My good friend Judith

When I moved to the Bay Area over 4 years ago, one of the first people I met up here was Judith.  From our very first meeting we got on very well and our friendship has only grown – she’s truly one of my favorite humans.

Judith & me in Golden Gate Park

You see, I’m a social animal – I love to be out and about, meeting new people and other dogs, getting fresh air and smells, and just seeing what’s around the next corner.  Whenever I see Judith, I can count on a serious expedition even though I’m on one end of a leash.

Judith is well known to my guardians because she was also a favorite of my predecessor, Raleigh, for most of his 15 years.  When I followed Raleigh, my guardians were quick to include Judith in my social circle – after our first meeting and for over 3 years, I saw Judith monthly or more frequently, and we sometimes spent days together.

As Judith reports, “Wally and I get on very well – despite me being of British descent, he seems to understand my accent very well…it is the humans who have a problem  🙂 …Wally and I love to walk in the Presidio and on to Crissy field.  He loves to check out the little mounds of earth that the gophers make and I have to say ‘move on Wally or we will never finish this walk.’”

Last March, when I accompanied Judith to SFO (San Francisco International Airport) and dropped her off at the curb signed Virgin Atlantic, little did I know my times with her would be curtailed.  She’s of British heritage, and after many years in the U.S., decided to move back to England and resettle in Bath.

I missed her but didn’t really realize it.  Then, last September, when my guardians vacationed overseas, Judith returned from England and moved in with me…what a great time we had!  Lots of great walks in the neighborhood – each one an hour or more, not the 10-15 minute jobs I often get from my guardians (although something is always better than nothing!).

The past two weeks have been another heavenly period because Judith has been back in town.  She was asked by another client in our neighborhood to housesit a favorite cat – as you might guess, that’s not a totally demanding job, so Judith has had free time to join me for some touring.

Judith is an excellent lawn bowler and has for many years been an active member of the San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club, established in 1901 and America’s oldest municipal lawn bowling club.  I’ve accompanied her to bowls a number of times and made many new friends there.  So I was so pleased a few days ago to again be hosted by Judith for a few hours of hanging out and watching Judith, Bill and their clubmates, all while enjoying the beautiful greens and scenery of Golden Gate Park.

I can spend hours watching the nice people of the SF Lawn Bowling Club

You may be asking: “What is lawn bowling?”  In short, you roll bowls on grass attempting to come to rest as close as possible to a target ball, called a “jack.”  The game is related to bocce.  But someone once said, “Bocce is like checkers and lawn bowling is like chess.”  I couldn’t agree more.

Bowls clustered around the jack

I could go on about lawn bowling and our club, including its beautiful, historic and comfortable clubhouse (which has a nice display of postage stamps featuring lawn bowling from many countries including Australia, Tonga, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Canada, and South Africa).  Instead, I urge you to check out the website, http://sflbc.org, where there’s lots of interesting content on lawn bowling and the club.

As she recently completed her cat sitting assignment, one of my guardians and I just returned from driving Judith down to SFO again.  So sad to see her off, yet I’m so happy to have had the good times with her for the past two weeks, and I do look forward to the possibility of a visit for me later this year.

Judith & Bill, SFLBC's volunteer instructor

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Yes, it was a Happy New Year’s Day!

My guardians & I enjoyed a beautiful day, made even better with some beach time.

BTW, I do appreciate the work of the Crissy Field Dog Group, http://crissyfielddog.org/

One of the rare moments when I’m standing still

Rear view of one of my many playmates that beautiful day

Resting for a moment, looking downtown, considering possibiliities

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December Update

I’ve had a very fun December, especially around Christmas.

Earlier in the month, my guardians accepted an invitation to stay with friends down on the San Mateo coast near Pescadero (est. 1856).  I was initially planning to go too, and was looking forward to lots of beach time.  But, alas, it was not to be – my invitation melted away after our friends checked with the homeowner/landlord, who was concerned about the notion of a wet, super sandy dog making himself at home in the family beach house.  Bummer.

To enable their weekend away, my guardians searched for a kennel up to our standards between San Francisco and Half Moon Bay, but that proved fruitless.  So I was hand delivered to my favorite weekend place up north in Sonoma.  The weather was great and I had all the normal fun and tiring activities with peers for 4 full days!  But just before checking out, there was a new wrinkle in my routine – a bath and blow dry the morning of my pickup.  Just as some humans I know, this made me feel very sharp and presentable as well as sweet smelling when my driver arrived.  But little did I know then of the downside to being so spiffy.

