It’s National Dog Day!

In our home it’s always Dog day! But today’s the perfect excuse for all of us dog lovers to brag on ours.

CJ & Esme got to hang out with me at work today, meeting and greeting people and their dogs. CJ loves the people, Esme loves the dogs.

How did your dog(s) spend National Dog Day?

Freddie Mercury doesn’t really give a crap! He knows cats are superior.

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Run for the Toilets 5K & 8 Miler Forms

The Run For the Toilets 5K & 8 Miler will take place on Saturday November 30, 2019 at the Onancock Elks Lodge #1766 located in Accomac, VA.  The following are links to the downloadable forms for the Run For the Toilets 5K & 8 Miler.

You can register for the event online using this link.

Stay up-to-date on the happenings leading up to the run by joining the Facebook Event Page.

We’ve finally found our niche, Part III … Embracing the Rural Life & wanting to make the ESVA our permanent Home

If you need to catch up, check out Part I and Part II before proceeding. Or just read on and if you get lost, I warned you…

Now Chris and I are both working full time. He was working at Wallops Flight Facility and I got a job at Atlantic Animal Hospital. He had a 30 minute (23 mile) commute, I had a 10 minute (4 miles out, 3 miles back) commute. His job paid a LOT more than mine and his hours were more flexible than mine so I couldn’t feel but so bad for him and his commute. Though he did realize it was a good thing that he could make a 23 mile drive in under 30 minutes. In California a 23 mile drive would’ve taken at least 45 minutes to an hour no matter where we were going.

I was home long enough with the dogs and cats before I started working to get them well acclimated to their new home and surroundings. Chompers and C.J. were both the most trustworthy dogs on the planet, so I never had to worry about them getting into anything they shouldn’t. I just worried about them chasing critters outdoors, especially at night, and that only happened when we were home with them.

PRODUCT PLUG: Noxgear Lighthound Vest has been a GODSEND for us since moving to the Eastern Shore of Virginia!

Esme sporting her Noxgear Lighthound vest during an evening stroll.

After being at the animal hospital for a few weeks, I had a conversation about the ticks in the area. My dogs were on Frontline Plus but I would still find numerous ticks on them, some were dying but several were engorged, enjoying a nice blood meal. One of my coworkers had suggested we get some chickens on the property. The chickens love to eat bugs, including ticks. Someone else had suggested we get guinea birds. Chris and I discussed it for a few weeks and decided on giving chickens a try. Before we even had a coop built I brought home a dozen little baby Silkies.

It took only a weekend to erect a small chicken coop. I came up with the design and Chris helped me build it. I thought I did pretty good considering I am not a carpenter.

Our first Chicken Coop. It was small, raised and completely enclosed. It served its purpose for a few years before we realized a few design flaws!

A few weeks after we brought home the biddies, they were ready to go to the coop. We confined them in the coop for about 2 weeks, then started letting them out to explore the yard during the days when we were home.

By early Spring the chickens were well acclimated to their home. We would let them out to free range when we were home, and they would return to their coop every evening. I had zero experience with raising chickens prior to bringing these home. I have to tell you, it was pretty easy to raise them from hatchlings to free rangers! I was not familiar with this particular breed of chicken either and thought they were the cutest things ever. They are a small, bantam type chicken with fluffy plumage. We called them our poodle chickens.

Our silkies were very friendly and personable, and loved a snack of stale bread or left-over French fries.

By late spring we started to notice that we were no longer finding ticks on our dogs or us. Then there was a little added bonus that started to appear in the coop…eggs!  And they were the best-tasting eggs we’ve ever had.  When we had extras we’d share with our friends and neighbors.  If we were going to be making a trip to the midwest to visit family, we were sure to bring eggs with us.  Chickens.  Who’d-a thunk it when we were leaving California…

In the years that followed, we both completely embraced the rural lifestyle of the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  We have met some very amazing, interesting, and wonderful people during our time here.  We had come to truly accept this as our home.  We felt at home.  We wanted it to be our permanent home.

Then things started to get a little rocky for Chris at Wallops.  His project was losing funding and he wasn’t sure whether or not his position would still exist when it was time for contract negotiations.  Every year he managed to still have employment!  Until the summer of 2017.  The project was no longer getting any funding.  At least not enough to keep him on it.  He got laid off.

…To be Continued…  Stay tuned!  And thanks for following along!

We’ve finally found our niche, Part II … From Urban to Rural with dogs

If you haven’t already, check out Part I before continuing. Or not.

