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dogs, photography, travel, Uncategorized

Lucy, Charlie Brown, and Linus in their orange vests on a recent walk in a Vermont state park. Their leashes are at my feet.

Fayston, Vermont.  My apologies for once again not sticking to my first-Wednesday-of-the-month schedule. Our power was out for a couple of days last week, and our internet was down for over a week. I’m finally back on-line with a new, faster modem. But leash lines, not power lines, are this post’s topic.

Do you carry a leash?

My town’s leash law allows dogs to be off-leash if they are under voice control. I have yet to meet a dog during our wanders who is actually that obedient. Admittedly, mine are intermittently obedient. Know that I love to let my three dogs off leash. It is wonderful exercise for them as they run at least three miles to each one I walk. They are very happy to explore and play with each other. I have a couple of places where I can do that without too much worry, but the best place is on my own property, which is mostly wooded and has a trail looping through it.

We are working on the command “come.” Each of my dogs does fairly well when I work alone with one of them, but when they are together, not so much. Linus and Charlie Brown have selective hearing. They are usually not far; they are too busy to come. We have much work to do.

When we are out (and my dogs are on leash), we occasionally encounter unleashed dogs. “Oh, he’s friendly” – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that line from an owner of an unleashed dog. That might be true, but one of my dogs is reactive.

Linus meditates…

Linus is not always friendly. He barks at dogs on t.v.  While we are working on that, too, it is the top reason I have him on a leash when we leave our property. It is also why I time my walks to avoid the other “regulars” in my neighborhood. Sometimes we meet, however, and it’s hard. My neighbors are extremely patient and understanding. 

So, while your dog might be friendly, another dog might not be – please keep that in mind when you let your dogs off leash on a public trail. Always carry a leash, and leash your dog when you come across others. Please.

Another reason for keeping dogs on leash during November in Vermont is because it is hunting season. My dogs look adorable in their orange bandanas and vests, but underbrush could conceal and camouflage them. A tired hunter might react simply to movement. To be safe, I keep my dogs leashed.

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Charlie perches atop a hay bale for a portrait

Third, some folks might not want to meet your dog, even if doggo is very friendly. About a month ago, I brought Lucy to the reservoir to swim. The park had just closed for the season, but it was a warm, sunny day. Lucy was on leash as we walked to the water. About 50 yards away, another woman was working with her young dog. The dog was much more interested in Lucy than the owner’s commands and treats. The lady persisted in struggling for his attention. Lucy was oblivious as she just wanted to swim.

Swim she did. I had brought my camera and started to take pictures. I noticed a hilltop that would provide a scenic backdrop for a Lucy portrait. After a bit of swimming, I leashed her to walk up the steep hill to see the view. At the top we were immediately and enthusiastically greeted by two off-leash black labs. Their owner was calling them to no avail. The meeting was friendly, but I was overwhelmed by our new friends. In the happy frenzy, I became tangled in Lucy’s leash between three large, wet, jumping dogs and was nearly knocked to the ground. The owner asked me not to unleash Lucy because her dogs had been attacked by off leash dogs.

Oh, the irony…

Lucy at the Waterbury Reservoir, post swim and Lab greeting

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Rescue Squad Leader

animal rescue, dogs, Interview, Uncategorized
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Cindy Thrasher, Golden Huggs Rescue (GHR) Foster Extraordinaire, at the GHR Yard Sale, July 22, 2017

Editor’s note: Although I adopted all three of my dogs through Golden Huggs Rescue, Cindy was not the foster for any of them – I had never met Cindy before the interview.  And, while this post has been percolating, National Mutt Day (July 31, 2017) came and went.  This post is dedicated to all those volunteers who work in animal rescue.

Shelburne, Vermont.  With Cindy Thrasher, a volunteer foster “mom” for Golden Huggs Rescue.  Cindy, who lives in Columbia, Kentucky, was recently in Vermont to support the GHR fundraiser held at Collette’s Furniture in Shelburne, and to visit with friends.

How long have you been with GHR?
I’ve been involved with GHR since 2009, but I was with Border Collie Rescue before that. So 11 years total in rescue.

What got you started?
A friend of mine at work had Border Collies, and she was involved with Border Collie rescue. I went to a shelter to assess a Border Collie for her, and I picked it up. Once I started doing it, I really felt it was my calling.  I didn’t know anything about rescue; I didn’t even know it existed. I knew that we had tons of animals in need. Since then, I fostered over 600 dogs and puppies.

