the ol’ double-back

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Monday through Friday, while I’m at work, walking the dogs lands on Malcolm’s “to-do” list.  On weekends, we share the adventure.  Occasionally, I’ll find a friend willing to fore-go sleeping in on their day off to join me, giving Malcolm a break, but usually its the two of us.  We like to take the girls out to the Galisteo Basin Preserve for their exercise.  It’s just a few miles down the road, there are several trails to choose from of varying distance and degrees of inclines, and best of all, we can unleash the girls for some free-range running.  Having more time on the weekend, we’ll take the girls for longer, more treacherous treks, hoping to tire them out – we are firm believers in the belief that a tired dog makes for a happy owner.

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scouting for treasure

Home to coyotes, antelope and jack rabbits, the GBP is Santa Fe’s playground.  Along with cactus, deep gorges and arroyos, and dry river beds, the GBP offers epic vistas of the Ortiz and the Sandia mountain ranges.  On occasion, we’ll meet up with other hikers, other dog walkers.  When the skies are blue, mountain bikers pedal past us, taking advantage of the weather, spinning their wide tires through the southwest terrain.  On those same clear, cloudless days, we’ll meet trail riders saddled up, coming down off the mountain, their mounts skittish of the dogs, the girls nervous of the horses.

While Amore and Dolce don’t particularly like horses, they do, especially enjoy the treasures left in their wake.  Horse dung, horse apples, horse shit, fresh or dried from a few days in the baking sun, the scent alone will alter our well-behaved dogs into lying, sneaky little beasts.   Double backing to steal a stinky nugget before we can stop them, our sweet little girls turn into crafty canines at just a whiff of the stuff.  They have perfected the “slow-down-to-a-crawl, get-behind-you, stop-and-wait-for-you-to-get-further-ahead” maneuver to grab and swallow a lump of dung without interruption.  Head hanging low, they immediately have selective hearing and sight.  Our commands to stop are ignored, going unheard.  They turn a blind eye to our presence, dismissing us as an irritating nuisance.   Once swallowed, they go back for seconds, knowing that they only have a few seconds to nab another helping of the equine delicacy, before we are able to put a stop to their trail trickery.

The long-lasting side effects from their horse droppings debauchery affects Malcolm and I, not the girls.  Hours later, back home from our long hike, Amore and Dolce decide to beg for forgiveness, leaning up against us to cuddle on the couch, they lift their heads to give us doggy kisses and licks, their breath reeking of horse manure.  Gentle horse crap burps are released just under our noses, the scent drifting upwards in our direction.  Their steady breathing emits puffs of rank horse odor with each exhale of oxygen.

The ol’ double-back trick on the trail has double-backed on us, hours later!

Galisteo Granola

An ideal snack when hiking or walking the dogs!

Serve with yogurt, ice cream, sprinkled on pancakes or a smoothie or just snack on by the handful!

  • 6 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup frozen concentrated cranberry juice, thawed
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • 1 cup dried blueberries
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup minced dried apricots

Preheat oven to 325 F degrees.  Spray a heavy rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray.  Combine oats, almonds, coconut, pecans, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds in a large bowl.

Combine cranberry juice concentrate, brown sugar, butter, honey, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and all spice in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring until brown sugar dissolves.  Pour hot syrup over oat mixture, stirring to coat evenly.  Spread mixture out on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake until golden brown at edges, about 25 minutes, stirring the mixture periodically.  Add cranberries, using a metal spatula to blend.  Bake until granola is beginning to dry, stirring occasionally, about 10-15 minutes longer.  Cool for 15 minutes.  Add blueberries, raisins and dried apricots.  Stir until completely blended.  Cool completely on baking sheet.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks.

Houdini

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Berners are the type of dog that want to be with you – – – always.  Where you goeth, they goeth.  If you step outside, they want to be outside with you.  If you need to run to the store, they need to go along with you, riding shotgun in the passenger seat.  They will be out the door and in the car before you’ve begun to search for your car keys.  If you need to use the restroom, they want to follow you.  Walk into the kitchen and paws pitter-patter beside you.  Two perpetual furry shadows, dogging your step.  Shutting the door on their noses only produces sniffing and scratching, amplified by two.

On occasion we elect to keep the girls home.   In the summer, the temperatures are too hot for them to be left in the car without air conditioning and other times, our errands run longer than we want to keep them cooped up in the SUV.    They’ve learned when they may join us for a car ride and when they are staying put, depending on the time of day, the clothes and shoes worn, and if they hear a certain jingle of the car keys.

Early mornings they recognize its “me leaving for work” time.  They follow me into the bathroom and hang while I am getting ready for work.  They walk with me to get the morning paper and follow me around as I pour my “must-have” coffee.  By the time I grab my car keys to drive into town for work, they are already sprawled out napping from their busy morning.  I scratch their ears good-bye as they lift their heads, watching me walk out the door, back asleep before I’ve pulled out of the garage.   They have become skilled at learning the difference between a “slide your foot into a heel” shoe and a “bend over to tie the laces of your hiking boot” shoe.  With the heel, they are accepting of their fate.  Knowing they will be staying home with Gordita, our cat, they have already gone back to what they were doing.  The boot means “WALK”, “RIDE”, or “BOTH”.  Any of which creates pandemonium.   A jingle of the car keys will bring a concerto of joyous high-pitched barking that continues through the process of loading them into the vehicle.

To our dismay, we have discovered there are times when Dolce and Amore have attempted to follow us, ignoring our command to stay.   On one such time, I drove home from work to find Dolce and Amore in the front portal, the front door wide open.   I just assumed Malcolm had opened the door for fresh air.  In reality, Malcolm had walked next door to deliver some misplaced mail.  The girls did not like the idea of being left alone at home, listening to the crunch of gravel as Malcolm walked up the driveway.  Dolce had pawed the dead bolt, unlocking it,  and on the down-swing, her paws hit the handicapped handle, swinging the door wide open.  Freedom.  Thankfully, the half-walls of the portal are too high for them to escape.

Dolce has turned her clever door-opening talent to other doors throughout the house. Back doors, garage doors, closet doors, even shower doors, she opens and shuts doors like a cat-burglar pro.  She stands on her hind legs and uses her front paws to turn the lock.  She then uses her weight to push in the door, gaining entry into the next room.  Should the door shut on her, she repeats the process, and with a descending slide, she hooks her paws on the handle lever and pulls open the door to come back through.  We caution our over-night guests to lock their bedroom door or they might have a four-legged visitor during the night.  Her special ability has forced us take stronger measures against future door openings.  We’ve installed additional hardware, slide locks and hooks, key locks and more dead-bolts, all designed to keep our Houdini dog where she belongs.

Scratch marks and all

Scratch mark evidence

Added hardware

Added hardware

I am thankful this proficiency isn’t genetic and Amore isn’t that smart!  But then, maybe she is – Dolce is the one opening the door for her.