The Tomato Thief, and Other Stories

dog training, dogs, humor, pets, photography, vermont

Charlie, Lucy, and Linus

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.

Holiday Revelry

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.

Charlie hears someone in the kitchen

Linus in the daisies

Happy Lucy

 

Blueberries

Butterfly in our garden

Three Top Tips for Cool Dogs

dogs, How-to, humor, pets

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

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Lucy enjoys our outside shower just for dogs. (The garden hose waters more than plants.)

 

Two: Install a pool

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Charlie is just ducky.

 

Three: Stay shaded

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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!

Rite of Spring

dogs, humor, pets, vermont

Charlie Brown

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.

YAWN from Linus

What All The Best-Dressed Dogs Are Wearing, Spring 2019 Edition

dogs, humor, pets, vermont

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

Mudpuppy Lucy

Charlie steals my seat on our first “deck day” of the year

Sound bites

dogs, pets, photography, Uncategorized, vermont

Linus, Charlie, and Lucy pose for a Father’s Day tribute

Fayston, Vermont.  “You know they all bark when you leave the house,” my son reported. “Even Lucy.”

My son is home from college for the summer.  My work schedule has become temporarily more demanding, so he’s been home with the dogs more than I this month.

“Linus sounds like he’s being tortured – it’s part howl, part bark,” he continued.

“Then Charlie chimes in with a high-pitched alarm bark. It’s annoying.

Lucy adds a low grunt, more of a mild complaint,” my son concluded.

“No wonder the neighbors don’t talk to us,” I replied.

“I don’t think so. Their dog barks, too,” he said.

“Do the dogs stop barking when you come downstairs?

“Yes, but sometimes not right away.”

This news surprised me because we take the dogs for a long walk in the morning before leaving. They are usually all sound asleep when I close the door behind me. Last spring, before my son came home, I forgot my phone and had to return to the house, only to find all three dogs asleep, right where I left them. They came to greet me blinking and stretching from being stirred awake.

But I am not usually gone as much once June hits. This year, however, household projects are left undone; vacation plans scrubbed; day trips canceled. I had to take a personal day so that I could accompany my son on a photo assignment for his internship. The extra money I make will be nice when the holidays come, and the end to my crazy schedule is near. But tell that to my dogs.

I look forward to setting my summer rhythm to the beat of tail thwapping. And less barking.

Photo Gallery

Linus at home

Osprey overhead, DAR State Park

Lucy on our morning walk, after a night of rain

Super Charlie in flight

Swallowtail Butterfly

Lucy, DAR State Park

Hay was cut on the very next day

Receiving line, Fayston

Old apple tree frames a very Vermont scene, Waitsfield

Linus in the lupines

What’s Your Dog’s Walk Profile?

dog training, dogs, humor

Each of my dogs has a distinct personality, even when confined to a leash

Fayston, Vermont. Despite the fact that spring seems slow in coming this year, my dogs and I are enjoying more time outside now that the snow is (mostly) melted. I am looking forward to walking on the hiking trails and public paths once those ways are dry enough for foot traffic. Meanwhile, we are meandering out on the roads, and I have noticed that each of my dogs exhibits at least one “walk profile” type when on a leash. Others have told me about their dogs’ distinct behavior while leash walking.

Recently, I devised a set of “walk profiles” to categorize dog behavior while on a leash.  The profiles are not exclusive to each other – dogs may show characteristics from more than one profile. Dogs may also morph from one category into another completely. Training is the biggest variable, but weather may also have a role in which behavior is exhibited. Equipment such as a special harness or lead also plays a part in behavior.

What type of “walker” is your dog?

  1. The Investigator. This dog loves to sniff EVERYTHING, even if the walk is on the same route taken earlier in the day. All of the day’s news is contained in the grass, but it takes time to weed out the gossip from the important stuff. This dog is thorough and curious as well as social. Perhaps even a little stubborn… Motivating to move along can be a challenge.
  2. The Fire Chief. Works a little faster than the Investigator, but is sure to put out each inflammatory remark with his own stream. The Fire Chief boasts an amazing reservoir to ensure coverage.
  3. The Motion Detector. Chases blowing leaves, butterflies, birds, and moving squirrels, the Motion Detector is energetic and enthusiastic. The Motion Detector needs frequent “SIT” time-outs to collect herself while on a leash. Can be difficult to handle in a wind gust.
  4. The Collector. Souvenirs of every walk line the driveway: sticks, dropped rotten apples, and even big branches are picked up and carried by the Collector during the walk and dropped once back at home. Sometimes these items are held in the mouth while in Motion Detector mode (see above). A collected item often serves as a pacifier. The Collector is known to carry multiple items at the same time. Caution: Large collected items can become a club – “drop it” is a good command to avoid being hit behind the knees with a large stick.
  5. The Tugboat. Harnessing the power of this type of walker is necessary, and with training, the Tugboat can become a well-mannered Pleasure Cruiser. The Tugboat is out in front, excited at being outside and stimulated by all he sees. His specialty is pulling arms: Avoid injury by using a no-pull harness/lead and engaging the tugboat in training to stop his pulling.
  6. The Hunter. Similar to the Motion Detector, but instead of chasing movement, the Hunter is scenting rodents. Squirrels, chipmunks, and gophers better beware if the Hunter is off-leash. The Hunter type is often paired with the Tugboat type, so a harness and training help keep hunting season closed during leash walks.
  7. The Pleasure Cruiser. With training and frequent positive reinforcement, this is the height of evolved dog walk behavior. The Cruiser is focused on his or her handler, does not pull or lurch or jump, and makes exploring the neighborhood a joy of companionship. Each of my dogs has flirted with this walk type, but none has committed fully to it. Yet. Our pursuit of Cruiser-ability is on-going.

What type of walker is your dog? Do you have any other types in your house? Please leave a comment!