Tag Archives: Winter

Snow Dogs on a New Trail!

Sheltie dog and friend on a winter hike
Zekie and Claire on the trail.

We hiked with four of our dogs today, Zekie, Claire, Cassius, and Baxter. Shelby is still on injury leave from her run in with the loose dogs last week so rested at home. You can read about her injury. Progression of a Dog Bite Wound She is looking much better and her bruising is mostly gone now, we’re just finishing off the antibiotics as healing continues.

We went back to West Branch State Park to explore some of the trails we hadn’t tried before. From the the Mountain Bike Trail parking lot, we went down the main trail to trailhead A3. This trail is a snowmobile trail so it is nice and wide and relatively flat. We hiked out A3 until we came to the Bit O’ Honey Trail which is a mountain bike trail. Mountain bike trails are generally rougher, rockier, and tougher going. I am particularly slow, making sure I don’t trip on rocks, sticks, and so on. Even so, when it is in the 20’s, I get hot enough on these trails that I soon end up with my hood down and my gloves in my pocket. If it is a longer mountain bike trail, I end up with my coat unzipped too. That still leaves me with a turtleneck and a polar fleece and I am just fine. If we slow down, I just zip my coat back up.

Rocks at West Branch State Park
Rock view on the Bit O’ Honey Trail, West Branch State Park, Ohio.

The dogs start pestering us each afternoon around 1:30 pm. They know we leave for walking or hiking near 2 o’clock. On the rare day that we haven’t gone, they mope and give us dirty looks from the dog beds or couch. Yes, they are spoiled pups!

Dogs hiking, West Branch State Park, Ohio
Cassius and Baxter hiking with daddy.

Cassius the greyhound always wears a coat in the winter when we walk or hike. All our past greyhounds have too. They just don’t have the body fat to stand up to cold temperatures. Baxter the Lab/Rott/Dobe mix has never worn a coat until this year, once it got below 30 degrees. In the past Baxter never wanted a coat. Now that he will be 12 in a few months, he seems to get colder and appreciates the warmth. Other than that he hasn’t slowed down much. So, getting ready for winter hiking can be quite the process. In addition to two humans suiting up and getting the right boots, sunglasses, hats, etc., we also have two dogs to put coats on.

Two dogs hiking at West Branch State Park, Ohio
Baxter and Claire ready to get in the SUV after hiking.

Luckily, Baxter looks quite handsome in his coat. Of course, I am biased and think Baxter looks quite dapper all the time!

Winter Trail Hiking Again!

Hiking at West Branch State Park, on the trail.
Hiking again, on the trail.

We are back to trail hiking. We had a scary incident while out last week. Two loose dogs attacked Shelby and Zekie. It was quite scary and between that and the ice, I took a couple days off from walking. For two days after that we walked on paved trails in town.

Zekie survived the attack and wasn’t much worse for wear. Shelby, however, was quite seriously wounded, but is on the mend. I continue to give her meds and provide wound maintenance while she heals. She won’t be hiking again any time soon. I won’t even think about it for a few weeks. She needs time to recuperate, and I don’t want her wound aggravated from too much activity. Also, the wound needs to stay clean and not have dirt and salt from the trails and roads splashing on her underside.

Trail side, West Branch State Park
Trail side, West Branch State Park.

I love hiking in the snow and am glad to be back on the trails. I find it easier to hike with snow on the ground. It fills in a lot of the divots and small holes, and covers the large gravel. These tend to make the walking surface uneven and having them covered in snow makes it easier for me. The trail is beautiful when there is freshly fallen snow. I sometimes feel bad that we pass by and leave footsteps and pawprints to mar its beauty. The landscape at trailside still provides views of unbroken snow vistas. It can also be fun to see who else is using the trails, be it footsteps, pawprints, snowmobiles, or snow bicyclers.

After last week’s incident, we hike with pepper spray. I have heard that a product called Spray Shield, that is citronella based, is safer for dogs. I will look into that in the future. For now, what I have is pepper spray. I need to be responsible for defending my dogs to the best of my ability. I feel guilty that I failed them last week. Especially Shelby. She and I are a working team, having provided therapy dog visits for the past seven years. I need her to trust that I will take care of her, and you better believe that I will do everything in my power to do so.

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Shelby watching out the window.

It seems odd to be out hiking without Shelby. She is none too happy about it either when we leave her at home, even though she gets a treat when we go out the door. She is used to being part of everything that goes on and she believes she is in charge of safety. The other dogs believe that too! Even while she is healing, she does what she can to maintain order around here. Above, she is watching out the window to see what is going on in the neighborhood. She still barks at the mail jeep and delivery people, alerting us that strangers are about. Last night after we had gone to bed, Shelby even barked at something outside and a few seconds later, our motion activated security light came on.

