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iWildWolves Photography

Capturing the essence of animals through my lens

Archive for ‘March, 2019’

How I got my 110 pound Wolf Hybrid to tolerate nail trims and how you can too!

This is probably going to be my most popular post EVER!

How to give your dog a NAIL TRIM, oh the dreaded nail trims. Over the past years, I have done so many nail trims on every dog and cat you can think of. I like to think of myself as kind of a pro, I have created a method to nail trims that keep em short and clean WITHOUT hitting the quick. First, there are a few things to go over about nail trims, so let’s started.

Why are nail trims important for my pet?

  • Keeping nails short prevent the desire to claw for cats.
  • Prevents broken toes from nails getting stuck or caught on things.
  • Improves mobility as the anatomical structure is not compromised.
  • Less damaging on us and our things (wood floors, couches, car interiors).

My dog doesn’t like his feet touched so I can’t do them, right?

Wrong. It’s possible to teach an old dog new tricks. It’s all about desensitization. You can also start by seeing your vet to get prescribed some relaxers for the extremely nervous dogs, just to get started with desensitization. I would recommend getting a demo on doing a nail trim from the vet as well, find a Fear-Free certified doctor or practice nearest to you. You can search here https://fearfreepets.com/

when people see me do nail trims on Beowolf they can’t believe me when I say he used to be horrible! He’s only been to a groomer twice in his life and I think someone cut him at one of those visits because I never did his nails and all other baths were up to me. I don’t know why he hated getting his nails done but it used to take me laying completely on top of him and fighting to just hold his nail. Eventually, he would tire out and I could tip a few nails before he broke free, he would leave me covered in sweat and fur with my hair everywhere. You would have thought I just got off a bronc, it certainly felt like I did.

Luckily Beowolf never became aggressive and laying on him was not the method I would have used to get his nails done, but it was just me, so I had to get creative (mind you this was before I went to school to be a vet tech, so I was just like you at home, learning to do my dogs nails alone).

At the time I worked at Home Depot, I thought about how I do my nails, I don’t always use clippers I use a sand file. To the hardware department, I go! I bought a medium grit sand block and sandpaper. Beowolf didn’t like the sandpaper, but I had better control with the block anyways.

Here are the supplies you may use:

  • Sander– Block, paper, nail file (should depend on the size of your dog). You can use either manual tools or machines like a Dremel (more on that below).
  • Clippers– I like medium sized dog nail clippers from Millers Forge, they work great for shearing off layers and aren’t too bulky. The ones with orange handles are the best. Also, you can use a pair of human nail clippers for cats, though I don’t just because I hate the sound it makes. **If your dog has BLACK or dark brown nails, don’t even bother with clippers unless the nails are ridiculously long. If you can’t see where the quick stops then don’t clip, even as a tech I don’t use clippers on dogs with black nails. Unless you have a Great Dane or a dachshund then don’t do it, these 2 breeds tend to have short quicks and long growing nails. Regardless you should only clip so far before transitioning to sanders.
  • Quick clot– This is a powder that will stop the nail from bleeding. You can find it anywhere, at the clinic we sold it in the lobby for a few dollars. This is only useful if you “knick” your pet’s quick. If you full on cut the quick halfway down just go to the vet, they’ll wrap it and prescribe pain meds.
  • High value treats– We’re talking hot dog, peanut butter, rotisserie chicken! Whatever your dog never or rarely gets as a treat will be perfect. You want them to eventually be excited for nail trims because this is when he gets his favorite treat. High value treats we use in training is Happy Howie’s which can be cut from a roll, they don’t crumble and dogs love them! We usually buy them in 6 pack rolls, but you can buy individual, 2 pack and they come in other flavors!
  • Leashes– Yes I would keep a leash on them because they can’t run away or you can give them breaks while keeping them from going off and hiding.
  • Use your words– Give everything a name and what I mean by that is, create the task for the dog. Tell them “Nail trim” after you have them leashed of course. Then as you’re getting them used to their nails being handled give them a command like “wait”, “hold”, “stay” whatever you want to say as you touch their nails, so they stay put. Then when all is said and done tell them “Release” or something that tells them they have completed the nail trim and may go free.

Now that you have what you need and know what you want to do, here is how I go about it:

For the sake of keeping everything consistent, I will tell you exactly how I do it with my dogs. Exercise your dog, take them on a run or throw the ball, whatever gets them tired. While Beowolf runs around I dice up a couple of hot dogs and stick them in a pouch. I get the sanding block and find a nice place to sit with him, this is usually in the house where there’s less distraction, I tell him we’re doing a nail trim and I make him lay down. By now he should be more than ready to take a nap.

I wrap the leash around my leg, so he can’t go far and then I tell him “Stay” as I take his nail between my fingers and squeeze a little, then I reward him by giving him a piece of hot dog. I do this part just for routine, he gets used to getting a hot dog after I do what I need to with his nail. Now comes the nail trim. Depending on the level of comfort your dog has with this part will decide how quickly you move along in this stage. The idea is to only go as far as your dog will allow and you want to stop before they have to be the one to tell you to stop. This can be mouthing your hand, pulling their paw away roughly, getting up or trying to run away. You don’t want them to think to do that is what made you stop, you want to show that if they stay calm you will stop on your own, and they won’t get hurt in the process (dogs have PTSD of bad nail trims).

When it comes to the filing you want to just do a couple swipes back and forth against the nail then give them a treat, and on to the next nail where you will do the same. If you can only do a couple toes at a time then that’s fine, it’s your dog’s pace, and this will set the standard giving you goals to reach. 2 toes today, 3 tomorrow! You’re barely going to take anything off at first, but if you do this every day you will eventually get to a point where the nails are short and won’t need much sanding in the future. Hopefully, by this point, your dog has already started trusting you with nail trims and you can do more than a few swipes.

**Reminder- Rapid or hard pressing the sander against the nail can cause heat from the friction, this can be painful for your dog so be gentle, they can resent the sander as well.**

When it comes to clipping you want to think of it as always wanting a rounded edge. I clip at an angle on both the left and right side of the nail to create a sharp point, then clipping the center point to create a round tip. Do this in 3’s all the way down until you begin to the quick, always taking off just the top layer. Remember you can always take off more, but you can’t put any back on once it’s off and you don’t want to knick them. Then once you see some pink quick use a gentle sander to round off the edges and soften up the flakey shards of the nail. On some dogs, their nail forms a taper and usually starts midway through the nail, this is actually a pretty safe place to clip once you understand the anatomy of YOUR dog’s nails.

White or clear nails are your best friend, usually lighter dogs have these. These types of nails are great because you can visually see the quick through the nail. At this point you can clip until you’re about a 2 mm from the tip of the quick, this is usually a safe spot to stop clipping and start filing.

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Black or dark brown nails are the worst and it’s mostly just because you’re cutting blind at this point. There is a trick however into knowing how far to go, if you look underneath the nail you can visually see the soft quick and about where it stops. I would make my invisible line about 1-2 mm past that part to account for the top part of the quick that may be reaching further into the nail. In the picture below you can see the very tip of the quick sticking out from the nail, this is what I call the groove of the nail, that’s where I gauge where I want to end up.

