Thursday, March 30, 2017

March Hiking Goals

One thing is immediately obvious to me while putting together this post. And that is, I have an entirely excessive number of pictures to share. I think I'll take that as a good thing- it means I have made it out to a number of different hikes and beaches this month. 

First, the local Bald Hill trail system got our visit. March is the beginning of the nesting season for some local birds, so it becomes pretty important in the off leash stretches to keep your dog either on leash or under close voice control, because letting them off into the fields can cause some serious damage to the nesting birds. 

Bald Hill-3859
This counts as being on the trail, right?
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Most of our trails in Benton County have these brown markers

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Showing the way the trail goes

A trip up to visit a friend in Portland gave us the chance to visit a totally new park. I've heard about the Sandy River Delta park (also called Thousand Acres) for years from the Portland area people, but I've never had a good chance to go until now. We went for about a two hour hike with five dogs, and there were plenty of trails we never even saw let alone hiked. Some areas were a little flooded, but not nearly as bad as I hear it is now.

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A carved wood trail marker at the Sandy River Delta

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One of the many trails to walk on at the Sandy River Delta

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Sandy River Delta trail map and information

Early this month, the lower Willamette Valley got hit with some surprise snow. They originally told us it would snow but not stick because the ground was too wet. When the snow was obviously sticking first thing in the morning, and I knew I didn't have to work until later that afternoon, I just had to go out for a hike. I actually managed to be the first person on top of Bald Hill in the snow.

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Bald Hill's main sign in the snow early this month

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A less than completely useful trail marker

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I don't think newts are generally out in the snow.

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We walked far enough to get to the other parking lot and grabbed a picture of the sign there

A trip to the coast with a friend was a spur of the moment decision. The weather wasn't great to begin with, and just got windier and wetter the longer we stayed there. We had a goal in mind, but ended up not being able to find the beach we were looking for. Instead, we took the scenic route along the Three Capes and stumbled onto a small collection of trails. We turned around when the sheer cliff drops combined with the wind gusts freaked me out too much to keep going. I might try that trail again in the future on a calm day.

I'm honestly not sure of the official name here- we were kind of lost and found some hiking trails
We stopped at Cape Kiwanda (in Pacific City) on our way south) to grab a picture of some of the rock formations out in the surf. My friend had been there the previous weekend and forgotten to grab a picture. We walked on the beach for maybe five minutes before deciding the wind and rain was just too miserable to be worth it and heading back to the car to continue south. I'm including it because we technically hit the beach there, even if it was a short visit.

Pacific City
This was a rainy, windy, overall terrible weather day at the coast, but we stopped at Cape Kiwanda anyway

On that same day, we stopped for lunch in Neskowin, at a really nice little restaurant that has a fireplace in the corner (very welcome after our short beach walk at Cape Kiwanda) and great local food. The weather had dried up a bit once we were done with lunch, so we headed down to the beach for a little while. The tide was high but headed out.

Neskowin Beach, which happens to have a really good place to stop for lunch

Sometimes the beach isn't accessible this way due to high water
Back in Salem at the end of our very wet and windy coast trip, the sun was out and the sky was blue, so we decided to take a bit of a walk at the two connecting parks along the Willamette River. We started in West Salem and then went across the foot bridge to the downtown riverfront area, and then back. These are some nice trails, and the footbridge is fun, but large and stable enough to not be scary.

The waterfront in Salem has some nice casual walking trails and a foot bridge over the river

I shared some pictures of kayaks earlier this month. Well, we went out to Sunnyside Park in Linn County to do a little bit of kayaking on a gorgeous day- the last day of winter, in fact. We had enough time to either do a little hiking or get some lunch before heading to flyball practice, so we chose lunch and decided to leave hiking for another day.

Sunnyside Park-141331
Sunnyside Park in Linn County is on Foster Reservoir, and has boat ramps and camping, but not much in the way of hiking. 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Park is in Corvallis, and has some off leash trail options. The off leash areas aren't very long, so I often end up doing a few laps, or combining with some of the on leash areas. This time of year, the off leash areas were basically sucking mud swamps. Ptera had fun though, and it held off on raining until right after we left.

