Tag Archives: travel

Skyy: Three Years Remembered

In less than twenty-four hours, we are making our almost annual pilgrimage to the Palmetto Pit Bull Club’s show.  This show, which is open to dogs registered with the American Dog Breeder’s Association (ADBA), has been part of our round of shows since we started travelling for the events that the ADBA put in so many years ago.  This show, however, has a far more significant meaning because of a tragedy that struck three years ago before the club moved their show from the Burke County Fairgrounds in Morganton, North Carolina to their current venue in Waynesville, North Carolina.

On April 9, 2011 a fast moving storm rolled into the fairgrounds just as the puppy classes were wrapping up – which I remember all too well since our then little Mika had JUST finished taking a 2nd place.  Dogs and humans were moved into what we thought was safety but not before a wicked blast of lightening reached out and struck a beautiful blue and white dog named Skyy, killing her instantly.  The lightning strike that took her life saved her owner who would have no doubt died if this beautiful girl hadn’t taken the brunt of its force.  The reverberating force from the storm sent nine other people to the hospital after other dog show patrons, utilizing tables as gurneys while paramedics were called, was a fierce reminder to all involved that life was too precious.

Seeing fellow dog show enthusiasts waste no time to help fellow man and dog alike despite mundane dislikes or friendships was a truly awe inspiring.  No able-bodied person failed to help in some way – even if it was as simple as making sure those injured were kept calm and as comfortable as possible while every living being was rounded up and brought into the building to ride out the rest of the storm – which included softball sized hail that damaged at least one vehicle seriously and dented many others.

Those of us who were there have formed a far closer bond and many friendships were formed because of the sacrifice of one dog’s life.  On April 9th every year, many people change their profile photos on Facebook to Skyy’s photo in remembrance for the life lost and the tragedy that was survived and healed from.  We will never forget.  Play hard at the bridge, beloved little girl.  Your memory carries on.

Perseverance Pays Off!

foxvalleyadba-august2013-1238Many folks who know me personally know how long and hard I have campaigned in the ADBA with Ryker, my brindle guy.  In a conformation ring where conditioning matters, a brindle dog is at a disadvantage under many judges because it’s a million times harder to see the muscle tone in the coat pattern unless it’s a really light brindle color.  To add insult to injury, I didn’t really get started in the ADBA ring until he was in one of the hardest classes around – the 2-3 year old class.

We had many shows where he didn’t even get looked at.  He was flashy, he was fiery and he was more than willing to show himself but he wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea and in classes with 10-12 foxvalleyadba-august2013-0889males his own age doing just the same thing it was a hard pick.  We started to get noticed finally, though.  I got better at conditioning and handling in that venue and he learned how to conduct himself better and hold a free stack longer while running off at the mouth (which he enjoys doing at every corner!).

We didn’t travel often so he only got shown at a handful of shows a year (with a max of about 4 show weekends) so it was hard chasing those points.  We also were double committing and weight pulling at the same time for his Ace (which he still needs to earn!)  so we had to pick and choose but at the Fox Valley show under honorable judge Mary Cullifer we finally did it.  It was the 5 and Over class and there were some pretty darn nice dogs in his class but he pulled a first off and came home with 109 points – 9 points more than he needed to become an ADBA foxvalleyadba-august2013-0907conformation Champion.

It was a long road.  We had many, many people tell me he just wasn’t the right fit for the ADBA but I knew, in my heart of hearts that he was and he could do it.  I wouldn’t have traded the learning experience for all of the tea in China though.  He and I learned a lot with the help of many good friends and it will only lead to better chances available for future dogs with his legacy.

Congratulations, Ryker.  You earned this and you deserve it!

City Bulls: Our Chicago Trip

As you saw from our Wordless Wednesday post last week, we were out of town for a few days with chicagotrip-july2013-7437the crew to the beautiful city of Chicago.  Now, we’re not big city folk and prefer the outdoors, soft dirt and forests with the crew but this was a pleasant change and a welcome event for the pups as well – even with the beastly heat we endured for a portion of our trip.

The initial purpose of our trip was Paco Collars hosting a collar making class at Unleashed, a wonderful doggie daycare and boarding facility in downtown Chicago.  We, of course, couldn’t just stay one day and drive home so we opted to come down a bit early and enjoy our time in the city being tourists.   We made sure that before we left, we had plenty of dog-friendly activities to do so that the pups wouldn’t have to sit and be bored in our hotel room (we highly recommend Red Roof Inn for all of your doggie travels – dogs-friendly, beautifully laid out and their Redicard program means free rooms for dogs on the go!) and thanks to a fellow blogger who lives in Chicago (thank you, Two Pitties in the City!) we were able to have a LOT of options and ideas on how to keep the monsters entertained while we enjoyed our little mini vacation – which I wish had been longer!

