All Good Dogs: I am not a salesperson

I remember the first time I really figured out that I was not a salesperson.  I was working as a ski instructor at a resort near Salt Lake City, Utah.  I had been there a few years, mostly teaching children’s group lessons, and decided to make a switch for a change of pace and start teaching some adult group lessons as well.

A group of us instructors would start out in the morning with 6 to 10 students each and teach for a couple of hours.  We would break for lunch, then go to afternoon “line-up.”  I started noticing that some of the more “experienced” instructors (mostly guys in their 40s and 50s who had been teaching at the area for many years) would not be present at afternoon line-up.  I would take another group of 6 to 10 students for the afternoon, and then see those “missing” instructors teaching a private 2 hour lesson for the afternoon (you made a lot more money teaching privates).  Some of the instructors would stay on groups, and would claim a lot of “return clients” on check out.

What was going on here?  I was doing my job, my students seemed to like me (although I got very few tips, probably because I didn’t hint ask for them) and my groups were making it down the mountain without casualties, having a good time, and learning a few things.

Well as it turns out, those other instructors were salespeople.  They would teach their students for a couple of hours in the morning, and then get them to either come back to a private lesson or a return lesson in the afternoon, both of which paid more.  They were telling their students how much “more” the students could learn and how much better they would become if they stuck around for a few more lessons (or the entire week), preferably in a private-lesson atmosphere.

Wow.  I just couldn’t do it.  I felt like if I did that, and didn’t give people the chance to just take some time to practice what I taught them, I was ripping them off.  No way was I going to play tour guide and teach the same people the same thing for an entire week.  I felt like I was more useful if I shared my knowledge with more, different people (but was I?).  Should I really be trying to sell someone something that they didn’t really need?  [To be sure, I now think that’s the nature of most businesses.]

It’s something that I’m trying to find a balance with in my new career as a dog walker.  It’s hard for me to seek people out and tell them that I can take their dogs for walks and hikes when we probably both feel like they could do it (and many of them do still do it) themselves.

IMG_2529.jpgI’m not a salesperson.  I will never try to sell someone something that they don’t need or want.  If I ask a couple of times and someone doesn’t seem interested, it’s really hard for me to be persistent enough to possibly convert then over to my business.  I don’t want to pester someone to the point of making them frustrated with me.

But I will try and help people out.  If someone is feeling like they are busy with work, kids, life, etc., why should I not take their dogs out on a walk or out on the trail for a while?  The dogs are happy because they are outside cruising around, the owners are happy that the dogs got out (because sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day), and I’m happy because the dogs and the owners are happy (and because I’m around happy dogs all day).

It’s business.  But it’s also life.  I have a product, and there is a need for it.  I really do believe that.  I’m happy to provide a service and I enjoy my work (and have never been happier working at a job in my life).  Won’t you send your dog for a hike with me?

IMG_2634.jpgHappy Trails!

All Good Dogs, Hiking services:

$25 per dog for 1 hour hike, $10 per extra dog (in same family)

$40 per dog for 2 hour hike, $15 per extra dog (in same family)

email: hmberkel@gmail.com

On Facebook and Instagram:  @allgooddogsslc

 

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All Good Dogs: Don’t Feel Guilty

When I was a working professional, I typically felt guilty for leaving my dogs home all day by themselves.  When I was a new Registered Nurse (RN) 17 years ago, I soon became aware that I needed to build a fenced-in area and put in a dog door for my yellow lab, Roxie.  She had a few accidents in the house and couldn’t handle 12 hours cooped up without going outside.  Who can blame her?  I always blamed myself in those situations.

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Franklin & Artemis, happy out on the trail in one of our favorite places.

After I got my graduate degree and started working as a Nurse Practitioner (NP), I started working three to four ten-hour shifts per week.  Often, these shifts would be seven days on and seven days off.  The days off were great and I could spend everyday with my Golden Retrievers, Franklin & Artemis.  Many days off were spent on the trail.  But those seven days working in a row were torture.  We would look at each other longingly as I exited the door at 6:30 am, and I think we all wondered why things had to be that way.

