Through the Eyes of Your Dog

She wanders through the field, her hands lazily grazing the tops of wheat buds as she makes her way down the hill. The sunlight casts a glow over her amber hair and kisses them all with flattering light, a final farewell to the day, while the dogs whisper in quick flashes through the faded stalks, chasing birds and bunnies and bugs. She smiles broadly, her eyes crinkling softly in the corners, at their carefree enjoyment, wishing for a moment that she could take chase with them, but worrying silently of appearing foolish. The black dog, tall and lean, athletic and strong, makes an eternal path of zig zags; rushing off in hot pursuit, then lazily back to check his girl, before bursting off again, only to repeat the process endlessly. They move together, seemingly connected by an invisible string of predetermined length. He mirrors her movements and shadows her steps, as though his world revolved around her… as in fact, it does. A subtle flick of her wrist or nod of her head is often all she needs to send him back or forth, sitting silent or rushing brazenly ahead, communicating her wishes without words. Her movements, however subtle and soft, never slip past him unnoticed. She is always within his sight.

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As the horizon grows vibrant and dusk settles in, crickets begin to play their melodies and the fireflies come out to dance along. The pack ventures into the valley for a refreshing dip at the water’s edge beneath a canopy of trees. Tongues and toes embrace the cool comfort, but before long, they wander back out into the setting sun. The dogs, appropriately sore and tired from the day’s adventures, duck their heads and stretch their tails in a glorious sunset shake-off, causing the fading light to catch shards of water droplets and allowing them to burst to life like flying embers from a fire. She turns, shielding herself to escape their shower, but it is too late. She shakes her head with amusement and admits defeat.

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More damp than sopping, she guides the tailgate of her truck down and lets the girls jump in back to make a pile of puppy-satisfaction, all wagging tongues and tails. The front seat is reserved for her main man, her co-pilot, her quiet companion. They each climb in, and as she tunes the radio to her favorite ‘90s station, she slips on her old aviators, and her cowboy boot presses down on the clutch. The black dog slowly sinks down, stretching his head to rest over her faded blue jeans, his whiskers tickling her summer-tanned skin through the fraying hole.

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“I wish people could see me through the eyes of my dog.” she thinks “This is what dreams are made of.”

And so does he.

Good Fences Make Good Dogs!

Notice anything different about our backyard?!

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It has changed our lives! The dogs love to spend lazy mornings relaxing in the yard. They are able to spend so much more time outdoors, because I don’t have to worry about them chasing rabbits or wondering into the horse pastures.

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Our longest readers may remember a post we made almost a year ago now, when we originally planned to have a fence installed. Unfortunately the prices at that point were much more than we had anticipated, and so we spent a year saving up and selling things we weren’t using. The fence does not encompass our whole yard, but it’s perfect for quick trips outside or spending time together without having to worry about the dogs. We still make sure to take them for daily walks and hikes. It’s been a long year of waiting, but the wait was so worth it! We spend more time outside with the dogs, and it has made our house feel bigger.

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This comes at a perfect time, because we leave this weekend for a family vacation at the beach! Tonka will be going with us, but the girls will be staying home with my best friend N. The yard makes it much easier for N and also more worry-free for us! Finally, this may make it easier for us to have a foster again down the road… but time will tell!

Is your yard fenced or unfenced? Would you say that they get more or less exercise because of it? Any advice for us?

Animal Farm Foundation: The Experience

I’ve had a hard time getting started on the posts revolving around my experience at the Animal Farm Foundation Language and Advocacy Internship. There is just so much important information, some of which I haven’t even fully wrapped my head around! I will be splitting it into a few parts, for those of you interested in applying in the future, or at least improving your advocacy abilities.

I left my house in Pittsburgh early Wednesday morning, as I had 7.5 hour drive before I had to be in New York at the Animal Farm at 5:00. I was also planning to stop along the way for some puppy snuggles with some of the dogs in our rescue!

This is what the drive looked like…

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We were having torrential downpours and flash flooding! But I still looked like this:

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Because I was so excited for what the next few days would hold.

Fast forward a few hours later, and this is what I was surrounded by…

Pictures just don't do it justice

Pictures just don’t do it justice

Even though I was in a hurry and anxious to reach my destination, I couldn’t resist stopping every few miles to capture some photos of the breath-taking scenery. The area was dotted with stunning estates, farmland and horse farms.

