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Gwen moves on to a happy new life!

*This was originally posted on Facebook, and I am backdating it and copying it here.

Farewell, Gwen

So I have been holding off on saying anything till we were sure things were going to work out, but now that we know for sure, I’m both happy and sad to announce that Gwen has a new home. Those who know the situation with Gwen know that there have been a lot of challenges in living with her in our house. It was a bad fit right from the beginning; she was very stressed by our household and in turn made everyone else anxious. We, the cats, and Gwen all made the best of it, but when we finally got her skin issues under control we realized that continuing for another decade or so wasn’t fair to anyone, especially Gwen herself. We figured finding her a better home was a longshot, but we had to at least try…

Apparently the universe was looking out for Gwen – a couple came to meet Gwen with their little Boykin Spaniel and everyone hit it off right away. She has been at their house for three weeks and has fit in wonderfully, and with thirty acres around her, she’s no longer on a hair trigger startling at any little noise. She hangs out with her new sister, and goes swimming, and watches TV in bed in the evenings. Her new family loves her, and she’s doing great… and she’s home.

We’re having to learn not to tense up when a car drives up the road next door, waiting for the explosion that will no longer come, and the cats are slowly learning to relax again. I really do miss her, but she’s so much better off. When I got the email that they wanted to make it ‘official’ I got a big lump in my throat… what a wonderful outcome.

All I ever wanted was for Gwen to be happy.

P.S> A big shout-out to Boykin Spaniel Rescue for helping to make this happen!

The forever hike

This morning Gwen had a vet appointment. I really hadn’t planned out the day beyond that, but when we got out of the vet’s office the sun was shining brightly and it was shaping up to be a wonderful day — it seemed a shame to waste it. I decided it would be a nice day for a hike.

Hmm… where to go? Somewhere new, maybe. But I didn’t want to drive too far, and I didn’t want to go somewhere too remote, by myself. The Pink Beds trail in Pisgah National Forest seemed like a good choice and off we went…

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At the trailhead

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Gwen is eager to be off.

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The first of many boardwalks.

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Not a good place to lose your footing.

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According to the hike book, a lot of the areas along this trail are flooded by beavers.

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No beavers here.

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Beautiful

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I saw this, and I was like, ‘that is neat looking’ – and then I realized that was my path.
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No problem for Gwen, all that agility training came in handy here.

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Posing with the tree root monster.

There are more pictures in the full album here.

Some time  after all these pictures were taken… a looooonnnnggg way along the trail, I started to wonder just how much further we had to go? My GPS program I was using to track my distance (not very well, it kept freezing and then skipping in a straight line from point to point instead of following my path) had already registered over three miles and the entire trail was supposed to be 3.4 miles. I encountered a lady ahead of me hiking with what looked like a whole pack of huskies, and asked her how close we were to the end of the trial; imagine my surprise when she told me the trail was a seven mile loop! “But I thought this was a three mile trail?” I asked, and she said that if I had turned at the bridge I passed it would have led straight back out to the parking area, but that the trail we were on would ‘eventually’ loop back there. I asked how far along the seven miles she thought I was, maybe halfway? “I’m not sure if you are that far, but don’t worry, your dog looks like she’ll have no trouble making seven miles.” she replied cheerfully.

Suddenly, the joke I had made in my text to Joy (letting her know where I would be, to be safe) that she should ‘call the park rangers’ if she hadn’t heard from me by four O’clock wasn’t funny any more. We’d been maintaining a really brisk pace the whole way, including jogging on the areas that were flat enough for it to be safe, but now we really got a move on.

The trail seemed to go on forever. If it wasn’t for the fact that it was getting late in the afternoon, I wouldn’t be in such a hurry. It wouldn’t get dark for a few hours, but it would start getting cold soon, and the shadows of the trees would make it darker in the woods even before sundown. Joy really would think I was lost. Every chance I got where I wasn’t risking a broken ankle, I’d put on a burst of speed. By the time we got to the car my legs were numb and wobbly.

