Sunday, January 17, 2016


Whoowee we have had some cold days. Being from the south I'm not really cut out for temperatures below 10 degrees Fahrenheit. My undercoat isn't very bushy and my paws get cold quickly so, even though Merlin didn't need a coat or boots until he was an old man, Mama altered his coat to fit me and tried to get me to wear the last of his disposable boots, but after a fifteen minute wrestling match that resulted in me having only one boot on Mama broke down and bought me some new boots.  I love the coat, the boots took a little getting used to, but then I liked them. Unfortunately they didn't survive my 1 hour and 10 minutes of walking/playing. My toes went right out the front even though Mama made sure they were the right size. So, we DO NOT recommend Top Paw Hiking Boots. We do recommend Petsmart as they took back the destroyed boots no questions asked.

Here is a movie of me playing in my first boots and coat:

Mama went online and researched heavy duty boots and wound up buying me Ultra Paws Rugged boots.  Mama had to buy two sets because my front feet are almost an inch wider than my back feet. (Mama says I have big floppy basset hound feet in front and dainty herding dog feet in the back). The boots arrived in two days!! which was great because we woke up to -3 degree temps this morning and, even though we waited until 9:30 to walk it was still only 0 degrees out by then. I wasn't so sure about the new boots because they were heavier and stiffer than the first pair, but after a few blocks I got the hang of walking in them and was happily jumping and playing and running at the end and the boots were all still in one piece when we went in which Mama says was a plus. She says her only regret is that she bought two pairs of black boots. If she had been thinking she'd have bought red boots for the front and black for the back so it would look like I was wearing boots and mittens. I'm glad she bought all black. They don't stand out as much as the bright green bad boots or the purple disposable boots did, so hopefully people won't laugh at me as much. We hope these boots continue to hold up to my activity level.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year Everyone!

Mama and I have decided that we will do an imaginary hike to as many state capitals as we can starting at the place where Mama got me (which isn't a state capital).  In the 10 months I've been with Mama we took 1129.5 miles of everyday walks and 153.9 miles of hikes for a grand total of 1283.4 miles.  That got us, virtually, to three state capitals and just short of the fourth.

Click here to see the interactive map

Mama also wants me to update you on my training goals.  here they are:
  • Sit -- I came knowing this
  • Lie Down -- I know this, although I have to circle twice before doing so
  • Wait -- I know this
  • Come -- I came knowing this
  • Stay -- I know this
  • Heel -- I know this, but see no purpose in it
  • Stop -- I know this
  • Whoa -- I know this
  • Come About
  • Turn Right
  • Turn Left
  • Back Up -- I'm working on this
  • In To Me -- I know this, but I only get to practice it in Wisconsin
  • Freeze
  • Get Out -- I know this, but I don't like to do it
  • Spit -- I know this, but hate it
  • Give It Me -- I know this
  • Paws Up
  • Table Up -- I know this
  • Get Down -- I know this
  • Go to Your Bed -- I know this
  • Touch -- I'm working on this
  • Bump -- I'm working on this
  • Right Foot -- I know this
  • Left Foot -- I know this
  • Back Foot
  • Where's Your Tail?
  • Wag Your Tail -- I know this
  • Where's Your Nose? 
  • Shake Hands -- I know this
  • Wave -- I know this
  • High Five -- I know this
  • Turn Around -- I know this
  • Turn the Other Way -- I know this
  • Hit Your Mark
  • Dead Dog
  • Roll Over 
  • Sit Up -- I'm working on this
  • Dance -- I'm working on this

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Hiking Badge

Mama says it is very hard for her to update my blog since she can't take pictures when we are out because I require both hands and all her attention when we hike, but we did finish the hiking challenge and I got my first hiking badge!

My badge on my backpack

In other news we are having our first snow of the season and it is a doozy. Mama says the first snow is supposed to be a dusting that melts by evening. Not this year! There was a foot of snow at 8 am and it is still snowing. The leaves are still on some of the trees and they are not happy.

Unhappy maple tree

Mr. Maple lost a limb overnight which I thought was great fun and dragged across the backyard. Mama has been going out and shaking the branches she can reach to try to knock some of the snow off the trees which still have leaves. I follow her around but then get grumpy when the trees drop big blobs of snow on me. Mama says, "Quit following me then!" but I HAVE to follow Mama at all times to make sure she is safe and not planning to run away.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

County Hiking Challenge Hikes 5, 6 & 7

Mama and I did three more hikes, but since she only took one picture on Hike 5 because I was in a mood that day and was being reactive about EVERYTHING and no pictures on Hike 6 because of bikes we figured there was no reason to post them as individual hikes.  So, here they are:

Hike 5

Mama and I did this hike last Sunday.  It was at a place Mama hadn't visited in a long time because the part of this preserve that Merlin liked best went through ravines and so his stroller couldn't go there.  He'd get disappointed when she wouldn't take the turn to the ravines so she stopped going there all together.  The hike was supposed to be around the non-ravine loop, but someone messed with the trail markers and made it so it looked like you were supposed to go through the ravines.  Mama knew the preserve well enough to know it wasn't really the hike, but she wanted to take the ravine part anyway so we did but it did explain all the confused people we met early on in our hike who were asking us where the parking lot was.  It was great that we did do the ravine because I got to see two deer up really close! The first one I saw was only about 8 feet away and the second was about 10 feet away. Mama got a picture of the second deer before I got hysterical.

