Friday Reads: 44 Scotland Street, a Scottish Delight!

Friday Reads: 44 Scotland Street, a Scottish Delight!

posted in: Books, British, Entertainment | 2 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

I discovered the 44 Scotland Street series while listening to Confessions of A Serial Novelist by Alexander McCall Smith, an obscure audio offering in the OneClickdigital App. I downloaded it because I had read The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency some years earlier and was curious to hear what nuggets of wisdom such a successful author as McCall Smith might have to share.

The recording turned out to be a one hour lecture given in New York City in 2006 and featured more humor than substantive advice on how to succeed as a novelist. (Although, perhaps that is a good lesson in itself. Perhaps humor is the secret to success as a novelist?) The highlight of the lecture came at the end: an excerpt from the second 44 Scotland Street novel: Espresso Tales.

44 Scotland Street takes place in Edinburgh. Pictured above is <a href="" target="_blank">Edinburgh Castle</a>, one of many Edinburgh landmarks mentioned in the series.
44 Scotland Street takes place in Edinburgh. Pictured above is Edinburgh Castle, one of many Edinburgh landmarks mentioned in the series.

The passage was about a six-year-old boy named Bertie whose mother forces him to learn Italian and play tenor saxophone. This was interesting. I immediately checked the app for the 44 Scotland Street audiobook and downloaded it. While the passage McCall Smith read focused on Bertie, the series features a much larger cast of characters, some of whom are listed here on his website.

The first book of the series focuses primarily on the residents of the building the book is named after. (While Scotland Street is a real street in Edinburgh, there is no number 44.) There is Pat, a young girl of 20 on her 2nd gap year, working as a receptionist at an art gallery. Pat’s flatmate is Bruce, a rugby shirt-wearing narcissist with a passion for hair gel who works as a surveyor (real estate appraiser in the US). Across the hall is Domenica: world-wise anthropologist, widow, advisor to Pat, and friend to Angus. Angus lives on a neighboring street: a 50-something portrait painter and companion to Cyril, a beer and coffee-drinking dog with a gold tooth.

There’s also Matthew, the somewhat dejected owner of the art gallery Pat works at, who often enjoys long coffee breaks at Big Lou’s. Before Big Lou purchased Big Lou’s, it had been a bookshop. After the purchase, Lou moved all the remaining book inventory to her residence. She reads them whenever she is not running her coffee bar, giving rise to thoughtful and occasionally spirited philosophical discussions over coffee with customers.

With all the characters and funny storylines, I am reminded of Julian Fellowes and Downton Abbey. The books are fun to binge on, another thing in common with Downton Abbey! I discovered the series in August, four months ago, and I am already on the fourth book of the series: The World According to Bertie.

I have plenty more to say about the books, their author, and the narrator of the audiobooks, Robert Ian Mackenzie, but I will save it for a later post. For now, I will leave you with this interview with Alexander McCall Smith that I discovered from The Guardian. In it, he discusses the 44 Scotland Street series in his usual light-hearted and modest style. Happy Friday!

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Woof Trekking Dispatch #12: Madera Canyon, Santa Rita Mountains, September 2016

Woof Trekking Dispatch #12: Madera Canyon, Santa Rita Mountains, September 2016

posted in: Dispatches, Living in the Southwest, Nature, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 2 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

A couple weeks ago, we decided to go on a spontaneous Woof Trek. We hadn’t gone Woof Trekking for several months and everyone was ready to hit the road. We hopped in the car and traveled across the valley to Madera Canyon.
Madera Canyon is about 30 miles south of Tucson and is located in the Santa Rita Mountains. The Canyon is part of the US Forest Service. When some people think of the desert southwest, they think that it is just a flat desert, however that is not the case. Madera Canyon is a perfect example of this.
Tucson itself is surrounded by four different mountain ranges, with the Santa Rita’s being the one to the South. Madera Canyon is big birding location as it is a stopping point during migrations north and south. We missed the migration this year, but will be returning in the future to see some of the unique birds. We packed a picnic lunch and drove up to the highest paved area, called the Mt. Wrightson Picnic Area and Trailheads.
The elevation at this point was 5400 feet and it was slightly cooler than the valley but not by much. Izzy and Nana were itching to go explore the Canyon, but had to wait for us to eat lunch first.
We brought a little battery operated fan because Izzy runs warm temperature-wise due to all her fur. We needed a bigger fan – like one of those on the sidelines at football games. But she stayed hydrated and that’s most important.
After lunch, we set out on a couple of the trails. There are an abundance of trails in Madera Canyon, but we are amateur hikers so we didn’t go too far. Our first little hike was at Madera Canyon Picnic Area. We walked over to see the creek that runs down the canyon.
Nana wasn’t a big fan of the running water, but Izzy was fearless.
She hopped up onto a giant boulder and smiled.

