Friday, October 30, 2015

October Resolution Recap

Since we're down to two months left to complete our goal of 1100 miles for the year, it seemed like a good time to do a little recap of how the year's gone so far and what we still have to accomplish in November and December.

            January: 72.96 miles
            February: 39.06 miles
            March: 100.35 miles
            April: 123.6 miles
            May: 125.74 miles
            June: 108.39 miles
            July: 112.42 miles
            August: 117.51 miles
            September: 103.02 miles

October has been pretty consistent with the mileage we were getting in September and with two days left to walk, we've got 92.73 miles. We've slowed down quite a bit since the summer months, but we're still hitting at least our 3-mile goal each day, so we can't complain too much.

We've also gotten in a lot of really beautiful walks this month. We're taking advantage of as many strolls through the foliage as we possibly can--and if that means we walk a little more slowly to enjoy the scenery and can't squeeze as many miles into our limited hours of daylight after work, that's ok.

At this point in the year, we've walked a total of 995.77 miles, which is 90% of our goal for the year.

That means we have 104.23 miles left and 62 days to get them, or in other words, we have to walk a total of 1.68 miles every day for the rest of the year to meet our goal. Our goal is seeming more attainable every day! Happy FitDog Friday everyone!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Fall Routines

We've had a relatively low-key week here this week. Midterm grades were due in the middle of the week, so a big part of the week was spent grading papers and just getting up for quick walks to stretch our legs. We didn't stray far from home since the time to drive anywhere was needed to finish up grades. 

Luckily our neighborhood is full of gorgeous leaves right now, so we still got to have very enjoyable walks. 

We've also gotten to use our walks for a little bit of focus work because there have been so many distractions with the sounds of the leaves rustling in the wind. Since many of the trees are already bare, sounds are traveling farther and we can hear children laughing and dogs barking even when we can't see them and Barley has to work very hard to remember to pay attention to me and the camera.

We managed to get a couple "runs" in with C2K5, but it was cold and miserable and made my lungs hurt, so I think I'd rather leave those runs in the past. All together, we got 22.61 miles this week. Happy FitDog Friday everyone!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Barley Leads the Way

One of the vineyards here has a big corn maze each year. Most of the time, dogs aren't allowed on the farm, but one day each fall they have a day when dogs are allowed and part of the ticket sales go to one of the local humane societies. Barley and I had never been before, but I had spent a lot of the weekend grading, so when I realized that Sunday was the dogs-allowed day, we had to check it out.

I was a little worried about whether we'd actually be able to enjoy the day. I was envisioning a maze just full of dogs and kids and thought that we might pull into the parking lot, get out of the car, and then immediately have to get right back in the car and leave. But I decided we'd go as soon as they opened and hopefully other people would wait until after lunch. We were in luck. There four beautiful newfoundlands when we got there, but they were well behaved and calm.

The maze was a reading-themed design, so I was especially excited to try it out. Who wouldn't want to get lost inside of a bookworm? I had all of these visions of how cute the map on my Garmin GPS watch would look when I uploaded our walk and what a cute picture it would be for the blog--it looks NOTHING like this map, so here's the map instead.

Reading the map was a little confusing to me. I couldn't figure out if the white spots or the lines were the actual path--the actual path didn't seem to match up with either one--but there were handy little signs throughout the maze to tell you which way to go if you got lost, so I just let Barley lead the way. I figured we'd eventually find our way out, so I let her decide which turns we should take.

Barley's using her ears to point the way.

Sometimes, Barley tried to make her own path, but when I told her I didn't think we'd both fit between the rows of corn, she would get back on the actual trail.

Throughout the maze, you could do a scavenger hunt to find items from different books. We found a lot of them, but Barley was especially excited to find Katniss's bow and Harry Potter's glasses and wand.

We weren't completely relaxed in the entire maze because we couldn't scan our surroundings as easy as usual. Corn is really tall and the walls of the maze were thick, but we could still hear the sounds of kids that we couldn't see. Luckily, the walls were also thick enough that even though we could hear the kids, they couldn't see us and try to wiggle through the rows to get to Barley.

We did the corn maze twice because Barley guided us through amazingly quickly the first time and there weren't many people on the farm yet. But there were lots of other attractions that we got to enjoy as well. There was also a rock maze that you could walk through. We liked that because it was easy to see everything around us and when kids entered the maze, we could easy walk over the "walls" and go somewhere else.

