Fayston, Vermont. What happens when a life-long dog person adopts a kitten? The kitten fetches better than the dogs. Well, except for golden girl Lucy, who is the top fetcher in all the land.
In June, we adopted a tiny grey meowing fuzz ball from Central Valley Humane Society. From the first day, our kitten greeted us whenever we walked in the room. We kept her in a bathroom at first, but now she has the second floor to roam. She is constantly sneaking downstairs, so I am kitten proofing. The dogs wait for admission to my bedroom so they can play together.
Eventually, we settled on the name “Alice” for the kitten but we also call her “Beans” (she has extra toes), and sometimes “Stinky.” I won’t go into detail why on that last one.
I’ve enjoyed having something tiny in the house again, but it is a little work. Not that I mind. I have extra time because of COVID restrictions. Playtime entertains me as much as her. I have become “crafty.” I cut holes in a cardboard box that arrived with my new golf shoes to create the “Expensive Cat Toy.” I saved a larger box to make a cat-stle. I also crocheted a taco cat toy from my ever multiplying yarn stash. It was with the “flying” taco that Alice the kitten learned to fetch.
I’ve made several yarn tacos. The first one went with her to the vet but didn’t make it home. So I made another, only to find the original one in her carrying case after her next trip to the vet 10 days later. They kept the toy and returned it! Our thoughtful vet’s office is Valley Animal Hospital, Dr. Roy Hadden, in Waitsfield, Vermont.
To make your own magic taco, find the free pattern on Ravelry by searching the free patterns for “cat toys.” I also found a few other cat toy patterns I want to try: A doughnut and a small fish are on my list.
While the dogs are enthusiastically trying to be best friends, I am learning to speak cat. Alice follows me around (unless she’s sleeping). Of course a dog person has a FOMO kitty – and another shadow.
Charlie Brown makes himself comfortable on a recent snow day.
Fayston, Vermont. Santa, please don’t bring me a weighted blanket this year. I know I’ve been good and I’m always cold, but I already have a nice heavy blanket. It sheds like crazy but it’s toasty warm.
My morning routine goes like this: Let dogs out; let dogs in; feed dogs; fill dog water bowl; make coffee; then sit on the couch to watch the weather report as I wait for coffee magic. The couch is an old Pottery Barn sectional, the kind with micro fake suede slipcovers in color “light dog.” Sometimes I have to move a dog to sit down in the corner of the “L.” Always I have snuggles, with golden girl Lucy beside me on my right, holding my hand hostage for pets. Spaniel mix Charlie is at my feet, and labby Linus is wedged between the couch and my body, with his front paws thrown across my hips.
We do a similar configuration in the evening, except that maybe I have a glass of wine, Charlie is often a pillow for my husband on the other side of the couch, and Linus goes for the full body snuggle as he curls up on top of me. Sometimes Linus snores. It tickles when he snores.
Linus weighs about 75 pounds.
I’m giving thanks for my familiar, comfortable couch and my cozy home in the mountains. I’m giving thanks for all those folks who have given me support and encouragement this year – in my work, in my photography, and with my health. I’m giving thanks for my pack-mates, both four- and two-legged, who press upon me with their love every day.
My life is heavy with blessings. I hope the same is true for you.
P.s. I will be at the Waitsfield UCC’s Merry Market once again this year. Find me in the church’s undercroft with my photo cards and some matted prints on Saturday, December 7, from 9:30 am until about 3 pm. Admission to the Merry Market is free; cards are $4 each, with a Merry Market special of 6 cards for $20. I have several new card designs this year. The church is located at 4335 Main Street (Route 100), Waitsfield, Vermont. If you’re in Vermont, I hope you can stop by!
If you can’t make it to the Merry Market, find my cards and a few canvas prints at Artisans’ Gallery in Waitsfield. My work is in the front of the shop, to your left as you walk in the door. Cards are also available at Product Think Tank, also in Waitsfield. Product Think Tank sells locally designed natural fiber clothing for men and women. I guarantee you will check a few things off your gift list at these shops.
