Piper’s First Pickle

Hello, I'm Piper, and I'm a runner!

It took Piper a week to take her post-race selfie… not bad for a dog!

Piper has been galloping around the yard for months, but this winter her joints finally matured enough for her to go on an official road run with me. Yay, running buddy! But unfortunately inviting an energetic German Shorthair to go jogging with you is far easier said than done. Piper and I went on a short jaunt over the holidays and she pulled me all over the road until my hips were out of alignment and I started seriously second-guessing how fun it would be to have a four-legged running partner.

Fed up with being – quite literally – jerked around, I purchased a “Gentle Leader” head collar for Piper in late December. The gentle leader works by redirecting a dog’s forward motion and turning their head back towards you when they pull. It only took Piper a few minutes to figure this out and I was thrilled to find that my wild, lunging beast was quickly transformed into a tiny, prancing racehorse who seemed to be perpetually trotting towards an imaginary starting line with a short, bouncy, energetic stride. Splendid!

Gentle Leader

As soon as I determined that the Gentle Leader was our go-to headgear for running, I starting looking at running leash options. If I gave Piper too much room to roam, she’d turn back into the beast and pull until the Gentle Leader left rub marks on her face — not good! Throughout January I experimented with tying knots in a long bungee waist leash to shorten it and keep Piper under control. We enjoyed a few positive runs together with the knotted leash so in February I decided it was time to invest in some new equipment… namely a short bungee leash and a padded running belt for me that the leash could attach to.

My new gear arrived in mid-February. I was so excited to try it that I immediately took Piper out on a mile and a half trial run on a blustery 25° afternoon before happily proclaiming that the belt-leash-gentle-leader combo was a success. Piper was officially jogging at my side without pulling (much), and the leash attached to my waist, allowing me to use my arms to run rather than hold Piper. Perfect!

Piper had her racing debut at The Pickle Run on February 20th. I contacted the organizers in advance and they said that dogs were allowed as long as we started towards the back of the pack. Like all Pickle Runs, this was a prediction run, so I estimated that we’d finish in 24:30, significantly slower than my course-best time of 23:42, but still hopefully a respectable first 5K time for little Pipe.

013 Annie and Piper cropped

The start ended up being the hardest part of the race. Typically at a Pickle Run I position myself in the first 3-4 rows behind the start line, but Piper and I began behind at least 100 people. We spent the first half mile dodging and weaving around other participants (which is not easy to do with a prancing, snorting racehorse attached to your hip!) and finally got some breathing room near where the trail runners turned right to follow their muddy off-road course.

Piper and I stayed on the road and steadily gained ground on the runners ahead of us. At the halfway turnaround I realized that we were sitting in 5th or 6th, but at that very moment Piper seemed to lose some steam. I forgot to mention earlier that the weather was a freakishly warm 60° (in February!) so this was the hottest run that Piper had ever been on. I was very aware of that fact as she seemed to lag behind me going up a hill. Piper continued panting (and snorting, and grunting, as usual!) so we slowed down a bit for what was maybe the 1.5-2.0 mile section of the race.

Smiling for the camera mid-race

Piper knows exactly where the camera is.

With about a mile to go Piper spotted Matt standing on the side of the path taking pictures. She immediately perked up, smiled for the camera, and then took over setting the pace for the final stretch of the race. We FLEW through that last mile (I would LOVE know our split, but no watches are allowed in a Pickle Run!). Before I knew it Piper and I were zooming across the finish line. As we crossed I turned to look at the clock… we finished in under 24 minutes!!

January Pickle Run Stats_

Together Piper and I ended up 4th overall with a chip time of 23:47. That’s just 5 seconds off my course best time!!! I still can’t believe Piper and I ran that fast, especially with the tricky start and slow turnaround up the hill. WOW!

I’m really excited to see what Piper and I can do in other races this winter and spring. Next up we have the March Pickle Run on the same course as February’s Pickle. I’m thinking we should start a little closer to the front of the pack since it seemed like we caused more disruptions weaving for a half mile than we would have if we had just started with people running a similar pace. We’ll keep practicing together (just did 5 miles today!!) and hopefully we’ll have as much fun in March as we did in February!

