A Special Trip

Today Mr. Os. went on a special trip. It was just him, and our still healthy, 18-year old husky, Crash. It happened in the middle of our living room.

I rescued Crash when he was about three, which later was pinpointed to “close to four…or so.” He’s the oldest dog at our vet clinic. He almost didn’t make it past 14, but Dr. Teisch helped guide us through rehabbing a slipped disc. Four years later, he’s only now…over the past few months…begun to show his age.

Suddenly, people on the street comment, “he’s older, isn’t he?” They never used to. Everyone was so surprised. “Seventeen! Really? I’d have thought seven.”

But now, his age is just something that impresses. It no longer surprises.

And, DC summers being what they are, Mr. Os. is right. For him, winter probably is not coming.

That’s why, at the moment, I’m about to flip my noodle. You see, I recently started my own business. And it’s been going great. But, I mostly work from home. As does Mr. Os. That part is great.

But never leaving a dachshund or husky is a lot of work. I had no idea. It never ends. Think, two of the neediest kids you know, now make them old. Now make one a bully (dachshund), and the other a pushover softy (husky).

The "Dynamic Duo" on guard to greet anyone bold enough to come over.
The “Dynamic Duo” on guard to greet anyone bold enough to come over.

Add one enabler who’s completely spoiled the pushover (husky), and indulged him, that he and the dog have daily conversations. These are distinct, and unique. I’ve heard it enough times. “Pay attention.” “Treat?” “…Treat!”

Then there’s my favorite. “She’s picking on me, she’s picking on me.” And with the dachshund, she’s always doing that. It’s what dachshunds do. They assert.

And so my work environment is not dissimilar to being in the middle of an oil drilling operation. Constant motion. Perpetual noise.

Lately, it’s gotten worse. It’s because our dachshund, Sophie, has also seen it. Seen our husky (Crash) begin to show his age. His frailty. And she’s become more dominant. It’s been difficult. Crash is my baby, and she’s such a bully.

How Mr. Os. sees Sophie.
How Mr. Os. sees Sophie.

That’s just nature doing its thing. We try to offset it, and stop it as quickly as it starts. But the dachshund is a stubborn breed, and Sophie’s listed in the dictionary under “stubborn.”

How Sophie really is.
How Sophie really is.

But, back to the trip. Mr. Os. decided today that as DC hit summer, and summer hit DC—always harsh, but even more so for huskies, because of the humidity—Crash would more than likely not make it to fall.

It’s a harsh truth. Now, let me just say that this dog still looks “amazing for his age.” And he’s still mostly all there. Aside from the occasional faux pas, he’s been great. There were a few times, once almost peeing on the palm, another time being zonked on Xanax (first and last attempt to help him sleep through the night) and peeing across the living room and into the dining room, but aside from those few memorable moments he’s been healthy.

We’ve already had our “worst time,” event. It was the day we were off to Spain. That morning, Mr. Os. and Crash peeled off to go to our vet, for Crash’s daily treat. I was wrapping up a client hand-off and heading back.

I didn’t expect to hear “Crash was walking and he just…he had a stroke.” An hour later, I met them at the vet. Long story short, that was last October. Since then, he’s happy and healthy, knock on wood. He’s been with it.

He’s only on one prescription that helps his back. He can do the stairs on his own still. These days he can only make it to the first floor, and needs to be carried up the second flight. We’ve started to keep his harness on, and helping him walk up the dreaded second set of stairs.

He used to hate it. Holding Crash by his harness was similar to wiggly luggage. But now he knows, and let’s us lift him, and help him. He enjoys the attention.

Crash, waiting to be helped up the stairs.
Crash, waiting to be helped up the stairs.

But all this goes back to the trip. And I will not digress again. The trip, was Mr. Os. holding Crash’s head, both of them lying on the floor. One hand under Crash’s neck, close enough to softly speak to Crash in a reassuring tone. Repeating a chant that he and Crash seem to have worked out. Sometimes, it kinda freaks me out, I’m not gonna lie.

But it works with Crash. He melts like butter. This time, Mr. Os. did it for about a solid hour. He wants to make sure Crash has as many happy, and special memories as possible. Every day, every night, every morning, every afternoon.

And that kind of attention…it’s just not healthy. That’s how you get those Idi Amin types. Which is the constant balancing we’re doing, walking a tightrope. I call it indulging. Mr. Os. calls it “making it special,” and at times it makes me crazy.

But, I can’t argue Crash is happy. And so, today, Mr. Os. used an hour to formally say “just in case, I wanted you to know….”

Of course, the dachshund broke it up before the hour was up. Because, Sophie. But, I’m sure he’ll do it again. And, I might have an extra 15 minutes I could spare.

 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Dog Sledding in Iceland, Naturally

Hands down, my favorite memory of Iceland is dog sledding. At home, I have A Siberian husky. Years ago, I saw a flyer in Riverside Park, NYC looking to find him a “forever home” and the rest has been history.

