She Makes Me Happy. And Tired.

Good Lord.  Yesterday nearly did me in.

Some of you may know we got a dog for Christmas, 2018.  Ever since losing our beloved black lab, Tule, on Mother's Day 2017, most of our family has been lobbying hard for another dog.  I was the lone holdout, so when I -- as the mom and all around boss (sorry, hon) -- decided we were ready, we were finally ready.

This was that special moment:



Zuzu is now a little over a year old, and she is adorable and awesome and so much fun and...problematic.

We take her for hour-long off-leash walks, where she frolics like a maniac with other dogs, as often as we can, and it's not enough.  She needs more.  When we got her, the people selling her told us she is part black lab, part Australian Shepard.  This may or may not be true, but she is 100% pure energy, plus another 35% neurosis.  She's a hot mess most of the time.  All that puppy energy, plus a couple of breeds with high activity quotients means we basically adopted a full-time job.

No worries, you're thinking: this family has five kids!  Plenty of help with a new dog!  Riiiiiiight.  Have you met my children?  I love them to the ends of being and ideal grace, but they're basically worthless when it comes to sharing any kind of workload.

Don't get me wrong, I went into the whole "let's get a new dog" thing with my eyes wide open.  I knew it would be Rick and me doing most of the work.  Luckily, I fell so hard in love with that little munchkin that I'm ready to sacrifice cooking for my human children to fulfill her needs.  I am repaid handsomely in love and devotion, so it all works out.

Anyway, I recently realized that our hour-long walks are not doing the trick, so yesterday I had a mission: Get. Zuzu. Tired.

I found a book the other day called Bay Area Hikes with Dogs, and found a lovely hike less than 20 miles from home that looked like it might take me a couple of hours and introduce me to some local nature trails new to me: Bort Meadow Trail, sort of near Lake Chabot. I loaded whacko little Zuzu in the car and off we went.  This is how she felt about the experience shortly after we arrived:



And this is how the rest of the experience went:

Turns out, Bay Area Hikes for Dogs is less than exact in its trail directions, and what I thought would be a two-hour hike turned into a 3.5-hour long epic, during which I asked myself several times "Am I lost?  I'm not lost, am I? I'm probably not lost."  And while texting my husband, I assured him I was not lost, while not exactly sure of that myself.  (True story, hon.)

The directions in the book, while less than clear, matched many of the things I saw.  The book said that at one point, it would seem like the trail ended, but that I should continue on the paved portion of road for .2 miles until picking it up again just past the water tower.  Well, long after having taken a wrong turn that I blame on the less than clear directions, I did in fact come upon a spot where it seemed like the trail ended and a paved path took over for about .2 miles.  I picked up the trail again and kept going, for a long while.  I passed a golf course; I passed Lake Chabot.  The book did not mention either of these rather significant sightings, and I started to get suspicious.

Finally, I came upon a trail map and consulted it, and could tell I was nowhere near where I was supposed to be.   So I started backtracking.  I drank all my water. I ate my apple.  I stopped seeing people.  It got cold and windy.  I started cursing all that nature.  I became a bitter, unhappy hiker. It was ENDLESS.

Did I mention the signs that warned that this area was home to coyotes?  That was fun.

Also fun was the part where I was finally less than half a mile from my car, and the only path back had a sign next to it saying: "Trail closed; this path will be reopened when it is safe for the public."   It took me about 5 seconds to decide to take my chances on the closed path rather than (a) backtrack for another two hours or (b) continue on the main path with no idea where it went or how it would get me back to my car.  The book said that this smaller trail -- Buckeye Trail -- was a lovely, very secluded path back to Bort Meadow.  Damn that “closed path” BS, I needed the shortest distance between me and my Prius. Blowing past the TRAIL CLOSED sign, I felt like such a little nature rebel.  But here I am, writing about it, so we know it all worked out.

At the end of the whole thing, I had walked 21,000 steps, I was dirty, dusty, grumpy and tired.

But LOOK WHAT I DID:



It's hard to take a photo of a black dog, but trust me: that pup was OUT.

Success! So basically, I need to quit my job and devote myself to making this dog tired 4 hours of every day.  We might not be able to feed the kids, pay college tuition, or keep our house, but Zuzu will be well cared for, so it's all good.

She makes me happy.







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