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I ordered the Noxgear LightHound Harness weeks ago and we've been anxiously awaiting its arrival. Unfortunately they were back-ordered for a while and then the recent fires in California delayed the resupply. But we finally got it delivered the Friday after Thanksgiving and had a chance to test it out last night!

NOTE: This review is purely one dog-lover's review/opinion for other dog-lover's informational purposes. I have no affiliation with Noxgear and did not receive anything in exchange for my review. Product was purchased with my own money and all opinions are my own. I urge you to research any purchase on your own to determine if it's something you want to buy. I hope this review helps you make that decision. (Jake is wearing size Large in the following photos/videos).


The box it came in was so small, I was worried that I'd received the wrong item, but sure enough it was the LightHound harness. I took it out of the box and adjusted the straps to fit on the dogs to see if I'd ordered the correct size - everything fit perfectly and the harness was so easy to figure out that I barely even looked at the instructions.

Once the straps were adjusted to fit both dogs, we tested the different lighting options. There are several solid colors to choose from and also a few "preset" light sequences, including a blinking one called "disco dog!"

Last night, when I walked the dogs, there was a light rain so it was the perfect opportunity to test out the harnesses "rainproof" ability. Jake doesn't like walking in the rain very much, so we had a very short walk around our neighborhood and then I switched out the harness so Charlie could take a test run. (*Note: This harness is not waterproof, only rainproof, so make sure not to let your dog go swimming in it!)


Charlie loves to walk, no matter the weather, so we were out for over 40 minutes. I let Charlie choose which direction she wanted to go and she immediately headed toward downtown Wausau on one of the more well-lit streets. She got a lot of attention from passers-by that wanted to check out her blinky harness and give her some love. On our way back home, Charlie wandered through some darker streets where we had a chance to test the extent of the visibility of the harness.

While I liked the blinking "disco dog" mode for visibility of the dogs, it was a bit distracting to my eyes and made it hard for me to concentrate on the sidewalk. I think once we get a layer of snow on the sidewalks, I'll be using one of the solid blue or white light settings to help us navigate any icy spots during night walks.


Overall, I'm very happy with this purchase.These were my objectives for buying this harness:

1. Make sure the dogs are visible during night walks so we don't get hit by cars while crossing roads.
2. Light up the sidewalk so I can see where we're going on icy winter walks.
3. Something rechargeable so I'm not constantly replacing batteries.

Icy sidewalks (and the fear of falling) is my number one excuse to not walk in the winter. And since I just started getting back into a walking routine with the dogs (taking one dog at a time so I can physically handle them), I don't want the impending snow/ice to hold me back from continuing to get exercise this season. All of my issues with winter walking will be handled quite well by this harness. I'm positive this harness will help us stay active all season!

VIDEO #1 ~ demonstration of LightHound Harness (click link):
Noxgear Lighthound harness review - YouTube


VIDEO #2 ~ demonstration of light mode and fit (click link):
Noxgear Lighthound harness review part 2 - YouTube


**This product was purchased with my own money and I did not receive anything in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own and I would never promote something I didn't believe in.**

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Backseat beggar at Culver's... watching me eat lunch and waiting for his share.

Jake and I headed south on a road trip - just the two of us - last weekend. Our first destination was to my stepmom's house in Platteville to meet her new puppy, River. This would be Jake's first time visiting my family's homestead on 40 acres of rolling hillsides in the Driftless Region of the state and I was curious to see how he would do off-leash on this country property without Charlie leading the way.

VIDEO~River and Jake learning to play together (Click Link):
Jake and River playing - YouTube




River is an almost 6-month-old black lab and currently un-neutered (although his surgery is scheduled soon!). Jake and River hit it off immediately and became quick friends, although Jake would soon run out of patience with River's constant humping. That was one aspect I hadn't realized would be an issue, but Jake was a very good boy and corrected River's behavior appropriately, giving him a growl and little snap when he'd had enough.

VIDEO~Inappropriate puppy behavior (click link):
Jake & River, inappropriately playing - YouTube




It was interesting watching Jake handling a younger (and more annoying) puppy... almost like a taste of his own medicine considering how he plays with Charlie and pushes his luck with her. River also had not learned "bite inhibition" yet and still had some sharp baby teeth... Jake did a good job teaching River what was acceptable and what was not.

