Doberman

How To Turn Walking Your Dog From A Chore To A Fun Activity

I as a runner, I can honestly say that I do not enjoy walking. I’m accustomed to moving twice the distance in half the time, which makes walking feel painfully slow. But since Otis is still too young to run, with Bella’s front wrists still healing, and as I work toward strengthening my back, walking is our only option right now. So, over the last few months, I’ve figured out how to look forward to my walks with the pups and find joy in the littlest things. [For some of my tips and tricks for a swift and easy dog walk, keep reading after this post!].

Walking your dogs creates an incredible bond and a huge level of trust. Any dog trainer will tell you that the best way to bring a new dog into your home is to take it for a walk. Why should that be any different with dogs you already have in your home? Dogs are pack animals by nature, so walking in a group is extremely natural and instinctual for them. And if you have more than one dog, they also bond with each other on a walk which is great for their relationship, too. Walks are the one place where my two pups are in harmony and aren’t trying to roughhouse, wrestle, or outdo each other. I don’t know about you, but I find that to be extremely peaceful!

If you live close to a school or park, walk your dog there and then let him run off leash. For me, there is something about seeing my dogs run free that just brings me so much joy! Leash walking is good for their minds, but running off leash is so good for their souls. Often times we humanize our dogs at home [admittedly, I am super guilty of this], and when we let our dogs run without a leash connection, it’s a reminder to both them and us that they are actually dogs. One of the highlights of both mine and my dogs’ weekends now is that we get to go to the school down the street from us so they can run around and be dogs. The other bonus of finding an enclosed place like a school to let your dogs run is that you can work on off-leash training and really build that bond and level of trust.

Getting outside does wonders for us humans, too. Since most of us hold jobs that keep us inside all day, we should take every opportunity to get out in nature. Having a dog leaves you with no excuse, since they need at least one daily outing to keep them sane. When I’ve had a stressful day at work [or when it’s that time of the month], I look forward to my evening walk with the pups because it allows me to decompress, and in my own way, meditate. I do a lot of my blog writing in my mind when I’m out with my pups. Something about the fresh air and the quiet evenings helps me think more clearly and get my thoughts on track.

While it’s slower and less effective than other forms of cardio, walking is, in fact, a form of cardio. You won’t burn as many calories or get your heart rate up as high, but you are exercising and you are making a difference in your health. If you live in a neighborhood with hills – great! Try to keep a consistent pace while you’re going up and down them. Don’t slow down! And if you don’t live near any hills, see if there are any neighborhoods or places nearby that have them. It’s a great way to get your heart pumping [and, if you’re pressed for time, you don’t have to go as far].

Grab a friend with a dog and go walking together. This is huge! This automatically makes you have an accountability partner so neither you nor your dogs miss out on a daily walk. I have a friend who lives close to me, and we try and get a walk in together every evening. For the pups, it’s great social interaction and learning to walk in a pack with other dogs. For the humans, it’s exercise and social hour. Need I say more?

Change up your walking route every once in a while. I love the days where I turn down a new street and get to check out different architecture and landscaping. It sounds silly, but it gets me daydreaming about the next home my fiancé and I buy and they way I’d like to design and decorate it. Plus, the dogs will love exploring a street with all kinds of new smells and sounds.

If you’re walking during the day, bring your phone with you so you can listen to music, an audiobook or a podcast. Generally I’d be against this, since the point of being out in nature is to let the noise of daily life fall away, but sometimes it’s nice to pop some headphones in your ears and zone out while you cruise with your pups.

There are going to be days where your walks aren’t fun. Maybe your dog is acting up, or it’s pouring rain, or the park down the street is busy so you can’t let your dog off his leash – whatever the case may be, the bottom line is that you got out there with your dogs. And when they’re sacked out at home, snoring little doggy snores and dreaming doggy dreams, you’ll have this odd and overwhelming sense of contentment. A proud pet parent moment. I imagine it feels something like what a parent feels for their own baby. Elation, maybe. Knowing that not only did you do something for your dogs, but you did something for you, too.


As a(n) [almost] daily dog walker, I’ve compiled a short list of some tips and tricks I’ve learned from both licensed dog trainers [who Bella and I have worked with], and my own experiences.

If you have a dog that doesn’t get along well with other dogs, it’s important to always be looking ahead and paying attention. If you see another dog coming, DO NOT STOP WALKING. Dogs are not multitaskers, which means that if you keep moving, they can’t walk forward, walk sideways, bark, growl, and watch their step all at the same time. If a dog is coming toward you, quickly check both ways and cross the street as soon as the coast is clear. The further you are from a situation, the more power you will have.

