Love Notes

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Lucy brings a big gift. Size matters...

Lucy brings a big gift. Size matters…

Fayston, Vermont.  Pretty much every day is Valentine’s Day when you have a dog. Here are seven ways they celebrate their love for you all year long:

  1.  They are always happy to see you. Even if you’ve only been gone two minutes, they are there, wagging. They greet you with a kiss. Many wet, sloppy kisses.

2. They want to be with you. Even if the bank didn’t give out treats, they want to go for a ride with you. Also, they want to make sure you are o.k. when you go to the bathroom.

3. They protect you by sounding the bark alarm. Squirrels and other rodents who wander too close receive a thorough scolding. Sometimes they even alert you when it’s windy outside.

Charlie Brown is a happy runner.

Charlie Brown runs happy.

4. They make sure you get some exercise. Every day. They remind you when it’s time to take a walk, and become really, really excited when you put on your BIG boots.

5. They make sure you take time for play. They interrupt computer time by bringing a ball. They grab a stick from the woodpile and make you chase them to take it away.

6. They bring you gifts. Sometimes it’s a stick (or several) for the wood stove, other times it’s something they’ve fetched from the trash. (They don’t have a problem with regifting.) Some dogs even bring you socks to make sure you go outside. (See number 4.)

7. They keep you close. They use you for a pillow. The larger the dog, the more lap they need. Even if you’re not all that big. If you leave the house, they hop the doggy gate to sleep on your bed. On your pillow, so you can share dreams. They leave traces of their love on all your clothing, especially your favorite black sweater – it’s their favorite, too!

I hope you celebrate your dog’s love by making sure you take a nice, long walk and spend time with them. Every day. That’s all they want. Well, some cookies would be nice, too.

Linus

Linus

 

P.s. Be sure to follow me on Instagram @skimor for daily photo posts!

I’d love to hear from you! If you want to leave me a love note;), or have any comments or questions, please use the form, below.

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A Better Travel Companion

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Waitsfield, Vermont. With the very affectionate Lily, and her people, Tom and Susanne Byrne at Better Travel in the Mad River Green Shopping Center.

Tom: Lily is a three and a half-year-old Goldendoodle.  She came from a breeder in East Montpelier.  We picked her up there, but her breeder’s actually in Pennsylvania.

Tom, Lily, and Susanne at Better Travel in Waitsfield.

Lily helps us in the office every day. She loves being the greeter.  And, she knows when I’m going to the bank: She hears me stamping checks and comes to my desk. She gets a treat when we go to the bank.

On Fridays, she comes with me to buy the Valley Reporter at their office. Roxie [another Goldendoodle, who has has been featured in wagmorevt.com] ignores her, but that Corgi puppy and Lily, they run all over the place, having a grand time!

This is a travel agency. Where are you going to spend the holidays?
Susanne: 
At home! We are looking forward to being together at home, just the three of us.

Editor’s note: Visitors are welcome at Better Travel. Stop by to say “hi” to the Byrnes and especially Lily – she will definitely brighten your day with an enthusiastic greeting. Also, if you have any training to tips to help stop a dog from jumping up on people, please leave them in a comment, below.  My Charlie was a jumper.  I would make him sit, then reward him.  It took some time, but he is (mostly) a reformed jumper now. “Sit” first doesn’t seem to be working very well with Lily – they have asked me to pass along their query to my readers. Lily is super friendly and energetic.  I will share your tips in a future post as well as with Tom and Susanne. Thank you!

 

Piling On The Thanks

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Linus on a hike at Mt. Ellen

Linus on a hike at Mt. Ellen

Fayston, Vermont.  I am thankful for Canadian television. Hockey is such a civilized alternative to American politics. Wish Wayne Gretzky had been born in the United States…

Evening couch-nesting – to watch hockey or Law & Order re-runs after an afternoon hike – is a choreographed event with my dogs. I take my place in the corner of the “L” sectional, once the domain of my son who’s away at college. Then Linus puts his head and shoulders on my lap. At about 75 pounds, he’s a big guy who likes hugs and cuddles. Lucy, who weighs a couple of pounds less than Linus, snuggles up against my lower body, her legs entwined with mine and her head on my knees. Charlie Brown, smallest of the pack at 45 pounds, takes up the spot by my feet, or on the cushion next to (and up against) Linus. I feel so lucky, every evening.

I think the dogs are thankful, too.

Take A Hike

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Charlie Brown on the trail.

Charlie Brown on the trail.