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**This is probably the most important tip I can give you, so long as your dog is sitting calmly and allowing you to do the nails tell them “GOOD”, let them know that what they are doing is exactly what you want. Keep the treats and “Good boys” coming as much as you can as long as you can move through the nails. Think of “good” as sort of a back up for your “stay” command, if the dog knows he’s doing good then they will comply longer, I let my self over-do the “good” reward mostly so I don’t forget to say it in the first place. I keep saying it every few seconds just to reassure Beowolf to keep doing what he’s doing. Try to read their body language, if they start looking like they’re gonna bolt then stop and give them a break. There’s no rule that says you always have to do all 4 paws at a time, the idea is to leave them on a positive note, then find a stopping point and start again tomorrow from there.**

I have done exactly this for clients at work, doing demos or trims in the room and explaining this, rarely am I unable to successfully do a trim. I even had a special deal for several of those clients to come in consistently every week when I tipped all the nails with a sander while the owner fed their dog yummy treats. I gave them a discount depending on how much I was able to do, sometimes not even charging for my time. The theory behind this was the dog will get used to coming to the clinic so anxiety will relax a little so long as the nail trims weren’t bad. I tip a tiny bit off and while they get goodies and head pets, then send them on their way. Coming weekly eventually I didn’t need to do the nails at all because they were finally short enough, so we settled for a happy visit where the dog just got treats and attention letting her leave on a positive note. Other clients only wanted to try to take advantage of discounted nail trims and I wouldn’t see them for months and suddenly they walk in with their terrified dog who is peeing itself in fear and asking me to get all 4 paws as short as possible. First of all, to anyone out there who does that, this is hurting your dog nobody else. It’s not fair to any dog to suffer nail trims as they scream and urinate or defecate themselves in fear, especially being restrained in the process. I have told many clients that based on the stress of their dog I will refuse nail trims, I will not morally be part of the further destruction of your dog’s mental health. They didn’t always like that, but I am an RVT for a reason, for the health and well-being of pets, stressful nail trims are not that, keeping the nails short is good but at what expense?

I am an empathetic person, I try to think like a dog, feel like a dog or put myself in their “paws”. I never blame dogs for fighting us in the clinic, it’s not their fault they behave that way. How would you feel if your mom took you somewhere as a kid, you walk in and the smell is off, which makes you nervous. Someone comes out speaking a language you don’t understand and your mom hands you off to that person, they take you to the back where you see more kids screaming in cages and this worries you. Then they put you on a table and hold you down while bringing clippers or grinders toward you, making loud sounds, squeezing your fingertips which can be uncomfortable, and then suddenly they snip off half your fingernail. You try to scream and break free, but they only hold on tighter and continue on with cutting off your fingers. All the while you don’t understand what they’re doing and not to mention they are hurting you! Now imagine 5 times a year your mom takes you back there to have the same thing done. Eventually you will refuse to enter the building, eventually you will fight them as they take you from your mom into the “back”, eventually, you get to a point where you fight with all your might and start biting to try to scare them away. Clients hand off their dogs so willingly thinking a nail trim is no big deal, but it is to your dog. Getting them comfortable with this using positive reinforcement is what’s going to make the difference. Trust me, working in the field for 6 years, I have seen it all and the past 3 I have been implementing my own methods of nail trims and desensitization.

Mechanical aids:

I have a PediPaw will that work?

Probably not on anything with thick nails or large breed dogs. It’s simply not a strong enough machine to handle the job, I have tried this on several types of dogs and it really only works well on tolerant chihuahuas.

My groomer has an Oster or professional nail grinder from the store, do those work?

I would say yes, we recently got an Oster after our Dremel died and it works well. Still, not powerful enough for us though but depending on the dog it will get the job done. It would honestly just be cheaper to buy a Dremel.

I heard of some clinics using Dremels, should I?

Yessssssss. I love the Dremel, been using it for years! It’s just a standard small Dremel from the hardware store and the set usually comes with extra sanders and different shaped heads which are cool. We have one in the clinic and it’s our go-to, so much so that it finally died after I don’t know how many years of use. I am going to buy one for myself and the dogs at the ranch, so I can just bang out nail trims at home.

**Things to keep in mind if you are pursuing a machine grinder**

  1. These grinders are still sandpaper so experiment with speeds. For the Dremel it has speeds from 1-10, do NOT use 10! Please, God if this is your only take away, the Dremel is a tool, like from Home Depot to sand wood and use it when building houses and stuff. It wasn’t designed to be used on sensitive dog nails, so yes the speeds go up to 10 but don’t do it. I had someone ask me to do their dog’s nails because their dog would become aggressive while dremeling, when I commented on what speed to keep the dremel at she laughed. “6!?” she said, “I use 10 and my dog’s don’t care, it doesn’t hurt them, barely makes a difference.” … you just told me your dog loses it’s mind when getting it done, so clearly they care and it does bother them, but I’m the professional so what do I know, I only do 50 nail trims a week.
  2. My general rule is keeping it between 3 and 6. Anything higher than 6 and you’re gonna burn the nail and it’s only gonna hurt you in the process, every once in a while I’ll crank it to 7 for really thick nails on really tolerant dogs but no other exceptions.
  3. The higher in speed you go the louder it gets, remember this if you’re trying to get your dog used to the process. Try to see what they’re seeing and hear what they hear. 
  4. Don’t keep the grinder on the nail for too long, at a 6 you should be able to tackle the nail in like 10 seconds? Depending on how much you need to take off. But sitting there forever isn’t good for the nail, a little heat is okay because of the quick kind of recesses back but not a lot so don’t overdo it. Move on to the next and then go back and take more off where you missed.
  5. Stop often to reassess the nail or blow off the dust so you can see how much farther you need to go and then go.
  6. Grinders cause nail dust, so keep that in mind. If you barely scraped the quick you can use the nail dust to clot it but any actual bleeds will need Quick Stop or medical attention.
  7. If you are just trying to get your dog used to nail trims with a grinder, I would use the above-mentioned tips under “sanders”. Keep the speed at a 3 or 4, probably a 3 at first, and just leave it on each nail for 2 seconds. Increasing the length over time and then the speeds. Remember to read your dog and leave them on a happy note!

Side note- the Dremel tends to bounce on the nail if it’s going at a weird angle, this will likely be uncomfortable for your dog, so if bouncing occurs try a slightly different angle. Dogs will also jerk their paw to create a bounce, for me, I hold the Dremel a certain way, so I can rest the hand holding the nail against it keeping both the paw and Dremel moving in the same direction together. This will take practice but you will get it.

My dog’s nails are close to his pad, what do I do?

Okay, if you have a Pug chances are the nails are curling inward right? Handling nails that are dug in or curling into the pad require finesse, but it’s doable to trim those too, just gotta think outside the box. First and foremost if the sander touches the paw pad, it’s not the end of the world, it doesn’t really hurt more so tickles (if you’re using the proper speed). I have actually used the Dremel to take back hyperkeratosis on pads of pugs and bulldogs, even on their nose, but they really don’t like this (remember put yourself in their position). Tackling nails close to the pad, think of it as an art project and keep in mind the Dremel is still a tool so use it as such. I’m going to do my best to explain this in written form, but I will post a video demonstrating this too at a later date.

For the dug in nails– This is the nail that is completely pressed against the pad. On your white nails find the quick on the top aspect of the nail, then using the top edge of the Dremel sand down toward the pad. Visualize a line where you want the cut to be and cut with the tip edge taking. You will do this with black nails too but really try to figure out where the quick is or start off with small amounts. Personally, I would just cut the tip off and that will give me room to work normally.