If you hope to work on off-leash training, I highly recommend bringing treats with you. Be sure your dog knows you have them before you release him. While he may be a scent dominated animal, there’s no way he will know you have them unless the wind is miraculously in your favor. Be sure you purchase high value treats – something your Fido will be willing to give up the fresh scent of a squirrel for.

Always, always, ALWAYS bring poop bags with you! I never leave the house without at least three doggy bags in my jacket, pants or fit belt. I even carry a roll in my car! Be a responsible dog owner. I can’t tell you how furious it makes me when people don’t clean up after their dogs, especially little ones. Just because your dog’s poo is the size of my finger, does not mean you get to leave it lying on the sidewalk.

In my personal opinion, there is nothing wrong with using a shock collar or a prong collar on your dog. You want to feel comfortable and confident as the owner of your dog – and if that means you can’t overpower him without the assistance of a tool, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. With Bella’s tendencies to dislike other dogs [and with her intimidating size and breed working against both of us], I always have her shock collar on when I know she will be in social situations. It’s more peace of mind for me, knowing that I have the power keep her from getting to a level where she feels like she has to take action on somebody else.

Don’t let your dog dictate the pace of the walk. You are the human, you decide how fast or slow things go. Because dogs are so scent dominant, they will follow any smell of interest that comes their way. My two are constantly trying to stop and smell the roses [literally and figuratively]. I am continually teaching them that they will get a sniff break and a potty break when I decide it’s time.

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Holistic Healthcare For Fur Babies

If you don’t know by now, I am basically obsessed with my dogs. I spare no expense for their health, well-being and happiness. [I also spare no expense for their fashion – stylish collars are a must!]

A little over a year ago, I started going to acupuncture. My best friend, who has battled Endometriosis for all of her adult life, has found so much improvement in health and pain relief through holistic healing. She is diligent about exercise, receiving acupuncture and cupping, eating right, and using essential oils to improve her overall health and body. [I keep encouraging her to write about her health journey – it’s truly extraordinary. once that happens, I will link her blog here :)].

I had no expectations for how my body would react to acupuncture. I really didn’t know anyone else who had ever received it, so the only review I had was a good one. Honestly, acupuncture changed my life. It got my body back on track and reset my system. I went from having migraines, excessive stress and panic attacks, to having none of the above. I still stress sometimes, but my body doesn’t even come close to the levels that it used to.

After having such a positive experience of my own, I decided to do some research on holistic healing for Miss Bella. Even though we were running three to four miles, five to six days out of the week [and still getting her out for exercise on the seventh day], she never seemed to be tired or relaxed. She would never truly settle down, and any time I’d get up from the couch or move from one end of the room to the other, she’d be my shadow. She was on constant high alert, growling or barking at any sound she heard. It got to a point where my fiancé and I couldn’t settle down or relax either. I figured that since acupuncture worked for me, perhaps it would work for her, too.

I was so fortunate to find Marilyn Koski [she works out of Marqueen Animal Hospital in Granite Bay]. She is the exact type of human you want doctoring your pet. She is empathetic, honest, and extremely knowledgeable. Something I have learned is extremely important since Bella came into my life. It’s the reason I drive to Sacramento to keep seeing her primary vet, Susan Barrett at Watt Avenue Pet Hospital. Both women are consistently and constantly educating themselves on new practices in animal healthcare. They don’t just regurgitate information that they learned back in veterinary school. They also sit down with their clients and share their knowledge; they try to explain what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and how it will benefit the animal.

Anyway, back to Marilyn. She is an absolute dream. When Bella and I met her, she sat on the floor and let Bella approach her and sniff her. She chatted with me while Bella mosied around the room and sniffed here and there. She asked about why we were there, why I was seeking acupuncture for Bella. She asked about diet, about the amount and type of exercise Bella gets. And then, once she’d gained Bella’s trust, she performed a series of physical tests on her. She tested the range of motion of Bella’s limbs, and poked and prodded in different places to test her reflexes. She moved a treat around to test other parts of the body for stiffness and ease of movement. She also massaged different muscles in Bella’s body to check for swelling, asymmetry, and other oddities. It wasn’t until all of that was completed that she gave me her overall diagnosis of Bella: healthy, happy, well-cared-for [pat self on back], and just generally a basic Doberman. They are an alert breed with a natural tendency to protect their home and the people in it. The things that my fiancé and I felt were high stress, were actually just normal behavioral attributes for a Dobie.

