zozo’s log: Lost River, WV

August 2017

summer in washington, dc can give you the blues.  i told mom and dad we should get away for the weekend: enjoy some fresh air, disconnect, commune with woodland creatures.  and so here we are, on a trip to lost river, wv.  i was promised adventures and all the sniffs.

friday, august 4

mom and dad furiously finish packing.  i packed the night before [okay, mom packed for me because 1) i do not have thumbs and 2) i am not allowed to counter surf].  we all exercised this morning and ate a good breakfast so that we’re not “wiggly monsters” in the car.

11:15am.  finally in the car.  i am a road warrior; they are a mess.  see?

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why we can’t take a normal family picture, i will never understand.

we like to travel together and listen to podcasts and sing along to showtunes while we drive.  dad steals my harmonies.  jerk.

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12pm: we detour to the woodstock brewhouse for lunch.  they have barbecue and a patio that i’m allowed to sit in.  dad had some pulled pork and sausage sliders.  mom and i shared some brisket.

one of the tricks to our travels is packing some extra towels.  sometimes, places allow pets but the area does not have any shade. mom and dad have gotten very clever at IMG_4192rigging tents for me, but i usually prefer to be out and about, looking at the people and letting them look at me.  i also like to flirt with waitresses.  i am a lady’s pup, after all.

1:15pm: we get lost so it takes us a little longer to arrive than expected.  someone needs to refresh her map-reading skills.  we rented the hideaway through airBnB.  it’s awesome, and very welcoming to pets.  they left treats for me, and there’s a dog bed and an extra leash and a ball chucker toy.  i spend two hours sniffing everything.

3pm: mom and dad leave to see what’s happening at the lost river general store.  i settle in for a nap.  i wish they had brought me because they said the people were very nice and there was ice cream.  i love ice cream and i only get to have it on the most special occasions.  vacation is a special occasion.

4pm: they return and we rest on the screened-in porch.  mom and i take a nap.

6:15pm: mom and dad leave to go to dinner at the guesthouse, which is just around the corner.  while they’re gone, a big, scary thunderstorm comes through.  i cannot believe they have left me in a strange place by myself during the apocalypse.  this is not the adventure i signed up for.

8pm: between rain drops, mom and dad come home.  they feel bad for leaving me during the storm.  we snuggle and i get to eat some apple because i was a good, brave boy while they were gone.

9:35pm: last pit-stop of the night.  i investigate for bears.  none sighted… yet.

saturday, august 5

8:04am: time to get up and start our big adventure day.  the big, scary storm took away mostIMG_4197 of the heat, and there’s a breeze on.  mom borrows a long-sleeved shirt from dad because it is chilly.  it is going to be the perfect day for a hike.  but first, breakfast.  i choose to dine al fresco this morning.

9am: after being a little lazy, mom and dad go out to get their breakfast at the lost river grill, and then they go to the farmer’s market without me.  this wasn’t the plan.  i was supposed to go, too, because it is dog friendly.  so much stuff here is dog friendly.  i love it.

10:21am:  we figure out which trailhead we will pick up, pack our backpacks, and head out for our big hike.  mom did not bring my backpack, so she has to carry my stuff.  lost river state park is over three thousand acres of wilderness and animals and campers.  we take the white oak trail up to cranny crow overlook.

11am: it is a four mile hike, out and back.  i lead the way and set the pace (doesn’t it look like dad is running to keep up?).  dad walks me up.  mom walks me back.  we encounter horses on the trail, which i think are either the biggest dogs i have either seen, or dinosaurs.  we also meet other hikers who tell me what a nice boy i am (duh).  while we walk, we sing songs and talk about serious things like what else is brown and sticky, other than a stick (answers: horse poop, mud, old bananas, the apple we left on the counter overnight, avocados that have been in the fridge too long.  you get the idea)?  at the summit, we stop for water and protein.  dad has a nut bar; i have cheesy treats.  it is a great hike.

1pm-ish: we are back at the car and i get a good brushing and pat-down to make sure i have not picked up any critters on the walk.  all clear!  the plan was to go to a pond next so that i could do some swimming, but i am too tired.  maybe swimming tomorrow?

1:21pm: back at the hideaway.  we have showers and snacks and a lazy afternoon.

4:42pm: mom and dad start preparing for dinner with the ingredients they bought from the farmers market.  i help dad man the grill.IMG_4219

5:30pm: we eat our dinners outside and i get to have a bite of steak because i was such a good boy today.

for the rest of the evening, we read books (mom) and comics (dad).  as for me, i am turning in early.  only one more day of vacation.  boo.

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sunday, august 6th

8:04am: i am a routine-machine.  the sun is awake and so is my tummy.  time for breakfast and morning hunting for bears.  it is still very chilly outside and today it is also grey, so i think we will not be able to do swimming.

