Category Archives: Dogs & Other Animals

Books I Read in April 2022

Hello Friends! Another month has come and gone already, so here is my list of books read. I did read more than I usually do in April, and I have Mother Nature to thank. Most years I am too tired from my spring gardening to read much in the evenings. With the snows and cold weather, we have had, I was inside a lot. I didn’t get much done in my flowerbeds, but I did read a lot!

  1. The Restoration of Celia Fairchild-Marie Bostwick

Celia is an advice columnist looking to adopt a baby. She inherits Aunt Calpurnia’s house. Her life takes a turn, and she moves back to Charleston and gathers the family she longed for. I really enjoyed this book. It’s a make you feel good book.

2. Show Me the Bunny-Laurien Berenson

Another delightful adventure with Melanie Travis and her standard poodles. The murder she must solve this time involves her Aunt Rose, a former nun, now married and a new character in the series. Someone murders the benefactress of Rose’s women’s shelter, making her a suspect. Melanie and poodle Faith are on the job.

3. The Twelve Dates of Christmas-Jenny Baylis

Kate Turner signs up for a series of12 dates through a dating service since there aren’t many opportunities in her small British town. Her series of dates provides a humorous backdrop for her true love. I enjoy Baylis’ novels because of the way she portrays life in small British towns.

4. The Family You Make-Jill Shalvis

Jane has had only herself to rely on for most of her life. She has a near death experience during a storm and things begin to change. For starters, the man she was trapped in the gondola with called his mother when he thought they were going to die and said he had a girlfriend. He knew this would make his mother happy. He later asks Jane to pretend to be his girlfriend for a family dinner. Things progress in an entertaining fashion.

5. The Pig Did It-Joseph Caldwell

Professor Aaron McCloud returns to Ireland where he spent time with Aunt Kitty as a child. He’s escaping from unrequited love but never gets time to mourn as a pig he meets along the way keeps distracting him. After following him to the family home, the errant pig uproots a skeleton in Aunt Kitty’s vegetable garden. Things go from bad to hilarious with all the characters he meets along the way.

6. The Suite Spot-Trish Doller

Rachel Beck gets fired from her job at a Miami hotel when a wealthy guest gets grabby. She is offered a job at a startup brewery hotel on a Lake Erie island. The job is too good to pass up so she packs up her three year old daughter and moves to Ohio. She ends up with a new life as she overcomes the tough things life throws at her.

7. Aunt Ivy’s Cottage-Kristen Harper

Zoey arrives on Dune Island to take care of her aunt. She also takes in her dead sister’s daughter for the spring and summer. She helps both while dealing with her cousin Mark’s future plans for the aunt’s house he intends to take over as a high-class resort. Zoey has feelings for the handy man working on the house, but can she trust him? Zoey also needs to find a job after losing her’s. Will it all work out?

Magazines-Country Living

I can’t really pick a favorite to recommend from this list. None are likely to make an earth-shattering difference in your life, but all are a fun time. Enjoy yourself!

By the way, you may have noticed that I read Christmas themed books all year long. I love a good Christmas book. Not only are they great to read near the holidays, but I also enjoy them in mid-summer when it is hot out. Reading a book that takes place in a cold climate, somehow makes me feel cooler. The power of suggestion.

Spring at Sanctuary Acres

Elizabeth Magnolia

Hi Friends! It is spring here, sort of, so time to share a few pictures of what is currently in bloom around our yard. Warmer weather is slow in coming to northeast Ohio this year. It has been much cooler than normal with a few days of warm weather thrown in. Enough to confuse the plants and set them back in their growth. My Facebook memories shows plants in full bloom at this time last year that haven’t even begun to make an appearance this year. But they will!

The most recent addition to our flowerbeds is the Elizabeth magnolia. My husband has been wanting a magnolia for some time and found this variety he had been looking for when we were out searching for a plum tree! We never did find the Toka plum tree that we were looking for, but we did find this magnolia which went into a bed in the walled garden last week and is currently flowering as seen in the photos.

The new Elizabeth magnolia is putting on a show!