They played with toys well together and chased each other around the yard, always doing a good job staying close to the house and not wandering off in search of adventures on their own. I was very pleased with how well Jake stayed in the yard.

After dinner on Saturday night, Jake seemed restless and was pacing around a bit. I kept thinking he had to go potty, but then realized he was waiting to go home! This was his first "overnight" trip somewhere and he didn't know that we were staying. I used the same words I used on Charlie when she went through the same situation as a puppy... "we're staying here" "let's go nu-night" "lay down on your bed" etc. He quickly caught on and immediately slumped into his bed and passed out - he was exhausted! I think he was relieved that he could stay and just lay down and rest. River had tired him out completely.

Sleepy Jake

The next morning, we packed up the car and headed over to my sister's house in Deerfield where Jake would get to meet her dog, Bella. In addition to this next new visit, Jake's original foster parents were going to stop by and visit with him too!



Jake did great meeting Bella and they quickly warmed up to each other, romping around and playing with toys. My nieces also got to meet Jake for the first time.

Jake chilling out with my niece while she reads him a story.
VIDEO~Jake and Bella playing (click link):
Jake and Bella playing - YouTube

When Jake's foster parents arrived, his little wiggle-butt started wagging from side to side and he got pretty excited. I don't know if he remembered them or not, but he enjoys meeting people so much! Everyone got a chance to catch up and watch Jake being silly and playful with the kids.


Sunday was a long day of driving and visiting, so Jake was more than happy to curl up in a sunspot in the backseat of the car and sleep all the way home.

His reunion with Charlie when we got home was very sweet too... you could tell they missed each other and Jake seemed relieved and happy to be back home with his pack.

Sidenote: Charlie spent the weekend with her daddy... watching football, eating treats and sleeping. According to Alan, Charlie played with her toy for about 5 minutes and then slept the rest of the time. I think it was a nice break for her to catch up on her rest and spend some quality time alternating her naps between her dog bed and Alan's lap. What a sweetheart!



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Charlie and Jake have grown very close since he's joined our family a little over 6 months ago. I'm constantly observing their behavior and play-style to make sure everyone is getting along and also because it's just plain entertaining.

Overall I feel that Charlie enjoys having a playmate but Jake tires her out with his constant demands. He prefers playing with Charlie over me or Alan... he doesn't quite understand how to play with humans and I think he's worried he'll get too rough. He's a very sensitive dog and is always trying to please.



Charlie's gotten skilled at letting Jake know when she's had enough playtime and she has plenty of room to go rest somewhere away from him.

Also, I've been taking them for separate walks at night so they each get one-on-one time with me and time apart from each other. Charlie really enjoys this personal time, but Jake cries like a baby when Charlie and I leave him behind with his grandma.


He's slowly getting better about being separated from Charlie for short periods of time and I think this is important so he doesn't become too dependent on her. I want him to feel comfortable in any situation and not rely on her for all his emotional support. It's important for him to be confident when he's left alone or separated from Charlie so he doesn't develop separation anxiety.


Which is why I'm taking him with me for a road trip this weekend - just the two of us! We'll be heading down to Platteville to visit my stepmom and her new puppy. I'm also planning a short visit with my sister near Madison and hopefully Jake's foster mom will be able to stop by for a visit with him.


Charlie will be spending the weekend with Alan, getting one-on-one time with her daddy. I'm sure she'll enjoy the easy restful weekend watching football and eating treats.


This will be the first time that Jake and Charlie will be separated for this long, but I'm sure they'll both do great! Jake will be so distracted playing with a new puppy, stopping for some fun hikes during the road trip and meeting new people, plus it will build his confidence being out on his own and be a good bonding time for the two of us. I'm really looking forward to a fun weekend!


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It's that time of year again when I have to limit which trails and parks we visit due to the busy hunting season.



VIDEO~Dogs wearing Blaze Orange last weekend (click link):
Blaze orange visibility - YouTube

VIDEO~Dogs without blaze orange from previous week's hike (click link):
Hiking the peninsula - YouTube


Obviously there are different hunting seasons throughout the year, but in Wisconsin, the big one is for deer and turkey hunting. Both have different restrictions and seasons, so it's important to check with local resources to find out where and when hunts are occurring.