As we turned down our little Neck that would lead us to our new home, my eyes widened and my jaw may have dropped a little bit.  It looked like heaven.  A house here, a field there and there and there, another house here, a thick grove of trees on both sides of the road, a little house there, another field, and then we came upon our little bungalow.  It was, and still is, the cutest little place on a property that is magnificent!  I could hardly wait to let the dogs out to run in this wide open area!  They already had some of that at my parents’ house, but this was home!  They would get to run here every day.  But…

…crap!  There are deer all over the place.  Foxes.  Raccoons, opossums, muskrats (all things my dogs would love to chase!)…and TICKS.  I already knew there’d be fleas and was prepared for them.  But the ticks.  Yikes.

I arrived, with the dogs and cats, to our new home in early December.  The weather was cool here, with highs in the 50s & 60s and lows in the 40s and 30s.  It was really pretty nice considering what it was like when we left Northern Illinois.  There were deer everywhere.  In the midwest we contend with deer all year long.  In California, we didn’t have to deal with deer, or many other wild mammals for that matter, at all.  Those critters stayed in the mountains and foothills near the area we lived.  When we’d go hiking in the foothills we’d come across a jack rabbit here and there, maybe evidence of a coyote, but otherwise all of the wildlife we’d happen upon was avian, arachnid or reptilian.

Neither ticks nor fleas, or mosquitoes for that matter, were an issue for us in the desert.  Probably one of only 4 good things about living in the desert, in my opinion.  We didn’t have to worry about flea and tick prevention, and heartworm prevention was not a top priority either.  I would keep some Frontline Plus on hand to use if I knew we’d be making a trek up the mountains or to the East.  I’d have Heartgard Plus on hand to use if we would be traveling to the midwest.

After being on the Eastern Shore of Virginia for one entire week I learned that I had trained my dogs well in terms of their recall.  Nearly every single time we would let them out to eliminate or explore, there would be some critter worth investigating.  All it took was a “EH!” and they’d stop dead in their tracks.  So the wildlife issue was not an issue at all.  But the tick issue?  We were not only finding ticks on our dogs, but we were picking them of off ourselves every day.  Yikes!  Thank goodness I stocked up on some Frontline Plus before I left California.  It worked well.  I’d find a few well-fed ticks on Chompers and C.J. every now and again, but mostly they were dead or dying.  But they’re still just freaking gross.  Chris found one on him one day in a place that you would’t go searching for one.  It freaked him out so much that he had me shave his head shortly afterward, worried that there might be ticks hiding in his mane.  He had long hair for the majority of our time in CA, got a decent hair cut just prior to his interview here in VA, but he had never ever had a complete buzz cut.  Welcome to the boonies city boy!

Chris already had a job lined up prior to our relocation.  I had sent out resumes to all of the local veterinary clinics once I learned we’d be moving.  I had gotten a response from only one of 5 veterinary clinics on the Eastern Shore before I left CA.  They wanted me to fill out an application.  Chris went and picked one up for me, as I was still in CA and wouldn’t be leaving for a few weeks.  He filled it out to the best of his ability.  When I finally arrived on the Eastern Shore, I called and scheduled an interview at the animal hospital.

Just a few days after I arrived I visited the animal hospital that I had been in contact with.  I had a nice tour of the facility, met all the staff and then sat and chatted with the practice owner for a few minutes.  It all seemed promising, then I was told they didn’t have any positions open at that time but they would keep my application on file for 6 months.  I was a bit bummed, but I still had plenty of unpacking to do to keep me busy for a little while.    It really was a shame because the practice was less than 3 miles from where we were renting.  It would have been an ideal place for me to work!  Alas, I had to keep searching.

A month had gone by and, though I wasn’t desperately in need of employment, I was ready for a job.  I had settled into the house, unpacked what was unpackable for the short term that we’d be living there, learned to navigate my way from home to all of the important places:  DMV, grocery story, post office, hardware store, etc.  I figured out right away that I’d be spending a LOT of time shopping on Amazon.  I continued to look for work that I might be able to tolerate.  My heart and soul wanted to continue to work in the animal care field, but after having been ignored or denied employment at every veterinary facility and animal care facility (SPCA & Animal Control) I started to pick up applications for factory work and retail work. Then I received a call from the animal hospital that seemed interested in me from the beginning.

