Friday, August 29, 2014

August Resolution Update

Since the final Friday in August is upon us, it seemed like a great time for another update on our resolution progress.  If you've been with us a while, you know we're working towards a goal of walking 1000 miles together by the end of the year. We reached the halfway point exactly halfway through the year.

This week, we haven't had too many adventures since we've been trying to get back into our school year routine, but we did manage a couple walks at the State Park after work.

Hey, aren't you supposed to be hopping away now? 
This fellow was not going to give into the border collie stare.
Duck butts always make me smile.

Going to the State Park gave us a nice trail where we could easily get in our daily 3 miles in one shot and just relax alongside Lake Erie.

Yesterday, we got a quick walk down to the park near our house--where we were surprised to see so many crunchy leaves on the ground already! Fall is in the air!


After our walk, my friend came over so we could go celebrate surviving the first week of classes with a $1.99 margarita at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Since it was still light out when dinner was over, we went back home and took Barley for a little stroll around the neighborhood--so I can feel a little less guilty about the massive plate of nachos I demolished.

Our walk last night put us at 93.55 miles for August (which I think is pretty darn good considering we went on 2 road trips and I went back to work!) and at 712.11 miles (or 71% of our goal) for the year!

According to my Garmin Dashboard, we have 124 days left (including today) to meet our goal. We've got 287.89 miles left, which means we need to get about 2.32 miles a day for the rest of the year. We're still going to shoot for 3+ a day, but it's nice to know if we can't squeeze in that many miles every day, it won't hold us back! This goal is looking more and more manageable by the day!

Happy FitDog Friday! Hope everyone else has been managing to have a Fit Week, especially those of you who have also had to go back to school!


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Barley the Barnacle

I've always loved school--as a student and now as a professor. I love shopping for school supplies. I love packing my bag and repacking my bag over and over until I'm sure everything is in the most effective place. I love seeing the excitement of everyone as the classroom fills up. But I always forget one thing..

Going back to school is hard.

After a summer of living in "dog walking clothes" and not setting an alarm, it's hard to go to bed at a set time and set an alarm in the morning and have to put on heels. After spending a lot of time on my own or in small groups of friends, being in front of 20+ people and lecturing is exhausting. Having to figure out a schedule that doesn't involve waking up when I want, drinking coffee, walking the dog, and reading is a huge change from the life I've been living for the last 3 months.

I've had a terrible case of "back to school brain" this week! We got halfway to agility class on Tuesday and I realized I'd forgotten my wallet--no post-agility waffle fries for us this week!

I'm not the only one that's been struggling this week. Poor Barley seems to think that I've abandoned her.

Every time I sit down, Barley's on top of me. She has been stuck to me like glue.


It is hard to prep for class when your dog attaches herself to you.

Normally, if it's warm in the apartment, Barley sleeps under the bed. She was having none of that on Monday night. It was not the best sleep I've gotten, but doesn't she look peaceful?


Every time I walk into another room, I turn around to see her looking at me with the most concerned look on her face.


Soth, on the other hand, has adjusted well as long as I'm ready to refill his bowl as soon as I get home. He meets me at the door when I get home, gives a little meow, and then runs to his bowl. 


Hopefully Barley and I settle into our new routine as nicely as Soth has soon.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Doggin' the Berkshires, Part 2

Last week, I recapped the first three hikes we tackled during our vacation. On our final full day in Massachusetts, we checked two more parks from Doggin' the Berkshires off the list to make a total of 5 parks in three full days. I would have liked to check out more, but between rain on our first evening in town and spending several hours in Concord, MA one day, there just wasn't time.  I guess that means we'll just have to come back!

Here's the recap of our final 2 hikes.

Tyringham Cobble (#3)
I wanted to try this park because Doggin' the Berkshires said that free range Hereford cattle grazed in the field where the hike began. I was just curious about how Barley might handle seeing cows--and I think cows are kind of cute, so I wanted to see them. Unfortunately, there were no cows in the field--so either that's not something that happens there anymore or the cows were hanging out somewhere else.