ICYMI: My pack is on the cover of the winter issue of Best of Burlington Magazine! Inside, a lovely article about Golden Huggs Rescue (GHR), its founder Brigitte Ritchie, and her connection to Oprah’s favorite thing, Spot The Dog Vermont. (All three of my dogs were adopted through GHR.) A few of my photos accompany the article. As of this writing, the magazine drop is imminent – look for it soon at locations throughout the Burlington area.
Suze, Rumble, and Jen from Scallywags and Pawsitive Pantry
Fayston, Vermont. The only thing that snapped at my recent Howloween Photo booth was my shutter – thank you to everyone who came out for the event! Special thanks to Annemarie at Product Think Tank, and to Suze and Jen at Scallywags dog treats for their sponsorship. And, thank you to David for placing signs and trolling the Farmers Market for portrait subjects. The photo booth raised a little money for Golden Huggs Rescue and for PAWSitive Pantry.
This was my first time doing a photo booth using my cell phone, which I chose to do to speed up the process and ease of photo distribution at the sacrifice of quality. Next time, I’ll set up a “real” camera and give folks the option at a higher price point.
We held the event on a Friday afternoon, but performed an encore the next day, after the post office and Farmers’ Market closed. As we were cleaning up on Saturday, another shop owner asked if I’d return for Country Christmas, which is in December in the Mad River Valley. I’ll take that as a vote of support and my answer is maybe. I do think we’ll try this again next year, so think about costumes and practice sit-stay.
A good time was had by all, especially by a lab named Bear who enthusiastically licked my entire face and gobbled up multiple treats. I enjoyed meeting all the dogs and their people. Dog people really do mirror their dogs, if not in looks, then certainly in temperament! Scroll down for photos from the event, plus my crew.
If you missed my photo booth, check your local community calendar for dog events in your area.
Five take-aways from my photo booth experience:
Bring a towel. Call this the “Watch Out for Bear” lesson.
Relationships make great portraits. Don’t be shy – get in the picture! Most people just wanted a photo of their dog, but when the dog and the person are together, their interaction made for much more interesting and unique photos. We had so much fun when photographer Barrie Fisher stopped by with her dog and they struck a variety of poses together. Others who had been camera shy changed their mind about being in the picture when they watched Barrie. I re-snapped their portraits. Plus, having the dog owner in the picture makes it easier for the dog to slow down long enough for my shutter finger to catch up.
Dress up isn’t for every dog. I knew this going in as my Charlie doesn’t like to wear things on his head. I have been practicing with hats and glasses on him, and his tolerance is improving. It’s taking time, however. Meanwhile, I put him in a pumpkin shirt for a photo, and he seemed to like the t-shirt – it was like putting on his Spot the Dog vest. Patience and practice are the keys if you want your dog to wear a costume.
Socialization is important. A public event is challenging for most dogs because of all the new sounds, smells, and attention. Keep taking your dog on public outings!
Practice Sit-Stay. Most dogs struggled to stay still. I doubt my dogs would ace this part given all the commotion, so this is certainly not a criticism but an observation. I took a lot of photos to get one or two decent shots, but the outtakes were hilarious! This is where my real camera would have been a better tool. That said, I’ll be practicing Sit-Stay with my pack more regularly.
If you want to try this for your next event, here’s what I brought for the photo booth:
A photo backdrop stand and a large piece of black cotton velour for a backdrop
Pumpkins (I bought real ones, but fake ones work, too) and a Trick or Treat sign from the crafts store for decor and props
Assorted costumes, hats, and a felt Halloween garland that I purchased at a craft store – the garland made a fun scarf
A pumpkin bucket for donations with a sign
Candy for people
We located the photo booth outside on a covered sidewalk. We had plenty of afternoon sun for light, but I brought a light wand and a second tripod just in case. I used my phone (an iPhone 7Plus) on portrait mode. I think next time I’ll go back to a camera on a tripod for an upcharge option.
Fayston, Vermont. Something stole our tomatoes this year. After a wet June and a coolish July, the tomatoes struggled to produce fruit. We only grow cherry tomatoes, which we plant in the sunniest and warmest spot in our backyard, hard by the dining room windows. It’s difficult enough to grow them at our 1,900 ft. elevation, but something was snatching the small fruit just before any ripened.