There was a recent and unexpected opening at the animal hospital and they hit me up because of my experience (ie:  I wouldn’t require much training).  I hadn’t had any other offers at that point so I took the position…as a Receptionist.  Did I want to be a receptionist?  No, because I’m a technical person, not a people-person.  But I did know how to field phone calls and triage patients at the front desk quite well, and I really needed a job so I took it.  The pay was okay, and it was more than the nothing I had been making, so I was all in!

Something was meant to be, because I was a receptionist there for maybe 6 months until I got repositioned as a veterinary assistant.  I double-dutied for the longest time, but now am able to keep to the technical stuff more, which makes me happy-er.  I am still willing to fill in on occasion when needed as a customer service specialist.  Truth is, whether you’re a receptionist, a vet assistant, a licensed vet tech, or a veterinarian…you’re still a customer service specialist!  I just prefer that title to be lower on my list of responsibilities, if you get my drift.  I went into animal science for the animals.

Again, I digress.  So I got a job!  And it was something that made me happy.  I am still there, if that tells you anything.

To be continued…

We have a (relatively) NEW FAMILY MEMBER!

Many of you already know about her, but if you don’t follow me regularly…meet Esme!

We welcomed Esme into our home on December 5, 2018.  She is a former Rescue Dogs Rock alum (fka “Esmeralda”) that was being fostered by a friend of mine locally.  We weren’t really looking for another dog but, long story short, ever since I first learned about her I couldn’t stop thinking about her!  So after 2 months of no adoption interest we set up a meet-n-greet for Esme and C.J.  I would never bring another dog into the home if C.J. did not approve, so he was the decision maker.  You already know how this story ends…

The day Esme came to visit, she was rather timid but was quite interested in C.J.  She wanted to go wherever he went in the yard.  C.J. checked her out and she let him.  Then we tried to get her into the house.  She wouldn’t go in.  I called C.J. in and Esme then followed.  While we were standing in the kitchen talking about Esme and where she came from, what feats she’s made, her habits and such, C.J. came into the room and left his most prized possession (his aerobie) at her feet.  My heart melted and I knew he approved.  The next step was waiting for our adoption application to be approved.  What really took about 2 weeks felt like months!

Once we were approved on paper, we had to wait for a home check to finalize the adoption.  The rescue is located in New York City and most of the volunteers for the organization are located in or near NYC.  Not too many to be found here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia!  Thankfully they were able to find someone in Salisbury, MD that could come to our home for the home check.  Because of work schedules and the distance though, we still had to wait for days (which felt like weeks).  The waiting game was excruciating for me!  I’ve never had to go through this before.  Being in the profession I am, and have been for 25+ years, if I decided I wanted to take on a dog, I took it in that day!  If it was on a hold for any reason (ie:  found dog on an adoption hold for 10 days giving the owner time to claim), I would “foster” it until the hold was expired.

After 25 years (well, it sure felt like it) we finally got the word that we were approved!  Once the go-ahead was given we planned her arrival for the next day.

I have done rescue and fostering in the past and I know how difficult it can be to leave a foster with their new, forever home.  Dana, my friend who was fostering her, experienced this when she brought Esme to us after the adoption was finalized.  Esme was her first foster.  I felt for her and empathized with her, but also encouraged her to continue fostering.  The reward is worth it; knowing that you were a caring, nurturing transition for this pet and the primary catalyst in finding the pet his or her forever loving home.

Dana is currently fostering her 3rd RDR!  Keep it up Dana, the dogs are forever grateful to you, as are the adopters.

This is a picture of Esme & C.J. the day she came home to us…

Esme’s first day in our home

It’s been an adventure ever since…

Stay tuned for more “Adventures with Esme”… In the meantime look for her on IG with the tag #shewearspants

Time needs to slow the F#@K Down!!!

Pardon my language, but, seriously, how is it already the day before Thanksgiving in 2018. My last blog post was nearly 2 MONTHS AGO! It feels like it was just last week!

I’m not keen on New Year’s Resolutions but I will make at least one in the coming year. But what will likely happen is why I am not keen on New Year’s Resolutions! Can YOU guess why I am not fond of New Year’s Resolutions?

I need to blog more! I just keep putting it off. I have been so busy with work, group fitness, training, running, and at-home chores and upkeep. I’m getting my running mojo back slowly, and it’s slowing more since the weather is turning so cold.

The holidays are already upon us. So the next two months are going to be crazy busy for me too. I have a LOT of baking and Glogg making in my very near future.

Today on the Eastern Shore of Virginia it was a typical day for this time of year.  Temps were in the 40s and 50s, then dropped dramatically into the 30s by 7PM!!!  Tomorrow is supposed to be a brutally cold day, so I plan to spend the majority of my day under the covers!