We drove up around the camping area and saw a couple of plants we don’t normally see in Tucson. We saw an agave with these crazy looking seed pods growing out of the center. It was unlike any agave we had ever seen.
We also saw these pretty bottlebrush flowers.
Our final stop was the Proctor area, near the entrance/exit to the Canyon. At this stop, we hiked around a paved loop that was about 2 miles long.
When we were eating our lunch earlier in the day, we saw some blue colored berries on the ground and we didn’t know what kind of tree they were from. On this trail, we found a sign that said that the area has a lot of Alligator Juniper trees, thus solving the mystery of the berries. If you look at the bark, you can totally see why they named them Alligator Junipers.
Another interesting feature of this trail were these boxes on posts. They are houses for bats! We knew that Arizona had a lot of bat residents but from informational boards on the trail, we learned that of the 45 bat varieties that live in the Unites States and Canada, 28 can be found in Arizona. Wow!
As we walked further on, we found a wooden bridge that crossed the river.
Sun’s out, tongue’s out.
Overall, Madera Canyon was great fun! We will definitely be back!

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Friday Reads: Review of Lessons from Tara

Friday Reads: Review of Lessons from Tara

posted in: Book Reviews, Our Work, Writing | 2 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

A couple months ago, we wrote a review of Dogtripping by David Rosenfelt. It told the story of his cross-country move from California to Maine with 25 dogs, 3 RVs, and 11 volunteers.

Lessons from Tara is a follow up to Dogtripping. There is some overlap between the two books, but plenty of new material for readers of the preceding book. Earlier this month, I gave a list of my top 5 dog books so far and now, Lessons from Tara has earned a spot on that list.

In Lessons From Tara, David Rosenfelt details how his rescue dogs and their sunny outlook on life have changed his world view. Although the title specifically names Tara, she is not the sole focus of the lessons he has learned. However if he had never met Tara, then he wouldn’t have met or rescued any of the the other dogs.

Throughout this book I laughed at some chapters and also cried during others. I think that is what makes a great dog book because the book, like dog’s themselves make you laugh and at some point during their life, they will make you cry. While reading, I shed a tear each time he talked about the loss of one of the dogs and how it never gets easier. I laughed each time he talked about the antics of all of his dogs. I definitely laughed more than cried during this book.

I also enjoyed this book because he gave some insight about his life as an author. It was nice to read that he doesn’t spend hours and hours writing his novels. That was comforting to read since that is the way the we write our books. It is always interesting to hear the processes of other authors.

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Friday Reads: Top 5 Favorite Books About Dogs (So Far)

Friday Reads: Top 5 Favorite Books About Dogs (So Far)

posted in: Books, Entertainment | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Growing up, we didn’t have dogs around all the time. The first dog we ever had wasn’t until we were into our teens. But ever since we got that first dog, I have loved books with dogs as the main character. I love both fiction and nonfiction books about dogs and today I wanted to share my top 5 dog books so far. My list is in no particular order and consists of 4 nonfiction books and 1 work of fiction.

Amazing Gracie: A Dog’s Tale by Dan Dye and Mark Beckloff

This was the book that got me started on loving dog stories. The book is written by the owners of Three Dog Bakery. The story centers around Gracie, an albino Great Dane who is deaf and partially blind. Love, love, love this book.

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

A Dog’s Purpose was a book that made me both laugh out loud and had me in tears. The story follows the soul of one dog who is born and reincarnated four times throughout this book as different breeds of dogs and sometimes as a male and sometimes as a female. The dog’s soul experiences both the extreme of having no love at all to having an abundance of love. The twists and turns of this book touched my heart.

It was recently announced that this book will be made into a movie, starring Josh Gad as the voice of the dog. (Gad previously provided the voice for Olaf in Frozen). Watch the trailer below at your own peril, it will make you cry! (But you’ll be glad you did.)

A Big Little Life: A memoir of a joyful dog name Trixie by Dean Koontz

I will confess, I am not a huge fan of Dean Koontz. His books are too scary for me, however I thoroughly enjoyed his writing style in this book. I love how he tells the tale of how Trixie changed his life. It’s how I felt about our first dog, Mya (the retired racing greyhound we mentioned in yesterday’s post). In fact, she was the reason I decided to major in Animal Sciences.

Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure by David Rosenfelt

We have previously discussed our love of this book, you can read our review of the book here. The chapters alternate between the tale of their cross-counrty journey from California to Maine with tales of how Rosenfelt met his wife and how they ran a dog rescue together, saving dogs that few others would adopt.

Sight Hound by Pam Houston

This book follows the life of an Irish Wolfhound and a woman. This may be where my love of the breed came from and why we made Malcolm an Irish Wolfhound in our book Scout and Malcolm. Sight Hound is another book that both made me laugh and cry. Houston is also the author of some pretty funny works of fiction including, Cowboys Are My Weakness and Contents May Have Shifted.

