2020

Well, it’s now May, 2020 and there have been some changes in my life & the world. In the world, as you know, Covid-19 is present – it is definitely curtailing my choice of walking venues.  For example, at my favorite location, Crissy Field, the parking lot is closed and on street parking is severely curtailed because of, it appears, a construction project.  So, for any senior dog like myself, it is seriously inconvenient if not impossible to get to the beach.  

In my case, not only am I a senior with the typical aches & pains, but I’ve been suffering from hip dysplasia.  I’ve been dealing with this for several years and it’s now quite advanced – if I lie down, I have trouble getting up; down is a hassle too. My days of running fast are behind me.  Navigating the stairs without a helper is out, but when outside I can do whatever needs doing.

A second condition I’ve developed over the last year or so is called Laryngeal Paralysis – it’s complicated, but the bottom line is that, for no apparent reason, I begin gasping, which is troubling to my guardians and me as well.  The gasping comes on, sometimes lasts for 5-10 minutes, and then I return to normal.  Even during the night, when I’m quite comfy in my donut bed , I might need to stand up and gasp.  This can be very distracting for my guardians, who would like to be sleeping.

As to my being a senior, I definitely qualify.  Although my birthdate is unknown, I’ve been with my guardians for 13 years, and they’ve been the best years.  I may have been 1-1.5 when they adopted me, so I’m old – earlier this year I overheard the Vet say, in so many words, that my days were numbered, but of course I already knew that.  So sad but, as they say, nothing lasts forever.

One of the bright sides of getting older is that I seem to be appreciated even more than before.  I’ve noticed more frequent park visits – the Presidio Golf Course was special on all 3 visits, especially the last with Sudie & Pippa.  (The golf course was kindly open to pedestrians for a couple weeks during Covid-19). I’ve also noticed more variety in my diet which has always been largely kibble.  Lately, my kibble servings have been improved with raw carrots, barbequed chateaubriand, or my favorite addition, roasted salmon.

Me & my friend, Pippa

In addition to the limitations of my several afflictions and advancing age in general, here in San Francisco the mayor’s order to “shelter in place” began March 17th – since then my walks have been almost uniformly out the front door, with only an occasional car-enabled expedition to a nearby city park. Since I love new places, it was a major treat two weekends ago when my family drove up to Healdsburg for an afternoon visit with cousin Peggy and her husband Richard. I exempted myself from following the social distancing protocol, and exchanged fond looks and tail wags with Peggy & Richard, who reciprocated with sincere affection. I knew them well from other visits including the weekend I hosted them at Wally’s Place last autumn.

Cousin Peggy’s been a friend for years…

It’s now May 31st – we’ve been pretty much homebound by the virus since mid-March – the nearby pet store, Pet Food Express, my favorite place to get a bath, has been open for product sales but its wonderful self service bath department has been idle. But my guardian began to feel I needed a real, complete bath – so she called PFE yesterday & learned the bath department just opened again, so we went for our appointment this morning. I’m now clean & brushed, feeling good if a little tired. But I’ll rally this afternoon for a meeting we all have in Marin.

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2018 – 2019

2018 began as a continuation of 2017 but things unexpectedly changed in mid-January when, in a routine visit, my Vet noticed a bump in my abdomen and diagnosed it as a spleen tumor, a dangerous condition that can be cancerous or fatal if not removed.  A biopsy was high risk so, with insights from the Vet, my guardians decided on an operation, a splenectomy, and before I knew it, I was awakening in the hospital without my spleen and 2 or so pounds lighter.  Whew!  The symptom I had often means cancer but I was lucky to dodge that!  Heartening to my family, in a week or so I was recovered and felt as good as new! 

Above: Christmas Eve, 2017 with family friend Lynn; with my guardians the Sunday before my operation; meeting new friend

For 5 months after my operation Laguna Beach life continued routinely in that remarkable, wonderful community.  

Then in June I noticed boxes being packed and I was soon in the Subaru for a long drive and change of residency back to SF.  My guardians had decided to return to their city of several decades and purchased a condo in Pacific Heights they named for me, Wally’s Place.  It’s close to the ground and handy to the 4 walks I take each day.