We found another type of plum tree that will do the job. We already had a Superior plum tree that we put in last year. We discovered that you need two types of plum trees for successful pollination and fruiting, preferably two different types of Japanese plums. They should be of different varieties, not the same variety. Who knew? Probably lots of people but I was not one of them. The plum trees must flower at the same time so they can cross pollinate. We already had American plums, which are more of a bush, but we were not sure if they would do the job. So, I expect bushels of plums this fall! Ha! Not really, but it would be nice if we got a couple small plums this year to see what they taste like.

We also found a small cherry tree that is self-pollinating. It bears sour cherries that are good for pies and jellies. We… ok, my husband…it would take me an hour to dig a hole big enough, planted it behind the house in the area where our plums and blueberry bushes also reside. We have one other fruit bearing cherry tree behind the garage. It was here long before I bought this house. It has sustained a lot of damage over the past few years from other trees falling on it. We hope to find one of its young offspring to cultivate. It has the type of cherries that are yellow with a red blush and very tasty.

Service berries starting to bloom.

We also have service berries that are starting to bloom. They are planted along the road. We bought them as six inch sticks from the County Extension agent a number of years ago. The goal is prune them after fruiting season this year. The yield was lower last summer and most of the berries are so high up in the trees that only the birds can reach them. You have to pay close attention to get to the fruit before the birds. The berries are a coveted item. I have had birds sit in the top of the tree squawking and carrying on as I stand below picking berries and tossing them into my colander. A colander is my preferred container when I pick berries of any sort. Mine has a flat bottom that sits on the ground while I use both arms to reach the higher branches. And I can transport it directly to the sink for rinsing and sorting the fruit.

Hellebore flowers

We have other things besides fruit trees in flower now too. This hellebore was given to us by my mother-in-law last summer. It was a sprout from a large plant she had. They don’t like to be moved, so we are pleased that it is blooming in its first spring here. Another name for this plant is the Lenten Rose because it blooms so early in the season. They will even bloom with snow hanging on the leaves. Don’t be confused by the leaves in the bottom of this photo. Some stray pachysandra got transplanted with it.

Daffodils blooming in a raised bed.

And of course, we have the obligatory daffodils. I moved these to one of the raised beds surrounding the patio two years ago. They did not bloom the first year but are in fine form now. I wanted some early bloomers for us to enjoy on the few days we have that are warm enough to sit on the patio. I do enjoy looking at them while I am doing the early spring cleanup jobs in the patio gardens. Normally, I bring lots of daffodils indoors to enjoy in the spring. I have foregone that this year because we have an 11 month old kitten who knows no bounds. I will have to figure out a kitten proof set up before peony season arrives because I refuse to have a year without the scent of peonies in my house! It will be a tall order. The house plant and its ceramic pot that I had on the mantel bit the dust. Jasper kitten can reach the mantel via the desk that sits underneath. I am the human, I can outsmart him, right? The jury’s still out on that one. Time will tell.

Shelby by the hyacinth.
Baxter taking his turn by the hyacinth.

I didn’t feel this post would be complete without a picture of dogs, so here are Shelby and Baxter posing in front of the hyacinth at my brother’s house. They went along to celebrate my niece’s fifth birthday. We can rely on these two to be well behaved. When it was time to leave, we had to go find Shelby. She was having a nap in a corner of the sunroom where we had been sitting earlier.

Spring is just starting here and there will be more pictures of flowers, trees, and vegetables to come. And it is a certainty there will be pictures of dogs. Join us and follow along. You can sign up to receive updates at the top of the page!

Good News-A Somewhat Calmer Zekie Bear

Zekie Bear

It’s been a while since I posted an update about Zekie. That’s a good thing because it means he hasn’t been in too much trouble. He continues to be a sweet dog, whose life would be perfect if he could be with me every second of every day. The problems begin when my husband and I both go away from home.

If I go away, such as to the grocery store or to visit someone, Zekie lays on the back of the couch looking out the window at the empty spot where I park my car. The report I receive back from my husband is that Zekie spends hours there waiting for my return. Or if he takes Zekie to the workshop with him, Zekie will lay on the porch watching the road to see if my car will come pulling in the driveway. My husband says Zekie often looks like he wants to stop people in passing cars to say, “Have you seen my mommy? She left me and I fear I’m an orphan!”