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This was the lane pulling into the farm

This was the lane pulling into the farm

The next few pictures are of the Animal Farm Foundation property

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Agility Field

Agility Field

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All of the interns were split up between a few different houses. I was lucky enough to stay in the lake house, which was just a short drive (or long walk) from where our meetings were held each day.

This was the view from the porch on the front of our house

This was the view from the porch on the front of our house

The best part about the trip?! This adorable face!!

DSC_0006Her name is Marilyn. She is an absolute snuggle-bug with a slight giant ball obsession, and exceptional house manners. She was our house dog for the time we were there. She slept with us, and we were responsible for her care. It was so hard to say goodbye to her!

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The other interns came from all over the country. There were local visitors that drove in each day from a No-Kill shelter in Duchess County. There were rescue advocates from Cincinnati Pit Crew in OH, Pets Alive Sanctuary in NY and Pit Bull Crew in FL, as well as an education and advocacy group in Las Vegas called Incred-a-bull. Finally, there were women from municipal shelters in VA and NJ.

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It was inspiring to meet so many bright, driven, compassionate, and competent women who were passionate about the same cause as I. However, it was also at times difficult to hear the challenges and struggles they face in their endeavors with advocating and rescuing pit bull dogs… as much as I feel that I put myself in the midst of the issues in our area, it was disturbing to learn that there are so many locations where pit bull dogs face much worse discrimination and difficulty.

However, if there is one thing I learned during my time at Animal Farm Foundation, it is that we must always focus on the positive. If this is just a small sampling of the individuals who are advocating for pit bull dogs, then it is just a matter of time before discriminatory tendencies are a thing of the past!

This post has highlighted the overview of the experience, but in the next few posts I will paraphrase the actual content and information that Caitlin from AFF shared with us. This trip was immensely educational, and part of my goal was to be able to convey the things I learned to all of you. So please stay tuned!

Adventure Pack Giveaway!

Our handsome model Tonka has an awesome giveaway to share with you all today!

The Purina Frosty Paws Summer Adventure Pack!

DSC_0009A representative of Frosty Paws contacted us a few weeks ago to ask if we would be willing to do a giveaway on the blog. While we only reserve the Frosty Paws treats for very special occasions (just like we do sweets for ourselves!) we were honored that they reached out to us! They were not specific about what they would be sending, which made it all the more exciting to receive such incredible items!

DSC_0012The bag is a 5-pocket backpack (for humans) made of a durable material perfect for wherever your next adventure awaits… be it sandy, wet, or even frosty, this bag will make it through unscathed. The interior is an insulated, lined cooler, perfect for easy cleaning, keeping your belongings dry, and if need be, cool as well.

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DSC_0014Next up is the dog bone-shaped doggie bag holder!

DSC_0035Tonka-Tue was sure that this was, in fact, a treat dispenser. Unfortunately for him, he was wrong.

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"How do we get the treats out, Mom?"

“How do we get the treats out, Mom?”

You may have noticed the taco-shaped item in the photo above. Any guesses as to what that might be?

DSC_0038DSC_0037DSC_0036A portable dog bowl, of course! We all know how important good nutrition and hydration can be while embarking on new adventures… the same is true for your pup!

DSC_0034Along those lines, they also included this awesome dog water bottle. It is a stainless steel (BPA-free) water bottle, and features a little steel ball-bearing inside that allows the water to drip out when your pooch licks it, to quench his or her thirst! Of course, it is also insulated, keeping the liquid at a comfortable temperature.

DSC_0039Finally, this sandwich-sized plastic container boasts a gel-like interior that freezes at low temperatures! It is equal-parts lunchbox and ice pack!

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“Does this mean you’re taking me somewhere fun? Preferably with water…”

The cherry on top (get it?!) is a coupon for a FREE box of Frosty Paws, in either Peanut Butter or Original flavor. It can be found in your grocer’s ice cream or pet food aisle.

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We just love Purina Frosty Paws for providing products to us and to our readers that encourage us to get out and enjoy adventures with our best friends! We can’t wait to see where these bags go! Each prize pack is a $64.99 value, and is only available to residents of the continental United States. To enter to win, the rules are below:

-Anyone who had previously commented on one of this week’s adventure posts (Adventure, Dog Bowl List, Luca Gets Around, and AFF) will automatically receive two entries!