As I look back, I liked a several things about Laguna Beach a lot:  the nearby relatives, the beaches (especially Main and Woods Cove), and my career of being a pal and good listener for humans.  The main negative for me was the rather warm summer weather.

Above, clockwise from upper left: Quiet morn at Main Beach; Meeting some volleyball players; new friend, name unknown; famous lifeguard stand and Kai, the head lifeguard, whose foot I’m sitting on like I do with others too!; with my guardian; in yellow top is Lasse who bicycles in many mornings – this was my last morning in Laguna

After moving back to San Francisco, I really enjoyed getting to know my new neighborhood, which is just 7-8 blocks (which include a large hill) from my old.  A favorite feature of the neighborhood is the San Francisco Public Library’s Presidio Branch – it is right across the street and features an architecturally correct building and a nice city park with lots of grass and, often, peers from the neighborhood. These peers include Ruby & Koa, fellow residents of my building. 

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2016 – 2017

Picking up from my August, 2016 post – what I didn’t say at the time was that I was writing from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (CDA). My family had driven up because one of our nieces had a June wedding overlooking beautiful lake Coeur d’Alene.

In Coeur d’Alene (CDA) we socialized a lot with family and learned our CDA based family members had just decided after many decades to leave CDA for the Portland, OR area, a process they thought would take a year or two because of the thin real estate market around Lake CDA and the uniqueness of their property.  Since the relatives were the primary reason we visited CDA and my guardians could see the handwriting on the wall, they decided to place our CDA condo up for sale – we were there and had the time to prepare, list and, hopefully, sell the condo.

Northern Idaho is often hot (90F or so) on summer days so I was spending much of June-August indoors with the A/C unit, which was fine.  Mornings and evenings were cooler and better times to venture out for some walks and changes of scenery.

On the condo listing things moved more quickly than we’d even hoped for, and we had a deal to sell the condo and vacate in August!  All we had to do was decide what personal effects we wanted to haul to California, and outplace the REST through an estate sale or donations.  One of my guardians is an expert in these things and she soon and painlessly had us ready to head south.

This is my  last pose in Coeur d’Alene:

Pausing in CDA 8/9/16 before hopping in car for SF

As best I can recall, after leaving CDA we caravanned the loaded U-Haul truck and our Subaru down  over to the Portland area and stopped briefly to see the relatives’ new homes in Silverton and Canby, and then continued on I-5 to Redding and over to San Francisco.

In San Francisco we first transferred the truck’s contents into the U-Haul self-storage near Candlestick. After returning the truck for about 10 days we did the normal things I enjoy in SF, especially walking, splashing, and hanging out with peers at Crissy Field.  Then it was into the Subaru for the 7.5 hour drive to Laguna Beach.

For the next 15 months or so, through 2017, I was an Orange County (OC) resident, travelling just a few times to San Francisco.  My home was in the historic Woods Cove neighborhood of Laguna Beach, 3 blocks from the beach and about a mile south of downtown.  Many mornings I visited Laguna’s Main Beach and enjoyed its wonderful attributes including the views, the dogs, and the people.

At UCI, successfully calming a law student

Above: I’m at University of California Irvine during finals week lowering the stress level.

I volunteered for the local chapter of PAWS (Pets Are Wonderful Support) and served the community in a variety of roles:  I was a therapy dog in a seniors’ facility; I served as a sympathetic companion to UC Irvine Law students during finals week;  and my most steady “employment” was as an attentive listener in library branches as children read to me as part of their reading education program*.  I was fairly busy with these chores as they were in several locations in southern OC such as Laguna Niguel, Dana Point, Irvine, and Newport Beach as well as Laguna Beach (map is below).

In parallel with my professional roles, I always had time to be a good family member – hanging out with my canine relatives, Oscar, Lily, and Cece, along with my two-legged nephews, William and Barrett.

*”You are the best dog ever born” is what one one of my students wrote me.