For the curling nail– So this is the nail where the tip is about to start going to the pad. The Dremel has a flat top, the head I like to use, so position the flat aspect parallel to the pad. The side of the Dremel head should be against the nail, there will be bouncing here because of the position but a little finesse will resolve that. What I do is a half “C” shape moving from the left tip of the nail to the right tip keeping the flat top parallel to the pad. If you are really worried about the pad you can pull it back a little to give yourself more space to work or you can take them to a professional who is comfortable with the proximity.

Do this all the while someone is giving treats and everyone is telling Fido what a good boy he is, and always don’t over do it if the tolerance is nearly up then stop on a good note and resume tomorrow. Your dog will really appreciate this.

I hope these tips help you and your dog become more comfortable with nail trims. Please feel free to comment below and tell me if there are any other pet tips you’re interested in me writing or if there are questions you have about nail trims, trust me I have dealt with it all. 

P.S I fully intend on uploading more pictures and drawing up some guides but cannot find the ones I had in mind, I organized my files from MYSELF!

Next, I will show how to do an ear cleaning at home, just not sure if I want to video tape it or write it out.

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A day with the dogs at Devil’s Punch Bowl

“Wake me up, before you go go, we’re gonna head up to Devil’s Punch Bowl!”

Devil’s Punch Bowl- Angeles National Forest- San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles County, California.

If you’re looking for something to do this spring, chances are you came across Devil’s Punch Bowl as a choice. Located in the desert mountains East of Palmdale, California, it’s a tourist attraction that is a unique sight! Since it’s only a 40-minute drive from my house it’s an easy go-to for a day trip.

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As you drive into the parking lot on any given day it could be packed, yet I have gone a couple times when there was barely any cars there. This is mostly in the cooler months but every once in a while you get lucky. There is an information center there but it’s usually closed or crowded when I go, and across from that is a park area where you can sit in the shade and eat lunch or celebrate a successful hike. I save that for the end of my hike, so I skip on over to the entrance of the trail.

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Now I don’t know about you, but I am no mountaineer rock climber, not to say you have to be to pursue these trails, but I am majorly out of shape. Coming off depression and seasonal weight gain, not to mention working in an office all the time my activity level is low. Being a beginner I still managed to take the shortest trail and made it all the way to the end!

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There are lots of areas that get your heart rate going and I had to take a couple of stops to catch my breath and ask myself why I put myself through this! I do this for my dogs so I will do whatever it takes so they can get out and have a great day. I have long leads for them but there were lots of areas that I could trust them to go off leash but, do this with caution! There are lots of areas where if a dog is too close to the ledge they can slip and down the mountain, they go! My dog’s recall is pretty solid at this point, and so I gave it a try, not to mention 2 dogs pulling me DOWN the steep slopes is not ideal for someone who has weak ankles (thanks grandma) so in order not break my neck 5 minutes into the hike I let them go.

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I can’t say how long it took me to complete the trail, I stopped for water for all 3 of us and stopped for pictures but I would say it would take the average person 45-minutes to 1-hour.

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Here are some things you should know:

  • Environment- You’re in the middle of rocks, a mountain of them, so it’s very dry with no shade. It’s also usually hot and be careful where you step for layers of dirt that can slide out from under you. Bring sunscreen!
  • Roads– Mostly paved the entire way up, traffic is not bad at all either depending on the day and time of day.
  • Gear– Wear a hat and layers and bring sunglasses if you like them. I took my camelback and wore some comfortable light clothes. The dogs didn’t need anything special, I may take hiking boots but to be honest, the trails can be slippery and I want them to have as much of their grip as possible in the event they were to slip and fall. (Call me paranoid).
  • Stay Hydrated– Keep water with you for you and your dogs. Heat stroke in the middle of the trail is not ideal and very dangerous.
  • Pet Policy– Dogs allowed! Of course, on a leash and obviously behaved.

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Fun Facts:

  • This is the home to an Endangered Species the Mountain yellow-legged frog.
  • It is actually a giant naturally formed amphitheater, try yelling out and listen to it echo off the mountains.
  • Devil’s Punch Bowl is home to a lot of animals, such as coyotes, foxes, deer, and even mountain goats (rare).

It was a long day but we made it together, we rested at the picnic area in the shade and took in some water. Back at the car I had snacks and always bring dog food, so we put a little something into our growling stomachs and loaded. The trip home was easy breezy, the dogs exhausted and happy in the back as we all hungrily make our way home.

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Hey, guys hope you enjoyed seeing our little trip together! Check out the rest of the photos and feel free to leave me a comment, your feedback is important to me!

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My bloody lovely Valentine

Hey there thanks for tuning in to my page! Since I’m still a baby blogger I would love to hear from those of you who read my posts, feedback is crucial to building a relationship and I want to get to know all of you! I promise I respond to everyone, ask me questions or if you want to hear about anything specific. Also sorry about the long posts, I like to write, what can I say? Leave a comment at the end of this post and tell me what you think! Thank you, happy reading!

Meet Valentine!

For those of you wondering, I wanna tell you the story about a little white dog named Valentine. Everyone knows Beowolf but who is that cute ball of energy in the background? The one flying through the air like a white ghost! Well, that little girl there has a story of her own at 3 years old, so gather round for I have a tail to tell, it starts as a horror story but ends with a happily ever after!

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It was any normal day at the clinic in January 2016, our schedule was light and the staff was going about the motions of the day. Our receptionist came to the back and told us there was a new client who was on his way with a dog fight victim. We prepared for the incoming emergency and waited. A woman walks in with a short man behind her carrying a box, the woman was a client of ours and the man was her neighbor, another technician took them into a room and got the history at which point one of my appointments arrived and then back to work for me.

When I came out of the room with my finished appointment and led them to the front desk I saw the two people with the emergency dog fight. I overheard them discussing payment for the day and that the neighbor would cover it, the man seemed uncomfortable, and so I hurried to the back to find out what was going on.

When I entered treatment the girls were already placing a catheter on a little bulldog puppy, her name was Harley, and she was 10 weeks old. She was covered in blood and her ear was mangled, she sat on the table like a good girl and let them place her catheter and take her blood for blood work. She shivered in fear.

Turns out the man had adopted 2 other dogs that fence fight with the woman’s dogs, when this little one got too close and her 2 housemates turned on her. We didn’t get very many details as the woman was worked up.

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Surgery went without issues, we had to amputate her left ear and put a couple drains around it along with placing a drain in the crook of her left elbow. We then called to tell the owner how everything went and schedule a pickup time when he alerted us that he wanted to surrender her. He claimed she was “no good” and didn’t want her anymore. Prick. He was also returning the 2 other dogs back to the shelter, good he had no business owning dogs. Suddenly everyone is talking about who is going to take the puppy, by order of elimination I was the only choice. So I took Beowolf aside and explained that mommy was going to take in a puppy who was in need of our help, and I was going to need him to be on board. I put her in my car at the end of the day and he looked at me like wtf! He sulked on the ride home, coming up to the front seat to sniff her and give her the once over. By the time we got to the apartment he warmed up to the idea, so he helped me clean her up and get her settled into her foster home.

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Most of our staff was a full house and all the single dog homes were single because their dogs were aggressive. Beowolf I knew would welcome a new puppy, and we recently moved to a bigger apartment, so we had more space. I couldn’t stand to look at her, she broke my heart, not to mention she was ALL WHITE and female. Don’t even get me started, I never wanted a white dog, it was mostly the health issues that correspond and I was not much of a fan for myself.

