Saturday, July 16, 2011
Friday, July 1, 2011
WEATHER REPORT: Wow! Have we EVER been lucky with the weather for our Friday hikes so far. If it rains, it pours so there’s been that ONE cancellation, but...the rest of our Fridays have been EXCELLENT and today’s weather was no exception. Clear blue skies, plenty of sun and temps that didn’t faze the dogs one bit: we’ll take it!
LOCATION: Today we hiked in two great spots - Fuller Farm in Scarborough and Pratt’s Brook in Yarmouth. BOTH were exceptional and we didn’t run into a single human being or dog in either place, so we had them all to ourselves!
You already know all about Fuller Farm and I still highly recommend you take a trip out there. Your dogs will show you all around! Pratt’s Brook is yet another AMAZING find and we will be going back there regularly. We could’ve stayed and played for hours today, but the dogs were tired from the earlier jaunt at Fuller Farm. To find Pratt’s Brook, take Rte One through the center of Yarmouth. Go past the Hannaford Plaza on Rte One (McDonald’s is in the corner of this mini mall), go under the overpass for 295 and then take a LEFT at the light just after that. You’ll go up a little hill to a two-way stop. Take a RIGHT and then a quick LEFT onto NORTH ROAD. Go about a mile or two and look for the sign for the trailhead and parking area on your RIGHT. Plenty of parking and a kiosk with site map await you. My advice is to LOOK at that map and decide on your route before entering. There’s a lot of trails in there and we sort of lost our way momentarily before finding our way back out!
The terrain at Pratt’s Brook is quite easy to hike....more of a woods walk than a mountain hike for sure! You can wear Teva or Keen water sandals, athletic shoes or hiking boots and you’ll be fine in any of them. We wore long pants for bug protection and were glad we did. Bug spray is recommended....for your dog as well!
NEW PACK LEADER: Today we had Pack Leader In Training (PLIT) Brody Cullenberg along for his first hike. He's fresh from the streets of Istanbul, Turkey where he just spent five months doing a semester abroad. He was an excellent navigator in the car as well as in the woods. The dogs all loved having him along and want him to come back and hike again next time. Since he's getting paid....he most likely will! Thanks, Brody, for being such a great helper today.
HIKER REPORTS: Oliver Fluffy Mix had his FIRST hike today! He won’t be a regular part of the Friday group, but joined us today as an audition to be sure he could handle being out off leash with a group. He’ll now hike with the DWD small adults on Mondays. Oliver had some fear of crossing bridges and we got him through that eventually (many bridges to cross). He lost his off-leash privileges for ignoring our recall requests and heading into someone’s yard and garage at Fuller Farm. He dragged a leash the remainder of the day and was excellent and obeyed recall from there on out. He had a blast and was in the front of the pack with Lyla most of the day. We think he'll make a fine little hiker with his Monday class!
Molly Morkie was so happy to have her pal Ollie along today. She’s not seen him in a while and today she had him all to herself. Of course, she prefers to stay at the back of the pack near me, so they only played when we stopped to rest, etc. Sometimes Ollie would walk with her when he wasn’t at the front of the pack. Molly went swimming again! Yay....she loves the water. She got independent after a couple of hours and stopped traveling alongside my ankle, which is always wonderful for her. She had some serious fun chasing and being chased when we stopped at the watering holes!
Lyla Greyhound/Min Pin Mix will now be a regular Friday hiker and we’re happy to
have her aboard! She always blazes the trail ahead of us and she’s super-reliable on recall. I trust her immensely and she never lets me down. She loves treats so comes running whenever I squeak my toy for her! She loves everyone in the pack, but keeps away from the wild young Rosie because she’s afraid to get hurt I think. Lyla went in the water a lot today....not swimming but definitely wading and running along the shallow areas. Great to see...
