Time

Time is a funny thing. It seems like there is never enough when you want it, but there are also times where there is just too much. In some cases a lot of time makes things easier, dealing with loss for example, but in other cases the passage of too much time makes it difficult to do the thing you have been putting off. A good example of the latter is this blog.  So much time has passed since I posted regularly that I don’t even know where to start with the blog again. So, instead of trying to go back and talk about everything that has happened in the time since I last posted, I will give you a snapshot of what is going on at the MMNK household at this particular moment in time.IMG_6104
We have two dogs, but not the same two as the last time I posted. Sarge has been gone for almost three months, and it is still very difficult to talk about. I am planning to write a lot more about that later. Laynie has been a permanent member of our family for two months. She is doing really well and she is adjusting to our lifestyle. Nola seems to like tolerate her, so things are going pretty smoothly.
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We have been in our new house about a year now. We love the area and the fact that we are no longer crammed in a small house with a small yard in the city. The wild turkeys that frequent our neighborhood are a bit challenging with the dogs, but our fenced-in yard is amazing! Side note: did you know turkeys CAN fly? I didn’t believe it until one scared the bejeezus out of me when it flew out of a tree during a walk in the woods.

I am starting a new job next week! I left my previous job at the end of December and have been able to be at home with the dogs for the past three months. Although the job search was stressful, I am so grateful I had the time to spend with Sarge during his last days, with Laynie during her first days, and with Nola while she adjusts to the changes with the dogs in her life. My main goal was to find a career that merged my skills in marketing with my passion for dogs, but that is a challenge in Maine because there is limited opportunity. I am very excited about my new position, but will continue to pursue my dream career and am confident it will happen eventually.
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So there you have it: a lot of time has passed, but we have been trying to enjoy every minute. Some of the time was hard, some was sad, most of it has been happy, and we are glad we’ve had it. We hope during our time off from blogging you all enjoyed the time you’ve had as well. Remember:

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.” – Harvey MacKay

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Sarge’s Photo Shoot: The Old Man and the Sea

“Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.”

― Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

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“No one should be alone in their old age, he thought.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

Thanks to the amazing Liz Donnelly from Portland Photo Company for the beautiful photos of our old man Sarge!

Swimming and Hiking and Sunbathing…Oh My!

Last week I was on vacation from work, but had no real plans other than to spend some quality time with the pups. The Mr. was traveling for work, so it was just Nola, Sarge and I for three days. I wanted to use this time to do some things with Nola just the two of us. I have been very conscious of her behavior and feelings (yes, I think my dog has feelings, call me an anthropomorphizer if you must) since Sarge has been in the house, and I wanted to make sure she got some special time with just me.

After Sarge’s morning walk and breakfast Nola and I headed out for our adventures. The first day we went to a friend’s camp on Little Sebago Lake, about 20 minutes from our house. Since it was during the work week and early(ish) in the morning, we had the place to ourselves. It was the perfect spot, a private home with a big yard leading down to a sandy area with a dock to the lake. Nola does the best in this kind of environment, she doesn’t like going in the water when she can’t walk in gradually. And, she LOVES to run around with her toy after she retrieved it out of the water. That day was no different, she ran around, swam after her Kong Wubba, and just went all around crazy having fun.
IMG_4537 IMG_4538 IMG_4535We ended up going back a couple days later and since we had been there already, Nola was more familiar with the territory and she was less interested in sniffing around and more into swimming after her Wubba. I used this to my advantage and tried to get her to actually jump off the dock. I have tried the past two summers to entice her to jump in after a toy, but she just has no interest. Most of the time she’ll run to the end of the dock, see the toy, and then turn around and run into the water after it.
IMG_4524 IMG_4531 IMG_4533Or, she’ll just stand there and stare at the toy.

You want me to do what?

You want me to do what?

This time, I was able to get her to jump in  from the end by throwing the toy and then jumping in myself. The water was only about chest deep, so I could just plop in and coax her to come too. Of course, using this method I was unable to get any actual photos of her jumping, but she did it, and I was so proud! I think if we had a place like this to go consistently she would eventually feel more comfortable jumping in without me.

Nola and I also went on a hike at Bradbury Mountain. It’s called a mountain, but really it’s just a large hill. I chose a trail that was about 2 miles long to go up to the summit. It was warm, but not humid, and the tress provided a lot of shade, so Nola wasn’t too hot. It was such a nice walk and we made it to the top pretty easily. Sometimes I forget how much I enjoy exploring new places and just hanging out with my dog.
IMG_4489 nola_bradbury1nola_hikingShe is such a good leash walker, she never pulled me even coming down. I had a long line just in case she wanted to go a bit further in front, but she stayed right by my side. We chose a shorter trail on the way down because it was getting closer to mid day and the sun was hot!
IMG_4503We practiced some recall, and also ‘up’ by getting onto a bench that was on the side of the trail. She was very attentive, but at this point was getting annoyed with all the posing for the camera I was making her do.
nola_bradbury2IMG_4510And of course, I spent some time with the Sarge man too. He is less interested in the active adventures and just likes to hang out. So, we sunbathed and napped on the deck.
IMG_4550 IMG_4543Although this vacation was more of a stay-cation, I really enjoyed the quality time I got to spend with the pups. I was a little embarrassed when people at work asked what I did while I was off and I said “hung out with the dogs” and they replied “that’s it?”. But really, they are ‘it’ for me. They spend so much of their time alone, waiting for the Mr. and I to come home from work or wherever we happen to be, that I wanted to spend every moment I could with them for the week. They are my life and my loves and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Message in a Bottle