Zekie gets upset when my husband goes away too, but not to the same degree. When hubby puts his shoes and coat on, Zekie grabs a bone or other toy and shakes it at my husband, trying to get him to stay home and play instead. He will lay in the back hall and look out the window for a while after my husband leaves, then he returns to my side and lays down. He will check out the windows frequently waiting for hubby’s return.

Zekie really has been doing better relative to how he was before. Mostly this is for two reasons. One, we rarely go away at the same time or even at all. Covid and retirement have kept us at home. The other reason is Prozac. At first, I wasn’t sure if it helped at all. I think it just took a long time to see any change because Zekie’s behavior was long standing. He has been on the meds for 9 months now.

I have tried many things to calm him on the occasions when both of us go away and he must stay in his crate because of separation anxiety. None had previously met with success. Not the Xanax, not the stuffed Kongs, or the frozen treats, not even the CBD oil. Well, last week I tried giving him a large basted bone made specifically for dogs. It worked! Zekie did still do some nervous drooling but he didn’t chew his crate! I gave him the same bone the next two times we went away and he didn’t chew the crate those times either. This is a minor miracle.

I find it hard to believe it is just the bone as we have given him many other types of chews. I think it must be the combination of the Prozac and the bone. He was finally calm enough to realize that chewing the bone is a better option than chewing an aluminum crate and wearing your teeth down.

Whatever the cause, I am immensely grateful and relieved to have found something to help Zekie feel calmer.

Zekie with ears down asking, “Mom, why are you taking my picture?”

Books I Read in March 2022

I am perfectly capable of petting animals while I read!
  1. An Irish Country Yuletide-Patrick Taylor

Dr. Barry Laverty comes back to Ballybucklebo for the holidays. You’ll enjoy this tale of 1960’s era doctors in a small Irish village. Rather like James Herriot books but with people instead of animals as the patients.

2. The Blue Zones Challenge (Non-fiction)-Dan Buettner

The blue zones are areas around the world where populations live longer than average and maintain good health. This book shares the things these groups have in common, and how you can implement them into your own life. Fascinating.

3.The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost (Non-fiction)-Rachel Friedman

Rachel travels during a college summer. After graduating college, she continues traveling on two more continents. I learned a bit about travel, hostels, and adapting to other cultures.

4. Fodor’s Travel Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire (Non-fiction)

Fun to peruse remembering places I have been as well as places I still want to see or revisit.

5. A Virgin River Christmas-Robyn Carr

Marcie Sullivan wants to find the fellow marine who saved her late husband’s life when he was stationed overseas. Ian disappeared once the unit returned stateside. She finally tracks him down and finds an emotionally wounded man who is not happy to see her. Can it be a peaceful Christmas for them? I enjoyed this book as I have all the Robyn Carr books, I’ve read.

6. Killer Research-Jenn McKinley

Lindsey must find a way to clear Miss Cole of murder suspicion as Miss Cole makes a bid for the position of town mayor. Another delightful installment with our friends from Briar Creek.

7. This Must Be the Place-Rachael Ray

Although this book has plenty of recipes, it is so much more than a cookbook. Rachael talks about her life and lessons learned during Covid. She had quite a few serious challenges that I was not aware of. She weathered them well.

Magazines:  Food Network Magazine, the Cottage Journal, Cottages and Bungalows, Martha Stewart Living, Better Homes and Gardens Cozy Cabins and Retreats

From this month’s list of books read, I must recommend The Blue Zones Challenge as the one with the most potential to improve your life. If you make even one or two of the changes presented in the book, you are likely to be a healthier person.

If you are looking for a book to take you away and immerse your mind elsewhere, read A Virgin River Christmas. Don’t feel it has to be Christmas time to enjoy this book. It is more about people and relationships than it is about the holiday.

I did manage to get a few more books read in March than I have been averaging. My husband went on a road trip with his mother while I stayed home with the animals. I got a big stack of books from the library the first day and the cats and dogs are perfectly content if I read while I pet them, so we were all set!

When I Was Young, I Wanted to Be…

Dad, mom, and me on a trip to Montana.

What did you dream of being when you were a kid? I mostly dreamed of…well, just being a kid. I didn’t look much beyond what outfit to put on my Barbie next or what horse book I would read. Unless it was to remember what time the next episode of Tarzan the cartoon or Mary Tyler Moore was on.

