Monday, December 22, 2014


I grew up going to mass every Sunday. I continued that until about two years ago when I quit going to the church in my town. As I get older, I find myself understanding and connecting more and more with Dickinson's "Some keep the Sabbath going to Church"; I find more serenity walking in the woods with Barley than I do sitting in a church filled with screaming babies. But, I still go to church every Sunday with my mom when I visit her.

Last weekend--the third Sunday of Advent--the priest gave a homily about the struggle many people have to find joy, especially at this time of year. He challenged everyone to stop thinking about what they don't have and to be thankful for the things they do have.

Throughout the whole homily, I couldn't help but think of Barley. She embodies joy.

Whether she's exploring a new trail, playing with a toy, or frolicking in the snow, Barley is my smiling dog.

It's hard not to find joy in life when you're hanging out with Barley. Of course, she creates plenty of stress, too, but Barley has no trouble finding joy in the little things in life: squirrels, snacks, snuggles. She's helped me find joy in the world, too.

Soth doesn't have much trouble finding joy, either--despite his struggles with FLUTD. Give him a fuzzy blanket (or a dog bed), a catnip toy, or a bite to eat and he's happy.

Barley, Soth, and I hope that you're all feeling the joy of the holiday season this week, but if you're struggling to find that joy at this time of year, try taking a page out of our pets' books. Find joy in mischief, in nature, in family and friends, in snacks, in curling up under a well-loved blanket. Christmas really isn't about what we don't have. Love is Christmas and if you have a pet, you definitely have love.

Friday, December 12, 2014


As I mentioned last Friday, Barley and I were set to hit our goal on Friday afternoon. On our 483rd walk of the year, Barley and I hit 1,000 miles.

Of course, we had to stop and take a selfie.

When we uploaded our walk, we got the stats to show just how much time we'd spent walking to reach our goal: 297 hours, 12 minutes, and 13 seconds.

We came home and celebrated with a new Ruffhides for Barley and a New Belgium Hop the Pond double IPA for me.

It feels great to know that we met our goal! Back in February when we were lucky to get in half a mile a day with the terrible cold, I wasn't sure we'd get here, but we did and a big part of our success has been all of you! On December 31, Barley and I plan to announce a surprise as a way to thank all of your for our support.

Reaching our goal wasn't our only celebration this week. On Tuesday, Barley celebrated her 5th birthday!

Posing with her new presents.

Since we haven't had snow since before Thanksgiving, I got Barley the closest thing I could get to her favorite thing for her birthday. Petsmart had several different options for squeaky snowballs, so I got a six-pack. They are hysterical. They're small enough that I can fit three in each hand a squeak them all at once. When I throw all six up in the air, Barley runs in circles and can't decide which one to go after, so she just runs from one to the next until she gives up.

We also got in a short, but nice walk along the lake to celebrate. It was dreary and a little drizzly, but we had the whole park to ourselves. 

Our final celebration has been the fact that I got all of my final grading done in record time. My last sent of finals were due on Thursday by 11:00 a.m. and thanks to students turning things in early and having a couple smaller classes, I had final grades for all five classes submitted by 11:30. With the exception of going to graduation tomorrow night, I am officially on break until January.

The best little grading helper ever.
When they snuggle instead of play fight, it's much easier to get work done.
We ended the week of celebrations with 18.74 miles, which puts us at 1017.30 miles for the year.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Home Stretch

Barley and I had some special company to motivate us as we approached the end of our goal. My sister and my nephew, Maddux, came up for Thanksgiving.

According to the receipt, these things are roosters--but I bought them thinking they were turkeys, so we compromised and are calling them turduckens.

Maddux isn't sure he likes the way we do things at our house.

We got to take Maddux to several of our favorite places so he could get the real Ohio experience.

The shortest dog in the family with the shortest covered bridge in the country.

My nephew might have short legs, but he's a happy little trail dog. We got in a good 3+ mile walk at the arboretum where the dogs got to prance through the little bit of snow that was left and watch for black squirrels.

Barley was not enthusiastic about holding my headband while I zipped our pack back up.

Maddux is more interested in eating treats than posing for the camera.

We also took a nice walk at the State Park so Maddux could see Lake Erie--and put his toes on a beach for the first time ever.

Cousins walking in step.

My nephew thinks he could be a Baywatch babe.

We were sad to say goodbye to them, but we're looking forward to reuniting at Christmas. With their help, we ended the week with 18.08 miles putting us at 998.56 miles. By the time most of your read this, we will have reached our goal.