Sunday, April 19, 2015

A New Hike in Pawtuxent State Park

This weekend was our first blast of nice warm weather, and we managed to spend most of it outside. 

Saturday was Zimbabwean Independence Day, and we brought dad to a celebratory picnic.











There was a lot of meaty food, which dad loved, and a lot of really nice people. We had a nice, social time, made some new Zimbabwean music friends and played some mbira music ourselves. 

After such a social day, Sunday was the perfect day to just get away somewhere with the dogs. Florian's favorite part of Pawtuxent State Park was closed all winter, so he was excited to find it open.

The park is huge and goes along the Pawtuxent River, which at this point is wide and calm, like a lake. 













Lots of really cool rocks to climb and explore, or just sit on in the sun. 

This is a popular area for fisher people, so we passed a few of them enjoying their idyllic, harmless, peaceful pastime of sticking a hook through an innocent creature's lip and yanking it into a medium in which it cannot breathe, all for sport. I also picked up long tangled masses of fishing line just waiting for wildlife to die in, along with broken beer bottles and charming plastic containers that once held bait. 

Once we passed the fisher people on our way along the river, the trail got more wild and we saw no one. Time for the pups to go off leash and get nice and wet. 

Though we've been to the Pawtuxent many times and there's nothing particularly exciting about it, this hike had a particular joy to it. The warmth, the sun, and especially the remoteness of the trail as we got away from the parking lot, and the knowledge that the dogs cold run and get wet as much as they pleased, unmolested. 


Fozzie loves to chase sticks into the water, and Dahlia usually follows him. 


There was plenty of evidence of wildlife. 



We saw a bunch of trees that had been chewed through by beavers. My spirit does a little dance of triumph whenever I see evidence of beavers, those little keystone species whose labors create habitat for other species as they build natural dams that flood the banks in some areas and create variability and diversity in the riparian ecosystem. 












Another little triumph--we saw an enormous sneeks! 

Not a triumph for Florian, who is so terrified even of the harmless black water snakes--which he refers to, in the singular, as "a sneeks"--that he screamed like a girl and then stood behind me, clutching my shoulders and jumping up and down. 

But I enjoyed watching our coiled, hissing friend scoot into the water, as I contemplated the enormous number of mosquitoes he or she is no doubt responsible for eliminating. 

Far back along the trail, the river narrowed and became rocky and even more beautiful, 

and we had to watch out even more for sneeks because according to our resident expert, they love to hide in rocky areas near the water and just wait for him, ready to spring. 

No more sneeks though, just lots of mud so we had to throw some more sticks to get the dogs to rinse off. Fozzie was happy to oblige, but Dahlia had to be coaxed in, and then scrubbed.

Why is mud so much more appealing than clean water? We'll just never know.

But eventually, both dogs were rinsed and we returned to the car and returned home, everyone contented and sleepy.

This felt like a perfect way to spend Earth Day weekend, peacefully enjoying nature, getting muddy, and celebrating beavers. And running away from a sneeks! How did YOU celebrate Earth Day? 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dogswell Happy Hips Salmon Jerky from Chewy.com

Our latest score from Chewy.com was some Dogswell Happy Hips Salmon Jerky



I used to try often to get treats with glucosamine for Lamar to help his arthritis. Fozzie and Dahlia have no hip problems as of yet, but I thought that with salmon jerky you really can't go wrong tastewise so why not give them a try. 

To test out these treats, first of course we did the usual. 

The dogs were eager to do their Swiss ball exercises, their rapt attention on the treats.











Then we decided to really put these treats to the test by bringing them on a walk. 

Our springtime walks have been a real adventure lately. We have the good fortune of living right near a little woods that connect two school yards, and lately the woods have been full of bunny rabbits and deer. The other day, there was a fox on the trip who followed us a little way, and this nature momma ran the other direction in terror as I tried to keep Fozzie and Dahlia distracted.

Because when Fozzie sees a squirrel or a cat, all 85 pounds of pure muscle rears up on the leash and barks and yodels and lunges, while a compact bullet of Dahlia attacks Fozzie's neck with gusto. 

On this walk, we got to the edge of the woods without mishap and then Fozzie got that look in his eye and I peered into the woods to see two big white tails fleeing through the trees. 

Let's whip out those Salmon Jerky snacks! They apparently smell really good because I had Dahlia's attention almost immediately.  










Fozzie took a little longer, 

but once I had his attention he zeroed in on my hand and didn't look away.














That is the mark of a really high-value, good-smelling, super-tasty treat: a treat that can get Fozzie's attention even in the face of fast-moving prey species. 

The other nice thing I noticed is that having a really good treat after a high-stress encounter seems to cool everything down and let the dogs come to focus and calm.  

So as we continued on our walk and passed the house of our friend Oliver, the boxer whom Fozzie and Dahlia get a bit excited about every time we pass, all I had to do was reach toward the treat pocket and both dogs were sitting at attention. 