What are some of your favorite stories from your rescue work?
Most of the dogs we get are strays, so they come with a lot of stories we don’t know. Sometimes we can tell physically or by behavior what’s happened to them. Some that are special are if they’re a senior and they get adopted, and they get a second chance at life.

Black dogs – since I’ve been with GHR, they’ve been pretty liberal with me about having black dogs on our site, even though they’re not golden retrievers or golden mixes – because of “black dog syndrome”, where big black dogs are the last to get pulled out of shelters and they’re the first to be euthanized. We see many more Labrador Retrievers where I live than Golden Retreivers because they use them for fowl hunting. We have tons and tons of pure-bred Labs and tons and tons of Lab mixes, and they tend not to get out. I try my best to keep at least one black in foster care at all times. They’ve [GHR] been very liberal with me allowing me to do that.

Everybody’s a great dog – eveerydog is perfect – for the right home. That’s why it’s so important for out adoption process, the way it works. Because we’ve had very few of mine that have had to be moved around after, and usually it’s the humans’ fault. Not the dog’s fault. It’s important for them to have their forever life.

Do you have any dogs of your own?
I have three that are permanent fosters that were deemed unplacable for behavioral reasons, and I have two Border Collies, and several mixed breeds at my house.

I keep about 18-25 dogs at a time. I try to move them on. I’ve had fosters for over a year because no one wanted them, but I always tell my board members that the right person comes for the right dog at the right time. I takes awhile sometimes.

I had one last year, she was wicked female alpha aggressive, so she wanted to attack all the females. You can’t place a dog like that everywhere – that’s not a dog park dog, a dog you can walk around the neighborhood. She lives in Massachusetts now. She’s stunning. Brilliantly smart. She’s an only dog in a fenced yard, and they love her.  She’s living a great life.

I commit to each one, whenever their life to be realized, realizes. I’m the only one they have. Many times, they’re moments before the euthanization. I was lucky to go to Maine and visit a couple who have adopted three dogs from me, two I had in foster for over a year. One I got from a shelter I stopped at on my way to somewhere else. It was 4:30 on a Friday. The vet was coming at 5 to euthanize everything there. There were 30 dogs there. I had to look at those dogs and know that they were going down. This one sticks out to me more than any because it so explains the plight of these animals. There were three little puppies in the crate next to her. I was getting the puppies because they were fluffy puppies and I knew we could place them.  She’s a red cattle dog mix, solid red, and she was reaching through the kennel, screaming at me. Like she knew what was going to happen. I’ve never heard anything like it, before or since. She’s never made that noise again. She was literally screaming to me to get her.  I couldn’t leave her. I had to walk away from 20-some others, but I couldn’t leave her. I had her for 13 months in foster. She’s not what people look for from us, but she’s got a great life now. She lives right on the ocean.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I just want to say our culture’s different down there. Human life isn’t valued much, and animal life isn’t valued at all. Animals are considered disposable. While there may be reputable breeders, most of the ones are from back yard breeders. They’re just doing it for the money. They don’t keep their dogs healthy. They adopt out dogs that are not spayed or neutered.  That just becomes more puppies that don’t have homes.

I would encourage anyone up here, if they have any influence at all, to push for Federal legislation for pet protection. KY ranks 50th in the nation for animal cruelty and neglect for 10 years in a row…

It’s a struggle. I encourage people to adopt rescue dogs because they are perfect. They may not be purebreds, but they are pure of heart.

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My Charlie Brown, center, with Golden Huggs Rescue volunteers at their fund raiser yard sale held last month at Collette’s Furniture in Shelburne, Vermont.  Thank you – your work makes a difference in the lives of so many dogs and their people!

If you have a comment or a story to share, please use the form, below.

And away we go

dogs, travel, Uncategorized
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Lucy studies the map.

Fayston, Vermont. For the first time in many years, my summer calendar is OPEN. Blank spaces for days and days. No work, at least not much. No events. At least none that I HAD to attend. No obligations. At least none that I’m aware. So when my mom asked me to visit her back home in Minnesota instead of her flying East, I said o.k.

What if I drove? I posed this question out loud one evening last March when my son was home from college. He said if I drove, he’d go, too. What? Really?! He said we could take our cameras and make a road trip out of it. Over the next several weeks, I kept asking him if he still wanted to go. I expected he’d think about all those hours in the car with mom and change his mind. He didn’t.