Later in May, having fun with relatives
Orange County
Orange County. Laguna Beach is 50 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.
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Hello again!

Hello, it’s Wally!  We haven’t been in touch for far too long and I apologize.  In just a few words I’d like to summarize my life since I left off in my last post (August, 2016!).  In one sense a lot has happened since then.  But in another sense, things have pretty much been the same.  (Perhaps you have that feeling?)

For me, what’s been the same is easy to report – I continue with my life purpose of helping other dogs wag their tails and humans smile.  I remain focused on my main mission of being an uplifting force in this world, especially for those humans I’m fortunate to meet and interact with.  I always strive to be a great companion, neighbor, and citizen.  Because of my advancing years, I can’t spread goodwill as often or widely as I once did, but I still like to think it’s a better world with my good cheer.

To summarize the constants, just as for the past fourteen plus years, every day I eat, sleep, walk, & wag.  In my own way I strive to make the world a better place.  And then the next day, it’s repeat.

To convey some of my activities in 2016, below is a small handful (paw-ful?) of photos taken during that year.  I plan to circle back with you before long with more details on my whereabouts in 2016 and 2017.

 

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Update on my late 2015 whereabouts

Yes, I realize this post is long overdue and I apologize. On many days since I last wrote I’ve been traveling between one spot and another, keeping my guardians company. On other days I’ve been napping, which shouldn’t surprise anyone now that I’m a Senior.  (My how time flies!)  Nonetheless, no two days are the same, and I’ll try to convey that in the photos I’ve chosen to post along with a few words of narrative.

Terry's one of my buddies at Main Beach in Laguna Beach

August, 2015 with my good buddy, Terry, in the morning at Main Beach

When in Laguna Beach, on many mornings I’ll connect with Terry, one of Laguna’s renowned watermen, a real estate agent, and a nice guy too. Terry has been a lifeguard, surfs of course, and can’t imagine being too far from the California coast.  He’s one of the Laguna denizens I know at Main Beach, and in the future I’ll mention a couple of others.

 

 

 

 

Last November my guardians and I were invited to Thanksgiving with relatives in Idaho;  even though it’s a long, long drive from Laguna, my family didn’t find that too burdensome so we took off.  Much of the drive was beautiful but nothing topped driving up US 395 on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada:

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Typical view of the southern Sierra from 395 near Lone Pine, CA

While on that segment my guardians took a 2 mile detour to visit Convict Lake, base camp for a long day hike one of them took earlier in the year.

Last Thanksgiving we stopped to stretch at Convict Lake.

Me & the Convict Lake boathouse.  A sliver of the lake is visible on left.

Laguna to CDA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through California, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington we went over two long days.  (But, to be sure, drives don’t stress me much – I have my bed & am almost always resting easily – er, dogging it.)

Our destination and home for a few days was Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, a town/city of about 46,000 humans and quite a few dogs.  As it’s known to locals, CDA has a lot going for it:   a nice downtown that’s situated adjacent to beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene for starters.  Other noteworthy attractions, to me at least, include the world famous Hudson’s hamburger store, the Bakery by the Lake and its quite tasty dog treats, and Figpickels Toy Emporium.

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Front door of Hudson’s, in CDA since 1907

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Hudson’s interior just after opening

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CDA also has a very nice public library which itself is near to a wonderful lakefront park with trails that I love, Tubbs Hill.

Sadly, we don’t have photos of me in the Thanksgiving festivities.  But I was there with all family members including two from my peer group.

Soon after Thanksgiving we began the trek back to California.  We routed ourselves through Portland and stayed a couple of nights so we could spend time with our friends there and also see a niece we’d also seen in CDA.

At Riverplace Hotel in Portland on trip home after Thanksgiving

I’m being held captive behind the Portland hotel counter awaiting my guardians’ return from dinner.

From Portland we drove down Interstate 5 and ducked into Eugene for a wonderful lunch at a Vietnamese hole in the wall.  Then on to a quick night in Ashland, OR and on to San Francisco.