After the physical tests, Marilyn proceeded to perform some needle acupuncture on Bella to see how she would respond to it [she responded very well – she slept for 12 hours after we got home that night]. In addition to the needles, she also used a form of laser acupuncture which penetrates a little deeper into the system [it’s not harmful to animals or to humans]. She was also very knowledgeable in regards to supplements and medications that can be purchased through the internet. Animal products are generally not monitored by any sort of food and drug administration, so there are no restrictions for what goes into them. SCARY. There are some products, however, that are made by well-known companies, and, on top of that, are actually tested and monitored [huge eye-opener – I felt like such a bad dog mom after years of purchasing random crap for Bella online]. Marilyn recommended a great joint supplement made by Bayer called Synovi G4, which you can buy on Amazon here.

Two weeks ago, we made a return visit to Marilyn after an early September injury that Bella wasn’t healing from. Again, I was blown away by her kindness and knowledge and her ability to give me peace of mind. She explained everything she was doing, how Bella was responding, and what that indicated for her. She performed laser treatment, set up a follow up appointment, and I kid you not, Bella was cured. No more limp, no more swollen shoulder [which were her initial symptoms]. I can’t tell you how much my heart lifted knowing that her “old age” [she’s six] wasn’t the culprit. And it made me that much more sold on acupuncture and how it can really do wonders for the body.

If you’re in the Sacramento area, I highly HIGHLY recommend both Marilyn and Susan. Marilyn is a specialty vet, so she does not perform regular veterinary tasks like vaccinations and surgeries. But she is absolutely amazing at what she does, and the fact that she can relate to both human and animal is extremely important [so many veterinarians seem to have a disconnect with other humans]. Susan Barrett is a great veterinarian if you’re looking for a regular, day-to-day doctor for your pet; and she is especially knowledgeable in breeds with ear crops, as she does also perform those surgeries [and extremely well, I might add]. Another reason why I love her: she knows all there is to know about Dobermans. She is also great at communicating with humans and does everything in her power to share her knowledge and education with her clients. Seriously, I cannot say enough about both women – they are two of the best.

Health Insurance For Fido. It’s A Thing!

In January of this year, my fiancé and I celebrated our eleven month anniversary [and a much needed date night out]. As an early one year anniversary gift, he surprised me with the fact that he was ready to bring another dog into our home.

If you know me at all, you know the big soft spot in my heart for dogs. For nearly a year I had been joking with him about just showing up at home with a puppy one day, and becoming an old, retired married couple with hundreds of dogs. For a year he pretended [or maybe it was real haha] to be afraid of having any more dogs. Bella was more than enough, he said. So I was completely shocked and so excited when he announced that he was ready for one more. And as much as we were both looking forward to finding our perfect pup, we knew it wouldn’t be right to start the puppy process before our big Europe trip in September.

Fast forward to four weeks ago. Mitch and I were lying in bed on a Saturday morning, looking at puppies online. After seeing the movie, I Love You, Man, we both had our hearts set on a Puggle. For months we had been searching for a breeder on the west coast, but, me being the crazy dog lady that I am, I refused to go with a breeder that seemed to be breeding for money instead of passion. We finally found one in Iowa who had the cutest black coated male, and we were sold. We emailed the breeder, put down a deposit, and five days later I picked our little guy up from the airport [sidenote: we both did a ton of research on flying a puppy – I did not want to pay money for a dog that would arrive traumatized for life].

Enter: Otis. Spunky, vocal, and the bravest little dude the world has ever seen. Hence why I decided that we needed doggy insurance. Actually, it was about 6 months ago that I began researching the different pet insurance companies, after I took Bella in for a bit of holistic healthcare [look for a post about this to come].

You guys know I will pay any amount of money to keep my pets healthy and happy. But having a 6 year old Doberman who eats raw is costly enough without the added vet bills, not to mention a new puppy who needs regular vaccinations and really likes to live life on the edge. Working in the health insurance industry myself, I knew it would be more beneficial for me in the long run if I purchased insurance for my pups.

I am so thankful I did.

Five days before we left for Europe, I took Bella on a hike with my friend and her German Shepherd pup. They ran around like crazy, and later that afternoon I noticed Bella limping. Knowing I would be boarding her for two weeks, I took her to the emergency vet near my home to have her examined. Between the x-ray the vet took that day, the fee to actually see a vet at an emergency clinic, and the laser treatments and blood tests after Europe because she wasn’t healed.. Well, let’s just say the numbers added up quickly. Luckily, because I signed Bella up for insurance, I will get reimbursed for all of it!

