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.

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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Let’s talk about this guy

February 1, 2016

 

When we moved into our house so many years ago, we worried that Zozo was lonely.  That he needed company when we were out of the house.  We thought he could use a companion’s example to follow when his social anxiety acts up.  And so, we brought MJ home.

When we let MJ go in late December, we again worried that Zozo would be lonely.  That his behavioral challenges would become exacerbated in her absence.  We had no idea how we would manage his grief along with ours.

For the first few days, he would look around for her: at meal times, in the yard, when he hopped on the couch for some snuggles.  The house is quiet and still.  It’s cold without the constant pittie shadow-slash-lap-blanket.

Long story very short: Zozo is amazing.  Yes, he’s anxious on-leash without her example.  Yes, he still barks at noises outside tgat we cannot see. He’s also silly and chatty and affectionate.  He’s enjoying the one-on-one with the humans.  He hops on our bed for pre-lights out snoozing.  His goofy personality is on display.  We’re dressing him in his jaunty kerchiefs and bow ties (ok, I’m dressing him).  It’s as if he’s coming out of his shell again.

 

It’s helped our mourning to laugh at him… with him; to enjoy being just us three.  He asks about her.  He sleeps with her crate towel.  We’re finding a new routine, the three of us.

The bundle in the top left corner is her crate towel.

Giving Thanks, Year 2

December 2015

Last year, we asked you to click click click to make a pup’s dream come true.  This year, we’re just asking you to share.

We’re very excited to introduce you to Bud and Diamond.  These wonderful dogs have been looking for homes for well over a year.  We made friends with the folks at Alley Cat Rescue, who told us all about them.  We’re hoping to make things a little easier for them.

peanut butter & cheese is proud to sponsor the adoption fees for Bud and Diamond.  Check out this guest blog.  Share their stories.  Share their pictures.  Let’s help these two find a furever home– they’ve been waiting for a long, long time.


 

Alley Cat Rescue is a nonprofit and no-kill rescue organization, located in Mt. Rainier, MD. As the organization name would suggest, our main focus is on cats, but over the years Alley Cat Rescue has also helped many dogs to find homes as well. The staff at Alley Cat Rescue are lovers of all animals, and when we see a dog in need we just have to step in. As a cat rescue, we do not get in a lot of foot traffic in search of dogs, so we have two dogs at our facility that we have really struggled to find homes for. Bud and Diamond are fantastic dogs that just need someone to give them a chance! So this week Kari is letting us share their stories with all of you, in hopes that this post will help them to find their forever homes or a temporary foster home that will get these two out of kennels while we continue to search for a forever family for Bud and Diamond. Kari has also generously sponsored Bud and Diamond’s adoptions, so there will be no fee to adopt either of them.

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Diamond is an American Staffordshire terrier and Pointer mix. She is about 2 years old and weighs about 60 pounds. Diamond has been at Alley Cat Rescue’s facility for over a year and a half. Actually, as I write this post, today is day 556 that Diamond has been at our facility. She is sweet, loving, and energetic. She does well with other dogs and children of all ages. She is a true nanny dog and loves to interact with children. However, she does not do well with cats.

We have been working on basic commands with her and she knows sit, paw, roll over, and lay down. She is currently working on learning to stay and leash training. She can be very active when she is outside, but as soon as she gets indoors she becomes a couch potato. Diamond was found outside of the animal hospital Alley Cat Rescue partners with when she was about 6 months old. She wandered up to their door one day and Alley Cat Rescue agreed to help her find a home. We suspect that she may have been abandoned at the animal hospital by a former owner who hoped the animal hospital would make sure Diamond was safe. It has now been a year and a half since Diamond arrived at our doors and we are desperate to find her a loving family.

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Bud is a lab mix. He is about 5 years old and weighs almost 100 pounds. Bud has been at the Alley Cat Rescue facility for 397 days today. He is extremely loyal, loving, and playful. He is a very people oriented dog, and he doesn’t care for other dogs or cats; he would rather have his people all to himself! Once he gets to know a person he will follow them anywhere and try to be as close to them as he possibly can. Bud is the perfect name for this sweet boy, because he really just wants to be everyone’s best friend! He can also be protective of his new human friends, so we think it would be a good idea if his new human family exposes him to as many people as they can, as often as they can once they bring him home.

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Bud loves to have a toy with him and he will carry a toy in his mouth as long as you let him, he loves to bring them on his walks! He gets so attached to his toys, that he can be toy aggressive. So we think it would be best if he went to a home with older children. We have been working on his toy aggression and he has improved some, but we would encourage any adopter to continue working with him. Bud is fantastic with training! With a little time, you could teach him any trick your heart desires. We have worked with him on sit, stay, lay down, roll over, and he is learning to play dead. He does well on a leash with a no-pull harness, but he can become startled by loud buses or large groups of people approaching him while on his walks.  When this happens he just needs to be reminded that he is safe and changing the direction you are walking with him often helps.