That Shelby is one smart, and tough, cookie!

Hiking In Winter

Hiking with dogs
Shelby takes in the trail scents

We are on a roll. Today is our 18th day in a row of hiking. We have been hiking religiously since the fall, but this is the longest stretch without a day off. We are eager to see how long we can keep it going. My husband carefully checks the forecast, and sometimes the weather radar, to find times during the day to go when it is not raining or snowing heavily. Given that it is January, our hikes have been pleasant and not overly cold.

I hate to think what the dogs’ reaction will be on the first day we are unable to go. Dogs appreciate routine and ours’ come to expect that if we do something two days in a row, it is now part of our schedules. Most days we depart near 2:00 pm for our outings. The dogs start pestering us starting about 1:50 now. They stare at us and begin to pace in anticipation for the fun to begin.

Hiking with dogs in Ohio
A snowy, winter hike with the dogs

We vary our choice of hiking location depending on weather, day of the week, upcoming plans, or maybe just on a whim. The day’s pick may be at a State Park, a County Park, a local cemetery, a Hike and Bike Trail, or just up the road and back. We even have a walking trail around our property to use in a pinch. You have to go around the loop about 5 times to make a mile though. Here is a link to a walk in our woods during the spring. Woods Walk

Most of our hikes are not extremely long. The average length is somewhere between 2.5 to 3.5 miles. The amount of exertion does not always correspond with the length of the walk though. If the terrain is especially hilly, rocky, or swampy, that 2.5 miles can seem far longer than a 3.5 mile walk.

I track all of our outings with the Walk For A Dog App to raise money for Northeast Ohio Shetland Sheepdog Rescue. It doesn’t raise a lot of funds but every little bit helps. (Many other non-profit rescues are available as beneficiaries on this App too!) I like the App because aside from being a fundraiser, it lets me know how far we have walked, the miles per hour, and the time each walk took us. You can also look back at the historical information to see how many miles you have walked over the past 30 days. When we get up over 50 miles a month, I start feeling really good about it!

We enjoy our hikes for multiple reasons. Of course getting exercise and spending time with the dogs are the obvious rewards. We also get to see what birds are in the woods at this time of year. We see what plants and bushes stay green late in the season and throughout the winter. It is easier to locate side trails and see the paths that streams take without all the undergrowth obscuring the view. The sounds of the winter woods are different from other seasons too. Each season has its own beauty and can be appreciated in different ways.

So, here’s to Hike #19. Onward and upward!

The Olive Tree

Even in the off season for gardening, we have things growing. These are future olives. We have an olive tree that my daughter gifted my husband with for Father’s Day last year. It resides in our spare bedroom right now, along with a gardenia that we are wintering over.

We don’t know whether these are flower buds or actual olives. Either way, they will eventually result in olives. It was an exciting day when we found these little orbs. Gardeners can go through a form of withdrawal when nothing is green or growing outside. These indoor plants help.

As for myself, I am happy in the spring when plants resume growing again. But I am also happy (relieved) when frost comes. After a spring and summer’s worth of planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting, I am tired. I enjoy the best of both these worlds.

So, will we get olives? Only time will tell.

The Long Winter

Throw the ball, dad!

Winter can be long and boring for the dogs. Between all the snow, cold, rain, and ice, they don’t get as many walks or as much outside time as they would like.

The snow is not too bad. They can still go out in the fenced pasture and run around playing with toys or sniff things.

In the cold they can be out for limited amounts of time. Cassis, the greyhound, stays out for lesser lengths of time than the others.

During the winter rains the dogs don’t go out to play because, well…mud.

And the ice makes things too slippery. I am especially leery of it since I slid, tripped on a hunk of frozen ice/snow and landed on my shoulder a month ago. It is slowly recovering.

Sometimes it’s just better to hang out inside!

Zekie!

Time for a Zekie update. As long as one of us is home, he is a happy boy. Today was unseasonably warm for February in Ohio, 71 degrees. Of course after the snows melted off and then the rains came, it is quite muddy. See evidence above!

Zeke was quite happy running through the mud and playing with all the dogs on such a fine day.

He even took a turn bringing the frisbee back to daddy. All this running through the mud means that the boys came in the house one by one and got rinsed off in the bathtub and then dried with a towel. Zeke is so good. He jumps in the tub on command and stands while I rinse him off. He then jumps out of the tub and onto a towel on command then waits while I dry him.

It was so nice today and I was off work so we then went for a walk at a nearby state park. The water was still frozen but the weather was warm. It was interesting to see the patterns the ice made as the thawing began.