While we were at the beach last week during our time off for the 4th, the Mr. noticed something floating in the water not too far out. He tried to get Nola to swim and get it, but she just looked at him like “You want me to go where?” Nola loves to be in the water, but she doesn’t really swim unless someone goes in with her. So, I took off my shoes and rolled up my pants to try to coax her to go retrieve the mystery object. Once I got in to about mid-thigh she swam out, grabbed it, and swam back to shore. It was a message in a bottle!
IMG_4366 IMG_4364As Nola investigated the bottle, I couldn’t help but think of what the message would say. Would it be a love note from someone searching for their long lost love? Would it be an SOS message from someone on a deserted island? Would it be from somewhere far away? My mind was filled with romantic and whimsical possibilities.
IMG_4369 IMG_4370 IMG_4368We opened the bottle once we got home, and this is what it said:

Date: June 29, 2013
This bottle was dropped off near Prout’s Neck, Maine in the United States. If you find this bottle please send me a letter stating where and when this bottle was found. This is a science project that I came up with for school to study the ocean currents so that you for your help.

It certainly wasn’t any of my romantic fantasies, but instead was just a science project. Turns out, we found the bottle only one day after it was dropped off. Prout’s Neck is the name of a peninsula in Scarborough, Maine. We were at Ferry Beach on the left side of the map (where is says beach) when we discovered the bottle. So it seems it didn’t travel too far before we found it.
place-detail-map.phpIt was still a cool thing to find, and it made our day feel a little more adventurous. When I send a response back I am going to include a photo of Nola and a note letting him know that she was the one who discovered the bottle.
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Take Me to the Beach!

The beach is Nola’s absolute favorite place to go. One of the benefits of living in Portland (Maine) is that we have easy access to numerous beaches. In the tourist off-season especially (September 15-June 15), the beach is a wonderful place to bring Nola to let her run to her heart’s content. Through trial and error, we have discovered that our favorite beach is Ferry Beach in Scarborough, which is about 15 minutes from us. Although it’s not the largest, it seems to be the most private and the one that attracts the most dog friendly dogs, and people. We waited a little bit before taking Sarge there, just to make sure we had a handle on his recall skills and how he interacts with other dogs, both on and off leash. One night after work it was pretty warm and we thought the dogs would enjoy a romp in the water, so it was off to the beach for the four of us.
IMG_4139Turns out, just like everything else we’ve done with him, Sarge loved it! He seemed a little unsure of the sand at first, but once he discovered all the new things to smell he was so happy.
IMG_4172We also discovered that in addition to him not acting like he is 13 years old, he still has some puppy energy in him. When we took out Nola’s Frisbee he gave us the biggest play bow he could muster to show us he was ready to chase. We only threw the disc a little a head of us, but the Sarge-man leaped and bounded all the way and grabbed that disc like he was young again! It was the cutest thing ever.
IMG_4161 IMG_4162He spent most of the time up by the dunes, happily trotting along as Nola got out her zoomies chasing the disc down on the hard sand by the water.
IMG_4168 IMG_4148 IMG_4170Near the end, he got the courage to come closer to the water where Nola was bounding through the waves. He started by dipping a toe in, and then went all the way to his ankles. He is so adventurous!
IMG_4177 IMG_4180 IMG_4181 IMG_4183Sarge is a wonderful dog for so many reasons. We are so happy to have him as a temporary part of our family, but would love for him to find a forever family who will take him on more adventures and who will love his easy going personality as much as we do. He has proven to us that he is up for anything, especially if it involves a car ride and a walk, and he can hold his own with a dog ten years younger than him.

As we were leaving the beach, Sarge asked me to write this message to share with you all:
IMG_4171If you want to add a beach loving dog to your family, pleas fill out an application for Sarge here.

Aruba, Bahamas, Come on Pretty Mama…

By all accounts this winter has sucked. Plain and simple. It has been extremely busy and stressful at work, and the winter weather decided to make life even more miserable. So, after one particularly annoying snow storm back in January, the Mr. and I decided to plan a vacation to somewhere warm, without snow, and far away from here.

What we're leaving (both Nola and the snow)

What we’re leaving (both Nola and the snow)

We enjoyed our honeymoon cruise around Europe so much that we booked another one, this time to the Caribbean. It’s going to be 9 days of sun, sand and relaxation. (We also are planning a stop at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, since we’re flying into Orlando. Don’t judge, we are nerds and we embrace it!)

Where we're going!

Where we’re going!

I have been in Boston to work a tradeshow since Friday, and then we leave this Friday for the cruise. I will not have access to the internet while cruising, so as much as I love all our faithful readers, you won’t be hearing from me until I am thoroughly relaxed and have a nice brown tan.

I am a little anxious about leaving Muffin for 9 days, but she will be with her Pepere and Memere (my mom and dad), who I think she loves even  just a little more than us. Since I am a big worrier they are not dog owners, I leave them with a typed out set of “rules” for Nola that include her meal schedule, what NOT to feed her, the vet’s phone number, emergency vet directions and commands we use when we want Nola to do something. It stinks that I haven’t seen her the past 5 days and only have two nights to spend with her until I leave for another 9 days. Is it crazy that I am a little more sad about leaving her than I am happy about vacation?

Well anyway, Bon Voyage to all of you. Have a great week…..and peace out Maine winter!