Product Review: Noxgear Lighthound Vest

Waiting in her Lighthound vest.

Last November, my husband came home after walking Zeda and commented on a light that another dog in the neighbourhood was wearing.  “It’s great,” he said. “You can see it all the way down the street.  I want to find out where she got it.”  A week later, we had a Noxgear Lighthound vest for Zeda and a Tracer 360 vest for him.

Keeping visible as we walk by a busy plaza.

I was in complete favour of putting the Lighthound on Zeda.  We live in poorly lit community.  If we stay in the residential section, I know how hard it is hard to see us as I have trouble seeing pedestrians, dogs and cyclists too.  When we walk on the busier main roads which are better lit, we have to deal with drivers who rush to turn left or right and don’t expect to see someone walking in the dark .  It can be especially dangerous when we pass the Tim Horton’s and the McDonald’s drive-throughs.

Shadow walking

Every morning, Zeda and I are out for her morning walk – always in the dark and sometimes as early as 5:00 – and every morning, she wears her vest.   We change the colours around to match my mood and her collar, which makes it fun.  The lighthound has kept her (and me) safe. Drivers see us and always (and I mean always) give us the right of way; this never happened before.

I cannot say enough good things about Noxgear.  Their product is excellent and their customer service is top-notch.  If you are out and about with your furbaby in the dark, I highly recommend you get one.

PS: I now have a Noxgear vest to run in too, but that is another post.

 

We Girls Stick Together

My husband and I started actively planning for our second fur-baby two summers ago.   We had put down our 14 year old a few years earlier and it took Dave that long to be ready to have another; he was home during the day and needed an excuse to get out; he was ready to look after 4 paws again.

Zeda at 14 months, a week after bringing her home.

We had a few things that we hoped for in our dog: good with kids, a rescue, a larger breed (e.g. lab, retriever), short hair, young enough to still be a puppy but old enough to be house-broken, and female (believing that a female would be a somewhat quieter dog).   After a few months of searching, we found 14 month old Zeda through Grand River All Breed Rescue (based in Cambridge, Ontario) and brought her home.

She is always excited when we start to run.

Today, Zeda turned three and she has been everything on our list, everything but quiet.  She is a bundle of energy who needs to be walked a lot.   Zeda is always super excited when I pull my running clothes out of my dresser because she thinks she gets to go for a run; sometimes she gets to come with me.  When I get home from work, she bolts down the stairs, sometimes barking, tail wagging, and trying hard not to jump, making me think that I am the most important person in her life.   This summer, I feel like I have become that person for her.

I am learning to admire the gardens when we walk.

During the school year, Dave does 90% of the walks because he has more time than I do.  But since I am home through the summer, Zeda becomes my girl.   To her good fortune, I have had that much more time to spend with her this summer because I haven’t been running; walking has been my way of getting outdoors.  I honestly don’t think that I would enjoy my daily walks on my own.  Zeda has given me the motivation that I need to get out the door, and I have given her the exercise, love and attention that she needs.  Somewhere in the past three weeks, walking has stopped being a chore or a labour of love; it’s something that I have started to really enjoy with her.

Today, Zeda turned three.  We enjoyed our morning walk, playtime in the yard, and cuddles, and we have our evening 5K to look forward to.   She has become my guard dog (anyone who comes to visit can attest to that), my walking buddy, my companion and my best friend.   She is still the same bundle of energy that we brought home two years ago, but I wouldn’t want her any other way.

A Most Unfortunate Side Effect of Not Running

During the first few days of dealing with my hamstring (now named Tammy the Hamstring.  Why not name your hamstring?), it hurt to walk but it was Zeda who really suffered.  Gone were our morning walks; our 5K afternoon walks were also put on hold until I felt more mobile.  In the mornings, I let Zeda out in the backyard, fed her and watched her sulk until one of the boys woke up and could take her around the block.

On Friday morning, Zeda went outside, roamed the yard and visited her usual spots.  She found a stick to chew, mud to dig into and a skunk to play with.  Well, somebody forgot to tell the skunk that Zeda just wanted to play.    The backyard reeked.  It was so bad that I initially couldn’t tell if it was the yard or her that smelled.  I called Zeda and did the sniff test; Dave smelled her too.  We agreed that it must have been the neighbour’s dog that got skunked because she didn’t smell all that stinky…until she had been inside for about 10 minutes.  I heard bedroom doors suddenly slam shut.  It was obvious that our Zeda had been skunked.