One of the other benefits of pet insurance is that you can easily customize the plan you wish to sign your pet up for. There are different deductible options, and tons of riders [add-ons] available to cater to your pet’s specific needs. And, compared to the cost of x-rays, acupuncture, blood tests, vet visits, etc., the insurance is pretty freakin’ cheap.

I definitely don’t think it’s necessary for everyone. The only reason I even looked into it in the first place was because Bella is starting to enter her “older” dog years and I want to be able to cover as much of her healthcare expenses as I possibly can. And the only reason I added Otis to it was because he’s a daredevil and if either of them is going to get seriously injured it will be him [fingers crossed that doesn’t happen, though LOL].

I only compared two different pet insurance companies when I looked, and I ended up going with Trupanion [I felt like they had a good variety for a bit cheaper cost]. There are tons of options out there, though, and some employers offer discount programs that include pet insurance [worth checking into!].

Unfortunately I won’t be much help in referring anybody to any companies, as I’m super new to pet insurance myself, and I don’t personally know any other pet owners that have it. But if you have questions on plans and what they cover, I can help you with that, and I’m happy to! Please feel free to ask.

The RAWsults Are In

We’re just a couple of days shy of Bella’s one month mark of being on the raw diet.

Conclusion?

Switching Bella to raw food was hands down paws down the best decision I ever made [well, best decision in relation to Bella’s diet, that is].

When I initially decided to try raw food for Bella, it was because her skin was reacting so horribly to kibble – and not just any kibble, one of the most expensive ones on the market! She was losing chunks of hair and she had so much dandruff it almost looked like she’d been snowed on. She was constantly scratching her ears and her belly, shaking her head, sneezing, chewing on and licking her legs. At $80+ for a 28 lb bag of high quality food, these weren’t the results we should have been getting.

Today is Bella’s 27th day eating raw. She looks like a completely different dog. Her coat is shiny and soft; the dandruff that she does still get is stress-induced [a fun Doberman quality] and goes away the instant we head out for our evening run. Her hair has grown almost completely back and she no longer scratches uncontrollably. Even her energy levels seem to have stabilized.

If you’re on the fence about feeding your dog raw, I would highly recommend making the switch. Even trying it out for a month to see what you think. It is expensive, but I believe in keeping both my dog and myself healthy. And so far I’d say the results of the raw diet have been worth every single penny.

If you have any questions about starting your dog on the raw diet, please feel free to ask/email: bellaandtheblonde@gmail.com. I am by no means an expert, nor do I boast to be, but I’d be happy to help you with inquiries and get you headed in the right direction.

RAWr

Real talk – I care waaayyyyy more about Bella’s well being than my own.

I mean, I would legit starve myself for a week if it meant that my dog could eat and survive to see another day.

Yeah.. I’m a bonafide dog mom. And DAMN PROUD OF IT.

I may have mentioned before that poor Bella has struggled with sensitive skin from the get-go. When I adopted her at eleven weeks old, she had a mild form of mange [demodex], which is relatively easy to treat if recognized and diagnosed early enough. And through trial-and-error with different kibbles, I learned that she has a very common gluten intolerance, as well as a sensitivity to fish-based food formulas. It’s basically been a constant uphill battle with trying to find a dog food that was good quality and helped her skin allergies.

**SIDENOTE: something I learned recently in my research – if you’re feeding your pets a gluten-free chicken- or turkey-based food, make sure that the meats the company uses are grass-fed. Because grain-fed animals bear grain-fueled meat. So, essentially, you aren’t really feeding your pet grain-free food at all. ALWAYS make sure you do your research!

I thought we’d finally found a solution with a brand called FROMM [I highly recommend this food, actually, for those of you whose pets don’t have horrendous skin issues and are willing to shell out some extra moola for a good quality food], but in our situation it seemed to only temporarily mask Bella’s skin sensitivities instead of help them long-term.

So the hunt was on again.

I am constantly doing research on the proper diet for Doberman Pinschers specifically. As is typical with the internet, though, every blog and every website say something different. You can basically do all the research you want but nothing will actually matter until you try things out for yourself.

I’ve always been interested in the raw diet, but I never knew anybody who had fed their dogs raw, and had heard it was pricey so I never looked further into it. But after hitting yet another dead end in Bella’s diet, I decided that maybe it was time we tried something new. Drastically new.

