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?

b536cf8471ead58d3cb18206564e82ea

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.

jumpprev1

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.

922859_384119938374813_289831267_n

If you follow our blog, you see evidence of our many adventures together.Β 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.

IMG_1558

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!

Do Big Things

I had someone share with me recently that while my blog was a ‘nice enough idea,’ it couldn’t possibly apply to enough people to ever really catch on.

{eye roll}

Regardless of their skepticism, it did make me take pause. What with our recent announcement of keeping Miss Gia, some of you may be wondering what this means as far as our blog, and our involvement in rescue. Of course, I have already taken on a more active role within LCPO, on their Leadership Team. I only hope to become more present within their organization (even though I’m at a distance) with time. However, I also don’t want to rule out the possibility of fostering in the future. While we can’t continue to be a permanent foster home at this specific point in our lives, there is no reason to think that we wouldn’t be able to do so someday, when our circumstances change (moving, etc.)Β I also plan to use this space to continue highlighting adoptable dogs, as well as showcasing all of the wonderful things pit bulls are doing in our communities! Finally, I hope to be a resource for pet owners who are facing challenges with their dogs, of any breed. I have a few other exciting prospects that are in the works, so I don’t anticipate that this space will be terribly boring any time soon!

I don’t know specifically what the future holds for me, and that can be a scary realization for someone who is a Type A planner by nature! I am a person that has always pictured my life with a visible end-point and goal in sight. At the age of 8, I surprised my mother by dragging her into my room, to show her the list of my goals for that year, which I had written and taped up beside my mirror! At any stage in life, if you had asked me what I felt to be my greatest strengths, I would have told you that it was my drive and passion. In the past few years, my life has thrown me some pretty swift curve balls, both good and bad, that have caused my plans and goals to veer drastically off course. Those deviations made it impossible for me to stay on track with my aspirations, which thereby led to feelings of immense inadequacy. If I wasn’t driving toward my passions, then who was I, and what was my purpose?

188719_10150120248432427_4258381_n

It finally seems as though the course is leveling, the seas have calmed, and the storms are at bay. I am able to take a deep breath, and really focus on where I am and what I am meant to do. With all that has happened in my young life, it can be hard for even me to remember that I only just turned 23! (It feels good to say only.) In such a fast-paced world, full of successes and fame, it can be easy to feel like I am already behind in the race. However, I am learning to take the good with the bad, because without the heartbreak of defeat, wouldn’t come the sweetest victory of success. I am realizing what my heart’s passions and strengths are, and also that they have changed in the past few years… and that this is okay!

197753_10150120247737427_2569217_n

I know that this space serves as a place to come and read about dogs, but the reality of it is that it is also a cathartic release for me… a place where the world gets quiet, and I can get my thoughts and feelings out on paperΒ the screen in a way that is (to me, anyway) clear, orderly, and logical. For the first time in my life, I don’t know exactly how to get ‘there’, or even where ‘there’ is… but what is also a first, is that I’m learning to sit back and enjoy the (horseback) ride. Literally.

197037_10150120248177427_3147898_n

I know I’m coming across a little bit scatter-brained today, and I apologize for that. What I am really wanting to get to, is that it is important to do big things. The things that inspire you, but also the things that scare you. What is interesting, is that these things almost always also happen to be good for the people in the world around you. Even if you don’t know exactly what you want to do with your life, you probably have an idea of what makes you smile. I know you are sitting there reading, with this big cRaZy dream in your head, and you’re saying, “But Stephanie, I am so busy, and so stressed, and so tired, and so overwhelmed… there is no way that I have room in my life to do more things. Especially BIG things.”

I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong! Do you think that fostering Georgia was always easy? What about living away from my family at the age of 16, and graduating both high school and college a year early? Nope, not easy. I’ve also maintained a job of some sort since I was 10, while simultaneously competing with horses around the nation. So guess what? I didn’t ever do it perfectly, and I didn’t ever always do it gracefully. But it taught me a heck of a lot more than going through life the old-fashioned way.

My point here is not at all to brag… I want to inspire you to do the things that seem scary and hard. Because in the end, isn’t happiness our ultimate goal?Β An adult couple I know, spends all of their free hours (when not working at their full-time, corporate jobs) volunteering in soup kitchens and prisons. They love to help others, and they love to share their passion for the power of prayer. My brother, who is a sophomore at UVA, and is a pre-med major, is following his life-long passion by not playing on his school’s team, but volunteering as a children’s soccer coach. Did I mention that he is a stellar student, and also has a job? Soccer has been his constant driving force throughout life, and he wants to share that devotion with kids. I have a friend who believes in combining her love of animals, with children who have come across hard times, and messages from the Bible. So, she is pursuing ways to make this vision into a therapeutic riding facility, with a Christian background. A busy mama that I know, is not only a PHENOMENAL mother, but also works, writes, draws, cooks, and dreams… and she will be doing big things one day. A girl I know who just graduated from college, is an aspiring musician, but also spends tons of time with the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program.