Zekie got to spend his first time off leash today. And he did great. He was nearly as proud as I was! I thought it unlikely that he would go very far since he becomes traumatized if he is not with one of us at all times. After a bit of freedom I leashed him back up so as not to give him too much temptation on his first time off leash with us. Two of our other dogs can be loose and are very reliable while alas, our greyhound must be leashed always. See how happy this outing made Zeke in the brief video below.

So as you can see, Zeke is doing well!

Time with Zeke

We are learning more about Zeke as time goes by. Such as, he loves spending time outside as long as he is with the other dogs and knows we are nearby. He especially loves the snow, burying his nose in it and snuffling for what I don’t know. Maybe for the sheer joy of it.

We have also learned that he is not above stealing food from the counter and eating all of it. But only when we are not around. For this the fault lies with us for allowing the opportunity.

Zeke continues to move his crate across the room when there are no humans at home. And drool. The weather has not been conducive to walking so no updates on that front.

Even so, we are enjoying our time with Zeke. He is a fine dog.

A Winter’s Day

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I have always liked winter. If the roads were just heated so travel was safe, it would definitely be my favorite season. We had our largest snowfall to date for the winter just last weekend. I took a brief jaunt around our property so I could share my appreciation of the snow and the winter season with you. Above is the front of our home blanketed in fresh snow. That majestic old pine is twice as tall as the house. In summer it provides cooling shade, and throughout the year it makes a nice windbreak.

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This treeline is our view across the street from our house. Right now it looks like all the trees are covered in cotton bolls. And then there’s the dogwood tree in our front yard. I couldn’t resist including it because it has such beautiful form.

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Walking down the driveway, our garden gate is to the left. It still begs me to come in, even through the deep snow. I guess deep is relative. We got about 8 inches over night. I know some people got more. I known I was glad to have the day off work so I didn’t have to drive in it.

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This is the view down the garden walkway. It was especially silent inside the protective walls. A winter wonderland.

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The view of the workshop and garage relaxes me. It all looks so “soft” with the snow snuggling around it. I do see that I never got around to taking down my hanging baskets. That’s OK, they remind me that spring will come again, and I will appreciate that too.

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This is the fenced pasture where the dogs can play for a time when we are home. You can see all the wood we have stockpiled for summer bonfires. It is in the dog pasture because there is no where that we would rather be for a bonfire than with our dogs!

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Our trumpet vine has beautiful “bones” when the leaves are gone. It is growing up a light post which makes it look like a tree.

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I go back inside and this is the view out my kitchen window. This fenced area is attached to the house for ease in putting the dogs in and out. It is also commonly referred to at our house as the poop yard. I believe this is self explanatory. It is especially appreciated when we have foster dogs and don’t know if they are trustworthy outside. On foster dogs’  first day or two with us, I still stand outside with them or may even walk them on leash inside the fence as it is only 3 1/2 feet high. Our first foster dog at this house was a collie named Saffron. She jumped the fence which resulted in me also vaulting over the fence, in my bathrobe and fuzzy leopard print slippers. I didn’t want to lose sight of her so took off in hot pursuit. Saffron was just looking for a good time and didn’t really want to run away so all ended well.

I notice this writing ends with a dog story, as all things in my life do. So let me say once again, life is good!

Too Much Winter

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Getting a little tired of seeing this. Actually seeing it isn’t the problem. The problem is all the shoveling that comes with it. That and hauling wood through the great white depths. I shoveled for about two hours today. That got the mail and paper boxes clear and enough of the driveway open that I  can park within a few feet of the door to the house. The rest of the driveway will have to wait for another day. Oh, snow blower how I miss thee. How cruel of you to give out when I still have need of you. We have a neighbor who lives down the road who was scheduled to plow for us in the event of larger snows such as this. His tractor is also on the  injured list. I guess this winter was just too much for  them.

Once I was done with the shoveling, it was time to haul wood. We’ve figured out a system using one of the recycling bins. I fill the bin with firewood and attach a heavy dog leash to it and pull it to the house. It works like a  sled and I think it is rather  ingenious. The  snow became too deep to get the tractor back to the wood crib quite a while ago.

I am hoping for a warm up, even a brief one, to lower the level of snow. Looking out the back door, it appears as if the fence around the dog yard is getting shorter. In reality the snow is getting deeper. Luckily the dogs don’t seem to have noticed this yet. Without a bit of a melt off I will have to make the snow less (read as more shoveling) or the fence taller. I  think I’ll pray for the melt off. The birds are in favor of the melt off as well.

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The good news is that, as a  reward for all the work I did today, I made pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes for dinner! Oh yeah, and also that spring will officially be here next month.

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