Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Reilly, my love

Katie here.

When mama said she was going to write a tribute to Reilly Cowspot Dog, my fiance, I asked if I could please do it. Because Reilly was, and always will be, my boyfriend, my soulmate.

My guy.

Mama wasn’t sure it was a good idea to let me write it. She said maybe it would be too hard for me, that I’d get all sad and stuff, and of course she’s right. I am truly heartbroken that I won’t see Mr. Reilly on this earth again.

I love him so.

My guy, Mr. Reilly.

But it is precisely because I love him that I want to tell you about him. And even though it makes me sad, it also helps me to remember him and all the good times he had when he was here.

Mama is right when she says you can smile and cry at the same time.

Reilly and me at one of his amazing parks.

Reilly was born an old soul with the deepest, darkest, most beautiful eyes. I’m told he was a good boy right from the start. He never got in trouble even when he was a puppy.

He was a color-headed white sheltie, which means most of him was white, but he had this marking on one side that mama thought looked just like a Micky Mouse head, especially noticeable when he was a little guy.

Mama ‘borrowed’ this picture from Reilly’s blog. Can you see the marking on his side?

Mama says one of the first things she remembers about him was a video where he was walking on a treadmill, getting his walk in when the weather was bad outside. He was so adorable.

When he was in one of his contemplative moods.

He grew into a tall guy, so dark and handsome, with a big, booming voice. Sometimes people were startled when he barked, but they shouldn’t have worried because Reilly loved everyone. His mom said he even liked to go to the vet, and would bark upon arrival to let them all know he was there. Can you imagine being happy to visit the vet?

Lounging on his sofa. (picture taken by his mom.)

And what an adventurer he was! He loved to explore parks, proclaiming each of them ‘his’ once he had visited. Why he and his brother Denny even earned honorary Park Ranger status! Reilly felt it was very important to visit as many of his parks as frequently as possible just to make sure everything was up to his very high standards.

A couple years ago, when a hurricane was threatening his home, he and his family got to go all the way to Alabama to stay at my lake house! I wasn’t there, which makes me sad now, but I was sure happy to see the pictures of Reilly enjoying the cooler Alabama weather out on my deck.

Reilly, happy on my deck in Alabama. (picture by his mom.)

I hear he especially loved the air conditioning vents that I had put in the floors there. They are perfect to cool off warm sheltie tummies and I’m so glad he got to enjoy them.

He climbed my mountain there in Alabama too! Just one more adventure in a life full of adventures for my Reilly.

Reilly on my mountain.  (picture by his mom)

For the last few years Reilly was lucky to live near the ocean, and oh my goodness, how my Reilly loved walking on the beach in the early mornings or late evenings. So many lovely smells. So many birds to chase!

Reilly and his birds.

He loved the salt air blowing in his fur, and the sand between his toes, even the toes of his bad foot. He had the most adorable little boots that he wore to help him walk easier. I thought he looked so sophisticated in them.

Reilly and his little brother Denny on their beach. (picture by their mom.)

And guess what? A couple years ago I got to actually meet the love of my life! I’m sure you all remember that. He was so welcoming, letting me spend time in his home. He shared his beaches and parks and family with me, and even let me eat out of his bowl without arguing!

My first time on a beach, Reilly made me feel a lot safer just because he was there.

My Reilly, he was such a gentleman.

When he wasn’t adventuring or exploring he loved to spend time at home with his folks, lounging on the deck in the winter sunlight, or hanging out in the air conditioned sun-porch during the warmer months. He did that more and more these last few weeks as he became weaker in his illness.

Reilly and his little brother Denny, best friends forever. (Picture by his mom.)

This past Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, his poor body just gave out and he crossed the rainbow bridge, only two weeks after his little brother Denny. Mama took me on a walk the next day and told me the sad news. Of course I wasn’t surprised, as she had warned me that he was very ill. But still.

During my last visit with Reilly and his brother. Isn’t he handsome?

Mama’s eyes are leaking at random times now, and this morning I crawled into bed to wake her up with kisses which I haven’t done in many years. She hugged me tight. She says she is so heartbroken for Reilly’s folks who have lost both their boys this month.

She says there are no words to make this better.

And she says she knows lots of people all over the world were sad to hear the news. Did I tell you my Reilly was famous and had his own blog? He had friends everywhere.

Reilly’s last visit to his beach.(Picture by his mom.)

I feel very honored to be his girl and I know when I go across that bridge he’ll be waiting for me. Cause that’s the kind of gentle boy he is and always will be.

So Mr. Reilly. My love. I will miss you forever and ever. Thank you for being my guy and sharing your space with me and putting up with my princess-ness. Thank you for all the gifts you’ve sent me over the years. Thanks for sleeping next to me when I visited, and taking me to your special places. I loved all of it. And I loved you.