-If you comment on today’s post, or one prior, you will receive one entry.

-If you send in a picture of a fun adventure with your pup, you will receive three entries! sel1490@gmail.com. Photo must be taken specifically for this contest.

-If you share this post on facebook, you will receive five entries! (Be sure to go to our facebook page and click the share button, so that we can keep track of who participates!)

You have until Monday night at 11:59PM. We will announce the winners on Tuesday! Thanks for participating, and thanks again to Purina Frosty Paws!

Now get out there and enjoy this weekend with your dogs. They deserve it, and so do you!

Please know that while Frosty Paws contacted us to share this giveaway, we were not paid for this post. The thoughts and opinions expressed were entirely our own.
 
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Summer 2013 Dog Bowl List

…Because a bucket list just doesn’t really apply, does it?

Ok, whatever.

The point is, as we continue this week’s adventure theme, it gets me to thinking about all of the fun times we’ve had with our pups. And then that gets me thinking about all of the fun things we want to do with them! So I thought I’d share our list with all of you! Tell me… what fun things do you have planned for your pooches this summer? We’d love to hear about them!

2013 Pittsburgh Dogs’ Summer Bucket List

  1. Teach Gaige to dock dive like her big brother: We know she has it in her! jumptonk
  2. Homemade dog treats: Any favorite recipes you’d like to share?
  3. Volunteer at a local shelter: We just haven’t found one that is the right fit… recommendations?
  4. Camping: In the backyard, at least. DSC_0003
  5. Start working on agility
  6. Attend Pittsburgh’s Cinema in the Park cinema_in_parkDSCF2355
  7. Catch fireflies
  8. Kayak Pittsburgh: with one of the pups
  9. Make a new friend (at least 1 with two legs, and at least 1 with 4!)
  10. Tonka. Beach. Vacation. Enough said.
  11. Visit a doggy bakery: Dozen BakeshopWoof Stop BarkeryBone Appetite Barkery, or Doggie Delights

    Dozen Bakeshop specializes in human AND canine varieties

    Dozen Bakeshop specializes in human AND canine varieties

  12. Take Georgia to her first horse show
  13. Visit the Sunday night Pup night at Jergel’s: Dog menus!
  14. Fence for backyard… should be completed before our vacation at the end of July.
  15. Make doggy ice pop

    Source: Pinterest.com

    Source: Pinterest.com

  16. Attend a dog or dog-friendly festival in Pittsburgh. So many to choose from! Pittsburgh Pup Crawl, Food Truck Mondays at Animal Nature, to name only two!
  17. Meet a blog friend in real life! Who’s in??
  18. Attend a car cruise with J’s favorite girls: Gaige, and his ’67 Camaro!
  19. Paint Georgia’s toes
  20. Visit McConnells Mills State Park
  21. Give each of the pups their own day of fun DSC_0007
  22. Take Gaige trucking: Can you guess who came up with this one? IMG_0445

So that’s it. We will keep you posted on our progress! What is on your summer bucket list with your pets? Bonus points if it’s different from ours!

Considering a trip to Pittsburgh? Check out our post on all things dog in this great city!

And last but not least, as we approach the summer, hopefully full of vacations and travel and adventure, be sure to keep some of these safety tips in mind.

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Adventure.

The older I become, the less I can consider myself to be much of an adventurer. This is a hard thing for me to admit. I like to think of myself as young, fearless, and carefree. But if I’m being honest, I will recognize that I most often choose to stay in the safe zone of life. The threat of failure and disappointment are always lingering in the back of my mind like the monster beneath the bed. Unfortunately, this vice exposes itself in most areas of my life… even as I approach photography, I worry that by attempting to shoot in manual mode, I will miss the perfect shot, and end up with a grainy or distorted image. I often forget that by taking on the challenge of manual mode, I also run the risk of capturing a shot that is exponentially more moving than anything I could while in Auto. A euphemism for life, is it not?

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There are only about two areas in my life where this fear of failure does not readily apply. One of those is when I’m riding. I wouldn’t say that it applies with horses in general… such an expensive, competitive hobby can be endlessly daunting in the pursuit of success. However, when I am on the back of my horse, not much else matters. I bravely approach a four-foot fence, trusting in my horse to help us find our way safely to the other side. I happily mount a young two-year-old, relying on my body, in both its natural and learned abilities, to feel and react to the potential tornado underneath my seat.