DSC_0048 Pickle Run (2-20-16)

Links to our running gear:
Gentle Leader Dog Head Collar
Spindrift Daisy Runner Belt
Mongrel Bungee Leash Extension

Miles since last post: 115.8
Days since last post: 24
2016 MILES: 291.2

Past Races:
• January ’16: Pickle Trail Run (1/30)
• December ’15: Jingle Elf Run (12/3) [2M PR], Brian’s Run (12/5) [5M PR], Reindeer Romp 5K (12/13)
• November ’15:
Trinity 5K (11/7), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/26) [5K PR]
• October ’15:
BAAR 5K (10/3), Double OyVey 10K (10/25) [10K PR], Boo Run 5K (10/31)
• September ’15: Run-A-Muck Trail 5K (9/19)
• August ’15:
Boxcar Mile (8/13), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/27)
• June ’15: Media 5 Mile (6/19)
• May ’15: Broad Street 10 Mile Run (5/3) [10M PR], Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/15), Victory 5K (5/17)
• April ’15: Tyler Trail 10K (4/11) [10K PR], Empower the Children 5K (4/18), Haverford Twilight 5K (4/26) [5K PR]
• March ’15:
Athlete’s Closet March 5K (3/7), St. Pat’s 5K (3/14), Granogue Trail 10K (3/21), Pickle Run #3 (3/28)
• February ’15: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/7), Pickle Trail Run #2 (2/21)
• January ’15: SRA New Year’s Day 5K (1/1), Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/3), Pickle Run #1 (1/17)
• December ’14: Jingle Elf 2 Mile (12/5) [2M PR]Brian’s Run 5 Miler (12/7) [5M PR], Athlete’s Closet Holiday 5K (12/14)
• November ’14: Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1)  [5K PR], Metal Run 5K (11/8), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/27)
• October ’14: Martin’s Run 5K (10/5), Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/18), Bark in the Park 5K (10/25)
• September ’14: Talk 5K Trail Run (9/13), Run A Muck Trail Race (9/20), Haverford Township 5K (9/27)
• August ’14: Riddlewood 5K (8/3), Radnor Red Steeplechase (8/17), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28) [5K PR]
• July ’14: Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10), Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (7/18) [5M PR]
• June ’14: Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1), Media 5 Miler (6/20)
• May ’14: Elwyn 5K (5/3), Run for Victory 5K (5/18) [5K PR], Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30)
• April ’14: Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3), Rick’s Run 5K (4/19), St. Tim’s 5K (4/26)
• March ’14: Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1), Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30)
• February ’14: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1)
• January ’14: Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4)
• December ’13: Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14), New Year’s Eve YMCA 5K (12/31) [5K PR]
• November ’13: Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2), Turkey Trot 5K (11/28)
• October ’13: Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19), Oy Vey 5K (10/27) [5K PR]
• September ’13: Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21)
• The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

It only took me 16 days… 2015 Recap and 2016 Goals!

This morning it was my turn to take Piper out.  Usually I have no trouble falling back to sleep after our chilly 7AM tour around the yard, but today I felt especially awake and decided to catch up on some long overdue blog reading.  I scrolled through my WordPress “Reader” for nearly an hour and thoroughly enjoyed reviewing the many year end recaps and ambitious 2016 resolution posts that bloggers I follow wrote 2+ weeks ago.

All of this inspirational reading served to remind me that I’ve been terrible about updating my blog lately.  I’m not sure why that is,* but whatever the case, I’m not going to beat myself up about it.  The whole point of my blog is to document the races, foods, trips and other events that I’m enjoying and if nothing “blog-worthy” happens for a few weeks, so be it!

(*OK, I’ll confess: My recent lack of posts is almost certainly because we’re binge-watching Sons of Anarchy.  It’s so riveting that I can’t multi-task and blog while watching it!)

Although it’s January 16th, my morning reading has inspired me to offer my own 2015 wrap up and 2016 goals.  Without further ado, here I go!

2015 was the year of the mini-vacation.  Matt and I traveled to 10 states and spent 28 nights away from home.  Piper joined us on several trips and spent the other nights slumber-partying at my mom’s house with her best friend, Hershey the Chocolate Lab.  Matt and I primarily traveled within driving distance, but also flew to Vegas for work at the beginning of the year and then to California for an epic drive up the Pacific Coast Highway in October.