No, that last bit shouldn’t be in past tense. I love you Reilly, and always will. Till we meet again sweetie, run on those beaches up there, and sniff through the woods. Chase a bird and a squirrel for me while you’re waiting. And eat the good treats, just save a few for me.

Your feet, all four of them, are good now, and your legs are strong. Your bark is as loud and as deep as ever; I’m sure you announced yourself when you got over the bridge. Run and bark and keep a watch over Denny and I’ll see you again. One way or another.

Run pain free, my love!

Love forever,

Your girl Katie.

Reilly and Denny, together forever. (picture by their mom.)


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The weekly smile is buried in snow.

Trent hosts a collection of smiles each week. People post on their own blogs, describing things that made them smile that week, and link their posts to his. On Mondays, a day when we could all use a few smiles, Trent posts a recap so that we can all visit everybody else. It’s a nice way to start the week.

So this week, in Michigan, we got snow. Record breaking snow, more snow this early in the season than we’ve ever received in the history of our weather.

Sure it was pretty, but nothing to smile about.

Did we smile?

Well, not so much, not after the first “Oh it’s so pretty” wore off. My husband went out three times during the day to clear the driveway. And then he went and bought a bigger snowblower.

We all wanted to fly away.

To add more drama to our lives, this week we’re having drywall put up in the garage, so the car had to stay outside. In the accumulating snow.

Is this supposed to be fun mama?

I took his truck with four wheel drive to my morning physical therapy appointment. Driving in blowing snow, through snowdrifts, and finding out, after the appointment, that there was no snow scraper in the truck meant I was still not smiling.

My feet are cold. This is not fun.

And Thursday and Friday we had painters doing the inside of our house. Katie and I were relegated to one bedroom with the door closed so she didn’t end up a painted dog. She wasn’t smiling.

Camping makes me smile, but not in the snow!

And when Katie is unhappy everyone is unhappy. So most of Thursday and some of Friday she and I explored her parks.

About time you found me a park where they plowed the path!

And then the sun came out. Which made us all smile!

Now this is perfect weather mama!

After two long days of exploring cold, snow covered parks, we spent last night playing hide the sheltie-girl.

You can’t hide from me mama!

And the smiles continued.

What made you smile this week? Share it with us! Those of us up here in snow country could use more smiles.

Adventures always make me smile mama!


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Tribute to Mr. Denny

Mr. Denny was a quirky little dog with a huge heart. He didn’t trust just anyone, and was always on guard against anything scary. Even if it was only in his imagination.

Denny (the redhead) and his brother Reilly.

I met Denny a few years ago, but I’d watched him grow up on his big brother Reilly’s Cowspot Dog blog since he was an adorable puppy.

Denny loved to hang out with his brother.

When I first stayed at his house he wasn’t sure about me, barking every morning when I left the guest room, as if it was the first time he’d ever seen me. But eventually he sauntered by and sniffed the hand I’d left dangling for him. And during my next visit months later he didn’t bark at me quite as much. By our third visit he was actually letting me tickle his tummy.

Keeping track of those scary birds.

When we all went out he was ever vigilant, making sure there was nothing dangerous, ready to warn us if need be. But, just to be safe, he liked to stick close to his brother, Reilly, and to his mom and dad.

Still, even though they could be scary, he loved a good walk.

Keeping en eye on me while walking the beach with his mom and brother.

The last time I saw him was this past April. We were good buddies by then, but you could tell he wasn’t feeling very well.

Spending time on his sofa with me.

He’s had health issues, allergies, and even surgery on his knee. But the latest problem were his kidneys. And two days ago they gave out; Denny crossed the rainbow bridge in the arms of his devastated mom.

He had to leave and make the journey on his own and I can’t help but wonder if he’s scared over there without his family. But then I remember that across the bridge all things are possible, so I know that now he’s healthy and happy and curious and brave.

One of my favorite images of Reilly, Denny and Katie

And I know, for sure, that his heart is just as big as it always was.

We always imagine a dog running free when it travels over the bridge, but for Denny I want to say “run brave” little one. Be happy, find all the best things, the best food, the best tummy rubs, the best places to nap, the best beaches to run on.

On his own.

Oh, and definitely find the ice cream, sweetie…there has to be ice cream over the bridge!

Ice cream makes everything better.

More ice cream please?

So, until we meet again Mr. Denny, thanks for the cuddles, I am honored that you trusted me. Your family and I will miss you forever. You were a very very special little boy.

Watch over your brother sweetheart.


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Living large as befits a princess

Katie here.

Welcome to Davis Lake Overlook Park! Or as I call it – Katie’s Park Two.