Well, the truth is, they didn’t have to be that way.  I soon found out that a friend of mine had started up a dog hiking  business.  She would come to my house and pick up the dogs, take them for an hour or two hike, and drop them off when done.  The dogs were gone for 3-4 hours at a time, running in the hills with their buddies.  I left a check for my friend, and she took care of the rest.  I always felt that they were in good hands.  I would come home from work and they would be pleasantly napping in their beds.

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Blissfully tired.

I used this service for several years off and on, with one dog walker or another, depending on their schedule and mine.  After leaving one group because I was working less, I took another new job and found my schedule in need of dog hiking services again. I called up my friend and her groups were all full!  But she referred me to another friend who accepted my dogs into her group.  Thank goodness!

The sense of peace that I had when leaving my dogs at home and knowing that they were out having fun while I was at work was boundless.  If it was a dog-hike day, I would leave the house and say, “Don’t worry!  You’re going hiking today!”  My friends who took the dogs would always report back that the pups were happy to go with them, and blissfully tired when they got back home.

My sense of guilt for leaving my dogs at home while I was working was gone.  It’s small price to pay, knowing that my dogs were well-cared for and happy.  17 years later, I’ve left the nursing profession, and now I’m the pack leader.  I get to see those smiling faces everyday that I’m at work!  My roll has changed, and I couldn’t be happier to take a pack full of happy dogs out on the trail each day.

Happy Trails!

Missy Berkel

All Good Dogs, Hiking services:

$25 per dog for 1 hour hike, $10 per extra dog (in same family)

$40 per dog for 2 hour hike, $15 per extra dog (in same family)

email: hmberkel@gmail.com

On Facebook and Instagram:  @allgooddogsslc

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Rest stop on the trail!

All Good Dogs: the first month

When I decided a month ago to take a “break” from my profession as a Nurse Practitioner and pursue my own business as a dog walker, I was scared.  That first week of officially being “in business” I thought to myself, “What if no one wants to have their dogs walk with me?”  I was pretty terrified.  I would wake up in the morning and think to myself, “What have I done?”

But I called on my strengths.  I’ve never owned my own business before, but I’m a smart and organized person.  I called on my resources:  asked friends who already had their own businesses, “How do I file taxes?  What do I need to do to be a legit business?” My friend Kate was really helpful in this department.  She had taken part in a seminar for women starting their own businesses a couple of years ago at Westminster College.  She gave me a binder of information to look over and consider for what kind of business I wanted.

I looked at what other, similar businesses were doing:  definitely have a business insurance policy.  Have a structured rate schedule.  Know where I wanted to take the dogs and how many I could handle at a time.

I called on other resources to start my business and start advertising and getting the word out:  friends, former colleagues, social media, veterinary clinics, kennels, and specialty pet shops.  My goal was to build one to two clients per month.  I’m happy to say that all of my hard work has paid off, and I have 10 clients in the first 3 weeks of business.  There are a lot of dogs out there that need walking!  I feel so fortunate to have so many great contacts who have referred clients to me.

So for the first three weeks, I’ve spent some money, made some mistakes, fixed some mistakes, and made some money.  All in all, I’m really happy with how things are going.  I love being outside with the dogs everyday and I have to say, I really like the administrative part of having my own business:  I love filling in spreadsheets and seeing my progress!

Several friends have commented on “how much happier” I look.  I have to say that I agree with them:  I feel a lot happier than how I was with my previous profession.  I’m planning on sticking with this for at least a year and seeing where things lead.  So far, the sky is the limit!

Happy trails and happy tails…  #allgooddogsslc

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Forever Artemis: Clean Sidewalks

I have an ex-boyfriend who lives by Nielsen’s Frozen Custard in Holladay.  One afternoon in the summertime several years ago, I was really wanting a frozen custard and I talked him into walking the dogs up the street to Nielsen’s.

We placed our orders at the window, dogs on leashes and very excited about the whole thing.  There were quite a few people there and lots of little kids, so it was challenging keeping Franklin, Artemis, and Vernon away from everyone’s cones and custard cups.

