Category Archives: Big Adventures

2018 Pet Blogger Challenge – A Look Back and a Glance Forward

Well, we may be a few days late (but never a dollar short) and have missed the actual blog hop for the 2018 Pet Blogger Challenge hosted by Amy at Go Pet Friendly. However, we heard about it from our good friends at Wag ‘n Woof Pets when we read their post and decided that it would be good for us to answer these questions too.

  • For those who may be visiting your blog for the first time, how long have you been blogging and what is your main topic?
    • Technically, I have been blogging for a few years, but in regards to Callie’s Wag, I have been blogging for a little over a year. My main topic is stories about my two puppy mill rescues, Callie and Charlie, their health, their life now, and our adventures. Callie is the inspiration for the blog and was the sole focus for six months before Charlie entered our lives.
  • What was your proudest blogging moment of 2017?
    • Oh, that’s hard. I suppose I have two, the first time someone got very excited about being interviewed for my blog and a recent contact about my first potential product review.
  • Which of your blog posts was your favorite this year and why? (Please include a link.)
    • I have two that I can’t choose between, they are both so different yet significant. In Healing and Heeling, I wrote about a hard lesson I had about learning to listen to Callie while training. But, in having this experience, Callie and I became a stronger team. Recognizing, accepting, and finding a way to move on from mistakes are some of the most important skills a person can have in working with rescue dogs.
    • In Twitter Becomes Tangible, I got to talk about our important Twitter Cavalier King Charles Spaniel community and how much this group of people, dubbed the #cavpack, has meant to me personally, and to my successes with Callie (and later with Charlie, too).
  • In terms of your blog, how do you measure success?
    • I measure success both by the number of views and much more importantly, by the interactions I have with my readers. I care less about the number of blog followers I have than that they are interested in what I am writing and that they are responding to the material.
  • In what ways has your blog changed during 2017?
    • Well, one of the biggest changes was the arrival of Charlie, our second rescue, and a puppy nonetheless! Trying to balance blogging about both dogs, specifically as each has had a lot going on, has been a little tricky.
    • The other significant change came this fall as I decided to start including interviews and highlights with and of other rescue dogs. The inspiration for this came during Puppy Mill Awareness Month, but I intend to keep on doing it.
  • What was the biggest blogging challenge you overcame in 2017, and what did you learn that could help other bloggers?
    • One of my biggest challenges is the balancing act. I now run two Callie’s Wags’ blogs, this one and a new one on a local news collective website, the DailyUV.com. The second one earns a little money, so I have been concentrating on building that up. I also am a freelance writer. I find that this blog falls by the wayside when I have other work to do.
    • I’ve learned now that I must keep a content schedule, something I have never done before! I also try to keep my voice recorder with me at all times so no matter what I am doing I can make a note or even start writing a post.
  • When things get hard, what keeps you blogging? (Question submitted by Pamela Douglas Webster of Something Wagging This Way Comes)
    • Love of my dogs. One of the reasons I started Callie’s Wag was because I had a hard time finding stories written by others who had explicitly rescued puppy mill dogs and so I decided to start filling that need. When I want to stop, I look at my two, and I remember how necessary it is to document their stories.
  • Looking forward to 2018, what are you hoping to accomplish on your blog this year?
    • I would like to blog more often, and I plan to bring more health-related information as well as interviews and hopefully some product reviews to the blog. I also plan to bring more videos to the blog.
  • In addition to what you’d like to accomplish, is here one specific skill you’d like to improve or master this year? (Question submitted by Jodi Chick of Kol’s Notes)
    • I want to take better photos. I love my iPhone 7plus – it’s great, but something is going on with the camera now, and my photos aren’t as high-quality as I’d like.
  • Now it’s your turn! You have the attention of the pet blogging community – is there a question you’d like answered, or an aspect of your blog that you’d like input on?
    • Well, for those of you who are reading this, I’d like to know what you use for taking photos on the fly and what editing software you use. I am not ready to dive into Photoshop as I am juggling a lot, but a slightly more user-friendly editing software suggestion would be great!