I always visit our local DNR website to find out what types of hunts are going on and where. I also did a search of area parks and know that there are two parks in my county that don't allow hunting at any time of the year. Since Charlie is noise-reactive, I choose to stick to those parks when any gun hunting is going on, although we can't always avoid all gunshot noises since some noises carry over great distances and waterfowl can be hunted on the lakes and rivers surrounding those parks.



In any case, over the years we have become comfortable with one particular park that has everything we're looking for - secluded areas where the dogs can run off-leash, no hunting inside the park, and lots of acres to explore. It's a bit longer of a drive to get there, but always worthwhile once we arrive.


It can be beyond frustrating to hike with a noise-reactive dog during hunting seasons, as I've experienced before, but with the proper planning and preparation, you can have a great time! Don't let hunting season keep you indoors; there are almost always options to get outside.


Here are some tips to keep you safe while having fun (especially with a reactive dog):
  • Wear bright colors, or preferably blaze orange, when you are hiking during hunting season. Even if hunting is not allowed where you are hiking, it's best to be seen just in case. There are a variety of things dogs can wear to help them be seen in the woods... from expensive hiking vests to something homemade. My dogs always wear a Ruffwear harness when hiking - these can be pricey but they're so well-made that you'll only have to buy it once. Even though these are colorful, I also have the dogs wear a blaze orange neck warmer that I bought at the local hardware store for about $5.00. If you can't find a neck warmer that will go around your dog's neck, you could buy a knit cap and cut the top off it so it'll fit around their neck for a rather inexpensive way to make sure your dog is not mistaken for a deer.

  • Realize that you may have to cut your hike short if your dog hears something that causes them to react. It's no fun for anyone to force them to stay on the trail if they're too scared. Always try to make outdoor activities fun so your dog will want to go along. There have been times when Charlie and I were out in the middle of nowhere when she had an episode and we had a long and grueling hike to get back to the car; it happens. Just try to end each hike on a happy note (lots of treats and praise) so your dog doesn't get too fearful to get back out there. We have had situations where I've been forced to abandon going on certain trails because Charlie had one bad experience and every time we went back she became fearful... just from the previous memories. It's okay to put some trails "on hold" until your dog is ready to go back... and when they do, make sure you have lots of GOOD treats to make it fun again.

  • Keep your dog ON-LEASH when hiking in hunting zones. Even if they are visible, they could disrupt wildlife and hunters causing a bad experience for everyone. It's just plain polite to keep your dog on-leash if there is a chance they'll run into other hikers, hunters or wildlife. I make sure that the trails where Charlie and Jake are off-leash are secluded non-hunting zones and we're not bothering anyone else (we have secret side-trails we use to get off the main trails). Since Jake's recall isn't that great yet, I sometimes keep him on-leash and let Charlie off-leash if I can't handle both of them myself.

  • If you have a reactive dog, know the trail and what to expect ahead of time, even if this means going there by yourself to scout it first. Just because something looks good on a map or website doesn't always mean it'll work for you and your dogs. This is a worthwhile time investment to ensure you all have a good experience.
What other tips or tricks do you have for good hiking experiences with your dogs? Have you ever had an issue hiking during hunting seasons?


#optoutside
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The past couple of weeks have been a blur... and all of a sudden October is over and November is here! How did that happen so fast?


Our weekends have been filled with chores like getting the house/garden/yard projects done before it starts snowing while trying to fit in time to exercise the dogs along with some "down time" to relax before we head back to work on Mondays.

This past week was Halloween, so I had some busy nights making treats for a work potluck and getting ready for trick-or-treaters. Halloween was a night that I couldn't walk the dogs because there were a lot of people out in our neighborhood and Charlie would have been too reactive, so we set up a good place for them to watch on the porch and put them in the house when things got to be too much for them.


Evenings are so short now that it's getting dark earlier and I've been spending more time walking the dogs after dinner than previously since we're not getting out to parks or hiking trails anymore. The evening dog walks have become very time-consuming but also very necessary - for both me and the dogs (more on that in a future post).