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Artemis:                                           leader of the sidewalk cleaners

So challenging, that we decided it was probably better to just sit on the bench outside Nielsen’s and eat our custard there rather than try and walk the dogs on leashes back to his house and eat custard at the same time.

We were totally into eating our frozen custard and realized that the dogs were no longer begging for a share of our treats.  We looked down and the dogs were licking the sidewalk.  They were cleaning the old custard drips off the dirty sidewalk… Yum!

My boyfriend looked down and said, “Wow, I bet that’s the cleanest this sidewalk has been in a really long time.”

 

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Look at those tongues!  (L to R):  Franklin, Vernon, and Artemis.  

Tattletale

I’m not going to lie: when I was a kid, I was a tattletale. I like to think of myself more as a purveyor of the truth, but in reality I was a little policeman. My brother would do something that I didn’t think was quite right (or maybe crossing the line of being naughty) and I was sure to tell my mom about it. I think I was hoping that she thought I was helping her out. I think in reality, most of the time, she didn’t want to be troubled with breaking up our little spats.

The other night, it was quite dark and a little late and fairly cold outside, and I decided that I wanted to go for a run. I didn’t want to run outside, so I chose to run on the treadmill in the basement. I gave each of the dogs a pumpkin- and peanut butter-filled Kong, and Mocha was the only one of the three dogs who wanted to hang out in the basement while I ran. I was watching TV and thought to myself, “If I can just get through one episode of Modern Family, I’ll be good.” You see, I think running on the treadmill is quite painful both mentally and physically (but more mentally) and so watching an episode of one of my favorite programs on TV helps me to tolerate it.

I was 27 minutes into my run, and I heard Charlotte barking upstairs. As I recall the incident now, I also did hear a loud “thunk” prior to the barking but didn’t think too much of it at the time. I yelled upstairs to Charlotte, “No barking! Quiet!” I really wanted to try and get to 30 minutes on the treadmill. But the barking was unrelenting. So I turned the treadmill off and reluctantly went upstairs.

Much to my surprise, Charlotte and Franklin were laying next to an over-turned kitchen garbage can. Franklin was munching away on coffee grounds, orange peels, and cheese wrappers. Charlotte was barking at him, not eating the garbage. “My little tattletale! Were you letting me know that Franklin was being naughty?” She wagged her tail and looked up at me lovingly. Franklin reluctantly left his feast of garbage and sadly, as only a Golden Retriever can, watched me sweep it into the garbage can.

Mocha (the good girl, who stayed with me in the basement while I was running on the treadmill), Charlotte (the tattletale), and Franklin (the hungry garbage-eater).

As Gentle as a Bulldozer

If Charlotte could have one fault, it would be that she is too exuberantly happy.  She thinks all dogs and people are her friends.  She has many faults, don’t get me wrong, but most of them are just puppy-related quirks, and I suppose this one is, too.

When Charlotte sees another dog on the trail, she wants to play.  And her play is not gentle.  It’s:  “chase me, catch me, run from me, tackle me, I tackle you!”  I’m hoping she grows out of this, and I’m sure she will.  She actually can be a very gentle dog (when she wants to, or when she is tired) but for the most part, she wants to play and she wants to play hard.  Many dogs are caught off-guard by her exuberance.  They turn around, startled, like “What just flew past me?!?”

Charlotte is a whirlwind.  She is built like a brick-shithouse, and she is a lover of life.  She wants all dogs to be her friend and play with her.  Likewise, she thinks all people want to say hello to her.  Who wouldn’t?  She is cute!

Every so often another dog will nip at her as she tags them, telling them “You’re it!” and the other dog snaps and seems to say, “I’m not it!  I don’t even want to play this game!”  She is persistent, and typically tags a couple more times.  But in all honesty, she lets the other dog win and play-bows to him or her.  When the other dog appears not interested, she runs up and down the hillside to burn off her nervous energy.

She does jump up, and we are trying to break her of that habit, but thankfully she has stopped jumping hard enough to knock someone over.  She usually jumps up just enough to touch with her paws and really “let the person know” that she is there.  How could you not notice her?  She is about as gentle as a bulldozer:  full steam ahead!