Since 2015 marked another year of my ongoing mile-a-day streak, I began nearly all of my out-of-town mornings with a run.  This was a great way to feel good on vacation AND get a feel for my surroundings, regardless of whether I was in a big city, little town, or remote forest.  In 2015 I ran in places as diverse as Las Vegas (NV), Cape Charles (VA), Bethany Beach (DE), Avon-by-the-Sea (NJ), Skaneateles (NY), Promised Land (PA), Dorset (VT), and Carmel (CA).

When I wasn’t traveling, it seems like most weekends were spent racing.  In 2015 I completed 27 races and earned 7 new personal best times (1-2M, 2-5K, 1-5M, 2-10K, 1-10M).  The year finished surprisingly strong with 3 PRs in a row at 3 different distances.  I guess I did something right in 2015?!

And about that streak… I’ve now been running, hiking, or otherwise moving my body a mile a day every day since July 2013. My daily miles are now a completely routine part of my life and are just something I do, like eating or brushing my teeth.  As of today, I’ve been streaking for 930 days and 4,380.5 miles with no plans to stop anytime soon.

Looking ahead to 2016, I hope to continue many of the same habits, including trying to pack as many mini-getaways into our busy lives as possible.  Matt and I already have a weekend trip to Sedona, AZ planned (I am SO EXCITED!!) and I wouldn’t be surprised if we find ourselves in California, Kentucky and multiple states on the east coast at some point later this year.

One thing that will be changing for 2016 will be my total number of races.  I’m not opposed to racing 25+ times in a year, but I know I’m going to miss at least 7 of the races I enjoyed last year due to scheduling conflicts. (For example, my brother decided to get married the night before the Broad Street Run!! But I forgive him. 😀)  I’ll also miss the Athlete’s Closet Winter Series this year as the series was cancelled.  Oh well!  Racing is fun but isn’t everything… maybe I can use that time to get some extra miles in with Piper!

Running with Piper is one of my biggest goals for 2016.  She was too young to really do many pavement miles last year, plus she pulled on the leash like a maniac which made runs much less pleasant than they should have been.  In late December I finally broke down and bought her a “Gentle Leader” head collar to put an end to her pulling and so far it has worked wonders.  We still have lots of training to do, but I look forward to lots of happy runs with my little GSP this year.

My final goal for 2016 is a simple one… improve my CORE STRENGTH!  In 2015 I did exactly zero strength work, but I’m fully aware that if my abs and arms are stronger I will be a better runner, even if I don’t change a thing about how I actually train to run.

Fortunately for me, core strengthening is a goal that I can absolutely accomplish from the comfort of my living room floor while watching Sons of Anarchy.   Otherwise core strength, like my nonexistent blog posts, might never happen!

2016 Resolutions:

  1. Don’t stress out about not blogging regularly. I blog for fun and want to keep it that way.
  2. Take lots of trips with Matt (and Piper) whenever possible!
  3. Teach Piper to run with me.
  4. Improve my core strength. (Bonus goal: Teach Piper that she’s not actually helping when she licks my face during a plank!!)

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Piper resolves not to dig in my garden in 2016…

08 Piper

JUST KIDDING!!! 😄

 

Homemade Moose Munch

237 Piper Claus

Merry Christmas! Matt and I spent four of the last six evenings with our families enjoying big, yummy dinners. Piper spent the week looking out the window for the UPS truck… it’s almost like she knows where presents really come from. Smart pup!!

Today we’re unwinding from the holidays with nothing to do except watch a few episodes of Sons of Anarchy and the Eagles game. Sounds like a good Saturday to me!! While the Eagles battle the Redskins on NBC I’m trying to catch up on some long overdue blog posts, starting with this one for a holiday treat that’s perfect for sharing.

052 Caramel Corn

Every year Matt and I make some sort of home made treat for our families and neighbors.  Past holiday goodies include chocolate-dipped coconut cookies, candied nuts, and mint chocolate bark and this year we wanted to find a recipe for something similarly festive, delicious and easy to make in bulk.