Official Hike: 3.1 miles
Our Hike: 4.9 miles
Bikes: 2

Hike 6

Mama and I took this hike yesterday. There was a silly sports event on TV that afternoon so Mama thought that, even though she knew that this hike was always jam packed with bikes, there might be fewer bikes out because of the game. (As an aside, Mama was watching TV the other night and the guy was saying how the big evolutionary leap that humans made was when they developed a desire to be part of a group that was larger than their own gene pool. This, he said, was shown in modern life by how much people love watching professional team sports. Mama turned to me and said, "Well, I guess I skipped that evolutionary leap.") Anyway, Mama was WAAAAY wrong! Even before we got to the trail we saw 13 bikes. By the time we had finished the very short hike we had encountered 38!!!

Official Hike: 1.8 miles
Bikes 38

Hike 7

Today, because the weather was so nice we took another hike. Mama had never been to this part of a big preserve before so she didn't know what we'd see, but she hoped that another silly game would make it less crowded.  We think maybe this time it worked because we saw very few people. Mama and I don't understand why people wouldn't be out on such a nice day. Better for us though!  It was a very nice combination of woods and prairie with mowed trails and gravel trails. We did the official hike, two side trails and part of the other half of the preserve which Mama had been to before.
We saw two praying mantises. 
This one is the one that didn't scare me and make me jump straight up in the air. 

The gravel trail through the woods. You can see how sunny and nice it was today.

Mowed trail with boardwalk

When we got  about 1/3 of the way through the upper half of the preserve I told Mama I'd had enough and wanted to go home. She said it would be silly to turn back and follow our trail home since we were only about 50 feet from a loop back, so I let her convince me to continue walking around the loop.  I didn't let her take the big loop though and insisted we take the short loop back.


Just before we got back to the connecting trail we came across this guy.  Mama says she's seen bigger earthworms. He was so tiny I didn't see him at all. Even when Mama stopped to take his picture I couldn't tell what she was looking at and almost stepped on him three times.

See the black strap on the left? That's my leash. That is how tiny this guy was!

Official Hike: 1.9 miles
Our Hike: 6.5 miles
Bikes: 8

September Vacation

I never got around to posting my late September vacation to Wisconsin. It was GREAT because my cousins Bexley and Noodles were up there too and I got to play play play with them as well as swim, take boat rides, chew on a marrow bone as big as Mama's forearm, menace Mama's nephew whenever he didn't put his long hair up, run in the woods and bark at things in the middle of the night.

Here are some photos from the trip.

Me and Noodles taking a boat ride

Me and Bexley playing tug

Me, Noodles and Bexley playing keep-away

Mama thought it was funny how we are blurry in all the photos

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

County Hiking Challenge Hike Number 4

Mama had the day off today so we went for a hike.  I wore my bandanna again, and, as this was going to be a longer hike, my backpack too.  Mama says I look like I should be hiking out in the Canyonlands with my bandanna and pack.

I don't know why it looks like I have a peg leg in this picture

We went on Merlin's favorite river hike.  Mama and I have not taken that hike because that trail is always packed with bikes on the weekend, but since we were going in the middle of the day on a work day Mama figured there'd be fewer bikes.  She was right, but there were still an awful lot.

We hiked along the river and through the woods and despite the bikes I had fun. Right when we started I accidentally stepped on a frog and was very surprised when it hopped out from under my foot.  Then I spotted a snake and this one didn't lift its head but rather slithered off into the grass and I followed it (from a safe distance). I also got to go wading in the river and was so excited that Mama almost went swimming in the river but managed to catch her balance on the slimy mud shore somehow.

Wading by where some trees fell in to the river and made a calm spot

We got to what Mama said was Merlin's favorite bench and sat down for a rest and to enjoy the view.  Some dog was barking on the other side of the river, but I didn't bark back.

The view from Merlin's bench

Then after a bit we kept hiking until we got to what Mama says is Boo's bench. When Boo was alive there wasn't a bench there, but Boo always stopped at this same spot every time they hiked this trail.  After Boo died Mama called the forest preserve people to find out how much it would cost to install a bench there. She got transferred into someone's voicemail and she left a message. Nobody ever got back to her about how she could donate the money for a bench, but when she went hiking with Merlin the first time on that trail, there was a bench right where she had wanted to install one!  So, she calls it Boo's Bench.