As luck would have it, a coworker of mine happens to feed her two black Labradors raw. And has been for six years. She hooked me up with a bunch of links to sites and gave me some pointers on where to find stuff locally. But since I’m totally green when it comes raw feeding, I decided to do some more research before jumping in feet first. And that’s when I stumbled on a company out of Maine called ReelRaw.

If you’re considering raw feeding, I HIGHLY recommend this company. You can email them before you make any decisions and their staff will answer any questions you may have. The BEST PART about this company is that they MEAL PREP FOR YOU! This is honestly what swayed my decision. Having never prepared and handled raw food for my dog, I wasn’t sure exactly what to feed her, how to properly introduce the diet, and how much to give her. This company does all of that for you [PS – this is not an endorsement, I just really like how this company works].

Literally the one and only downside is that if you live on the west coast, it takes roughly two weeks for your order to arrive. But when the package arrived at my office a WHOLE DAY EARLY, I was like a kid in a candy store. [Yes, that is literally the point of desperation I had gotten to with wanting and needing Bella to be healthy. I get excited about raw food deliveries].

We are only a week into the new diet so I can’t say for sure if this will be the winning food route for Bella, yet. But STAY TUNED – I will definitely post my observations in a month or so..

I know that raw feeding isn’t ideal for everybody. I’m not trying to convince anybody to switch over unless you have the means to do so and are willing to try. It is more expensive than kibble, and it’s really not worth cutting corners to cut cost because in the long run you’re still paying more but lower priced meat means lower quality meat.

But what I am asking is that you DO YOUR RESEARCH when it comes to the food that you’re feeding Fido. I mean, you see the way that eating McDonald’s every day effects the human body.. The kibble you’re feeding your pet could potentially be doing the same kind of damage.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT.

Do any of you guys feed your pets raw? I’d love to hear thoughts and feedback!

Balance for Bella

I am not yet blessed with a human baby. And while, because of this, I know absolutely nothing about raising a child, I do know that all moms want the same thing for their children – and that is their health.

It is no different for me and my own fur child.

And since I have resolved to make this a better, healthier, and happier year for myself, it only makes sense that I would include Bella as well.

When it comes to taking care of my dog, I have the same state of mind that homeless people have with their dogs – if I’m down to my lest penny with not a speck of food in the fridge, I will starve myself for a week before I let my dog die of hunger. Some may call that crazy – I call it love. Fur baby first.

When researching the proper diet for Bella, I started with the basics: her breed. Dobermans in general are an extremely active breed of dogs. They are high energy and therefore high metabolism. And so of course everything I found suggests foods high in protein to feed their active lifestyles. This is the perfect diet for my other Doberman, Roca, who fits the mold of Dobermans to a “T.” For Bella, however, the high protein diet just doesn’t work.

The reason I decided I wanted to look into a more proper food choice for Bella is because she is not like other Dobermans. She is extremely food motivated, to the point where if she didn’t have caramel brown socks and a cropped tail, she would no doubt be mistaken for a Chocolate Labrador. She is also lazy. My alarm goes off at 5:30 every morning and I literally have to drag her out of bed at that hour. A high protein diet for a dog that doesn’t meet the physical activity requirement is an obesity problem waiting to happen. Before I became Bella’s mom full-time (when I was still with my ex), I could never have her on the diet I wanted because she was shared. She ate the same food as Roca (who was also a puppy at the time), so she was on an extremely high fat and high protein diet (puppy foods, as a whole, are all designed this way to provide these babies with the proper nutrition for their rapidly growing bodies). My ex also liked having a “bulky” dog that looked mean and intimidating. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, if the dog is healthy. Bella wasn’t healthy, though. At anywhere from 90-95 pounds, she was carrying at least ten extra pounds of weight on her, which on a human is generally not the hugest deal, but on a dog whose frame is not built for that – you’re basically setting them up for major arthritis problems as well as doggy Diabetes, thyroid problems, etc. etc. The list goes on.

So while Bella may not be your a-typical Doberman, she still exhibits some of the standard skin issues. As a red color, she is not the “au naturale” black tone, which, if you know anything about dog breeding, the nonstandard varietals of breeds tend to have more health issues. Because Bella is red, she is more prone to allergies, whether they be caused by food, pollen, or even environment. For this very reason (and after many a trial-and-error with different kibble brands), I have kept Bella on a salmon formula. The omega-3’s in the fish-based food help keep her coat looking beautiful and the grain-free quality keeps her from getting horrible dandruff. Unfortunately, the salmon formula also happens to be high in proteins and has very little food variation, which I am finding is not the best diet for my girl.

