Monday, August 29, 2016

Goodbye, Summer

Yesterday was the last day of summer vacation. It was time to go back to work--I've always been happier when I've been busy (maybe I have a little border collie in me, too?), but that didn't mean I was happy to say goodbye to sleeping in, taking a long leisurely morning walk, and enjoying the rest of the day snuggling up with a book and Barley and Soth. 

To give summer a proper send off, Barley, Soth, and I headed out to the backyard when the Pirates game came on. We all had a treat outside--a Moscow mule for me, a kong for Barley, and grass for Soth.

I may have downloaded the Prisma app, too . . .

I wanted to be sure that Barley had a little bit of extra fun since she's been having to share me with her new foster brother lately (more on him in a future post). Earlier this summer, I discovered that despite her hatred of rain and baths, Barley loves to attack the stream from the hose. I think the following pictures make it pretty clear that Barley had a great last day of summer vacation.

She will run figure 8s after the hose all day long if I'd let her, so I had to make sure I didn't get too carried away and let her run too hard (my poor carpet will never be the same after she played too hard the first time I got out the hose . . .). 

We hope that you all are enjoying these late summer days as much as we did yesterday! 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Working Dog

Soth has always wanted to be an outdoor cat. When we visit my parents, they have to keep their dog door closed because Soth figured out how to make it work about .2 seconds after watching their dog go through. 

Really what he wants to do is go out, eat grass, and then come back in and barf up the grass on my carpet, but sometimes he'll settle for watching the birds, especially when we visit my parents who have a ton of bird feeders.

At the apartment, I'd put his harness and leash on him and let him explore the patio a bit. Sometimes, he'd settle for being a lap cat if there were bunnies in the yard for him to watch or he'd settle for sitting next to me on my parents patio furniture.

At our house, though, Soth has decided he's not settling anymore. He wants to be outside--all the time. He paces in front of the back door and cries, screams, and howls until I scoop him up and relocate him or I let him out. This video gives a good example of what I deal with all day long. He's making me look forward to going back to work.

Even though we have the fence, I'll never let him out in the backyard alone. There are gaps under the fence that he could easily fit through (at least until my parents come and help me figure out how to block them off) and I don't know how the dino-dogs on the other side of the fence would react to seeing a cat through the fence. 

Luckily, I've got a trusty herding dog and she takes her job of cat herding very seriously. I've allowed Soth out a few times when Barley and I have been out with him. It took a little work to convince Barley that Soth was allowed in the yard, but she quickly quit trying to herd him back to the door.

Last summer, she was certain he wasn't allowed in Grandma's yard.

And shifted her focus to just keeping track of him wherever he happened to go. 

Soth does not think he needs a babysitter.

Soth was less than amused to have a shadow wherever he went in the yard (and really he had two because I was following him around, too). I decided we might all be a little more relaxed if I put on his harness and attached it to one of Barley's long lines, so I looped the long line through the patio furniture and clipped him to it.

Unfortunately, I was spending a lot of time getting up and untangling him, which always seemed to happen right before the most exciting plays during Pirates games. 

Then I looked up and somehow he'd squirmed out of his harness--how I don't know because I had trouble clipping it with his little belly and it was still hooked! He hadn't gone far--but he had crawled into the crawl space under the house that's full of spiderwebs, so crawling in after him was not my favorite thing.

Barley also felt compelled to keep a close eye on her brother even if he was tethered. 

Luckily for all of us, had a medium tent on sale last month, so we ordered one and everyone is much happier! 

Herding cats is a lot easier when the cat is contained.

Now Soth can eat grass to his heart's content and Barley and I can relax a little more.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Barley's First Brewery

After our Alabama hiking adventure, our day wasn't done yet! My family is a big fan of craft beer, hence the name Barley, and we weren't too far from Good People Brewing Company when we finished our hike. 

The brewery didn't open for another 30 minutes, so we stopped by Birmingham's Slice Pizza and Brew for some lunch on the patio. My nephew dog Maddux is a pro at going out in public because his rescue organization occasionally has events at wineries and breweries, but there aren't that many dog friendly places around here, so Barley has never been to a restaurant. It was warm out, but we did our best to arrange umbrellas and water bowls to keep the dogs cool. I think all of the dogs liked the attention our sweet waitress gave them, especially my nephew who got the spot closest to the door and had everyone who came in/out of the restaurant commenting on how cute he was.  

Once Barley got some water, she was perfectly content to lounge between me and my dad while we ate. Until I got a little enthusiastic about my shrimp and kale salad and knocked over the jalapeno vinaigrette cup and sent it cascading through the slots in the table--then Barley made it her mission to clean up my mess and emerged a little slimier than she had been before. 

After lunch, we headed to the brewery and it was my favorite part of the trip. I've always wanted to visit a brewery with Barley--and we just haven't made it to Great Lakes together (mostly because parking around there is questionable during prime patio weather because they have a fatty wagon that takes people from the brewery to the ballpark when the Indians are at home).