Fayston, Vermont. Hiking with dogs is something that happens daily at wagmorevt. If you go, here are a few practical tips to make a jaunt into the woods enjoyable and safe:

  1. Bring a trail map. Paper won’t give a low battery warning, but at the very least download a map on your phone. Service can be sketchy in the mountains. Read the map and plan your route before you go. Remember to sign in & out at the trail head, if asked. Always a good idea to let someone know where you’re going.
  2. Don’t head out into a storm. Check the weather. Know what to expect. Plan for the unexpected.
  3. Don’t go hungry. Pack water and a snack. Or two. Don’t feed the bears – don’t litter your snack wrappers. (If you are lucky to see a large creature in the woods, give them plenty of space.)
  4. Chuck T’s are not the best footwear choice. Wear supportive and waterproof shoes or boots and wool socks. The tougher the trail and the more stuff you are carrying (See #1 & 3), the more boot you will need.
  5. Make activity-appropriate wardrobe choices. Cotton t-shirts are best for channel surfing. A techy shirt will be a wicking layer on the way up so you won’t be a hot cold mess at the summit. Bring layers for changes in temperature and weather. Wear bright colors so you can be seen – by hunters and, well, if stuff happens, by rescue teams.
  6. Know the neighborhood. Check to see if hunting is permitted on your route. Avoid times of day when the hunted and hunters are most active, usually dawn and dusk.

    Creamsicle Lucy

    Creamsicle Lucy

  7. Orange is the new black. Put hi-viz colors on your dogs so you can see them and others can, too. (See #6.) Mudd+Wyeth’s Spot-the-Dog products are not only bright but have reflective strips or dots on them, too. (Unpaid endorsement – we use their products.)
  8. Sh*t happens. Pick up after your dog. No one wants to smell that on their shoes. Also, dogs love to roll in all sorts of yucky things. (Charlie Brown is particularly fond of spontaneous mud baths.) Have a towel handy at trail’s end. If the hike involves a drive, bring wet hand wipes for a quick clean-up before hopping in the car.
  9. Obey leash laws. Please. Use a collar and tags with identification and current contact information and/or microchip. This tip is from Captain Obvious, but someone will write me if I leave it off the list.

    Daedalea quercina, I think. If you know what this is, please contact me!

    Daedalea quercina, I think. If you know what this is, please contact me!

  10. Watch where you are going. Listen to the birds, not your headphones. Watch the sun’s position for direction and time clues. Notice the changes in vegetation and rock as you climb. Mind trail markers and enjoy the small details along the way: funky mushrooms and cool moss, hopping toads and crawling orange efts, and the variety of critter tracks. Enjoy the journey, not just reach a destination.

About #10. Last week, I took Lucy and Charlie Brown on our neighborhood loop hike that takes us down a dirt road, through a hayfield, then winds back around and up the hill on a trail in the woods before ending on a gravel drive that connects back to the dirt road and home. It’s about a 3.5-mile trek that is generally pretty easy, but the last half of the wooded trail is probably only used by us and the deer as it’s overgrown in many places. The trail doesn’t have any markers.

Near the end of the wooded trail section, I spotted a new path cut through the underbrush. Curious, I called back Charlie to follow this trail, thinking it linked up with other familiar trails further ahead. Lucy charged ahead to join Charlie as he darted back and forth, flushing grouse from the underbrush. They will sleep well tonight.

The new path turned then headed down a steep hill. Blue square steep. From the sun’s position, I knew I was moving away from home, but I kept descending on the trail. I was enjoying the quiet of the forest and a bit of an adventure. Finally, the path flattened out. A few yards through the trees, I saw a shed and a yard. I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I looked back at the path I just came down. I had to turn around. And climb back up that hill.

“Caw, Caw, Caw, HaHaHa,” laughed a crow, interrupting the quiet. “Very funny,” I replied wryly. I started back up the hill, and Charlie charged ahead once again.

Up, up, up I trudged. Sweating, I stopped to remove two layers down to my short-sleeved golf shirt. I checked my phone: No service. So no directional help. I wasn’t lost, though. I didn’t feel afraid. I knew I simply needed to retrace my steps to where I jumped from my original route, and I had plenty of daylight left. Near the hill’s top, the path went to the left, but Charlie started down an overgrown trail that split to the right. Toward home.

On the trail with Lucy and Charlie Brown.

On the trail with Lucy and Charlie Brown.

The trail was nearly covered by thorny underbrush, but the slender branches gently bent away as I walked through unscratched. Ahead, the sun broke through the canopy, illuminating a patch of bright green ferns on the forest floor. A signal to “go”, I walked to them. The ferns were thigh-high and soft. I ran my fingertips across the tops, like a lazy hand touching the water’s surface from a canoe adrift. The sun felt warm on my face. As I reached the end of the fern patch, I noticed a familiar hand-painted sign nailed to a tree. I will be on the gravel soon, then home.

I have seemingly endless time to hike as I lost my job a few weeks ago. This change in circumstance made me feel a little hurt and naturally angry, but mostly I didn’t know what to do with myself. I began a job search, cleaned my closet then my house, and baked cookies, but I was still feeling anxious and restless. I was lost.

Somewhere in the ferns, I found my way.