Wednesday, June 1, 2011


The scene above is where Koda had his first swim!!

He was tentative at first and panicked a little when he first lost his footing, but soon became an expert doggy-paddler. Chris, our friend Kieran, and I swam with Koda for a long time. When he got tired, he went into the shallows to stomp on the water and chase the spray.

A few days later, we brought Koda back to this place and let him off leash. First time he's ever been off leash. We creek walked about a half mile and he stayed with us the entire time. We encountered people and he still stayed by us. He had, I think, the best time in his life because this dog is a WATER dog. He played for hours in the creek and the pools, until I had to call it a day because he was so tired!

I had a blast with him. We are learning together, exploring the world together, playing together.... and it makes me delighted. This is exactly what I envisioned when we got him as a puppy!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lake George Hiking

We wanted to take Koda up to the Adirondacks this past weekend for a hike, but didn't want to stress him out with a 2.5 hour car ride just yet (he is pretty used to 30-50 minutes right now) so we went to the Lake George area and hiked Shelving Rock mountain. It is in the Adirondacks, but a nice, easy hike without much of an incline and pretty view of Lake George at the top.

We signed in at the trail register, as any good hiker would do, and set off on our way! It was a little over a mile and a half to the top, so we took our time and just had fun!

I recommend this hike for anyone training their dogs or needing an easy hike for kids, or just wanting a chill stroll up a mountain themselves!

Here is Koda summitting his first ADK mountain:

He did very well. So well that when we headed down the trail, we took a mile long side-trail to visit the lake. THIS part of the trail was kind of steep and slippery and not as well marked. I don't think many people use that route. But Koda had fun exploring and, by this point, was finally tiring out ever so slightly.

The lake was gorgeous. Koda was very interested in getting his nose in it.

And then this was the aftermath:


Seriously. It was hysterical. I know I shouldn't take pleasure in another creature's misfortunes, but ohhhhh, he fell in and sputtered a bit and was so shocked! He ran over to me and Chris, looking at us as if to ask "What just happened?!" It wasn't cold out, so I wasn't worried about that. He then proceeded to fight the water for a little while before continuing down the trail with us.

I am glad to have a German Shepherd, the water just ran right off his coat and he dried almost completely by the time we were back at the car. Where he promptly fell asleep!

Another fun day with my boys! :D

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tulips, Spring, and super Nice Times!

Alright! So I am still in amazing mood resulting solely from the shining, warm sun and the green, green, green world!

My partner in crime, Chris, is gone this week, traveling for work, so I am staying in the city with Koda. I am not super comfortable hiking with him alone. I like having a partner, just in case, especially while Koda is still learning the basics.

Yesterday, we checked out Westland Hills Park and their dog park, which was smaller than my dad's backyard and kind of bare and sad looking, and also occupied by two VERY aggressive little terriers, haha. They were snarling when we approached, so we left.

Today, we joined what seemed like EVERYONE in Albany at Washington Park. Last weekend, the annual Tulip Fest was held, so the park is gorgeous, full of color, and just plain fun right now. It was good for Koda to be in what really felt like chaos at some points, screaming children, dogs running off leash, bikers, runners, strollers, canes, people wanting to pet him, etc, etc.

He was patient while I looked at the flowers and took his picture. He finally got to see the fountain full of water! He took a little drink -_- uck, haha, but I am excited for him to go swim there on a super hot day in the city!

We walked around the lake, and he explored.

Koda got to watch the geese, which he loves doing, and has yet to try to jump in after them!

He got to ignore all my attempts at a self-portait of myself with him, in fact, actively ruining every shot:

He looks like he is going to eat me here :D

But all in all, it was a great day at the park! Still struggling with leash work, but he will sit when I tell him and stay (most of the time). He has another obedience class tonight and there is progress, which is what matters.

Moral of the story of this post: take your dog to Washington Park if you live in Albany! It is beautiful, in the middle of the city, teeming with life, and your dog will thank you!!! Especially if you can trust him/her off leash, there is a huge dog park where the dogs love to play with each other!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Just enjoying life!

Spring is in full swing, rain and all. On the days we get that are sunshiney and bright, out we go! Here we are back at the Corning Preserve, watching ducks and bike riders.