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Mocha & Charlotte on the trail together

Charlotte and Mocha have really hit things off over the past month.  Charlotte follows Mocha around, and vice versa.  Maybe Mocha can teach Charlotte a thing or two about just letting the world go by and letting things happen around her, without having to constantly check things out.

The funny thing is, that Charlotte isn’t so exuberant around Mocha.  She’s quite gentle with her and nudges and checks in with her every once in a while, but does not try and get Mocha to chase or play with her.  Charlotte seems quite respectful of Mocha and is interested in what she is doing, but also gives her some space.

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Sweet girls having a rest together

To give an example of how the two have bonded, I’ll recount a situation that happened early this morning, around 3am.  Charlotte has a small bell attached to the back doorknob with a string.  When she wants to go out, she rings the bell so that I can be alerted to open the door for her (she has me well trained).  Usually, during the day, I have the dog door open but I close it at night so that Mimi-cat will stay in at night.

So, it was about 3am and I am sound asleep but woke up to the sound of the dog doorbell.  I got up and switched on the light, to find Charlotte standing with Mocha at the backdoor.  Mocha doesn’t know to use the dog doorbell, and apparently Charlotte got up with Mocha to ring it so that Mocha could go out.

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Besties!  Mocha, Watson, and Charlotte on the trail

I love that they are looking out for one another.  I love watching them on the trail together and on leashes together.  They are both about the same size (48 pounds each) and are such a cute little pair walking next to each other.

I’m looking forward to watching them learn and grow from one another.  Charlotte is teaching Mocha how to be a good trail dog (and stay with the group, instead of wandering off which she did for the first couple of weeks) and Mocha is (hopefully) helping Charlotte to be a little more gentle, and a little less like a bulldozer.

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Charlotte, Franklin, and Mocha on the trail

The best laid plans [of dogs] often go awry

Taking from the famous quote by Robert Burns, “The best laid plans … often go awry.”

As you may recall, Sara of CAWS, and I put together a solid plan to help Mocha adapt to her new surroundings.  After a day of panic-barking when I went back to work on Monday, we met up and I got the kennel-crate set up in the bedroom, and dosed Mocha up with some CBD oil.  IMG_0772.JPG

Mocha barked in the kennel most of the day on Tuesday while I was at work, as I observed on the dog monitor.  I felt awful.  My friend Chris stopped by about mid-day and let the dogs out and Mocha was happy as a clam once she was out in the backyard with Chris and Charlotte (Franklin opted to stay inside in his bed).

I was hoping that Wednesday would be better.  I again put her in the kennel and dosed her up with CBD oil.  I had to drive to Logan for work, which added about 3 hours of commuting on to my already 8 hour day.  My friend Nicole, who is Charlotte’s dog-hiking group leader at Mountain Mutts, stopped by to pick up Charlotte for a hike and let Franklin and Mocha out for a pee break.  I had been watching Mocha on the dog monitor and she was again, barking her brains out.  Then I got this text, “Was Mocha’s nose scratched when you left?”  Uhh… no.  What happened?  Well, it seems that Mocha wanted “out” of the kennel so bad that she rubbed her snout against the crate hard enough and enough times to completely take the skin off of it.  It was really swollen up, too.

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When Nicole got back from the hike with Charlotte, she texted me again, “Do you want me to just take Mocha to my house?  You’d have to swing by and pick her up later.”  Yes.  Please.  I knew she would be so much happier out of that kennel and around another human.

 

I picked Mocha up at Nicole’s house, and she was super happy and smiling, although with a swollen, red snout, just following Nicole’s dog Leroy around the house.  I took sweet Mocha home and put some salve on her nose, and she was visibly in pain.