Boy I’ve been busy; mama says you wouldn’t know I’m going to be a teenager next month. After lolling around all summer I’m now all energy and bark. Maybe too much bark, but it gets me what I want so I’m not going to stop.

Even when mama calls me “KATE!”

Stop lolly-gagging around mama!

So when I kept barking and getting under her feet, mama gave in and took me to a local park. It was a beautiful, if a bit windy, day. Mama said that worked in our favor because no one else was out there.

The wind is taking down the last of the leaves!

She was intent on taking pictures of these yellow trees out in the wet swamp.

It was such a pretty day!

She does this every year and every year she gets her feet wet. I chose to stay up on the hill and wait for her; I haven’t forgotten how I got my feet wet following her last year.

I’ll wait here.

Then she started focusing on the light shining through this young oak tree leaf. I was bored and figured she should be focused on me and my treats, so I photo bombed her shot and she got the message. After that it was all about me.

Which is more pretty? This stupid leaf of me?

Still, this was just a local park and I thought I deserved a bigger adventure. After all, this year I’ve spent weeks and weeks at ‘camp’ and she feels quite guilty about that. I milk it for everything I can, so I kept bugging her to take me somewhere more fun and guess what?

Whatcha going to do for me next, huh mama?

She made a date with another sheltie and her mom down in Ann Arbor at Nichols Arboretum!

Meet Abby!

Abby is going to be 12 soon. She is a very elegant lady.

Mama and Amy’s mom have been Facebook friends for a long time, and it turns out Ann Arbor is sort of halfway between where we each live, so we met there yesterday.

Isn’t Abby pretty? She has a regal air about her don’t you think?

Abby and I got along just fine, mostly because we ignored each other. If I’m honest I sniffed her behind a couple times, but she was polite and didn’t try to sniff mine at all.

Abby’s mom didn’t bring her any treats, and she still posed when asked. I, of course, demanded payment after each shot.

At first we weren’t too excited to pose too close to each other, but almost right away we recognized if we just did what they asked we got to go off and sniff sooner. And there are so many good smells in the woods there!

This is Abby’s mom Shaun.

Since I had been there before I showed Abby some of my favorite places. There was one spot with lots of pretty leaves on the ground.

Abby didn’t mind hanging around getting her picture taken at all.

Then mama saw this tree. Well. You know we had to pose by that!!

“Does she always make you stop and take pictures on your walks Katie?”

We walked for a long time, but Abby and I didn’t get tired at all, mostly because mama was always stopping for more pictures. You know how mama is.

I think Abby had a good time too!

On our way back to the car I asked Abby if she wanted to come back sometime and explore more. She said she was definitely interested!

“I think this was a good idea, Katie!”

It’s a good thing we went for that walk yesterday. Cause this is what’s happening today!

Oh yea, Fall is over!

So, as you can see, I’ve had a pretty good time lately. I didn’t even tell you about the new park I explored last week with my friend Deuce!

Me and my friend Deuce as the sun set on another perfect day.

Yep, mama’s keeping me pretty busy. She says she’s trying to get me to sleep through the night. Yea. Like that’s going to happen.

Talk later, your park advisor pup, Katie-girl.

I always have fun with my friends.


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Walktober – Katie’s way

Katie here! Mama said that Miss Robin over at breezes at dawn is hosting Walktober again this year!

Mama said there were great clouds. Whatever mama.

She said I could participate if I wanted to, and I said…. “Well of course I want to participate mama! Have you ever known me to ignore a chance for a walk?”

Then I had to think about where I wanted to go. Mama said since it’s a Walktober I should go somewhere that showcases the beautiful colors we have around here in the fall.

This is a big mowed space next to the lake just perfect for a Walktober!

In the end I had to let mama choose because I was too excited to think straight. Plus I don’t have a drivers license.

We ended up going to one of my parks, the Holly Recreation Area, which is only about 15 minutes away from my house. Mama parked at the boat launch where there’s a big long earthen dam that is perfect for running. There wasn’t anyone out there so I got to explore and sniff as much as I wanted while mama took pictures of stuff not me.

Incoming sheltie! You better have a treat for me mama!

It was such a pretty day with a good breeze that made my fur fly. I love it when I look good. Which frankly is most of the time. I am, after all, a princess, and a princess is never seen in public if she’s not at her best.

Then mama said I needed to get to work to find pretty color. That was, after all, why we were out there. I figured she was in charge of pictures so it was her responsibility to find pretty stuff, but I ended up having to do it for her. So typical.

Here’s some color mama!

She thought the purple flowers I found were very pretty.

Pretty buds up close.

But she said they weren’t really the colors representative of fall in Michigan. She said I should look around and find something more appropriate. Mama is so demanding. So while she was busy taking pictures of not me I wandered over here.