Angus Cairn Terrier is an excellent swimmer and keeps right up with the Labs. He had yet another fabulous hike today and we trust him off-leash for sure! He did have one bobble....when we took a wrong turn at Fuller Farm and the trail ended at someone’s horse farm! Angus went right under the fence and went in to say hello to the horses. Brody was able to coax him (and Lola too) back out. Silly! Angus can sometimes be pesky in the back seat because he MUST have a window seat. Molly didn’t like being stepped on by him, lol! Angus is terrific to have aboard and he is totally in his element in the woods. Oh by the way....umm...Angus got a Benadryl before we left in the morning by accident. I was attempting to give it to Lola in a piece of cheese but she was refusing and I dropped it. You-know-who was right there and snatched it and swallowed it right up. Damn! But he wasn’t harmed and was his normal self all day.
Lola Sharpei-Boxer Mix had a lovely time today. There’s absolutely NO WAY I’ll be able to give her Benadryl, though. She won’t eat anything I’ve tried. So, she’ll have to have it before leaving home on future hikes. I don’t feel comfortable having her with us if she’s not had it, honestly, and it’s not something that’s going to leave her feeling drugged out or lethargic, so I’d just as soon have her take it as a precaution. I will carry a bottle of LIQUID Benadryl with a syringe-type dispenser for emergency use. In any event, Lola didn’t have a reaction to bug bites today, thankfully. On the trail, she’s ridiculously energetic and veers off the trail regularly, usually with little Lyla following or leading. We trust Lola to return to us, but she did have a hard time resisting the urge to join the horses in their corral and we had to coax her back out! Silly girl, she wanted to play cattle dog!! Lola got in the water a lot and she also laid down in a mud puddle or two with Tonya and Rosie. Lola is making good friends with the rest of her pack and you can see how much she enjoys being with all of us. Awwww.....
Duke Puggle is just the BOMB on our hikes. He was the object of Rosie’s affection all day, and that’s a big job for a Puggle! She was all over him all day, wanting to wrestle and bite him and wanting to take his sticks and wanting to get on his back in the water. Seriously, Rosie?! Duke takes it all so well and just keeps on trucking. Duke had a new experience in the car today....he got to ride in the “way back” with some of his pals on the way home! He did okay...only whining for Auntie Ju Ju a little here and there. I got some great photos of Duke practicing his balance beam act for his next gymnastics meet. He managed to walk gingerly across a stream on a downed tree limb...and it was skinny...and he ALMOST made it w/o falling in!
Rosie Black Lab is officially a teenager. She was impish and wild and rough here and there. We’re giving her a warning today! All of her pals can only take so much, after all. Rosie has boundless energy and she’s all over everyone all day. They are mostly indulgent and tolerant of her, but once in a while they yell at her in annoyance. She tends to rip down the trail when she’s excited (which is most of the time) and takes out the smaller ones, who now step aside in fear when they know she’s on the way. Good news, everyone....Rosie gets spayed on Tuesday and that might simmer her down a bit. Let’s not forget she’s the BABY of the group, even if she is one of the largest now. And she means well. And she LOVES all of you so much, doggies!! Rosie swam like a champion with the best of the swimmers today...even if she did try to climb on Auntie Tonya’s back and drown Angus with love while doing it! Good grief... Rosie is good in the car. She always rides in the “way back” and we do our very best to wear her out for the ride home. Thankfully she’s better on the leash than DUKE is, so she gets extra points for that...
Anabelle Sheltie gets another Gold Star hiking award today. Anabelle is never a moment’s trouble on our hikes. She ALWAYS gets to sit near Casco in the car because she’s nice to him. She keeps everyone happy when we stop for play time in the woods because she flies around and wants everyone to try and catch her as she nimbly jumps tree trunks and water obstacles along the path. She takes treats very gently (Rosie, please take lessons from her!) and doesn’t hurt our fingers. And she indulges us by wearing a bandana around her neck, even though she really doesn’t want to. THANK YOU, Miss Anabelle, for being such an amazing presence on our hikes. The joy that Anabelle gets from being in the woods and keeping us all in line is evident. And, she’s pretty special to Uncle Mike, who always brings her home last so he can have her little head on his shoulder for a little while as they travel to her home at the end of the day.