The park was great, but it was probably my most miserable hike ever! It was about an hour and a half from our cottage and by the time we got there, the morning coffee hit me. Of course, there were NO bathrooms, not even a port-a-potty anywhere in the park. Eventually, I came to the horrifying realization that I was going to have to find a tree to go behind. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am a little bit prissy--in fact, I didn't have an outdoorsy bone in my body until I met Barley (unless you count sitting on the porch and reading as outdoorsy). I hoped and prayed that I could just make it back to the car so I could race to the nearest fast food place, but no such luck. So, the first half of this adventure was not the best walk I have ever been on.




The trail we were on was a blend of meadow and woods. It was in the 50s when we started, so it was nice to start out in the sunny meadow. The majority of the hike was in the woods, though, so it would be a great place to visit when you needed a nice, shady walk. There were a couple pretty steep inclines, but nothing too terrible. We got to spend a little time walking on the Appalachian Trail where it intersected with the main trail, so we can say we've done that now. I'm disappointed there were no cows about, but the scenery was nice anyway--stone walls, rock formations, mountain views from the meadow--and we got in 1.75 miles.

Monument Mountain (#7)
This hike called to me because supposedly in August 1850 Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville met on a hike with Oliver Wendell Holmes and other people. They took wine and food in a wagon and when it started to rain, they hung out in a cave where Melville and Hawthorne began the friendship that led to Melville dedicating Moby Dick to Hawthorne. I wanted to be able to say we'd walked in the footsteps of some of the authors I teach to my students. It was also just a few minutes from Tyringham Cobble, so we could visit the two parks I wanted to visit the most on the same day.
Posing in front of the sign for the Melville Trail.
There are three trails here: the Indian Monument Trail, the Hickey Trail, and the Squaw Peak Trail. Squaw Peak is a connector trail between the other two that goes up to the 1642-foot peak. Doggin' the Berkshires warned that the views (which are supposedly great) are "reached on a rocky scramble along" the trail with "rock climbs and unguarded, precipitous drop-offs." The book basically said that if your dog isn't a saint, don't try this. I knew immediately that we'd be avoiding that trail no matter how great the views might be. Barley and I have been on some strenuous (and sort of scary) trails and she was really responsive to commands the day of this hike, but I'm not used to hiking in actual mountains, I'm terrified of heights, and no matter how well behaved Barley is normally, she can still be really unpredictable. It just wasn't worth the risk--we'd seen plenty of other great views on this trip and the whole point of this hike was it's literary history.

We were originally going to take the Indian Monument Trail up and back (it makes a loop with the Hickey Trail) because it was the longest trail and the least strenuous trail since it used to be part of a carriage road in the 1800s (and miles are what count for our resolution, not difficultly). But when we got to the parking lot, there was an off-leash dog hanging out while its owner got his backpack put together. As soon as we started to turn toward the trail, it started trotting over to say hi, so we decided to tackle the Hickey Trail, which is half the distance, but insanely difficult for flatlanders like me (Barley had no troubles).



I was born 12 inches above sea level and lived at that altitude the first 11 years of my life. I didn't gain significant altitude until I moved to New Mexico for grad school. Despite the three years there, altitude is not my friend. It's not as bad when I'm the one driving, but it still takes a lot out of me. I also haven't had to use the muscles it takes to climb up steep inclines very much ever in my life--so even though Barley and I have averaged 4 miles a day for the last 2.5 months or so, it was a really difficult hike! For a reference point, in our neighborhood, our elevation gain ranges from 7 feet to 64 feet and at the arboretum (our most regular hiking spot) the elevation gain on our regular trails is 263 feet; on this hike, our elevation gain was 536 feet! There were parts when I felt like my lungs and heart were going to explode. And, of course, on all of those parts small children would come running up the trail behind us, so I'd conveniently take out Barley's h2o4k9 bottle and act like we were stopping for her instead of because I thought I might die.