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Also, she was a female, I prefer male animals, I don’t know they just work better for me. My next dog was going to be a solid BLACK male pit bull, but who was I kidding, we don’t pick our dogs they pick us. I knew the second I took her in she would be a foster failure and I wanted Beowolf to be a single dog for a while before we got another dog. It bothered me that he always had to share me with work and other dogs, I wanted it to be me and him for a while. As fate would have it, she came home with me and everyone from work pressured me to keep her. I tried not to get attached and looked for homes for her, but as luck would have it she wouldn’t go to anyone.

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She had PTSD from what happened to her, the first night she tried growling at Beowolf (understandably) and she was terrified of men. The next day the woman came in to say good-bye and thank me for taking her in, at which time I asked all the right questions, after all, I was taking in a dog with baggage and this lady was the closest I would ever get to know about her past. Bless this woman for she knew a lot about her.

The man was mean, he kept all the dogs outside. All day, all night, rain or shine with no shelter but a small patio where the 2 bigger dogs pushed the puppy off of (mind you, she is WHITE, skin problems are increased for her). The woman had to force the man to take dog houses she no longer needed which after coaxing he finally allowed her to put them in his back yard. When he did let them in the house the neighbor would hear the dogs yelp and the man yelling at them, then suddenly you would see all 3 dogs run into the backyard.

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The woman also saw what happened when the dogs attacked her, she was going out to stop her own dogs when the 2 on the other side of the fence jumped on the puppy. One dragged her across the yard by her ear, which explains why mangled. The other dog bit and chomped, at one point he was pulling on her arm, and they were both thrashing and playing tug with her. The woman screamed helplessly on the other side of the fence, for the man to come out as the puppy shrieked and squealed. When the man did emerge from the house the dogs finally let her go, and she ran off to hide, limping and covered in red blood. She told him to take the puppy to the emergency hospital, and he refused to suggest she will be okay and will “walk it off”. No motherf****** she needed surgery!

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To this day I am not sure how she convinced him to bring in the dog, but he stuffed her in a box and came to my clinic. When he signed over ownership to me I gave him the dirtiest looks I could give him, acid built at the back of my throat as I held my tongue from giving him a piece of my mind.

She was “puppy” for about 3 weeks before a name came to me, I need to get to know a dog before naming them and hers hit me suddenly, Valentine. Until that point, I was still hoping someone would take her on as a full-time foster or adopt her. I wouldn’t let work send her to the shelter though the thought crossed my mind, she needed medical attention and her chances of adoption were slim at the location she would go to. I’m glad I didn’t send her there, for the first year of her life she was super defensive and aggressive. I hoped naming her Valentine would let her live to be sweet, more like bloody Valentine! She would lunge after men, women and children, especially dogs!

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Beowolf was the ONLY dog she liked, and I was the ONLY human she liked. I tried adopting her to my cousin who was looking for a puppy, but Valentine wanted nothing to do with her. I was heartbroken to see her so fearful and nervous about everyone, EVERYONE! I certainly wasn’t prepared for this, I was used to an enthusiastic dog who loved everyone he met. Lucky for me I had a trick up my sleeve, in the form of dog trainer, he specialized in rehabilitation and aggression. I employed him, however, she wasn’t going to make it easy on us, she is deathly terrified of him, and he never did anything to her. She wouldn’t take treats, she would stop shivering or trying to run away. the moment she hears his voice she shuts down, so how can he rehabilitate her?

It was up to me and only me to help her, under the guidance of my trainer we have worked her over many obstacles, always at her own pace. One thing I knew for sure was that this was going to take the patience of a monk. Fortunately my job allowed me to bring my dogs to work, so she was kenneled with Beowolf in the back, so we can keep an eye on her and I figured if she learned how to live in a kennel it would be good for her, since I never taught Beowolf and it was harder to break him into it later in life. Well, she learned that and then some, she learned she was trapped and thus became defensive of the kennel. Anyone who she saw, she would bark and lunge and snarl at them.
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Oh no, I won’t have ANY of that!

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A couple of months later I moved to the ranch where I now live, it’s a great place, my trailer is plenty of space for us and a private backyard with 2 kennels! I moved in and fixed everything up, first the backyard and kennels where I began housing them while I was away. I spent the next year of her life socializing her through obedience classes that are held here at the ranch where we both learn how to work together, and she gets over her fear and worry of other dogs.

This helped her so much and her issues with dogs resolved faster than I thought they would, most of it was that I housed her in the kennels here too, getting her used to the environment and being surrounded by dogs that can’t hurt her. She actually now does amazing in the kennels, I can board her if and whenever I need and not worry about her. She is still a little defensive of the kennels if she sees a new dog or someone she doesn’t recognize. When she is outside of her kennel or on a leash she doesn’t show aggression or any worry at all, though I don’t let her greet anyone for sake of her training and another dog’s safety, she’s getting there, but she ain’t home yet.

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I have also taken her on outings, hiking and isolated areas where we get plenty of opportunities to practice her obedience as well when we meet others on the trails. My trainer taught me that it’s okay to be her advocate, it’s okay not to let everyone come up and pet my dogs and for that, I am so grateful. It does seem too mean but I need to speak up for my dogs, when Beowolf has enough of crowds he shows me in his body language but that’s because he’s learned I read the signs.

Valentine needed to understand I will do this with her, so for a long time I wouldn’t let people pet her, which was hard because she’s so cute, but many people understood she is in training and frankly they don’t wanna get bit either. Besides, Beowolf was welcoming the attention and people are usually satisfied with petting a WOLF. Over time, she was finally able to welcome people’s attention, slowly. In class, we also go over greeting people with dogs and keeping everyone under control, the classes taught her to trust me, and they taught me how to handle a dog with her worry. It took time but she came around!

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Fast forward to now.

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The past 8 months have been the most improvement she’s had! Over the cold months, I was taking her with me to work daily as opposed to once in a while. Everyone there loves her as much as Beowolf, they love to greet her and give her treats and then some! When it comes to Valentine’s socialization she can have anything you want to offer her, within reason.

One of the girls at work gave everyone a Milkbone biscuit every day, Valentine would bark in excitement when she saw her come out with biscuits in her hands. Another girl kept goldfish and crackers and cheeses amongst other snacks at her desk so every morning when we walk in, she got treats while I clocked in. Valentine came to know the girl as “French Fry” and acted like I didn’t exist when French fry was there.

I have also been doing much more with Valentine, taking her to Home Depot or Lowes, Petsmart trips and going places where there are people!

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About Valentine:

  • She is white with faint spots on the skin.
  • She has 2 perfectly symmetrical eye patches.
  • She has one ear, we amputated the left one when she was a puppy after her trauma.
  • Her middle name is Regina George. If you knew her, you would understand.
  • The most affectionate with anyone here at the house, or if someone is sitting with her and petting her she climbs in their lap for more love!
  • Like any bully dog, she is 55 pounds of dead weight when she sleeps!
  • Yes, I did a DNA test and this is what I found. American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bulldog, Bullmastiff, Labrador, Neopolitan Mastiff, Rottweiler! and drumroll please… Pekingese! What! Yep! **Side note: If you’re curious about the mix of your dog I highly recommend doing a DNA test. I prefer Royal Canin or something via the vet because I believe in the best! Regardless, knowing the mix of your dog can be helpful in determining behavior. Here at the ranch we specialize and house all of these breeds and working in a clinic I see many variations so trust me when I say, it all makes sense now! Most of my questions about her were answered when I saw the results.**20190321_171905
  • She is beautiful to watch run at full speed, and she’s fast! She’s athletic and lots of energy, but she can turn it off and Netflix and Chill at the drop of a hat.
  • Still worried, but will approach someone slowly she usually warms up to them. Valentine is still terrified of the trainer but is getting over it more and more every day I bring her around him and will even now take treats from him!