I fell off a bike and broke my arm the summer after third grade. This resulted in the neighbor lady from two doors down getting me a book about being a nurse. I pondered what it would be like to be a nurse but that’s as far as it went. I was too busy being a kid to spend time on such ideas.

I fell into my first jobs. I babysat the two youngest kids that lived next door, Marc and Janelle. That was fun because although they were quite a bit younger than me, I enjoyed playing with them sometimes anyway. I just stayed up later than them and was old enough to call for help if it was ever needed. I’m sure the fact that my mom was always next door was a big factor.

My second job was from the same neighbors. Their three boys each had a paper route. They were also in a variety of sports-basketball, wrestling, football, baseball. Our town’s newspaper was published as an evening edition, so the stacks of papers were dropped off for delivery in the afternoon. This interfered with the sports which were all after school. So, I started delivering the papers for whichever boy was currently enrolled in a sport. When their entire family went on vacation, which luckily was only once a year in the summer, I would deliver all three paper routes. This covered most of our small town. With the boys being in that many sports, I was delivering at least one route a good portion of the year. I remember one or two days during the winter of The Blizzard of 1978 when their mom took pity on me and took me around in her car to deliver the papers.

When it was time to sign up for college, I felt the need to pick an actual career so I would know what to study. I don’t think it came as a surprise to anyone that I decided I wanted to be a veterinarian. Vying for second place were forest ranger and zookeeper. But being a vet stood way out in front.

My last job before I started my professional career was at a pet store. I worked at Pet Kingdom during a college summer and over breaks. I loved that job! It was a small store so only one person worked each shift and I got to do everything. Dusting and rotating stock wasn’t so great, but dealing with the fish, small animals, and birds was right up my alley. We also sold puppies and kittens, but most of them were given to the store by local people who had accidental litters and needed to find homes for them. One of the perks of the job, at least in my mind, was that I could come to work early and walk the puppies.

To my knowledge, the store only ever had one litter of two purebred puppies for sale. They were supplied by a lady who lived in a nearby town. These turned out to be Shetland Sheepdogs. One of the puppies sold. The other did not. Our area was not wealthy, and the price of the mixes was a better fit with the local economics. The second puppy was set to be sent back to the breeder.

Anyone who knows me, knows where this story is going. That was my first sheltie, Bream. (Pronounced Bree-Um) Bream went off to college with me and many adventures thereafter. He saw me through a couple failed classes, several moves, marriage, and divorce. He was my rock. He cemented by love for the sheltie breed. More on this in a future tale.

My career? I never did end up becoming a veterinarian. There were only 17 veterinary schools in the United States at the time, so the competition was fierce. I experienced this in the classes I had with pre-med students and there are a lot more med schools around than vet schools. I remember asking a pre-med student in one of my classes if I could copy his notes from a class that I had missed because I was sick. He said no.

I couldn’t really decide what else I wanted to be. Zookeepers barely made any money and were all located in major cities. I wasn’t aware of many forest ranger or conservationist positions at the time. So, I settled for majoring in Biology. It was a general science with a wider range of options.

After graduating college, I hung out with my live-in boyfriend, and worked at Sea World of Ohio for a brief time. I was only tagging merchandise and cleaning for the park’s season opening. The best part of the job was at lunch time, I could go into the viewing area and watch the penguins in their exhibit or wander by the beluga whale tanks and touch them if they swam near. My best friend Becky worked there too, so I could see her before and after our shifts.

I had only worked at Sea World a few weeks when the opportunity for my first career-related job came along. I occasionally stopped by Kent State main campus and checked the job postings in the recruiter office. This was before such things were computerized. There was an opening in my county for a laboratory technician in a water/wastewater laboratory. I applied and soon interviewed with my future bosses and soon-to-be friends, Bill and Howard. Thus began my career in the field of water treatment. I just sort of fell into it. It suited me well. The department was composed of a small number of people who were close and hung out and helped each other outside of working hours, as well as during. It was an opportunity to help the environment and I ended up working that job and retiring from it after 32 1/2 years. I found it rewarding and feel I served a purpose.