Oliver is the brown blob behind the fence in the background
I notice that overall, when I have a really high-value treat in my pocket, the whole tone of the walk is more calm and manageable and the dogs are more responsive and attentive. 

It's like they know when paying attention is really worth their while. 

Thanks again chewy.com, you make some rockin' training aids. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Florian's birthday extravaganza

For Florian's birthday a couple of weekends ago, we decided to really live it up and go on an overnight trip. Let's go to Berkeley Springs, I thought, and we'll have a thoroughly romantic, relaxing hiking, soaking in the mineral baths, maybe getting a massage and staying at a nice B & B or a rental cabin.

When we got to Berkeley Springs, we continued through the town and stopped at Cacapon Resort State Park. It was chilly, so no one was around and we could let the dogs run like wackos. 

Something about Berkeley Springs just makes me so happy, maybe because every time I've been there I've had a really good time. 

The first time was in 2009, when my sister rented a house near the Cacapon and my whole family stayed there. 


The hikes and scenery are amazing, and the town has all these groovy little shops full of Tibetan clothing and fragrant soaps and nifty hippie stuff that is right up our alley.

With the dogs nice and tired, we felt pretty good leaving them in the car while we went to go check out the shops and buy some aromatherapy body spray. Then it was getting into evening, and we were thinking about finding a restaurant and a relaxing, pretty room with a jacuzzi in one of the many spas in town.

But that would have required staying in one place for a while. Silly me! This was a weekend with Florian, and that was out of the question. Back in the car, off to another town closer to where we wanted to hike the next day, and to a Motel 6 next to a strip mall and a really good Thai restaurant.

We love Motel 6. Always pet friendly, with no pet fee! And the rooms have wood floors, how cool is that?













The next day, we were close to Williamsport which is right next to the Potomac. Breakfast in a nifty little independent cafe and then a hike along the C & O Canal.

I love the C & O canal trail, with the water right next to it, but it was a bit tranquil for Florian. So off to our next hike, the Washington Monument State Park along the Appalachian Trail.
It was fun to see the through-hikers, with their scruffy faces and enormous packs, and neat to see the little shelters they stay in for the months they are on the trail.










A nice trail up to the monument, which was at the top of a hill.
It's the first completed monument dedicated to George Washington, built by the citizens of Boonesboro in 1827.

Great views from the top





and a good place to enjoy the sun and relax a minute.


before descending inside the nifty stone tower.


Another whirlwind trip with Florian and the pups! Maybe we'll get to that hot tub for his 80th birthday.  

Monday, April 6, 2015

Heading out of winter

Finally on the East Coast we are getting to the point where it is not just not unbearably miserably cold, but its actually kind of pleasant and nice to be outside. A couple of weekend ago, Florian pulled out our book of hikes in the Baltimore area and found one that was supposed to have some cool ruins. 

The Patapsco River is one of those huge rivers with trails and recreation areas all along it. 











Finally, a warm enough day for the dogs to get in the water, get their paws a bit wet 



and get a drinkie











There was much rejoicing. 

It was a flat trail but still beautiful, 

with the water right next to the trail 













And eventually, a number of cool ruins. 

I know it was kind of disrespectful but it's hard to be too upset about a graffito of a large, good-natured banana. 

I have to admit, I'll be happy when there's a bit more green to enjoy on our outings. 

In the meantime, you have to appreciate the wacky things nature sometimes does.




That was fun, guys! Now its time to rest. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Fashion for Paws and the Bumper Sticker You Can't Live Without

As you know, every foster dog I've had since Sandy came from the Washington Humane Society, the DC area's open-admission shelter. I really love working with this shelter. They are really committed to helping as many animals as possible, even when it requires complicated medical care and a lot of behavioral rehabilitation. And, they are just really, really friendly, as well as humorous and supportive to their volunteers.

So this year I decided to try to help out WHS in another way in addition to fostering--by volunteering as a fundraising runway model for the Fashion for Paws Runway Show! In exchange for raising as much as I can for the shelter, I get to walk down the runway at a wild fashion show on May 2 in DC. 

To convince everyone that this is a cause you really need to support, I'm offering one-of-a-kind bumper stickers that I made MYSELF (with Fozzie's help) to everyone who donates! 

Yes, these wacky bumper stickers proclaim to the world your appreciation for those cool, fresh noses 











and those paws that smell like savory, crunchy, toasty baked corn snacks. 




Yes, of course you need one of these.












Any donation of $10 or more at my Fashion for Paws page gets you either the Cool and Fresh bumper sticker



or the Toasty Fritos, 



and a donation of $20 or more gets you both! And if you need another reason to stick one on your car, Cool and Fresh features a photo of Fozzie's nose.

Toasty Fritos is 3" round and Cool and Fresh is 3.75" x 5.65."