What critter could be doing this? Chipmunks are scarce, due to the vigilance of hound/lab mix Linus. Birds scatter with lab/spaniel mix Charlie as the flusher. And golden girl Lucy is too busy chasing butterflies to notice much else.
Or so we thought.
One day, I caught Linus chewing on a mystery something outside, then I saw him gently pull a tomato off a plant. Stop, Thief! It wasn’t long before the others met him at their living salad bar, all three lined up each at a plant, tails wagging.
Tomatoes are not toxic to dogs, but the plant itself can be. My pack plucked the sweet fruit and left the bitter stems. The tomato season is just about over. I’m glad that our blueberries are fenced.
I am also grateful for the Farmers’ Market.
Please, please bring a leash with you when you walk with your unleashed dog. Yup, it happened again: A “very friendly” unleashed big black dog was running free over the Labor Day weekend and we encountered him during our morning walk. I had never seen him before. Lucy and Charlie were leashed.
At first, I didn’t see the unleashed dog’s person. The dog was running up the middle of our street, happy in his freedom, zig-zagging up the hill. I signaled to a passing car to slow down. Luckily, the driver saw the black dog despite the dark morning shadows and slowed down, nodding an “affirmative” to me as he passed by.
The dog ran into an adjacent field, and I assumed home. Nope. Farther down the street, he came bounding at us, with the owner’s “He’s very friendly” call hanging in the air. Before I could reply, Lucy, who is usually behind me, put herself between me and the incoming dog. I was moving slowly that morning because of some pain. With a vocalization from Lucy that was halfway between a bark and a growl, the black dog stopped its advance. I asked the owner to please leash her dog.
She didn’t have a leash with her.
In my town, dogs must be leashed unless under voice control. A dog’s friendliness does not negate the need for a leash or proper training. My heart skipped a beat when I saw a loose dog and an on-coming car that might not see the dog. Why do people forget their brains – and their good citizen manners – when they are on holiday?
WAGMOREVT Photo Booth, and more!
Save the date! On Friday, October 11, from 3-6 PM, WAGMOREVT and Product Think Tank will host a Pet Photo Booth to benefit Pawsitive Pantry and Golden Huggs Rescue. Halloween costumes are encouraged! Suggested donation of $5 per photo/$10 if I take the photo so you can be in it, too. Product Think Tank, which sells locally designed natural fiber clothing for men and women, is located next to the Waitsfield, Vermont Post Office, in the Mad River Green Shopping Center, Route 100, Waitsfield.
I will also be in the shop with my greeting cards and photo prints for sale. Most prints will be matted and ready for your frame; a few will be framed. If you are in the Mad River Valley for the long weekend, I hope you will stop by. I look forward to seeing you.
Also, I plan to enter only dog photos in the Green Mountain Photo Show (GMPS) this year. The GMPS opens September 13 and runs through October 6. It will be held in the barn at Lareau Farm – home of American Flatbread – on Route 100, Waitsfield, Vermont. The show is open Thursdays and Fridays from 4-9 PM; Saturdays-Sundays from noon-9. Admission is free. My entered photos will be framed and ready to go to their new home – yours!
You can also find my greeting cards at Artisans’ Gallery on Bridge Street, Waitsfield, Vermont, and in the Pro Shop at Sugarbush Resort Golf Club in Warren, Vermont.
Cheers to summer! Lucy, Linus, and Charlie Brown relax on the deck.
Fayston, Vermont. While temperatures at our mountainside home are usually cool at night, daytime summer temps plus high humidity can make the pack doggone uncomfortable. Here are my top three tips to stay cool this summer, even during those dog days:
One: Provide fresh water
Lucy enjoys our outside shower just for dogs. (The garden hose waters more than plants.)
Two: Install a pool
Charlie is just ducky.
Three: Stay shaded
Linus is feelin’ groovy.
I hope these tips help you stay cool and feelin’ groovy until the leaves start to turn.