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She is the most obedient dog ever! The guy who gave her up called her “no good”, I can honestly say he wouldn’t know a good dog if it peed on his leg! She is incredibly smart and pretty easy to train, honestly she mostly just doesn’t wanna be in trouble, so she listens to a fault. Not to mention we work on it in classes and when we go on adventures I use what we learn in class to navigate the world it works! Sometimes her recall needs coaxing, but she gets it.

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I wasn’t planning on getting an all WHITE female dog I’m glad it’s her. We still have some work to go but I wouldn’t change the experience for the world, she is a loving member of the family and helping her get over obstacles makes me feel good too. She is a special girl, my little one-eared weirdo. My goal by the end of 2019 is to have her loving Oj because once she lets him in she will fall in love with him like every other dog in the world! He’s eager to win her over as well, he knows as well as anyone how rewarding winning the affection of a worried dog can be. The process has been slow but more and more she is trusting me, over time she gains confidence in herself, with training we both learned how to communicate with each other.

valentine kisses 2Thanks for reading!

I hope this post inspires some of you who are in the market to give a rescue dog a chance, you never know what diamond in the rough awaits!

For those of you who have a rescue or just complicated dogs, don’t give up on them. Find someone knowledgable to help you but always work at your dog’s pace. Show them respect and you will earn their trust.

Thinking of getting a wolf hybrid? Let me tell you what to expect.

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For the past 9 years, I have lived side by side with Beowolf, my Timberwolf Malamute cross, and not a day goes by that I am not thankful for him. He has gotten me out of some questionable situations, he helped me with my battle with depression, and he is always there for me to this day. Being that he goes with me everywhere, since day 1 practically, I get asked all the time… how did I get him? What’s it like owning him? How is his temperament? Well to answer all of that I need to take you to the beginning because over the past 9 years life hasn’t been easy with a hybrid.

2 months old

Before getting into the juicy details I would like to introduce you to my new book, Adventures of Puppy Raising. This is a compilation of everything I learned during the puppy years, as well as answering questions from other puppy owners and advice from working in the veterinary field. It has everything a puppy owner should need and then some!

Beowolf was given to me as a gift, he was purchased from a breeder in San Diego and was delivered to me as a surprise in Sacramento. Granted I knew about the puppy for a while before he was delivered so I had time to prepare and research, I was no dummy, I grew up with dogs and admired wolves, obsessed with them was more like it; but I knew that living with a mixed one would be different and boy was it.

3 months

First, he was a 3-month-old 30-pound puppy, so not only was he big but he was a baby as well. Knock off what we already know was difficult, teething, potty training, regular training, and socialization. The last 2 I had to wing it and tweak it for his nature. Wolves are social pack animals that spend a ton if not all of their time with each other, so needless to say Beowolf wanted to be around me all the time and would do anything to make that happen. Enter in the destructive phase, he destroyed carpets clawing at the door, and even pulled one completely from the floor and rolled it to the opposite corner of the room. He dug holes in the yard to break out of his kennel and bent most of the links pulling at the gate. He howled every freaking moment he was alone and even while he was with my roommates, he still wanted me. Which leads me to Bring my dog to work phase.

5 months

I worked at a movie theater… in a shopping center… there was no doggy daycare nearby and nobody could watch him anyways because he would cry for me, so I improvised. I figured, my Jeep with the back seats down was still a much bigger space than the biggest most expensive crate I could find, so he was better off staying in there. So I changed my hours to closing! and met up with the evening security guard to explain, luckily he was a friend of everyone who worked in the center. I introduced him to Beowolf who he instantly fell in love with, I showed him the bowl of dog food and ice water and had my windows open enough. Also, I parked behind the building where the shade and privacy were better so nobody would bother with him, yep Beowolf had his own condo and security. This went on for 3 months without a hitch until we moved in with friends from work. Big mistake, the other dogs in the house were very aggressive and attacked Beowolf, he was 8 months old needless to say we didn’t stay there long, a week to be specific.

7 months

Which leads to the following 6 years of moving and roommates and other housepets. I have no idea how we made it out of that alive, to be honest early on I recall kneeling in front of 6-month-old Beowolf cursing him and crying that he was sent from the devil. I was a little dramatic, but he ate my cellphone! Twice! On purpose! People mock me but he does do things on purpose, once people get to know him they find that to be true. We tackled a lot, food aggression, socialization, dog friendliness, no matter the challenge we came out together on the other side.

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Everyone who meets him wants to get one of their own, I’m not ashamed to say that I often play dumb where I got him. The truth is, though he is a remarkable animal, it takes someone willing to work with a hybrid to get the results I did and frankly I still think of myself blessed that he was my first. He taught me a lot about patience, I did tons of research and countless hours of youtube videos on handling wolves and their instincts. This isn’t your typical labrador or energetic pitbull. He’s what’s considered a high content wolfdog, this means that I have no real idea how close his instincts are to surface, what can trigger him to do something and who will be like? He has energy because he was built to run 30 miles a day, he still to this day has separation anxiety because he wasn’t meant to be away from his family (me), just the other day he broke out of my window because I was simply 50 yards away talking with a group of people that were here for training! 50 yards, 50 yards!? Come on Beowolf, dammit.

 

People who meet him now swear there is something human in him, his ability to comprehend us when we talk to him, you can see him thinking and problem-solving in his eyes. He’s considerate and goofy as hell. But it’s his manner that intrigues people so much, he is wonderful around children, does amazing under pressure, calm in loud settings and even knows how to listen and behave himself when in public places (yes he goes everywhere with me.) He is a certified ESA and Seizure alert dog for me.

4 years

All in all a few things are true:

  • A hybrid in the right hands will make for an amazing animal, in the wrong hands they can be dangerous and left to make a bad name for the mix and the wolf species.
  • Their intellectual capacity is incredible, there is nothing that they can’t do and no challenge they can’t overcome, whether that’s in your favor or not is… 50/50.
  • They get big, big teeth, big claws, thick coats, and bigger shit. Beowolf is neutered and still marks and mounts females here and there, he is very dominant and will not back down to any dog so like I said those instincts are strong.
  • You’re gonna wanna watch them, study their body language like breathing, know what every twitch of his ears means. Each glance to me as a dog bothers him, is a request to get him out of that situation, intervene before your hybrid feels the need to do it himself. Understanding what you’re getting into is only half the battle, but you’ll thank me for that later. Why risk a lawsuit when you can take measures to protect your new best friend, California don’t play with dog bites loosely and most laws are tight on hybrids.
  • If you can, try and get one, they can be needy af and want all of your attention this can lead to other problems both for you and for them. Not to mention, when your pack is together 24/7 while you go to work every day, you may feed them but don’t think yourself that secure anymore, eventually, you will become the outsider. Not to mention, I have another dog and a cat, and though I love my other dog dearly, she was unexpected and I was really hoping that for once in his life Beowolf could be an only dog. Nonetheless, I try not to feel guilty about spending alone time with each of them, but I know, if Beowolf could have it his way, he would be the only dog in the house.
  • Separation anxiety is very likely and is not something to be played with. Chances are that most of the dogs you know personally have it, but only show a low grade; whining, pacing, panting. With hybrids it is different, you already read about the house destruction, but there’s more. He’s broken out of windows, climbed out of 2nd and 3 story windows and has been found on the roof several times. He has run away trying to find me, luckily I keep all of his tags updated and kind people called me to alert me that my Big dog is at their house. Honestly, it’s to the point where I worry less, not that someone wouldn’t steal him, they definitely would, but he has what I call a 3-day self-destruction period. He has only ever made it 2 days away from me staying with people he knew before he became uncontrollable to handle. It would surprise me that if he were stolen I would get a call or he would have broken out by day 3 for me to come and get my dog.

