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In my last post, I told you about the rough time we had when the vet thought I had cancer in my leg AND Mom got a head injury. I forgot to tell you about one of the things Mom did to cheer us both up. 

Mom grew up around boats and said she learned how to “anchor forward” when in a rough storm. She would throw the anchor off of the front of the boat (bow) and then use a winch to pull the boat forward instead of letting the winds and current carry her where she didn’t want to go. At least she was moving forward, even if really slowly.

With that in mind, she bought a new special backpack to use on our future hikes together. This one would be better for carrying my jackets, boots, water, and stuff. And my snacks. Lots and lots of snacks. I’ve learned to refuse to walk until Mom gives me snacks to get going again. I also make her pay me (more snacks) to stand still for photos. Anyhow, she got this new backpack as a way of anchoring forward and not staying discouraged. I watched her pack it so it was ready to go, including my toys and snacks. She put it where we’d both see it as a reminder.

Finally we took the new backpack on it’s maiden voyage on a hike to a waterfall. We had to hike through a deep canyon for 100 miles I think, just to get to the falls. Well, when you’re closer to the ground as dogs are, the earth seems to flatten out and stretch to get bigger. Or something like that.

Come on, Mom! Carry my snacks a little faster, ok?

Waterfall trail 

We passed little waterfalls on the way to the big one.

Behr by creek

Can you tell I’m hot? We had to cross the creek 9 times on the way to the waterfall, and got soaking wet. That was fun 🙂

After a while, I started to feel a little sick. You can tell in this photo that I was feeling light headed (see the light on my head?).

Behr by creek framed

Seriously though, I was getting really sick. Mom has pictures of me being really sick, but I won’t let her post them. Too embarrassing. 

We FINALLY made it to the waterfall way up in the mountains. How pretty! Even tho I was still a little sick, I let Mom take a picture of me with the falls.

Behr by waterfall framed

The falls are a 40 foot drop, but somehow I look pretty big in the photo. I’m not really 10 feet tall. And I’m not happy about standing still for pictures.

Another photo of the falls (without me)

  Waterfall framed

I’m glad Mom explained anchoring forward and picked something to look forward to. Mom struggled to recover, but she did, even if it seemed slow. I waited for her though, and looked forward to more snacks hikes and more fun times with her. We’ve been hiking together now for 11 years and 7 months. Yay team Behr Behr!! Still going strong!

♥♥ Love, Behr Behr, the 10 foot tall Dane (yeah right…)

P.S. – Happy Mother’s Day, Mom 🙂

 

It’s funny how walking along in silence with your dog can MAKE SPACE for contemplation and overall de- stressing from our hectic pace of life. Sure, I like hiking with friends sometimes, but there is no silence to be able to process life. Walking with my dog gives me that needed time. Sometimes I even discover things about myself during that quiet time, but this time my dog taught me a much needed lesson.

When we got Behr as a puppy, she was unbelievably energetic.  We’re not talking normal Dane puppy here; she was a ball of fiery energy that never stopped. She only had TWO speeds…full throttle zooming ahead and sound asleep. No in-between with her.

baby behr with stick

Everything Behr did as a puppy was with full gusto. Life was one big adventure to her. She never walked, she only ran and jumped. I’m NOT kidding.

behr running in oregon

Taking her for walks was seriously exhausting both mentally and physically.  One time as I was being dragged by a neighbor’s house, she yelled out, “Hey, do you get frequent flyer miles with that dog?” She was referring to the fact that I was almost airborne as I chased after my full speed ahead pup. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry when she said that.

Behr had a mind of her own and was seriously stubborn. Ha! I had originally planned to show her in conformation and obedience, but she made it clear that she had other plans. Mind you, I was quite capable as a trainer and had a long history of training some top obedience dogs, horses, and even wild animals for film. Yet, I couldn’t get this puppy to do anything. I had signed up for puppy obedience classes, mainly for socialization, but she got kicked out. It was suggested by more than one nationally known trainer that I get a different dog because this one was incorrigible. Wow, that was humbling after my history of successfully training animals.