Do you have a favorite dog book? Let me know by leaving a comment below. I would love to read it!

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Zodiac Gift Guide: Very Virgo

Zodiac Gift Guide: Very Virgo

posted in: Gift Ideas, Home and Garden, Zodiac Signs | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

People born between August 23 and September 22 are Virgos. Virgos are a practical bunch and they are very detail oriented.

Organized Intellectuals

Kindle Oasis

Most Virgos are bookworms and the newest Kindle would be an excellent choice for the voracious reader. If your Virgo already has a Kindle, maybe a subscription to Kindle Unlimited would be a nice present.

Journal with Embossed Bee

Many Virgos love to journal; they want to document their inner lives for future reference and reflection. Maybe even write the next great American novel!

Erin Condren 18 Month Life Planner

A planner is a perfect gift for the Virgo in your life. It is both practical and detail oriented. If your Virgo already has a planner, you could check out our Etsy Sticker Boutique for an awesome selection of planner stickers.

Clean Body, Clean Mind

Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch

A Fitbit is the perfect gift for your active Virgo, the data collected by the Fitbit will give them data that they can then analyze and refer back to.

Mailiya Wireless Sport Bluetooth Headphones 

A great set of headphones that are sweatproof and noise cancelling would be an excellent choice for your fit Virgo.

Gourmet Food Basket

Is your Virgo a foodie? A gourmet food basket could be the perfect gift to win your way to their heart through their stomach. You could also take your food basket on a fun birthday picnic.

Ozeri Pronto Digital Food Scale

A food scale is practical for the Virgo chef who likes to be as accurate as possible while cooking the perfect meal.

Practical, Precise, Perfection

Craftsman 230-Piece Mechanics Tool Set

If your Virgo is a handyman or woman, a tool set may be a practical gift to help them get their projects done around the house.

Black+Decker MAX Lithium Pivot Vacuum

A light, handheld vacuum is a great gift for the Virgo to keep their home or office clean.

PAKULA® Women’s Short Sleeve Keyhole Back Lace Shift Dress 

A classic sun dress appeals to the Virgo woman. Keep it simple because she finds gaudiness appalling.

Virgo the Veterinarian

Virgo is the ruler of animals and veterinarians, according Rex E. Bills’ The Rulership Book.

Blue Buffalo Blue Bones Mini Size Dental Chews 

If you’re still not sure what to get the Virgo in your life but you know they love their dog, then maybe the way to make them happy is by giving them a gift for their favorite doggy.

FELINE GREENIES Dental Cat Treats 

Maybe your Virgo isn’t a dog person but has a lovable feline, then some fantastic treats for their cat might be the most practical gift.

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Raw Beef Shank Marrow Bones as Dental Chews for Dogs

Raw Beef Shank Marrow Bones as Dental Chews for Dogs

posted in: At Home, Woof Trekking | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

In our post earlier this month, Izzy and Nana’s Favorite Homemade Dog Food, we mentioned that we give our dogs raw beef shank marrow bones to supplement their diet.

Raw Beef Bones as Dental Chews for Dogs

Our vet suggested we give them bones to help clean their teeth and to also provide essential minerals. He had mentioned it each time we went for one of Nana’s Chiropractic/Acupressure treatments, but we were anxious. We both took Food Safety during our time as Animal Science majors in college where we learned all about meat but we also learned about all kinds of food borne illnesses. Giving our dogs raw bones seemed like a bad idea, but after weighing the pros and cons for a few months, we decided to give it a try. Now we are total believers.

***Consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet. This article is about our experience and is for informational purposes only.***

At first we went to a local butcher to get the bones, but they were very expensive, $3.99 a pound. While we love our dogs, that was a little steep. Then, one day, we were cruzin’ through our local Safeway and we spotted this package of frozen raw beef marrow bones for $1.99 a pound for the exact same thing. This was a much better price! If you do the math for this pack of five bones, it works out to be about $1.22 per bone.

Raw Beef Bones as Dental Chews for Dogs 5

We store the package in the freezer and once we open it, we put the unused bones in a freezer Ziploc bag. We especially enjoy the new ziplocs with the easy open tabs! Those things rule.

Raw Beef Bones as Dental Chews for Dogs 6

If you don’t have a local butcher or a grocery store that carries raw marrow bones, you can order them online, but it is probably best to get it from a local store for Food Safety reasons.

Nature’s Variety Raw Frozen Bones, Beef, 6-Count


Giving your dogs bones can be a messy affair, so we put down a towel first to prevent the bacteria and juicy mess from spreading everywhere.