In all honesty, the dogs haven't been getting regular walks at all over the summer. If I'm not taking them somewhere where they can run off-leash, we pretty much stay in the backyard to play. With Jake gaining a pound a week since I adopted him, they've become too much for me to physically handle on leashed city walks. If Charlie gets reactive while we're out, Jake follows her lead and having TWO reactive dogs on leash is just too difficult for me to control.

My cuties in the background behind me.

For a while, I stopped walking altogether. I felt guilty if I went for a walk by myself to get some exercise, I couldn't take them both along and I figured it would take too long to walk them separately. But when I realized how much weight I've gained over the summer from inactivity and how sore my body was from sitting at my desk job all day, I decided it was worth the almost 2-hour time commitment to walk them separately so we could all get some fresh air and exercise on weeknights.




That's the thing though. If you want to be healthy and have healthy dogs you have to commit to the necessary time it takes to make that happen. I'll admit it takes some pre-planning to make sure you have time for everything that needs to be accomplished in a regular week, but you can do it!

This is what a typical week looks like for me:
  • Monday thru Friday I wake at 5am, shower, feed the dogs, get ready for work and do light chores like dishes, putting away laundry, vacuum one room a day. I make old-fashioned oatmeal with blueberries every morning and always make a little extra to share with the dogs. I also drink almost a pot of coffee throughout the morning, but stop by noon so it doesn't interfere with my sleep.
  • I take about 15 minutes to lift some handweights or do sit-ups each morning (alternating different target areas for different days). 
  • Then I'm off to work from 8am-5pm. I come home at lunch to play with the dogs and eat a healthy lunch (usually salad, which I also share with the dogs so they can get some veggies too).
  • After work, I feed the dogs, change my clothes and then take Jake for a 45-minute walk and when I return, Charlie gets her 45-minute walk. Charlie always goes second since the neighborhoods have quieted down by then and there are less people/dogs out to trigger her reactivity issues.
  • When I return, I maybe watch t.v. for a little bit or read a book in bed. Then I'm in bed asleep by 9pm. I'm the kind of person who needs 8 hours of sleep each night or I'm a complete wreck the next day!
You'll notice that I don't eat dinner. Because I sit at my desk all day, I'm prone to snacking a lot. I try to keep my snacks healthy - fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc. So by the time I get home, I'm not really hungry for a heavy meal. If I feel too hungry, I have a glass of chocolate milk or a cup of tea and that usually takes care of any hunger pains. I actually sleep much better when I don't eat dinner. 

"Date night" with the dogs... eating popcorn and watching them play.

A couple nights a week, I either stay over at Alan's house or he stays at mine, which always changes the schedule a little bit. I'll sometimes eat dinner on those nights since I'm not walking the dogs, and we play and wrestle with the dogs inside to get them exercised. Our "date nights" consist of trying to watch a movie or t.v. show, but almost always we end up watching the dogs play instead... they are WAY more entertaining! I also get the dogs some new toys once in a while so they have something fun to do if we're not going to be walking or hiking. Any kind of enrichment activity like this is a good substitute for occasional days off from the routine.


Weekends are a time to do errands, meal prep, bigger chores around the house and typically a trip to a hiking trail or a park to run off-leash.

I find that sticking to a routine like this helps me stay on-track health-wise and gives the dogs something concrete to look forward to. Obviously things come up and not every day can be this tightly scheduled, but overall, this works for us.



If you're struggling to find time for healthful activities like walking, hiking or eating right, I urge you to take a look at your week in advance and find the pockets of time that are available. I'm notorious for making excuses not to do the weight-lifting and strength exercises in the morning... I would rather read a book with my cup of coffee... but it's really quite reasonable to take 10 minutes to do something each morning and it's amazing how good you'll feel after doing it for a week or two.


Also, when I find that I'm comparing myself to everyone else on social media who seem to have time for everything, including posting fabulous pictures of themselves with their dogs in stunning locations, I take a deep breath, close the apps on my phone and snuggle with the dogs in bed and remind myself of all the things I have to be grateful for.

Time spent with those I love is always more important than competing with virtual strangers for the best Instagram feed. And seriously, if you are a regular person like me, there is NOT enough time in the day to do it all!