From SF my guardians flew to Cleveland to see relatives while I stayed in the City and networked with my friend and admirer, Judith, and her lawn bowling friends.  Upon return of my guardians, we got back in the car for the day drive to Laguna so we’d be there for Christmas with our Laguna family and the holidays with my many friends there.

So, you can see the last few months of 2015 were busy and, I hope, a good enough excuse that you’ll understand my not writing sooner.

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Here I’m in Portland’s Pearl District with my lifelong pal, Bill.

 

 

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It’s hot here in Laguna Beach!

Hello from sunny & super hot Laguna Beach!

It hit 100F Saturday (10/10), the high today was 94F and it’ll be warm for at least a few days more.  The air temperature was also in the 90F’s for an extended period in September.  Compare these torrid temps with “normal” which in October is a high in the mid 70’s:

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When I went down to the beach today at 5 PM it was 90F, windless, and busy. But just a few of my peers hanging out, just too warm.

Getting ready to hit the beach, today! I love to just hang out down there.

Getting ready to hit the beach, today! I love to just hang out down there.

For the full effect, my guardian took this short video:

As a civilian non-scientist, I don’t know all about global warming but I can feel that it’s Hot. And way hotter than normal.

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Serving Others

Hi there!

One of my guardians recently visited Ohio for a high school reunion, to see family, and to participate in a tour of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, an auction item on which he was the winning bidder at a fundraiser for one of his causes, The Education Foundation.

(The tour was given by Bruce Latimer, the museum’s former Executive Director, a professor at Case Western Reserve University, and an authority on the evolution of human locomotion.)

Bruce Latimer, renowned paleoanthropologist, and a portion of the collection at CMNH.org.

Bruce Latimer, renowned paleoanthropologist, and a portion of the collection at CMNH.org.

While in Ohio, my guardian connected with a good friend, Jim Walters, legal counsel for my guardian’s hometown, the City of Berea.  In the course of one of their conversations Mr. Walters posited that, to put purpose in life, one must help others…  Put another way, that serving others was an important dimension to a full and meaningful life.

Of course I agree with that and, in my own way, do my best to serve others by “working” to help them to have a better day.

Here I'm meeting with several University High students before class, helping them to a pleasant mood, for sure.

Here I’m meeting with several University High students before class, helping them to a pleasant mood, for sure.

For example, when I awaken, I time my jumping out of bed to coincide (more-or-less) with my guardians’ arising, so we can begin to enjoy the day together with my licks & tail wags.  In return I usually get some small talk I don’t understand, but no worries.  If convenient, I might lie on my back and allow them to scratch/rub my belly – from the delight I convey I can see the pleasure they also receive.

Playing around with my friends, Bill & Julie; everyone is smiling!

Playing around with my friends, Bill & Julie; everyone is smiling!

As the day progresses and we get out for our walks together, I do my best to cheer up just about every dog and person I meet.  I sense my peers’ interest in socializing and react accordingly with sniffs, tail wags, and other civilized behavior.

Jodie & her two Russian Wolfhounds, Ann & Mousseline

Jodie & her two Russian Wolfhounds, Ann & Mousseline…with so much time in Laguna Beach, I miss seeing them

 

For those with only two legs, child or adult, I offer my penetrating brown eyes along with tail wags.  Occasionally I even sit on one of more of their feet to be in even greater emotional consonance.

As you might guess, many of my days seem to blend into the next.  Laguna Beach, San Francisco, back & forth, walks to downtown Laguna, the Presidio Library park or Crissy Field…these are all tolerable (in the case of our all day drives) to exquisite (Crissy Field or trips with my good friend Judith to her club, the San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club.)

Judith & Bill, SFLBC's volunteer instructor...we all have such a good time together!

Judith & Bill, SFLBC’s volunteer instructor…we all have such a good time together!

Wherever I am, wherever I go, I do my best in service of the world to make it a happier, more pleasant place for all.

Kelsey and me after a great afternoon on Crissy Field, just before we said our goodbyes

Kelsey and me after a great afternoon on Crissy Field, just before we said our goodbyes

 

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Checking in….