Standing on Boo's Bench and enjoying the view

When we got to the end of the hike Mama took me down below a bridge for some skinny-dipping. Well, I went skinny-dipping, Mama stayed dressed and on shore.

Our stuff on the backpack tree

On our return hike a woman on a bike passed us and I lunged and barked at her. She stopped and called out to Mama, "Are you on a counter conditioning walk today?" Mama said yes we were and the lady asked if she could help. Mama said sure. The lady was a vet tech with a reactive German shepherd and she said said she wished more people would stop and help her when she was out with him. The lady got off her bike and came over and said hi to me. Mama gave her some treats and she gave some to me. Then she walked her bike by me and handed me treats then she straddled her bike and walked past me and handed me treats, which was a bit unnerving but fun. Then she got on the bike and pedaled slowly past me and tossed treats, which was odd, but yummy. Then she stopped and dropped some treats by her wheel which I went and got. Then she leaned over and pet me while straddling her bike and I liked that. Then she biked off and I was fine. Then about 1 minute later she came back and passed me again and I lunged and barked at her. Mama called me an idiot and the woman said, "Well you did say it was a work in progress. Good luck!" and she rode off.

When we got to Merlin's Bench I wanted to go sit down again. There was a man down by the bench playing the weirdest game of fetch. He had a stick in his hand and he act like he was going to throw it in the river for me and wanted me to be sure I saw where it went. I'd get all psyched up and ready to jump in the water and fetch it, but then he wouldn't throw it. He just stand there with it for awhile and then he'd pretend like he was going to throw it again. I watched him for the longest time, but he never threw that stick. Mama said he wasn't playing fetch, he was fly fishing.

At the end of the hike Mama and I met an 8 week old chocolate Labrador puppy. We spent about 15 minutes sniffing and playing and Mama talked to the puppy's mama and grandma (this was their first ever dog). The puppy tried to eat my tail, but I didn't mind. Finally I decided I'd had enough puppy and told Mama it was time to get going and Mama and I walked back to the car while the puppy went on her first ever hike.

Total Miles Hiked: 5.5

Bikes Seen: 35

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

County Hiking Challenge Number 3

Mama and I took our third county hiking challenge. Mama and I tried something new. One of Mama's friends is really into essential oils and aromatherapy and she gave us some drops that are supposed to help PTSD and stuff. Mama put a little on a bandanna and I wore it for the hike.  

 Rockin' my bandanna

We saw some bikes right away and I sat right down and watched them pass without any anxiety at all.  Mama was very happy.

We saw lots of horses on this hike. I remembered that they weren't scary and that I was supposed to sit down and quietly watch them pass and again, Mama was very happy. In total we saw 10 horses and I was perfect for all but one. That one smelled weird, kind of like a bike. I jumped around and huffed at it. Mama said that there was a definite smell of gun oil on that horse and she though either the rider was carrying a gun (illegal on the trails) or he had cleaned his tack or coated the horse's hooves with gun oil, which would have been a weird thing to do.

There were lots of other people out at this preserve because it was such a nice day. Most were walking or fishing or boating on the lake, but one group seemed to be planning to stay.

We've never seen quite such an elaborate setup for a group of 6 people

When we were halfway around the assigned hike Mama wanted to take a side trail, I pretended like I was going to do it with her, but then just circled around the attaching trail and back to the main one. Mama said I could have just said no and not pretended like that.  When we were almost at the end of the trail I told Mama I wanted to take the trail over the bridge, so we did. We walked that trail for awhile and saw a new trail Mama had never tried before. It was labeled "Green Trail" and was mowed grass so we started up it. A short distance along it it came to a T. There were no signs marking which way we were supposed to go so I chose left. It was the wrong way. Left ended up taking us on a twisty trail to the shelters where people were having birthday parties. We walked around the shelters and eventually got back to the main trail and followed it back to the bridge. We did find the exit of the Green Trail about a 1/4 mile before the bridge. Mama says maybe we'll go back another time and turn right this time.

As we hiked I saw more bikes, and some didn't bother me while others did, but even with the ones that did I didn't remain paranoid afterwards and only Mama kept checking behind us for more bikes. Right at the end though we got passed from behind without any warning by three bikes, one of which was really scary because it had two people on it and three wheels. I lost it then and then became paranoid for the rest of the hike because I didn't know such monstrous bikes existed. At the next bench we got to I wanted to take a sit down oand gather my thoughts before we finished the hike.

Is that awful bike going to come back?

Mama noticed our shadow and took a picture.

Miles Hiked: 4.6

Bikes Seen: 20.5