Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Grist Mill Dog Park

Ever since our beloved dog, Sport passed away, Maya has been a lonely dog. Since she has socialization problems dating back to her shelter days, I’ve decided to take her to the dog park as often as possible. I’ve been curious about the Grist Mill Dog Park every time I drive to Fort Belvoir but yesterday was my first visit.  It was a “D-” for Maya’s socialization test.  When we first arrived, there was a standard poodle mix there who wouldn’t leave her alone and slobbered all over her. The next dog that came in was even more “afraid” than Maya which caused the other dog owner to panic every time Maya went near her dog. 

Today was much better: three dogs at the park and Maya only growled at the French Bulldog trying to hump her.  The big difference was the calm attitude of the owners ~ proving the Dog Whisperer correct once again.

If you’re looking for a dog park in Southern Alexandria and one which is very close to Fort Belvoir, I recommend the Grist Mill Dog Park.  Pros: 1 acre fenced area with bluestone dust (gravel), a baby pool for those dogs who need to cool down, a water pump and water dishes, plastic bags, lots of trash bins, benches and a fenced entrance to leash and unleash your dog.   Cons: Not all the dog owners pick up after their dog so watch your step.  Also, a Fairfax County dog license is required for your dog.

Walkway to the Park:

Maya at the park:

Clean up bags:

Leash/Unleash entrance:

Lots of space:

For more information about Grist Mill Dog Park (4710 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy ~ between Ft Belvoir and Mount Vernon Estate) and for other Dog Parks in Fairfax County, click here.

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Iconic Hotel with Canine Ambassador

During our stay in Quebec City, we stayed at the historic and beautiful Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac.  The castle-like hotel dominates the Quebec City skyline.

The hotel was completed in 1893 but has had numerous extensions built with the latest one being in 1993.  Le Chateau is such a prevalent part of the city and visitors literally flock to it for a glimpse of history.  Driving the walled city with cobblestone streets made me feel like I was back in Europe and the hotel just added to the ambiance of Old World charm.  Our room was spacious, amenities were wonderful and, best of all, the staff were all very friendly and welcoming.  The prices in the restaurants scared us away so we went next door for breakfast at Le Petite Chateau and had yummy butter-lemon crepes. Hmm…my mouth waters just thinking about it.  

It’s possible to take a 50-minute hotel tour with a period dressed tour-guide but, because we were so limited on time, we decided we would rather walk Santol Canine Ambassador.



Santol is the Canine Ambassador for hotel, hangs out in the lobby next to the concierge and does a great job luring mostly women guests over to scratch his belly. This big teddy bear of a dog was originally trained as a service dog but he was so social and good with lots of people, the trainors decided to keep him as their ambassador. There’s even a nightly package guests can book which the hotel then donates $25.00 to the training of future dogs. Registered guests can also sign up to take him for a walk and, of course, I couldn’t resist.  First I walked him, then Favorite Girl and then Favorite Man. All I have to say is, for being such a tough Army dude, FM has such a soft spot for dogs and they take advantage of him. Both FG and I had no problem keeping Santol within the grassy areas of the park. As soon as FM started walking him, he decided he wanted to go up the stairs and into the more residential area. FG and I laughed long and hard when FM said to Santol “We’re not going that way” and the look FM got from Santol was “Really? You’re gonna stop me?”  Needless to say, we ended up doing a loop around the residential area 😉

There are tons of hotels as well as B&Bs scattered throughout the city and many looked very lovely but I would stay at the Fairmont again next time ~ the atmosphere was so comfortable.

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Happy Birthday to Harriet the Hamster

We’ve managed to keep Harriet alive and well for a whole year now. Actually, she’s thriving and is loving the extra attention from Grandma Betty. Since I wake up at 5 am to get ready for work and Harriet is wide awake at that time, I’ve been letting her roam around while I fix my tea. Good thing Maya was outside when I found Harriet in the dog’s dish:

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Without So Much As A Look Back…

… and that’s what I love about dogs! They are so loyal. Hoss’s owner came home late last night and, as soon as Hoss saw him, I all but disappeared. All the time, love and attention made no difference to him once he saw his owner. Hoss was soooo excited, jumped in the back of his truck and didn’t even look back.  Oh, well ~ he was fun to have around although he was a handful. It certainly was a good distraction while Favorite Man (FM) was out of town.