I work on Friday and happy to do so.  I abhor shopping any day, but especially on Black Friday.  Not going to lie, but the new Walmart Pick-up thing is a life changer!  Sure, they’ve made a few oopses rarely (out of 7 pick ups now, I have only had minor issues with 2 of them), but they’ve made right by every single oops.

I have more, but this is all I have for tonight.  Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.  Enjoy the time with your family and be Thankful and Grateful for every moment you have with them!  Oh, yes, don’t forget to get stuffed!

Assateague Island National Seashore 5K Centennial Run

About 6 weeks or more ago, a friend and fellow runner let me know about this local 5K that was going to happen in early June at the Wildlife Loop at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The race was free and was limited to 100 participants. I jumped on it because 1) you can’t beat that price for a race entry, 2) the location is a lovely one and 3) it will ensure that I get up early and get a run in that day. race33288-logo.bxeQDw

I signed up along with several other runner friends. At the registration page they were taking donations to go toward the Assateague Island Alliance (a non-profit friends group of Assateague Island National Seashore that helps to raise funds to go toward preservation of the island while also supporting educational programming). Of course I donated, though it was a small amount.

A week prior to race day all of the participants received an email that gave details of the run; when and where to pick up your race packet, how to get into the park, where to park your vehicle, how to prepare for the race due to its location and abundance of bitey bugs, rain date info, and a little note of appreciation at the end.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service granted each participant free admission to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.  Therefore, if one chose to do so, race participants could stick around after the run and make a day of hiking, beaching, lighthouse visiting, pony watching, whatever they choose, all for free.  I thought that was absolutely awesome and generous, especially given that the race entry fee was free.

I awoke early June 4th, the morning of the race, to get there on time as Chincoteague was about a 40 minute drive from home.  I didn’t have to get there too early since a running buddy already picked up race packets for all of those in our troupe.  The weather was warm, a little foggy with overcast skies.  The humidity was mild.  The drive in was smooth and once I got on the island I was surprised to find it as calm and quiet as it was.  It was pretty early and many of the shops were still closed, but it is summer around here so I thought there’d be more hustle and bustle going on.  Perhaps they were anticipating rain?  I made it to the park gate earlier than I had expected due to the lack of traffic and pedestrians (and I might have a slight case of lead foot at times).  Almost immediately after I entered through the gate there was someone on the side of the road directing us to the parking area for the race.

Arrival was welcoming and easy.  There were a few participants there by the time I had shown up, but most of them poured in almost immediately afterward.  There were park rangers at the registration table, happy to answer any questions and excited about the event.  One of the rangers was perusing through the crowd taking photos.  I gathered with a group of my running buddies to take a “before” photo in front of the banner on display.

A fun photo before the race began

A fun photo before the race began

In our race packets there were pamphlets about the area, a temporary tattoo (which we all were happy to sport), a decal for our vehicles, a race bib and a t-shirt.  Did I mention that the registration for this race was FREE?

All tattooed and ready to run!

All tattooed and ready to run!

As the start time neared, I ran into several other friends and fellow runners from our community!  I was elated to see each and every one of them.  There were participants of all ages, some seasoned runners and some first timers.  After a brief welcoming and intro at the start line, we were off.

The route was a paved, flat, scenic loop filled with coastal flora and fauna.  It was peaceful; only the sounds of birds and frogs in the distance, the pitter patter of shoes on the pavement, and the occasional spoken words of encouragement from one runner to another.

Before I knew it I was almost at the finish!  I wasn’t paying much attention to anything other than the beauty that surrounded me.  The park rangers, as well as those that had finished before me and some other supporters, were there to greet all of us with high fives, congratulatory messages, and a finishing patch.  There were bananas and water at the finish for all of us too.  All of this for a registration fee of $0.00.

Our finisher patch!

Our finisher patch!

This was the first event of this type for the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and they did an absolute perfect job putting it together.  From the ease of registration to the final minutes after the race, everything was well organized and the race bling was generous given the cost of registration.

If ever there is a race such as this in your area, I encourage you to take part.  And if they are accepting donations, remember that every little bit helps their cause.  I for one will happily partake in another of these events, and not just for the “bling,” but because of the sense of community it creates.

The Assateague Island National Seashore 5K Centennial Run has raised just shy of 50% of their goal as of the date of my blogging this.  They are still accepting donations if you wish to help the cause.  Visit their donation page here to help them raise funds for preservation and education.