There were also several very rocky spots that required lots of communication between the pup and I. I'm not sure how she got so good at the "wait" command, but she is so patient with me when I'm finding my footing on uneven terrain. Some how, we made it up the .8-mile Hickey Trail and were more than happy to take the Indian Monument Trail down. The Indian Monument Trail had a few tricky spots, but it was a piece of cake compared to what we'd just done! And in all honesty, if I'm going to do a strenuous trail with Barley, I'd MUCH rather do strenuous on the way up than on the way down. As good as she is at waiting, sometimes when we're going downhill Barley can't help but charge down the hill and even though she doesn't pull me, it makes me nervous!

We survived!
Overall, we had a really great vacation! I got to spend time visiting the homes of my two favorite writers and we got to try out some trails that were COMPLETELY different from anything we have near home.

If you are ever in Western Massachusetts with only one or two people and need a pet-friendly place to stay, we highly recommend Cavalier Cottage. It's a studio cottage, so it's pretty small, but cozy in the best possible way. There's a full kitchen and plenty of room for a crate if you need it.



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Literary Adventures

The main reason Barley, Soth, and I visited Massachusetts is because I have loved Emily Dickinson since I was in high school. I distinctly remember reading her in my 11th grade AP American Literature class and I fell in love at once. Maybe it had something to do with how easy it was for a teenager to relate to "Heart, we will forget him!" or maybe it was the fact that my English teacher, who was known for her toughness and fondness for her red pen, showed vulnerability when she told us that we needed to read "I heard a Fly--buzz when I died--" to prepare for the AP exam, but that she hadn't been able to teach it since her husband died. Whatever the reason, I fell in love with Dickinson that year.

When I got to college, I had already earned all of the English credit I needed through the dual enrollment program at my high school--and I was not planning to be an English major since I wanted to go into sports journalism, but I needed another class and my advisor introduced me to the American literature professor in the office next to hers. We hit it off immediately and I signed up for her Intro to American Lit class my first semester. It turns out that she was a Dickinson scholar and we spent several classes reading Dickinson. I loved my professor, so I ended up taking every class I could with her (a total of 6) and somehow Dickinson found her way into every class, regardless of the topic (and somehow this also happens in my own classes today!).

In the bitter cold months of this past winter, I realized Amherst was only a little over 8 hours away from my house (4+ hours closer than my parents are!). It seemed crazy that I'd been so close and yet never gone to visit Amherst, so I did some research on hiking in the area and some searching on VRBO.com for pet friendly rentals and booked a trip. So even though Barley and Soth came along, this trip was really my pilgrimage to Amherst.

I was so worried that something would go amiss with the visit that I made sure that was the first activity scheduled for our first full day in Massachusetts. The Dickinson Museum website said tickets for tours were sold on a first-come, first-serve basis and couldn't be pre-ordered and I was terrified I wouldn't get there in time for tickets, so I woke up early so I could get a decent walk with Barley in the morning and then be at the museum right after it opened. I guess not everyone loves Dickinson like I do because I was the ONLY one on my tour! It was great! I got to browse all of the artifacts in the house without worrying about blocking someone else's view and the tour guide and I got to chat about things that weren't necessarily part of the official tour. I did the dual tour that also took you through her brother and sister-in-law's house next door.

A selfie under Emily's bedroom window 
The Evergreens, home of Sue and Austin Dickinson
It was like a spiritual experience--standing in her bedroom and seeing where she sat when wrote the poems cherish reminded me of the feeling I had when I visited the Vatican in college. As I walked the path between her house and her brother's house, I could imagine walking with her newfie Carlo. I wandered through her flower beds and saw the types of flowers she wrote about in her poetry. I even visited her grave a few blocks away from her house. Really, this was the trip of a lifetime. It might not have been glamorous like a trip to Paris, but it was the only trip I've ever really wanted to take and I hope to take it many more times in my life. There were so many things that I didn't get to see in Amherst, mostly because I wanted to do as much as possible, which meant picking and choosing the most important things.