Email me at peacefuldog [at] yahoo [dot] com to let me know you donated and your sticker preference--and your address! 

And if you're in the DC area, you don't want to miss the Fashion for Paws event May 2 at the Grant Hyatt Washington! You can buy your tickets here too.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Evanger's Wild Salmon Freeze-Dried Treats from Chewy.com

I'm a bit late to put up my March Chewy post, which means that many of you
already know about the taste sensation that is Evanger's Wild Salmon Freeze-Dried Treats



Well you really can't go wrong with freeze-dried treats. And these in particular have a ...potent... smell that I can imagine, if I were a dog, would make them irresistible. 


Given that I am a human, these are the kind of treats that I encase in several layers of plastic before I put them in my pocket.






Which I did, and then Fozzie and I went for a walk in the snow. 

Emerging from the wooded path into the park we go to, there were some dogs off in the distance but these treats kept Fozzie's attention just fine.










Back on the porch, Fozzie was intrigued enough to tolerate the proximity of the nail clippers

But we still had to take it slow. 

Not even these foul-smelling salmon treats were enough to convince him to sit still for a full nail clip.











With a less anxious dog though, I think Fozzie and I can provide an enthusiastic endorsement. 

Evangers wild salmon treats would make the perfect high-value adjunct to your training and desensitization program. Thanks again Chewy!




Sunday, March 15, 2015

Baby Girl is Back Home!

As you know from that notorious Post That Shall Not Be Named, Dahlia's been at the shelter for two weeks getting treatment for an incision that ripped open and then became horribly infected, requiring a bandage that was actually sutured to her butt and had to be changed every day. 

For two weeks I thought about everything she'd been through and just wanted to know that she wasn't in pain. Last weekend when Florian and I went to the shelter to see if we could visit her, we were told that the wound was still pretty big but that she was doing well, and lots of staff and volunteers were smitten with her sweetness and took time to cuddle and comfort her. 

We were afraid of upsetting her so left without seeing her, which made our reunion when I did go pick her up on Friday all the sweeter. In the shelter, the staff were so sweet and applauded when I got there, and then they brought Dahlia out and she climbed up on my lap and kissed me again and again. 

She is supposed to be on crate rest, 

so we're keeping her there when there's the potential for her to get really excited. 











But her wound looks really fantastic. When I got her home Friday night it was looking a little oozy, so I put Granulex spray on it the last two days and now I just can't believe how well healed it looks. 








And that's the last time I do that to you, I promise.

She is still a little bouncing bean, though continuing her gradual trend toward less hyperactivity. On Sunday, when we had a nice sunny day, it was so great to just let her enjoy some time in the sun with her buddy Fozzie


and then to again have her ridiculously loud snores right by my side. 
I'll say it again, there is nothing quite like a petite snoring pittie pup. 

Welcome home, baby Dahlia! Maybe now I can get some sleep too. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Momentarily Terrifying Hike

While Dahlia recovers and stays at the shelter for her daily bandage changes, we had the chance to take a hike with just one dog and enjoy the remaining snow before it all melts this week (we hope). Florian drove me and Fozzie up to the Pawtuxent River near the Triadelphia Reservoir. A great choice, because there was absolutely no one out there and it turned out to be a beautiful trail undulating over the hills near the river. 

After descending the first of those hills, we got to the river and of course Fozzie, being a dog, ran right out to the edge of the ice. 

And if that photo gave any of you a strong premonition of something about to go awry, give yourself two points for an accurate sixth sense. Indeed, Fozzie fell right through the ice. 

Now Fozzie is a strong swimmer, and immediately started trying to find a way out, swimming to the left of where he'd fallen in. 

Off to the right the ice tapered off close to the bank, so my first thought was to try to get him to swim that way. Despite his panic, I could see him listening to us and trying to follow directions but when he turned around and swam right he got stuck in the hollow created when he fell through. 

Couldn't stand watching that for long. Next thing to do was to inch out to the edge of the ice and grab him. The look of relief on his face when he saw I was going to help him was absolutely priceless and pure Fozzie. Of course then the ice broke and I joined him right in the freezing water, which fortunately was not very deep. I was able to easily boost Fozzie up onto the thicker ice, and then Florian gave me a hand and pulled me out too. 











A chilly adventure! And a bonding experience with my Fozzie. 











Who then decided to dry himself off by rolling around in the snow.





Which apparently worked for him, but I was soaked from sternum down. But it was too nice a day to cut short our hike, and fortunately the sun was shining and after the first few minutes I didn't feel too cold. 

It was good to get up some hills and away from the water


where we could enjoy some majestic views and get a good workout trudging through the snow. 

Then back down to the water's edge for a while, this time with a certain young man on his leash!

Whew, that was an adventure. Fozzie and I will sleep well tonight, in our warm dry bed.