Hello friends,

It’s been a long time, especially in dog years, since I corresponded. Sorry, I wish it weren’t so and I’ll try to be better…

I’ve been spending most of my time in San Francisco, Laguna Beach, and points in between including a few trips on Interstate 5. Life’s been good. Made a lot of new friends. Eating well. Still exercising, although there are occasional days I don’t really feel like it.

I see old friends now and then but not often enough. Life goes by fast, you know. We need to be in touch better.

Rather than providing a boring, linear report on the last year, I thought I’d post just a few photos that I find interesting or are representative of how my days go. (Some boring times are omitted, as are some really fun times, but you’ll get the drift.)

Until next time, warm regards,

Wally

 

Across the Bay in Alameda, a very well located and patronized corner with a great brand!

Across the Bay in Alameda, a very well located and patronized corner with a great brand!

Winter up near Weed, CA, the teepee is down but the landlord still likes to have fun.

Winter up near Weed, CA, the teepee is down but the landlord still likes to have fun.

On a spring day on our way to a Golden Gate Band concert, I was diverted by this fun group.

On a spring day on our way to a Golden Gate Band concert, I was diverted by this fun group.

'Twas an overcast autumn day but that didn't limit our friendship-making.

‘Twas an overcast autumn day but that didn’t limit our friendship-making.

The brother of one of my guardians, who was visiting from far away, invited me to come a little closer.

The brother of one of my guardians, who was visiting from far away, invited me to come a little closer.

New friends I found playing at Woods Cove

New friends I found playing at Woods Cove

Winter sunset from a favorite walk, Treasure Island Park, just seaward of the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach.

Winter sunset from a favorite walk, Treasure Island Park, just seaward of the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach.

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Back in town!

Yes, I had a walk at Crissy Field the morning of Saturday, Oct 5, 2013, even though the Golden Gate National Recreation Area was Closed because of the partial Federal government shutdown!  Man, what a beautiful day!

Yes, I had a walk at Crissy Field the morning of Saturday, Oct 5, 2013, even though the Golden Gate National Recreation Area was Closed because of the partial Federal government shutdown! Man, what a beautiful day!

Hi! This is Wally writing again. A lot has been going on at my end, which has kept me away from updating you by my blogging on MrWally.com. I’ve been either busy or lazy for more than a year and am sorry…

I just wanted to check in and give you a brief update.

Last summer my guardians decided we should make a change in our living quarters. (They’d been in the same house for 25 years. I liked the home a lot, the only one I’ve really known, especially my perch on the front window seat.) Anyway, we took the summer to shine the house up and then put it on the market in early September. Before long there was an accepted offer and we all transitioned to the downsizing/moving mode. That wasn’t too much fun for anyone, but at least the Giants won the World Series! Also, I was able to get away for a couple weeks in late August to visit my relatives in Laguna Beach, which I always enjoy.

In early November we moved 8 or 9 blocks up the hill from our old Cow Hollow house to a condo in Pacific Heights. I don’t mind it here, especially since there’s library across the street with lots of comings & goings. Also, it’s surrounded by grass, making a nice park that almost always has some from my peer group to play with. (Some of my most favorite pals are Bea, Penny, and Charlie.) Another benefit of this neighborhood is that it’s busier, so I see dogs and people on almost all of my walks. Plus there are more directions we can walk to access coffee shops easily, and it’s still easy to get down to the Presidio Starbucks to hang out. Although there is no window seat (yet) so my view isn’t as good as it was, at least there’s talk of installing one.

Right after moving but before we’d really settled in here, we drove up to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho for the Holidays. That was a nice getaway and quite fun for me – a chance to cool off, see some relatives, and get lots of play time in snow, a first for me!

In April one of my guardians and I drove to Laguna Beach to babysit a new grandchild in the family for a week or so. We had so much fun!!! Cece and Peg were in town and Oscar, toddler William, and baby Barrett came over a lot. Especially Barrett.

We had such a nice time…the relatives are very nice to us…when they returned from Washington (DC), my guardian and I were encouraged to stay several more days, which everyone enjoyed.