Koda is back into his collar and off the gentle leader. Cue sad face. Pulling is back and still a struggle to deal with. However, the gentle leader rubbed a spot under his eye raw! He might not be big enough yet for the large gentle leader, that is the only reason I can figure for this small malfunction, it worked perfectly with my other shepherd.

We are still having fun, though, just working a little harder for it!

And I will be biased and say how BEAUTIFUL Koda is becoming. His sweet eyes just slay me and his beautiful coloration makes me so happy :D

And I will leave you a picture lastly of Koda's favorite new activity, playing soccer defense! He loves to defend against you kicking the ball and practice heading the ball back to you. It's kind of amazing to watch his precision, how high he can jump, and how agile he is. Love it!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


A few words to sum up this hike: muddy, slippery, misbehaving dog (shortly before the neutering).

I didn't even remember that I had pictures for this. Not sure I wanted to remember it! Koda was pulling me everywhere. We have since gone to obedience school, gotten a gentle leader AND gotten neutered and are having much better walks/hikes!

So, very sorry for the picture quality, but Koda was not having it this day.

Not sitting still for the camera!
And, for you, a PDF map of Plotter Kill Preserve. It really is beautiful (though I will caution it is slippery in bad weather)... it has many waterfalls and is a gorgeous hike right in Rotterdam, just about 15-20 minutes outside Albany.

And lastly: SPRING IS HERE. There is little to no snow surrounding Albany, the Catskills are clear, and we see the Adirondacks in sight!! We hope to get up north for a hike before the dreaded black fly season *shudder*

Happy Trails!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Leading gently

The vet-imposed rest period is over!

(Koda cheers)


It was nice. Chris and I took him on a walk to Buckingham Pond and it was lovely! Koda was very excited to get out of the house.

However, Koda is over 60 pounds now, 7 months old, and we have faltered in our training. Heeling is not going well. Obedience school starts this week, so that is tactic one for dealing with this issue. Tactic two is the Gentle Leader. I love this tool (and I am using it as a tool, not as a lifetime fix). Koda heeled the entire time on the walk with the Gentle Leader, got lots of praise and treats, and there was no tugging or fighting or distress on either of our parts.

It made for a very happy walk :D

I am in awe of this product. It is completely humane: it doesn't restrict their breathing, barking, or in any way prevent them from opening their mouths. And it had immediate results: he was unable to pull me forward, struggled for a bit, then relented to walking beside me, which gained him praise. He didn't choke again his collar from pulling, I didn't pull a bicep muscle from holding him!

So props to the Gentle Leader company. I wish I didn't have to use it, I wish training alone (my training and his!) was allowing us to have calm walks. But until that is a reality, I love having a safe and gentle alternative to walking my dog.

Four stars!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Recovery Time!

Koda is home and healing!

He is on restriction until next Wednesday. He has a four inch scar along the midline of his stomach and a small scar near his scrotum. The vet told us no playing, jumping, walks, etc for a week.

Koda was rather displeased to hear that!

It is hard to keep him from doing those things in general (he is a jumpy, playful, excitable pup) but I am following doctor's orders and resisting my strong urges to walk him during these beautiful spring days!

A healthy pup is important! His scar does look very serious, so we will get moving again next week :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pine Bush!

This post is being written at the same time Koda is in the vet's, waiting to be neutered. Sigh. I am a nervous mom.

So, I am posting this blog and these pictures to make me feel better! I know everything will be fine and we will be out there running rampant all over NY soon enough :)

I have posted about the Albany Pine Bush before, and will probably continue to do so for a very long time! I love it. The picture above is in an open, sandy field between all the trails. It is just an amazing landscape to find right in the city. Preservation is key and a lot of people have put in a lot of hard work to  keep the Pine Bush natural.

The Pine Bush is just a perfect place for me and Koda to work on having good trail manners while being very close to the city and not risking much at all!

Koda got a little photo shoot, courtesy of Chris. Usually I am the one taking the pictures, so it was nice to have someone else do it for a change! (though I am looking quite schlubby, hahah, I don't try to look nice for the trails, so sue me)

Aaaaaand, of course, the Pine Bush has something that Koda loves:


Hehe. There are some shady areas that still have a decent amount of snow, even though the rest of the area is dry and warm! He got to bite it and feel the cold for a little while, at least.

That's all for now, going to anxiously await the call from the vet letting me know he is out and recovering (and crossing my fingers that he doesn't have to stay overnight!).

