Thursday, August 4, 2011

Travels with Grover

Because I have an incredibly social puppy who is apparently always starved for attention, I've decided to find as many things to do as possible that can include Grover.

Grover is a black lab mix of some sort and about 20 months old. You've read about him here before, but I don't think I've ever written about how he ended up with me.

Last year, on a dark and stormy night (just because I could) my roommate in Alabama came in from a run or something and said there was a big, black dog outside. She let him into the little stairwell area in front of our apartment so he would be out of the rain, but I figured we couldn't leave him out there. He was perfectly friendly, but when you open a door and see a big, black dog you don't know looking at you, well, some people would not handle that well.

I brought him inside and dried him off. He didn't have a name tag, so he just sat with me while I figured out what to do. I called/texted/social media'd everyone in I knew in our neighborhood to see if anyone was missing a dog, or knew of such a dog. He did have a rabies tag on, so I called the vet's number on the tag and left a message explaining that I had the dog, didn't know who he belonged to, but would keep him inside for the night in case anyone called there looking for him. That vet was amazing, because he called back a few minutes later, pulled up the information on the dog and gave me the dog's name-Jack, his owner's number and address.

I called the owner, who was out with friends. He said he'd head home and that I could just leave Jack in the back yard.

Getting Jack back outside into the rain wasn't easy. Getting him into my car was harder. Getting him out of the car and into the rain when we got to his house was downright impossible. He wouldn't budge. So instead we sat in front of the house and waited for his owner. In a thunderstorm.

It was a crazy night and apparently Jack is afraid of thunderstorms and has a tendency to escape when he gets scared.

But, I fell in love with that dog and decided that I wanted one of my own. A week or so later, I got an e-mail about a found golden puppy who needed a home. I called and said I'd take it, but never got a call back, so I guess someone else got him first. Then I started poking around pet adoption sites in the area, but decided that it really wasn't practical for me to have a dog, so I shouldn't spend so much time looking for one. I really wanted a black lab since I'd had one as a kid and just love them, but I wasn't finding one that suited me. So I gave up the search.

Not too much later, my roommate was working on a project to save the Grover Hall house in town. Grover Hall was a Pulitzer winning journalist who had once worked at the Advertiser and lived in Montgomery. The house was in danger of being torn down, and so Jill was trying to save it.

During that project, and other reporting, she met a local woman who works in historic preservation.

This woman found a black lab puppy at Old Alabama Town one day while this Grover Hall house project was happening and named him Grover. She told my roommate about the puppy one day and made up a flier about the dog. She kept him at her house, but told the local shelters she had him in case anyone came looking. No one did. My roommate came home one day and said, "I shouldn't do this, but here," and handed me the flier. Grover the puppy was the cutest little guy and I called the woman that night.

Within a few days, I had a puppy.

That is the story of how I came to have Grover. And it makes sense that I would end up with a black lab named for a Pulitzer winning journalist (not the Seasame Street character and not the president, but a journalist). He was meant to be my dog.

That said, I love Grover, but sometimes he makes me completely and totally nuts. He doesn't enjoy being home without me or my roommate so I get up early every morning now and take him running. We go to the dog park and we hang out. But, still, it's hard to leave him home alone when I go off to meet friends, because he has perfected the woe is me sad puppy face.

So, last night I learned more about a puppy happy hour in Old Town (Alexandria is incredibly dog friendly) and this morning I was looking at a winery online and they have a dog friendly event coming up. So basically, this started a domino effect of me finding puppy friendly activities in the area.

Now I'm detemined to do all of them and will share details here with other dog owners in the area. Or you can just follow the adventures of Grover...believe me, he gets into just as many shenanigans as I do.

First up, bushwacking along the Potomac River. Markeshia and I will be doing that Sunday with Grover and the new friends we'll make on a group outing we found on a DC discount site. We're hoping it's not a bajillion degrees, but it should be good times. If nothing else, Grover will sleep for awhile afterward. As long as he doesn't pull me down stone stairs or into a rocky creek, we'll be doing alright (such things have happened).

Next, K-9s in the Vines at a Maryland winery. It's on Aug. 21, the day before my birthday, and I've pretty much decided that we'll be going. It's a win for me and for Grover. And the event benefits the local animal welfare league. I'm all for drinking wine, hanging out with Grover and supporting animals.

Then, there's the doggy happy hours in Old Town. At Hotel Monaco, the dogs get to have fun and so do the grownups. The adjacent restaurant is excellent, I'm told, and I know I like the hotel. We'll check it out next week I think and I'll report back.

Another fun activity is a canine cruise. This is a great idea. You get to do a river tour on the Potomac on hot summer nights and the dogs get some socializing in. I only worry that Grover will try to jump off the boat into the river. I'm not kidding. He tried to jump off a bridge into the Potomac a few weeks ago...what a start to my day that was.

So, that's what I have so far. I'll check them all out, report back and continue to expand the list of pet friendly activities in the DC area. You know I love a good day trip and it's even better if Grover gets to come too!

I also plan to take him camping/hiking in some national/state parks in the coming months. Once it's not a bajillion degress anymore that will definitely be happening, so look out for those posts soon!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Out and about

Since my last post, things have changed. I've started a new job and am adjusting to a schedule that includes a daily 5 a.m. wake-up (okay, okay, some days I get up at 5, other days I'm pushing 6) to take Grover for a run, get myself ready and hit the road around 7 to shuffle through D.C. traffic.