Would I choose the same career again if given the choice? Actually, no. I should have stayed the course and tried to become a veterinarian. I never lost that love of animals. I did eventually find an outlet for that love. After taking in a number of animals, I realized I could not save them all on my own. So, I got into animal rescue work. I volunteered for a number of groups over the years before finally founding Northeast Ohio Shetland Sheepdog Rescue. It takes a village as they say, and I found my village.

I do use my career choices to encourage young people to pursue the careers of their dreams. The working years are many. Follow your passion!

Hiking-Off the Main Trail

Hiking with Baxter

I have been on my own for the past few days while hubby is away. It was so beautiful today that I couldn’t pass up taking my boys, Baxter, Cassius, and Zekie for a hike. Unfortunately, the girls had to stay home. I cannot handle that many leashes in the woods. It was 73 degrees and sunny, our first spring-like day for the season. And so, we hit the trail. We went to one of our regular areas, but we also ventured onto some of the side trails that we hadn’t been on before. The day was so beautiful that I wanted to go for a long hike to take advantage of it.

Baxter and Zekie being photo bombed by Cassius’ back end!

The first side trail we took involved fording a small stream. I was wearing my waterproof hiking boots and there were rocks in the shallow stream bed, so it wasn’t too bad. We made our way to the end of a little peninsula and found the area to be well used. I even found this chair that someone had left behind, upturned to keep the seat clean. I covered it with a plastic bag since it was damp from a morning rain and sat in it while I ate my lunch. Unfortunately for me, (fortunate for Zekie), I dropped half of my piece of leftover frozen pizza while leaning forward to get a picture of some geese. See below. I couldn’t really blame Zekie, I did drop the pizza on the ground. Since Zekie had a snack, I felt the need to give the other two dog biscuits. I put the chair back as I had found it before we left, so the next hiker can enjoy it too.

Canada geese enjoying the water.

After stopping for lunch and enjoying the water view for a while, it was time to get back to hiking. We headed back toward the main trail. I was going to get a picture of the stream we crossed, but going up the bank, I slipped and got distracted trying to keep track of all the leashes and forgot. Oh, well. This was an area where I picked up some handy walking stick-type branches to help me keep my balance along the way.

West Branch Reservoir

I did get the above photo from the opposite side of the peninsula where we stopped for lunch. Things are still pretty grey looking in the woods but once the trees fill out, you lose the view of the water.

A beautiful Baxter smile!

It didn’t bother Baxter any. He had a wonderful time. He found some nice soft moss to lay on while I ate my lunch. Would you guess Baxter is 13 years old? We don’t know exactly when his birthday is but it’s around now. He showed up as a pup, so we can’t be far off on our estimate.

Back side of WBSP Reservoir

We hiked on the main trail for a bit until we came to an old homestead driveway. The houses aren’t there anymore. They were lost to make way for the reservoir and park. Some foundations and driveways still exist though. We walked back an old driveway and followed a “trail”, more of a deer path with young trees and brush to wander through. It was a bit of a challenge with three leashes to keep track of, but we made it. We passed some old fence posts, remnants of a couple outbuildings, old tires, a couple picnic tables, and an old doghouse. Or maybe a really small chicken coop. We ended up in a clearing under a bunch of pines that ran alongside the water. The photo above is the view we saw. We will definitely be going back to this spot to see the view as things green up.

Cassius enjoying the view.

The dogs enjoyed the view too. You can tell by the big smile on Cassius’ face. Of course, Zekie had to walk on the ice near the shore. Baxter tried it and was surprised when he fell through the ice because he weighs more. Don’t worry, he was only about six inches from shore, and they were all leashed. I have no doubt that Zekie would be the dog to run out onto the ice and fall through. That boy loves water in all forms. In the summer, he drags me to every puddle so he can walk through them and drags me to every stream so he can jump in. Now he walks on every patch of ice and snow that he can find even though the roads and trails are clear.

Cassius is watching the water.

As we headed back to the woods in the direction of the main trail, we found some lush, green beds of moss. There were so beautiful, I had to get a picture. As we navigated our way back out of the area, it became apparent that many people had been there before us. People really should pack out all their waste rather than leaving their stew cans, Gatorade and water bottles, and snack wrappers out in the woods.

Zekie says “This is fun, mom”!