We hit up Navy Pier on our day of arrival and met up with a fellow pit bull owner (actually, she haschicagotrip-july2013-7423 AmStaffs. Hehe.) and were able to take in the sights and sounds there.  Ryker and Mika tagged along with us for this round and enjoyed getting to mooch pieces of the elephant ear sundae my husband ordered and my funnel cake and all the stranger affection they could weasel out of those who happened to pass by that they could give some attention too.

While we were there, we all opted to take a 30-minute boat ride aboard the Shoreline Cruises’ Cap Streeter.  Dogs rode free and it cost us people a measly $17 to enjoy the tour that talked about Chicago’s heritage, growth and birth of the coastline.  The dogs enjoyed a cool bottle of water that a one of the employees provided and their own glasses.  They didn’t quite know what to make of it at first but once the boat got moving, they all relaxed and attempted to mooch affection from the other passengers on the boat.

At the end of the day we said goodbye to Cassie and her two wonderful pups, Ace and Sugar, and headed back to the hotel for the evening where we all passed out after giving the whole pack (all five of them!) some romp time and dinner in our spacious hotel room.  We, after all, needed our rest for the adventures to follow, right?

We woke up bright and early the following morning and had hoped to hit Grant Park, which was listed as a phenomenal place to go with dogs, but unfortunately we weren’t able to indulge ourselves there chicagotrip-july2013-7601due to the Taste of Chicago Festival that was closed to dogs.  Instead, we took the opportunity to walk along the shoreline with Luna and Ryker.  They got lots and lots of compliments and we met some bully-loving people along the way (even if a one or two asked if we had puppies for sale.  Ha!).

Afterward, we headed out and about into the city.  We checked out various places and just relaxed with the pups until early afternoon where we had a quick lunch at Chicago Joe’s Restaurant.  The pups enjoyed cool bowls of water provided by our phenomenal waitress while we dined (and shared!) on delicious hamburgers with all of the goodies before heading back to the hotel to drop the kiddos off and head to our Paco Collar class (which was amazing and we highly recommend taking one in your area!).

We headed home the following day but we couldn’t end our adventures there.  After we crossed the border into Michigan, we made a point of stopping at Weko Beach in Bridgman, Michigan.  This beach is dog friendly for dogs who accompany their owners on leash and gives them a chance to experience Lake Michigan and the wonderful feeling of sand between the toes.  We walked all five (yes, at one time – we were a bit crazy, we know!) down to the beach line to let them romp a bit in thechicagotrip-july2013-7920 water before retreating to a small tidal pool for calmer play (and to allow our rescue boy, Duo, some fun in the water since the waves didn’t sit too well with him!) and more family photos of our adventures.

We didn’t get home until late that evening and the dogs and humans were exhausted from our travels but we had a good time and can definitely see visiting the beautiful city of Chicago in the near future – preferably when the hot weather relaxes its hold!  Until then, you can see our complete set of photos from the Chicago adventure here.

Wordless Wednesday: Pit Bull On A Boat (Chicago Edition)


Hello from Chicago!  We know it’s Wordless Wednesday and the dogs, husband and I are on vacation in the beautiful city of Chicago (check back for updates when we get back into town!) and Ryker wanted to check in with a photo from his fun trip on the Shoreline River Cruise boat, the Cap Streeter.  Hope you are all enjoying your summer time – we sure are!

Home Away from Home: Fort Custer State Park

My husband and I try and take a mini vacation every once in a while to just get away from it all.  This kind of trip typically involves the outdoors and the dogs.  Since we’d planned to use up the rest of our vacation time from work for the week of Thanksgiving we figured this was ample opportunity to ‘just get away’ for a little while and what better way to do that than to hit the trails?

We planned for weeks on where we wanted to go.  We researched the various trails, distances and locations that we wanted to check out since we had already thoroughly abused the local parks and recreation areas close to home.  At the suggestion of our friend Cindy from The Nut House, we checked out the deal on Fort Custer State Park.  That was it.  We had found our spot and the wait began – which was mercifully short.

We headed toward Kalamazoo on Sunday evening after attending the NWDA weight pull that was being hosted that weekend (more on that later) and settled into our hotel room (after an awesome dinner at Mongolian BBQ!) for the evening since we were going to hit the trails first thing in the morning on Monday with the pack and the addition of Peanut and Cindy.

Left to Right: Peanut, Lyric, Ryker, Mika & Luna

We hit the trails around 11am the following morning after packing our backpacks with the supplies for the trip and harnessing up the dogs and got lost in the woods for four hours.  We made a few stops throughout since my knees aren’t always the greatest on hikes (and for a picnic lunch!).  We seemed to be alone to enjoy the wilderness with our pack of pit bulls other than a pair of mountain bikers who were stopped due to one of them wiping out and messing up his bike pretty badly (he was uninjured, thankfully!).

