A Broken Spring

Thus far, this May has not felt very consistently spring-like. We’ve even had snow!

The trend seems to be a nice warmish spring day followed by several days of winter temperatures and it’s been rather frustrating.

Fortunately, it looks like the weather is finally warming up and staying warm. They’re even predicting 80 this coming Sunday. After the unpleasant May we’ve had thus far, I’ll believe it when it happens.

Even with the up and down temperatures and rain and clouds, I’ve still managed to get walks in with Jazzmin. I relish every moment of the nice weather because it seems so fleeting but hopefully soon it will be here to stay for more than one day.

The clarity of low visibility

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Low visibility looking down the big hill

The very wintry weather lately has made it difficult to walk Jazzmin but with all the roads plowed today, I decided it was time to set boots and booties to snowy road and take a walk. Once my girls had been picked up, I changed into my walking clothes, got Jazz sweatered, backpacked and bootied up and headed out.

It was lightly snowing as we walked carefully down the driveway to avoid slipping on the ice below the most recent dusting of snow. Once safely on the salted and slightly snowy road, we easily found our pace and the fresh, chilly winter air felt wonderful to breathe in. By the time we reached the end of my road, the light snow had turned into big, heavy flakes and shortly after turning left onto the next road, the snow changed again to a mix of fluffy flakes and tiny snowballs.

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Light snow shortly after we turned onto the second road

I wasn’t sure how long of a walk we were going to take, but I enjoyed the tranquility of the snow and crispness of the air so much, we kept going right up the big hill. The snow got progressively heavier as we walked and the visibility became quite low, but as I was walking, I didn’t mind at all. It would’ve been a different story if I was driving, but when I’m walking I can see exactly where I’m going and don’t have to worry about my car tires slipping or sliding. My boots and Jazz’s booties had no problem keeping traction as the road and our bodies became coated with snow.

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A very snowy Jazzmin

When there weren’t any cars driving by, it was very calming listening to the falling snow. The air was still and the limited visibility from the heavy snowfall helped bring clarity to my mind, heart and spirit. Walking always helps recharge me and quiet my hectic mind as the fresh air fills my lungs and the exercise works my muscles. By the time we reached the top of the big hill my thighs were mostly frozen, my hair was coated with snow, my glasses were wet and foggy and Jazz wasn’t exactly thrilled to be covered in snow, but I was still smiling and she was still trotting along.

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Jazz trotting along

I’ve said this before but it still holds true, taking a walk when you’re down, confused, anxious or worried can do amazing things! It does amazing things when you’re feeling up too, but when your mood really needs a boost, get off your butt and walk! I know I’m glad I did and it helped remind me how resilient, strong, determined and amazing I am. With my pup beside me and a path before me, there’s nothing I can’t handle!

Have pup, must walk!

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When I first adopted Jazzmin four years ago, all I knew was that I wanted a dog. I figured a dog would be good company when I didn’t have my daughters and a dog would motivate me to walk more regularly. I had been walking almost every day that first year in my house until winter set in and I then lost all desire to venture out in the cold. But when I adopted Jazz, I didn’t rescue a dog, I rescued a pup.

I call her a pup because I think it’s as adorable as she is and because she has the seemingly limitless energy of a puppy. She was two (best guess by the shelter) and already well trained when I adopted her and knew sit, stay and shake. She was also crate trained which was perfect because at the time I worked away from home and had to leave for several hours a day.

The first night I had her home it was just me, her and the two cats I had at the time. Not knowing how good she was about letting me know when she needed to go out, I took her out a few times during the night despite the snow and cold of January. I quickly learned that she’s very good about telling me when she needs to answer nature and that she can make it all night without a problem.

It took me a while to figure out the right way to walk Jazzmin, but even as we were figuring that out, I walked her almost every day. It was obvious how much she loved walking and I didn’t want to deny her that pleasure, even in the cold. I bought her a fleece jacket and booties to help keep her warm and dry and we walked the roads around my house quite regularly.

I’ve kept up the regular walking of my pup Jazz for four years now and I don’t intend to stop. I have watched the Dog Whisperer and know that he suggests walking a dog daily to get their energy out. I don’t actually think it’s possible to get all of Jazz’s energy out, but I do at least try.

I think I owe it to Jazzmin and myself to walk as often as we can. It’s good for both of us as it’s great exercise and gets us out in the fresh air, even when that air has a wind chill in the single digits like it did today. There are some days we don’t walk because it’s too cold or too hot or I’m sick but otherwise, if I’ve got at least 15 minutes, I walk my pup. She doesn’t have the best concept of time so she forgets I’ve walked her shortly after we get home, but I know I’ve walked her and that makes me feel like a good pup Mama.