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9am: mom and dad leave for breakfast, and i begin my end-of-vacation sulk.

10:09am: mom and dad come home.  they begin to pack up bags and wash dishes.  we finish digesting breakfasts by reading on the screened-in porch.  no one is eager to get on the road, least of all me.

10:57am: dad is loading up the car and mom is doing last checks.  i am buckled in to my flight suit and acting grumpy.  we lock the cabin and return the key to its hiding spot.  we will be visiting dad’s parents on our way home, which will break up the ride and delay the real return to reality.

best. weekend. ever.  until the next one.

In the neighborhood, in the neigh-bor-hood!

March 2017

About a year ago, I started running.  Voluntarily, with nothing chasing me.  I bought good sneakers that fit my orthotics (my knees have history) and a Wind Breaker and a little belt in which to keep my phone for music.  I used the Couch To 5K app to help me get started. If you were around my neighborhood, you’d see me jogging and walking and jogging and walking and huffing and puffing three days a week.  I did it for exercise and to help prepare for a musical I was in last summer.

(To be clear, I tried to take Zozo with me.  He wasn’t having it.  It could be I was too slow or he was too interested in pooping when there were no cans around.  Either way, opportunity lost.)

I hate running.  I struggle with it, but I keep at it.  I like the fresh air.  I like reporting back on homes for sale or new lawn decorations.  But mostly, I like that I get a chance to see neighborhood dogs.

Bradley is a handsome Sheltie who trots his dad along.  When he sees you, no matter how far off, he sits and waits.  His dad waits, too.  You may not pass Bradley without petting him, for he will follow you until you pet him.  Sometimes coming and going, I get some Bradley love.  Bradley’s dad gets a lot of interrupted walks.

Ariel is a German Shepherd with the largest ears I’ve ever seen.  She moved into a house as a puppy, and it’s been amazing to watch her grow into her feet.  Her eyes are amber. When her dad walks her to the local middle school to collect her human siblings, she’s off-leash, focused and disinterested in sharing the sidewalk.  Disciplined. So disciplined.

There’s a dog– sometimes two– that live in a house one street over.  I refer to this dog as Evil Dog.  I think his name is Storm.  I’m not sure.  He’s a fence charger and a jail-breaker.  From out of no where, he’ll come charging the fence, barking at passers-by, not at all phased by the beeping of the electric fence collar his owners have on him for extra restraint.  Maybe I’m being unkind– I suspect he’s lonely, bored, or poorly socialized– but he scares me to death every. damn. run.  (One time he hopped the fence and walked to Home Depot.  He was found in the plumbing section.)

A Burmese Mountain Dog broke away from his tweenage companion and knocked me over, stood on my legs and licked my hair.  The crackle of a changing voice screaming “MOM”, “HELP” and “HE’S JUST A PUPPY” was heartbreaking.  When I realized I wasn’t being mauled to death, we all calmed down and had a giggle.  And then I cried the rest of the way home.  Run cut short.  (They have a fence now.)

The long-haired Chihuahua.  This little thing, wearing a bedazzled orange harness, came running yap-yap-yap out of an open garage and chased me down the street.  When I turned back to him, he put his tush down and hushed.  I walked towards him and he backed up, turned around and started towards home.  I resumed my run and he resumed his.  I picked up my pace and flipped a corner.  I have no idea where he went, but I hope it was home, along the sidewalk.

There’s a beagle who guards a neighbor’s chicken coop and generally hangs out in the middle of the street.  He’s a weirdo.  People just drive around him, or get out of their cars to shoo him home.

There’s an older Korean gentleman who walks his cat.  I want to make friends with him.

 

Resolve! by Zozo

get out moJanuary 1, 2017

I was asleep before midnight, which is okay because that meant my last pit stop happened before the fireworks started.  No #ZOverreacting!  A-plus for me!!

Here is what I will work on this year:

  1.  Keeping my cool and trying to bark less.  This may take some effort.  And treats.  Lots and lots of treats.
  2. Working on my fitness: more reps with tennis balls, eating more vegetables and less pizza.
  3. Learn something new.  I am getting old(er), but I can still get better.  Maybe a new trick or skill or something.
  4. work on some new jokes.  The old ones are losing their shine.
  5. Get out more.

 

What are you going to do in 2017?

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Me with some lovely ladies and dad at Pints 4 Paws.  Being a dork.

Giving Thanks, Year 3

November 28, 2016

(I’m not going to lie.  These are quickly becoming my favorite annual posts.)

Year 1, we asked you to click.

Year 2, we asked you to share.

Year 3?  Well friends, it’s time to give back.  We’re asking you to do something to help someone in a situation you found yourself in this year.