Obviously, every single dog is different and they are all going to require a different diet. I have tried the raw diet, and if I could afford to keep Bella on that, I would. No questions asked. It is hands down the best remedy I have found for any and all health problems. However, since I am on a budget, I will have to find a suitable kibble substitute.

After realizing that the standard Doberman diet is not going to be the best choice for Bella, I moved on to my next phase of research: finding a food that contains all the food groups (aside from grains) necessary for a healthy diet. While I love the salmon formula because it keeps her coat healthy, it does not escape my notice that it has absolutely no other nutritional value. Bella eats grass like it’s burning up in flames before her very eyes.

If you’ve done any research on why dogs eat grass, every article you find will tell you – nobody has any idea why. And then they’ll give you a list of possible reasons: boredom, gastric and bowel inflammation, stomach relief (vomiting), supplementing, needing fiber – whatever the case is, the bottom line is we don’t actually know why.

When it comes to finding the right food for your dog, it really just comes down to trial-and-error. Because Bella is my only “child,” I am very in tune to her activities and what she is doing. We spend a lot of time with my parents and their Yellow Lab, who is on a very similar diet and who also happens to eat a lot of grass. Even though all of my research on grass-eating has gotten me nowhere, I’d have to be an idiot not to follow my instincts as to why Bella and Riley (my parents’ Lab) have such an affinity for such a tasteless and nutrition-less green. In their case, they are clearly supplementing for something that is missing in their diet. Hence why I am on the hunt for a well-balanced kibble.

As with my own health, I don’t want to jump into anything unless I’m absolutely sure that this is going to be the right next step for my dog. I am still researching and narrowing down brands that I feel will be suitable to Bella. If you’re having any hesitancies about your own dog’s diet, be sure you do your research and pay close attention to their activity level and whether or not they have food allergies. I also recommend breed-specific forum – people have lots of suggestions and there is a lot more personal research to go off of. It is definitely worth taking the time to make sure your dog is happy and healthy.

Loving the Little Things

I meant to write this post yesterday, but I’ve been so busy that I’m a day late (but not a dollar short)!

This weekend kicked off my start to living a happier, healthier, more responsible life (and, more specifically, summer).

In my previous post I vowed that I would be devoting this summer to my fur babies and being a better “me.”

I am generally an early riser, even on weekends. I hate the feeling that precious time is passing me by while I laze away in bed. My Dobermans feel the same. My mornings typically begin with Baby Roca’s wet Dobie nose poking my face, and her giant pink tongue leaving a slobber trail all across my face. Some mornings she does this from her spooning position beside me, other mornings she hops off the bed, walks up to my head, and lays her adorable face right next to mine (let’s face it, she’s so tall her head is the exact height of my bed). If she’s already off the bed, it’s time to get up PRONTO because somebody has to do a number two in a BAD way.

This last Saturday, the Dobies could tell I had plans, and that those plans included them (little did they know that they each had a bath in store for them). I loaded them up in my new car and we were on our way!

There is a gorgeous, preserved nature trail that follows a paved path behind several neighborhoods. The dogs love it because it’s chalk full of wetlands – this means DUCKS and WATER.. Easily two of their favorite things. Not to mention they get to run off leash the entire time.

It was on this walk that I really noticed the beauty around me; the fact that all three of us were fully enjoying nature in such different ways. I love to photograph everything I see on these walks, while the dogs love to swim and chase birds and run up and down and around in big giant circles.

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After our romp on the nature trail, we went to visit my [NEWLY RETIRED!] dad and give him a celebratory gift..

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At 9.5% alcohol he couldn’t exactly drink the beer that early in the day without needing a giant nap, but since our last name is “Jack,” I thought it was pretty appropriate..

I finished my Saturday with a sunset cruise on the boat (I know, I know.. I said I wasn’t going to go boating – but to be fair, the dogs got a great workout and were exhausted the rest of the day).

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Sunday morning, Baby Roca and I headed over to grandma and grandpa’s or show them my new car. Roca was in heaven! Grandpa spoiled her with half his sandwich AND a snickerdoodle cookie. She also didn’t have to share her ball with alpha female Bella..

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And finally my Sunday evening was, yet again, spent on the boat enjoying nature and it’s glorious beauty.

I feel blessed every day to have been given such a wonderful life. Not every day is easy, but I always try my hardest to put my best foot forward. I’d say for my first weekend of a responsible summer devoted to my dogs, I did a pretty good job.

Stay tuned.. I’ll be keeping you updated on my yummy summer recipes as well!