Colorful enough for you mama?

I figured this would do the trick, and I was right. She got all excited and stuff, which sort of backfired on me cause she made me sit there for a long time while she tried different angles and settings. Then she wanted to do closeups too! Geeze mama!

These aren’t edible so I wasn’t interested.

She said I did good and she was headed back toward the car. Wait just a minute there mama! This was my Walktober and I wasn’t done walking! I marched right past the car and headed down a path the follows the edge of the lake.

Do you see me way down there?

Mama just shrugged her shoulders and followed along. She really didn’t have a choice cause I was not getting in that car! Then she got all interested in taking pictures of the lake.

They’re just lily pads mama!

She called this her Monet image. I have no idea what she’s talking about, but it kept her busy so I had more time to sniff.

The path took us over to the beach. Nobody was over there on a chilly October afternoon and mama said I needed to remember my responsibility to find you all some color. So I tried.

I’m pretty sure white is a color!

I figure flowers are nice, and asters bloom in the fall here in Michigan, so they count for a Walktober, right?

Then we took a path that winds through the woods, heading back to the boat ramp. And guess what? There was more color!

Hey mama look!

Mama likes being in the woods, so we spent a long time in there. I didn’t pressure her to hurry, and she didn’t ask me to move along either. That’s why we like taking walks together, we both understand the purpose of a walk.

Mama found this color all by herself. I was busy sniffing on the other side of the path.

I like being in the woods too, so I didn’t mind when she took a couple more pictures of me. Plus she had treats.

I’m feeling a bit small here, mama!

Mama said that I did a great job finding color to show you all. Plus I got to go on a walk, sniff the fresh air, let the wind show my fur off, and spend time with my mama. Win/win!

A splash of color hidden away in the woods.

I’ve been at camp so much this summer that mama and I haven’t had time to do many walks together. So I’m really grateful to Miss Robin for getting mama to take me out exploring. We didn’t have much in the way of traditional fall colors, not yet anyway, but we had a great time.

Not a lot of color, but very dramatic.

I hope you enjoyed my park as much as I did, but I don’t see how you could without being there. Maybe some day we can all get together and go on a walk. Meanwhile, Walktobers are a pretty cool way to stay connected!

Does this wooly bear mean a long or short winter?

Where will you take us on your Walktober? We can’t wait to see. Take a walk, write about it and link it to Robin’s Walktober post (or any of her posts) by Oct 19th. Robin will do a summery post on or about October 21st. She’ll even wait a few days if you need a bit more time.

Mama, as usual, is behind and hasn’t figured out where she’s going. I told her she’s not allowed to hijack my walk, she has to do one of her own.

Reflections after a great Walktober!

A princess can be generous, but she never gives away her Walktober.

Can we go check for color over there mama?


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Exploring

Katie here. I know, I know, you’re expecting more photos of mama and daddy’s latest trip. Trust me, there are definitely more in mama’s files.

But geeze! Have you all forgotten about me?

Come walk with me in my backyard!

I’ve spent an awful lot of time at camp this summer. Don’t get me wrong, they treat me great there, but it’s not the same as being under mama’s feet. So since I’ve been home I’ve become something of a Velcro dog, never further than a foot or two from mama.

I kind of love my backyard!

Today I asked her if we could please take a tour around my yard, so I could make sure that everything was still copacetic out there, given I haven’t been around much, and mama said “OK baby girl! Let’s go explore the yard!”

Mama’s abstract of my fur.

We stopped at my zinnia garden which replaced my tomato garden of years past. I have to say I like tomatoes much better than silly flowers. I may be a Princess, but flowers don’t do a thing for me. Give me a ripe cherry tomato any time. Especially one I can pick off the vine for myself.

I ask you – how are these flowers better than tomatoes?

I’ve put in an Executive Order for tomatoes next year.

Way in the back of the yard daddy has been trimming trees. Do you see me in there?

I’m in there, hiding from mama!

How about now?

I’m right here mama!

Mama took so many pictures that I finally just laid down in the nice cool grass. No sense trying to rush her when she’s got that camera in her hand.

Yep, might as well take a break.

Mama also says to tell you her finger is healing. The bruising is all gone but the doctor says the bone hasn’t healed completely yet. It’s only been three weeks but mama says it feels like she’s been injured forever. She went to her first physical therapy session today.

She says it’s going to be a long fall.

I told mama that Fall is my favorite season!

Anyway, I enjoyed my wander around my yard. Things look OK, so I feel justified in taking a nap now. Never used to be that the backyard was equated with an adventure, but hey, I’m a senior, adventures can happen anywhere!

Yep, everything is good over here.

Talk later, mama says more travel photos are on deck next.

Zzzzzzzzzz…