Zeda and I headed back outside to bathe her.  Dave bought a skunk shampoo a few months ago – the “just in case” purchase that makes perfect sense after 3 previous late night skunkings with Chase, our previous fur-baby.   Zeda had a 45 minute bath with 3 shampoos and rinses.  The next day, Dave washed her again. The smell still lingered.

While he walked her that afternoon, a fellow dog-parent told Dave, “Do you know what really works?  A female douche.  (Is there any other kind?)  It’s full of chemicals and takes the smell out.”  So, when Dave got home, he asked me to pick up a “female douche.”

“A what???”

“It’s suppose to work.  So if you’ll get one, I’ll help you with it.”

“You want me to go to the drug store to get a douche shampoo?  I know kids who work at there.  There is always one of my former students on cash on Saturdays.  They’ll talk… or start a rumour.”  Dave looked at me and repeated, “I’ll help you.  Get the product: a female douche. This is out of my territory.”

Obviously.  I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry.  It was bad enough that Zeda got hit by a skunk because Tammy was being a pain in the butt and making it difficult for me to walk.  But now I had to go to the drug store to pick up a douche shampoo.  I toyed with the idea of driving to the other end of town where no one would know me, but I pulled on my big girl shorts and headed to my local Shoppers.

I honestly didn’t know what to get for Zeda.  “Do I buy the $4.99 one or the $24.99?  Okay, let’s eliminate the ones with applicators.  We don’t want gels.  Hmmm…lemon coconut…maybe scented would be nice.  Nope, let’s get that one; it looks like Johnson’s baby shampoo.”  So I picked up a bottle of Vagisil and bee-lined for the cashier, paid for the shampoo, walked out of the store – without even asking for a bag!  – and prayed that I wouldn’t walk into somebody I know.

When I got home, Dave was ready.  He rinsed Zeda’s coat and I washed her again: over her head, covering her mouth, around her eyes and in the nostrils.  Suddenly, a purchase with an applicator made a lot of sense.   We let everything soak in her, rinsed her off and, as we did, we could smell the stench being pulled from her.  We repeated the process and, during Zeda’s second scrubbing, I asked, “Who thought of this anyway?”

“The guy I ran into while walking her.”

“No, who originally thought of this?  Why would someone use a douche shampoo on a dog? Whatever would possess them to think of that?”

And that remains a mystery.  At first, I thought that a genius idea like that had to be a woman’s.   Then, I thought it came from a  guy who panicked when his dog was sprayed, ran into the bathroom to get some soap and grabbed the wrong bottle.  I’m surprised that something so effective did not end up on the list of “accidental inventions” or a DIY life hack video.

As we cleaned up, I said to Dave, “I’ll leave the Vagisil here with her other shampoos.  It will be a conversation piece.”   I carefully placed the bottle on the toolbox next to his workbench and retreated to the safety of my kitchen.  Then, I added Vagisil to my list for my next trip to the drug store.

Keeping Ticks Away

Tick Repellants – Chemical and Natural

While ticks have been common in southern climates, they are still fairly new to those of us in Ontario.  I’ve always been a bit worried about them but, until this year, ticks simply haven’t been a huge problem.  At the beginning of March, that changed.

One night I was playing with Zeda and noticed something on her head.  It was like a giant disgusting pimple that wiggled back and forth when I touched it; I just wanted to squeeze it but I thought I would end up with blood everywhere.  Then I imagined some tiny creature with appendages everywhere slowly crawling out and I screamed for my husband.

“Dave, there is something gross on Zeda’s head!  I don’t know what it is but she needs to see a vet tomorrow!”

Dave didn’t even look.  He simply trusted my panicked tone and took her in the next morning.  To our surprise, Zeda won the first tick of the year award, a fully engorged tick – at the beginning of March, in Ontario.  This was unheard of.  Now it was an unseasonably warm winter but even our vet was surprised.  He removed the tick, bagged it to send it away for testing, and gave us Zeda’s tick meds.  I knew that we would have to do something more to be proactive about preventing ticks this summer.