BUT, she was the PERFECT dog for me to hike with!  I was “conquer oriented” and aimed to cover as much ground with the most elevation gain possible. I have always kept logs of our distance, speed, and total elevation gain during our hikes. Depending on temperature and season, we averaged 40- 120 miles per MONTH for much of Behr’s life (with time off for my knee surgery and sometimes for work schedule) No matter how aggressively I hiked, I still had to turn Behr loose to run in fields and up hills just to burn off excess energy and make the hike pleasant for me.

Behr had an interesting fault, however. She simply never acknowledged pain. She could injure a paw and I would never know it. The only way I would figure it out was noticing she maybe wasn’t walking quite as fast as usual. She didn’t slow down if she was sick, injured, tired, hot, cold, or anything else. More than one emergency veterinarian pointed out that she was incredibly “stoic” (their word) Looking back, that probably explains why she acted a little dazed but fine after her fall over the cliff in Oregon.  After her neck injury was diagnosed (due to paralysis), I realized in retrospect that her only clue was that she would play hard and then stop suddenly and go lay down, probably due to pain.

Things have slowly changed in the last two years, though. She eventually got to the point of trusting me enough to let me know she had a problem and needed help. If she got a sticker in her paw, she would now STOP and wait for me to come help her. If she was too hot while hiking, she would plop down under a bush or tree until she cooled down.  When she got thirsty, she would pull me over to a large rock (kind of place I usually stopped to water and snacks) and wait for water. She stopped dragging me most of the time, and began to walk at a normal pace. Sometimes she even lags behind me. It feels really odd to walk in front of her for the first time in 11 years. The roles have changed. She loves to stop and sniff things thoroughly or to stand on mountain tops and stare at the view forever. She absolutely LOVES to do that, in fact. I have no idea what she’s even looking at, but she likes it.

Sometimes she decides she is done hiking, or doesn’t want to go the way I do. She puts her little brakes on and like a mule, won’t budge at ALL. OK, maybe with a bribe she’ll get going again. Maybe she wanted to go that way anyhow and got a snack out of it. I don’t know. 

Walking along thinking about all of these changes recently, I realized what an amazing lesson this was for me. I really needed to pay attention to what Behr was teaching me!!!

 I realized that when she began to change, I was kind of agitated inside, although I would never admit it. I think I was so used to her being my “land conquering companion” that I couldn’t believe she was changing. Sure, I knew she couldn’t keep up that pace forever, but was still bothered. My last dane was my training partner for my trip to Nepal and Tibet, and hiked 12 out of her 13 years before the dreaded bone cancer stopped her. Was I somehow hoping Behr would do the same?

behr in ss field

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could looking at her graying face and feet and be visually reminded that it was time for her to slow down some. Not only that, but she has a spinal injury that I need to be careful with. I would think about these things and then feel like the bad “dog parent” for expecting more of her. What was wrong with me to expect her to never slow down?  As we walked more slowly, which I needed to do now anyhow (my spine and leg injury), I suddenly realized what was happening. What I realized was painful at the heart level. Deeply painful, in fact.

Behr, as a younger dog, had been just like me. Together we raced through life and ignored all pain and illness. Yes, I did it too. We were quite the pair. When I had major reconstructive surgery on my knee, the surgeon told me no more hiking on hills. Did I stop? No. As soon as I got out of my full leg brace, I started walking again. I just wear a smaller brace on my knee now. Hiking is a BIG part of my life. I had a job that was very demanding and for over 8 years straight I worked 90 hours per week with no vacation. I was sometimes so exhausted that I would be sick, but would keep going. I, like Behr, even have a serious spinal injury that caused damage to the nerves in my leg. I wear a brace that shocks my leg and helps my foot move. (It had become sluggish and I was tripping a lot) Behr has a spinal injury and slightly drags her back feet as well, wearing her nails down in the process. How odd of a coincidence is that?? We are more alike than imaginable.