Well, you can’t leave me with three dogs all that time, said my husband. I can’t take them all to work with me.

Which one don’t you want to take to work? I asked. Lucy was his answer.

So now my trip home is a two-week road trip with my son Erik and dog Lucy on a route that will take us through Niagra Falls and a bit of Ontario. After several days with mom in Minnesota, Lucy, Erik and I will meet up with my dad and stepmom in Door County, Wisconsin before looping back through Ontario then Montreal, Quebec, then home to Vermont. I used the on-line AAA TripTik route planner, which made the task very simple.

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Sorry, Charlie. I will miss you terribly – we’ll Facetime! And you’ll have lots of fun with Linus. I’ll miss Linus, too.  Lucy’s not nearly as good of a lap dog.

Preparations have preoccupied me for weeks. I researched and read Canadian and U.S. information about crossing the border with a dog: Dogs must be in good health and a rabies certificate from the vet must be presented to the border agent along with payment of a $30 fee. I coordinated our plans with my parents, finalized our route, and then made hotel reservations at pet-friendly places that welcome bigger dogs. I also needed to attend to other travel details: obtaining a copy Lucy’s vet records (that was easy – thank you Dr. Roy’s office); arranging an oil change for my car; emptying a ridiculous amount of old photo files from my computer to make room for new photo files; changing some money so I have Canadian funds to pay the pet fee at the border; and shopping for a new pair of sneakers.

The car is packed. My camera battery is fully charged. And away we go!

I will post a photo gallery from our trip in next month’s article here on wagmorevt.com. For daily road trip photos, please follow me, @skimor, on Instagram!

Wagmorevt is two!

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Fayston, Vermont.  Thank you for following along with our adventures in the Green Mountains of Vermont.  To celebrate our second year of wagmorevt, here’s a video slideshow of some of the best of last year’s photos. Enjoy!

For daily photos, please follow me on Instagram @skimor, or search #wagmorevt.

If you have a comment to share or would like your dog to be featured (if you’re within 50 miles of the Mad River Valley in Vermont, I’ll come to you), please fill out the contact form, below.  

 

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.

Squad coaching

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The Squad: Lucy, Charlie Brown, and Linus

Fayston, Vermont. Linus can’t catch. He becomes so excited at the thought that food is coming his way that he misses the toss. Every time. Unless he’s lucky. His consistency in missing is remarkable.

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Linus on the hunt.

On New Year’s Eve, we took a short romp in the woods after I came home from a day of teaching skiing.  Once inside, I rewarded each dog with a small dog cookie.  Linus missed the tossed treat, as usual. The treat bounced off his nose, sailed through the air then slid across the floor coming to rest underneath the refrigerator. Linus excitedly tried to pry it loose as I watched, amused. Then I thought, what if Linus becomes stuck, too?  Dr. Roy would have another story to tell, but I’m sure I won’t like the bill. I reached into the cookie jar and pushed another cookie across the floor for Linus, which he hurriedly tracked down and gobbled up.

Meanwhile, Charlie Brown took Linus’ place at the refrigerator, trying to dislodge the cookie. After a few futile seconds, Charlie stopped. He sat down and looked up at me. “Can you help, please,” said his large thought bubble. I knelt down, removed the stuck treat, and handed it to Charlie.

Lucy stood by me, watching. Lucy is my star fielder. She catches everything tossed her way. Lucy is just as thrilled to catch a snowball as a carrot. Her movements are athletic and acrobatic: She seems to simply enjoy leaping. She radiates pure joy when she shags anything thrown for her.

I thought of how each of my dogs approaches a problem differently and the success of each technique. With the new calendar year beginning, I’ve been reflecting and planning. I also begin a new job this week. A lot of new things will be tossed my way.

Linus has shown me that it is exciting to be goal-oriented, but to be successful, one needs to slow down a bit. And, sometimes one needs a second chance. Charlie pointed out that it’s o.k. to ask for help after giving the task a good try.

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Lucy shagging a snowball.

As for Lucy, she reminds me to enjoy the leaping.

Special thanks to Lisa Loomis and The Valley Reporter for the lovely profile article about wagmorevt.com in the December 28, 2016, issue. ICYMI, read the article by clicking here: The Valley’s own dog blog

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.