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The other place where my fearless nature shines is in the great outdoors with our pups. I feel most myself when surrounded by the four beings I love most in this world. And when I am truly myself, fear and worry seem to drift quietly out of my mind. Our pack winds through wooded trails, not knowing what is around the bend, as the sunlight streams spottily between the trees. The dogs run boldly ahead, coming back to us from time to time to check that we are following obediently behind. J. wraps his hand around my waist, pulling me snuggly to his side, and plants a kiss on my forehead. This is my happy place, my safe place, the place where I am ME, free from judgement or misunderstanding. And in this moment, when the stress of the outside world is not threatening, I AM fearless, carefree, and brave.

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If you follow our blog, you see evidence of our many adventures together. We love to take the dogs hiking, boating, swimming, and camping. Rain or shine, hot or cold, we spend lots of time in the outdoors. Basically, whenever our busy schedule allows! Sure, it can be a challenge to load up the pups and our supplies, often at the mercy of the fickle Pennsylvania weather. Sometimes we encounter unfriendly dogs or humans, and even snakes! But the positives always outweigh the negatives. We come home exhausted and dirty, but always somehow rejuvenated. It may drain our reserves of energy and patience, but it always recharges the batteries of happiness and passion.

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I am a big believer in the fact that we are all multi-faceted. We can be both fearful and brave, powerful and weak, confident and insecure. But it is our job to put ourselves in situations, and surround ourselves with the individuals, who bring out the best in us. That is what our dogs do for me. What do yours do for you?

This week, the blog is going to be devoted to adventure. Please be sure to check back throughout the week, and get involved in the comments and contributions… there will be something awesome in it for some of our lucky readers!

Wordless Wednesday: Wet Dawgs

Our pups saw their adoptable interwebz friend Moby doing some pond cleaning in his spare time, and they realized that perhaps they should be more environmentally conscious as well. Except where Moby was retrieving sticks, our pups felt the need to rid the waters of flowers. So, it’s either that, or they were trying to bring me a belated Mother’s Day gift… not sure.

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Pittsburgh’s For the Dogs!

Some of you may know that I spent some of my childhood growing up in a suburb of Pittsburgh. However, life threw me a few curve balls, and I ended up living in a variety of places during my late teenage years. While I enjoyed where I grew up, I never had the opportunity to fully appreciate all that the city had to offer. One of the many things I love about Foster Dad is that he is equal parts country boy and city slicker. He is just as comfortable baling hay, driving his lifted pickup truck, and helping me at a horse show, as he is dressing to the nines and enjoying an elegant dinner in the city, followed by a show at the Benedum or a romantic ride on the incline. In falling in love with him, he has helped me to fall more in love with the beautiful city of Pittsburgh!

I once envied other cities for the plethora of dog-friendly locations and activities, but in spending more time in the Steel City, I have discovered an endless array of canine adventures. Whether you are a ‘Burgh native, planning to visit (please do!) or just curious, here are a few of the top pup spots in town.

This photo, and some of the content of this post, courtesy of Pittsburgh Magazine's Pet Lover's Guide

This photo, and some of the content of this post, courtesy of Pittsburgh Magazine’s Pet Lover’s Guide

Groceries for Grover

  • Healthy Pet Products : A pet food store that specializes in organic, natural diets and raw food! Their slogan: “Our pets can survive on most anything, but don’t we want them to thrive?” They do all of the research, scrupulously reviewing the brands that they carry, so that you don’t have to!
  • Petagogy: Not only does this store carry premium, all-natural foods for your pets, but they also provide fun and innovative toys, beds, and other products. Their name comes from the word “pedagogy,” meaning the art of teaching, as they pride themselves on learning about the best products out there, and hope to pass on that information to their customers.
  • Animal Nature: This store caters to dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, rats, guinea pigs AND other small animals! They take an active role in the community, and are strong supporters of rescue efforts. They know that quality food makes a difference in the lives, behaviors, and dispositions of our pets, and take this responsibility seriously.