Tonya Bernier should get a special mention today, and I hope you all take time to read her paragraph as well as Casco’s. Tonya is just an amazing Momma dog for our hikes. She is quiet and steady on the trail. She never yells at Rosie when Rosie insists on kissing her for the 100th time each hour. She sits and waits for her treats and
doesn’t expect special treatment because she’s so pretty or because she’s the owners’ fur daughter. She supervises all the young-uns swimming lessons, and she’s just the best car traveler, sitting and napping on the floor of the back seat so Angus and Casco can have the window seats. THANK YOU, Miss Tonya, for being all that you are. We love you to pieces.
Casco Bernier has also been a wonderful presence on our hikes, but we have a very sad announcement to make: today, he is giving up his bandana and retiring from our program. He just can’t keep up with the young dogs on the trail, try as he might. He has tried to keep it from us, but today, he was limping and when we’d stop for the kids
to swim or play, he would lie down on his side and really had us worried. His exhaustion was too much for us to bear and we’ll be allowing him to stay home on the couch from here on out. He will celebrate his 10th birthday this summer and we always knew that this time would come eventually. We’ll miss our boy so much on our hikes!! XOXO Casco!
ABSENT: Jethro Choc Lab and Addie Schnauzer will rejoin our program after the school vacation next week.
DWD is closed from July 4 through July 8. We look forward to seeing our Friday Hikers again on July 15! Sadly....there will be NO video of our hike this week, as my iMovie program is acting up. I will TRY to get this fixed over my vacation. I know how much you all love the videos, believe me!!
Friday, June 17, 2011
Today we went back to Pleasant Mountain in Fryeburg for another splendid hike. It was the first time for a couple of our newest hikers, and they loved it just as much as the rest of the gang! We hit the trail at 9:45 a.m. and got back to the car at about 1:15 p.m., so we had a solid 3.5 hours of hiking. Mike and I were very sweaty by the time we got to the top! Lots of very interesting things happened along the trail today...
The gang treed a chipmunk and they were quite proud of themselves. Angus, Lyla and Jethro were among the leaders on this hunting expedition. I got one decent photo of our little chippy pal, and he was shaking a bit!
Mike and I spotted a snake on the trail and we took video and photos of it...even getting one with its red tongue (ewwww) jutting out at us. The dogs were completely unaware of its presence, nearly stepping on it!!
The bugs (black flies as well as mosquitos) were out in swarms today and that made the hike difficult for the humans and a few of the dogs as well. Tonya kept rolling around on the ground for relief and we sprayed her with our own human bug spray. Lola has hardly any fur on her face and the bugs really attacked her. She swelled up with hives toward the end of the hike and we were incredibly worried about her. She dipped herself in the water and dragged her face on the ground, poor dear. We think she might be allergic to bug bites and hope her vet can provide some relief for her, as we are too afraid to bring her back out on the trail until we have some advice and a plan.
When we got to the summit, we were greeted by a lovely swarm of dragonflies. They are wonderful to see because they eat the mosquitos and black flies!! Yay! You will see a lot of them in our summit photos today! We also encountered two couples on the summit. Jessie and Rosie were all over one couple, who I think were finishing up their lunch! We had to put leashes on them to keep them from ruining our reputation on the mountain.
We had no trouble with showers, thunder or lightning while hiking, thankfully. Almost everyone is swimming now, and Angus was just a total joy to watch in the pools at the bottom of the waterfalls. He loved it! Jessie and Rosie are getting the hang of it, and in the photos you’ll see all FIVE of our Lab hikers swimming together. No surprise there. You can see Casco giving the babies the eye, though. He didn’t want to serve as a life preserver for them!
We had a few mud hens among our pack today. Jessie and Angus and Sophie found a nice mud hole to roll around in. Jessie was black up to her shoulders! I think perhaps the mud provided a bit of relief from the bugs....but boy, did it stink!!
Speaking of stinking....we had a gassy dog in the car today, and wouldn’t you know it, she was sitting right on my LAP! We had Lyla Italian Greyhound/Min Pin Mix with us today as a favor to her momma, and she had the worst gas on both the trip up and the trip back. Thanks, Lyla, for your contribution!! Lol...