After a little online research we settled on homemade “moose munch,” aka caramel corn covered in dark and white chocolate. Matt and I first made caramel corn a few years ago so we were already familiar with the basic concept: pop the corn, boil the caramel, toss with the popcorn and bake for an hour with regular stirring breaks.  Easy enough!

Moose Munch (Chocolate-Drizzled Caramel Corn)
(Adapted from Brownie Bites)

Ingredients:
18 cups popped popcorn (3 bags of light butter “healthy” microwaved popcorn)
2 cups mixed pecans and peanuts; roughly chop larger nuts if desired
3 cups Brown Sugar, firmly packed
2 1/4 cups Butter (4 1/2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups Light Corn Syrup
1 tablespoon Baking Soda
12 oz. Dark Chocolate Melting Wafers (we used Ghirardelli)
8 oz. White Chocolate Melting Wafers (again, Ghirardelli worked well!)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 250°F. Spread the popped popcorn out on several rimmed baking sheets and/or casserole dishes. The more shallow the layers the better, so try to use the maximum number of trays for your available oven space. Sprinkle the nuts throughout the popcorn.

In a large saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup. Melt the butter and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in the baking soda.  (Warning: baking soda causes the mixture to expand, so make sure you’re using a large saucepan!)

Pour the warm caramel over the popcorn, distributing evenly between the multiple pans. Use tongs or a spatula to toss the popcorn well until it is evenly coated in caramel. Bake the popcorn for 60 minutes, pausing every 15 minutes to stir each tray.

When the caramel corn has finished cooking, spread the hot popcorn in a single layer on parchment paper. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before proceeding with the chocolate.

044 Caramel Corn

Melt the dark chocolate wafers in a double boiler. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cooled caramel corn with a spoon or fork. Wait 10-15 minutes for the dark chocolate to set, then repeat this process with the white chocolate wafers. Allow the finished moose munch to cool completely, then break into chunks and transfer to gift boxes, bags, or a cookie tin. Save a little for yourself and share the rest with your friends and family!

079 Caramel Corn

…and here’s one more gratuitous Piper pic to finish off the post. I took several photos of her in front of the tree and now that Christmas is over I’m looking for any chance I can get to share them!! 😄

115 Christmas Piper

Birthday Hike at Binky Lee

Smile, it's Friday!

Smile, it’s Friday!

A few weeks ago Matt and I took Piper hiking at Binky Lee Preserve in Chester Springs, PA. It was my birthday so Matt was extra patient when I stopped to take dozens of photos of fall foliage, grasses, and (of course) Piper. Piper was less tolerant of these numerous delays – she prefers to be moving full speed ahead at all times – but I was still able to capture a few shots of her against the gorgeous fall landscape.

Here are some photos from our hike. This really is what Southeastern Pennsylvania looks like in the fall. Isn’t it pretty??!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, this is what a German Shorthaired Pointer with a mouthful of water looks like! I think she was trying to bring some of the creek along for the rest of the hike. 😄

389 mouth fulla water

If you find yourself in northeastern Chester County looking for a place to hike I’d definitely recommend visiting Binky Lee. For more information check out the links below. Happy Friday!

Binky Lee Preserve
1445 Pikeland Road
Chester Spring, PA 19425
Web Site  |  Trail Map  |  Google Maps

455 Piper in fall

Piper’s First Birthday

Piper turned one last Wednesday! Matt and I considered taking her for a celebratory birthday hike, but it was super hot out and we agreed that all three of us would have been sweaty, panting messes within the first five minutes of any activity we attempted. Instead, we decided that Piper would have the most fun playing in our backyard with her GSP-lookalike, Bella!

1758 Piper's goofy ear-do and Bella_

Bella belongs to Matt’s parents. She stayed with us for a few weeks in August and during that time Piper was absolutely thrilled to have a live-in playmate. These dogs have very similar styles of play and spent hours running at top speed around the yard, playing tug of war, and wrestling with one another. Here are some photos of them playing on Piper’s birthday afternoon. (Piper’s in the orange collar.)

After all of that fun I think it’s safe to say that Piper had a fantastic first birthday!!

