Friday, March 15, 2013

An End of Winter Walk

Remember that episode of Gilmore Girls where Rory is bummed because Logan moves to London for work and they have to cancel their summer tour of Asia, so Lorelai turns their house into Asia with Hello Kitty paraphernalia, sushi, and kimonos?  Today, Barley and I went to the State Park and pretended we were traveling to Antarctica.

Unlike Lorelai, I had nothing to do with turning the State Park into Antarctica, but it was a pretty walk.  The beach still had snow right along the the water and the waves were crashing against it.

In the summer and fall, the lake is usually to far up the beach to walk very far without wading through the water.  And, in the early fall, the beach is usually covered with dead fish, so we avoid it.  Today, though, the beach was wide and relatively clean.  So, we were able to walk farther than we've ever been able to walk on the beach.  Then we found a little path that took us through the woods and back to the regular paved trail we usually stick to.  It was really fun to explore new territory in a place where we've been a hundred times.  Even the parts of the park that we see several times a week in the summer looked new.  They've cleared out some trees and made some other changes that I can't quite put my finger on, but it looks different.

We spent over an hour and a half romping on the beach, walking on the trails, and ended up walking over 3.5 miles.

The past week, I've felt like a pretty bad doggie mommy.  Monday, it rained, and since we had agility class on Monday night, I figured we could justify skipping a walk.  Then on Tuesday, I had a lot of grading that I need I had to get done, so we just got our 1.4-mile neighborhood walk that we usually save for the gross, cold rainy/snowy days when we need a walk to meet our monthly goal.  Wednesday, Soth had a vet appointment for his vaccinations (more on that at the end), so I came home from work long enough to let Barley out to potty and then Soth and I had to rush off to the vet.  By the time we got home, it was snowy and cold and I had 12 papers I had to grade before I went to bed, so we missed our walk again.  We got a little practice in with our jumps.  Yesterday was the day I felt the guiltiest, though.  I'm normally home a little after 2:00 on Thursdays, but yesterday one of my students offered to help me with getting the folders together for the English festival I organize for local middle school students (that's happening NEXT week!), so I stayed at work later and didn't get home until 4.  Then I had to be back on campus by 7 to support a colleague who was leading a Socratic discussion for students and faculty to take part in.  So, I was home for two hours before I had to put Barley back in her crate and head back to work.  We got a 3.5-mile walk in during that time, but it was not a very exciting day for my Barley girl.

So today, I was determined to do something fun with my girl.  The temperature wasn't supposed to get above the mid-30s and there was a chance of snow, so I didn't want to venture too far from home, which made the State Park a perfect spot.  Barley seemed so excited to be out of the neighborhood.  Halfway through our walk, she went nuts and started jumping and crouching and just running back and forth across the trail.  She does that all the time when we're out in the yard or when we're on the beach at the park, but she never does that when we're in the middle of a walk.  It was really entertaining.

We also had a lot of success with distractions that we've needed to work on for the therapy dog test.  First, we encountered a woman with a 6-month-old German Shepherd, and she stopped to ask us if dogs were allowed on the beach.  One thing that's always hit-or-miss with Barley is the meet-and-greet with a friendly dog, but she did great today.  The woman with the puppy was great; she stayed on the the other side of the path and her puppy lay down in the grass.  Then Barley sat down and waited while we chatted, which is exactly what she's supposed to do--she wasn't in heel position, but it was the most relaxed I think she's ever been with with a strange dog on our walks.  Then we got a lot of practice with joggers and bikers--our downfall on the last TDI test attempt.  She didn't even turn her head to look at any of the people going by.  Maybe by mid-summer, if we can work on not eating food off the floor a little more, we'll be able to pass the test.

We also got a little bird watching in.  I love birds.  I'm not good at identifying very many types, but I love them.  Today, there were a ton of huge birds, I'm not sure what kind, but they were big and black and it looked like they had some white markings on their heads, but when I tried to use an online bird book thing it told me they were vultures, which was not true because I do know what those look like.  Then there were some cute little mallards floating on the ice.  There were also some teeny tiny brown ducks with some white markings, seriously the smallest, cutest ducks I've ever seen, floating in a pond, but they were really skittish and flew away before Barley and I got anywhere close enough to take a picture.  The online bird book failed me in identifying them, too.  (So, in 6.5 months, if anyone wants to get me a bird guide for my birthday, I'm pretty sure Barley and I can find a way to fit it in our backpack!)  On the way back to the car, we saw a female cardinal, and cardinals are one of my favorite birds, so that was really exciting.  I didn't even know they lived here!
There were at least 8 massive birds flying above us and then two little mallards floating on the ice.
Watching the ducks fly away
All in all, it was an excellent walk with my Barley girl in a park that's close to home, but still a great change of pace from the regular neighborhood walks.  And, since we're halfway through March now, it seems as good a time as any to update on our resolution progress.  We've walked 35.3 miles so far this month!  If we keep this up, we're not going to be doing anything but walking by the time December rolls around (so hint, hint, Mother Nature--give us a few good rainy days this months!).  We only need to walk 12 more miles this month to meet our goal, which will be especially easy to do since we got a full week off (if I can just survive next week and the English festival first) for spring break!

*Soth Update*
Drum roll please.  Like I said, on Wednesday Soth went in for his vaccinations.  He hadn't lost much weight, (he was down to 10.6 lbs. from the 10.8 he was at when he went in for his flushing procedure) and the vet said that wasn't unusual since he has been eating even more canned food than usual (he's scarfing down three 3-oz. cans a day!  he's eating me out of house and home!).  When the vet did his wellness exam, she said that his eyes looked brighter than they had in months and he was also really curious about everything.  He was sniffing the table and the vet tech--he even let her brush him!  When the vet felt his belly, she said that his bladder (which if you remember was really small and hard and unable to expand last time) could hardly be felt at all--so it's more normal!  Also, this week the blood hasn't been showing up in his urine much at all, so that means the outbreak I was worried about last week was probably just the regular cycle of FLUTD.  On a non-vet related note, he's also been playing and climbing EVERYTHING, so he's acting more like a normal cat.

The other day, I was grading papers and it was close to his final meal time, but I wanted to get through the paper I was in the middle of first.  Soth was being a brat, knocking things (bills, my keys, pens) off the counters to get my attention.  Barley was curled up next to me.  Then things got quiet.  Finally, I heard a rustling in the kitchen.  Since I knew it wasn't Barley, I got up to see what was happening.  I got to the kitchen just in time to see Soth peeking his head out and pushing open a CLOSED cupboard door.  I don't mean the cupboards near the floor--those have baby locks on them to keep him out.  We're talking about the ones that are above the counters, above the microwave, the ones that don't have enough room on the counter below them to jump up inside them even if the door was open.  How did he get in there?!

1 comment:

  1. I don't know how I missed this post!! I love that story about my Bunny! I'm so glad he's feeling better!

    I love finding new parts of our parks and trails, too! It's nice to know that there's always more to discover, although I rarely find myself getting bored with the different people and animals there each time and the changing seasons.

    I love all the pictures of my Barley girl! It's ok that you were a bad mom this week. I was, too! Some weeks are just crazy.