Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christman Preserve

Christman Preserve is a gorgeous local hike in Delanson, NY, less than an hour's drive from Albany! It can be a short hike or longer depending on the loops you choose to follow. There is a map posted at the beginning of the trail. Lots of information is included in the link I gave you, so I am just going to continue talking about the trail from Koda's POV. :D

This hike starts out in low brush, but soon gets to the beautiful creek (which is obviously iced over at this time of the year in Albany).

Koda had a ton of fun crossing the frozen creek. I had made Chris test it out before I risked getting the pup dunked in frozen water (good job, Chris!) Koda is definitely an explorer and doesn't have much fear when it comes to natural obstacles!

My favorite part of Christman Preserve, however, is the waterfalls, which are stunning in the spring, but frozen in time as they are right now, they are doubly as beautiful.

Koda wasn't too impressed, however, by the majestic landscape and just wanted to go play. "Less pictures, more romping!!" I can just hear him chiding me, hehe.

Koda got to explore a lot of different things on the trail, including a lean-to and lots of bridges.

One warning: The trail to get to the lean-to can be steep and icy and so, a little treacherous. However, this was an early snowfall and no ice had formed in mid-December. Chris and I have been to the preserve in deep winter (without the pup!) and had a tough time navigating it safely. It is easy enough to avoid the trail to the waterfall if need be, but wow, it's so beautiful, it is hard to resist!

As per usual, this hike ended with the little guy all tuckered out. Two miles seems to be about his limit. He was just shy of being three months old at the time of this hike and wanted to stop walking about 50 feet from the car! I urged him on and he was fine, but I am aware of his limits. We continue to go on long daily walks to get his endurance up!

Obligatory sleepy in the car picture:

(Sidenote: Chris owns an Element which has been touted as very dog-friendly, and I would have to concur! It's a great car for Koda and I can see him growing into it very well in the coming years. It is easily cleaned after his muddy paws get everywhere and has lots of space for our gear and Koda's!)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Albany Pine Bush!

I am very lucky to live in Albany and have a really great preserve just minutes from my house. The Albany Pine Bush includes thousands of acres of protected land throughout the area, easily accesible and easily walkable! They have maps at all the trailheads, you can go for a quick fifteen minute jaunt or head out for half a day exploration. I really love it.

Plus, it is a beautiful gem right in the city. When I get onto the trail, I quickly forget that I am so nearby neighborhoods and highways! The pine barrens are really a unique ecosystem, very different from the deciduous forests I usually love so much, and walking on sand dunes is fun for me and Koda!

I am glad to have this option to bring him to, so that Koda doesn't have to always have to walk on pavement when we are stuck in the city for the week. But right now, everything has a thin covering of snow, making it doubly as beautiful.

Koda has gone on several 2 mile walks this week, doing great! He is still full of energy and he is getting stronger day by day. He is shaped like a little barrel and I have a feeling he is going to be quite the powerhouse. Chris remarked that he seems like he was built to be a sled dog! Not that I am going to hitch him up to a sled or anything, but we will do what we can to make sure Koda feels like he is strong and has a purpose!

So, pictures of Koda in the Pine Bush, which is more fun!

He tentatively takes the lead sometimes on our walks, but continuously looks back to make sure I am right there behind him. He was to be independent, but seems a little scared to make the jump 100% just yet! He isn't even 3 months old yet, though, so he has lots of time to progress.

I am feeling good about our week with Koda. He is getting stronger and learning manners more and more. Nipping is still, but less of a problem now. It is easier to calm him down when he gets over-excited. And he isn't destroying the house! He got his little teeth into an ornament off the Christmas tree and a checkbook cover, but all in all, not too bad. I attribute that to keeping him busy and exhausted :D

Chris and I are going skiing on Saturday, but Sunday, I have plans to take Koda to a really fun preserve just outside of Albany that has cool trails and a waterfall (which I assume is frozen by now!). Details to follow!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Koda's first hike!