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I hope my story with Beowolf has helped you if you were thinking of getting one, we had our ups and downs but I wouldn’t change the experience ever! The truth is, Beowolf is my heart and soul and there will never be another dog like him for me. Even though hybrids are a lot to handle a lot of the time, I probably won’t ever live without one for the rest of my life. Beowolf is my best friend, my therapist, and my ride or die, I can’t say that about any human ever in my life.

 

Don’t miss out on my book available on Amazon now! Includes everything all new puppy owners should know, as well as tips and advice from a veterinary professional! Check it out!

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We’re off to see the poppies, the Antelope Poppy Reserve!

Ok first of all if you sang that headline to the jingle of “We’re off to see the Wizard” then 10 points to Gryffindor!

I don’t know about you but I always wanted to lay in a field of poppies just like Dorothy did, okay she was high from the poppies, but you get my point. there’s something about laying among fragrant flowers. I love the smell of flowers, it’s one of my favorite things to shove my face into a bouquet of wildflowers and just inhale. The sweet earthy smell takes me to a place where nothing else matters. So last weekend when I was driving to Mount Pinos I could see the pre-spring bloom on the hillside and that’s when I got the brilliant idea to go see the poppies. If you haven’t seen the blog about that trip check it out here https://wordpress.com/post/iwildwolves.wordpress.com/26  So I invited my family to go with me and started my research on a short day trip. Here are just a few bullet points of what I look for in my research.

What I usually focus on is:

  • Location and directions- Because duh.
  • Price of admission- Whether I’ll need to pay for parking or need a certain amount for entry. Also whether I need cash or can use plastic.
  • Pet policy- Probably the most important information to research considering their presence is the entire concept. Some places only allow service animals and others allow pets. I also look to see if there is a leash policy, I carry mine regardless but still I find inspiration here and there to let them off leash.
  • Site policy and rules- In the case of a state flower reservation there are strict guidelines to adhere to for the protection of the flowers and environment.

When it comes to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve the rules are as follows:

  1. Come dressed to hike- Antelope Valley is a desert so it is dry, with lots of sun and very little shade (none on the trails). Bring water. I would also bring a hat and/or sunglasses. Make sure you bring comfortable shoes too.
  2. DO NOT STRAY FROM THE TRAIL- Honestly, all caps is necessary. The California Poppy is a State Flower and damaging the flowers can result in a fine! Not to mention it’s rude to every and Mother Nature.
  3. Parking- Parking is free on the main street but is $10 in the lot.
  4. Don’t pluck the flowers- Refer to number 2.
  5. Only services dogs allowed– Refer to number 2.

To be honest, I originally wanted to go to Walker Canyon Poppy Field by Lake Elizabeth, its a more lush field where the flowers grow a little taller. Dogs are allowed on leash and there are no rules about sticking to the trails. Granted you shouldn’t damage the flowers or pluck them for sake of preserving nature. But I was good with optical illusion and just finding a thick spot of flowers would give me what I needed for pictures.  Unfortunately, the family preferred to stay close to home and reviews of traffic were bad, so it was off to the desert again.

“If you love a flower, don’t pick it up. Because if you pick it up it dies and it ceases to be what you love. So if you love a flower, let it be. Love is not about possession. Love is about appreciation.” — Osho

My aunt decided to drive and we all gathered into her vehicle and drove north to the reserve. Traffic wasn’t bad at all, in no time we could see the reserve and we slowed as we got in line to find parking, we were at a consistent low speed and there was plenty of parking on the side of the road. The parking lot was full but that’s okay the walk up to the entrance wasn’t bad and we didn’t have to pay, and there is a big sign at the entrance where you can take a picture; otherwise, you would only get one from your car as you’re waiting in line for the lot. and chances are there were people standing in front of it to get a clear shot.

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I put on Beowolf’s service vest and we started our walk, of course, I got a shot of Beowolf in front of the sign. There were portal potties waiting halfway up to the fields which were nice since I had to go already. Afterward, we made it to the entrance where a security guard stopped us, apparently they don’t allow service dogs into the reserve, which is false because it’s the law. To be honest, I don’t think this kid even knew the laws, he was likely high and got hired on seasonal for the spring bloom. So I cut him a break, I reassured him that Beowolf is a seizure alert dog and if I for whatever reason have a seizure he is to notify me so I can sit or make it to safety. I don’t get them all the time, but enough to wanna ensure my safety as well as others, it’s also genetic my sister gets them worse than me. The guy finally backed off when I reassure him my dog is trained and won’t “stray from the trail”, which when I turned around and head up the hill the first thing you see is people sitting in the middle of a bunch of flowers! He was harassing me when there were people behind him doing what he was already accusing my dog of doing!? (For the record Beowolf didn’t step foot off the trail and was gentle with flowers he sniffed.)

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Nobody was policing the trampling and plucking of flowers, blatant disrespect of nature to be honest. Being a lover of nature preservation it broke my heart to see the defilement of precious flowers and not say anything, but oh I wanted to and my personality won’t allow me to talk under my breath so I let the comments slip here and there.

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We walked along the trails, it was beautiful but there were lots of people, I think there were more people there than flowers. There were more weeds than anything, and the ground was very dry and barren. I couldn’t even really do optical illusion photography because there weren’t enough flowers.

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For it to be a super bloom it was really a letdown, but overall it was a nice day. I was dying for water, I never got an opportunity to fill my water bottle and it was a hike at first leading up to the peak. I decided to go check out the information center and see if they sold water, or in the least had a water fountain.

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The information center was smaaaall. But it was clean and very nicely put together, adorned with beautiful pictures and displays. He got our fill of water and I restocked my water bottle and did a little more walking, but there really wasn’t much reason to go down a lot of the trails. In most of the park, there were huge fields where there were NO flowers at all, I’m sure we’re still early in the season but I came today.

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Bored, hot and tired we went and rested by the picnic area where my cousin Mia and I waited for my Aunt to rendezvous, as they went on the more extensive hike earlier. I’m definitely going to make another trip to the poppy fields, but next time I’m going to Walker Canyon Poppy fields. Traffic I can deal with if the environment I’m going to is nicer, all I want is flowers as far as the eye can see, not dry desert.

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By the way, I don’t mean to offend anyone who is a desert lover, I can definitely see the beauty to the desert and all it’s living beings, botanical, mammalian and reptilian. Just I live in the desert mountains of Santa Clarita and I love lush GREEN!

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I would rate this trip a 2.5/5.