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Park is a local Corvallis City park.

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This is a fun painted sign at MLK park

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MLK park has some off leash trail sections which can be fun, though they are mud pits this time of year

Another trip to Bald Hill just a few days ago, and I noticed I hadn't gotten a picture with this sign yet. We probably went to Bald Hill 2-3 times this month without taking any pictures, as well as the times where the camera came along. It really is my favorite local trail system, being accessible, allowing dogs off leash, and having a variety of trail options.

Bald Hill with Duster-4323
Duster joined me and Ptera for a Bald Hill hike

Overall, I think I did pretty good for hiking, beaches, and lakes in March. An early kayaking trip landed me at Foster Lake, we hit two different beaches, a new park in Portland, a new hike on the coast, a new park in Salem, and a number of trips to Bald Hill and other local city parks.

Having this goal in mind really does help motivate me to get out and do stuff. Instead of sitting at home watching Netflix, I decide to get in a quick hike at Bald Hill. Instead of enjoying a full day off at home, I ask friends if they want to go to the coast for the day. I'm enjoying it a lot.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

WW: Spring Flowers

A few spring flowers and a short hike with a new friend.

Bald Hill with Duster-4340

This adorable guy is staying with us for the week, and is looking for a perfect home of his own. Ptera thinks we should keep him.

Bald Hill with Duster-4348

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Quick Walk Snapshot

I don't always bring my nice camera with me, and sometimes I regret it. Our short walk down to the Irish Bend covered bridge earlier this week is one of them. We passed by daffodils, some awesome logs, and of course the covered bridge itself. But sometimes a picture is about technical details, and sometimes it is just a quick snapshot in time.

Irish Bend
Irish Bend covered bridge

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

WW: Blast from the Past

How long has it been since you've seen one of these?

Sunnyside Park-135717
Pretty cute little egg shaped pay phone booth

Sunnyside Park-135741
Perfectly Ptera sized

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Rachael Ray Nutrish Cat Food

This month, we tried out Rachael Ray's Indoor Complete cat food.

Chewy March-4233

Theodore Trex sometimes feels left out when we've done a number of reviews with the dogs but nothing cat related. So this month, Chewy sent us some cat food to try out. (We were sent this food for free in exchange for our honest review. We were not compensated in any other way, and we are entirely responsible for the content of this review.)

Chewy March-4235

Rachael Ray Nutrish Indoor Complete cat food has small little pieces. They are all the same size and shape, but come in a few different colors. Reading through the ingredients, I really like that Chicken and Chicken Meal are the first two ingredients. However, I don't love that the next four ingredients after that are corn, lentils, peas, and more corn. I generally try to stay away from corn and wheat in the foods I feed, at least partially because Koira seems to have somewhat of an allergy to it, so it is easier to simply not have any in the house. I do prefer that protein in food comes from meat sources rather than vegetable or grain sources where possible as well.

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Despite my meh feelings about the ingredients, Theodore Trex appeared to enjoy the food quite a bit. I put it in his food dispensing toy both to get some better chances at cute photos and because it keeps him from scarfing his entire food allotment for the day in about two seconds. That measuring cup in the second picture, above, is how much food he gets per day. He is on the chubby side again after the inactive winter, so we are especially strict with his food. (This toy holds about half of his daily food.)

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So, overall, I would say that if you have a picky cat and want to get a food that is higher quality than the cheapest bottom shelf cat food, this is a good option. I think it was something that smells like the junkier foods. But it has some really decent ingredients along with the grain ingredients I don't care for, which makes it a big step above a lot of cat foods. That said, I don't think it will become a regular part of Theo's diet, just because I don't like to have foods in the house that will give Koira hives (not that she should be eating cat food, of course, but you never know with her).