It’s been a long time since i saw that poster and we’ve been through a lot together. As he nears 17, i remain sad that he’s never pulled a sled in his dog life. People talk about animal instincts and comment ‘of course he would know what to do’ but i really doubt it. If you hooked him up and yelled “mush,” the end result would be nothing. That doesn’t mean i don’t harbor a deep-rooted desire to give it a go. With or without my own dog.

When i realized dog sledding was one of the many adventure activities in Iceland, i just couldn’t pass up the opportunity. If you’ve never wanted to go sledding, the joy of the experience will be lost on you. Sorry. For me, i loved it.

The dogs were enormous. Easily double the size of my own husky. They remain outside, in the wild at all times so when they see visitors they welcome you with lots of enthusiastic barks. (Yes, i have mixed feelings about this.)

Two of the dogs in my sledding team. It's tough to tell in this photo, but they are HUGE
Two of the dogs in my sledding team. It’s tough to tell in this photo, but they are HUGE

The art of slowing down and just “being” while sledding was incredible. I’m a go-go-go kind of person who doesn’t slow down much. After dog sledding, i started to really understand the concept of being and what that means to people.

The scenery deep in Iceland was beautiful. Since you only travel at about 25 mph, it’s easy to take all this in. To this day, i have never seen anything like it. Ice, snow, lush green mountains in the background as our team just pulled us along.

Sledding views. I love the contrast of snow, ice and green mountains in the background. To me, it's beautiful.
Sledding views. I love the contrast of snow, ice and green mountains in the background. To me, it’s beautiful.

My dog sledding team was a mixture of mature dogs and two younger dogs being trained to lead sleds. My favorite memory came after a quick break. The dogs had done a really great getting us out for our ride. But puppies will be puppies! When it was time to start again, they just wanted to play. It was so cute, we could not control our laughter despite the trainer begging us to. You can hear his frustration with puppies in my amateur video on YouTube.

I’m off on work travel for the rest of the week but plan to share at least one more Iceland post when i return. Until then, safe travels wherever you may go.

Roadtripping.

The distance between Washington DC and Southern Maine can be anywhere from eight hours to 12 hours in a car. After seven years of driving from point a to b, i can say there is no way to predict how long the drive will take you. The variables are too great. Whatever the house deals, you take.

These are my canine companions. Yes, they are Mutt and Jeff, big and small. Even friendly and vicious. Luckily, they are pretty good travelers and are not prone to car sickness.

With this motley crew, how do we manage the trek or any road trips? I have picked up a few driving survival techniques that are critical. Especially when you travel with four-legged friends.

Keep in mind, my techniques may or may not be applied to traveling with children. They also assume you’ve had your car tuned up (aka checked the tire pressure, fluids, etc.) recently.

Pre-road trip, a big success factor is a log walk. It does mean getting up super early, or getting right with it and leaving later than you want. But, it’s good for the dogs, especially older ones like mine. It’s also good for the humans. You get some light exercise and fresh air. Psychologically this could be the difference between keeping or loosing your sanity on the Mass Pike six hours later. My other road tripping success factors include:

1. Stay off I-95. It’s always a cluster. My preferred route: 50-295-895-95-NJ Turnpike-Lincoln Tunnel-West Side Highway-Henry Hudson-Merritt Parkway-91-84-Mass Pike-290-495-95 and to your destination. You can debate the logic of traveling through NYC all you want. If you have never driven from the District to New England, you don’t get it. Anyone who has, knows this route is golden. There are (relatively) fewer cars, better rest stops for dogs (and humans), nice scenery and fewer cars.

2. Pack a bag. Of snacks, of course! Inevitably, you won’t be hungry when you are at an actual “rest stop.” If you are hungry, the other inevitable is that you won’t want the fast food du jour. A snack bag is important if you have a special diet (dairy free, gluten-free) or if you are calorie conscious. My snack bag always includes a few treats -in moderation- so i have something to look forward too. My favorites include:

  • A pre-made sandwich
  • Green apples
  • Combos (my guilty pleasure) or a vegan cookie
  • Turkey slices or chunks for the little ones

3. Water bottles. One for the humans and one for the dogs. Sometimes, they just want a drink. A strategically placed water bottle can help address this so you don’t have to pull over. Instead, have your passenger pour a little into a tiny water bowl. If your dogs can and will drink out of the bottle, let them. It may sound gross but it’s their water bottle. And it’s less messy.

4. EZPass. Who wants to be scrapping around for quarters and dollar bills while in those ridiculously long lines? Even your pets want to zip through the toll lines. Stopping and starting disrupts their sleep and gets them fired up. Mine have even been known to bark at toll collectors. Enough said.

5. Music, books. Sometimes (i’m talking about you, Northern Connecticut), the radio stations are few and far between. It helps to have some good music or an audio book loaded up and ready to go. My current favorite is the podcast the Bugle. It’s very entertaining.

I’m also a firm believer in a quick stop at the New Hampshire State Liquor Store. When you are almost at your destination, it’s motivating to know a bottle of wine is waiting to help you celebrate your arrival.

Cheers to your next road trip!