One more day of work (Thursday) and then I would have a three-day weekend.  Because of the problem of her injuring her nose trying to get out of the kennel, I decided to leave her loose in the house (even though she panic-barked at the front door the first day I went back to work) but I closed the dog door so that at least if she barked, she wouldn’t be bothering my neighbors.IMG_0787.jpg

Nicole stopped by again to take Charlotte hiking, and texted me, “Do you think Mocha wants to come hiking with us?”  Well, I was certain of that.  But Mocha, when I took her on her first hike about a week ago, wandered off and wouldn’t come back to me, Franklin, and Charlotte, and I had to go running down the trail to round her up (she’s not fast).  I replied to Nicole, “Sure!  But she should probably only go about 1 hour and stay on the leash so she doesn’t wander off.”

I should point out, that I completely trust Nicole’s judgment as far as my dogs go.  Suffice it to say, Mocha hiked for 2 hours and did the majority of the hike off-leash and stayed with the group (nine dogs total).  I was so proud.

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I watched her all day on the dog monitor:  she slept quietly in her bed all day long and from what I could see, she and Charlotte only barked when the mailman stopped by the house.  So proud of my girls!!!

So now, we have a little healing to do with Mocha’s poor nose, but she seems to be settling right in, and I couldn’t be more happy.  I will continue to give her the CBD oil each morning and evening (5mg in the morning and 2.5mg at night) but she only goes in the kennel at night to sleep and we keep the door open!  She really does like to sleep in the kennel and I think she feels safe and snuggled in, but she is definitely scared if I close the door and leave her there when I leave.  She did so well the last 2 days when I left the house and left her in loose the living room, I think she is past her separation anxiety/panic-barking stage.  At least I hope so!

Upheaval: Mom goes back to work, dog freaks out

I basically  took her out of the only stable home she has know for the past 6 months.  Mocha was dumped in a neighboring county for who knows what reason.  We can only guess the trauma she went through.  Malnourished, underweight, in pain from arthritis, with rotting teeth, she was rescued by CAWS from the Davis County Animal Shelter.  [Update from previous post:  Davis County Animal Shelter is now a majority no-kill shelter since the last time I visited there about 1 year ago.]

The past 3 days with Mocha have been wonderful:  she knows I’m her new mama, and trusts me.  She whines and dances when I put my running shoes on.  She prances around for her food in the morning.  She loves going on walks and loves her siblings (especially Charlotte Pup, who totally digs on Mocha as well).

IMG_0762.jpgBut when I left for work this morning and she barked incessantly after me at the front door, barked because her only known stability (me) just left her alone: she freaked.  I came home at lunch after about 3 1/2 hours of work and all seemed quiet at the house.  Mocha and Charlotte greeted me and all four of us, Franklin included, went for a 10 minute walk.  Mocha was happy, wagging tail, and psyched that I was home.

I set up the dog monitor for the afternoon, because one of my neighbors had texted me that Mocha had been barking in the morning.  Thankfully, I was really busy at work so I couldn’t monitor her every minute of the afternoon.  She panic-barked all afternoon, waiting at the front door, freaking out that I was gone.

I felt awful.  I felt guilty.  What have I done to this poor dog?  Taken her out of her stable foster home and tried to provide her with love, only to leave her for 8 hours.  I watched the other pets on the monitor:  Charlotte and Franklin and the cats, Steggie and Mimi, all calmly watching Mocha.  They watched her and had to wonder, “What is the matter?  It’s ok, settle down.” But Mocha was having none of it.

Another neighbor texted me shortly before I came home from work for the day.  “New dog barks… a lot.”  Thanks, I know.  I’ve been watching her on the monitor all afternoon and it’s breaking my heart.

I put in a call to Mocha’s foster mom, Stacy, on the way home from work and it went to voicemail.  I emailed Sara, one of the CAWS coordinators when I got home:  “Can you give me a call?”

Sara called me right back.  I talked with her at length about Mocha’s behavior, and that I wanted this placement to work.  I want to get her some CBD oil, but the pet shop nearby that sells it is only open 10-6 and I work 10-6 (my neighbor offered to pick some up for me, thank you!).  Sara said she would give me a bottle.  We also talked about crating Mocha.  I hate crating dogs during the day.  It just doesn’t seem right for them to be cooped up all day in a crate.  Dogs are meant to RUN!  But Sara said this could just be a temporary thing, and we should give it a try.  She had a kennel that she would loan me (I loaned mine to a friend in Idaho who just got a puppy).