Monday, March 20, 2017

Happy Spring

Today is actually cold, grey, and raining. Which, to be honest, is pretty typical for spring in Oregon. Yesterday, however, was amazing. The day started off cold, the night had been below freezing, but it warmed up and was clear, bright, and sunny all day.


I met up with some friends for the day, and we went for our first kayak trip of the year. That is my sunrise colored kayak in front, waiting to hit the water for the first time since August. My wrist wasn't thrilled with paddling, but my friends were awesome. I got a tow for part of our trip to help my wrist out, and shared a tandem kayak for a short jaunt as well.

After we finished up our trip, we stopped at a burger place and sat at the outside tables for lunch. I managed to, between kayaking and lunch, get a pretty nasty sunburn (bad enough I was running a fever last night). But overall, I have to say, it was an awesome last day of winter.

Friday, March 17, 2017

A Fortiflora St. Paddy's Day #chewyinfluencer

First I want to start out with a limerick that I wrote, special for this post and St Paddy's Day.

Koira got horrible diarrhea
After robbing a pizzeria

Priobios for the runs
And dodging cops' guns
We're fugitives bound for Korea

Hey now, I never claimed to be a poet!

In reality, we were given the opportunity to try out Pro Plan's FortiFlora, which is a probiotic supplement for dogs. It is also available for cats as well. We were given this product for free from in exchange for our honest review, but we weren't compensated in any other way.

My dogs honestly have pretty strong guts, but Koira does get soft stools every so often, and Ptera is less good with food changes than any dog I've previously had, so I thought probiotics would be a great thing to try with them. I've used probiotics in the past, but I've never really been super consistent with them.

Chewy March-4267

With the FortiFlora, it comes in individual packets. Just sprinkle one packet per day onto your dog's food.

Chewy March-4270

Obviously, while FortiFlora (and other probiotics, pumpkin, etc) are great for helping with the occasional diarrhea and loose stools, you want to make sure your vet rules out any more serious reasons for it such as parasites or sickness. For things like a dog eating something funny, but not necessarily dangerous, smoothing the transition between foods, or dealing with nervous poops while traveling, probiotics (and plain canned pumpkin) are the way to go.

Chewy March-4272

The powder looks kind of weird. It is a brownish color with some white chunks in it. It smells vaguely dairy like, maybe, but it is a hard smell to describe.

I actually hadn't even opened this package yet the other day when Koira decided to jump into our (not operational for the winter) pool after playing disc on a warm sunny day. Stagnant water in the pool apparently was just what she wanted to wallow around in, and she drank some of it. I figured out it wasn't good for her at 2 am the next morning, when she desperately needed to go out. And again an hour later. And again an hour later. You see where I am going. The second time she asked to go out in the middle of the night, I got a cube of frozen pumpkin out of the freezer and fed it to her (that is exactly what the cubes of pumpkin are in there for). I was still half asleep and my motivation was split between wanting to make her feel better and just wanting to get some sleep uninterrupted.

When I actually got up in the morning, she was still needing to go out regularly. I luckily didn't work that day, though I had a short appointment out of the house, and didn't want to come home to diarrhea all over her crate. I gave her some more pumpkin, remembered I had the FortiFlora to review, sprinkled some of that over the pumpkin, and hoped for the best. I figured if the diarrhea lasted much longer without any improvement we would have to head to the vet for something stronger than probiotics and added fiber, but wanted to try what we could at home first.

Luckily for both me and Koira, she was feeling better by mid morning, and no longer asking to go out as often as we moved towards afternoon. Whether it was the probiotics, pumpkin, or just her getting over it, I can't say for sure, of course. I do know the probiotics didn't hurt, and continued giving Koira them daily since then to help prevent a relapse into the trots.

Chewy March-4274

This concoction looks a lot like what I gave Koira that morning, but I made this just for pictures for the blog, and Ptera got to enjoy eating it.