The dogs and I both had a wonderful afternoon. We only went 2.86 miles, but it took us two hours. I guess, fording streams, climbing muddy hills, and wandering through brush does slow you down. I have to say, all the things you notice along the way are well worth it. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Three Season Hiking, and one of them is NOT summer!

Baxter, resting after a walk.

How did Baxter get so sleepy? Winter hiking!

We hike more in the winter months than we do during the summer. The reasons are many. In the summertime, it is just too hot. For the dogs, and for me. Not only is the air temperature too hot, surfaces can be dangerous for the dogs’ paws.

And then there are the bugs. Mosquitos, gnats, and the dreaded biting flies. Not only are mosquitoes pesky, but they can also carry diseases like West Nile Virus or heartworms. The gnats are mostly an annoyance. But who wants gnats flying in their eyes or mouth? For biting flies, we may encounter enormous horse flies, deer flies, or three corner flies. Their bites are painful, and I appear to be allergic to them and swell up in unattractive and itchy, painful ways.

Because of these deterrents, we do most of our hiking in the fall, winter, and spring. There may be a few days we skip when it is dangerously icy, but when it is just cold, we bundle up and go.

We take all five of our dogs with us. Until last fall when we lost little Nikki to old age, we had six dogs, but Nikki hadn’t been able to join us for the last couple of years. Miss Nikki Pouncer Pants: A Tribute We have been hiking with five dogs for some time. About the time Nikki began staying home, we added Claire to our pack, so we still hike with five dogs. Don’t worry, any time the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, we put coats on our two shorthaired dogs. Hiking gives the dogs exercise and mental stimulation, so they are better behaved in general. I guess it does the same for us.

Our hiking route options had become more limited lately due to multiple heavy snows which later turned to ice. Most of our normal haunts developed unsafe footing. That’s why we were excited when we discovered some new options. Most of our hiking is done at West Branch State Park (Ohio) in the winter which is near our home. The park has areas that receive less use in the winter, and we found that some of the dedicated park roads are a good option for walking. They are plowed, but not salted. The road surface is good for walking most of the time and melts off quickly when there is sun or milder temperatures.

West Branch Reservoir

Above is the view from one of our walks. The reservoir is iced over, and you can see tracks from cross country skiers along with footsteps. This is a popular place for ice fishing. Sometimes you see people fishing from a chair and others put up portable ice shanties and make an afternoon of it. Visible in the distance is the marina.

West Branch Dam

Here is another view from one of our recent walks at West Branch State Park. This is the view from the back side of the dam. You can see the gatehouse on the far shore. We do sometimes walk on the dam access road that is off in the distance. We tend to avoid it in colder weather because the winds are so strong and cold coming off the water.

We have logged 50.54 miles in the past 30 days and 615 in the last year. I am rather proud of this because we do it with five dogs, and that includes very few miles between the months of June through August. We still get plenty of summer exercise. We spend many hours gardening, in both our vegetable and flower gardens and maintaining our various fruit crops. The dogs spend lots of time in our fenced pasture. They have fun sniffing things, playing frisbee, and barking at items of interest.

If you have any fun winter activities, feel free to share them.

Winter Storm Prep

4 dogs
(Claire, Cassius, Zekie, and Baxter)
This photo reminds me of the meme that says, “I have never wanted to belong to a gang as much as this one”. Lucky me, I do belong to this one!

We have been preparing for and waiting for winter storm Landon to hit as has most of the eastern half of our country. Living in the countryside in a house that is 192 years old poses its own challenges. My husband did most of the outdoor prep. This involves shoveling snow off the roof and removing ice. Clearing piles of snow away from paths and driveway, so there will be room for more snow. And hauling more wood to the house to feed the woodburning stove.

Two dogs
Zekie and Baxter waiting for the frisbee.

We knew that our daily walks were not likely to happen for a day or two, so we made sure to get the dogs some exercise as well. They went out to the fenced pasture and put in some frisbee and ball time. They made a few laps around the paths my husband made for them with the snowblower for good measure.

Greyhound
Cassius plays with his ball.