New toys! - YouTube


VIDEO~Almost Sharing (click link):
Almost sharing - YouTube


So send your love, gratitude and inspiration into the world to help others and then step away and appreciate the ones you love that are right next to you. And remember that you are providing a warm, safe, loving home to your fur-baby and whatever little things you can do to brighten their lives is enough. You are enough.



Happy Halloween!

#dogmomlife
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Despite the 35 degree temps and blustery winds this morning, I was determined to get outside with the dogs for a hike today!


Alan and I have been working on house projects for the last few weeks, getting ready for winter, so the dogs have been getting a bit of cabin fever waiting for some good weather to hike. I owed them something fun since it's their birthday month and the "nice" weather will be gone soon.


With the sun shining on our faces, we headed out to one of our favorite parks for some off-leash time. The dogs had a blast! We saw hawks, several deer and an eagle! The dogs even had a fun time chasing a deer that happened to cross our trail... although it was rather short-lived since both dogs were already pretty tired out by then. They both trotted slowly back to me after only a minute or two of chase.

VIDEO~Jake watches an eagle take flight (click link):
Eagle sighting on hike - YouTube


When an eagle took flight from a nearby branch as we approached the water's edge, Jake watched in awe as it flew across to another island. I love watching him experience things for the first time... Charlie has already seen tons of eagles in her 8 years, but to Jake, this was the first one.

VIDEO~Exploring the trail (click link):
Explore the trail - YouTube


A thin layer of ice had begun to form on the ponds and along the shallows. Jake crunched through and then started eating the pieces that floated away. Too cute! It reminded me of his first hike... just 6 months ago, when there was still a thin layer of winter ice on the water at this same park. Crazy how the summer went by so fast. Soon enough it'll be winter again and Jake will get to go snow-shoeing for the first time.

VIDEO~Sharing a stick (click link):
Birthday weekend hike - YouTube

Tired pups loaded into the car for a sleepy drive home. Jake laid in the backseat in a sun spot and Charlie was in front with her head resting on my lap. I cranked the heat and cracked open a few windows so we could have fresh air while staying warm... something my dad used to do on road trips when we were kids. I always think of him when I do this. He said the fresh air helped keep him awake on long drives. I do it just because fresh air is awesome and I'm sure the dogs like it too.



Afternoon was spent doing chores while the dogs snoozed in sun spots. It was a good weekend with a lot accomplished, but hiking is always my favorite part.



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The weather is unusually cold and rainy for this time of October. Typically we'd be enjoying days with temps in the low 50's and the autumn leaf color would be at peak. But this morning it was a chilly 38 degrees with howling winds and snow flurries and most of our leaves have blown off already from the stormy rains and winds of the past week or two. Instead of a fun hiking excursion like I had planned, we stuck to the backyard and playing at Alan's house today since the windchill was pretty cold. We took advantage of the occasional bouts of sunshine peeking out from clouds to play outside in the yard and took a long scenic drive as well.

JAKE ~ 6 months old (adoption day!)

JAKE ~ 1 year old!

Jake has been with our family for just a little over 6 months now... and today is his first birthday! It's hard to imagine that around this time last year he was born as a stray in Texas... and now he's a pampered pup in Wisconsin! Strange how life works sometimes.

Jake continues to grow but his weight-gain has slowed a bit in the last few weeks and I'm hoping he'll plateau soon. I took him to the vet this morning to get weighed and get a refill of his Bravecto tick meds. His official weight today is 54.5 lbs, which means he's gained about 24 lbs in 6 months. My big boy!!!

We went to the pet store after the vet's office and let Jake pick out some treats. He always seems mostly interested in the smoked bone display but since I'm not a big fan of those treats, we always bypass it. But today I let him have one... and Charlie got one too. I think he's pretty happy with his treat selection.