Except in one way…

Behr learned to slow down and honor her body before I did. 

I think I subconsciously thought I could be super woman or something. My whole life has been spent trying to prove how capable and strong I am. I was the crazy one that would get up at 4 a.m. and run 10 miles, get the kids off to school, go to the gym, then to work, to their sporting events, and run a 10 acre ranch and keep a humongous house perfectly organized. Oh, and make it all look easy to anyone watching. The list goes on and on for my whole life. What I used to be proud of is now embarrassing to recount. What was I thinking? None of that matters in the end. Really.

So as we wandered through the hills that day, I realized that Behr had grown up and gained wisdom that I needed. She was modeling how life should be lived. Who would have ever guessed that the wild and crazy puppy would one day become my teacher? The lesson she was teaching me was hard to swallow, though. To slow down and admit my physical needs made me feel weak and vulnerable at first.

Since that day, I am trying to honor her requests to stop and enjoy the view from e.v.e.r.y mountain top. I even took a pad to sit on recently and when we got to the top of a mt. she loves, I sat down and let her stare as long as she wanted. I let go of my agenda to conquer miles. She seemed quite surprised, but enjoyed it.

behr looking at view

I’ve even bought a little compact ultralight chair that fits in my backpack to take when the weather is nicer, just so WE can stop and enjoy the mountain tops. I bring snacks and water and we just sit down and have a little picnic together. Honestly, I’m enjoying the view as well. There is so much beauty that I’ve missed in my years of race-walking through life. It’s amazing how powerful the stillness and calm of nature can be for healing our tired souls (see my recent post about forest bathing for more information..) The trick is to go for a walk and NOT spend the time thinking about what we need to do when we’re done. That totally cancels restorative benefit and stresses us out more (because we’re “wasting time”). I’ve taken off my backpack full of expectations (both self-imposed and real) and decided to admit I can’t do everything anymore.

So now what? Well, we’re both taking off our super hero capes and hanging them up. Neither of us need them anymore. Besides, we were never super heroes anyhow. We were only like little kids dressed up in costumes pretending we had super powers. The only ones we fooled were ourselves. And now we are free to run and play like we were meant to, without the heavy weight of the hero capes.

♥ Behr’s mom

 

Here’s a yummy snack that Mom started giving me to help me become and stay healthy. It is EASY PEASY!!

Here’s all you need: Ready to start - framed

The jar contains Mom’s homemade bone broth, but you can also  buy pre-made. If you’ve never made broth, it’s super easy. Mom just throws bones in a crock pot for about 24 hours (or more if she’s busy), strains the broth so I only get the yummy liquid (NO BONES!!!). Everyone in our family knows my favorite kitchen appliance is the crock pot. 🙂

Mix equal parts bone broth and raw goat’s milk and pour into cute molds, like these:

Heart mold full- Framed

Bone mold - framed

And here’s the finished treat…

Finished snacks - framed

Hey, enough with the pictures. Just give me the popsicle before it melts!!

Time to eat - framed

Nom Nom 🙂 

♥♥ Behr Behr, the Queen of Hearts

Note from Behr’s mom: If you still feel intimidated about making bone broth, here’s a veterinarian showing you how she makes it and why she gives it to her dogs: (Dr Karen Becker)

She goes through more steps than I do, and I prefer to not leave a pot on the stove that I’m not watching. (thus the crock pot)  Bone broth is full of minerals and also collagen and glycine that help with detoxifying AND rebuilding health. Glycine (highest food source is bone broth) also helps with liver repair.

To keep from adding more toxins, I would use the purest water you can obtain (not tap water) and if you can afford it, organic bones (+ grass fed if beef or lamb bones).

I also used raw goat’s milk, which is sold in most states for pets. It is sold in frozen form. The brand I used also has turmeric (anti-inflammatory and detoxifier) and probiotics. It is tested for pathogens before being sold. You can read about it here: https://primalpetfoods.com/products/raw-goat-milk#variant=36507811666. You could also buy other brands that are local to your area, or even dehydrated if none is available. A special thank you to Krisser’s Natural Pet store for introducing me to this recipe.