Food WITH Fido

  • Big Dog Cafe: They serve delicious coffee and light food, while welcoming pets to their outdoor patio. That’s my kind of meal!
  • Cappy’s Restaurant: This is my favorite stop for people-watching, outdoor seating, and a delicious burger! But then again, maybe it just tastes better to have Tonka by my side while enjoying a night on the town! They have great nightly specials, making this a popular spot for locals.
  • Jergel’s Rhythm Grille: This is a must-see! They are a live-music venue with outstanding food to boot. Not only do they allow your dog to accompany you on their outdoor patio, but they boast an actual doggie-menu for chowing down!
  • Redfin Blues: Aside from their fido-friendliness, the best thing about this spot has got to be the outstanding river views from the docks of Washington’s Landing. (OH, and all you can eat crab legs! YUM!)
  • Dozen Bake Shop: If you know me, you know that I have a serious problem when it comes to sweets. I love this spot because of their delectable delicacies, but they also offer ways to satisfy Fluffy’s sweet tooth, via dog-safe cupcakes!
Through my research for this post, I was pleasantly surprised to discover MANY restaurants in Pittsburgh that boast dog-friendly outdoor seating. Check out more, here.
 

The Sweet Tooth’s connected to the Dog Bone…

While we haven’t (yet…) personally experienced any of these, I found three bakeries that SPECIALIZE in sweet treats for your pets. Check them out!

Hot Dog Hotels

While we do not choose to board our dogs when we travel, we have visited all of the places below for a variety of reasons, and can vouch for their reliability, attention to detail, and pet-centered approach. It is safe to say that if you choose any of them, you had better be prepared to come home jealous, as your dog may enjoy more fun and pampering than you!
  • Lucky Paws Pet Resort: Rather than blab on and on about them, I will simply let their offerings speak for themselves… they boast a swimming pool, spa treatments including blueberry facials and fur butter deep hair conditioning, indoor/outdoor dog parks, luxury suites (complete with heated floors, cable TV, and sound systems) a multilevel cat condo that features a fish tank, and on, and on, and on…
  • Misty Pines: Set back in a beautifully wooded area, Misty Pines is what I call a doggie adventure park. They possess numerous outdoor enclosures for separation of dogs via play style, size, or age, each complete with various obstacles and agility courses. They offer doggie yoga classes, a swimming pool, spa treatments, agility classes, and obedience training. My favorite part? Miles of winding wooded trails, which lead to an amazing lake and dock, perfect for dock-diving training and retrievals.
  • K9 Kingdom: While you will be hard pressed to find a nicer exclusively indoors pet boarding and doggie daycare business, perhaps more impressive is their amazing staff, who put their heart and soul into caring for your pets. They boast a huge play space and lots of opportunities for socialization, all under the watchful eye of a caring staff member. After a day of treadmill workouts and loving attention, overnight guests are treated to a frozen peanut butter Kong at bedtime… and you know how we feel about Kongs around here!

Nature Adventures

  • McConnells Mill State Park: I had been begging Foster Dad to go here with me for literally YEARS. Once I finally convinced him to visit, he couldn’t stop talking about our return. Shaded by giant trees, their trails wind along a rapidly cascading river (flanked by giant waterfalls, and of course, an old mill!) and boast occasional sandy beaches… perfect for throwing sticks into the water for the dog that loves to swim, or to relax with a picnic lunch. You can take it easy on a leisurely walk with your dog, but for the more adventurous, there are white rapid kayak spots and intimidating climbing areas.
  • Rails to Trails- Butler-Freeport Community: This is a scenic trail that is dog-friendly. There are numerous parking spots along its 20 miles stretch, meaning that you can start and end at a different location each time. It boarders the Buffalo Creek, providing ample water access.
  • Frick Park: Located just outside of downtown, this parks offers a creek with a dam, perfect for swimming, as well as a popular off-leash area with doggie water fountains.
  • Hartwood Acres: This is on of the area’s most beautiful locations, and with 200 acres, it is not uncommon to leave without seeing another soul! Romp around the mansion and its gardens, visit the off-leash dog park, explore the wooded trails, or venture out to the barns and stables…
  • Animal Friends: Though known for their animal shelter and rescuing efforts, they also rent out their off-leash area for private frolicking.

So we wanna know… are you planning a visit? Or perhaps you have already been to some of these great businesses. Any you would add to the list? As always, we want to hear from you :O)