I know at least a few of you are (hopefully still) sitting there, reading these words, with one specific thought lingering in your mind. Maybe you have pushed it away for years, into that dark little corner full of cob webs and dust bunnies. What is the worst that could happen? So what if we end up a little bit bruised, with less money in our pockets, and less ‘fans’ than when we began… you only have a short time here to achieve your dreams, friends. And if you are happy, what more could you really ask for? I’m not talking about content-happy. I mean ‘life-is-a-grand-adventure, and-I’m-thankful-for-it-every-day’ kind of happy. The kind of happy that comes from dancing in the sunshine, picking flowers, and cuddling puppies.

What I’m trying to say, is don’t just talk about how much you love animals… get up off your butt and volunteer! Maybe children are your passion; do some research, and find a local organization that helps disadvantaged youth. It could be music or sports or cooking or writing… it doesn’t matter where you choose to concentrate your efforts, or even the amount of time you can devote to it right now, but what does matter is that you do it. Just think of what a different place the world would be, if we all put into action, the thoughts and dreams that were in our hearts. Don’t you think that there is a reason you have these inspirations sitting inside of you? Share them with the world, instead of bottling them up inside. I can promise that you will have at least one fan rooting for you. πŸ˜‰

One of my favorite pictures in the whole, wide, world.

One of my favorite pictures in the whole, wide, world.

“What would you dare to do, if you knew that you could not fail?”

-Robert H. Schuller

(Never really) Wordless Wednesday: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Why do all of our photos feature sleeping pups? Is it because they are that lazy, or just extra-adorable when silent still snoozing? Either way, I love them all to pieces! Now, what do you think they are dreaming about?

Look at that little paw... Gaige and her daddy

Look at that little paw… Gaige and her daddy

I can't get enough of those ears!

I can’t get enough of those ears!

She buried her head under the covers... not ready to wake up!

She buried her head under the covers… not ready to wake up!

Even the kitty cat Bella gets in on the snuggle-bug action

Even the kitty cat Bella gets in on the snuggle-bug action

Big dog in a little chair...

Big dog in a little chair…

Makes my heart melt... even if their large and in charge presence did kick me to the couch!

Makes my heart melt… even if their large and in charge presence did kick me to the couch!

Comfy, G?

Comfy, G?

Look at those lips!

Look at those lips!

My own real-life teddy bear!

My own real-life teddy bear!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wordless Wednesday: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

..Oooh, girls just wanna have funnn! (You know you read that in a singing voice… don’t lie!)

You all know that Wednesdays never stay wordless for long around here, but I do my best to keep it short & sweet. I spoke in this post about how Gia is quite the little lovebug, when it comes to flirting with the men in our house… or, the ones she meets on the street. Not to call her easy, but let’s just say that our girl doesn’t discriminate!

However, I must say that Georgia can also be a girl’s best friend… and I think I am perfect proof of that!

Playing nurse

Big thanks to Foster Dad for capturing all of these special moments πŸ™‚ Now if only we could get a few with ALL of us in the shot… but that would be some sort of Christmas miracle!

The Awards Ceremony: Inspirational Blogger!

For some of you dog-lovers out there, today’s post might be a bit boring. (As opposed to all of the others, which I desperately hope are not!) Drum roll please….. We were nominated for our first blogging award!

Thanks to one of our favorite blogs, the always hilarious TuesdayNightBoyfriend, we are now a “Very Inspiring Blog”. Woo-hoo! You should totally check out her posts. She combines her 3 favorite things, in a very creative way… her dog (a pittie!), her boyfriend Ryan, and food. They get pretty adorable together!

So, on to the rules of the award…

  • Link back to the person who nominated you Β  CHECK!
  • Nominate 15 bloggers
  • Share 7 facts about yourself

Embarrassingly enough, the nominations part is super simple for me. There are SO many blogs that I follow on a regular basis, and I would love the opportunity to give them a shout-out. However, I just want to clarify that I am still learning the rules of blogging etiquette. To me, getting a blogging award is this Super Cool Thing (just ask Jonathan, who gets to deal with my daily rundown of new blogging stats on the regular), but perhaps the writers I am nominating do not agree? To put it in perspective, these guys are the best of the best, the seniors of the school, the top dogs… so this is just my disclaimer that you don’t have to participate. Just take it as my form of complimenting, as these really are the people that have inspired us to do what we do. Participate at your leisure!