In all seriousness, please don’t leave your dog in the car, practice basic commands so your dog is a good citizen, and take Fido with you whenever you can because life’s adventures are always more fun with a dog.
Have a wonderful summer!
Shameless plug: Please support wagmorevt by buying my awesome greeting cards and photos! If you are lucky enough to be in the Mad River Valley of Vermont, find my work at Product Think Tank (next to the Waitsfield Post Office) and at The Artisans’ Gallery (on Waitsfield’s Bridge Street). In Warren, my greeting cards are available at The Pro Shop at the Sugarbush Resort Golf Club. Plus, I have a curated selection of cards and matted photos in my Etsy shop, RSilbernagelPhoto. Thank you!
5:05 am Open eyes. Roll over and squint at clock. Stiffly thunk-thunk down the stairs to the kitchen.
5:10 am Flip on lights. Open dog crates. Weave through excited tails to open sliding back door. And they’re off to do dog things.
5:15 am Make coffee. Measure out dog food. Leave Linus’ bowl on the floor as he’s always the first one back for breakfast. Let Lucy inside, and put her food down.
5:35 am Realize Lucy ate her food AND Linus’. She’s sleeping it off under the dining room table. Call Linus and Charlie. Weird that they’re not back.
5:36 am Let Linus and Charlie inside and feed them.
5:37 am Pour that first cup of coffee and turn on the tv news. Sip slowly.
5:45 am WHAT’S THAT SMELL?!
5:46 am Send Charlie outside, locked on the deck. Back to coffee.
6:00 am Search for goretex pants, rubber garden clogs, cleaning gloves, and dog shampoo. Dress for bathing battle.
6:13 am Turn on the hose. Call Charlie, who’s now hiding. Bribe him with a treat as I put him on his leash.
6:20 am Bath time for Charlie!
6:30 am Peel off goretex and rubber layers. Eat breakfast.
So, how was your morning?
Charlie Brown in a dandelion field, Waitsfield, Vermont
Lucy & Linus pose at Sugarbush Resort Golf Club, where some of my greetings cards are for sale in the Pro Shop. We were trying to make a dog-golf photo for a card. Need more leaves on the trees, I think.
Linus, Charlie Brown, and Lucy sit for a photo during a recent walk in our woods.
What’s your go-to look for spring? As I sift through my closet for a cheerful floral something, I realize that my dogs have it all figured out: Perennial polka dots are Linus’ favorite, while Lucy likes fresh thigh-high stockings and the effortless straight-from-the-shower look. Charlie has mastered bed-head with a crust of something striping his coat.
It is mud season in Vermont. That glorious time when the world is one big puddle over a layer of decaying leaves and other unidentifiable matter. The mud is slick, thick, and smelly. My dogs are stoked.
The daily fashion show runway formerly my driveway features Linus wearing mud polka dots and dark socks. Lucy probably showered him with spots as she shook, making sure black dots were dispersed all over Linus’ light yellow hair. Lucy struts about sporting a more abstract print paired with her pond soaked golden locks. She leaves a gleeful trail of wet, muddy paw prints everywhere, like a flower girl tossing petals. Sweet Charlie resembles a tousled hair muppet exuberantly infusing the air around him with his latest eau de toilette creation.
Their enthusiasm for these spring looks remind me that it is too soon for white shoes. As for the leopard print trend, with enough paw prints, my once plain jeans have become fashionable. Sometimes, I miss the snow.
Charlie does a sit-stay
Linus with his longing gaze
Lucy in her Happy Place
An eft says “Hello”
Clouds blow in over the hayfield
Charlie steals my seat on our first “deck day” of the year
Fayston, Vermont. It’s snowing. Again. The streets haven’t been plowed or sanded. Large white, fluffy flakes swirl in the air, sticking to my windshield and covering up our tracks from our our morning walk, which was taken before most folks have had their coffee. I’m returning home after a mid-morning grocery and dog treat run.
