Monday, October 23, 2023

The Germans!

Our German guests
Click on Photos to Enlarge

Two gifts of hosting international students: they come back and they bring friends & family. Over this long weekend, we welcomed Sonke home to Rumford along with his dad Wihelm (Willi), his brother Marten, and his cousin Stephen. The guys have been on a road trip that started in New York City, moved on to Woodstock, Vermont, and here to Rumford. 

During their Rumford time, they've visited the Height of Land, Rangeley, and Weld on a rainy day. They also watched an American high school football game down at our Hosmer Field. The hometown team lost. They hiked Whitecap Mountain, Rich & Bailey's favorite. On Sunday evening, we invited Sonke's American Aunt and Uncle, Connie and Ben Venskus, to dinner here. 

Today, Monday, the four visited the Rumford Police Department and the Fire Department. They toured the town hall and then headed to Sonke's American high school, Mountain Valley High School.  Tomorrow, the crew will head south to Boston for two days, then to Rhode Island, and finally back to NYC for their trip home to Germany. What a gift to have their company. 

We think Sonke has gained a few inches! 

Dinner with Connie and Ben. 

Bailey, not barking for once. :-) 

On Whitecap's Connector Trail Bridge

On the Upper Connector Trail 

One of the small falls on the Connector Trail

Connector Bridge

Trying in vein to have Bailey pose with them--no luck.

At the Black-White Trail merge. 


Fall leaves beginning to disappear

Bailey and I surprising the Germans on Whitecap

Massage by Sonke for Bailey 

Bailey howling for yet another bone. 


Friday, October 13, 2023

Birthday Hike

Rain clouds drift in from Grafton Notch State Park.
Click on photos to enlarge. 

Hit the big 7-0 yesterday and Bailey's rocking 13 1/2. I have to admit I didn't know whether Bailey would be up for the steep ups of the Yellow Trail of Whitecap Mountain, but he proved to be steady. I think I saw him stumble once. The hike offered up a variety from sun to clouds, light rain to locust (ok, no locust). I really love the picture above that I took with the rain clouds roaming in from Grafton Notch State Park. Wicked cool. I finally got a new phone and camera, so I'm learning the finer points. 

The staircase on Orange Trail

As for tree colors, we've had a benign fall. 

Those are blueberry bushes behind Bailey. 

Looking toward Old Speck

Looking kinda royal. 


"Geared up and ready to go."

The bridge on the Connector Trail

Friday, October 6, 2023

Slow Walking

Descending Whitecap on October 6, 2023

I've been studying geriatric dogs so I know what to do when with Bailey. He's slowed a good deal and lost weight. His body is boney and lined with growths. Today, coming off Whitecap, his back legs looked stiffer than normal, like stiff-legged Chester on the 1960's western, Gun Smoke. Thing is, we ran into another dog and her human, and Bailey's tail popped up and he pranced right up to her like he was 3 years old again.  

On our jaunts around the neighborhood or down at Swift River Park, Bailey walks slowly and spends time sniffing e. v. e. r. y. t. h. i. n. g.  I've had to lecture myself to slow down and not get pissy at his inch-worm pace. On our walks, it's easy to see him as a vital, do-anything dog... but the reality is, he isn't anymore. 

I read a study from North Carolina State University about the link between physical and cognitive decline in older dogs. The study suggests that the slower our dogs walk the more likely they may have dementia. I have that sense with Bailey. Yet, he still searches out his treats that I've hidden around the house; he can jump into the car's backseat; he tells time... he knows exactly 40 minutes before it's dinner time and let's me know it; he knows when it's about 10am (8:15am - 10am) for his carrot break; he still plays with his stuffed animals; and he chews his bones with the same energy as he did as a youngster. 

My main worry is that he may wander off when he goes out to pee at night. My neighbors, the Bartashes, lost an old dog that wandered off. Bailey and I searched for that dog. He actually made it all the way up to Joe Pond, maybe 3.5 - 4 miles away on the snow mobile trail... in the winter! The old pup was found after 11 days in the frigid cold; he died the next morning. 

The Puiia family live near Whitecap's trailhead, and their Bernese Mountain Dog, Saddie, went missing several years back. To the day they think she was stolen, but I believe she wandered off. Bailey and I spent 10 days searching for her all around Whitecap Mountain, Black Mountain, and down toward Rumford. My sense is that she wandered off into the deep woods, curled up, and died. We knew Saddie well because our neighbor's, Paula and Carlo Puiia, were Saddie's aunt and uncle--they babysat her frequently. Maybe I'll get some kind of GPS tracker for Bailey. The thought of him alone in the woods... well, I'd be a mess.    

The skiing glades cut on Whitecap. 

"Me? Old?" 

Quick dip.