After two nights in Cow Hollow, the Highlander was loaded like Santa’s sled and my driver and I were off again.  This time we headed south, speeding along Interstate 5 – 6 hours later we vectored in for lunch with relatives in Simi Valley.  A nice visit, then we continued on to…Laguna Beach!  Well, this was my 3rd visit there, and I assure you Laguna is becoming one of my favorite destinations – it’s where my guardians’ relatives’ dogs, Cece and Oscar live!  They’re Labradors and siblings about my age and tons of fun.  Cece was hostess in her guardians’ home – Oscar’s home is a couple miles away, but his guardians were off to Morocco so he moved in with Cece and me.  We 3 were joined by Izzy, another Cece relative, who also lives nearby and whose companions were up in Wyoming for the holiday.

So our pack temporarily expanded to my guardians as well as Cece’s and we 4 dogs – it was great!  Lots of play, good walks in the neighborhood, and excellent off-leash hikes near Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park on Christmas Eve and Christmas, including a 4 miler on the Aliso Summit Trail.

On the trail Christmas Day

Cece, me, Oscar, & Izzy at the halfway point - Christmas hike

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful weather, great playmates, lots of exercise, deep sleeps – what more could a dog want?

What more to want? — It’s easy, terriers like me hold very highly the chance to run on the beach!  Especially with my roomies, who were escorted to the seashore at least once/day…The sticky wicket for me was that I was so clean after my bath in Sonoma, that one of my guardians preferred that I stay that way…making the beach off limits.  When I looked down from the deck I could only fantasize about how fortunate my peers down there were…every time I walked by the steps to the beach I tugged and tugged to no avail…maybe on another visit, if I’m lucky enough to be invited…

Wish I could be down there...

Even though I was disappointed not to get a couple of workouts on the beach, I certainly won’t hold a grudge.  My visit had many, many high points and I’ll always be thankful to Cece’s guardians.

I snoozed almost all the way back to SF.  Now, a few days later, I’m caught up on sleep and promise to be ready for whatever my guardians plan for New Year’s Eve!

Have a Happy New Year!

Links –

In or near Pescadero:

Duarte’s, established in 1894: http://www.duartestavern.com/.    Harley Farms, a fine goat farm and cheese maker and retailer:  http://www.harleyfarms.com/.     A few minutes away is the Pidgeon Point Lighthouse:  http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=533.    Ano Nuevo State Park is 15-20 minutes south.  In the winter months Elephant Seals are abundant and guided tours are offered:  http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=523

In Laguna Beach:  The hikes: http://www.ocparks.com/alisoandwoodcanyons/default.asp?Show=Introduction.    Beaches: http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/marine/beaches/default.asp

Main Beach in Laguna the morning after Christmas

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Mendocino Trip Notes

After a very nice Thanksgiving with Tracker, his guardians and relatives, it’s been fairly quiet around our Cow Hollow home.

We did have Larry & Janet, Cece’s guardians, up from Orange County for several days, which was a nice break in my routine.  We all went on an expedition to Mendocino, my first time to that area.  (Unfortunately, my guardians forgot their cameras, so I don’t have any good photos.)

On the ride up through the Anderson Valley we stopped in downtown Philo for what I was told was a great lunch at Libby’s.  (It’s next to the post office, you can’t miss it and plenty of free parking).  Then we circled back to Goldeneye Winery – it was a beautiful day and I walked amongst the vines – somewhat reluctantly because I wanted to be at the house with the wine tasters…With the sun glistening, evergreened hills in the background, and the vines, bushes and nearby trees in yellow, oranges, and browns, it was simply spectacular.

My pack settled on a pinot noir and we motored on.  Just before we reached downtown Mendocino, we were hailed by Larry’s cousin Ted – we turned left to visit with him, his wife Judi, and Muddy, a brown lab.  Things moved so fast!  I was hardly out of the car when Ted encouraged Muddy and me to run around the field (off leash, yea!) and down to the coastal bluff.  The salt air, the sun, the view, and the waves and surf were totally awesome!  I could hardly contain myself and am sure my guardians’ hearts skipped a beat when I nearly fell off the cliff into the Pacific!