Let me explain.

If you follow our blog, you know we had a rough year.  We fought and we celebrated and we reacted and we lost.  We still mourn.

When MJ first received her diagnosis, we struggled with doing what was right for her while balancing our home budget.  It’s gross to have to make decisions for your furbabies based on finances, but that was our truth.  We were willing to swipe-now/worry-later and put everything else on hold (trips, home renovations, fancy dinners) to chip away at the debt, however long it would take.  She was worth it.  We’d do it again.

Our friends encouraged us to establish a Go Fund Me page, and they generously contributed to her veterinary expenses.  Every little bit helped: there were times when those unexpected gifts allowed us to say “yes” to the next test, the next treatment, the next step.

This year, we are working with Southpaws to fund one radiation treatment for a family  whose dog is battling the same type of brain cancer as MJ did.  The family won’t know us, and we won’t know them.  What we will know is that we took away the burden of one day.

And so, friends: think back on this year.  In your time of need, what would have helped you most?  Can you make that help happen for someone else?

Leave us a comment and let us know how you give back!

Street Animals of Cuba

October 26-30, 2016

We went to Cuba.  It’s a magnificent and startling and complicated place.

Doodle went to camp for his own adventure.  We missed him, but we were lucky to have a house-dog.  Our casa, the large house in which we rented a room, has a wiggly boxer named Pike who is curious, sweet and extremely well-behaved.

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He’d greet us in the morning and when we returned from the day’s excursions.  We brought in smells from America as well as places in the city he’d never visited.  We hadn’t expected to have a trip mascot, but he was a wonderful surprise.

Something else we didn’t expect– that we didn’t know to ask about in advance to emotionally prepare for– were amount of stray animals.  Because why would we?  How would we know that we’d see dogs and cats, puppies and kittens roaming around appearing generally well-fed but still showing the wear-and-tear of street living?

Some of them joined our tours for a stroll around a square and or exploring Hemingway’s Finca Vigia, vocally letting our guide know how much they liked her explanations.

In some places, dogs wear string collars with index-sized cards attached, like the pup perched on James’ lap.  The cards are handwritten and include the animal’s name.  They mean that someone feeds the dogs regularly.  These animals are still strays, but someone nearby looks out for them.

And yet, with so many animals in need of homes or stability, puppies are sold on the street, costing more than the annual salary of local doctors.

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In Cuba, there is veterinary care.  There is a spay and neuter program through animal welfare groups to try to control the stray population.  There is no such thing as dog food:  domesticated animals like Pike eat whatever their humans eat.  Pike’s breakfast was an enormous portion of freshly cooked rice and boiled beans, and sometimes chicken.  Cubans who own pets or who take care of them share their monthly food rations with them.

Together, James and I took close to 400 pictures.  So many are of the animals that hang around public spaces solo or in packs, calmly approaching humans for food or affection or sniffs.  Sleeping.  Prowling.  Co-existing with the bustle of the city.

And no, we didn’t come home with a new furbaby.  We’d never have gotten out and they’d never have gotten in.  But like so much of our trip, they’re going to be with us as we process our experiences.

Keeping Cool

July 2016

It’s.  So.  Hot.

Summertime in the suburbs of DC always swelters.  Humidity.  Tourists.  So much gross.

To keep cool this year, we’re relying on our old stand-bys:

Frozen Nibbles:  Zozo will do anything for frozen green beans and/or banana slices.  We put them on top of his dried food or use them as treats after short trips outside.  He’ll wait (im)patiently for them when we come inside.

why must you torture me with “wait”?

 When he was younger, we could sate him with ice cubes.  As he’s aged, he’s less interested in them.  But frozen treats seem to do the trick.

Basement dwelling:  it’s like we have an adolescent human boy.  He lurks in the dark corners of the basement, drawn out only by promises of food.  It’s cool.  It’s dark.  Quiet.  There’s video games and instruments.  He loves it.  And he’s reluctant to come up or share the couch.  Or he’s under it.

Dorothy Affect, basement version

Close crops: like it or not, we cut off all of his fur for the summer.  His shaggy, flat black coat is unbearable in the sunshine and heat.  He’s groomed closed to his skin– so close that you can see how white his belly is.  And it makes me laugh when he’s sleek and skin-y.

Water sports:  Zozo loves to swim.  Loves it.  He like to splash and paddle and chase balls.  We don’t have a pool at our disposal, so we often take him to Old Towne Pet Resort for a dip and a bath.

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Tell us!  How do you stay cool when it’s hot outside?  What are some things we should try?