Koda is still very young, but has been exploring the world and growing strong, so this past weekend, we decided to see how he would do in the great outdoors!

Chris and I chose a hike that was very mild, but still a challenge for a 10 week old pup. Vroman's Nose out in Schoharie County seemed perfect for our little group. It is about a two mile loop to get up to the top of the cliff area and back to the car, with about 400 feet of elevation to the top. Koda had already walked that far in the city with no signs of slowing down, so we figured as long as we went at his pace, the hike and the climb would not be a problem.

Plus, he is so small that I can still carry him! (not for long, the days of puppyhood pass by too fast, especially for German Shepherds, they grow like weeds!)

Despite my fears that he would tire out quickly, Koda raged on like a little machine. As you can see in the picture above, he had some pretty good hills to walk up, and he didn't hesitate for a second. His favorite part, however, was climbing over rocks, roots, and other obstacles. This gives me great hope that he is going to love hiking more than anything, because there are sure some obstacles in the Adirondacks! He got mad the first time I tried to pick him up and help him up a rock climb, grunting and swinging his legs. I didn't do that again!

The view from Vrooman's Nose was great! We got to see lots of the valley, big open farmland. For a short hike so nearby to home, it was a beautiful payoff. Perfect place to have a lazy day picnic, we will surely be coming back in the nicer weather.

Koda seemed to really enjoy the view as well!

I made sure to bring food and water, which he gobbled up, having earned himself a big appetite. We were so worried when he got home that he was so small and the vet was concerned he was underweight, but no more. He is a little barrell of strength!

We even worked on good manners on the top. He was very well behaved, staying near to Chris and I and being relatively calm for so young a dog. The one thing he won't do is pose nice for pictures with me, always licking my face and wriggling around!

We got down to the bottom and Koda still wanted to play, so we hung out, ate more dog food and eventually went to the Carrot Barn where Koda was allowed to come in while we got sandwiches! He was a hit with all the customers and workers there, and we got complimented on his good temperment (which felt really nice, we have really been trying to socialize him and I am glad it is paying off).

All in all, it was a success, Koda loved it, and we loved having him as a companion. It is more beautiful than I ever knew to see the forests and the trails and the world through brand-new eyes! There is much more exploration in our future, that's for sure.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Growing up!

Koda is growing, quickly!

He has been at home for about three weeks now and is gaining pounds and experience by leaps and bounds.

Potty training is not a total success, yet, though he is only about 10 weeks old at this point. Can't get mad at a guy with so tiny of a bladder for his accidents! Sitting and staying are his high points, he responds to cues like a pro.

My main training focus: do what I can do now so that later, hiking won't be a big hurdle.

First (and foremost): socialization! I have learned my lesson with past pets and knowing my friends' dogs, I want Koda to be as socialized as possible. From day two being home (day one being cuddle and get-to-know-you time) he was out in the city parks, out on walks, visiting pet stores, meeting my friend's children, meeting my grandmother, and hanging out at family events. I am very pleased with how calm he is around other people and other dogs. He is curious and sweet, and though he is a little nippy as puppies can be, there is nothing malicious in it. In fact, Koda seems a little distraught when people *don't* come over to say hi, he loves meeting new people!

To further socialize him, he recently had his first trip to the dog park. He played with dogs ten times his size, rough-housing and butt-smelling. He mostly stayed with me and Chris as we chatted with the other owners, but whenever the pack ran over with tennis balls in slobbery mouths, Koda jumped right into the fray, wanting to play. He is hesitant (as I would be too if I were only eight pounds!) but equally as brave. He also was off leash at the dog park and behaved very well.

Second: leash work! We go on lots of walks and he is a great walker. Koda follows well on the leash, not pulling or wanting to wander, just trotting along nicely. He has a ton of energy, and his short (for now) legs pump away as we wander about the city.

All in all, life is going along swimmingly for our new little buddy. We have speed bumps along the way (nipping and potty training) but nothing that wasn't expected and nothing that isn't worth it!

We are well on our way to having the best hiking partner a person could have :D