Raw Beef Bones as Dental Chews for Dogs 2

Here you can see Izzy and Nana chomping away on their bones. We were skeptical that chewing on bones would clean their teeth, but once again we were wrong. Even after just one chewing session, big chunks of tartar had fallen off and their teeth have gotten cleaner with each time.

Raw Beef Bones as Dental Chews for Dogs 4

Nana gets anxious when she thinks bone time is over. The raw bones are easily their favorite treat so they are prone to “resource guarding”, i.e. they don’t want you to take it away from them. When the time comes, we make sure to give them a cookie as a replacement while we take away the bone and towel. Nana and Izzy do try to keep them when we start moving the towel, but they haven’t growled or acted aggressive for the most part.

Raw Beef Bones as Dental Chews for Dogs 1

After we have the bone secured, we rinse them with a bit of cold water and then wrap them in a parchment paper square, so they don’t stick together. The final step is to put them in a container or freezer bag and pop them back into the freezer.

We let our dogs have their bone every other day. They chew on the same bone for three times over a 6 day period and then we give them a new one. We do this to prevent any kind of food borne illness. Izzy and Nana get to chomp on their bones for 10-20 minutes. We keep this schedule because if they get them more frequently or for longer periods some negative consequences can occur.

1. They can hurt their jaws from overuse.

2. They can get the runs from eating too much raw marrow/fat/meat stuff.

They absolutely love their bones, but MODERATION is key.

Raw Beef Bones as Dental Chews for Dogs 3

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Our Experience with Chiropractic and Acupressure Treatments for Dogs

Our Experience with Chiropractic and Acupressure Treatments for Dogs

posted in: At Home, Woof Trekking | 2 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Earlier this year, we made the decision to change vets. The primary reason being Nana’s back. Our previous vet had taken x-rays and speculated a lot about why she was having stiffness and occasional limping. But offering only conventional services, the treatment offered was a bottle of the equivalent of Advil for Dogs. Nana didn’t tolerate this medicine very well (aka vomit) and made her very sleepy. This was not the way for a dog to live.

Chiropractic Treatment and Acupressure for Dogs
Nana was feeling blue.

So we searched high and low for a vet who could do something more for our sweet Nana. We decided to look for someone who offered alternative treatments since conventional methods didn’t seem to be working for her. In particular, we were interested in veterinary acupuncture.

***Consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s healthcare. This article is about our experience and is for informational purposes only.***

After scouring the internet, we found our vet! He offered acupressure, using a laser instead of needles to target acupuncture points. He had discovered that most patients tolerated this better and the results were equivalent between the two.

The other treatment recommendation was chiropractic adjustments. He uses an electronic activator tool, much like activators used in human spinal adjustments, to “put motion” into the joints, thereby encouraging healing in the area. He does this all down her back, not just down by her hips where the problem was. See the video below for an example.

He also uses another attachment that massages all down her back on either side of her spine, like in the video below.

At first, we were skeptical because the adjustments and acupressure looked so simple. Our first few treatments were close together, once a week or so. After only two treatments there was a dramatic difference. It was like a miracle!

Chiropractic Treatment and Acupressure for Dogs
Nana the Happy Girl is Back!

Now she only goes every 2-3 months for maintenance. Along with his approach to Valley Fever and grain free food, we believe our vet saved Nana’s life! Our vet is a certified veterinary chiropractor and certified veterinary acupuncturist; these are important qualifications if you are looking into these services.

We also limit some of her physical activities, we try to limit her jumping up and down from the couch and we also carry her up and down the stairs. Seeing the dramatic improvement in our Nana has proved that it is really worth it to find a vet that meets your needs. It can life-changing and even life-saving.

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Happy 100th Birthday National Park Service + Another “Woof Trekking” Excerpt

Happy 100th Birthday National Park Service + Another “Woof Trekking” Excerpt

posted in: On the Road, Travel, Woof Trekking | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Today marks 100 years since the National Park Service was established. On August 25, 1916, the National Park Service Organic Act was passed and signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson. As of right now, there are 59 National Parks, you can see the full list here.

National Parks Centennial Featured Image

The following is an adaptation from our book Woof Trekking: How to Road Trip with Your Pets.

woof trekking, pets, road trip, vacation, holiday, travel, travel with pets

We love going on adventures to National Parks and exploring the amazing sights. They are spectacular locations to take in nature and most allow dogs in at least some areas of the parks. Some say that National Parks are not very dog friendly, however, we have always felt welcome, even if we didn’t get to explore the whole park. You can visit the National Park Service website before your trip to determine where your dog is allowed to visit. In all cases, dogs are required to be on a leash.

Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks

We have visited two National Parks in California, Sequoia National Park and Yosemite National Park. We visited both during one Woof Trek since their location is quite off the beaten track. We mostly drove around Sequoia National Park to see the towering sequoias. Dogs are not allowed on the trails but are allowed on leashes in the camping areas.

