Mind & Spirit

Janine’s Journal: Day Trippin’ with Dogs

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Summer’s all about making memories with family, friends, and in this case, furry friends. Travel with managing editor Janine Pumilia, as she explores our region with those she loves most.

Enchanting scenes like this one on Elizabeth Road in Jo Daviess County make you howl for joy – or at least make you want to.  (Janine Pumilia photos)

Enchanting scenes like this one on Elizabeth Road in Jo Daviess County make you howl for joy – or at least make you want to. (Janine Pumilia photos)

When’s the last time you went sailing down a country road, windows down, your jowls jiggling and rippling in the wind? Did you sniff the air as your ears flapped? Did you gleefully snap at the tractor you passed on the road? Did you pant with pure pleasure, just because you’re happy and feelin’ good?

For our dogs Brody and Quincy, the answer is “Yes! We love the country roads! We love small towns with their nicely scented sidewalks! We love sniffing statues and stopping for popcorn or ice cream! We love meeting new people and seeing new places and following new trails in new parks!”

Even if you think dogs are dumb as rocks, you have to admit they get one thing right that few of us do: They live in the moment. Completely.

In truth, I am a cat person who has learned to love dogs for their boundless enthusiasm, even though I haven’t owned a throw pillow with all four corners intact since I married my dog-loving husband Gary nearly 11 years ago. There was a time when that sort of thing drove me crazy, but not any more. Things like missing socks, chewed up magazines and sofa cushions that mysteriously “explode” in my absence no longer ruffle me. Much.

Many years ago I told you about Elsa the Weimaraner, a problem child rescued by Gary. He refused to give up on her even after she twice flunked BD school. (BD stands for Behavior Disorder or Bad Dog, take your pick.) With time and patience, this woodwork-gnawing she-monster (who was absolutely convinced  the entire world was out to kill her) turned into the most loyal and loving dog friend imaginable. Losing her to sudden heart failure three Easter Sundays ago broke our hearts. Elsa was living proof that “love never fails” (and that my husband may indeed have superhero powers, something I have long suspected.)

Losing Elsa hurt, and it took us awhile to plunge back into the rewarding but exhausting work of converting Wild Things into Good Citizens. We didn’t want another Weimaraner because it could never compare favorably to Elsa, so we chose a close cousin instead, the Vizsla breed.

The Vizsla is aptly nicknamed “the Velcro dog” because he sticks so close to his human. After we adopted our first one, Brody, in August 2014, we were so taken with his affectionate personality that, in a temporary lapse of sanity, we went back to the breeder the next week and adopted Quincy, Brody’s brother and the last pup of that litter. He was being sold at half price and there was a certain neurotic quality about him that reminded us of Elsa. Maybe it was his stunning inability to hold one thought in his head for more than 2 seconds; I’m not sure. I just figured he would be a worthy challenge for Gary.

One thing is certain. The books weren’t lying about the Velcro thing. If you don’t want a cuddler who loves nothing better than lavishing you with undying affection every minute of every day, and simply has to lay as close to you as possible, this breed is not for you.

It turns out that Vizslas also adore car rides. So after nearly a year of double puppy training, we deemed “the boys” fit to accompany us on several work/pleasure daytrips this summer. They found these adventures to be highly enjoyable, as did we. And, it gave Daphne the cat some well-deserved peace and quiet. She has earned it.

Dogs are good travel companions. They don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a ball. They don’t care what station plays on the radio. They aren’t backseat drivers. They feel no road rage. And they find every statue, memorial and historic landmark as fascinating as Gary and I do.

From points north – like Monroe, New Glarus, Lake Geneva and Mineral Point in Wisconsin – to points south and west in Illinois, like Amboy, Dixon, Oregon, Stockton, Mount Carroll, Galena and Polo – our foursome explored not only nooks and crannies, but parks, museums, shops, fire hydrants and the country roads that string them all together.

Elsewhere in this issue, and in issues to come, you’ll be reading about many of the interesting places and people our foursome got to know this summer.

And guess what? Autumn is also a great time to get up and go, whether you have four legs or two.

So what are you waiting for? Roll down your windows and let the wind ripple your skin, jiggle your jowls and flap your ears. It’s great to be alive!

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