Depending on the time of the season you can probably see more or fewer flowers, as of this time of year and post weeks of rain and a recent week of sun there was only 18% flowers on the fields. There were actually more patches of flowers off the side of the road, lush and thick where everyone was getting pictures in. Although if given the option, I should have had my aunt drop me off there so I can see the flowers and they can pick me up when they leave the reserve. Oh well, future lesson.

Roads: Pretty much paved the entire way up. Clean and free of rocks.

Affiliate Disclosure

Attention! This post contains Affiliate Links.

An affiliate link is a special link I use from a company to advertise the items I personally believe in and use or mention in my blogs. They are there to help you find similar or the same items through a direct link taking you to the buyer’s site. The best part about this is that everyone wins! You are NOT being charged by clicking on the link, there is no obligation to purchase anything. However, by using these links, if you were to purchase an item then I get a percentage of that sale, because I brought you to the website where you can buy it. Affiliate links are safe and easy to use and like I said, it’s no charge to you! Win… win… win!

Gear: Good old fashion tennis shoes, leggings, a camelback that I got from Amazon https://amzn.to/2Jqdl4F .

Beowolf didn’t need his boots for this one, but any later in the season, I would start carrying them on the trails. I’ll be in the market soon for new dog boots for both Valentine and Beowolf, I’ll do a blog about that and post it HERE for you to see. Subscribe to my page to be updated when I post that. I also had a hat and a knitted sweater.

Weather: Caliente! Ok no, it wasn’t, it was hot b the sun was beating down on you but it was a little windy which cooled you off.

Hope this helps you with questions you would have about going to Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. Subscribe to my page to see when I post about my next trip to the Walker Canyon Poppy Fields.

A girl, 2 dogs, and an adventure to Mount Pinos.

After our last trip to Mountain High a couple weekends ago, I was more than excited to take Beowolf out again.

For those of you who haven’t read that yet, you can check it out here

I decided that handling both dogs was just a lot for me in the conditions we were in last time and Valentine really didn’t enjoy the snow so I felt leaving her home would be better for her. However there were plenty of setbacks, I needed to get my Rav4 a tune-up, just to make sure my wheels are in tip-top shape, especially if I’m going to be driving alone and it’s been raining a lot lately. Unfortunately, the mechanic was only available after 1pm and by the time he was finished I wasn’t going to have time for a trip up the mountain, so I put it off for the next weekend. The following Saturday was a bust too, it rained and rained all week and didn’t let up in time. We had much better luck the next weekend, I decided to try and broaden my horizons and not just go to Mountain High, not to mention I was informed of more open flat areas where my dog can really run and that was more incentive than facing traffic and difficulty parking.

Mount Pinos was recommended via a social app. Mount Pinos, Frazier Park, CA.

From my house it was a 1-hour 45-minute drive, I took the 14 South to the 5 North toward Sacramento. The drive was equally as beautiful as the previous one, the mountains were all covered in green and the poppies were beginning to bloom! Once I made my exit I drove up the mountain for about 7 miles, I made a few stops along the way to let the dogs out. Yes, I caved and took Valentine with us, I figured she can either get out and play if we were isolated enough and if not she would be equally happy staying in the warm car but enjoying the road trip.

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At the first stop, there wasn’t much snow until you get out to look around and then down the side of the mountain there was lots of snow. The scene was gorgeous, and the fresh morning wasn’t too cold. A couple miles further up there was a small space where I could park and there was much more snow, I parked with ease and got ready. I let the dogs out and off they went down the side of the hill, it was easy to walk down and around the hillside where Valentine and Beowolf charged through the snow with such excitement. I was instantly grateful I brought Valentine, this time around she loved the snow, it wasn’t too cold for her at all and she didn’t even need her jacket. I let the dogs do their business far into the hills and trees where nobody could walk anyways, and likely wild animals did the same too.

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After I got my fill of pictures and videos we packed back into the car and drove for another few miles, the snow really got lush further up the mountain and it was amazing! As I came around a bend I saw a very big space of untouched snow with only a slight slope to get down, I parked by another car where a family was playing just off the road on their own. I left them alone and took the dogs down the slope, they ran and I slid, going back up was tricky but worth it. As we reached the bottom, the snow was slightly more hard packed making it easier for them to run full speed, but it was perfectly soft to sit in.

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I got excellent footage of the dogs running and playing through the snow, there was a small stream that wasn’t frozen, and it added to the sounds of nature. My dogs aren’t afraid of water and so they were happiest trying to play and splash in it. There was so much space for them to run that Valentine was able to pick up serious speed and flew as high as I’ve ever seen her as she lept over trees and over the stream! We stayed down there for about 30 minutes and then climbed up the hill, it was tricky as parts of the snow were unpacked and slipped from under me, being a self-proclaimed problem solver we figured it out and we’re back to the car in no time. Needless to say, I need to start working out if I’m gonna be going on more adventures because I got so winded in the high elevation!

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When we got to the Rav4 I saw the family that was there before had left, and so I put the dogs away for a break while I charged my phone (it died) for a little. Then I let them out to run there again, I got plenty of pictures for a couple projects I’m working on and when the dogs started panting and looking tired I decided to call it the day. We loaded in the car for the last time and headed down the mountain. It was really easy getting back to the freeway and it was a quiet drive home but so worth it! I was eager to get home and look at the images I got on my phones (yes I used 2 different phones). My timing was great too as I was just ahead of traffic and made it home in no time!

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I would rate this trip 5/5.

Affiliate Disclosure

Attention! This post contains Affiliate Links.

An affiliate link is a special link I use from a company to advertise the items I personally believe in and use or mention in my blogs. They are there to help you find similar or the same items through a direct link taking you to the buyer’s site. The best part about this is that everyone wins! You are NOT being charged by clicking on the link, there is no obligation to purchase anything. However, by using these links, if you were to purchase an item then I get a percentage of that sale because I brought you to the website where you can buy it. Affiliate links are safe and easy to use and like I said, it’s no charge to you! Win… win… win!

Pet-Friendly- It’s pretty much first to come first serve, you can go to one of the campsites or just stop on the side of the road where it’s safe to park. I didn’t visit a campsite, so I don’t have feedback for you regarding the pet policy, however, I was not disappointed and had plenty of space for them to run free. Next winter season I’m going to take snowboarding lessons so I can utilize slopes and take better action shots.

Roads- The roads are clean and dry from any ice and debris. It was also pretty isolated, not much traffic and there were plenty of places to park and get out for some quality snow time. I did, however, buy chains for this trip.

**These are the ones I got but all chains should be specific to your vehicles tires so do you research first**

Snow- Snow is very clean and there are lots of spaces to get off close to your car and do some sledding or just to play.

Gear- Beowolf, of course, goes naked. Valentine also didn’t need her jacket at all, she was so warm from all the running and she’s far from a delicate flower so a little snow can’t stop her. As for myself, I used the same

Wantgo waterproof jacket

Thermal socks

Snow boots

There were even points in the day where I didn’t even wear my jacket for the sunny spots.

Hope you all enjoy this blog.

Check out my next blog when I take the dogs and my family to see the California Poppy Fields.

A girl, 2 dogs and a quest for SNOW in Southern California.

For the past 9 years, I have wanted nothing more than to take Beowolf to the snow. He’s a Wolfdog for crying out loud, the snow is where he thrives! Over the years as every opportunity that arisen to take Beowolf up to the snow something always came up. Car trouble, work obligation, lack of money, etc. Not to mention driving up to the snow alone is not ideal, I never felt like risking it, the Jeep although durable was no young buck and the heat was out! So I often tried to rely on friends, who all pretty much had the same excuses as me.