Sequoia National Park
General Sherman

National Parks Centennial - 2

Yosemite National Park is much more dog friendly. The park has lots of paved trails and dogs are welcome on these paths. We enjoyed exploring both of these Parks in the cool mountain air.

Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls
National Parks Centennial - 4
The Pika is arguably the cutest rodent in the world and is a resident of Yosemite.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park is located in southwestern Utah and is one of five National Parks in Utah. It is a bit of a drive off the interstate, but totally worth it. This National Park is unique because most of scenic views of the Park can only be visited by shuttle bus. Since we Woof Trek with our dogs, we didn’t go on the shuttle.

National Parks Centennial - 5

We did take a driving tour of a portion of the Park through the amazingly colorful canyons. One of the coolest parts of the drive in Zion National Park is when you go through the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. This tunnel has cutouts where you take a quick peek out into the canyons as you drive through. Dogs are only allowed on one trail at Zion, called the Pa’rus trail.

Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend

National Parks Centennial - 7
Izzy enjoying the South Rim of the Grand Canyon after a cloudburst.

We have visited the Grand Canyon, both the South and North Rims, with our dogs. They loved exploring the trails as much as we did. Lots of people from all over the world visit the Grand Canyon; we were surprised by how many different languages we could hear. Then again, it is one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World.

If you make the journey to the Grand Canyon, you may also want to visit Horseshoe Bend while you are there. Horseshoe Bend is a large curve in the Colorado River that is about 5 miles from the Glen Canyon Dam and about 140 miles from the South Rim. It is a breathtaking view and we highly recommend it.

National Parks Centennial - 6
Nana the Brave enjoying the view of Horseshoe Bend.

There are no Park Rangers or facilities (restrooms, water, etc.) at Horseshoe Bend. Dogs are welcome on the trail on a leash. It is a bit of a hike, up and down a hill, which takes about 45 minutes round-trip. Once you get to the Bend, you can look straight down into the canyon. The view is excellent, but there is no guardrail or any sort of protection from falling. This location is not for the faint of heart nor the weak of stomach; skip it if you are afraid of heights.

woof trekking, pets, road trip, vacation, holiday, travel, travel with pets

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Woof Trekking Dispatch #6: Goodbye San Fran, Hello Sunflower Fields and Dozing Dogs (July 2012)

Woof Trekking Dispatch #6: Goodbye San Fran, Hello Sunflower Fields and Dozing Dogs (July 2012)

posted in: Dispatches, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 1 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Last week, we showcased our time at Fisherman’s Wharf. Today, we will travel further north all the way up to Oregon!

Northern Cali featured

After the Wharf, we drove over to Chinatown for dinner. We ended up at R&G Lounge and were led downstairs to a table near a fish tank. It seemed very authentic when compared with our 2008 trip to China. However, when I just checked out their Yelp page, there was a warning that during a recent health inspection, the restaurant did not exactly pass with flying colors. So that’s something to bear in mind…
San Francisco to Grants Pass - 1

The next day, it was time to say goodbye to San Francisco and we did so in grand fashion, by driving over the Golden Gate Bridge. While it would have been nice to see the bridge without fog, it was still beautiful! Apparently, it is only clear of fog 30% of the year, as I discovered when writing our post, Happy Birthday, Golden Gate Bridge!

Version 2

We drove through Napa and then came upon a long stretch of interstate surrounded by farm land on our way to Redding, CA where our next La Quinta was located. One of the most exciting sights was this sunflower field.

San Francisco to Grants Pass - 4

Days filled largely with driving are a good time for some catch up on beauty sleep. Adventures can really take a lot out of a dog.

San Francisco to Grants Pass - 3

After a good night’s rest, we pressed onward toward Oregon. On the way, we stopped in Weed under the shadow of the awe-inspiring Mount Shasta for some lunch.

We were all excited to get out of the car after a day and a half of driving, so we stopped at Subway and brought our sandwiches to nearby Bel Air Park. That’s where we snapped this scenic photo of Mount Shasta, which happens to be a “potentially active volcano.” Here is the Google Maps Street View position from which we took the photo.

IMG_0544 - Version 2

After eating at a picnic table and a brief walk/run around Bel Air Park, we hopped back into the car and drove around College of the Siskiyous, which was located right next door. Dad loves to drive around a college campus, as you will see again in our next Woof Trekking Dispatch. Everyone caught a bit more shuteye as we crossed into Oregon.

San Francisco to Grants Pass - 5

Finally, we arrived in Grants Pass and checked into our La Quinta. Billy made full use of the window ledge, inspecting the exterior of the hotel for anything that moves. The hotel key had a coupon for a local pizza and beer place called Wild River Brewing and Pizza Co. so we headed over. Dad treated himself to a beer sampler after two full days of driving and we all enjoyed some fresh baked pizza!