We had a case of “human error” with our seating arrangements for today’s hike. Won’t make that mistake again! We decided to try having all the dogs in one area by folding the back seats forward and moving the safety gate behind the front seat. Well, what that did is allow Jessie to try and wrestle with Rosie the whole way to Fryeburg. And when they got done with that, they decided it would be great fun to try and chew the seat belts, the bed liner, etc. Duke joined in on the wrestling, too. The older dogs were very unhappy with all of this. They just wanted to rest and relax while waiting to get to our destination. We even had to move Casco up to the front seat (imagine CASCO on the floor in front of my passenger seat) because Jethro was squishing him and he was crying and threatening to jump out the window. So, it was a mistake, as I said, that we corrected before loading everyone back up for the ride home. Nice, quiet ride on the way home....despite having to stop five times along the way to check on Lola to be sure she was comfortable and breathing normally (due to the swelling/hives).
Anyway, ALL of our hikers are fantastic once we hit the trail. Jessie is a monster on a leash, though, and this made it really challenging for Mike on the bottom portion of the trail when ALL our hikers except Casco and Tonya go on leashes. He had six dogs and I had five on leashes. Jessie nearly pulled his arms out. Not sure what we can do about that.....but it was really challenging not to fall over or get hurt.
Everyone stayed together at all times. Sometimes Lola and Lyla would wander on either side of the trail, but they always came when called or signalled with the squeaker. Lyla LOVED the food rewards. Sophie labored a bit coming up the trail, but that’s likely normal for her breed and we stopped a lot to be sure she had herself under control. She loves to hike! Addie was wonderful yet again and is just terrific all day long. Duke is probably our happiest hiker all day long. He can’t resist eating grass and chewing sticks all the way up....and all the way down. He and Rosie fight over sticks and then Angus comes over and settles things by stealing the stick. Perfect.
Angus continues to amaze us with his love for the trail, and now for the water, too! I just love to watch this boy swim! Molly continues to grow in confidence and had a wonderful time today. She follows Mike now as much as she follows me! Love it! And she’s spending more and more time NOT velcro-ed to our ankles. Yay!
We cannot say enough good things about our Anabelle, who has grown very attached to Mike. She loves their personal time in the car when she’s the last to get dropped at her house, leaning on Mike and wanting a little petting. How adorable is that? And we truly love having her herd the entire pack as we move up the trail. She is at her best in the woods, as are many of our hikers.
Jethro is all about the food as well as swimming and thrashing through the brush beside the trail. He is a front runner at all times and he enjoyed having Lyla along today to help with that! Lyla was just ridiculously independent in the woods and she, I think, would love to LIVE in the woods so she could hunt 24/7. Nice to have her along today. She got along so well with everyone and had a BALL at the summit playing with Duke. The photos show this!
Mike and I are going to scout a couple new hikes out on Sunday morning so stay tuned for info about that. And there will be NO HIKE on July 8, as DWD will be closed for vacation that week. Of course, we’ll be out scouting locations for future hikes then as well! We’ve decided that it’s probably to dangerous to hike on rainy days, so please use the usual check-in methods if rain is forecasted on a hiking day - check Facebook or the DWD website anytime after 6 a.m. for a message, or call my phone 632-1863 or Mike’s phone 831-9341 to check with us personally after 6 a.m.
THANK YOU all so much for the confidence and trust you have placed in us by allowing your dogs to hike with us. We get so much pleasure out of watching them, guiding them and just being part of their joy on these Fridays! Of course, we’ve both never worked so hard in our lives, but it’s a good way to spend our day! And Casco and Tonya both are doing well as Pack Leaders as well. Casco is sore in the shoulders/paws tonight so we’re not sure if he’ll be able to come every week. After all, he IS almost 10 years old (don’t tell him!).
Saturday, June 11, 2011
It hardly seems possible, but we had just as much fun on this week's hike as last week's. Perfect weather, seriously awesome hikers, and another excellent location. This program is turning out to be the absolute HIGHLIGHT of our week!