Archive for February, 2012

A Love Letter to My Dogs

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Dogs are easy to love. Mine are especially lovable — even when they’re barking ferociously at the UPS guy (Jessie) or running through the house wildly swinging my pocketbook over their heads and dumping credit cards everywhere (Lexie). In fact, rarely does a day go by when I don’t discover something new to love about my dogs. It’s hard not to be charmed by their loyalty, intelligence, humor, joyfulness and sheer goodness.

So, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share some of the many things I love about my dogs.

I love that they are always filled with joy, whether it’s a fun-filled Saturday or a dreary Monday morning; whether it’s rainy, snowy, hot and muggy or freezing out; whether we’re playing ball, going for a walk, or just lounging in bed doing nothing. They’re joyful regardless of the situation, as if it’s just a natural state of being for them. And sometimes It’s nice to be reminded that joy doesn’t need a reason.

I love that they see the possibilities in every day, and every situation. Sure, it’s hurricane conditions out there, but Mom MIGHT take us for a walk…she MIGHT drop a hot dog off the grill tonight…she MIGHT be walking into the kitchen not for a glass of water but to get us a treat…she MIGHT let us up on the living room couch, even though we’ve never ever been allowed on that couch. And although she says “Leave the cat!” so often we could practically recite it ourselves, when she opens her mouth as we’re nose poking the cat, this time she MIGHT say, “Yes, please, chase the cat, go for it!” All things are possible in a dog’s world.

There's nothing in the world better than a dog's love, except, perhaps, two dogs' love!

I love that their devotion knows no bounds; as imperfect as I am, they think I’m the best dog Mom ever. And they think that whether I’m tired and cranky, whether I’m in sweats or dressed to the nines, whether I’m playing with them or ignoring them to work on the hated laptop. Who else loves you with that level of constancy?

I love that they have a sense of family. They love each other, our cats, our friends, our friends’ dogs, and assorted parents, siblings, nieces and nephews (and their dogs), welcoming them as part of our extended “pack.”

I love their adventurous spirit. Road trip? No problem! Whether it’s their annual Canine Camp Getaway dog vacation, a day trip to check out the Pet Expo or a simple run to the grocery store with a stop off at Mom’s house, they’re always up for it.

I love their many moods and sides, love how they can be charming, serious and silly by turns, romping and playing ball one minute, barking excitedly and tackling each other, and then an hour later, be sitting quietly at (or on) my feet, sharing a contemplative moment.

I love their sense of honesty and loyalty. My dogs don’t hide who or what they are; they “say” exactly what they mean (if I’m clever enough to pay attention). And their love is equally honest, with nothing held back. They always believe the best of people, and are never petty or spiteful; they never even seem to be disappointed in me (even when they might have reason to be). There’s a purity in their interactions with humans and each other which is refreshing beyond words.

I love the wordless communication that we share; how we can read each other’s minds sometimes. It’s like a form of music, magical and powerful and beautiful.

I love the comfort of their warm, furry bodies, love the happy swishing of their tails, love the cold noses that like to flip the laptop closed when I’ve spent too much time writing and not enough time playing. And I especially love the four beautiful brown eyes that stare at me in hopeful anticipation, whether they’re waiting for a walk, a ball toss, a treat or just a pat on the head.

Most of all, though, I love that my dogs make me want to be a better human, so that I can live up to the person they believe I am right now.

If Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, then I am truly rich. For I am loved by the two best dogs on the planet!

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your loved ones (be they four-legged or two-legged)!

Janice Costa is owner and founder of Canine Camp Getaway of NY, the Lake George, NY-based vacation for dogs and dog lovers. When she’s not working, playing or traveling with dogs, she works in the home design field as an author and magazine editor.

Dogs in Search of Snow!

Monday, February 6th, 2012

People from the Northeast often talk about how they’d miss the four seasons if they moved South. Personally, I don’t buy it. It’s like poor people saying they’re glad they’re not rich because being poor helps them remember what really matters in life. As if they wouldn’t prefer to be remembering what really matters in life, minus the “insufficient funds” message from the ATM machine two days before pay day. All seasons are not created equal, and summer is definitely better than winter.

Granted, I’m a summer girl; I live for beaches, kick off sandals, convertibles and the smell of chlorine. It’s no accident that my dog vacation business, Canine Camp Getaway of NY, offers an annual SUMMER vacation for dogs and their people. Seriously, I’ve never been able to fathom why anyone would look forward to winter.

Which is why it’s so ironic that, in the (happily) mildest winter we’ve had in years, I’m suddenly trying to figure out where we can go to find some snow.

But that’s what love does to you, I guess.

Dog vacation in the snow?

How did a summer-loving girl like me end up with a winter-loving dog like Jessie?

I may be a summer girl, but my beloved dogs are not; Jessie wilts in hot weather, and even the shorter-haired Lexie would much rather play roll and tackle in a giant snow drift (preferably with a few breaks to eat some snowballs) than sweat in the summer heat. Jessie may be a senior citizen in dog years, but she’s never outgrown “King of the Snow Drift” games, and rolling her little sister in a pile of the white stuff always brings out the puppy in her.

Unfortunately, they haven’t had much opportunity for snow romping this year. And with February already a week old, it’s looking less likely that it’s going to happen.

Now, logically, I know they’re not really looking at the calendar saying, “Half the winter is gone, where’s the snow?” Yet sometimes I catch them looking wistfully out the window, as if they’re waiting for a snowstorm to appear out of nowhere, blanketing the world in the shimmering white stuff and turning the backyard into a winter wonderland for dogs.

Even if they don’t know that winter is passing them by (dogs supposedly not having a sense of time, though that never explains why they know enough to start circling the food bowls like sharks an hour before dinner time), *I* know it. I’ve seen the wonder in their eyes that first winter morning when they wake up to find snow piled high in the yard. I’ve listened to the joyful yaps as they chase each other through the giant snow drifts, laughed as they’ve coaxed me out into below-freezing temperatures to share in their winter games, and played tug o’ war with the towel meant to dry them off when they finally come back inside.

And I can’t stand the thought of my dogs missing out on that. Or anything they love that much.

Even if it means packing up the car and purposefully taking them someplace (eek!) cold and snowy.

So this weekend, we’re heading north in search of snow. It may take a bit of driving, as the whole Northeast has been explicably in a warming trend. But we’re not worried. With a friend living 30 minutes out of Canada, with five acres of property and two snow-loving dogs of her own, a road trip sounds like just what the veterinarian ordered to chase away my dogs’ non-winter blues.

Do your dogs love snow? Have you ever taken them someplace on vacation just to enjoy a taste of winter? Feel free to share your comments below!

Janice Costa is owner and founder of Canine Camp Getaway of NY, the Lake George, NY-based vacation for dogs and dog lovers. When she’s not working, playing or traveling with dogs, she works in the home design field as an author and magazine editor.