These Paws Were Made for Walkin'

Several years ago, my dad had just retired and I was able to spend daddy/daughter time with him each day. One of our goals was to discover places around Aiken that would be ideal for walking our dogs. Odell Weeks on Whiskey Road was great because they had doggy waste bags at stations spaced along the track and a special dog water fountain if your pooch became thirsty. We also enjoyed Hitchcock Woods because of the soft trails and the feeling of escaping the modern world with the chirping of birds and scuttling of squirrels through the leaves and underbrush.

My favorite place was Redcliffe Plantation in Beech Island. The fifteen minute drive was satisfying to the dogs and the parking lot had plenty of spaces available. The trail was a mixture of fairly easy downward slopes and slightly more challenging hills to total approximately two miles of walking. Picnic tables and benches were scattered throughout and I have been known to pack a sandwich and book in my backpack. Chase’s account of the trail is detailed below…

Yesterday I got to go for a car ride and a walk – two of my most favorite things. Sarah put me in the back of the car with my special seatbelt (safety first) and then picked up her dad and his dog, Dolly. I’m still not sure that I like Dolly all that much. She is five years younger than me (in dog years that is a lot) and is really annoying.

We drove for a really long time, at least fifteen minutes, with the sun roof open (another favorite thing). Finally we arrived at Redcliffe Plantation. Sarah said it was a historic site but it just looked like an old house with lots of space to RUN! We all got out of the car and Sarah and her dad looked for a really long time at a big sign. Apparently there was a map on it but who cares for maps when you have a great sniffer? I won’t get lost. They stopped to talk to a man who had a giant golden retriever that kept trying to sniff my butt. I hate it when dogs do that to me – so rude! The man pointed out where the trail began and pulled his dog, Sam, away from me.

Finally I got to walk. Sarah kept issuing a ton of “No’s”. As in no pulling, no sniffing fire ant hills and no birds. The last one is particularly mean in my opinion. No birds? I am a bird dog! I love birds and there were tons of them around. As we reached the trail entrance, I noticed that Sam was following me. His person was following too. The man caught up and told Sarah and her dad that he had lost his keys. He was going back through the trail to find them but if we found them to turn the keys into the ranger. Sam and his person passed us but Sam kept looking back at us. I stayed far enough behind and kept my tail tucked until I was certain he wasn’t coming back for me. I think that dog has issues – maybe he just got out of prison or something. Speaking of prison, I thought that if this guy was a serial killer it would be a great story to tell his innocent victims and their dogs to look out for his lost keys. That way we would all be looking down and not on the lookout for bad people lurking in the woods. Hmmmm. Maybe I watch too much true crime on TV.

So off through the woodsy trail we traversed. I had a nice game of tug-o-war with Sarah. I tugged, she tugged. Worked out just fine until she shortened my leash. I stopped tugging. Strangely enough she allowed me to tug every time we had to go up a hill. Walking walking walking. Really big trees and a nice-soft-on-the-paws leafy trail. An hour later we were still walking. Well, Dolly was sort of lagging behind. She just doesn’t seem to have the energy that I have and she is younger than me! According to Sarah and her Dad, we walked at least two miles before we emerged from the woods. I was excited to see a small muddy stream and jumped in to cool my heels and take a drink. The muddy red clay felt so good on my paws but Sarah didn’t seem too happy with the fresh coating on my legs.

Unfortunately the trail let out at the end of the long gravel driveway so we had to walk all
the way back to the car. Sam and his Stalker-owner were there and now there was a woman (victim?) with them. They asked if we had found the keys. We hadn’t. Sarah then wiped all of my paws and legs with a special doggie wipe thing that I didn’t even know she had. She removed the mud coating that I had taken such care to evenly apply on all four legs. Back into the car and seatbelt, I curled up on my blanket and even shared some with Dolly. As we followed behind the stalker and Sam, they suddenly braked and the woman jumped out. She picked up something shiny from the driveway, smiled and waved. The sun roof was open and I drifted off into dog dreams as we drove home. It was a good day. Woof.



Cookie Monsters

My mother planned a cookie baking session with her friend and three children on the same weekend that I was coming to visit with my four-pack. The dogs were thrilled to have three pint-sized humans to play with and eagerly showcased their favorite toys. After a quick lunch of sloppy-Joes, the cookie making production began. Although it was a beautiful day outside, none of the dogs wanted to leave the mouth watering smells that wafted through the house. In fact, they preferred to hang out in the kitchen, amidst the entire cookie baking activities.