Doggie Dates

It’s been a little difficult to find playmates for Charlie. Callie isn’t big on puppy play although within the last week or two she has started to wrestle a little and play back when he gets obnoxious.

Due to his health issues, we were delayed in signing up for a puppy class with an obedience instructor I like and trust, so we’ve now missed out on that chance for socialization as he will be too old to be in a puppy class during the next session.

All of the other young and/or playful dogs Charlie has met are larger than him, usually by quite a bit. These bigger, bouncy, playful dogs tend to intimidate Charlie although there are a couple, like my ex-h’s excellent Lab, Cyrus, with whom Charlie has learned he is safe.

I was beginning to get frustrated, not even running into other people with small playful dogs, so I wrote to our local listserv. Yes, that’s right, here in the boonies we still work with listservs and they are GREAT! The basic idea is – every town around us has their own listserv where people can send in messages which get delivered in a daily digest to subscribers emails. There is also one for, what’s called, the Upper Valley, which is the region we are in. I sent a message to the main listserv for the whole Upper Valley as well as for my local town asking if anyone else had younger, smaller puppies they were looking to exercise/socialize and if so, to contact me to set up a play date.

The next morning I had two responses!

The most exciting, for me anyway, was an email from a woman who lives in our town and owns two Cavaliers, Gibby and Cider, 3 & 2.5 years (L, feel free to correct me if I got their ages wrong.) While the two dogs weren’t as young as I had hoped, one of the things I have been really missing is a little local “cavpack” of my own that can hang out together. Many of those on Twitter live near each other in the UK and can have meetups with the dogs, to which I am endlessly jealous.

L (Gibby and Cider’s mom) described the dogs, and they sounded like a great match, so we met for a walk.

Gibby on the pation
Smiling, sweet Gibby

 

Gibby is a big goof who loves other small dogs, although he, like Charlie, has had some chance encounters, and unlike Charlie, remembers one particularly not nice one that involved a larger dog. They are working on that.

 

Cider, our other new Cavalier friend
Cider the Beautiful Blenheim

 

Cider is a sweet, petite beauty who loves to play but, like many female dogs, is also happy to be independent among other dogs.

 

 

The walk went GREAT! We went down to a boat launch area, and Callie even thought about swimming! Callie, out of the two, was not the one I would have guessed to be the water dog, but we have to get her out swimming as it is such great exercise and easy on her stiff joints.

After the test walk, we decided to have a play date at L’s house as she has a fenced in yard. Her daughter, A, is 12 and fantastic at helping handle the dogs. She really made the playdate happen! I think L and I were too busy talking. 🤣

The doggie date was awesome. All the dogs had nothing but waggy tails and big grins the whole time. And when no one else would play puppy games with Charlie, A stepped up and was psyched to have a puppy to run around with again!

 

Callie, of course, found herself a new boyfriend.

 

 

 

And the best part is, we get to do it again today!

Nothing but WAGGY TAILS here!

 

 

Back to Reality

Let me begin by apologizing for the radio silence – we’ve spent the last week moving and the previous one packing. And now I have the longest post – mostly about our new house!

Oh moving, how I hate you. Thankfully, this should be our last move for a few years! Jess and I have moved four times in 3 years…But now we have bought a lovely townhouse/condo in a great community, right where we want to be.
Jess took this past week off from work for moving in and, what we hoped, would be some relaxing time. I love when Jess is home during the day. Working from home can be incredibly lonely but, between the dogs and my fibromyalgia, getting out to co-working spaces is often difficult.
This was even better than the rare days she also works from home because neither of us did any work of that kind, we solely focused on our house and getting our animals situated.

Even with the stress of moving, it was a wonderful week. We spent time together shopping for a few things we needed/wanted to make the place feel like home right away.
We *read Jess* set up G’s new loft bed so when she arrived, she could spend time decorating her room. We haven’t had our own rooms since we sold the house in January, and OMG were we all desperate for space!

We had a few visitors come by, mid-mess but who cares? We love this place more each day we are here.

View of patio
Callie watching over her new yard

The unit we purchased has one of the more private patios, it looks into the woods, and we have a perfect area to let the dogs out.