Cassius (and sometimes Baxter) wear a coat when we go for walks. For pasture time they aren’t out long enough to need them, plus they are running around like fools. Not to mention Baxter is prone to pulling coats off of other dogs when left on his own. He seems to get a chuckle out of us calling out “Baxter, now he’s naked”. I imagine the neighbors must get a laugh out of this too.

Sheltie
Claire enjoys the snow.

Claire never catches the frisbee. Not because she can’t, but she doesn’t seem to want to. She enjoys running after it and barking with the other dogs. She even reaches the frisbee first, many a time. She just doesn’t like to pick it up. She still gets in plenty of exercise, and we have other dogs to bring the frisbee back, so we don’t mind.

Sheltie
Shelby staying indoors.

Shelby goes on walks with us, but when I asked her if she wanted to go out to the pasture, she declined, giving me a look that said, “Surely you jest”. Shelby will be 12 years old in a couple of weeks. Since last summer she has decided that hanging out with “dogs” in the pasture is beneath her. She prefers to stay inside and guard the house. I don’t know how she explains the fact that Baxter will be 13 in the spring, and he is out there catching frisbees. We do restrict how long he plays and use lower tosses these days. If we stopped playing altogether it would break his heart.

wheat bread
Bread fresh from the oven!

I did some indoor storm prep too. The weather forecasters were calling for ice storms, so I made some foods to have on hand that could be eaten cold in case we lost power. Homemade pizza and some homemade bread for sandwiches. I also made sure all our electronic devices were charged up and that we had candles ready.

The storm began last night and the potential ice that was predicted appears to have missed us. We are getting snow, but so far it is only about four inches. Continued snow is predicted through tomorrow morning, so who knows how much will come down in total.

cat and dog
Jasper and Cassius.

After all that play, the dogs are tired out. Jasper kitten and Cassius sleep in what reminds me of a yin-yang symbol. Raising kittens from a young age does have its benefits. Jasper is a well-adjusted kitten. He does not mind any of the dogs coming up to him and sniffing him or barking or running near him. He does not mind the vacuum cleaner. He does not even move for it. He naps on one or the other of us every evening. He usually splits up his time so we both get to enjoy his company. He’s an equal opportunity napper. The Animal Protective League called yesterday. They put Jasper on the intake waiting list back in September to bring him into the shelter so they could find him a new home. They finally had room for him, and it was his turn. I told them “Thank you, but he is mine.” I shared a laugh with the shelter worker and then assured her that Jasper is now neutered.

Stay warm and safe my friends!

Quarry Trail Hike: Thoughts Along the Trail

Quarry at West Branch State Park

We did a new hike yesterday! We went on the Quarry Trail at West Branch State Park (Ohio). We tried to go on this hike once before but ended up on some other trail and never saw the quarry. I hesitate to say we got lost because in my book, not knowing exactly where you are and being lost are too different things. If you can find the car, you are not really lost. And sometimes, not ending up where you expected to be can turn into a really fun time.

Rock wall that crosses the Quarry Trail.

But yesterday we saw the quarry. It was not nearly as big or impressive as I anticipated, but it was still a great hike. The whole area is scattered with beautiful stones and even at this time of year many of them are covered with velvety green moss. There is a wonderful old stone fence that cuts through the middle of this trail. It was so well made that it is still very sturdy. A couple rocks were moved where the trail crosses so you can pass through. This is also a mountain bike trail so be warned. The footing is challenging in places from the rock surfaces. I recommend a stiff-soled hiking boot. If you wear tennis shoes, your feet will not thank you.

Rock outcropping on the back half of the trail.

In addition to all the smaller rocks, there are also some massive rocks still visible in the hillside. The coppery green color you see above is due to moss and lichens that grow in the area. This photo was taken from the trail below the rock. Later in the hike we crossed at the top of the rock and got the view from that side too. The trail does crisscross back and forth because it is intended for mountain bikes too. That also explains why so many rocks are actually in the trail. This is apparently desirable to mountain bikers. They like to ride over things.

Hubby with Cassius and Baxter ahead on the trail.

My husband usually takes the lead with our largest two dogs, Cassius and Baxter. I follow with the other three dogs, Shelby, Zekie, and Claire. Not many trails are wide enough for us all to walk side by side. In fact, there are often times when I have Zekie and Claire in front of me and Shelby follows behind. We lost our 14 year old dog Nikki this past fall (Miss Nikki Pouncer Pants: A Tribute), so now all the dogs are with us when we hike. I miss being able to tell other hikers that we encounter along the way that we have one more dog at home.