Monday, April 11, 2011


So, this weekend was a bit of a party weekend. I was NOT feeling good on Saturday morning (solely because of my own behaviors!). However, I still got out of bed, put on workout clothes, and brought Koda out to a gorgeous hiking trail in Rotterdam (post to come later with a picture or two.... he was actually being a bit of a nutter that day, so I didn't take many pictures!).

Anyway, it got me thinking about how much a dog increases my fitness. Instead of laying in bed, watching TV, eating some comfort food, I thought about my puppy and how much he loves and NEEDS the outdoors. So out I went with him.

I love to be outside, I love to walk around the city, so Koda and I are a good pair. However, there have been days (or weeks) in the past where I just was. not. in. the. mood. Maybe it was rainy, or freezing, or some other excuse I would use to keep myself inside. But not now. I can't look at his face and think of myself over him!

I am looking back at our winter, one of the WORST winters I have experienced in Albany, and realized how much I got outside. Now, I would have gone out anyway to ski, but skiing is at most a twice a week activity. The other 5 to 6 days would be spent cuddling in a blanket inside! Not this year. Almost every single day, I bundled up and brought Koda out around the city or even on a hike.

He is good for my heart in more ways than one! :D

There are no excuses here. If I make excuses so that I can be slothful, I have to do the same to my dog, and I cannot bear that. Loki, whom I had earlier in life, when I was less fit, less mature, and less smart!... well, he spent too many days just hanging out with a lazy me inside. I promised I would never do that to Koda and I am not and it makes me proud. I love how strong and healthy Koda is!

Tomorrow is neutering day. I am nervous. But good, positive thoughts are being held up foremost so that all the good energy goes to my pup and the doctor tomorrow.

To chill out my nerves, I hope to make a little post tomorrow with pictures of my boy!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Some updates!

All is going well with Koda! Spring is coming full force into the area, complete with days of intense, pouring rain! But we brave it and have a good time anyway. :)

Koda is looking pretty full grown right now, which scares me, because he is only 7 months old! I cannot imagine how else he is going to change in the coming months.

We have a vet appointment scheduled on Thursday, a pre-check up for neutering. I am definitely a proponent of neutering. We aren't going to breed him, so why risk anything else? I wouldn't mind a little less testosterone running through his body, either! But, seriously, I've known dogs that haven't been neutered that had problems later on and had to be neutered at an older age, which is riskier. I'd like to get it done now.

However, his testicles haven't dropped yet. (TMI?) So the doctor is going to check them, see what can be done, what our options are. But, hopefully, we will have his surgery on the books soon. (Oh, I am going to be a mess when that happens... surgeries make me nervous, especially on animals!).

I had to go down to NYC this weekend, and on our way north, we did some hiking in the Hudson Highland area (Bear Mountain, Harriman State Park, etc). We didn't have Koda with us, but will be taking him down there soon! All the snow is gone and it is dry! I think it will be a great option while the Adirondacks are in their crazy mud/bug season. We can slowly work our way up north, to the Catskills and then to the 'dacks :)

Well, I'll post more updates and pictures when I have them!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Thacher Park

I cannot say enough how much I love living in Albany. I am, of course, biased because it is my home town. But I have traveled a bit and still find I love coming home to Albany and continue to love exploring it.

So reason 367 I love Albany: it is about 20 minutes away from Thacher Park! Thacher Park has been a place I have loved since I was young. On clear days, the view is incredible, looking out over Albany from the cliffs. Hawks nest in the cliffs, as well, and are constantly putting on little arial displays. The Indian Ladder Trail terrifed me as a child and as I grew, became a short trail of great fascination: you get to go into caves and walk under waterfalls! Part of the trail merges with the Long Path, which Chris and I want to hike someday.

Anyway, all these reasons and more are why I love Thacher Park :). So, now, we get to bring Koda there and share it with him.

Koda's favorite reason for loving Thacher Park.... it still has snow! He ate it, played in it, and just plain enjoyed it.

The creeks melted a bit and so Koda got to put his face into moving water for the first time. Adorable when he bit at it!

He also cannot stand when Chris explores something and he isn't with him. He follows Chris everywhere. So when Chris got up on the table, so did Koda, ha.