Honestly, I get so excited when I’m off leash near the ocean – free as a bird with great views and air, my whole body feels it – in such circumstances I find it easy to forget my name!!!

Well, we were hosted for a nice dinner that evening and I overnighted at the MacCallum House (http://maccallumhouse.com/), cozy by the fire…

In the morning, just after dawn, two of us walked over to the nearby coastal bluff and found a way down to a beach protected from open ocean wave action.  With a lowish tide and lots of driftwood and seaweed on the shore, along with the sun rising across the bay, the scene was classic and I could have sniffed around there all day…

After breakfast, my entourage wanted to go shopping so I tagged along.  Some shops and the very excellent Visitor Center welcomed me, but I stayed away from the art galleries…My favorite store was Anderson’s Alternatives, an eco-lumber business with a busy, large-scale woodworking shop and a nice dog out front.  It’s the real deal, be sure to visit http://www.andersonsalternatives.com/aboutus.htm.

We took the coastal route back to San Francisco – more time but different views.  After a good night’s rest, the next morning I was invited down to the Crissy Field beach for some exercise and getting real dirty before a much needed bath – our houseguests were impressed with my rambunctioness.

Without photos, I didn’t think I’d have much to say about Mendocino, but I’ve proven that theory wrong.  Prior to writing this, in hope of finding some interesting content, I asked one of my  guardians to look into Mendocino’s history as affected by dogs – he hasn’t found much yet.  But he did discover a most fascinating peer who writes about Mendocino County and its dog friendly establishments – you’ve got to check out http://hairysblog.com/ – I definitely look forward to meeting Hairy Putter.

More links:

Visitor Center in Ford House (circa 1854): http://mendoparks.org/Mendocino-Headlands/the_mendocino_headlands_ford_h.html

Goldeneye Winery: http://www.goldeneyewinery.com/

Mendocino County Travel:  http://www.visitmendocino.com/

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My Thanks on Thanksgiving

I’m a Lucky Dog, literally!

Kicking things off, early in my life when I was lost or abandoned, I was rescued and responsibly placed.

My health is excellent (Oh yeah, once in a while I chew on rugs which indicates something, but nobody is sure what.  That upsets my system for a while – maybe it helps my case as a Wheaten, because that’s what they’re a little notorious for!)

There’s always enough food on the “table” – even though it’s a rather routine kibble, I’m grateful. (However, I’ve learned I can hold out for some “seasoning” such as chicken or turkey (white meat only please), a scrambled egg, cheddar, parmesan or cottage cheese, etc.)

There’s a roof over my head…several times more roof than I need or prefer, but it works….When I want to get cozy I just go into my cage.  I’m lucky to have so many friends around the neighborhood, both 4 and 2 legged.  My family cares about me and tolerates my few minor shortcomings so well.

In addition to all the “basics” enumerated above, I have what I realize and most dogs would agree is a very nice lifestyle. Some days are spent just lounging around in between my 4 daily walks, always alert to visitors such as my good friend, Nancy, our neighborhood’s postal carrier.

Any mail for me today ?

Every day or two, just about the right frequency, my day includes some serious park time – Crissy Field is my favorite, but we also go up to Alta Plaza now and then.  Then there is the “R & R,” rest and relaxation – sometimes up at the ranch in Sonoma with my peers and sometimes traveling to new or old locations with my guardians.

In early November I visited Jack London's grave and thought about his classic, Call of the Wild. Buck was a distant relative...

We’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving in San Jose as guests of Aunt Rose & Uncle Dan, who I’ve known for 4 years now and who also hosted a very nice Thanksgiving for 10 of us last year.  I’ll be hanging out, just being part of the family and giving lots of licks – if things get a little too slow I’ll try to liven the afternoon up by chasing my peer group member, Tracker, around the yard.  Amidst all the visiting, it’ll be a good day to reflect on what a Lucky Dog I am.

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Wally

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FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

What’s your story?

Some of it is in this blog under “About.”  Neither my guardians or I know my birth date or where I was born or anything about my early life before I was found homeless.  Why I was in the park in Rancho Cucamonga (without an ID) is a big question mark.  Anyway, I was found and taken care of and eventually connected with a family that wanted me.

How did you and your new family get connected?