In mid May my guardians and I went up to Idaho again to experience “springtime” there for the first time. It was pleasant, not too hot, not too cold; lots of sun. (I forgot to mention, on the April visit to Laguna, one of my guardians’ sisters encouraged us to look for a home in Laguna Beach.) We were quite relaxed (at least I was) when we received a phone call from the sister in Laguna about a “cottage” that just came on the market. She wanted us to check it out on the Internet, which we did, and then things moved Fast! In short, our visit in Idaho was cut short because we had made an offer which was accepted on the cottage even though we hadn’t yet seen it in person!

We returned as quickly as we could (2 day drive) to San Francisco, took a day off, and then drove the 8 or so hours to Laguna, so we could all check out the cottage we were in contract for. To cut to the chase, my guardians purchased the cottage, and I’m driving down later this week to take up residence there, which I’m sure I’ll like. But I like San Francisco too, so I was pleased to learn we’ll be back in San Francisco on a regular basis.

After being on the sidelines for so long, I’m so glad to have picked up my pen and written. I’d been feeling guilty about letting folks like you down, but now I feel a lot better about myself. Going forward, I promise to be as good a writer as any dog can be.

Proving that I still have a “large footprint” (pawprint?) in San Francisco, look at me on another of my walks last weekend:

A good time to be in the urban Alta Plaza Park, near sundown Oct 5 2013

A good time to be in the urban Alta Plaza Park, near sundown Oct 5 2013

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Mother’s Day expedition

It’s been a normal routine for most of the past two weeks, with the highlight being a very excellent Mother’s Day.  First off, I had an early walk to Home Plate and waited in the car for my guardians to rejoin me after their breakfast.    In the early afternoon we all went on an expedition to San Francisco’s Sunset District.

By way of background, one of my guardians has become interested in the stairs of San Francisco.  Yes, there are a lot of stairs…in fact, there are guidebooks pointing out some of those not to be missed.  On Sunday, my guardian who had the honor of selecting a stairway destination referred to Stairway Walks in San Francisco published by Wilderness Press, and off we went…

The Sunset District is just south of the Golden Gate Park, a 15 or so minute drive.  Sunset neighborhood names of  Inner, Central, and Outer Sunset suggest a certain uniformity and the architecture is largely consistent.  The street grid is east-west-north-south and the Pacific is the Sunset’s western border.  At its widest point, the Sunset is around 50 blocks, almost 3 miles.

In truth, there aren’t many stairs in the Sunset.  However, there is one good-sized hill in the area, and on Sunday we learned that it and its surrounding streets are a carve-out from the Sunset called Golden Gate Heights.  The hill is called Turtle Hill and there’s a park on top, Grand View Park.  That name is accurate!

We found the steps we were looking for and they are awesome!  The genesis of the beautiful steps is the surrounding community, which conceived, planned, and funded the

That's me posing near the stairway bottom. Notice the fish!

That’s me posing near the stairway bottom. Notice the fish!

wonderful mosaics on the 163 steps.  For the story, which is quite interesting, go to http://tiledsteps.org/Default.asp.

After summiting Turtle Hill, we enjoyed the grand view with our PB & J & pickle sandwiches and then

In foreground, one block of Golden Gate Heights. Beyond is the Sunset & Pacific Ocean with fogbank.

In foreground, one block of Golden Gate Heights. Beyond is the Sunset & Pacific Ocean with fogbank.

descended the many flights of stairs.  Our next stop would be GGNRA’s Fort Funston in the southwest corner of San Francisco.

Fort Funston is a favorite for all dogs – it’s big, scenic, and oceanfront with handsome sand dunes and a sandy beach.  Most remarkably & importantly, the National Park Service doesn’t mind if my peers and I are off leash!

At Fort Funston: I'd like you all to follow me!
At Fort Funston: I’d like you all to follow me!

It was my first ever visit there and we had a long enough walk – although I met a lot of dogs, visits weren’t that lengthy since most of us were primarily immersed in the fresh air, views, and smells.

Upon returning home, I benefited from a nice warm bath and then a well deserved nap…

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