Lots of gifts had been left for Emily.

A mural in West Cemetery included Emily and her sister Lavinia (and one of Vinnie's cats!)
One of the other most important literary women in my life has been Louisa May Alcott. I knew she was from Massachusetts and shortly before leaving for the trip I learned her house was a little under 2 hours from our cottage. I vowed that if at all possible I'd visit her house, too. I didn't want to leave Barley alone for two full days, so I decided I wouldn't rush to get on the first tour of her house. Instead, I woke up early and took Barley to two different parks in the morning (you can read the recap here). Since it was rainy and chilly, I didn't feel too guilty about leaving her the rest of the day and I set off for Concord.

Lousia May's house was the complete opposite of visiting Emily's house. I grew up reading Little Women and I was partially named after Beth (even though Jo is my favorite March sister). Visiting Orchard House was magical rather than spiritual. It was like getting to live inside my favorite story for a short time. Seeing the drawings on the walls of May Alcott's (also known as Amy March) room and seeing the desk where Little Women was written and the "stage" where the sisters would put on their shows and the boots that Louisa wore when she played Rodrigo was one of the most fun experiences I've ever had. One of my favorite parts was when our tour guide told us that Emerson attended Anna Alcott's wedding at Orchard House and gave her a congratulatory kiss on the cheek, which made Louisa jealous and she wrote in her journal that it might almost be worth getting married to get a kiss from Mr. Emerson. Louisa also had a mood pillow on the couch and the position of this little pillow let her family know if she was in a good mood or if it was best to avoid her. I might need to invest in one of these when I am visiting with my family! The only way this trip could have been better is if my mom had been with me because she loves Little Women as much (if not more than) as I do. It felt a little wrong visiting without her--but the gift shop helped me get her Christmas present all set way early!


Concord was a literary haven, so there were lots of places to visit. Unfortunately, I had to pick and choose again since I had gotten a later start in the day. I had enough time for one more house tour and had to choose between Emerson's house and Old Manse. Since Emerson and Hawthorne had lived at Old Manse for a while, it won out. I got on the last tour of the day and absolutely loved it. Hawthorne and Emerson are not my favorite writers, but I do enjoy teaching some of their works, so it was interesting to see where they had lived. Hawthorne had rented the house from Emerson's relatives and he and his wife had etched notes into some of the window panes with her diamond ring. That was really cool to see. I also got to see Emerson's portable desk that he moved around the property to get inspiration when he was writing Nature.



One of the funniest stories was about a stuffed owl that (I think) Thoreau gave to Hawthorne who named it Longfellow, even though it was actually a female owl. Hawthorne's wife HATED the owl and would move it and hide it when Hawthorne wasn't looking. When he found it, he'd put it in another place and see how long it took her to find it again!

A short walk from Old Manse is the North Bridge (which I need to learn more about--I got brief information on it from the two tours, so I know it has something to do with the Revolutionary War and possibly Paul Revere) where the Minute Man sculpture by David Chester French is. I was excited to get to see this because on the Orchard House tour, I learned that French had started sculpting with potatoes, but his parents weren't happy that they were losing their dinner, so they sent him to study with May Alcott who gave him his first set of sculpting tools--and later he carved this statue. Even cooler, though, is that he is also the sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial and he began the sculpture with the set of tools May had given him as an homage to his first art teacher.



My last brief literary adventure was a drive-by of Melville's home, Arrowhead, in Pittsfield. I really wanted to do a tour of this house, too, but I wanted to make sure Barley had an awesome trip, too, so our final full day was dedicated to hiking (which was a literary adventure of sorts, too, and you can read about it in tomorrow's Fit Dog Friday post) and I just didn't get her back to the cottage in time to make it back there for a tour, so I settled for just driving by on our way home from a hike.