The best part of the day, though, we visiting the farm animals. On Monday, I gave a sneak preview of these interactions with a few photos of Barley and her new frenemy the emu, but there were other animals that she enjoyed far more.

There was a flock of sheep (+ 1 alpaca) on the farm and their field was way off from the rest of the attractions, so there were no other people or dogs around. By the time we'd finished the corn maze the second time, there were a lot of kids running around the main part of the farm, so we were happy to find a quiet spot.

Alpacas are my very favorite things.

Barley was so excited to see the sheep and hear them bleating. I've always wanted my little border collie mix to have a chance to see sheep--we saw a scarecrow one year at the arboretum that was from a sheep farm and was covered in wool and Barley immediately crouched when she saw it, but that's the closest we'd ever been to a sheep. Barley loved seeing them. She immediately sat down, her ears perked like they do when she's most focused, and she just watched them.

I'm the one that made the leash not loose here trying to get at an angle I could get her and the sheep in the picture. She was being a good girl and sitting nicely and I made her look like she was pulling--poor pup!
The farmer came by on a four-wheeler to feed the sheep and the whole flock ran after him. Barley immediately popped up and looked at them like "Where are you going?! I didn't say we were leaving!" We walked along the perimeter until the sheep were out of sight, but Barley kept craning her neck to look for them.

We walked around the farm a little more, but when we saw the sheep were back, we went back to visit them one last time. Barley was a little nervous as you can see from her lack of ears in the next pictures because I made her turn her back on the sheep, which she did not want to do at all. The sheep were really interested in Barley, too, and kept creeping closer and closer.

Barley got lots and lots of treats between pictures and after I got a few, we decided we couldn't top that experience and it was time to go home.

My sweet little girl is not cut out for life on the farm. We spent less than two hours wandering around, but she immediately came home and snuggled up in her nest in the spare bedroom for most of the rest of the day and I got back to grading papers.

What fall adventures have you been using to wear out your pups? We'd love to hear about them! Happy FitDog Friday!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Dog Walking Week Recap

Leading up to Dog Walking Week, Barley and I hadn't missed a single day since July 5, so I was feeling pretty confident that we'd be able to get in 7 consecutive days of walking for another week. Of course, that was easier said that done. We got off to a strong start, but it didn't last for long.

Day 1
Thursday was my Birthday Eve and my friend and I were going to celebrate at a local brewery. She had planned to come over beforehand to walk with us (Barley loves being a substitute dog for my friends who don't have them), but then got caught up with work, so she texted that we should probably walk without her so it didn't get dark on us. We didn't quite get in a full 3 miles before it was time to meet for dinner, but we still had a nice fall walk to start off the week.

Day 2
I've already given a pretty lengthy recap of Day 2, but this was the best day. This was my "birthday party" at the Arboretum where Barley and I got to visit various scarecrows and other fun Halloween scenes.

Day 3
This was the day it all fell apart. Saturday was dreary, cold, and rainy. Barley didn't want to go outside to potty. I didn't want to go outside to walk. We did walk up to the dumpster at the end of our apartment parking lot twice--but I didn't even turn on my Garmin GPS watch to log the mileage because it was going to take longer to find the satellites than it would to walk up there and back. Technically, we got a .25-mile walk by going up there twice, but I just couldn't actually count that as a walk.

So we started over and got 7 consecutive days between Oct. 4-10.

Attempt #2: Days 4-10
These walks were much more successful. We got several walks at the lake where the leaves were starting to change. We tried some new trails through the woods--I found lots of pretty leaves and Barley found a severed chipmunk tail, so we were both happy.

Barley loves crunching through the leaves and enjoying the cooler weather, so we try to get in walks every day this time of year--even if we can't always get our full 3 miles per day. 

Even though Dog Walking Week didn't go exactly as planned, we loved the challenge to get in 7 consecutive days of walking. We try to do that every week, but it's always nice to have that little extra motivation to keep going, especially at this time of year when my students' midterm grades are due and the mountains of papers keep getting higher and higher--it can be really easy to neglect our walking goals, so thank you to the lovely hosts of this challenge, Wag 'N Woof Pets, Cascadian Nomads, and Dolly the Doxie. Be sure to stop by all of the other participants, too!