For the past 4 years since moving back down to SoCal, and living in view of mountains, I haven’t wanted to take a trip to the snow so badly! Every winter after a good rain at home, the next morning I look out my windshield on my way to work and can see the beautiful snow-capped mountains that surrounded my valley. I kept planning trips to go but again the same old excuses, on repeat.

As of recent (6 months or so) I have adopted a new attitude… a Fuck It attitude, no longer being too cautious to say or do something and that includes solo adventure trips. After all, the one thing I envy is travel and getting out of the everyday scene. Coming from someone who moves on faster than a butterfly migration, since childhood, staying in one place too long gives me an itch only I can scratch. I soon realized I can no longer rely on someone else to take me on an adventure. So I threw away the excuses and said, Fuck it, pack your boots Beowolf and Valentine we’re going to the snow!

The first trip: Mountain High Resort, Wrightwood, CA.

I heard of this place from a co-worker and when I asked around I got pretty good feedback. It’s only 38 miles from where I live, and GPS said it was a 1.5-hour drive. DEAL! A friend was even going with me, so it was gonna be a great day trip! I rush ordered a jacket for Valentine and gathered up all my snow gear and awaited the weekend, I have a new (to me) Rav4 and just got a fresh oil change with a full tank so I felt good about the drive.

Saturday morning arrives and I jump out of bed blasting music as I get showered and ready for the day, hinting to Beowolf about what awaits him! Just as I finish my makeup and load everything into the Rav4, my phone dings. It’s my friend giving me the same excuse she always gives me but in the end, she cancels. The old me would be pissed, the old me would cancel the day and try and salvage doing something here, but that was the old me. The new me already knew my friend was going to flake because it was her habit, so I told myself no matter what I was making that drive. I text a few family members where I was going and loaded the dogs up. I stopped for snacks and then we were on our way, Mountain High here we come!

The first leg was mostly the 14 North going along Palmdale and it was a drive I made many times before, so I was used to it. Then it took me up toward Devil’s Punch Bowl, another place I’ve taken the dogs a few times. Then it took me down a new road, which after the recent rains it was flooded and so I got detoured only to find out that was Private Property. So I speed off hoping to force GPS to link me to one of the alternate routes I saw earlier, of course, it works.

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So I’m back on track, the Rav4 is feeling good, I’m excellent on gas and my music is on MAX! The rest of the drive was not only fun at some points, but beautiful, the dry desert suddenly became green lush mountains. The redwoods grew brighter the deeper we drove, it was breathtaking. As we entered the tourist housing section I rolled down the windows letting the crisp air in and the dogs stuck their heads out, Beowolf is so excited he can’t decide where to look. He’s used to hikes and trips, but he doesn’t really know what I have in store for him.

I pass through the small town and head into the mountain, as I start seeing large areas of snow we start easing into traffic. Blah. But you know what I didn’t care about it; the dogs were happy with their heads out the window, my tank is still almost full and I had my music on so I was fine. Eventually, we crawled by the resort that was packed and so it was time to find a parking spot further up the mountain. I drive maybe a mile from the resort and find a secluded area with loads of space to park and play, so I pull in and park it.

Excited beowolf

As I finish getting ready like 5 cars pull in behind me, really? Just as I was about to pull out the dogs and let them run, but no, so I leash them up and get them out. Beowolf doesn’t even know what to do! He’s so excited and poor Valentine is like whoa WTF. With nowhere for them to play safely, we must walk back down where the designated area is, the walk to the park was no picnic at all. Beowolf pulled as much as he could and Valentine pulled in the opposite way, I decided against putting on their pinchers, they had been doing so good with training I didn’t think I needed them. Big mistake, I hadn’t had to walk in the snow for years and the edge of the road was so crowded with people. I already had too much to carry and thanks to Beowolf I had a big bag of doo-doo dangling from me as well, I eventually led us along the crest of the hill where I can relax and give Beowolf some slack, I could finally walk and eventually fell into a groove.

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When we got to the area to play there was a nice big space where nobody was, so I decided that was the perfect place to let the dogs off leash, well not Valentine.

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She was not having a good time at all, she was shivering despite the coat and I never factored in the way people would look to her in their big coats, not to mention the snow was deep and it was hard for her to move so she felt trapped. I kept her with me by my side while Beowolf ran around and sniffed and played.

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He was so happy and so was I, it was so fulfilling getting over my own anxieties going places alone and driving in the snow to reach that place. Beowolf is already a sight when he runs loose, but against the beautiful backdrop, it made my heart so warm! I decided, in the end, it was worth going alone and I was going to take them out more. The walk back to the car was so much better, I decided to walk in the street, there was little traffic and my dogs have the training to heel alongside me so when a car came we just moved over and waited for them to pass. Took us 5 minutes to get back to the car.

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Upon our arrival, every car that was parked around us before was gone! So I put Valentine away and let Beowolf run some more. Then we packed in the car and headed down the mountain, stopping once more to take some more pictures.

The drive home was even more spectacular. A very winding road leads Big Pine down the mountain which gives you captivating views with each turn, I don’t know about you, but I always loved driving and wanted to be a stunt driver for commercials. I felt like I was in a Rav4 commercial, listening to soothing music driving down the mountain and at sunset no less! All in all, it was a great day, I would totally go up for more trips, I saw more isolated areas that would be great places to stop next time too! I got amazing photos and Beowolf got to finally experience snow! We made it home at 5pm.

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Overall I would rate my experience a 4.5/5.

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Pet Friendly- I’m not sure about the actual resort location but further down the mountain there are a lot of places to get out and let them run, but it’s a steep mountain and it’s close to the roads, so keep em on leashes or long leads, or consider training so they have a reliable recall. Beowolf was able to run and he doesn’t wander so I’m not worried about him, but Valentine can panic and bolt into traffic.

Roads- Well maintained. There were lots of signs for chains and I saw a couple of cars with chains, but nobody was enforcing it at that time. There were thousands of parked cars I was checking their tires for chains but barely anyone had any. I didn’t have any for this trip, so I was relying on my 4-wheel drive and if that wasn’t enough then I would just turn around and find another spot. Go as far as I can safely go, that was my motivation. **I bought chains later and keep them in the car**

Snow- Clean. Except for edges of the road. The place needs a trash can for disposing of trash and dog poop properly. Don’t worry, my tree-hugging ass doesn’t litter so I took the 2 bags home and disposed of them there. Thank goodness for scented bags.

Gear- For my dogs, Beowolf has a double coat and I keep him as natural as I can, so nothing for him and he didn’t care. I do carry boots in case of injuries or for the summer. Valentine wore a Mogoko Reflective Reversible Dog Jacket from Amazon. It fits her great, she is 55 pounds and it keeps her chest warm. It is also inexpensive to just keep on hand regardless so I keep it in a winter adventure container.

For MY gear I wore a Wantdo Waterproof jacket I also got on Amazon. It is super warm! And comfy with lots of pockets for me to keep all my things, and bags and treats, etc. You can find it here

I also had on a pair of thermal socks and a pair of women’s snow boots  I bought a long time ago for just being around the ranch. Clothing I just wore a long sleeve top and a pair of leggings and was fine. **If you plan on doing more playing in the snow I would recommend something waterproof but it’s up to you**

Hope this blog was insightful,

See my experience driving up to Mount Pinos, Frazier Park, CA. 

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