We met up at the grocery store so I could pick up the items.  Sara gave me a lot of hope that things will work out.  It takes dogs at least 10 days to adapt to a new environment.  I remember Stacy, Mocha’s foster mom, told me that when they first brought Mocha home, she hid in the basement for about 2 weeks.  Poor thing was terrified.

IMG_0769.jpgSo when I got home, I set up the kennel and put Mocha’s bed that she has slept the last 3 nights in it.  What do you know… she climbed right in, curled up and went to sleep.  Poor old lady had a really rough day.

It reminds me of my brother’s old Border Collie, Scout, who was so neurotic that he actually LOVED going to the vet’s office so that he could climb into the kennel and be confined.  So weird.  My brother always said, “Some dogs just like institutional living.  Scout is one of those dogs.”  Maybe Mocha is an institutional-living dog too.  Time will tell.  Let’s hope for a better day tomorrow with CBD oil and a nice, quiet kennel.

To be continued…

Mocha’s Freedom Ride

A few days ago, I was surfing on my phone and looked at the “Adoptable Dogs” on the CAWS website (Community Animal Welfare Society).  I do this a lot.  I look at Petfinder, or the County Animal Shelter site, or Best Friends and scroll through available dogs.  It’s really hard because once I start looking at them, I want to save them all.

In any case, I scrolled through the dogs and stopped on a powdered-sugar faced chocolate lab named “Mocha.”  My heart skipped a beat.  I read her bio:  “Mocha is as older gal who just wants a place to curl up and nap. She is the sweetest girl who gets along with everyone! Mocha would love a place to live out her golden years with comfort and love. She is very easy going and gentle. Mocha uses the dog door and can be trusted alone.”

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It didn’t take me long to say, “Sign me up!”  I emailed my contact at CAWS (it’s the same organization where I got Charlotte about 6 months ago) and waited…  I heard back and she said she had forwarded my application to the foster mom, Stacy.  And I waited…  Gosh it’s so hard to wait to hear back on things like this!  In reality, it was about 12 hours later that Stacy texted me and after playing a little bit of phone tag, we chatted about Mocha and set up a meeting for 3 days later.

Three whole days!  Ugh, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to wait three days to see this girl.  But it was good.  I reflected on the fact that we have a pretty stable household with Franklin, the 15 year-old Golden Retriever who uses a walker/wheelchair to go on walks; Charlotte who is turning into a very well mannered puppy and follows commands well; and the cats who are happy and cozy in their beds now that the weather is getting colder, and are not getting terrorized by Charlotte like she did when she was younger.  So I thought about it, and thought about the energy change that a new dog might bring to the household.  Getting a senior dog really seemed like the way to go, and at 13 years old, how much more life did Mocha have left?  It seemed like a no-brainer to bring her into this home and give her a couple really good years.

So I met up with Stacy and her husband at the Murray Park on Friday morning.  I met Mocha.  Typical senior dog, she was like, “Oh yeah.  Who are you?  Ok.  Whatever… did you smell this over here?  It’s really good.  Hey, I want to go for a walk, so I’m going to pull on this leash until I get you to start moving the way I want to go.  Ok, yeah.  Over here.  Thanks.”

She was super cute and warmed up to me after a few minutes, gave me a couple of quick smooches and let me massage her ears.  And then, Stacy asked me if I wanted to take her for the weekend.

Oh boy.  Here we go.  Do people just know I’m a pushover for dogs?  Seriously, “take her for the weekend” and I’ll never give her back.  They totally know how to play me.

Mocha’s story:  she has been with her foster family for about 6 months.  She was dumped in Davis County with her brother, who has a large abdominal tumor and is now on hospice.  CAWS (Stacy’s husband) picked up the dogs from the Davis County Shelter which is a kill shelter.  Mocha’s teeth were rotting out of her head, and most of them had to be pulled.  She was very skinny, and has actually gained quite a bit of weight.  She has really bad arthritis in one hip (you can feel it crunching when she sits down) but it doesn’t seem to bother her much.  It’s so bad, it makes me wonder if she jumped out of a truck at some point and maybe fractured it.  The vet X-Rayed it initially, and found only arthritis.