It was a gorgeous, blue-bird day! No one else was really at the park, because it is colder up there than in Albany. It is usually crowded on a hot summer day because it IS cooler.

We got to run and play and be silly. It was good for all of us.

And, now that Koda is growing up, he isn't tired out as quickly as he used to be. He didn't fall asleep on the ride home this time!

Until next time!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Corning Preserve Bike Path

Longing to play with the geese

Albany might not be perfect, but I feel lucky to live in a city with so many options to get outside! I have always utilized it's parks and ponds, but since owning Koda, I have never been so *grateful* for them.

Down by the Hudson River, a ten minute drive from my house, we have the Corning Preserve, located along the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. I have biked from Albany to Clifton Park on this trail and it's pretty cool. There is a section where it diverts you into a city and some neighborhoods where you have to be careful of cars (I try to avoid that section now) but the fact that it is there and very well maintained makes me happy!

(note: we saw a bald eagle on this walk, flying low over the river... beautiful!)

We brought Koda here with a group of friends over the weekend. The Hudson was high and brown because of the spring run-off. But ducks and geese are migrating over Albany on their way up north, and Koda has a new-found "love" of these birds, haha. I will be keeping him on a leash for a long while!

Albany is rather historic, as well, so you get to read some signs and see canals. I want to bring Koda up soon to the parks a little farther north, around Troy, to see the locks. I've loved these places since I was a kid. Koda doesn't care so much about the history... but the SMELLS! Oh, the smells, how he loves them. Tons of deer and rabbit tracks for him to shove his nose into. Plus, lots of other dogs and people to meet!

So, spring is coming, it is a little brown, the rains and slush still come, but we can all feel it and we are ready! Koda is growing into a gorgeous and sweet dog that I am so proud of. More to see and do, and we will tell you all about it soon!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring is Coming!!!

And while Koda may be born to romp in the snow, he is surely enjoying how much more often and how much LONGER we get to stay out and play!

He loves getting on park benches (as do many other dogs, as  the old paw prints hint at!)

He is getting humongous... approaching his 6 month birthday, he was already weighing in at almost 50 pounds! (today is officially his 6 month birthday, but I am not sure exactly how much he weighs)

His behavior is getting better and better. Some of it I attribute to him simply getting older and being able to quell his excitement more, but some of it has to be the fact that we are working on it all the time! He listens pretty well, sits and stays like a pro, and is super sweet to humans. One thing I am having trouble working on: he just wants to wrestle every dog he meets! He isn't aggressive, but he is overly physical and I have to rein him in, because it makes the other dog's owner nervous.

But, time and exposure I am sure will help that! We go to the dog park and the bike path, where there are tons of dogs.

So, I will leave you with some pictures of Koda, growing as the spring starts showing through the barren landscape of the Northeast!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lake George

We decided to head up to Lake George for a hike, test how Koda would do in a longer car ride.

One hint: vomit.

Haha. He had gotten himself all worked up when we stopped for bagels by playing in the parking lot's snow banks and proceeded to vomit twice when we got back onto the road.

Well! Enough grossness.

Onto beauty!

We attempted to climb 5th peak in Lake George, though we did not finish, because Koda had already had a very trying day with an hour in the car and wearing himself out in the parking lot before we ever got started!

That does not mean that we didn't have a lovely 3 mile walk through the woods!

The woods were gorgeous. The snow was thick. Koda was enjoying himself to the fullest. Exploring holes:

And just generally being the cute, happy puppy that he is:

I really cannot say enough how much I love this dog. He is so intelligent and so sweet. Yes, he is full of all the energy you would expect out of a 5 month old, 45 pound German Shepherd, BUT it is so rewarding to see my patience, time, and energy pay off and result in a really fun dog! We have our moments were training seems to go awry and my patience wears thin and he gets frustrated, but it is a learning process.

At our best, he listens, sits, stays, and comes. He is learning, slowly, to heel as well. That one has been a learning process for me, as well, because it is not something I have ever taught before. But 5 months in, and I think we are both starting to get it!

I love watching him experience this life, so many things for the first time.

This might have been our last hike where I need to wear snowshoes. The snow is slowly melting around these parts, making a lot of the logistics easier on me. So look forward to more updates on our progress! We have a goal of getting to the top of a High Peak together by the end of the summer :D

Until then, enjoy a photo of one of the most tired, contented dogs I've ever seen!