Monday, October 12, 2015

We Are NOT Friends

Barley and I went on a little adventure this weekend--we'll have more details on that on Friday, but there was definitely mischief taking place. There was a little donkey at our adventure destination. My sister loves donkeys, so we had to stop to take a picture. I wasn't sure how Barley would feel about the donkey--or the horse it was sharing a space with--so we started out at a distance and I just snapped a quick picture to text to my sister.

Barley seemed ok with both of the animals since they were far away, so we moved a little closer so I could get her and the donkey in the picture together. 

Of course, the one picture where she wasn't looking at other dogs, she was sticking out her tongue.

She seemed fine. There were four large, gorgeous newfoundlands nearby that she wanted to look at instead of the camera, but she wasn't bothered by the donkey or the horse. I'm not even sure she noticed them.

I was trying to pay attention to the movements of the other dogs, so I was just holding down the button on my phone to take burst photos and hoping we'd get one where she was looking at the camera and the donkey was visible, so we could send it to her Aunt L.

All of the sudden, I noticed something was creeping up behind Barley. As you can see from the tight leash in the next picture, I jumped back. When I was really little, I was visiting a Christmas tree farm and watching sheep and an emu came up and reached over the fence and pecked me. While I love most birds, I've been terrified of emus ever since.

When I got started, Barley turned her head and when she what was behind her she had no idea what to do.

For a minute, there was a staring contest and I was trying to find words to call Barley back to my side and give her a little more space. Then Barley barked once and ran right back to me.  Barley generally hates birds--swallows swooping cause her to flatten herself on the ground, seagulls at the lake cause her to hide behind me--but I'm not even sure she knew what this thing was. She just knew that it was not something she was interested in visiting with.

She recovered quickly and was ready for the next stop on our adventure.  I was so proud of her! I wish I'd been able to help her avoid the reaction all together, but I was managing my own freakout at the thought of that bird reaching through the fence and pecking my baby girl like I'd experienced myself all those years ago and found myself unable to actually form any real words. In the end, Barley learned that it's ok to say, "I'm not ok with this," and then to walk away--and the best kind of mischief is the kind that you can learn from.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Fall Fitness Fun

Barley's favorite season is winter, but I think fall comes in at a close second. By the time fall hits, we're desperate for it. Summer is always nice with our usual two-walks-a-day routine and the freedom to go on adventures, but often our walks our neighborhood walks since they have to be squeezed in quickly during the cooler morning and evening hours--and those can lose their excitement quickly.

Fall makes the world seem new again. The tourists have left the beach that we haven't visited all summer, so we get to see the little reminders of them that have been left behind. Summer storms have changed the shape of the beach and washed up new things onto the beach. Often, they help us add in a little more variety to our walks.

Someone made a stool out of a stump and a slab that's a great perch for a dog.

This tree is a good balance beam.

Adding in balance activities to our walks helps keep Barley even more fit and helps get her ready for agility class each week. Dog walks are expensive--and way too big for an apartment--so we love that we can use nature to still incorporate exercises that otherwise we'd only get to see once a week in class.

We've also been sure to incorporate lots of stretching into our walks as well. Barley loves to turn and twirl to stretch out her back, but we also make sure to do some paws up and bow to work even more muscle groups. (Plus, they make for really cute pictures at the lake.)

In addition to adding in various balance and strength activities to our walks, we're also sure to add in some mental exercise. Last week, you got to see a lot of our sit-stay and focus work with the fun scarecrows at the arboretum. We usually don't have that level of distraction, but we do try to work those elements into as many walks as possible.

Our sweet little town has helped us out with distractions this week with the GhoulFest scarecrows. Most of them are too close to the edge of the sidewalk to get good pictures of without risking being run over, but there are a few that we can practice with.

"Shouldn't this guy have a snack for me in that apron?"

"I'm your little angel, right?"

We've been working on adding in more intensity with our Couch to 5k training, which has had to be adjusted a bit--but that's another story for another day. Even with our struggles, though, it's paying off. Our agility trainer commented on how trim Barley's looking during our class this week.

We got in 24.8 miles this week and our goal for the year is looking unbelievably close as we're now at 930.22 miles for the year.

We had a great time participating in Dog Walking Week. Day 3 was our biggest struggle because of a cold, rainy day, but we managed to get a short walk up to the dumpster twice that day--definitely not our normal definition of a "walk," but it did get us out of the house a couple times and after getting 5 mile days on Day 2, Day 4, and Day 5, our short "walk" was a nice rest day. Hope everyone else had a successful Dog Walking Week and is enjoying lots of fall fun.