Chewy March-4276

Whatever the FortiFlora actually smells like, it is obviously something my dogs enjoy the taste of, because both Koira when she wasn't feeling well, and Ptera for the review photos just snorfed it down.

Chewy March-4284

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tasty Tuesday: PEAK Wrap Up

Over the course of a month, my dogs tried out Rachel Ray's PEAK dog food. Between my two dogs, I have a medium size (Koira, at 40 lbs) and a small (Ptera, at 10 lbs). I've already done a couple of posts about PEAK when we first got it and part way through our month of testing it out, so this is mostly meant for our final thoughts about the food.

PEAK has some really decent ingredients in it. If I am nit picky about it, I would say that both recipes have chicken, so it isn't an allergen friendly line of food currently, though it is grain free, which is what Koira requires in a food. In the Open Range flavor that we tried, beef and chicken meal are the first two ingredients, which is great. Lamb meal is listed as the 8th ingredient, venison as the tenth, and lamb as the 11th. So while those proteins are in the food, they don't appear to make up a major part of it. That said, I don't really have a problem with it, other than that having venison and lamb listed on the front of the bag seems to be over stating its presence in the food.

Chewy March-4211

The kibble size and shape worked well for both of my dogs. Ptera had to chew the kibbles a bit, but had no issues. Little dogs who are picky about too big of kibble size may not like the food because of it, but robust small dogs shouldn't have a problem.

Chewy March-4213

When I make frozen kongs (which is an on again, off again kind of thing depending on my motivation levels) I use kibble and pumpkin, which you see in the pictures. Ptera can't seem to effectively clean out the very back of a kong, regardless of how small the kong is. I put kibble in before any other ingredient so that the kibble loosely takes up the space at the back, making it so I don't have to clean out leftovers licked into the back part of the kong after she eats. Then I layer pumpkin and kibble through the rest of the kong. Sometimes I will add peanut butter, yogurt, or something else, but most of the time, I keep it simple. The leftover pumpkin gets frozen in an ice cube tray for when it is needed for digestive support.

Anyway, my point here was mostly that this kibble works well for this purpose. The round shape works better than a flat kibble in filling up the empty space. And, neither of my dogs ever lost any enthusiasm for eating PEAK, so it works well to help break up the texture of the pumpkin and give them something extra tasty to work towards in their kongs.

Chewy March-4218

Another way I feed PEAK (as well as in the kongs mentioned above, and the Kong wobbler mentioned in a previous post) is in a slow feed/puzzle bowl. When I have pumpkin already out, I will smear it around on the crevices of the bowl as well as on the kibble to make the meal take longer. Ptera approves of this idea, and she is more than willing to work for kibbles.

Chewy March-4226

Chewy March-4230
Concentrating hard on getting out every last bit

Finally, a bonus that this food has over most grain free foods is that it is available on grocery store shelves. I personally prefer to have my food delivered to me, because I don't have to haul a big bag of food into a cart, into my car, and into the house, just from the doorstep to the food bin. But if you are not good at planning (and for some reason don't use autoship on for your food), travel and forget to bring food, run out too early, or whatever other reason, PEAK is available on grocery store shelves (though it does cost a few more dollars in store).

My local Safeway store

At the end of the month, I have to say, my dogs liked this food. I was happy with the ingredients. Having it available at grocery stores in case of emergency is a pretty neat option as well.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Happy Gotcha Day Ptera

One year ago, I saw a tiny little Jack Russell puppy on my local Craigslist. She was listed as 6 months old, and needing a home where she gets more time. They were just too busy to give a good home to a dog. I found them to be perfectly nice people who just really shouldn't have a dog. But I can't be upset in the least, because if they were awesome dog owners, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to bring Ptera into my family.


She was named Bella (which didn't seem to suit her at all). I actually took her for an overnight trial before deciding to keep her. I almost didn't keep her, actually. I thought about it really hard. I didn't know if I had the time and energy for a jack russell, even one as calm as she appeared to be. In the end, I decided to make her part of the family.