My Inspirational Blogs

(in no particular order)
Β 
  1. Two Pitties in the City: This blogger hails from Chicago, and I love to read about their adventures in the windy city.
  2. Two Black Dogs: Obviously, I’m obsessed with the name, but we have more than that in common. This lady also nominated us for the “Super Sweet Award”. How ‘sweet’ of her?!
  3. Kate with a Camera: Dude. Kate’s photography skills are unparalleled. I wanna convince her to take a trip to Pittsburgh to photograph me with my pups! She is also a fantastic writer, and shares poignant stories that relate to all things furry.
  4. Peace, Love & Fostering: This girl is my age, so I love to read about fostering from a similar perspective. However, her training tips and rescue advice are pretty much unparalleled.
  5. A Heartbeat at My Feet: As if the name wasn’t swoon-worthy enough, this writer shares hilarious tales of fostering. Be prepared to L.O.L.
  6. Pittieful Love: The pit bull snuggle-fest continues. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  7. That Touch of Pit: Bringing both the male & female perspective to the world of pittie blogging, Josh & Jennifer have an impressive resume of experience in the world of animal rescue & welfare, and are happy to share their knowledge with the rest of us.
  8. Fostrickson: I have linked you to my favorite post of theirs, ‘Marriage Vows for Dogs’. You have to read it.
  9. Pitlandia: These guys are also a bit new to the world of blogging, so we share that perspective. The story of how they came to adopt a little brindled pittie girl is precious, and everything that ensues is pure hilarity!
  10. For the Love of My Dogs: This blog is all-encompassing. Head to their page to read about everything from nutrition, to responsible ownership, to animal welfare.
  11. Adventures of a Dog Mom: Combining dogs & food in the most glorious (and humane!) of ways.
  12. Doggerel: First. Time. Dog owners! As if that isn’t enough, their pup is named Pyrrha (I love unique names and a good literary reference) and she is a gorgeous, rescued German Shepherd. We don’t discriminate here, people!
  13. Our Waldo Bungie: Doesn’t the name just say it all? More dogs. More love. In a little Kansas Bungalow.
  14. Love & a 6-Foot Leash: I love every blog on this list, but I have to say, these guys are probably the creme de la creme. They are truly what started us on our fostering journey, and we can’t thank them enough. Blogging professionals. Oh, and their pups are ridiculously adorable.
  15. The Sweeter Side of Mommyhood: This blog has very little (ok, nothing?) to do with dogs. But I nanny for the amazing mama who writes it, and I love to check out all of her tips on raising happy, healthy kiddoes. She has the combination of parenthood, food, and art down to a science, people! She also advocates for a heartbreaking illness called congenital CMV.

Seriously, I thought long and hard about what blogs to include on this list. So sorry that I had to leave some other favorites out, but take a gander at the ones we featured. You won’t regret it!

On to the 7 Random Facts About Stephanie:

1.) I am a proud graduate of Penn State University, where I met my husband. I come from a long line of Penn Staters… my first word was Nittany!

2.)Β I was born in Chicago, and have moved around a lot since… this is the first time in years I feel comfortable saying that I know where I am from! Just North of Pittsburgh, to be precise.

3.) My dog Tonka is my best friend. Hands down. And no, I am not ashamed to admit that. (Hubby comes in at a close second!) Also, Tonka is a 50/50 mix of purebred Golden Retriever (mama) and purebred brindle Boxer (pops). Don’t try to argue with me, I knew the parents!

4.) I have been a workaholic for most of my (young) life. I have maintained a job of some sort since the age of 10 (pet-sitting businesses and horse stall cleaning, to name a few!) and graduated high school and college in a combined total of 6 years.

5.) Every car I have owned has been a manual transmission. I think everyone should learn how to drive one… it’s just way more fun!

6.) Riding and showing horses is my passion, but I’ve taken a break from that to focus on the fostering thing. I have been riding since I was 7 years old, which is over 2/3 of my life! My horse Frosty was my once-in-a-lifetime partner, and I still miss him every day.

7.) If you know the story of how I met my hubby, Jonathan, you probably think we are crazy! But he is my biggest supporter, and we balance each other perfectly. Life has never been better! I am one lucky girl.

So, I think that’s about it! Hope I haven’t bored anyone too much… Do we have any ‘random facts’ in common? Want to know more? Let us know! We will be back tomorrow with more from our Georgia girl. Stay-tuned!