 

So far we have been going out with them, but only Charlie seems to need the tie-out that we bought for each of them.

The tie out in the back yard confuses
Hoomans, what is this nonsense?!
Charlie runs towards us
Run Charlie RUN!

We also have a loop drive around the complex that is approximately a quarter of a mile which makes for a great walk with the dogs. It’s just long enough that Callie gets good exercise for her but still enjoys herself, even if we go twice in one day, plus if we go one way around, we end with a hill-climb which is perfect for Charlie’s patellas.
There are many dogs in the neighborhood, most of whom are friendly. Two Border Collies, Julien and Vincent, live in the next building over and often visit if we are outside. We were suckers the first time the first time they came and threw a stick for them a bit, and now they LOVE to come try to get us to play. Charlie is terrified of them even though they are super sweet and tend to ignore him as they are hyper-focused.
There is a six-month-old Lab-mix two doors over who is still frightening to Charlie – although he is starting to relax a bit, she’s sweet and relatively mellow – and then another puppy-mill rescue two doors down from there. The only dogs who aren’t nice are our neighboring dogs (of course!🤣)

I’m not really surprised, they are two older chihuahuas who have never been super friendly, and now they have gotten rather mean in their old age. I do feel older dogs have the right to be tired of politely interacting all the time, especially on their turf, but it is funny because they were fine with the two-year-old Cavalier who was living here with the tenants last year!

Charlie introduced himself to our neighbor on the other side by tipping over her beautiful succulents… thank goodness she has owned dogs her whole life – albeit not at the moment – and loved meeting him so much, she didn’t care about her plants!

Knocking over plants
What plants? I didn’t knock those over earlier!

 

The new condo has stairs, and both bedrooms are up there. I don’t think I’ve talked about it in a long time, but at the old place we lived on the second floor, and Callie was scared of stairs at first, so we started a terrible habit – we carried her down. For six months we ended up carrying Callie down those damn stairs every time we needed to take her out. Jess and I made the decision, having seen Callie learn to go down shorter sets of steps just fine, that we were not going to pick her up to carry her downstairs at all. Callie was SO mad.
The very first morning, I laid down treats, shut all the upstairs doors, and took Charlie out. I came back in, and she was still at the top of the stairs. So I made breakfast. Callie is a food driven dog, but she was still at the top of the stairs. So I went up and helped *perhaps read forced* her to walk down them. She wouldn’t eat many of the treats as she went and I felt it was only fair she still get them for all the work, so she was greeted at the bottom of the stairs with breakfast AND a rather large pile of training treats. That made her forgive me a bit.
Slowly, using this method but “helping” less and less, over Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday she got better.
Regardless of whether I helped her with any stairs, she did want me a few steps down at all times. Her left side seems to slip a bit, so it goes faster than her right. Anyway, Friday came, and the kiddo showed up. Callie went wild, almost everything was ok again in her world except she hadn’t seen G here yet.

The kiddo and Big C cuddle on the couch
Besties Furever!

I mean, look, the girl is Callie’s BESTIE! Well, once G went down the stairs Callie forgot all her fear in her need to be with her girl, and now the stairs are no problem for this lady.

 

 

Now, it’s back to life, back to reality. Monday morning went back to the same old routine, and Jess left for work at 7. Then I sat in what is my usual silence. Except it was so much lonelier. It always is when Jess has been home for a day or two, but this silence has made everyone mopey.

Callie just discovered something magical! She can get away from Charlie and keep him from stealing her bones by taking them out on the patio. 😁 Smart girl!

Callie and goat horn
Look, mom, I CAN get away from the little turd!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you if you have read this far 😆! And the next post should be coming soon! I have many updates on Charlie and his health!!!

A Cavalier Vacation and a Chicken Bone

Ok, so you already know I have a bunch of Twitter friends called the #Cavpack, but I am also a member of several Cavalier-focused groups on Facebook. Who has two thumbs and is a dog nerd? This girl right here 😂.