Pair of Pointers

Like these photos? Follow me on Instagram: @The_Little_GSP

Weekend Getaway to Skaneateles, NY

Matt and I have been having a great summer so far, with lots of long weekend vacations including the Hunting Camp, Bethany Beach, and a 4th of July celebration on the Jersey shore. We still have a few trips ahead of us, including the Poconos and Vermont in September and a combined business/pleasure trip to California in October. (We’ll be driving up the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible… I’m SO excited!!)

339 Bonfire by the lake

Our most recent weekend getaway took us to the gorgeous Finger Lake region of New York. We stayed with my brother and his fiance’s family at their house on Skaneateles Lake. I hadn’t been to the Finger Lakes before this and wow… I never knew what I was missing!! The views were breathtaking, the water was crystal clear, and the whole area had a relaxing, laid back vibe that was perfect for a mini vacation.

273 Piper waiting patiently for me to throw the stick

Piper is now a total water-loving fiend, so naturally she came along with us and spent hours in the lake. The water was so clear that I could stand knee-deep and still read the logo on my shoes. Unreal!! In fact, the water was SO clear that I actually went swimming… a rarity for this “dark-water” fearing girl!

The house that we stayed in was built in the 1890s. It was floor-to-ceiling dark, varnished hardwood and featured a wraparound porch, 9+ bedrooms, a huge kitchen, and, of course, amazing lake views out of nearly every window.

The sides of Skaneateles Lake are very steep so in order to get down to the house and lake front we drove straight down a half-mile long cliff driveway. This made for a fun start to my run on Saturday morning!! A creek bisects the property as it tumbles down from the main road to the lake. My brother, his future father-in-law and I followed the creek’s course up to the road and scaled several waterfalls in the process. The water was perfectly clear and I loved how it slid effortlessly over the shale rock formations on its way down to the lake below.

There were six dogs at Skaneateles including Piper. We tried to get Piper to follow the yellow Labs as they confidently jumped off the dock but she wasn’t so sure she wanted to take the leap. Instead, Piper entertained herself by retrieving EVERY SINGLE STICK we could find on the edge of the lake. After paddling each stick safely to shore Piper would proceed to chew it up until it was unrecognizable. (Unfortunately she also found the S’mores stick stockpile and chewed those to smithereens… oh well, she was on vacation!!)

In addition to fun at the lake and house, we also visited the local winery two (two!) times and had dinner in the cute little town of Skaneateles, New York. Our hosts recommended that we stop by Doug’s Fish Fry for dinner and they were spot on… best fried fish sandwich I’ve ever had!! I was too busy stuffing my face to take a photo, sorry. 😆

We wrapped up each night with a big bonfire by the lake. The weather was pleasantly cool and breezy and the views of the full “blue” moon were ridiculous. We sat by the fire as this moon rose up over the horizon… I sure was happy that I still happened to have my camera on me!

Matt, Piper and I thoroughly enjoyed our weekend at Skaneateles Lake. Thank you to our hosts and hopefully we’ll get to return next summer! I know Piper has certainly spent many happy nights dreaming about sticks and blue water ever since… 😄
131 Piper galloping thru the water

 

That time Piper defended our house from an invading chipmunk (and other July happenings)

01 Piper on a rainy afternoon

Piper has had a fantastic summer so far, with multiple trips to the pool, plenty of playtime with her buddy Hershey, and hours of outdoor ‘hunting’ in our backyard. Here’s a recap of last month in photos. Enjoy!

02 Piper the happy swimmer!

In June when Matt and I were in Bethany Beach Piper finally learned how to swim in a pool! Prior to this she was scared to step off of the top stair, but when we returned from the beach Piper was swimming around like a little fish. A really really happy spotted fish with cute white whiskers!! 😄

03 Piper water entry method

Piper still hasn’t mastered her pool entry but she’s working on it. She sort of slithers off the side and closes her eyes as she hits the water. Hopefully we’ll get her jumping in like a normal dog by the end of the summer!

04 Piper and Hershey tug

Hershey usually chooses not to go in the pool. Instead, she patiently waits for Piper to retrieve the wubba and then immediately tries to steal it the moment Piper emerges from the water. These dogs crack me up.

05 Backyard puppy

When Piper isn’t paddling around Hershey’s pool she’s usually stalking something in our backyard. Over the past month she has become much more interested in chipmunks, groundhogs, toads and birds. Apparently there are nests with baby birds all around our patio because she has been spending every afternoon with her face wedged in the bushes and her tail wagging at top speed.

