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The Things Worth Leaving Behind

marking our territory, rhodesian ridgeback, eko

It used to be easy to pack my car. When it was just Eko and me, even when we lived on the road for a year, the trunk was never full and the cabin was always spacious. I could afford to be thoughtless about the bags I carried because I was never forced to leave anything behind.

A marriage, a child, and two dogs later – the question is no longer can we fit everything, but can we even fit everyone? With each subsequent road trip, solving the puzzle of how to squeeze the sum of my life into a single vehicle grows ever more challenging.

Looking back on our summer of travel there was a simple answer. Leave Penny and Zero behind. Place them in the safe hands of family or trusted boarder and go on the journey without them. Vacations would be so much easier and less time-consuming. All it would cost is a week away from the dogs.

And is bringing the dogs really worth leaving most of my own bags? Is it worth the discomfort of a fifteen hour drive each way? Is it worth limiting where we can go and where we’re welcome to stay?

Despite the increasing complexities of life, the answer to each question remains an unequivocal “Yes.”

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[VIDEO] Rhodesian Ridgeback Vermont Vacation 2018

Our third annual pilgrimage to Vermont was well worth the fifteen hour ride each way. I was certain the trip to the farm would be mindblowing for Lincoln, but I guess the phrase “raised in a barn” might apply to my city boy more than I ever thought!

[VIDEO] Sunrise at Chicago’s Montrose Dog Beach

There’s no snooze button on my new alarm clock so we’re always up before the sun these days. I used to dread early morning wakeups, but starting the day with Link and pups at the beach for sunrise has helped me find new perspective.

The Unreasonable Dog

Rhodesian Ridgeback, Lion, Marking Our Territory

How far can light travel in four years? The answer could be represented as a very long number. Simplified, the answer is four light-years. Most simply, I like to think of the answer as “Penny.”

Today Miss Penny Mayhem turns four (Earth) years old. The tendency with birthdays is to remark how fast time flies, but it seems Penny flies at relativistic speeds because no one in my family believes she’s only been with us for four trips around the sun.

Emily thought Penny must be six. My brother was certain the little wild thing (Penny, not Emily) was even older. I started to question my own sanity so we had to go back and double check the math. Despite the evidence I’m still not sure my brother is convinced. I’m only marginally more confident.

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[VIDEO] Dog Training Mistakes, Mishaps and Failures

I like to think I do my best to show the good, bad and ugly of sharing life with dogs. Still, what ends up on the internet is inevitably more polished than real life. It’s easy to have the camera running when everything is going well, but when things go south I’m the one doing all the running. (And I for one am eternally grateful there is no footage of me trying to catch puppy Penny at the beach)

A full compilation of  all the mistakes I’ve made would last roughly the duration of my life, so today I thought I’d share a very small selection of mishaps I did happen to catch on video. Success looks good on camera, but I’ve found the best way to learn and grow is through failure. And boy have I done a lot of learning. Thankfully my dogs are patient – if opportunistic – teachers.

So next time you’re struggling with training your dog, I hope you’ll find encouragement in the fact that I have failed in ways more spectacular than you can imagine.

Remembering Ourselves Through Dogs

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We forget almost everything. Life is singular and precious, but it is too expansive for our minds to hold in its entirety. We relinquish rote, routine and unremarkable memories willingly, hoping to save space for the occasions we cherish most. But the pernicious flaw of recollection is that we cannot always choose the moments we keep.

So if memories are an imperfect inheritance from ourselves, how can we invest our fortunes today so that despite what we lose, our minds and hearts may be richer tomorrow?
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[VIDEO] Rhodesian Ridgebacks vs Snow

The slow tilt towards spring has begun, but luckily Mother Nature delivered Zero and Lincoln’s first real snow storm before the weather turns. Both outside and inside, we made the most of it.

[VIDEO] My Big Ballerina

I know I’ve been scarce around these parts lately, but it’s certainly not for a lack of action! With Lincoln strapped to my chest and a dog in each hand it’s been easier for me to post daily updates over on instagram. But I have plenty of longer form essays/videos I’m working on to post here.

In the meantime, for those of you who don’t use the service, below is a short video I posted on instagram today.  Zero may be built like a linebacker but he’s doing a wonderful job pirouetting around Lincoln like a ballerina. It’s not easy for an adolescent pup to show restraint so I’m proud of how our training is coming along.

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People often ask if I'm worried about having big dogs around a little kid. Thanks to lots of positive reinforcement, I have no concern my dogs will ever intentionally hurt Lincoln. But as Lincoln grows there's definitely a risk the pups might accidentally knock him over, so we're teaching them to tread gently around their little bro. Restraint is not a Ridgeback forte, so I'm especially proud of Zero learning to be dainty with Lincoln in all respects. As always, it's a work in progress, but a supremely rewarding one! ____________________________ #rhodesianridgeback #projectrr #ridgebacksofinstagram #dog #dogs #hound #dogsofinstagram #dogoftheday #primepet #chicago #dogbeach #bestwoof #houndandlife #akc

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Happy Friday, catch up with everyone soon!

[VIDEO] Circle of Life

Elton John sang it, Penny lives it, Will can’t afford to pay for it to use in this video. It’s the circle of life! And Miss Mayhem marshalls each of us to make the most of the endless round.

[VIDEO] There is Always Room For Love

Today marks one year since I lost Eko. Since I lost my heart. In that year I suffered, stumbled and failed. But I also persevered, learned and rebuilt myself. I wear my scars proudly and eagerly share the love and knowledge they’ve earned me. Anything else wouldn’t do justice to my puppy.