The best part about this particular brewery is that they don't serve food and the tasting room is separated from the brewing facilities, so dogs are allowed inside! The bartender fawned over all the dogs--Barley even convinced her to give her a second treat.

Barley was so worn out from the day's earlier adventures that she sprawled across the cool cement floor and took a nap while we all enjoyed a beer. 

All three dogs were excellent. Barley did give a quick bark (and sloshed some water out of her dish) to make it clear that she wasn't happy I went to the bathroom and left her with her grandma--which got a hearty laugh from the man at the table next to us--but once she learned her grandma had the treat pouch, she settled back down. 

Not only did I get to enjoy some really good beer (Good People's Urban Farmer Saison is a perfect post-hike beer!), but my reactive dog who doesn't often get to go out in public despite her love of people was made to feel welcome at Good People Brewing Co.

Barley was so sleepy by the time we got home that she went to bed early--and I wasn't far behind her.

After three years of Alabama visits, this was by far our favorite day in Alabama yet!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Discovering Red Mountain Park

Barley, Soth, and I packed our bags and headed south to help my dad celebrate his birthday recently. 

My brother is the lone Braves fan on our row.
While most of the festivities weren't dog friendly--like a sad Pirates-Braves game at Turner Field--my dad decided to take a day off for a pre-birthday hike. My favorite hikes are the ones in the middle of the week because normal people are at work, so I have fewer distractions to worry about with Barley.

We loaded Barley, my dog sister Maz, and my dog nephew Maddux into my parent's car and headed to Birmingham to check out Red Mountain Park. I'd first heard about this park when they stuck a park map in my shopping bag at the Merrell outlet a couple years ago. Mom, Maz, and I had almost checked it out last summer, but chose Moss Rock Preserve instead.

Maz is ready for adventure!
I was a little worried for several reasons: it was exactly one year from the Moss Rock adventure where Barley stepped on a copperhead (TWICE), Alabama in August is HOT and we didn't get an early start, we had three dogs of different hiking abilities going on the adventure.

But Barley had been walking in warm Alabama weather for a week already, so she was a little conditioned to that. My mom also made some minor adjustments to some instructions we found for making our own cooling collars and made each dog one. I decided I would avoid looking at the scenery and just scan for snakes.

Barley quickly made a new friend on our hike. I'm not entirely sure why this guy (is it an orangutang?) was in the park, but we never pass up a chance to pose with a sculpture.

We started out the hike walking solo and occasionally looping back to check in with the other dogs. Then my dad and sister dog Maz forged ahead with us while my mom, sister, and nephew (the oldest of the bunch) walked at their own pace. 

Once my dad and I made it to the old iron ore mine shaft, my mom called us to see if we would reconnect since my sister and Maddux decided to hang out in the dog park instead of continuing on the trails.

Barley was not as happy as she looks to leave the shade to pose for a picture.

After reconnecting with Mom, we went on a mission to find the goats they have in the park to eat kudzu and other things that need to be cleared out. We found their enclosure and saw one goat way in the distance, but I was disappointed we didn't get to see a bunch of them munching away.

They also had some tree houses throughout the park. By turning our hike into a loop instead of just an out and back, we could see one of them, so of course, I insisted we do that. Unfortunately, I'm too much of a chicken to try the swinging rope bridge over to the lookout platform--I thought that maybe I could do it if my parents held Barley, but I put one foot on the bridge and immediately turned back around. So I held the dogs and my parents went to check out the view.

We still got to see some nice views from other areas along the trail without having to test my fear of heights.

Despite all of my worries, we were able to survive a trail labeled "most difficult" on our way back to reunite with my sister and nephew dog.

We never even saw a snake (although some bikers did warn us that there was one scurrying across the trail ahead of us at once point). 

It was a dreadfully warm day, but we took our time, took plenty of water breaks in the shade, and ended up getting in 3.89 miles by the time we got back to the car. Barley and I loved getting a break from the neighborhood walks even if we were sweaty, panting messes by the time it was over.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Walking with Barley, Season 5 Episode 7

Recently, Barley and I were out walking in our neighborhood. It's never uncommon for someone to stop us to ask questions about Barley, so I wasn't surprised when a woman walking a Lhasa Apso put on the breaks and said hello.

What happened next, though, caught me off guard.

Woman: "I thought you were walking a skunk because of her coloring."

Me: "Her tail is a little skunk-like."

Barley: hearing the word tail starts wagging like a fool

Woman: "Yeah, with that black and white on her tail."

Me: "Luckily for me, she doesn't smell like one."

Woman: "Skunks are beautiful, though."

Barley: looks at the little dog, looks at me, nudges my hand for a treat

Me: "Yes, they are pretty animals."

Woman: "Yes, especially when you have a whole group of them together. It's like a black and white carpet."

Me: "I bet! You have a good morning now."

Barley and I quickly hurried in the opposite direction. If we have 50-pound skunks roaming the neighborhood (and even worse, whole "carpets" of them!), we're never leaving home again. Sometimes, it really does feel like we're living in a sitcom, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised that my unique dog attracts the most unique people.