IMG_0711.jpgSo I took her for a trial run (or as I like to say, a “test drive”).  I ended up taking her in to the vet for a skin rash that had developed, and I also wanted to get some heartworm testing done and start her on heartworm meds, and also start her on some Rimadyl (doggie-ibuprofen) for her arthritis.  She boarded at doggie-daycare at the vet on Saturday while I went hiking with Charlotte.

I took Charlotte in to pick Mocha up, and all the girls couldn’t believe how big she was and what a nice little lady she has turned into.  Mocha was happy to see us, and started panting and smiling.  We got her medications and hopped in the car.

IMG_0748.jpgSunday morning, I took all three dogs on a walk on the Shoreline Trail (Fra.  Mocha definitely is hard of hearing, and is used to doing her own thing, as she wandered quite far away from us but is slow enough that I was able to catch up to her and round her up.  Charlotte scampered around us, not sure what to do, because we had left Franklin behind on the trail and now the group wasn’t together…  but we reunited and I put Mocha on the leash for the rest of the walk.

I picked up some marrow bones at the store and gave each of the dogs a bone to chew on for the rest of the day.  We all took naps and then in the afternoon the sun came out, and I decided to get Charlotte out for a few more miles.

IMG_0757.jpgMocha saw me putting on my running shoes and started pacing around and whining, so I took her with us to the North Salt Lake Shoreline.  She made it 3 miles, and is now delightfully tired this evening.

My brother captioned one of the photos I posted of her on Instagram:  “Mocha’s Freedom Ride.”  I think it is quite fitting.  Pretty sure she is going to have an awesome time joining our pack.  I feel lucky to have her with us.

To be continued…

Walkin’ Wheels: taking it to the streets & trails

Since his broken leg in July of this year, 15-year-old Franklin has been progressing really well.  As you may recall, he broke his leg as a 4-year-old (jumping out of the back of a pickup truck in Idaho) and had to get surgery.  He has done well all of his life with a plate and 10 screws stabilizing his leg.  This past January, however, after nearly 11 years with the hardware, his body started to reject it.  The orthopedic veterinarian recommended daily antibiotics over surgery because of his age.  He did well for about 5 months with the antibiotics until one day in July when he hopped out of the back of the Subaru in the driveway and re-fractured his leg, likely partly because of the loose hardware.

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First trail outing after a month of practicing in the neighborhood:  Shoreline Trail near the Natural History Museum, Salt Lake City

We purchased a Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair for Franklin on Amazon that same week, and he took off strolling from day 1.  We are now up to at least two half-mile walks per day, and sometimes have even gone over a mile.

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(l to r) Watson, Charlotte, and Franklin on the Summit Park trails

Franklin’s progress is so positive and he is such a happy dog, that I’ve decided to bring some awareness to handicapped, older pets by getting him out even farther from home.  We load up the wheelchair in the Subaru and head out to the trails or the park.  We have done walks in the public park near our house, on the trails in the foothills of Salt Lake City, and even on some of the trails in Park City.  Franklin even took his wheelchair into the pond at Summit Park one hot day a few weeks ago.  I love seeing the reactions on people’s faces when they see us:  “How wonderful!” and “Look how good he’s doing!  He is so happy,” are some of the comments we have heard.

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Franklin enjoying the pond at Summit Park

You can typically see us strolling 1300 S in Salt Lake City, on our daily walks in the morning and evening.  I love watching the people in their cars on the commute, turning their heads when they see us.  It’s not something you see everyday:  a dog in a wheelchair.  The parking enforcement woman even stopped her Jeep to give the dogs treats a few mornings ago.

If you see us out and about, give a honk and a wave or stop to say hello.  We’d love to chat with you about Franklin’s wheelchair and how much freedom and happiness it has brought to our lives.

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Franklin (l) and Charlotte (r) on the I-Street Shoreline trail above Salt Lake City