After my new family’s previous companion, a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier named Raleigh, passed away at age 15 and a period of mourning, they decided they wanted another dog.  They again attended the annual dog show at the Cow Palace to see what breed was attractive, and again decided a Wheaten was for them.  But this time they preferred to adopt a rescue dog if a good match could be found.  They conveyed this to the breeder community in Northern California (http://scwtcnc.net) and, as luck would have it, in a few weeks they were alerted that a Wheaten foster home in Orange, CA, had a resident in need of a new home.  That was me!  My guardians were invited to come down and meet me, which they did right away.  We went for a walk through my home’s suburban neighborhood, and the rest is history.

What is a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier?

A breed of dog named for its coat, which is soft with a gentle wave and of warm wheaten color.   There is extensive information on us at http://scwtca.org and additional information at the American Kennel Club, http://www.akc.org/breeds/soft_coated_wheaten_terrier/.

What role did the breeders play a role in your rescue?

After I was discovered homeless in the park, I was taken to the local public shelter for a few days.  When I wasn’t claimed, the shelter reached out to the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Association of Southern California, http://wheaten.org.  That organization’s rescue department placed me in a foster home for Wheatens and contacted local breeders to see if anyone knew anything about me or heard from any of their clientele about a missing male.  Nothing came of those outreach efforts, so they publicized my availability to breeders outside of Southern California.

Are you really a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier?  How do you know?

In a few words, we think so.  Soon after my adoption and relocation to San Francisco, I interacted with many breeders at a Wheaten healthy living function in East Bay.  Their assessment was uniformly that I am a Wheaten.  Of course we have no documents to “prove” that.

Anything else you’d like to mention today?

At 53 lbs., I’m big for a Wheaten – my breed is normally 30-40 lbs or so.  I’m also more social than most Wheatens and mellower than most other Wheatens and terriers.

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The ‘hood – My neighborhood

My home is in the Cow Hollow neighborhood of San Francisco near the Presidio’s Lyon Street entrance. For a city, it’s a quiet neighborhood comprised of single family dwellings, 2 flats, and small apartment buildings.

Most buildings are near the street and the interiors of the nearby city blocks contain many good-sized gardens – we have one behind our house.  But it’s my choice to use the garden only for play – most days I get 4 walks and the neighborhood has a good number of trees and fireplugs.

My neighbors include responsible companions and Puppy, Molly, Archie, Harriet, Fidel, Casey, Drew, Speedy, Taffy, Bella, Zara, Molly, Dolly, Sadie, Rory, Adobe, and Riley.  And it seems like every week or two, I meet a new neighbor.

There are just a few small shops in my neighborhood, and my favorite is Artifact, http://www.sfartifact.com/.  It offers art classes for children and I very much appreciate its friendly owners and that they always place a big bowl of water out front.

I'm truly a "social animal" - here I'm meeting before class with Artifact's owners, Bianca & Lauren.

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A Dog’s Life…

Groom is on Clement near 10th - a street with many interesting shops and restaurants.

Usually I enjoy car rides because we’re going somewhere I like or at least find interesting.  However, occasionally that’s not the case – the best example is a short trip that comes every 6-8 weeks – I can sense the neighborhood and then see the signage at Groom, which is just what you think.   That means I need to spend 4-5 hours in the queue and on the table getting my soft coat trimmed.  It’s not a terribly long day and Nona and the other folks at Groom are very nice but, let’s face it, waiting around for a haircut isn’t as much fun as a lot of other things.

Slurpy and me at the garage sale - she's very cuddly but hard to keep still!

That was last Thursday…on Saturday, my guardians had a garage/furniture sale along with several neighbors.  It was a success as our house outplaced several furniture items that were from way back and other items as well.  I had a very nice time, lounging around on the cool, shaded sidewalk and retreating to my window seat inside our home when things got too routine or tiresome.  Some of my friends came by including Slurpy and Micky Lee, both from just across the street.  My guardians’ friends and our neighbors like
me, so I got a lot of good strokes that day.

Flowers we passed in Golden Gate Park on our way to and from Pet Pride Day.