San Francisco to Grants Pass - 7

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woof trekking, pets, road trip, vacation, holiday, travel, travel with pets

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Woof Trekking in Willcox: Apple Picking and Cowboy Crooning

Woof Trekking in Willcox: Apple Picking and Cowboy Crooning

posted in: Dispatches, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

The official start to fall isn’t until next month, but with local schools back in session, it’s easy to get lost in a bit of autumnal enthusiasm. In this spirit, we share today’s post.

Apple Annies in Willcox Arizona

Apple Annie’s is our favorite Pick-Your-Own Produce spot in Southern Arizona. It is located near Willcox, a small city with three main attractions. The first is Wings Over Willcox, a birding/nature festival in January focused primarily on the annual Sandhill Cranes migration stop in Willcox. The second is Rex Allen, who we’ll discuss more in a minute. The third is Apple Annie’s.

We have visited Apple Annie’s twice, once in 2010 without the dogs and again in 2012 with the dogs, once we discovered pets are allowed in the orchards.

Apple Annies in Willcox Arizona

Their orchards feature many varieties of apples, pears, and peaches, all available for purchase by the pound.

Apple Annies in Willcox Arizona 5

Izzy and Nana quite enjoyed roaming through the rows of fruit trees, sniffing everything they could. They didn’t attempt to eat anything, although they do enjoy a bit of sliced apple as a snack at home. Apple seeds contain cyanide and consumed in large quantities can be dangerous for dogs.

Apple Annies in Willcox Arizona

Pets are not allowed in the produce and pumpkin section of Apple Annie’s. Luckily, we had already visited that area in 2010.

Apple Annies in Willcox Arizona

They had a huge field of sunflowers, pumpkins and squash galore, as well as plenty of row crops like green beans, tomatoes, and chili peppers.

Apple Annies in Willcox Arizona

With our bags full of produce, we headed back toward Willcox. Our next stop was a visit with the city’s favorite son: Rex Allen. The actor, singer, songwriter and narrator was a contemporary of Roy Rogers and Gene Autry and has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Apple Annies in Willcox Arizona

Rex Allen is celebrated in Willcox every fall during Rex Allen Days. This year is 65th Annual Event and will be held September 29th – October 2nd.

Apple Annies in Willcox Arizona

Across the street is the Rex Allen Museum. Our grandparents were huge fans of the old westerns and would have loved to have visited. If you love cowboy movies, then you will probably enjoy it. See Trip Advisor for tips before you go.

Rex Allen Museum

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Woof Trekking in Willcox Arizona

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Valley Fever and Dogs: Facing the Desert-Dwelling Fungus Among Us

Valley Fever and Dogs: Facing the Desert-Dwelling Fungus Among Us

posted in: At Home, Woof Trekking | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Earlier this week, we talked about the dogs’ Homemade Dog Food. Now, we want to take you way back to that fateful day in 2012 when we saw Nana in the window.

When we went in to inquire about the dog that had captured our hearts, we discovered she had Valley Fever. They assured us that this was not a difficult condition to treat.

You Can't Tell Nana has Valley Fever by Looking at Her
You can’t tell Nana has Valley Fever by looking at her.

But we already knew that since our first dog, Mya, a retired racing greyhound had the same condition. Furthermore, at least two other dogs in our neighborhood also have Valley Fever.

According to Mayo Clinic, “Valley Fever is a fungal infection caused by coccidioides (kok-sid-e-OY-deze) organisms.” Valley Fever is fairly common in Arizona with 65% of all US cases occurring in our state, as reported by the CDC.

Spring at the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum
Spring at the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum. Prime turf for the fungus that causes Valley Fever.

There is currently a vaccine in development at our alma mater, the University of Arizona, that could help prevent dogs from ever contracting Valley Fever in the first place.

The prognosis for Valley Fever in dogs can vary. Some may only need to take medication for a year, while others may be on it for life. Nana falls into the latter category.

***Consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s healthcare. This article is about our experience and is for informational purposes only.***

The treatment for Valley Fever is the antifungal medication Fluconazole. Nana has been on this medication for all four years of her life with us. It currently costs about $45 at our local compounding pharmacy. We gladly pay it because we love her so much!

However, fluconazole can cause some complications with the liver. Consequently, she takes the following additional supplements.

S Adenosyl 225 (SAMe) for MEDIUM / LARGE DOGS 225 mg

Grifron Maitake D-Fraction Professional Liquid, 2 Ounce

Nature’s Way Reishi Capsules, 100-Count

Our vet practices both conventional and holistic medicine, consequently he is 100% onboard with the use of mushrooms as supplements. He also gives Nana chiropractic and acupressure treatments every couple months for her lower back. We will blog about our experience with that later this month.

