How does River survive the cold?

So upon my FB status of ‘negative temps’ in Anchorage and how River and I arrived back in the state, a few people were curious as to just how River is able to join me in the outdoor adventures of cold and occasionally sub-zero Alaska. Well, see, her being a Long-Haired Dachshund really, really helps! Her Short-Haired cousins DO NOT LIKE THE COLD. If you end up with a ‘naked’ Dachshund as I tend to call them, for the love of all, get it a SWEATER, a heating pad too if you live somewhere cold. And be warned, they will steal your blankets.

Due to her coat, River is able to handle temps down into the teens without much help from me for a quick potty walk – I usually only bundle her up for weather 20+ if we are going to be outside for a long time/romping in the snow. She gets a jacket if it’s a cold/freezing rain as well – which was common in Seattle’s winters.  The jacket also helps with the snowball clumps that stick to her fur. If it is below say 15 degrees F, She will get ‘layers’ if we are going to be out for a while.

The Evolution of ‘Bundling River Up’.

River had a basic ‘winter coat’ that I brought with me from Tennessee in the winter of 2011 when she finally joined me in Alaska – Below you can see how short her fur-coat was the first few months!

River's 1st 'warm coat' 2011

River’s first ‘warm coat’ – 2011

Below: River in the early days of ‘layers’ with one of her training – demo dog shirts.

River in Layers 2011

River in layers – 2011

By the next year, I had found a new jacket and coat on sale for her- the coat was a bit too big so I improvised with safety pins. It was quite eye-catching, if I say so myself! River had also grown a much thicker fur coat – which helped immensely

River in her new and improved 'layers' 2012

River in her new and improved ‘layers’ – 2012

Her jacket hoody up – makes me think of a gnome.

River in her jacket 'hoody' 2012

River in her jacket ‘hoodie’ – 2012

When it isn’t cold enough to warrant both layers, she sports her hoodie.

River in just her Jacket 2012

River in just her jacket – 2012

River’s newest jacket/base layer is the best fitting one yet – probably because it cost the most… Roughwear is well worth it if you have need of such things. Finding jackets long enough in the torso, deep enough in the chest and short enough in the leg cuffs for a Dachshund is no laughing matter. River wore just this one while we were in Taos, NM with temps of -4 F. She did just fine during our hikes as did the late Rosie who also had one.

River's newest jacket - 2013

River’s newest jacket – 2013

River has a great time adventuring with me regardless of the weather; this summer it looks like I will have to find her a life jacket for the boat we are going to be on in the Gulf of Alaska. My baby seal 🙂

Below: an epic shot of my Super Rat flying over the snow. Ears up, tail out, paws stretched!

River flying over the snow - 2011

River flying over the snow – 2011

Hey, if my Mini Dachshund can tough out the cold, you can too!

~ J


November 12th is Here Again

“My mother is a poem that I could never write”

I couldn’t agree more. Every time I go to write about her, I grasp for words. I look back upon what I have just written and shake my head at the ways it falls short. Yet not writing about her at all is even worse, it feels that like the rest of the world I have moved on from memory. So I write my hollow thoughts.

Today is her birthday. Every year I wonder if it will be different, easier maybe. And so far every year it’s not. I noticed that loss of a loved one is somewhat like chronic pain: as you learn to live with it, people actually believe you’re better.  Yet in reality, you’re just getting damn good at hiding it, treating it when it flares up so you don’t totally lose yourself to it. Everyday it’s the same fight; every night you feel the same pain. Only now, its familiar. Sometimes you can even trick yourself that it’s not there because you’re so used to it, see; but soon as you relax and let yourself pause, there it is, and it’s a world of hurt. But to most people in your life, if you said the words ‘I’m sad today’, they would ask why. Even though the answer is always the same.

Below: One year Dad had to work during Mom’s Birthday. While flowers wasn’t something he did often, this particular year he went all out and had these sent to her. Needless to say Mom was pretty impressed and had a great time with the surprise.

Mom with her Birthday Flowers from Dad

Mom with her Birthday Flowers from Dad

As a child it is not unusual to think your Mom is basically a deity incarnate. As an adult it is a little more unusual. While my Mother was human, sometimes a little too intense or loud, she had the tendency to take on too much chaos with her big heart. She was also utterly amazing. The way Mom loved us kids is inspiring to what the human heart is capable of. Whatever interests we had: sports, books, travel, music, art; she did her absolute best to not only support it, but be involved. She learned about it if she didn’t already know something of the subject and would engage us in conversations about it. She also pushed us; to try new things, to meet new people, to move outside of the comfort zone and experience things. She wasn’t afraid to revise her perception of something or someone. She would teach and lead others as if born to it, and then in the next moment, go to a class or seminar with us and be a model student.