Fairfield Grange-4986

For a long time, I wasn't sure her ears would ever fully come forward for the classic JRT look. Her first photoshoot was in a field of daffodils next to a grange on our drive to a barn hunt event I was taking photos for. I left her leash on in case I needed to grab her quickly. Posing didn't come naturally to her.

Lure Coursing Practice-7614

My deceptively calm JRT puppy got crazier and crazier the longer I had her. I introduced her to lure coursing, and she absolutely loved it. We didn't compete this year, but she has loved every practice we've been to.


Slowly those ears started coming forward. Her posing skills improved with time too, though you still have no idea what kind of behind-the-scenes craziness it takes to get a decent picture of this crazy beast. For this tulip photo at a small local tulip farm, a friend came along and helped me out.

Barn Hunt Instinct Title Ribbon-2220

In June, I took Ptera to her first Barn Hunt to compete. I entered her exactly once, on Sunday morning for Instinct, and she totally rocked it. I insisted she check all of the tubes even though she hit hard on the first one, but in the end, she was right, and we got our Q and her first title, RATI. We haven't entered Barn Hunt since then, but I would like to get her some Novice runs soon.


I think I was really into dogs with flowers last year. Ptera went from posing with daffodils to tulips, then on to lavender. I love this picture, but I regret her collar. The hot pink just was never a great color on her. Not that she cared. Her ears were finally starting to come forward at the same time if I could get her attention well enough, the problem was getting her to stay still while still getting her attention for the ears.

4th of July-8351

In July, I introduced Ptera to SUPing. Koira taught her to be nutso barking and leaping off of the board. She was reluctant with the water at first, but she really seemed to get into it quickly. I love that, in the year we've been together, what it takes is that I tell her something is awesome, and show it to her, and then she believes me, and goes for it, even if she was initially reluctant. That is a trait that I just love in a dog so much.


From disliking water to being a nutso in the summer with Koira. Koira really did her part in teaching Ptera to be crazy, but honestly, I think she would have gone there herself even without the example in front of her. But crazy seems to come with a huge helping of enthusiasm for this dog, and even while crazy, she is so, so willing to work with me.

Ptera and Theo-7506

And at home she chills. She never got any bigger than when I first brought her home, and remains smaller than the cat.

One Year-7960

We celebrated her one year birthday in September, just barely too late in the month to debut her in flyball. Instead, we waited until November and a spontaneous trip to Canada. She had been with me for six months at this point, and while a soft and cuddly house companion, she totally lives up to her registered name when out and about.


My precious girls. They are posing pros, though Ptera has yet to learn how to smile for the camera like Koira. That might just be a pit bull skill that Ptera never gets down.

UOD Ptera-3082

Debuting Ptera in flyball was such a different experience than I had had with Koira or Pallo. I was confident that I knew what I was doing. I knew my dog was ready, more than ready, and I didn't have many doubts about her being able to get out there and rock. She exceeded expectations so much, being that rare green dog who just has an absolutely amazing first weekend out, without any prior experience listed on a team for warm ups, though ultimately, I would have been happy to spend that weekend just warming her up if that is what she had needed. She followed up that debut in November with a solid performance in December, and another in February, even being run by someone else all day. She is a dog who loves to run, and loves to play the game.

Christmas Trees-1819

We've been hiking for a year, training for a year, chilling in the house together for a year. Her full crazy has really come out. Jack Russells have the reputation for a reason. But she is such an amazing dog. She would rather work with me than almost anything else. She learns so fast, and is so eager to do something new, go somewhere on an adventure, or do whatever it is I ask of her. I don't know how I ended up so lucky to bring home a scared-of-everything, not-interested-in-toys, no-food-motivation dog who just wanted to cuddle and yet end up with a spitfire of crazy, raring to go, and always up for a new, fun adventure.

Gleneden Beach January Sunset-2854

Happy 1 year Gotcha Day, little girl. Brought home on March 11th, 2016, and made an official part of my family on March 13th, 2016.