Massachusetts is really an English nerd's dream come true. I barely made a dent in the list of literary adventures to be had here, so I really hope that I can come back again and continue to explore all of these literary treasures. There are still so many places I want to visit: Walden Pond, Emerson's house, Mount Greylock--just to name a few.

This trip was a great balance of doing things for me and doing things for Barley. I feel sort of bad for poor Soth who didn't get to have any real adventures--not even a brief sit on the porch to watch birds--but it was chilly outside (50s in August, really?!) and I didn't want him to catch a cold, so he had to make the most of the floor-to-ceiling windows and I don't think he minded too much.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Doggin' the Berkshires, Part 1

We're a little late to the party today, but I didn't want to miss out on a chance to share the first installment of our New England adventures, so I figured better late than never!

When we arrived at the cottage I found on VRBO.com, Barley was even more spastic than anticipated. It was drizzling, which she hates. Then the cottage I'm sure had the smells of the past dogs that have visited, so she was running around sniffing like a nut. Then one of the neighbor's dogs (who was very sweet) was running around in the driveway while I unloaded the car, which made Barley crazy as she watched from the floor-to-ceiling windows in the front of the cottage.

Finally, it stopped raining long enough that we could survey the road the cottage was on. It was everything I had hoped it would be: babbling brooks with mini waterfalls along the road, stone walls that inspired me to recite "Mending Wall," and old barns. Perfect.




As you might know, I'm obsessed with my Doggin' Cleveland book of dog-friendly hikes in Northeast Ohio. When I found out there was a Doggin' the Berkshires with 33 of the best hikes in the area we'd be staying in, I had to get it. I perused the book through all of the awful, cold, miserable winter months while I planned the trip. Of course, all 33 sounded delightful, but we only had so much time--and I had lots of literary homes I wanted to visit, too. I eventually narrowed it down to the fifteen most interesting--still too many to cover in one visit, but it gave me a starting point and we narrowed down from there based on how far away parks were, the weather, and how much time we had for hiking.

Here's an overview of the first three parks we tried out. Stay tuned next week for part 2 of our adventures!

Field Farm (#13)
This park was about an hour from the cottage we rented and promised great views "of the Taconic Range to the west and Mount Greylock to the east." Of course, I'm directionally challenged and unless I can figure out where I am in relation to Lake Erie, I can't figure out which direction is which. Since Lake Erie isn't anywhere close to us, I can't even begin to tell you which mountains are which, but the views were spectacular.




Another draw of Field Farm were the sculptures that were around the Guest House. Most of them weren't really my kind of art, but I always enjoy looking at art whether I "get it" or not. There was a nude statue that really freaked Barley out. She had no idea what to make of it--she stopped in her tracks and then proceeded to border collie stare the statue as she walked ALL the way around it.




We pieced together several parts of several different trails and got in a nice 2+ mile walk. The best part of this walk was that it was flat! The road our cottage was on was very hilly and my legs do not like that kind of workout!

Natural Bridge State Park (#31)
The Natural Bridge State Park was one of the closest to our cottage and it just sounded like something that would be neat to see. The cool thing here is all of the marble. There's a marble dam, which, according to Doggin' the Berkshires, is the only natural marble dam in the country. There's also a natural marble bridge, which I think is the arch thing in the last picture from here, but there were lots of wire fences (thank goodness because I do not like heights!) that made it hard to get a really good look at it--the sign that said natural bridge had an arrow that pointed down a staircase that dead ended at the arch thing, though, so I assume it's the bridge. There was a sculpture garden here, too, with sculptures I could at least sometimes understand (or at least identify what they were).








The trails here were very, very short, so we only got .51 miles all together here, but the marble was really cool--although on our way out of the park we did see another trail into the wood that supposedly was another .5-miles long.