Every year I feel like I’m just re-writing the same words. ‘Mom was the best’ ‘I really miss her’ etc. I guess I can take some comfort in that my feelings don’t change with time. Over the years I notice things that I wish I could have shared with her: an idea, a new artist she might like, thoughts about my life, the people in it, the world and how it affects me. To hear her thoughts and dreams as they changed and evolved. To get lost in our infamous half-day conversations (5 hours could go by and still there were subjects to be covered).

It’s her Birthday and all I want to do is light up her eyes by telling her how much she means to me. To plot with the younger kids on what to cook and to share with them the secret way to make the Bailey’s cake that she loves.

Mom’s Birthday is a mixed bag of emotions for me. On one hand I am so damn grateful and happy that I had her as my Mom, that we had so many great Birthdays. Yet on the other hand I am in a place that has no words, that there will be no more Birthday plotting. That all I have are memories. That my siblings and I don’t get to make new ones with her. I’m grateful for the time we did have, yet horribly envious of people 3 times my age whose Moms are still here.

She would only be 55 today. I know that she would look maybe 40. Be able to keep up with her teenage kids and their sports, have the energy for whatever dance/yoga/gym class she would be currently in while running the farm, family business and many other side projects.

I can honestly say my Mom was most loving, caring and strongest – in every sense of the word – woman I know.

Mom in her Bodybuilding Days

Mom in her Bodybuilding Days

Above: One of my most favorite pictures of her – just when she was getting big with her body building competitions.

Enjoy every Birthday with whomever you think of as Mom – blood or not.

~ J

Fall Travels & Update

Well, looks like time is moving faster yet again. I’m basically fully recovered from my surgery and doing well. Only time will tell (I’m told to expect about 6 months before I can know for sure) if the procedure helped significantly. But either way I am glad to have it behind me!
River is also fully recovered from her digestion/liver issues that she experienced while I was laid up.

My last week and a half in Alaska was busy and good. There were many Moose to be seen, great sunsets and strange weather. Usually by Halloween there is plenty of snow on the ground and at the very least its cold. This year it was a balmy 40 degrees and lots of rain/wind. The prolonged Autumn weather meant I caught the tail end of the Fall color! I snapped the picture below with my iPhone before the wind storm blew all the leaves away.

Last of the Autumn Colors

Last of the Autumn Colors

River originally was going to stay in Alaska with the Gardners so I didn’t further stress her system out, but she was doing so well and made herself quite clear that she wanted to go with me on my visit to the East Coast for a few weeks. She has been bouncing around and is her usual overly social self. I arrived in D.C Friday evening (1st) – and have been staying at my family’s rental that is empty at the moment in Ocean City – River and I are enjoying the space and quiet for the time being. We visit family and friends in the area, walk to beach and sometimes the boardwalk. The first couple of days in Maryland were a little warm for the both of us with the warm front that had come in…But the windy, rainy and damp days are back so there is less panting on the beach now.

Below: More photos from my iPhone of the world’s cutest Dachshund. She really attracts all kinds of people to pet her wherever we go…

River on the Beach - Ocean City, MD

River on the Beach – Ocean City, MD

Another day on the beach – River enjoys romping across the sand like a rocket weasel shot out of a cannon. She also finds stinky fish to roll in… Which I do not enjoy.

The Sand Rat

The Sand Rat in Flight

My time in Maryland may not makes sense to a lot of people, but having the space to process some things from the last few weeks is quite valuable to me. As is spending time with my Cousin Lucy in the snippets of time we get and friend Shaun. I also have a lot of ‘homework’ to do for my healing class and some other group activities that I need to focus on now that my head is clear (or as clear as it is going to get) from the medications.

My Travel plans have changed around quite a bit since I last wrote things up. Pretty much what happens when I try to plan things more than 1-2 months in advanced… Sadly I will not be going to New Zealand over the Christmas Holidays with Carleigh as planned – she needed to cancel. As expected I’m more than a little bummed but I still plan to go, just closer to the off-season so that the tickets are cheaper! I am putting money & supplies aside just for this trip. If there is anyone who interested in meeting up/tagging along for something like this write to me. I have committed to my good Friend Linda to cheer her up during the Holiday season – since NZ was just too expensive for 10 days in Dec, we are going to adventure around on the West Coast, maybe catch a Show in Vancouver or something equally awesome.

My Fall dates are as follows:

Oct 8th – 31st  ~ Alaska for work & Surgery.

Nov 1st – 20th ~ Ocean City, MD for fun/alone time.

Nov 20th – Dec 5th ~ Alaska for work.

Dec 5th ~ fly back to East Coast to prepare for class.

Dec 7th – 9th ~ NY for Healing 1 class.

Dec 10th – unknown ~ East Coast for a week or two before joining a friend for some West Coast Adventures.

Jan 1st – 15th ~ Alaska for work.

Be well ~ Joannie & River.