VIDEO (Jake's Birthday Bone):
Jake's birthday bone - YouTube


Jake is pretty adorable when he gets a special treat like a bully stick, beef trachea or duck foot. He always gives me this look of surprise when he first takes the treat in his mouth, like he can't believe what a lucky boy he is! Then he runs into the living room and tosses the treat up in the air a few times. He then races downstairs to show Grandma his treat and toss it up in the air a few times for her to see too. Then he comes racing back upstairs into the living room to roll around with it a few minutes before he finally starts actually eating it. Usually by this time, Charlie has either eaten her treat completely or is almost finished. Then as Jake takes his sweet time enjoying his treat, Charlie gives me the "stink eye" like I gave him a bigger treat or more treats than her and that is why he still has some and hers is gone.





Jake is a cuddle-bug. I've never had such a cuddly dog... and I absolutely love it! Jake always wants to be near me and at night he glues himself next to me in bed. He gives kisses by putting his snout right up to your mouth or nose. He has an affinity for sniffing things very hard! He'll put his nose right on something and inhale deeply. Sometimes I wonder what exactly he's smelling or why some things are so darn interesting! Just the other morning, he was lying on the bathroom floor while I got ready for work and he stuck his nose right into the crack between two tiles and inhaled so deeply and for so long! I just laughed at my big goofball. Not sure what he was sniffing, but whatever it was, it had his undivided attention.

VIDEO (Jake was pretty excited about the snow!):
Snow on Jake's birthday - YouTube





We still haven't put a lot of work into "training" Jake on commands. He understands the basics (and honestly I think he knows more than he lets on), but sometimes he just gives us this blank stare with the cutest face. It's hard to resist those eyes. He could also just be stubborn. Who knows. I'm not ready to push him to learn. I accept him for who he is and understand that he's a different dog than Charlie. Where Charlie is all about toys and playing and games to keep her mind active, Jake is more about giving and receiving love. Having these two dogs is the perfect balance of everything you could want in pets - one very play-driven and one very loving.

Jake starts doggie daycamp next week. Just one day a week to get him socialized with other dogs and give him a full day of playtime. I think Charlie will also enjoy this "day off" to just nap and relax without having Jake trying to instigate wrestling and playtime. We'll take it week by week and see how he does. Two of my friends have their dogs at this daycare so I think it'll be a good opportunity for Jake to get to know them so we can have playdates together in the future.

Jake and Peanut in the backseat, Charlie of course is in front.



Both dogs have been spoiled with a lot of new toys and treats lately. Alan buys them stuff for when we're at his house and I have multiple bins of toys at my place now. We rotate the toys to make sure they always have something "new" to play with. Jake has a short attention span when it comes to toys and his favorite activity is taking each toy out of the bin (one by one), playing with it for 30 seconds and then getting a new toy. After I pick up all the toys and put them away, he starts over. My house looks like a disaster all the time because it's impossible to keep the toys picked up. But I love that "lived in" look of a house with a dog.

Today is a special day but it is also a day just like all the other days. These dogs are the center of my world and they know so much love. We don't save it up for special days; every day is special.

Happy Birthday Jake!

Here are a few photos from Jake's foster family when they first got him back in February (he was found with his other littermates in a field in Texas, abandoned and starving at almost 4 months old, all of them had giardia and ringworm - Jake bears the scars on his left side from ringworm where his fur won't grow back):

Jake (right) with one of his littermates during their rescue.

Jake (right) with one of his littermates during their rescue.

Jake at his foster family... slowly getting well and putting on weight.

Jake with his foster family.

Jake learning how to do stairs at his foster family.

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After several days in a row of gray and rainy skies, it finally cleared yesterday afternoon! Blue skies were visible through dissipating clouds and the sun came out. It was beautiful.

So when I arrived home from work, I announced to everyone that we were going to the park to enjoy the weather before it turned cold and windy the next day. Mom got Peanut ready and we loaded all the dogs and Peanut's stroller into the car.


The air at the park was warm and humid and a  low level of mist swirled around parts of the field and path. On the path to the park, we could hear the Wisconsin River roaring along the banks below us, waves splashing along the shore.

VIDEO #1:
Flooded park playing - YouTube

VIDEO #2:

Playing at the flooded park - YouTube

Riverside Park is an island in the Wisconsin River just below the dam in Downtown Wausau, with a sturdy bridge connecting the park to the mainland. There have been times in the past that the entire island is underwater during particularly big spring melts, so we're always prepared to get off the island if we hear the alarm sirens on the dam.


