw it as an opportunity to try and get some hiking in. Even if only for a short while.

So we headed to Dells of the Eau Claire County Park and spent about 45 minutes hiking at a very brisk pace. Charlie wore her Pawz Dog Boots to protect her feet.

I absolutely love these boots for cold winter walking. I don't have to worry about them falling off like her Ruffwear Boots and even though they're "disposable," you can get quite a few uses out of them before they need to be thrown out. Plus, they really do help keep her feet warm and protected in these extremely cold temps even though they are just a thin piece of rubber. They are truly unbelievable, and I'm so glad I decided to try them! I always have them on hand - both for winter weather and in the first aid kit in the summer in case she gets a foot injury that needs to stay clean until we get off the trail.