Sheep Hill (#20)
We passed Sheep Hill on our way to Field Farm and it wasn't too far past the sign for the Natural Bridge, so we decided to check it out after visiting the Natural Bridge to get a little more mileage in. Unfortunately, it started drizzling right as we pulled into the parking lot. It wasn't a heavy rain, though, so I decided we'd at least get a little bit of a walk in. The trail we chose wasn't long, but it was intense! We took one of the connector trails back to the car when the drizzle got a little heavier, so we only made it .82 miles, but it was a work out! We paused several times so I could catch my breath Barley could look down and check on the car way down at the bottom of the hill. Even with the haziness, the views were still beautiful. It was worth the burning in my legs and lungs!



Soth also embraced vacation. The windows in the front of the cottage that made Barley crazy made my sweet boy perfectly content.


Check in next week when we follow up on the remaining trails we tried out!



Friday, August 8, 2014

Travels with Barley

We've been MIA for a couple weeks--mostly because we were visiting my parents and booting up my old computer that lives at their house fore the rare occasion I get lesson planning done on visits seemed too much trouble, but also because my parents' don't live in a particularly dog-friendly place, so Barley and I didn't spend much time adventuring.

This was Barley's first experience with a southern summer and if I needed any confirmation that my girl is a snow puppy, I got it on this trip. There were several days in the 90s and at least once I looked at my phone and it told me there was 96% humidity! Even though I lived in the south for the first 23 years of my life, I'm not cut out for that life anymore. Barley and I enjoyed slowing down and basking in the A/C for a while.

Barley loves enjoying the cool indoors with her cousin, Maddux.

Soth, on the other hand, figured out my parents' dog door and made several jail break attempts until we closed off the dog door for the rest of our visit. Being the paranoid pet mama that I am, I was certain he was going to get carried away by the two hawks who were hanging out in my parents' yard during the entire two weeks we were there. (Maybe, just maybe, I've watched The Proposal one too many times.)

Not the best picture, but these guys look like they'd love snacking on a little cat nugget.

I did periodically take him out on the porch with me so he could watch birds while I read. (If you like mystery novels and like novels narrated by dogs, I highly recommend Spencer Quinn's Chet and Bernie mystery series--they are silly and not "great" literature, but they are certainly fun!) Barley also enjoyed a little porch sittin' during our stay, too. She wasn't interested in going down to the dog run to romp (and since I worked up a sweat just turning a page in my book, who could blame her), but she spent a lot of time sitting on the porch border collie staring the squirrels. 


Since there are only a couple trails dogs are allowed on near my parents' place, most of my adventures were without the pup. My family humored me and visited a big cat sanctuary I'd seen a sign for on my way to their house. They also had some bears, wolves, and other animals that were interesting to see. My favorite was a white tiger named Aurora who looked like Soth if he were part of the Honey, I Blew Up the Kids cast.

Noccalula Falls is near the sanctuary--the trails aren't dog friendly, so since we were out there without the pups, we detoured on the way home so we could visit the falls and see the rest of the park.


We walked through most of the park, but hopped on the train to get the full Noccalula experience. My sister and I picked the back row of one car and ended up having to talk to small children from the row in front of us the entire ride. (For those of you who are good with children, what is the appropriate response when a small child smiles at you with at least 6 silver teeth and says, "My teeth are silver." All I could think of was "Wow! They're shiny." She seemed pleased.)

Family selfie! Linds and I lost those smiles as soon as the kids in the row in front of us befriend us.

The statue of Noccalula jumping off the cliff to avoid marrying a man she didn't love.

We also took a day trip to Huntsville for my dad's early birthday celebration. We visited the Space and Rocket Center where we fell in love with Miss Baker, one of the monkeys sent into space, and visited her grave. I was a little disappointed that the only mention we found of Laika the dog was a stuffed toy in the gift shop (that I was thisclose to buying), but it was a great place with a lot of interesting exhibits.

Look how tiny the capsule she rode in was!


I also got to crawl into a space capsule--it wasn't significantly smaller than the driver's side of my adorable little Juke, but it was significantly harder to get out of in a lady-like fashion.



