Monday, October 20, 2014

Bending the rules

Hi there.

So back in August, I mentioned Casa de Bella was going on vacation. We had a blast - probably the best vacation we've had in ages. Bella may not have entirely agreed with that assessment but she still had a grand time.

We spent a week near Camden, Maine in a small town called Hope. We rented a house on a pond and, while my hopes of getting Bella in the water did not materialize, at least I enjoyed everything the pond had to offer. From late summer swimming to kayaking and listening to the loons, I was delighted with our choice of locations.

Jan doesn't swim. And apparently neither does Bella. To be fair, there was no easy access to the water, she would have had to jump in to join me. (And believe me, we tried to get her to do that.) Just something to note for next time.

I'm sorry, you want me to do what?
Neither was Bella fond of the crate. Read: She wasn't going in there again for love nor money and all the super-duper best high-value treats in all the land were not going to sway her opinion. (I should note, we had been crate-training Bella again since February.)

So, after consulting with a few dear friends, we opted to keep her "contained" rather than actually "crated" and hope that our little ploy was not discovered. She tolerated that considerably better.

Of course, we also decided to adjust our itinerary to accommodate the crazy dog.

"I get to come! I get to come! Yay me!"

We took her hiking in the mornings to tire her out so she wouldn't be as stressed on the few afternoons we left her behind.

Bella is a good dog and, short of an absolute necessity due to illness, I know she would never do any damage in the house. But she does prefer to fend for herself when frightened and her favorite method is to run. She can't do that if she's in a crate.

Hiking Mount Battie, Camden, Maine
I'm not sure what this will mean for our future adventures as it seems everyone and every place requires dogs be crated when left alone. But because of her abject fear of other dogs, we can't always take her with us either. And kenneling her is simply out of the question.

I guess we'll keep looking and trying. And if we have to bend a rule here and there, well then, so be it. We've worked long and hard to overcome Bella's fears. No 1-week vacation is worth undoing all that.

So tell me, what would you have done? Have you ever "bent" the rules to help your dog?


Friday, October 17, 2014

Miss me?

Hi there.



Remember me?

Yeah, I'm that crazy dog who this blog is supposed to be about.

I'm filling in for the hu-mom today because she can't quite figure out what to say these days.

She has figured out one thing though: she wants to talk about me.

She doesn't want to turn this blog into a business. She doesn't want to sell stuff. She doesn't want to research the most effective times to post or the best social media tools to help manage her cyber-life. She doesn't want to Pin and Tweet and G+ and Stumble or "Learn 20 Ways to Get More Followers".

She wants to talk about me and dogs like me.

She wants to help me and dogs like me be they scared or left on their own in the streets and shelters.

She says she lost sight of that in all the hoopla about how to be a better, bigger, bloggier blog.

But that's not why she started this blog. She started this blog because she wanted a place to tell my stories and all the fun and crazy stuff I do. And she says she feels like she hasn't done that in a very long time.



As for me, I'm doing really well physically and behaviorally. Mom and dad have been taking me for lots of walks to strengthen me up after having been incapacitated for so long due to my injuries last year. But I'm sure mom's looking forward to writing about all the things we're doing together these days since, as she says, that IS the point of this whole blog thing. So I won't spoil that for you here now.

For today, I just figured I'd stop in and say hello. I know you all must miss my pretty face.

Mom says she really misses your pups, too and looks forward to catching up with everybody very soon.

Be well.
Bella

Monday, August 25, 2014

On the Road (With a Crazy Dog)

Casa de Bella is preparing for a much-needed getaway celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary at a little house on a secluded lake somewhere off the beaten path in Mid-Coast Maine.

Sounds romantic, doesn't it? Yeah, not so fast.

There's a reason we are renting a house so far away from civilization and it has little to do with romance. It has to do with our crazy dog.

Who? Me?

Traveling with Bella can be a test of patience and fortitude. She is highly reactive in the car, afraid of all things new and, while crate-trained, not super-cool about being locked in her crate left by herself in a strange place. (She's a "run and hide" kind of girl and views the crate more as a trap than a treasure.)

Planning a vacation with a scared-y dog - and let's face it, we can't really plan a vacation without her - starts early and requires more than a modest amount of planning and effort.