Nana’s blood work showed a vast improvement and total demeanor since we started her on the mushrooms, a healthier diet, and chiropractic treatments. We are so grateful to have our girl back, especially since we thought we might lose her last year. She is such a blessing and so is our veterinarian! If you are unsatisfied with your current veterinarian, don’t be afraid to change – it might just save your pet’s life!

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Izzy and Nana’s Favorite Homemade Dog Food: Chicken, Veggies and Sweet Potato

Izzy and Nana’s Favorite Homemade Dog Food: Chicken, Veggies and Sweet Potato

posted in: At Home, Food, Woof Trekking | 3 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Last Friday, we told you about the food that the dogs eat on Woof Treks. Namely: Taste of the Wild and Wellness Chicken Stew. They also eat canned green beans when we are on the road.

They started this diet in January when we started going to our new vet. He sent us home with instructions to help Nana lose weight by replacing about 1/2 of her food with green beans (in addition to going grain-free).

Since January, Nana has dropped 10 pounds going from 38 to 28 and our vet is exceedingly pleased. Nana scored about a 7 on the Body Condition Score in January and now she is at an ideal 5. She is much more spry and active than she was when she was overweight. Izzy is such a high energy dog that she has always been scored around a 5.

 Izzy is Overwhelmed with Nana's Energy Post Weight Loss
This photo is from March. Nana is about 33 pounds and very frisky. Izzy is overwhelmed with her sister’s newfound energy.

Nana was never starving during this time because of all the vegetables. Around April, encouraged by the positive effects of her new diet and at the casual suggestion of our vet, we switched over to a completely homemade meal for breakfast and dinner.

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How to Make Healthy Homemade Dog Food

They eat the following recipe of homemade dog food twice a day, which is relatively low calorie compared to other dog food options.

They still receive some commercial dog food throughout the day including Taste of the Wild kibbles, as well as occasional dog cookies, both commercial and homemade such as our Homemade Banana Peanut Butter Dog Cookies. They also get frozen raw beef shank marrow bones to chew on a couple times a week for about 10-20 minutes. We will blog more about that later this month.

***Consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet. This article is about our experience and is for informational purposes only.***

Izzy and Nana’s Favorite Homemade Dog Food

The first ingredient is chicken. Chicken Legs are usually the cheapest at about 67 cents/pound on sale. However, we mix it up and sometimes do a whole chicken or bone-in chicken breasts. They love it all! We shred the chicken and take away the bone, skin, and fat.

Homemade Dog Food - 1

Next, we get out our scale, set to grams, and and clear the tare with the food bowl on the scale.

Homemade Dog Food - 2

Then we add veggies. We steam vegetables every night to go with human dinner, so it was not much of an adjustment to cook a little extra more for the dogs. We cook broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots, zucchini, and green beans.

Homemade Dog Food - 3

We cut it up into smallish pieces, a lot like the aforementioned Chicken Stew. Izzy gets 80 grams of veggies because she LOVES them. Also Izzy is a bit bigger than Nana. She is at her ideal body condition score and still weighs 35 pounds. Nana gets 55 grams of veggies.

Homemade Dog Food - 4

We cut the chicken and veggies with kitchen shears like these from Kitchen Aid.

We add about 60 grams of chicken for Izzy and 50 grams for Nana.

Homemade Dog Food - 5

The last ingredient is sweet potato. 40 grams for Izzy and 30 grams for Nana. We usually feed them the orange sweet potatoes, but accidentally got white flesh sweet potatoes at the store last week.

We have tried to corner our vet into giving a precise amount of protein, veggies, and sweet potato for our girls, but he says whatever we are doing is good because they are very healthy.

Homemade Dog Food - 6

They always finish their meals at the same time and they are maintaining their ideal body weights. Consequently, we have stuck to this meal plan. It is important to remember that they also get a fair amount of nutrient dense kibbles throughout the day.

Homemade Dog Food - 7

Izzy is excited to eat her breakfast!

Homemade Dog Food - 8

Good to the last lick!

Homemade Dog Food - 9

Another possible variation on this recipe: Put an Egg on it. If you watch food shows, you know how popular this has become in recent years for human food. Dogs can try it, too!