Alley Cat Rescue pulled Bud from a high kill county shelter early last November where he was set to be euthanized the same day that he arrived. An Alley Cat Rescue staff member was at the shelter pulling cats off of death row and saw Bud and just had to intervene. She recognized that Bud was terrified of the shelter environment and deserved a chance; so she packed up Bud along with 5 cats into her car and got them to Alley Cat Rescue where they would all be given an endless amount of time to find their forever families.

                                                                  – – –

Both Bud and Diamond are spayed/neutered, up-to-date on all vaccines, and micro-chipped. And thanks to Kari’s generosity their adoption fees have been sponsored! There will be no fee to adopt Bud or Diamond. Check out Bud and Diamond’s profiles on Petfinder for more information on these two dogs or any of the other animals available for adoption from Alley Cat Rescue .

Bud and Diamond are really great dogs; we have just not been able to bring in people who are looking for dogs to our facility. We are happy to care for Bud and Diamond until they find their forever families, but they have been here for far too long and we want a better life for them. Please consider adopting or fostering Bud or Diamond. If you are not local to the DC/Maryland/Virginia area, that’s okay! We are willing to transport Bud and Diamond anywhere it takes to find them their forever families! We would also be happy to set them up with a foster caretaker and cover all food and medical expenses while they are under foster care. If you are not able to adopt or foster, please consider sharing their stories for us and help them find the forever families they have been waiting for. Help us make this holiday season their best ever!

#naughty

December 2014

Barkbox knows us so well!

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Missing you

November 2014

Earlier this fall, James took an extended business trip, and the pups and I were left to our own devices for four whole weeks.  All Kari All The Time.

Here’s some things you need to know before we move on:

-Owning two dogs– parenting two dogs– is much easier with four hands.  It’s an extra person to hold the leash, to scoop the food, to rub the bellies, or to tag out when training gets to be frustrating.

-Our dogs love James more.  Given the choice between snuggling with me or snuggling with him, he always wins.  Yes, yes, it’s not a competition.  Whatever.  But I do walk away feeling a bit chopped-liverish when I’ve taken them on an adventure, rewarded them with treats, and hauled out the pool for afternoon lounging, only to have James walk through the door and they react as though I’ve tortured and ignored them.

– We have a routine that allows for a fairly equal distribution of labor.  It is rare that schedule goes out the window.  This trip blew up the schedule.

Right.  So.  Four weeks without James.  We had set ourselves up a fairly ambitious schedule of home improvements and CGC prep-training.  And every day, James received photo updates and emails from the dogs (yep) about how things were going.

First, they were confused by his absence, looking longingly out the windows for his return.

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Then, they mourned him.

just to be clear: i was organizing closets.  the floor of our bedroom doesn't always look this... adolescent.

just to be clear: i was organizing closets. the floor of our bedroom doesn’t always look this… adolescent. And she wouldn’t let me touch one of those shirts.

…Even though adventures were continuing in his absence.

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now, with harnesses!

IMG_1501 IMG_1557We tried skyping, but they just weren’t into it.  They’d bark at the iPad or run around the corner to look for James.  Even worse was when they couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to look at the camera.

Before long, they got clingy, helping me get ready for work or checking up if they lost sight of me for a few minutes.

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We broke a few rules… (sorrynotsorry).

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it’s possible i slept here all night.

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James finally came home, and the love and snuggles I had selfishly enjoyed for those few weeks disappeared. No room for me. IMG_0611

He might have missed them more than he missed me.

But seriously, they were rockstars.  They were flexible when work ran long (no accidents in the house).  They were respectful when we took big adventures on our own.  They helped out with house chores (I wish I had took pictures when I put Swiffer wipes on Zozo’s tail.  You’ll just have to trust me) and yard work. They sang along or talked back as I prattled on when making everyone dinner.  They were their typical loving, well-behaved, mildly-spoiled selves.  But it was weird.

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We can get out the door, but Mama needs to help us back in.

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All of the treats

Halloween 2014

Last year, I finally succumbed to the voice in my head and dressed the dogs up for Halloween.  This was particularly ineffective since we usually hide in the basement with the lights off and pray no one knocks on the door.  Our’s isn’t a terribly well-trafficked street, and the neighborhood does an indoor candy dispatch in the auditorium of the local middle school.

But it made me deliriously happy, and that’s all that mattered.

This year, both pups got some showy threads. And many pumpkin-flavored treats were sacrificed for the photoshoot.

Happy Halloween, and stay safe friends!

i feel pretty... oh so pretty...

i feel pretty… oh so pretty…

excited AND scared

excited AND scared

Mam told us to smile. #derp

Mom told us to smile. #derp

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too many treats

too many treats