Fayston, Vermont. Have you been out yet? Golden girl Lucy and I attended our first public event on the Fourth of July, a dog parade at Sugarbush Resort to benefit the Mad River Valley’s PAWSitive Pantry.
Before the event, I was nervous at the idea of being around a lot of people. Yes, I’m vaccinated, but still I’m wary. I worried that most people at the event would be people I don’t know from places not nearby, thus a risk of exposure to COVID. But I told myself that the dog parade would be a fitting homecoming. I worked at Sugarbush for almost ten years. Over a year had passed since I had been to the base area because I didn’t ski last season.
I was concerned for Lucy, too. I wasn’t sure how she’d react to a crowd after our confinement. Like her humans, she has been sequestered from other people – and other dogs – during the pandemic. However, Sugarbush’s New Year’s Eve dog parade was her first public outing as a puppy all those years ago. That year, my boss allowed me to leave work early to take her. He even made her a “staff” name tag.
I needn’t have worried. Lucy, true to her nature, loved every minute! Hands of all sizes reached out to pet her. Dogs sniffed their greetings and made her acquaintance without incident. She wagged enthusiastically the entire time. I loosened my grip on her leash and exhaled as small children gathered around her because Queen Lucy soaked up their adoration with gentleness and mutual affection. I swear she hugged them back. As we made our way over the parade route around the base lodge, I could feel my shoulders relax. My nervous smile became genuine.
After we came home, Lucy drank a bowl of water then fell asleep, snoring loudly.
With Lucy as my guide, I learned that it’s o.k. to come out now. It’s time to celebrate each other and our community. Hugs feel good. When I returned to one of my favorite places, surrounded by dogs and a few familiar faces, I experienced a restorative homecoming.
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.
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.
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. I am pleased to announce that I will be holding a pop-up photo show at Product Think Tank in Waitsfield, Vermont on Sunday, October 7 from 2-5 pm. “A Sheep Show: Photography by Rebecca Silbernagel” features photo portraits of sheep, along with a few cows, butterflies, and the local landscape. Also debuting will be my awesome line of greeting cards, which include one of each of my dogs. Product Think Tank is located in the Mad River Green Shopping Center, next to the Waitsfield Post Office.
Sometimes, things just happen. Several months ago, a friend of mine opened up a boutique of knitwear she designed. She asked me if I had any photos of sheep she could display with her lovely wool knits. Thanks to one of my readers who invited me to her sheep farm a couple of years ago, I did. But the prints I made were 8 x 10 (smallish), and I only made two if them. Would you like me to take more photos, I asked my friend. That’s when she had the idea for a pop-up sheep show, and I realized that I had a summer project.
If you are in Vermont, I hope you will stop by and say “Hello.” I will have photo prints ready for your frame and a few are ready to hang, plus my collection of greeting cards. See what you think of my portraits as you browse the beautiful knitwear in the shop.
Take your best shot at my Canicross Photo Booth
Have you tried the photo booth portrait shoot from last month’s post? I’d love to see your photos! If you haven’t had a chance to make your own photo booth, I will be at the 8th Annual Canicross Run/Walk in Williston on October 20. The event, organized by Long Trail Veterinary Center, will be at the Catamount Outdoor Center – this is the ONLY day dogs are allowed there. Choose either a 5K or 2.5 K distance, with or without your dogs. The event begins at 9:30 am and I’ll be there until almost noon. It is a fundraiser to benefit Golden Huggs Rescue (from where I adopted my pack) and the Catamount Outdoor Center. At the Photo Booth, I will be asking for additional small donations to Golden Huggs Rescue. For more information or to register, please click HERE
September is my favorite month because the days are usually warm and the leaves begin to turn. It’s still summer, but different: brighter, more flavorful. Here are a few photos from the last month.
Fayston, Vermont. I recently gave Charlie Brown a bath. At 10 pm.
As was our routine, dog-dad had let our dogs out before going to bed. He let them out into the yard, but not the fenced-in part – our neighbors are seasonal and mud season is not one of their seasons. Spring feverish, our three dogs took off into the night.
After a few minutes, Lucy returned home but Linus and Charlie did not. Dog-dad continued to call them, with each repetition growing louder and angrier. I came downstairs, grabbed my wallet and car key, then tapped the button to open the garage door. I hoped the sound of the door clanking up would bring them back, but I only heard the peepers. No familiar jingle of dog tags. At least I heard no more yelling.
I started the car and pulled out of the garage, crawling down the driveway and expectantly searching for Charlie and Linus in my headlights. Twenty five yards down they appeared, looking quite happy and excited, tails and tongues a-waggin’. They eagerly hopped in the car.
Charlie snuggled up against my neck. He smelled like he spent the night at a frat party. A wave of nausea hit me at the stench. Into the shower we both went.
In the morning, dog-dad and I agreed to keep the dogs in the fenced in part of our yard. I arrived at work tired. My mind had ruminated on “what might have been” and my sleep was restless. As I was settling into my morning coffee and emails, one of my co-workers announced that she had a sad story to tell me. She looked upset. Quite unexpectedly, she said, she had to say goodbye to her dog last night. We hugged and cried; their time with us is too short we told each other. She told me how her dog suddenly became very sick over the weekend. We cried some more.
Dogs are only with us for a short time. Make every day a good one.