Izzy and Nana’s Favorite Homemade Dog Food

Izzy and Nana’s Favorite Homemade Dog Food


  • Chicken, unseasoned
  • Mixed Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, carrot, zucchini, green beans), unseasoned
  • Sweet Potato, unseasoned


  1. Bake the chicken at 400 degrees for at least an hour, flipping half way through. Alternatively bake until thermometer reads 165F, although we like to bake until 185F because it is easier to shred. Take away all bone, skin, and excess fat.
  2. Steam Vegetables. Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and carrot all take about 20 minutes starting from a room temperature pot. Green beans take about 8 minutes. Zucchini slices takes about 6 minutes. We cook these all in the same pot, adding the beans at the 12 minute mark, and the zucchini at the 14 minute mark.
  3. Steam Sweet Potato. These take about 18-20 minutes.
  4. The exact amount of chicken, veggies, and sweet potato will depend upon your dog and how many other treats they get throughout the day. Work with your veterinarian to create the ideal meal plan for your dog.
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Woof Trekking Packing Checklist: Dog Basics

Woof Trekking Packing Checklist: Dog Basics

posted in: On the Road, What to Pack, Woof Trekking | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Happy Friday, everyone! For today’s post, we wanted to give you an in-depth look at what we bring with us on our Woof Treks. We will be focusing on the first section of the packing checklist: Dog Basics. You can find the full checklist at the bottom of this post.

woof trekking, pets, road trip, vacation, holiday, travel, travel with pets


When it comes to feeding our dogs, our vet has fully convinced us to go “grain-free”. We had heard about Taste of the Wild ever since we took Izzy to puppy school six years ago, but thought it was too expensive. However, our vet has since made the case, and now we only feed our dogs the best.

Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food

Wellness Thick & Chunky Stews Natural Wet Canned Dog Food


A good can opener can be hard to find. We’ve tried both Martha Stewart brand and the Oxo brand openers, with plenty of early success. But after a while, the opener gets all clogged and rusty. That hasn’t happened with our Zyliss.

Zyliss Lock N’ Lift Manual Can Opener with Lid Lifter Magnet


Their current food bowls look a lot like the bowl below. They are nice and sturdy, but on the road, they can get a bit bulky.

Petrageous Designs Pooch Basics Pet Bowl

Consequently, we purchased smaller, lighter bowls like the bowl below for future Woof Treks.

Loving Pets Bella Bowl Dog Bowl


If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. We bring the same water bowl that the dogs and cat use at home. As mentioned in Woof Trekking, when we are on a hike, we will just pour a small stream of water from our water bottles into our dogs’ mouths and they love it.

PetFusion Premium Brushed Stainless Steel Bowl


We lug their large crates with us on every single Woof Trek. They don’t actually take up much space, since they are collapsible. Still, they’re heavy! We’ve been looking into alternatives (like this one) but haven’t actually purchased one yet.

Aspenpet Pet Porter Kennel


Izzy and Nana each have a blanket in the bottom of their crates. We tried putting in more padded bedding, but they pushed it out of the way. We believe this is because they like the cool feeling of the plastic when they get hot at night.

Pet Dog Cat Blanket Mat Bed with Paw Prints


We recycle a lot of grocery bags to pick up pet waste, but will occasionally splurge on these. A surprising number of rest areas throughout the country supply these, but it’s best to have your own stock, just in case.

AmazonBasics Dog Waste Bags with Dispenser and Leash Clip



FREE PDF DOWNLOAD: Woof Trekking Checklist

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Woof Trekking Packing Checklist Dog Basics

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Woof Trekking Hotel Safety: Who’s Hiding Under the Bed?

Woof Trekking Hotel Safety: Who’s Hiding Under the Bed?

posted in: On the Road, Woof Trekking | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Today’s post is an adaptation of a chapter from our new book, Woof Trekking.

woof trekking, pets, road trip, vacation, holiday, travel, travel with pets

Most hotels put their beds on metal boxes so nothing can go under the bed. For the most part they work, except occasionally at the head of the bed.

Sometimes the box ends before it touches the wall and leaves a cat/small dog-sized hole to crawl into. If you aren’t paying attention, your pet can end up under the bed and you can’t really get them out without a lot of time and/or coercion.

It would be wise to also take some of the extra pillows (you could use towels as an alternative) and create a blockade in front of any holes. We learned about this the hard way.

During our first Woof Trek, we would remove the leash from Billy’s harness when we arrived at the hotel. One night, we were not really paying attention and Billy found a hole we had missed at the foot of the bed.

Hotel Safety with Pets Hiding Under the Bed 1

We tried to grab his hind end but he slipped through and ended up inside the box spring!

Hotel Safety with Pets Hiding Under the Bed 2

We tried to lure him out by calling him and shaking his treat container, but he wouldn’t come.

Hotel Safety with Pets Hiding Under the Bed 3

We finally gave up as Billy enjoyed lording his newfound power over Mac. She left some treats by the entrance to his newfound Kat Kave.

Hotel Safety with Pets Hiding Under the Bed 4

Eventually, Billy got bored and came out from under the bed to take the bait.

Hotel Safety with Pets Hiding Under the Bed 5

Hearing the sound of his munching, we grabbed him, put the leash back on him, and blocked the entrance to his Kat Kave.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this adaptation from our book, Woof Trekking.

P.S. We highly recommend investing in a cat harness and leash.

woof trekking, pets, road trip, vacation, holiday, travel, travel with pets

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