In January, I first heard about the Wilburton Inn in Manchester, VT on Cavaliers of the Northeast. The Wilburton is owned by the Levis family; Melissa Levis has a Cav named Jetson who is the official Inn welcoming committee, as well as the inspiration for their various Cavalier-themed events throughout the year.

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The Mansion
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Melissa, Jetson, and b&t Cav at a slumber party

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wilburton Inn held a special Mother’s Day weekend event from which we just got back. I was so excited, I booked our stay back in March. There don’t seem to be any other Cavalier’s around here and I thought, what a fun way to spend Mother’s Day Weekend! My wife and I went down on Friday with Callie to have a night to ourselves and then my wonderful ex-husband drove our daughter down to meet us on Saturday to stay over the second night.

Callie got to meet other Cavaliers for the first time since we got her. Besides Jetson, there were two other Cavs there, Eloise and Clifford, and a lovely chocolate Lab named Fred. Callie has always been ok with other dogs, some she likes more than others, she tends to shy away from the overly excitable. When she met Jetson, it was love at first sight. She was immediately involved in cleaning his ears, giving kisses, following him around. Callie barely noticed the tiny poodle who was also there.

It was like that when she met Eloise and Clifford too. She recognized some kind of friend in them.We didn’t manage to get any pictures of Clifford, he arrived the second day. Callie was happy to greet Fred, the Labrador, as well, but not like she was to meet more Cavaliers.

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A faceful of Cavaliers! Eloise, Callie, Jetson.

Melissa led us on a lovely pack walk through historic areas of Manchester, VT. I watched as some cars slowed down to look at the cuteness, or heard people say, “aww.”

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Jess and I with Callie, Laurie with Eloise and Fred and Melissa with Jetson.

 

We tried, sometimes successfully, to get the dogs to pose for pictures.

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Tom with Fred and Eloise, Laurie with Jetson, Jess and me with Callie

 

The grounds of the Inn are amazing, huge sculpture pieces are scattered throughout, and, of course, your dog is welcome almost anywhere 😍.

Callie found the accommodations quite satisfying. She even prepped a #TongueOutTuesday photo while there. IMG_3121

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Callie’s big sister had a BLAST, too 

 

Brunch was fantastic, with complimentary “mom”mosas and amazing food. Plus a bacon mustache and goatee.

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It got a little exciting though, and not in a fun way, when another Cavalier mom behind me saw Jetson grab a chicken bone off the floor. She stood up and ran after him one way, I heard her and went the other way to corner him. Jetson had bitten and swallowed part of the bone and was choking on the joint.

Without thinking, because who wouldn’t immediately try to save a dog, I shoved him between my knees and felt down in his throat. I was able to pull the splintered bone out, so then I pushed both forefingers down either side of his throat, forcing him to gag up the rest of the joint. He was thoroughly unamused when I continued to push my fingers down to feel for any smaller splinters and to make sure he had gagged up the whole bone. Like any dog would, he left a few good bruises on my fingers from his teeth, but as soon as I stopped, he, like almost any Cavalier would, turned and started licking me.

In the midst of all the chaos, while someone found Melissa, I sat on the floor between the omelet station and the stack of plates and cuddled quietly with Jetson, a dog no one could stand to lose.

Thank goodness Eloise’s mom, Laurie (forgive me if I spell your name wrong) happened to see him grab the bone. Not only would it have been a horrible, tragic day, but Jetson is a huge part of what makes the Inn the experience it is. Every employee I met is as attached to him as Melissa – ok, maybe not AS much, but pretty darn close.

 

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She NEVER sleeps this hard in the car!

 

Callie slept the whole ride home and even woke up later than me yesterday – a first! It was obvious that it was a happy exhaustion though, she had so much fun, I don’t think her tail stopped wagging all weekend. Nothing could be better for me than seeing Callie enjoy herself like that, it was beautiful.

Melissa herself received a Mother’s Day treat, as she, Jetson, and the Inn were featured by the Boston Globe.

Thank you, Melissa, for the exceptional weekend, we will be back! For those of you nearby – the Howl-oween Weekend slumber party and costume contest is supposed to be OUTRAGEOUS fun. What are you doing in October?