Although I’m not perfect and I don’t always walk Jazz for as long as experts recommend, I know she’s far better off than most of the dogs in my neighborhood. We rarely see other people walking their dogs, but we do hear the dogs barking at us from inside the confines of their home. Having a nice, safe, warm home is a wonderful thing for any dog and I’ve provided that for Jazzmin, but that’s not enough for me or her. When I rescued her, I committed to giving her a full, happy life and the best way to do that is to put paws to pavement and wiggle on down the road!

Unconditional Love Wrapped in Yellow Fur

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Four year ago today I adopted my pup Jazzmin from Happy Tails Animal Shelter in Canandaigua, New York. I’d wanted to get a dog since my divorce in the summer of 2011, but I hadn’t found one that looked like the right fit yet. I grew up with family dogs and loved them, but had been unable to have one during my marriage because my ex didn’t like dogs. He wasn’t overly fond of cats either, but he put up with them because I wanted them. The freedom to get whatever animals I want and love them without concern for allergies or lack of a partner’s fondness is one of the many reasons I enjoy being single.

Jazzmin and I were a perfect fit right from the start and a friend has called her the canine version of me. She’s full of energy, optimistic and has the most adorable brown eyes. Just like me 😉 She goes a little heavy on the 80’s black eyeliner look, but it works on her and adds a deeper patheticness to her puppy dog eyes.

I was trying to keep Jazz's ears warm. She was not impressed...

I was trying to keep Jazz’s ears warm. She was not impressed…

Jazz and I have had our ups and downs as we’ve figured each other out. I didn’t really know the proper way to walk a dog, ie they walk next to you or behind and not in front, but I learned and taught her. Nowadays she stays by my side with only occasional reminders, as long as a squirrel doesn’t run across the road or we encounter another dog. She’s like me in the social aspect, she likes other dogs but gets overexcited and isn’t sure how to act. Whereas I tend to become shy in similar encounters with humans, she gets exuberant. We may never have the “social with our own kind” thing figured out, but she LOVES people of all kinds and is a favorite visitor at the boarders when I go on my road trips.

Jazzmin panting a smile after our walk.

When I adopted Jazzmin, they guessed that she was around two years old, which makes her around six now and she shows no signs of slowing down. She still walks the road like it’s going to disappear if she doesn’t keep moving and she’s my almost constant shadow when we’re inside. Most days I almost trip over her when I turn around and while I appreciate the loyalty, I don’t need help being clumsy.

I’ve managed to teach Jazz a few things over the years. I taught her how to play fetch indoors. We try it outdoors but she loses all focus and just runs in a circle like a lunatic. I’ve taught her to wait patiently for food and treats and can almost balance a biscuit on her nose before she gobbles it. I’ve advanced the traditional “shake” into a “high five” where she raises the paw a bit higher and while I can’t get her to speak on command, she will howl-talk at me sometimes when she’s impatient. My 9-year-old black cat Owl and I taught Jazzmin that cats are pretty cool and while she may never really “love” the younger cats (neither will Owl), she definitely loves Owl.

Jazzmin and Owl snuggling with me today

Jazzmin and Owl snuggling with me

Jazzmin has taught me some things over the years too. She’s taught me that no matter what I do, I’m always worthy of love and that the best snuggles on the couch usually involve a big pile of yellow fur that twitches and snores. Jazz has taught me a new level of patience as I’ve worked to improve her leash skills over the years. I’ve become more aware of my surroundings too as I try to spot squirrels and other distractions on walks before she does.

Jazzmin and the sky

In honor of today’s adoptiversary, I gave Jazz a nice big beef bone and she’s been working at it with occasional water breaks for almost two hours. She’s very determined when it comes to getting every last ounce of marrow out of a bone or chewing on a new toy until the squeakie is suitably dead. There’s a lot to love about Jazzmin. Her porcupine quill-scarred nose, perky ears (her right is always slightly higher than her left) white chest, buns of steel as my vet calls them and upright tail that’s wagging almost all the time all make her uniquely adorable to me.

She's rather fond of lobster tail

She’s rather fond of lobster tail

I can’t imagine my life without Jazz and she’d best live forever! I know I’ll own dogs for the rest of my life and every last one will be a rescue like her because every dog deserves a loving home. If you’re ever looking for a new companion, I urge you to go to your local shelter or contact one of the many pet rescue organizations to find the perfect compliment to your life. I see so many dogs and cats I wish I could adopt, but I don’t have the room or the money to create my own “circus.” Maybe someday, but not now. For now I’ll just love the animals I have and do my best to provide them with a very happy home. =)

The kittens snuggled up against Jazzmin.

The kittens snuggled up against Jazzmin.