We have fared better than much of the country with the winter weather we have had so far. Knock on wood! We have had very little snow and mild temperatures thus far. Nearly perfect for hiking. We actually take our break from hiking in the summer months when it is hot. The warm temperatures are too hard on the dog and me too. My husband is fine with heat, but I tend to whine and complain. I am not a hot weather type of girl.

Power alley for the gas pipeline that crosses the trails.

The view above is not part of the Quarry Trail. It is a path that the utility company maintains, and it happens to cut through the park trail on several loops. We have used this on both our trips to the Quarry Trail, however. It is a direct route back to the parking lot if you become disoriented or are tired. This is the view taken from the top. It is a long, steep climb, but you know exactly where you will come out when you take this path.

I know that we will soon be on this trail again. It was fun to look at all the different rock formations. And my mind tends to wander when I am hiking. Each time that long, stacked rock wall crosses my path, or should I say I cross its path, I think of the farmers trying to make a living and grow food out on the Western Reserve of Ohio in earlier times. How long and how much time and sweat it must have taken to lay a wall so massive. Trying each rock to see which was the best fit. Putting one down and picking up another. They were true craftsman to assemble something that is still in place. Most of this area of the park was once farms. You often come across flowers that are not natural. You know they framed a homestead at some point in time. Occasionally, we come across old foundations from basements, or sometimes a circle of stones that was once the base of a silo. I find that many aspects of hiking these areas hold different types of magic for me. Sometimes, it is the beauty of nature. Other times, it is the history that lies buried if you care to look.

We were on this particular hike for 2.2 miles. It seemed more like four. Don’t get me wrong, I will gladly do it again soon. Just don’t underestimate the extra effort a rough trail can add.

The Christmas Gift

Baby Zekie

I received an unexpected Christmas present this week. I was contacted a few days ago by the woman who owned Zekie before I did. And a day later I was contacted by the woman who owned him before that. Now I know what Zekie’s former life was like. And I was sent this picture of him as a puppy. How special is that? We always wondered what he looked like as a pup. He was just as cute as we thought he would be.

Some people say it doesn’t matter what happened to a dog in his earlier life. That dogs live in the moment, and you can deal with their current behavior and move on. I don’t agree with this. If you don’t know what happened to them before, you have no choice but to proceed this way. If you are fortunate enough to know their history, then you know why they do certain behaviors and can better deal with them. Especially in the case of highly intelligent dogs like Zekie. He understands the English language to a frightening degree.

Zekie’s former owner found him, and me, by reading my blog! She recognized pictures of him and put it together from some of the stories, I’m sure. I checked my phone one morning and had a message from her! She was so glad to know what had happened to him and that he was ok. She had been his third home. She had a change in living circumstances and had only a few days to find accommodations for her two dogs. She was able to find a friend to keep her other dog for a bit. I can imagine how challenging it would be to locate someone who would be able to deal with Zeke and his shenanigans even if only for a few days. She did the best she could and found a shelter to take him.

I learned that in Zekie’s first home, he was kept in a crate nearly all the time. I’m sure this accounts for his dislike of the crate and his chewing out of wire and plastic crates here. His second owner took him to get him out of this situation. She was a little older and soon discovered that Zekie was more than she was up to. He got jealous and growled when she gave her other dog attention. She cared about him enough to get him to his third owner, the one who had him before me. This owner was younger, and Zeke did well with her. She took him on lots of hikes and they had lots of fun times.

These last two owners were still in contact and that’s how I heard from the lady who got him out of the crated situation. Zekie has traveled quite a journey in his life that brought him to us. We have had him for four years now which is half his life. He is home to stay.

I am thankful to now know his back story. I am also thankful that he encountered people who cared about him enough to get him to where he is today. After talking to his last owner, I have no doubt that he was deeply loved. Maybe one day he will get to see her again for a visit.

And that is the gift I was blessed with this Christmas. To each of you, my readers, I wish blessings of your own this Christmas that extend throughout the coming year. Merry Christmas.

Zekie as he looks today.