I have no idea what trail we were on today. Most of it was definitely the Pink Beds trail…  I thought I followed the signs and the orange blazes all the way, but obviously I deviated somewhere, because the books all rate that trail as about an hour and a half normal hiking speed and fairly level, and we spent two hours at speeds ranging from a brisk march (before I had turned it off because it was draining the phone battery, my GPS measured our average walking speed between runs as 4.7mph) to a full-out sprint, and it got a fair bit steep in places. I don’t know if it was seven miles, but it was definitely way more than three and a half so apparently I took ‘the scenic route’.

The dog has been passed out cold most of the evening and I think I totally earned that whole piece of tiramisu I demolished at dinner.

Maybe they are using a cheaper nylon than they used to?

This is a pretty new ‘wolf size’ Nylabone, which replaced a Gallileo that was chewed down to a little lozenge shaped nub. I remember when these things used to last forever… Or maybe that’s because most dogs I’ve had before didn’t really chew them?

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Happy Halloween, everyone!

Another Halloween has come and gone and the critters have the mental trauma to prove it. I’m just kidding, of course, they always have a good time and scarf up lots of treats, and even Winter was fine with the costume once we took the hat part off. Cricket loves costumes and actually had been wearing hers for days before.

I didn’t quite get these up in time so I cheated and back-dated this post.

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Catwoman is not amused.

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(zombie) Fairy Princess

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SuperCalvin: able to pick tall scratchers with a single bound.

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Catwoman takes her aggressions out on her pollock.

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Fairy princess, Catwoman, and cheerleader Gwen.

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Handsome Simon-shark

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Ishi doesn’t know what sort of foolishness is going on, but she’s not impressed. We knew better than to try and put a costume on her.

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SuperCalvin!

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Calvin, Winter, Cricket, and Gwen

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This is a really blurry shot, but it isn’t often I can catch (almost) everyone in one frame. Olive didn’t quite make it into the shot.

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Two superheroes and a shark with a wardrobe malfunction.

Grounded…

…as in ‘like a naughty teenager’.

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I took Gwen to the ‘unofficial’ Hendersonville dog park today; it was her first trip there in many months, due to my worry that she would injure her bad knees playing rough with some of the larger dogs. I had instead been hiking and jogging with her near the house, but then last month’s bad chest cold and accompanying acute bronchitis temporarily put the quits to that. While I slowly build my endurance back up, I thought that maybe I could take her back to the park and just be careful to do so at less crowded times, and leave if there are dogs present that like to body slam each other… she’s well socialized with other dogs, but she is still maturing and we wanted to keep that social contact going, for some future day when we might find a companion for her. So, today we went to the dog park.

Anyone familiar with this park, knows that it is fenced only on one side and bordered by creeks and railroad tracks on the other three. This makes somewhat of a barrier and hasn’t been a problem for Gwen in the past, her recall is was pretty good and she usually stays with whatever group she is playing with. Today, at first, was no different; she wrestled a bit with her friend Tasha, swam in the creek with a couple of Chow mixes, and floated like the social butterfly that she is between groups of dogs and their owners. And then suddenly… something in her genetic heritage fired up, a switch turned on. Gwen discovered what she believed was her Special Purpose.

At least, I guess, it wasn’t from mom’s side of the family. Having had Pit Bulls all my life before this, I’m well acquainted with the fact that there are some dogs who hit a certain age and (sometimes rather suddenly) become dog-aggressive.  Gwen apparently takes after ‘dad’ who was, according to Gwen’s appearance (and a DNA test) a Boykin Spaniel or mix of one. Gwen was bopping along having a good time and then all of a sudden, it was, like, ‘BIRDS! BIRDS! THEY’RE EVERYWHERE. OMG, BIRDS! And off she went.

The end result after a half hour of trying to get her out of the brush was me having to bushwack my way about twenty feet down the side of a steep riverbank through a heavy deadfall to retrieve (pun intended) my muddy, briar-entangled, wannabe bird dog. She had tracked her way back and forth across one corner of the field, apparently trying to catch a scent (or something, I have about zero knowledge of hunting dogs) which apparently led her deep into the bushes — and rendered her spontaneously deaf.  She was contemplating fording the creek to follow her nose into the marshy area on the other side when I snagged her collar, and she pranced her way out of the park, full of gleeful excitement and completely unremorseful.

I think that was the end of any off-lead adventures for Gwen for a while, at least until the fully fenced real dog park opens in Mills River.