In Love with Autumn

Autumn is my favorite season because I love all of the colorful, changing leaves. Every day is a new painting by nature as more trees change and the skies range from a chilly blue to a cloud-filled gray. This autumn has been one of the best I can remember in years with an abundance of warm weather that delayed the turning leaves until a more proper time in late September/early October. Past Octobers have been cold, rainy or even snowy and that’s put a damper on my enjoyment of the season.

To fully savor the season, I’ve been taking pictures almost every day on my walks with Jazzmin. I don’t want to forget the beauty that exists now once everything is cold and covered with snow in a few months (universe willing, not sooner!) Anyone who follows me on Instagram receives an almost daily treat of an autumn picture in the hills of Upstate NY, but for those who don’t follow me there, I decided to post some of the best pictures here. Enjoy!

Our favorite place to walk: the farmer's access road.

Our favorite place to walk: the farmer’s access road behind my house.

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Jazzmin Sundance: My faithful companion on all my walks.

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Found this monarch on a chilly day and tucked him safely away off the path.

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My shadow amid fall colors.

My shadow amid fall colors.

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Jazzmin and I explored the recently rebuilt bridge where their digging revealed just how much slate is in our area.

Some very pretty color variations in the slate.

Some very pretty color variations in the slate.

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Juvenile Eastern red spotted newt (eft) I helped cross the road recently.

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Happiness amid gray skies

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It rained almost all day today, but when it finally stopped this evening, Jazzmin and I set out on a walk. The air was chilly as autumn air should be and the leaves of almost every kind of tree have started to change.

Although the skies were still gray and the road damp, I was happy and content because my pup and I were out enjoying the fresh air and getting our exercise. Jazz would be happy walking in a blizzard (I know because we’ve been outside in one) but I prefer snow-free walks.

Autumn is my favorite time of year and I intend to cherish it for as long as it lasts. Cooler temperatures mean it’s time to bake and soon my kitchen will be filled with the smells of apple pie, homemade bread and various cookies. Yet another reason I love to walk in autumn, to burn off all those yummy calories! 😉

The abundance of turkeys

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Usually when I ask to see a specific animal as a sign I ask for a hawk, heron, eagle, owl or butterfly. I can honestly say I’ve never asked to see a turkey, but I certainly take it as a sign when I see them. Lately I’ve been seeing quite a few turkeys and this tells me that the universe is trying to send me a message.

There’s a family of turkeys that lives on the farmer’s land behind my house and for the past month or more, I’ve seen them crossing the field almost every day. Sometimes there are two adult turkeys, sometimes there are four, and at last count, there were eight baby turkeys. I enjoy watching them move across the field and often find their feathers when I take Jazzmin on walks up the farmer’s access road.

Outside of the field behind my house, I’ve also been seeing turkeys on my trips to New England. During the July trip with my girls to New England a turkey flew across the road on the drive out in an area where they’d had to blast away rock to make room for the road. On our most recent trip, I saw two turkeys in the shoulder of the expressway just standing in the grass. Then later a male turkey crossed the road right in front of us when we were on our way back from lunch at Friendly’s in Amesbury. He came out of the tree shadows on a sunny day so I almost didn’t see him in time to stop, but when I did stop, he just gave me an unimpressed look and walked nonchalantly across the road.

This past Saturday evening I decided to take Jazzmin for a walk up the farmer’s road and we’d only walk about 50 feet up it when I started hearing rustling in the grass field on the other side of the trees. I stopped to listen and soon heard inquisitive clucking noises. Rising up on my tiptoes, I was just able to see a male turkey’s head looking at me over the slight rise at the edge of the road. Smiling I settled back onto the heels of my feet and decided to stand there and wait quietly for him to continue his journey.

As we stood there listening, I heard the rustling move a bit further down the tree line and within moments, a single male turkey emerged from the trees and crossed the farmer’s road. Two more adult turkeys followed and then the younger turkeys scampered quickly across the road, some of them taking flight because they were unsure if we were going to move toward them. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a turkey fly, but they’re not the most graceful creatures and I always admire their efforts to get airborne.

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I was smiling through the whole experience while Jazz whimpered a bit because she wanted to chase the big birds and I wouldn’t let her. Once the turkeys were gone, we turned back down the trail and continued our walk where we saw several butterflies, deer and a hawk. It was certainly one of the most interesting walks I’ve had in a while!

Turkeys are a symbol of abundance and the universe is going to great efforts to remind me of the abundance in my life with all the recent turkey sightings. I know I have many blessings and the universe wants me to remember them all even when I go through tough times. I have two amazing daughters, a great family, good friends, a loving loyal pup, three cats that make my life a daily adventure, my own home and a job as a writer, which is so much more than I ever imagined I’d have. Despite any challenges I face, I will continue to have a good heart, the best intentions, a strong spirit, a vibrant energy and the stubbornly tenacious willpower that’s gotten me this far and that will carry me into whatever the future holds.