Field of Dreams

Caught in the act AGAIN!

Tongue Twister framed

Tongue Twister close up framed

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I was pretty surprised when I saw the cat on the elevator sign (yesterday’s post). Can you believe Mom and I saw another funny elevator sign?

At least this sign had a dog on it.

elevator sign framed 2

I’m pretty sure this one was for:

1. Couples (with no animals)

2. Dog owners who like to sit on big rocks

elevator sign framed

Mom usually sits on a big rocks when we take a break during hikes. When we stop by a rock, I know it means time for water and snacks. Yippee!

You can tell that the dog on the sign is expecting a snack from his human (sitting on the rock). I wonder if they were hiking too?

So, since Mom sits on rocks and has me as her dog, we got to use this elevator. I’m glad we found one that we were allowed to use.

P.S.-There were no bossy cats anywhere around, either.

♥Behr Behr, the upwardly mobile dog 🙂

If you’ve following me the last week or two, you’ll remember that I’m trying to teach myself “sign language”. (trying to figure out what human signs mean)

I saw a REALLY confusing one the other day!

I wanted to take an elevator, but the sign only had two choices:

1.   Couples (with no animals) could go up and

2.   Single men with cats could go down.

Behr with elevator framed

elevator sign framed

No dogs on the elevator??? Seriously?

Silly cats! They think they’re the boss of the elevator. Ha! I like the stairs better anyhow, ’cause they help me keep my slim figure. When’s the last time you saw a slim, muscular cat?

Now you know why 🙂

♥ Behr Behr, the stair master 🙂

P. S. – If you’re wondering why I’m wearing a vest in the middle of summer, it’s really a cooling vest. It’s lined with frozen stuff and helps me keep my cool 🙂

Hover Dog flyin’ low….

flying low framed

Hover Dog doing gentle touch down….

gentle touch down framed

Hover Dog doing half hover….

half hover framed

Hover Dog taking off….

taking off framed

Hover dog landing….

hover dog landing framed

♥ Behr Behr, the Hover Dog 🙂

It’s so hot where we live that I’m always happy when Mom and Dad decide to go visit the mountains.

Even if I have to put up with their fascination for fake bears.

Yes, once again we’ve gone to a cabin that’s full of bear stuff. I really don’t get it, since they have a REAL Behr…ME!

This one was up high in the living room, and I thought he looked kind of creepy.

Bear on swing framed

I’m wasn’t sure if he was laughing at me, or showing me his fangs.

The fake bears were everywhere, so I mainly stayed outside so I didn’t have to look at them. I kept watch though, in case more tried to come in the yard. 

Behr at cabin framed

I was in “sniff heaven” around the cabin, since lots of wild animals pass through there at night.

Behr sniffing around lake framed

When I got tired of sniffing, it was fun to watch the ducks flying down to the lake and playing in the water. I’ve been a bird watcher since I was a tiny pup.

Behr by lake framed

What do you mean I wasn’t supposed to shred the bed in this dog house? Didn’t the owners tell us to “make ourselves at home?” Well, I did.

Behr on porch framed

Outside wasn’t totally free of the pretend bears, though. There was a big one on the porch, unfortunately.

Mom wanted to take a picture of us together, as if we were friends or something!   Notice how we won’t even look at her at all, and I refused to sit totally down and look natural.

The fake bear kept trying to get out of the picture, so they had to tie him down. 

Behr with bear framed

In spite of the phoney bears, I thought the trip to the cabin was a happy one. Even the trees are happy around there! 

tree framed

I heard Mom say something about their bark, but I never heard them make a sound. Silly trees.

♥ Behr Behr, the REAL bear 🙂

 

snugglebug

My little snugglebug – ALWAYS has to go to sleep snuggling a blanket and sucking on it with her mouth. So cute!

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