First, we choose the locale. Since Bella will be joining us, we have to be able to drive to our destination and the search is limited by travel time. I usually pick a nearby state we haven't visited (or haven't visited recently) and begin digging deeper into various areas to explore.

This year I boiled it down to Maine or Vermont. I love Vermont but we've been there recently and Jan has never been to Maine so Maine it is. Now, we not only have to accommodate the crazy dog in our travels, we have to please the humans as well and Jan and I, while having much in common, are also more than a little dissimilar in our vacationing tastes.

"I'm a little bit country, he's a little bit" city-boy.

Jan loves to peruse art museums and antique shops. I prefer hiking and beautiful, natural vistas.

Luckily we both love to eat so as long as I can find a really good foodie culture with a few art galleries and a lake or ocean view, we're good to go.

This year Camden, Maine looks like it will fit the bill nicely.

Or rather Hope, Maine since Camden will be busy with people and tourists and other dogs and we want to survive this vacation. So we're staying in Hope, Maine.

Never heard of it? Good, that's the point.

Bella will have her own private yard with a private dock and a large pond to play in. Jan will have antique tools to browse and I'll have the natural beauty that is Mid-Coast Maine at my disposal all while enjoying an exciting, locally-focused culinary jewel.

Did someone say "Food"?

So that's the effort that goes into planning where we'll go. Getting there and being there offer their own adventures in organizational dexterity.

Some of the other preparations I have planned include:
  • Before we leave for the 3-hour drive up, we'll take our crazy beast for a nice long walk near home so she should be good and tired when we pull into town somewhere around Ogunquit, Maine to grab some lunch.
  • I've already found a few 'clam shacks' on the drive where we can get good old-fashioned New England take-out and sit on the rocks by the ocean with the pupper safely tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist scene.
  • Once we do arrive at our destination, I've taken GoPetFriendly.com's advice and prepared a zip-line for Bella that we'll hook up between the house and the pond so she can explore to her heart's content without us having to dig her out of the bushes every 5 minutes.
  • We've been crate-training Bella since March and she's doing well but not great. But I've still got a few tricks up my sleeve to help make her crate feel more like home than the couch in the home she'll be staying in. Lots of Kongs and my famous "Peanut Butter and 0% Fat Yogurt" stuffing are on the packing list as is our homemade chicken jerky.
  • And I'm making sure her stuff smells like her stuff for the trip. No lilac-scented bedding here - I want her bed to smell like home. HER home. Which means I'm not washing her bed before we leave. I did that a few weeks ago and now it's just sitting there soaking up all those good Bella smells to hopefully make her stay a little less stressful.
A few other "must-haves" for our travel itinerary: medications including those infrequently administered, a list of what those medications are and the dosages, her Storm Defender cape and of course, all Bella's vaccination records and the number of her ID chip.

Getting around

The house we'll be staying in is secluded and private but we do intend to take Bella into town with us and on some scenic drives but we'll do so with treats at the ready to distract her from anything that spooks her. We've also put up sun shades in the trusty old Subaru to help lessen her visual stimulation.

While we're on the subject of car travel, Bella wears an EzyDog harness that is securely fitted to the car's seat belt system and we also have a front-seat barrier to keep her safely in the back seat away from the driver.

We're planning to spend a day in Acadia National Park and will take Bella with us when we do. Again, we'll seek out less popular trails and empty beaches on the quieter side of the island. And I've found a kennel on the island that will provide Bella a private, quiet place to rest if Jan and I decide to lunch on our own. (I see this as highly, HIGHLY unlikely but you never know.)

It's funny, as I was planning this vacation, I realized we don't, in fact, search for "dog-friendly" places - too many dogs visit those spots. Instead we look for the "road less traveled" when traveling with Bella. It's easier and more enjoyable for everyone that way.

Thanks, mom.
Jan and I are private people who like spending time with each other rather than hob-nobbing about town with the well-heeled. Traveling with Bella may take some extra planning but really, she just gives us an excuse to seek what we enjoy most in a vacation anyway: peace, quiet, and privacy.



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wordless Wednesday 132 - Oh those ears!


Pardon the unmade bed. Bella got to it before I did and I just didn't have the heart to kick her out.