The first cookies planned were a kid-friendly chocolate chip cookie made according to the original Nestle Tollhouse recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag. The two older boys helped measure ingredients in between playing Nintendo games on handheld devices. The youngest child, a tiny blonde girl, kicked off her Sponge Bob flip flops and climbed a chair she had pushed against the butcher block island. Armed with a cookie scoop, the five year old carefully measured the dough and dropped each cookie ball onto a metal sheet. She paused momentarily, face scrunched in concentration, as she counted the dollops on the tray. Her right arm, with the scoop clutched tightly in her tiny fist, dangled below and Chase was ready with his tongue to lick the dough clinging to its sides. I smiled at the Norman Rockwell moment but quickly rushed in and grabbed the scoop, admonished my dog and washed the drool covered gadget in the sink.

Mom pulled trays of cookies from the oven and held them for the boys who used spatulas to remove the treats onto cooling racks placed on the kitchen table. Once the last cookie was removed from the oven, my grandmother began to make her delicious “S” cookies. This was an old shortbread-like recipe that was mixed by hand. The cookie was formed into an S shape before baking in the oven. After baking, a generous dusting of powdered sugar coated each cookie.

Mom, her friend and I took a break in the living room until Grandma began yelling for help. Mom ran into the kitchen and discovered that George had climbed up onto a chair next to the table and retrieved two cookies! He and Molly were on the tile floor enjoying their pilfered cookies. All dogs were banished outside along with the children who ran them ragged. Tennis ball throwing and front yard races to determine who was the fastest runner…boys or dachshunds? The dogs and children frolicked until it was time to leave. I wasn’t sure who was more tired but I smiled as I surveyed all of the cookie monsters napping in the living room, paws twitching slightly, and wondered if they were dreaming of cookies.


Make a Wish

When I was searching for a dog seven years ago, I hoped that I would get a cool dog. One that wouldn’t hate the car, one that wouldn’t be afraid of thunder, one that would catch a Frisbee, one that wasn’t afraid to swim. My wish list was based on my experiences with other pets that I had.

My childhood dog, Drummer, was a Keeshond who was terrified of thunder. If a storm rolled in, he would shake and shiver and quiver while trying to dig his way under a bed for safety. I was grateful that Chase wasn’t afraid of storms or any loud noises. As a puppy, he would hop on the back of the vacuum cleaner for a ride while I attempted to clean the floors of debris created by him. He tried to catch the fireworks that lit the night sky on New Year’s Eve.

My cat Madison, as established in a previous post, hated the car. I believe his extreme dislike for water came from the bath that was waiting him after each car ride. He also didn’t appreciate boat rides. I’m not sure why I thought he would. My reasoning was that cats like fish; I was fishing so maybe he would like to be with me in the boat. It made perfect sense at the time until five minutes into the excursion he peed in my lap causing me to let go of my grip on his neck. In those few seconds Madison leaped from the boat into the pond and disappeared beneath the murky surface. Shocked and dripping with cat urine, I leaned over the side of the boat searching for my cat. No air bubbles. No cat. As I considered whether I should jump in and save him, which would take care of the cat pee situation, I saw a dark and wet scraggly thing pull itself out of the muddy water on the far side of the shore. It sort of looked like Gollum from Lord of the Rings as it struggled through the undergrowth. Madison turned and stared at me with hot angry eyes filled with hatred. My cat could not swim but apparently was fat enough to sink to the bottom of the pond and walk all the way to the surface!

My dogs love to swim. They enjoy the pool at my parent’s house after a long adventure in the woods. They enjoy the pond here in Georgia and all four track wet sloppy paw prints throughout the house before I can catch them with my dishpan of soapy water. They enjoy splashing in puddles on rainy days. They also enjoy playing with their yard toys, too. Chase had an interest in Frisbees until Mom kept trying to train him to catch one. He gained a fear of Frisbees slamming into his head and refused to catch them. If there is a Frisbee game similar to dodge ball, then that is what happens when a bright red disc is flung at my dog. He dodges it. George, Molly and Charlie would play with tennis balls. George used to try to catch them until I threw one directly into his head. Then he would only chase the balls if I kicked them…until I kicked one directly into his head. George refuses to play with me anymore.

I think that I wouldn’t make any changes to my wish list; however I would make a few additions to it. I would want a dog that was obedient and wouldn’t ignore me when I called because all four dogs currently have selective hearing. I would want a dog that picked up his toys, especially when he snuck them out in the yard. George has a habit of bringing every toy into the back yard. He also brings socks and shoes back there, too. Chase used to bring all of my clothes into the backyard of my old house and fling them around in full view of the neighbors. He even brought a trash can out through his dog door. I would want a dog that didn’t wipe his mouth on the carpet or couch after he was done eating as George and Chase do every single time.

Although it would be nice to have everything on the wish list, I wouldn’t want a “Stepford” dog either. I feel that it is the times that they are being “bad” that it makes them so cute. It’s the times that make me smile and the times that make the memories.

The great pleasure of a dog is that you make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, he will make a fool of himself too.   ~ Samuel Butler