06 Uh oh, what has Piper gotten into??

Tip of the month: it is NOT a good sign when your puppy greets you at the back door looking like this!! This happened last Wednesday, just as we were about to go out for dinner. Piper was all “What? Why can’t I just come inside and lie on the carpet?!?”

07 Nope, I didn't do that

We surveyed the yard and discovered a huge muddy hole at the front corner of our house. It appears that a chipmunk foolishly attempted to hide from Piper by taking cover in the gutter. (This has happened before.) Piper “defended” our house by attacking the gutter and then proceeded to dig a moat around the gutter to keep future intruders at bay… or at least that’s what she’s claiming!!

08 Washing off the mud

Piper was REALLY muddy. Fortunately she is easy to bathe.  😄

09 Piper staring

In late June Piper won a “summer dog” Instagram photo contest with this photo. Her prize was a set of three split elk antlers from RidgeRunner Antler Chews in Colorado. I wanted to take some photos to thank RidgeRunner so I hung up a white sheet and started playing around with my camera settings before actually giving Piper an antler. Piper didn’t know what was going on so she just gave me her best puppy eyes as she waited to find out what I was so excited about.

10 Antler Piper

Piper figured out what the big deal was as soon as I handed her an antler. She LOVED it!! These antlers are fresh from the Rocky Mountains and have a thick layer of marrow that Piper went nuts over. She chewed and chewed for about 30 minutes while I snapped away.

11 Antler Piper

If RidgeRunner or any antler company needs a puppy model to “taste test” their products, Piper volunteers!!!

This has been an excellent month for insta-contests. Piper won a second contest, this one for “Cute Puppy Eyes,” with the above photo. One of the prizes was a cool digital portrait of Piper’s winning shot, complements of @Puppy_Transit. They did such a great job! The other big prize is a custom dog bed with our choice of fabric from @LillyandAbbie. Piper has never had a new bed (she sleeps on hand-me-downs from Bailey) so I am really looking forward to receiving her custom bed in a few weeks!!

~~

That’s about it for Piper’s month in review. Hopefully August will be even more fun!! (Although I could do without the mud hole in the front yard.) 😉 I’m pretty sure Piper will be happy as long as she gets to play in the pool!

00 Piper in the pool

What does your dog do for fun in the summer?
What’s your favorite photo of Piper from July?
I like the second antler shot and her awkward pool entry. 😎

The Hunting Camp, 2015 Edition

912 Piper on the ATV

Last weekend Matt, Piper and I took a mini vacation in the central Pennsylvania wilderness. We stayed at Globe Run Rod and Gun Club – fondly referred to in my family as simply “The Hunting Camp” – for our seventh year of outdoor fun. 😄

I’ve blogged about our Hunting Camp adventures in previous years so feel free to check those posts out for more background (2013, 2014). For this year’s recap, I’m going to summarize the Hunting Camp in “Five Things Friday” style.

Five Things we enjoyed at the Hunting Camp in 2015

1. SWIMMING

Matt and I were excited to discover that Piper LOVES water!! She paddled around the lake with my brother’s German Shepherd, Lady, and even swam WAY out into the lake with Hershey to flush a flock of geese. (I don’t think Piper knew what was going on until the geese actually took off!)

I’m not a fan of swimming in “dark water” but it sure was fun to watch Piper take the plunge!

2. BOURBON

I don’t know anything about bourbon so for fun we had a bourbon tasting on Friday night. Our family members each brought various bourbons (we ended up with 11 bottles!) and it was fun to try them all. The verdict? Basil Hayden was my favorite (probably because it had the lowest alcohol content), but ultimately I think I’ll take a glass of wine over a bourbon any day!

3. HIKING

There are miles of wooded trails at the Hunting Camp and the adjacent Rothrock State Forest. Every day we took at least one hike with the dogs and on Saturday morning I ventured out on a solo 6 mile run in the state forest. My brother saw a black bear at camp just before Matt and I arrived on Thursday, so naturally I spent the whole run worrying about what I would do if a bear appeared around the next bend. (Run the other way? Make a lot of noise??) Luckily the largest animal I saw on my run was a squirrel so I was OK.