On Sunday we went over to Golden Gate Park for Pet Pride Day, an outdoor expo in Sharon Meadow for pets and their guardians.  There were vendors for everything imaginable.  Leashes were mandatory, plus there was a blaring PA systems and hot sun, so we didn’t stay long.  Nonetheless, it was educational for my guardians, in part because they learned about a planning process in San Francisco that is threatening to make the city-owned parks less pet-friendly.  This information came from http://sfdog.org, an umbrella organization for over 20 dog groups in San Francisco.  Comments on the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) were due on Halloween and it is fortunate SFDOG provided sample comments so concerned citizens could more efficiently express themselves.  If you’d like to take a nap, the 562 page EIR (not counting appendices) is (at this moment) at http://www.sf-planning.org/index.aspx?page=1828.  It’s Item # is 2005.1912E.

For 2011, this is the second EIR that has had SFDOG and its stakeholders including
myself seriously agitated.  The earlier one was floated by Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), a National Park Service managed recreation area, much of which borders on San Francisco.   This EIR concerned GGNRA’s desire for a more restrictive dog policy in the national RECREATION area – -since this post is already a bit “heavy,” I’ll comment on GGNRA in a future blog and also post my letter to the NPS.

In the meantime, for an overview of dogs’ growing stature in the discourse in San Francisco, I can suggest this article on our new DogPac:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/16/us/they-bark-they-fetch-and-their-humans-vote.html

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The week that was

Hadn’t felt very well for almost a week, not sure what started it all.  After that great hike last Tuesday, I rested on Wednesday. On Thursday, I was home alone for a while…something came over me…it was mental more than physical.  Without anyone looking I ate most of one of my toys and chewed on a rug. Then I felt really terrible, both mentally and physically.  When one my guardians came home and opened the front door, I ran away! Down the street, around the corner, up the block and around the next corner with my guardian way behind.   Was finally corralled by one of my neighbor’s guardians, who was out for a jog and knew where I lived.  My own guardians vectored in on my captor and me…We all returned home but I felt awful – embarrassed about my chewing and sick to my stomach. Fortunately, I got over the mental side in a few hours, but the toy and rug stayed with me and kept me lying low, very low for days.  My appetite was nil.

Then came Sunday morning, beautiful, cloudless, and windless, and we went down to the Golden Gate Recreation Area’s Crissy Field’s East Beach.  My guardians thought we’d go for a walk with me on the leash, but I was tugging so hard to get down to the water’s edge with the other dogs, they relented and let me go.  What a time I had! Chasing other dogs and their balls, even a frisbee to take possession of…I can be a bit of a pest sometimes… Sunday morning was a great time and most of the toy I ate left me.

I started eating my kibble again. Everyone knew I was improving and, to cut to the chase, today it’s Tuesday again and I’m finally back to my normal, personable self.  Wagging my tail.  Hanging out.  Going on walks and making friends.

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Great Hike!

In Marin Headlands 10/18/11

The Pacific Ocean is about a mile behind me.

Yesterday was a special day that I really enjoyed.  It was my guardians’ (should I call them parents?) 25th anniversary, and they celebrated by taking me for a hike!  What made it extra special is that we hiked for several hours and miles and I was off-leash almost all the way!  (Don’t tell the park ranger!)

It was a really foggy day near the Golden Gate and especially the Marin Headlands, which is where we hiked.  Parking in the Rodeo Beach lot, we went up the Coastal Trail to Wolf Ridge, across, and then back down on the Miwok  Trail.  5 miles and around 1000 feet of elevation.

It was a bit mysterious because visibility was very low, often just a hundred yards or so.  (I’m glad it was cool – warm weather can slow me down.)  The dense fog blocked out the horizon, and the normally beautiful views of the nearby hills and ocean were greyed out.  But we could see the path and I was an exemplary leader, showing the way and scouting for any critters and interesting smells (found no critters and only a few good smells).  I looked back often, was welcomed by the people we met, and didn’t disturb the  environment.  (We crossed paths with 10-12 school groups of 12-15 including instructors, from the Headlands Institute.)

After our hike we drove to the nearby The Marine Mammal Center, an outstanding resource for humans and marine mammals.  I stayed in the car while my guardians checked out the exhibit of large sculptures of sea creatures made from plastic found along the Oregon coast.   The exhibit is closing soon and the coordinating artist, Angela Haseltine Pozzi, was out front by Henry (sculpture of a large fish), making sure it was in good shape for traveling to its next stop.  I’m told it was really nice to visit with her.  In all, a remarkable show and we hope it travels to a location near you.  Check out http://washedashore.org.

Angela & Henry

Artist Angela Pozzi with plastic fish, Henry.

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