Dog Days of Summer

Sorry it’s taken me so long to publish this blog post. It’s totally my mom’s fault. I’ve been bugging her for weeks, but she’s been too busy working on her TEFL certificate to help proofread my work. Lucky for me, though, she just turned in her last assignment – so I guess I can withdraw my classified ad for a more reliable editor and we can finally go back to things being all about me again. But I digress…

Because North Carolina is ridiculously hot and humid in the summer – and there’s no good water for swimming – my parents promised me a trip up to New Hampshire to see our family and enjoy the nicer weather. I have to admit, I was skeptical. I wanted cooler weather, but not any of that snow crap. I’d been to NH twice – once when I first moved to the U.S. and then for my first Christmas. Both times it was freezing! The snow and ice chilled my paws, and I had to wear this ridiculous-looking jacket to go outside. My mom and dad assured me I’d love NH in the summer, though, and as soon as my mom got home from helping my friends back in Thailand, we all piled in the car for the long drive north.

I was pretty grumpy when my parents woke me up at 4 a.m. to get on the road – and even grumpier when I had to spend the next 12 hours trapped in the car – but I was so excited to see my NH family again when we finally arrived. I wiggled and sprinted from room to room, and got tons of belly rubs and even a special treat for being so good in the car (a gigantic beef trachea).

My parents were right – that long drive was totally worth it. NH is awesome in August! The days are warm, the nights are crisp, and it’s so much less muggy than NC – I didn’t even start panting every time I stepped outside for a walk. On our first day there, we did the first of several short hikes. My family lives right beside Mount Caesar, so we wandered through the adjacent woods until we found a trail leading to the top. We were the only ones out there, which was awesome. Even better, there were chipmunks scurrying around everywhere. I’d never seen a chipmunk before, but I quickly learned they are just as exciting as squirrels. As usual, I blazed the trail (despite the riveting rodents) and was the first to reach the summit. It was really beautiful up there. Not only were there big rocks to jump on, but I could see all the way to Mount Monadnock.

I had really been hoping to hike up Mount Monadnock while I was in NH, but, unfortunately, there are no dogs allowed in the state park. My parents came up with a backup plan, though, and we all headed to Gap Mountain (Monadnock’s diminutive neighbor). It was another short hike (about 3 miles), but it was really awesome. Partway up the trail there was a small creek. I was super excited to do a bit of wading, and was captivated by the submerged logs and branches that lie encased in the mucky creek bed. I splashed around for a solid 20 minutes – and hauled out a massive log – before continuing up the trail. As we approached the top, there were huge boulders to clamber up. It was for sure my favorite section of trail and I left everyone in the dust. There was a great view of Mount Monadnock at the summit, as well as tons of wild blueberries. My family managed to fill a generous container with fresh berries in about 20 minutes while I struggled to hang on patiently. I didn’t really care about picking fruit; I was much more excited to bound back down the granite slabs, do a little trail running, and head to locally-famous Kimball Farm for a well-deserved scoop of freshly-churned vanilla ice cream.

While I had a blast exploring some new trails, my favorite part of the week for sure was spending a few days up at Granite Lake. My mom and dad told me I’d love it there, but I couldn’t begin to imagine that much fun in one place! Growing up, my mom spent many weekends at the lake with her family. Her aunt’s waterfront home was the backdrop for summer parties, where her large family would gather for swimming, boating, water sports, saunas, and cookouts. She has a lot of fond memories from Granite Lake, and she was super excited to share it with me.

Unlike the muddy, and often polluted, pools of central NC, Granite Lake’s water was crystal-clear and unspoiled. Auntie’s property had the perfect lake access for me too. Her yard was a sizable swath of cool, soft grass that transitioned to a warm, sandy beach. Clearly she designed it with a dog in mind – for a good, back-scratching roll and a gentle wade into the sun-warmed shallows. Because there weren’t any sudden drop-offs in the lake bed, I was able to get comfortable wading out a good distance before beginning to paddle. I was a lot more confident and my mom and dad kept saying how proud they were that I did some of my best swimming there.

While I loved swimming from the shore, the best part of Granite Lake had to be the island. Out in the middle of the lake was a small, rocky islet with narrow footpaths crisscrossing the compact pine forest. I wasn’t quite conditioned for the longer swim out there, but luckily Auntie Joan and Uncle John let me borrow their canoe. I was a little nervous about this whole boating thing at first, but once I learned it was a gentle cruise to paradise, I realized I love boats!

Once we were out on the island, I got the treat of a lifetime… my dad unclipped my leash and I had total freedom! I’ve never had real freedom before. I grew up in a rescue in Thailand and, although my mom and dad have said since adopting me that they wish I could run totally uninhibited, they assure me that my massive prey drive precludes me from being trusted off leash. For those few afternoons on the island, I savored every bit of independence. I sprinted with abandon up and down the wooded trails, racing from one end of the island to the other and practicing my recall. When I needed to cool off for a bit, I’d jump off the rocky shore for a quick swim. While I don’t usually like to launch myself into deep water, I was almost fearless out on that island. I was wild and free, self-assured and bold. I’m pretty sure I discovered one of those ‘happy places’ out on that island that my mom always talks about – one of those places that makes you feel so blissful and grateful, where you feel like a better version of yourself.

After a week of treats, belly rubs, hikes, swims, and the exhilarating feel of the wind in my fur as I ran free, I was pretty worn out… and I think my family was too. Thanks so much for all the fun, guys – it was a wicked pawesome adventure!

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