4. FOOD

Matt and I were in charge of dinner on Friday night and we had fun with it. We made BBQ baby-back ribs, panzanella, potato salad, cornbread, and strawberry-rhubarb crisp. YUM! The other days we feasted on sausages, burgers, hot dogs, shepherd’s pie, and lots of chips and guacamole. Good thing we did so much hiking! 😃

5. RELAXING

One of the best activities at the hunting camp involves no activity at all.  The huge rocking chair-lined wraparound porch is the perfect spot to relax with a book (or Kindle or iPad). The porch is also a great place to watch the dogs (all four of them!) who spent hours in the yard wrestling, playing chase, and chewing on sticks. By Saturday afternoon the dogs were exhausted!!

=====

After three days of fun we drove home late Saturday night with a very tired, very happy Piper.  We all had a great time and can’t wait until next year!

367 Piper in a clearing copy

 

Friday Five: Piper in May

Apparently posting fun quinquennial lists on Friday is a blogging “thing” so I’m making up my own version of the Friday Five today.  (And yes, I totally googled quinquennial; I learned a new word today!)

Top Five Photos of Piper in May

#1. Working hard to eat that stick! Our front yard was completely in bloom in early May… you can see the white crabapple in the background.  (5/2/15)

Stick eater 5-4-15

#2. Water Dog! We took Piper to the Darlington Trail and Matt walked into Chester Creek with her while I snapped some photos. She thoroughly enjoyed herself! (5/9/15)

Chester Creek 5-9-15

#3. Waiting on a train. After playing in the creek we continued on the Darlington Trail to the abandoned SEPTA line that used to run from Media to West Chester. I love train tracks! (5/9/15)

Piper on the tracks- 5-9-15

#4. Backyard wilderness. Piper was standing about 30 feet from the house in this shot, but I like how it looks like she’s in the middle of the woods. Also, that yellow squeaky ball at her feet is REALLY loud!  (5/28/15)

Tongue 5-29-15

#5. My goofy puppy. It was really hot yesterday afternoon so we retreated into the house for some indoor playtime.  I love her expression in this shot. (5/28/15)

Goof 5-29-15

Which photo is your favorite? Mine is #2.

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Triple Dog Weekend

Triple Dog Weekend

What’s better than enjoying a gorgeous Spring weekend outside in the yard? Sharing that yard with your two best friends, of course! I’m pretty sure that was Piper’s attitude a few weeks ago when Hershey the Chocolate Lab and Bella the GSP spent a long weekend with us.

Piper is 8 months old and full of impish puppy energy. Having two friends over at the same time meant that Piper could keep playing at her usual warp speed while the older dogs took turns resting. Piper would eagerly goad Hershey into a game of tug, then zoom around the yard a couple dozen times with Bella, return to instigate a wrestling match with Hershey, and finish off the rotation with a game of frisbee keep-away with her GSP twin.

During the rare moments when Piper needed a break all three dogs lounged around, blissfully chewing on sticks. SO many sticks! I never knew how many sticks were in our yard until we had three dogs scouring every inch of the lawn in an effort to find the biggest and best specimen. At one point Piper showed up with a small log (where did THAT come from??) and Bella gave her tips on how to position it just right to get the best chewing leverage. (Click on the photos to zoom in and see Piper’s funny expressions – priceless!)

I’m pretty sure that our triple dog weekend was the absolute highlight of Piper’s life thus far. Not only did she spend it with two friends in PERFECT mid-70s weather, she was also finally able to run loose in the yard without a leash or long line attached to her collar! We were in the final stages of training her to our underground “invisible fence” and, since the older dogs both know the boundaries of the yard, this was the perfect opportunity to see what Piper would do on her own with less direct supervision. Piper thoroughly enjoyed her freedom and never once showed any interest in leaving the yard.  Success!

Can you tell how much fun the dogs were having? 😀 Except in that one photo up top where Piper got totally crushed by Hershey… I didn’t realize how hard Hershey fell on her until I saw the photo afterwards!! Luckily none of the dogs sustained any permanent damage over the weekend and everyone went home tired and happy.

Love this pup.

I love this pup. ❤️