Despite the snow, walkers are out. It is a holiday, after all. A young couple with an energetic Golden Retriever try to make him sit as I drive slowly by. Then, on my street, I see my neighbor, with a friendly wave. Just as I turn into my driveway, I spot another walker, a stylish woman with her ear to her phone trudging up the last hill of our street. Cautiously I made my way down my driveway as it is sometimes slippery under new snow. Cream on scream is what we call it in the ski school.
A happy yellow lab in a pink collar is running full smile down my driveway at my car. Not one of my dogs. I see her in time to stop, but I am shaken. I’ve never seen this dog before. I think perhaps she belongs to Phone Woman.
Not long ago, I had a run in with a seasonal neighbor’s three dogs, who came charging down their driveway into the street after us. I was walking with Lucy and Charlie, both leashed. Surprised, I slipped on the ice and let go of Charlie’s leash as I slid. Charlie charged back, pinning one of the dogs in the snowbank as the other two dogs stood a few feet from me and Lucy. The two neighbor’s dogs were growling and barking at us. Lucy was quiet and hid behind me. I quickly called off Charlie – the dog (bigger but younger than Charlie) was pinned but unharmed – which Charlie did, only to stand at the end of the neighbor’s drive and bark at said neighbor. No doubt scolding him. I picked up Charlie’s leash and pulled him along to the sound of my neighbor’s apologies.
Town is crowded with tourists and seasonal homeowners here for a ski holiday. Even though you are on vacation, please remember to leash your dogs while out walking the streets and trails. Even if your dog is friendly. Because my town has a leash law. Because Charlie will try to protect me. Because I might not be able to stop.
And if you’re driving on our scenic country roads, please slow down when you see us – or anyone else – out for a walk.
Podium shot: Charlie, Lucy, and Linus on the plow-created snow Mountain next to our driveway
Fayston, Vermont. It has been so cold that the snow left behind by storm Harper complains with squeaks and grumbles under my boots. Just suiting up for a short dog walk down the driveway is an epic adventure. The bundling up and unbundling take as long as the walk.
Linus won’t go outside. He stands on the threshold like an old man caught up in a memory, unsure of the present. I coax him outside with the promise of a cookie.
Charlie rushes out excitedly. But after about a minute, he freezes with one leg in the air as if tagged by an invisible “It.” Slowly, the raised leg lowers and is carefully placed on the ground. A different leg is haltingly held aloft. The deliberate leg exchange is repeated, resembling a dog version of Tai chi.
Lucy runs ahead, clearing the driveway’s giant snow bank in a graceful leap and landing a perfect bellyflop in a pillow of powder. She pops up snow-covered with her goofy golden grin and begs me to throw a snowball. I oblige. Many times.
Satisfied that Linus has relieved himself, we return to the house for cookies, and for me, a cup of hot tea.
Fayston, Vermont. …Just as long as we have we.” Words from Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas came to me as I relaxed into a recent late afternoon nap. I was tucked in by labby Linus, who back-spooned into my right side and put his head on my shoulder. Golden Lucy took my left side, and Charlie (aka Lord Wigglebottom) kept my feet warm. I hadn’t slept well for days. Then, after a trip to PT, I was so exhausted I declared a group nap.
I have some health issues that prevent me from sleeping well – and from skiing at all. While I’m going from doctor to doctor and X-ray to X-ray, through the tedious process that our healthcare system has become, I admit I haven’t always felt cheerful or even like leaving the house. Nothing life-threatening is wrong, and my pain is a mostly a result of my active life well-lived, but it still hurts both physically and mentally. However, I’m not allowed to sulk too long as the dogs make me get up and take walks. They remind me when it’s time to eat. They don’t care if I’ve haven’t showered or that I forgot to brush my teeth. I think they know when my pain is bad because they stay extra close, like in our nap.
At that moment when I drifted off to sleep as I was swaddled by my dogs, I felt lucky. Loved. Secure. My pack is with me. We have we.
I hope that you “have we” this holiday season.
P. S.The Ugly Sweater Party to benefit Golden Huggs Rescue at Prohibition Pig in Waterbury, Vermont is ON this Wednesday, December 19th. Pro Pig will donate $1 to GHR for every draft sold. Half price tacos for those wearing Ugly Sweaters, too. The fun begins at 5 pm.