Dave, my friend who took care of Maya and Sport, had a similar experience last summer. I remember him telling me that as soon as FM showed up to take them, our dogs jumped in the car with no thoughts of Dave.

Having Hoss here for three weeks reminded me how much I miss having a big dog ~ they have a much more “gentle” personality than small dogs.  Many small dogs have the Napoleon Complex, but a big dog has no need to show his strength unless he needs to. Even though I love Sport and Maya, when it’s time to get another dog, I’m going BIG.

I’m thinking maybe an Irish Wolfhound 😉

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Paying It Forward

Maya and Hoss

Last year, my friend, Dave, was kind enough to take care of Maya and Sport while we traveled across the Pacific and across the United States. The trip took us over a month and could not have been done with two dogs in tow. I’m forever grateful to Dave for taking such excellent care of our four-leggers. Dave is a generous soul, never expecting anything for his good deeds. His philosophy has always been “Pay it forward” and I think I have a chance to do just that.

FM works with someone who is single, owns a beautiful one year old Chesapeake Bay Retriever and has to go away for about a month. FM mentioned how bummed he was about putting his dog in a kennel for that long. I could relate ~ I hate leaving out dogs at the kennel. No matter how nice it is, it’s not a home.

Here’s my chance to “pay it forward.” FG and I will have Hoss stay with us for the rest of October starting on Tuesday. FM will be going on the same trip. It’ll be great for Maya to have someone who can keep up with her ~ poor Sport, he tries to run with her but he’s over 11 years old now. And I did warn Hoss’ owner, if my dogs are any influence, he may come back to a fatter and a little bit spoiled dog.

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Doggie Tales

Yesterday, I finally volunteered at the Veterinary Clinic here on Ft. Drum. The clinic houses abandoned dogs and cats in their very small and limited kennel facilities. I applaud them for their efforts ~ there’s always a need since military bases have a higher than average pet abandonment rate due to moves (especially when moving overseas), deployments, etc. 

I only had enough time to walk two of the dogs but since I live only a couple miles from the clinic, it’ll be a very convenient place to pop in when I have an hour or two to spare. I picked the biggest dogs to walk and they were both so well behaved and SWEET. One was a pure-bred German Shepherd ~ gorgeous. I can’t imagine someone willingly giving up such a wonderful dog so there must have been some extenuating circumstances. So sad. And lucky for FM, there’s a two dog limit for on-post housing so I can’t be tempted to bring home an extra dog 😉

Since I’ve eaten way too many Girl Scout cookies over the last month, this will be a win-win situation. The dogs need time out of their small kennels and I need to get some extra miles in on my daily walk. 

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I’ve Officially Lost My Appetite

I find the recalled items from China disturbing but the news out of California about the Westland Meat Company makes my blood boil. The pit in my stomach after watching one of the workers ram a downed cow with a fork lift makes me beyond furious. Not only am I furious at the actual perpetrators, but also at the USDA inspectors. Where were they? The USDA website states there is a continuous presence at meat packing plants but how could that be if it took a non-profit organization to bust the story wide open.  Last year, there was a recall of 21.7 million pounds of ground beef from the Topps Meat Co. because of E.coli contamination. That recall was also the result of an undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States. Maybe the USDA should contract the Humane Society to do the work they’re obviously NOT doing. 

The amount of recalled meat is staggering and suggests a much more aggressive inspection stance must be taken by the USDA. Where’s the sense of urgency? 

Thank goodness for the Humane Society of the United States who have people willing to go undercover and expose these kinds of actions. I’m always surprised how the undercover people can film that and not let their emotions take over. I KNOW I wouldn’t be able to continue filming without abusing the abusers.  It is because of the Humane Society’s expose which showed the downed cows made it into the feed supply that made the USDA close down the Company. The USDA inspectors are reacting to the Humane Society investigation and are not being proactive as primary investigators. 

It’s time for me to root through the freezer, throw out FM’s beef products and then write a donation check to the Humane Society.  Dang, I think I need a glass of wine 😉

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