It's not a birthday celebration without ice cream, right?
We also made a post-museum visit to the Straight to Ale brewery where we continued our celebration of Miss Baker (and Dad's birthday) with a Monkeynaut IPA.


Straight to Ale had a Laika-inspired beer, but they only had it in $10 bottles--and after splitting a tasting tray with my dad and sister and drinking a pint of Hell or Rye Water, I couldn't justify drinking a $10 bottle of beer on top of that, so I settled for a picture of the label.


During our time away from home, we managed to meet our 3-mile a day goal all but 2 days (and made up for those on other days). I'd like to give a big shout out to my mom and sister who were willing to leave the house early each morning and more incredibly leash up their pups and grab a flashlight every night to walk in the dark when it was cool enough for Barley to enjoy her stroll. Total July Miles: 118.49 Total Yearly Miles (as of 8/7/14): 643.96

Now that we're home again, it's time to make the packing list for our final adventures of the summer (I can't believe school starts back in less than 3 weeks!)--and we need your help!

Barley, Soth, and I are going on our first vacation and I want to be sure I have everything we're going to need! I've booked a dog friendly cottage in western Massachusetts so that I can visit Emily Dickinson's house, Barley and I can hike in the footsteps of Melville, Hawthorne, Thoreau, and Emerson, and Soth can see a bird and chuckle (which he does daily at home--but he can't be left out of the literary adventure!). This is the first time I've traveled with the best to somewhere that wasn't my parent's house where they have extras of anything we might forget and are 10 minutes from Petsmart if we need something special. 

Soth is easy. He's stayed in several hotels before on our cross-country move, so I know that he's content as long as he has food, a litter box, a window to look out of, and a bed to snuggle with me in at the end of the day. Plus, this place has a screened in catio he can use, so he'll be in Heaven.

Barley, on the other hand, comes with a lot of stuff. (I do not envy anyone who has to carry a diaper bag on a daily basis--packing for the one trip is causing me more than enough anxiety, so I can't imagine dealing with it every day!) Here's our list so far:
  • Food and bowls. (Luckily, the cottage has extra bowls, too, if I space out and forget that part--I bought a small bag of Barley's food and it is already in our "diaper bag.")
  • Her bed. After our overnight hotel stay and Barley's first visit to my parents' new house at Thanksgiving, I realized that Barley needs a safe place that she knows is hers--so even though dogs are allowed on all the furniture at the cottage, I'm bringing her bed so she has a place she knows is hers.
  • Toys. We never travel with her favorite toy, just in case it gets lost, but we always have some of her "best friends" along for the ride. Barley loves snuggling with them in her crate (and the cottage has a crate that's the perfect size!) and loves playing with them the rest of the time, so we'll have a couple with us.
  • Her kong (and other snacks). Barley usually calms down in unfamiliar territory if she has a chew or a peanut butter-filled Kong, so I already have a bag of chews in the bag and her Kong will find its way there closer to departure.
  • Our scent kit. Even though we're planning to spend a lot of time hiking on the trip, good weather is never a guarantee. So, the scent kit will give us something to keep her brain occupied in the event of rain or during times it's too hot to play outside. Plus, we try to practice in as many different places as possible so we can get used to new distractions.
  • Our hiking "gear." My little backpack always has extra snacks for both of us, my camera, my phone, Barley's h2o4k9 bottles, a pet first aid kit, and extra bags. Our fifth paw poop bag holder will be on the leash. Her cooling coat will be with us if she needs it.

Barley thinks her h2o4k9 bottles are the best non-edible things I've ever bought her.

What else do we need? What are you essential travel items when traveling with your pets to keep them healthy and happy? As excited as I am for our adventures, I'm equally freaking out that I might forget some essential item and add extra stress to the trip when I have to figure out a back up plan.

We're linking up for FitDog Friday and can't wait to catch up on all of the posts we've missed the last couple weeks!