Scrambling: Crozet, VA (Cville, Pt 1)

April 22, 2016

I’m a planner.  We’ve discussed this.  I’m happiest when I get to organize, when there’s a to-do list, and when I can track my accomplishments.  I get frustrated and disappointed when my hard work  is undone by things that are outside of my control.  But I’m also the person you want on your side in a crisis.  Change is good.  I’m flexible.  Two opposite people living in my little virgo body.  The struggle is real.

We like to take trips with the dogs.  The Outer Banks, Asheville, Woodstock (which I neglected to blog about but I’ll get back to)… this year is no different.  For our very first “just us three” trip, Zo, James and I set our sights on Charlottesville, VA.  We heard it was a great place to hang out: funky, historic, walkable, pet-friendly.  I rented a house.  I made reservations for dinners.  We made “excursion” plans.  And then we changed them on the fly.

See, on our way to Charlottesville, we planned to take a slight detour along Skyline Drive and take Zo for a hike.  Our travel plans coincided with the commencement of year-long activities celebrating the Centennial of the National Park Service.  We were excited to hike newly refurbished, blazed trails; to shake off the city and work and stress and enjoy the fresh, clean air.

In the days leading up to our trip, the news began reporting of a wildfire along Skyline.  We tracked the fire and changed our route. Every day in the week leading up to the trip, we tracked and changed and tracked and changed.  Thousands of acres of forest were destroyed.  Skyline closed.  Our big “WE’RE ON VACATION” moment came to a halt.

So I stressed and planned.  The morning of our departure, I nooked into the corner of the couch, laptop perched on my knees, looking for solid hikes do-able with a dog.  I hounded James with links and maps and “what abouts.”  He told me to calm down.  I scowled a lot. Zozo slept.  And then I found it: Humpback Rocks in Crozet, VA.  45 minutes from Charlottesville along the Blue Ridge Mountains.

We packed the car, strapped the pup in, and hit the road.  I felt better.

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And then the rain started.  It rained fairly steadily the entire drive.  When it wasn’t raining, it was misting.   But I was going to hike, dammit.  And so, we did.

Because of the rain, the trail was ours.  The site reads it’s a little over two miles and strenuous.  You climb 1,240 feet.  I don’t know what we expected.  No, that’s a lie, I do.  We expected strenuous to mean this:

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Ok, so here’s a preview of our Woodstock trip.  This is the Mount Overlook trail.  It was 3 miles up a sharp pitch.

And it was that.  And more… much more.

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Checking the map and trail warnings before we started out.  There was a warning that the trail is slippery when wet.  SO WHAT, I SAY!

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When we started out, there was finally a break in the rain.  It was short-lived. (see, looks a little like the Woodstock photo)

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Like clockwork, Zozo took a pit stop 1/4 of a mile from a trash can.  Instead of carrying it the rest of the way, James humped back down to the trailhead to dispose of the bag.  He’s a hero.

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Just a dog and his boy.  Ahead, there be boulders.  The trail became all scramble.

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I figured you might not believe me.  See. Boulder.  Oh, and it’s raining again.

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I might have said something stupid like, “that wasn’t so terrible, and now there are stairs.”  Silly Kari.

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Picking our way to the top.

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Look at that smile.  He’s having the best day ever.

The three of us are stubborn.  James delightfully (for me) goes along with my terrible ideas.  Zozo is part goat, scampering and hopping along like a fearless puppy (he’s 9).  The rain wouldn’t stop us.  And the final view… totally, absolutely worth the stress.

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Covered in mud and more damp than dry, we made our way back down the mountain.  Someone fell on their tush (hint, it wasn’t me).  We piled back in and made the drive to Charlottesville.  More on that later.

Throwback Thursday: Sleepy Pittie

 Why yes, this is a leopard hound (mix) in a leopard-print sleep mask. 

 

Daily Prompt, April 7: Tricky

“Hiding” and “quiet” are not two things we do well.

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Idea courtesy of The Daily Prompt.

Bud and Diamond: UPDATE

Remember these two?

 

I’ve heard from our friends from Alley Cat Rescue, and they have a great update for us:

Diamond, the Staffy-mix with the derpy tongue on the right, has found her forever home.  Three weeks ago, Diamond’s forever family fell in love with her toothy grin and goofy nature and brought her home.  AND SHE LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

Bud the lab-mix (on the left) is more… particular about his humans. Here’s what that means: he needs a seasoned/experience dog owner.  He likes some humans more than others.  Just like you (human, reading this post) don’t like everyone, dogs are also occasionally picky about their human companions.  That’s ok!  Alley Cat Rescue partnered with the ASPCA of Anne Arundel County, and Bud and his waived adoption fee have been transferred to them.  He’s working with a trainer every day while he waits for his best-match family.  You can read his profile here.

We’re so excited these two are doing so well.

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