All in all, it was a wonderful set of trails despite the fact that they were pretty poorly marked.  I can’t wait to head back there in the spring when the weather is a touch better to do it all again.

Here are a few more shots from our trip.  The rest can be viewed here.

Virginia Livin’

“Are we there yet?”, says Luna and Mika.

We got in yesterday at around nine o’clock in the evening and checked into our hotel in Chesapeake, VA.  The dogs were relieved to finally be some place that didn’t require being loaded back up in the car for a few more hours on the road.  They were able to lounge and relax for the rest of the night while we went and visited family for dinner and catching up since it had been a few years since I had been down to visit and it was a first for my wonderful husband.  We didn’t get back to the hotel room until a little after midnight and let the dogs potty one more time before retiring for bed from a long and uneventful day of travel down here.

Today, the dogs got to chill in the hotel while we ran around with family to an sushi buffet and other errands that were planned.  We’re now back in the hotel and they’re all relaxing while I blog.  Tomorrow, we’re planning on going back over with the crew and taking a nice walk after the weather cools down a bit in the evening so that our pack can be introduced to Logan and do a little bit of training and prep work to see if Logan is ready to do his CGC test along with some other activities with my darling little sister.

We’ll be leaving here on Thursday morning and heading up to Washington D.C.  We’ll be staying there until Saturday before heading back home to Michigan.  We’d like to do the tourist thing while we’re in D.C. and hit some of the dog-friendly locations while up there and get some good photos of the pups while having a little bit of fun for the two of us.

It truly has been a wonderful vacation so far and makes me not want to return to the reality of our life, but sadly that will eventually have to happen.  It’s a shame that it’s so darn soon.


The Real Meaning of Roadwork

No, this entry isn’t really about walking and conditioning your dog.  It’s about our trip into the great unknown.  Our first vacation that doesn’t involve some dog event as the main course of action and I’m so freaking excited!

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, we are heading down to Virginia.  More specifically, we’re heading down toward Virginia Beach/Chesapeake/Portsmouth for four days before swinging up toward Washington D.C./Arlington.  It’s that time of the year that we get a week off of work and this year we intend to take advantage of it.  Getting to see friends and be ‘tourists’ for the first time in a long time is definitely a worthy reason to take a road trip.

We’ll be loading up the dog mobile with our gear and the gear of four of the five dogs.  We would be taking five, but unfortunately, Duo doesn’t travel well.  The stress of a long road trip does his system no good so he gets to stay behind and enjoy a week’s vacation as the only dog with Grandpa.  Luna, Lyric, Ryker and Mika, however, think that traveling is very awesome and they can’t wait to be going.

The one unfortunate thing is that BSL has limited our choice in areas to stay in up in the Washington D.C. area since a few of the less expensive hotels are in areas where there are restrictions.  We won’t put our dogs in that risk and so are avoiding those areas and spending a bit more money for a canine family-friendly vacation.  It sucks, but it is what it is when it comes to the response to owning an APBT because of the irresponsibility and management of others who have ruined it for the whole.

So, right now, it’s t-minus less than 24 hours before we hit the road.  So excited!

Our Mini Vacation

Well, we’ve got the entire week off from work and decided that it was time for a mini vacation away from home.  After some thought and discussion between Bruce and I, we decided on a destination that wasn’t too far from home in case someone in the family needed us for some dire emergency – Monroe, MI.

We’ve been down here, it seems, every single New Years weekend for some dog event or another.  This will be the first time that we come here and there is absolutely nothing dog related in the works.  We’re staying at our favorite hotel, Red Roof Inn.  They’re dog friendly and have loads of room for the pups to romp around the room without being a pain in the rear to the neighbors.  We opted this time, thanks to coupons, for the suite.  Let me tell you this…it’s huge.  Two rooms, king-sized bed (perfect for the pit bulls, let me tell you..they’ve already tested it out!), kitchenette, and a ‘living room’.  The dogs (and Bruce and I!) are in seventh heaven.

We’re going to be here until at least Thursday, although we’ve been whispering back and forth about staying into the New Year just to ‘ be away’ for the rolling in of 2012, but we’ll see how that goes in the next 24 hours.  Tomorrow, if the weather isn’t absolutely horrid, we’re planning on taking a drive down to Luna Pier and taking some photos and letting the dogs romp on the beach for a bit.  They don’t seem to care if it’s cold, but we’re going to bring their Fido Fleece jackets just in case they get too chilly.

All in all, we’ve got a nice little mini vacation planned – even if the weather continues to stay gross and we stay grounded to the hotel.  Plenty of local flavors we can enjoy and places to go that aren’t too far from ‘home.’  I’ll post more updates later on since I get to go be the fun police to two brats that keep ramming themselves into the back of my computer chair like sumo wrestlers!