The water was still low enough to cross the bridge, but we could see that most of the island was flooded and we would have to stay on the bridge to stay dry.


That's a park bench they're swimming past.

That didn't stop Charlie and Jake though! They took off splashing through the water and having a great time. I watched to make sure they stayed out of the main channel of the river since the flooded waters were flowing very fast but they seemed content to explore the flooded park.


Mom and I chatted on the bridge, watching the water flowing swiftly beneath us, enjoying the fall colors enveloped in a warm mist and laughing at the dogs running back and forth through the puddles.



Peanut was so happy to be along, safely ensconced in her stroller where she didn't have to worry about being trampled by the bigger dogs. It was so uplifting to finally be outside enjoying the colors of the season and probably one last blast of warm humid air before the reality of the cooler season rolls in tomorrow.


It's a little strange being in the presence of the power of nature. The way the river just goes where it wants, flowing fast and free. Hearing the roar of the water going through the dam just upstream. Watching the seasons change all around us, so fast and fleeting. I had been worried earlier this week that the leaves were going to fall before we had a chance to really enjoy them, but for today we got what we came for and it was bliss.

Charlie got into some burs! What a mess.

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Jake had his first trip to the dog park today! I chose Sandy's Bark Park in Rib Mountain since it's only about 4 acres and it's close to home. Our other local dog park in Weston WI is about 40 acres and it's easy to lose track of your dog there.


Since it was Jake's first time, I wanted to make sure I could keep an eye on him and watch out for any aggressive dogs.


We had a great time! Jake did good meeting the other dogs that were there and definitely knew which ones he wanted to play with. This park happens to be really close to a major highway so the background noise was pretty loud.

VIDEO #1 (Sandy's Bark Park - a lot of highway noise and someone with an annoying whistle):
Sandy's Bark Park in Rib Mountain - YouTube

VIDEO #2 (Jake's first time at the dog park):
Jake's first time at the dog park - YouTube

We stayed for only about 10-15 minutes and by then, Jake was panting pretty good and seemed pretty excited. I didn't want him to get over-stimulated so we cut our visit short. Plus there wasn't a water bowl there so I wanted to get him back to the car so we could get a drink of water from his bowl there.


I ran a couple of errands before heading home, but when we got out of the car at home, he was limping on his back leg. I think he strained it at the park running around too much. I gave him one of his leftover pain pills from having his baby tooth extracted and we're taking it easy the rest of today.

He seems more than happy to snuggle and nap with me. It's another gray, cloudy day so it's a good day for staying in and keeping each other warm.


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This summer flew by way too fast and I'm more than a little sad about it. There's so much that I wanted to do with Jake that we never had time to do.

And as we try to squeeze the most out of these weekdays and the dwindling daylight left after work, I realize that it will likely be snowing in a month or so. What a strange thought.


Because evenings like last night, where the 46 degree temps still feel mild and the river is still open and flowing, and I'm only wearing a sweater, it's hard to think about wearing boots and hats and scarves and being almost too cold to be outside. And yet, it will be here soon.


The funny thing is, watching the dogs romp around and play, I realize there's no point in being sad. They have no concept of it being "too dark to be at the park" or "too cold to go swimming." They do what brings them joy no matter what the circumstances.


So I sit back on my picnic table at the park and soak up the dwindling daylight. I watch them chase each other. I laugh at Jake because he takes a quick dip into the water to go swimming whenever he gets close to the shore and then comes out, shakes off the water and takes off after Charlie again. I marvel at how much of a water-dog he is... you just can't keep him from swimming if water is nearby!

VIDEO #1:
Swimming in colors - YouTube


VIDEO #2:
Jake loves swimming - YouTube

I gaze at the trees beginning to reach peak color and their blurry reflections in the water, enjoying the sound of the swollen river flowing fast, full to the top of the riverbanks from all the recent rain. The darkening sky seems to enhance the fall colors, the leaves turning a darker, deeper color as the light disappears from the sky.

VIDEO #3:
Fetch at dusk - YouTube


Soon enough, we'll be walking in the dark after work. But for right now, there's still a sliver of light and a chance for a fleeting sunset.
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