But, I've also mixed in some fun.

I'll back up to cover the shenanigans since I last wrote.

There have been a few trips back to Yorktown to visit family and friends and you know I always make a stop at the Yorktown market and waterfront. I'm becoming a regular. Even chatted with some vendors last weekend who have a recent CNU grad as a daughter. I mentioned that the campus looks completely different now than it did in my day, but Go Captains! The husband looked at me and said, "I thought you were maybe a junior." Flattered, I think, but no. In the same weekend Mom reminded me that I'm almost 30. Again, no, I'll be a mere 28 in a few weeks, but Mom assured me those two years go quickly and then I'll be 30. Guess I better get to work on the life to-do list since I'm running out of time.

There's also been a quick trip to New Jersey to visit my grandparents since I had some free time while I was freelancing. I spent a day at the Jersey shore (Spring Lake/Sea Girt, none of this Jersey shore from the TV show nonsense). Who spends a day at the beach with their grandmother? This girl. And she wore me out, we dropped our chairs and beach totes and she had me down at the water line and we walked quite a ways along the water and then back again. I'm pretty sure she has more energy than I do, need to bottle that.

While in Jersey, I also had a chance to catch up with my pal, Abbie, for dinner. She's in the Trenton area these days, but came out to the shore for dinner at The Parker House. My aunt and grandmother recommended it and we loved it. The place was packed so we put our names on the list and took a stroll on the boardwalk to enjoy what was amazing weather than night and catch up. After dinner we decided we had to have ice cream so we somehow navigated ourselves to the nearest Dairy Queen since the place I had seen earlier was closed. I think if you have an ice cream shop and you close, take down the giant ice cream cone sign! False advertising! But, we got our ice cream and went back to the boardwalk, only to realize we were enjoying our sweets as joggers were probably hating our guts. I went for an early morning run on the boardwalk the next morning, so I didn't feel too incredibly guilty. But just a little.

It was a quick trip, but I was determined to get back to DC in time to pick up Grover, since he does not enjoy the kennel, nor does my bank account. Crazy as he is, gotta love how happy he is to see me every time.

Up next came a visit from the boyfriend. He came to DC for July 4th, a great time to be in the city if you don't mind the chaos and heat. After collecting him at Reagan National we pitstopped at Potomac Yard. He needed a few things and I just had to pick up a copy of a new book I'd seen. I got the book and finished within a few days. My Year with Eleanor by Noelle Hitchcock. I recommend it.

We got situated and then geared up to brave the Metro into the city for PBS' Capitol 4th concert on the Capitol lawn. I love the concerts and watch them nearly every 4th and Memorial Day so I was stoked to see it live with Josh Groban and Steve Martin performing. Rain clouds toyed with us and we got a drizzle, but it made for spectacular views of the Capitol and we had a blast. I made poor Ben walk all over the place to get back to the Metro that night, because I rarely do anything the easy way.

Day two of boyfriend's visit included a drive to Baltimore for lunch at the Inner Harbor and the Aquarium. I was incredibly bummed that the dolphin show had been cancelled for the day, but so it goes. We checked out all kinds of aquatic life but I'm pretty sure my favorite was Calypso the three-flippered sea turtle. Of course the first thing we saw when we got into the aquarium was a live creature program for kids and the woman just happened to have an huge snake wrapped around her. I'm sure it's harmless and all, but if I've never told you, I'm terrified of snakes. Terrified. So much so I used to cover pictures of them in my biology textbooks with notebook paper or anything I could find. What's weird is as a kid, I thought snakes were cool. I touched the giant boa constrictor on our class trip to the zoo, we had a snake for a class pet, no problem. But when I was about 8, we were at my great-grandmothers house in rural New York. She lived on a creek so there was all kinds of wildlife, including garter snakes. Obviously, they won't hurt you, but when your father picks one up, sneaks up behind you and says, "Hey Jenny, turn around," and there's a snake hissing in your face, it has a somewhat traumatic effect. So began my fear of snakes. Ben asked if I was absolutely positive I didn't want to go check out the snake, I wanted to move as far as possible as quickly as possible from the snake. I couldn't even look at it.

The fish, sharks, sting rays, weird underwater creatures and all the other things at the aquarium were great. I even got to see the dolphins. Although all they did was swim in a circle around the tank that I decided was too small for them. Still, I love dolphins and was happy just to sit and watch them swim for awhile.

We wrapped up our full afternoon at the water wonderworld and then spent awhile wandering while I tried to make up my mind about what to eat for dinner. For all the crazy things I do in life and big moves and changes I make, I can be incredibly indecisive when it comes to chooing a restaurant. It's a character flaw I guess.

The next day, I made Ben get up early and we hit the road for, where else, Yorktown. I showed him around Williamsburg a bit, the rain sort of ruined my plans, but we strolled the historic streets anyway. I told him all the facts and trivia I could remember, but it wasn't all especially fresh onmy mind so I think I failed him the tour guide department. But, we were amused by the interpreters harassing the tourists. Apparently, they really get into character.

Alright, I'll break there. Next up, DC scavenger hunt.