My boys are old enough that they can handle manufactured sprays which contain Deet, but those contain chemicals.  My oldest, who is often on the soccer field at night, complains that everyone pulls out bug spray after dark; he can see a haze over the soccer field and it is hard to breathe.  So, once in a while, something like Muskoil is okay, but I thought it wise to try a bug/tick spray that was more natural.

So I went back to Dr. Google, who gave me a recipe for a natural repellent last summer.  All I could remember was it had water, vinegar and essential oils.  After some searching, I found it and started concocting what my boys call “Mom’s Witches’ Brew.”  All I have to do is mix up the following ingredients in a bottle.

Mom’s Witches Brew:

2 cups of vinegar (Yes, this sounds like a lot but the scents from the Essential Oils cover the smell of vinegar.)

  1 cup of water

Secret Ingredients: DoTerra’s Essential Oils

Essential Oils (I use DoTerra brand): 10-15 drops of Peppermint, 10-15 drops of Eucalyptus, 7-10 drops of Lavendar.  (There are other EO’s that are recommended, such as Lemongrass and Geranium, and I am going to try those in my next batch.)

I make a new mixture every two weeks and keep it in a spray bottle.  Zeda gets sprayed every morning (this is in addition to her monthly tick meds), I spray my shoes when I head out for a run and everywhere else if I am heading into the trails.   Even my boys don’t complain, but if left to their own devices (like on a recent school overnight trip in a wooded area), they prefer Muskoil.

This is really quick and easy to make.  I may get laughed at by the men-folk at home when I brew my magic potion, but it is doing its job of keeping us safe.

 

 

 

 

The Summer of More

Summer Running with Zeda

When my kids were younger, I thought my time would free up as they got older.   How wrong I was!  With a tween and a teen, I find that I am constantly on the go taking them to soccer, basketball, refereeing, choir, work and – oh, yes – school.  Combine that with marathon training, a new grade to teach, and coaching teams, and you have the perfect recipe for a tired working mom.

After running Boston, I realized something had to go.  So I dropped my mileage to 25 to 30 miles a week – just enough to keep my legs happy – and finished the school year feeling ready to push myself again with my running, to keep chasing my dreams.

Last week was the first of my Summer of More: more sleeping, more eating and more running.   Of these, it is running that is my main focus; the other two naturally come into play as my mileage climbs and my intensity increases.  Last week was the first in a long time that I was able to run with Zeda, coordinate time to run with friends and get in a 10 solid miler. I was so happy to finish the week with over 35 miles; I have just a few miles to go to reach 40 miles a week, when Coach and I can start focusing on some fall goals.

On the weekend, I ran into a parent from school who asked me how my first week of summer was.  I answered truthfully.  “I feel like I have been drugged.  All I want to do is sleep.”  To that she laughed, and I added, “Seriously.  All I’ve done is eat, sleep and run.  It’s my Summer of More.”

 

Introducing Zeda

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This summer, after being dogless for almost five years, my family decided we were ready to adopt another. We hemmed and hawed over the gender, the breed, the age…but the one thing we all agreed on was we wanted a rescue dog, an active dog and one who could keep me company running. On Thanksgiving Monday, we brought home Zeda.

Zeda is a year and a half and a ball of energy.  I walk her in the morning, she gets at least an hour of play with her new doggie friends every afternoon, my son walks her at night and, on days when she still doesn’t seem to get enough exercise, I will run 5K with her.

An excited dog as we head out for a rainy run.

This is the first dog that I have had to run with.  I honestly knew nothing about training a dog to run with its owner so it has been weeks of trial and error.  I quickly learned that morning runs are slower, only because she likes to spend more time sniffing the ground presumably covered in morning-fresh dog pee, and that I need to constantly be on the lookout for squirrels or any other four-legged creature worth chasing.

Since early November, we’ve been running together once or twice a week for 5k to 8k.  Zeda’s 5K time is anywhere between 26 and 29 minutes, with only two or three breaks to relieve herself.   Since my only goal when running with her is to tire her out while adding some easy miles to my log, that pace is great.  And Zeda gets what she wants: a chance to run.

I am so happy to have a new running partner.  Rain, snow, warm or cold, Zeda is always keen to leash up and keep me company.  And who knows?   Maybe I’ll be able to get her to toe (or claw) a line.