Monday, September 19, 2016

A Fond Farewell to Eastham

I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity --- twice.  Years ago, G owned a house on Cape Cod on the National Seashore in the tiny village of Truro.  Through a series of life changes, he had to give up the house back in the early 1990s.  Not one to be deterred, I started saving our money towards a downpayment on a replacement New England coastal home shortly thereafter.

Selfie in front of G's old house in Truro

In February of 2005, we bought a small seasonal cottage on the National Seashore -- this time in Eastham, a good hour closer to home, but "the same beach" as before.  We enjoyed the house, and its special, unique, "prestigious" location for the next 10 years together.  The past year and a half, since G's passing, has been difficult for me on Cape Cod, both emotionally and financially.  On my birthday this past April,  I decided to sell the property.

Selfie in front of the Eastham cottage
The new owners moved in today.  I am very happy for them, and hope their family enjoys many years of fun and good times on the National Seashore.  We have John F. Kennedy to thank for establishing the Seashore as a National Park, and putting a moratorium on building new dwellings there.  The neighborhood is like stepping back in time to the 1950s.  The same houses still stand (most of them) and aside from the erosion changes (and the lighthouse being moved off the beach into a preservation area) little has changed.  You can still walk on the beach in the middle of summer, and sometimes have a whole huge section of beach all to yourself.  There are not many places that special.

Contrary to what people may think, I will not miss the house.  I came to terms with the decision many months ago.  It holds recent unhappy memories for me because of the difficulties I experienced this past year; and the last time Gil and Hobie were there, they were both very, very ill.  It's hard for me to be at the house without remembering those awful days.  On the flip side, it holds some great memories, too.

Moon over Atlantic Ocean

Sunrise in Eastham

The neighborhood fox.

Nauset Lighthouse at Christmas-time.
At the cottage, we witnessed some fantastical thunderstorms, sunsets, sunrises, wildlife, too many tourists, and the ever-present lighthouse, a constant source of comfort as her red and white lights swooped over the house and cut through the fog.

G and H on their last visit to the cottage.  Thankful that I thought of taking a photo.

I will miss the beach terribly, and especially "my" seals.  I always felt that the seals were "walking" (swimming) with me, just like dogs.  More than 60 seals put on a show for me a few weeks ago that was simply spectacular.  And I truly feel that they swam, jumped and played just for me that day.

Tell me seals don't look like dogs!

Charlie will never again sit along the fence and bark at people visiting the Lighthouse (hah, maybe that's a good thing!).

The neighbors nicknamed him "Kujo" LOL! (all in fun, I assure you)

While we spent a lot of time at the cottage itself, Cooper only went to the beach a handful of times (because of the challenge of walking in the heat).  :(

Coop on the beach!

Editor's Edit:  I am ashamed I didn't mention Hector...he and Hobie spent so many years with me on the Cape.  I miss him so much.

Hector in his preferred sleeping position, on the couch at the cottage! 

The beaches of the National Seashore are my spiritual place.  My version of church, if you will.  You don't live in church.  You visit church.  And so, that's what I will be doing.  I guess I will see (once again), what it is like to be a tourist.  Maybe I'll even retire there some day, which was the original plan.  Until then, I wish the new occupants well, and hope they have many wonderful days and weeks and years in Eastham.  It is their turn now.

Hard to choose my favorite sunrise or sunset photo.... each one is more beautiful than the next.
You really can go home again.  I did it once before, and hopefully I'll do it again some day.  I've always said I'm a fair-weather friend to Cape Cod.  I'm thankful to the universe for giving me such a unique experience, I will never, ever forget.  Until we meet again.

(Photos by K.S. Mueller.  All photos in this blog post are the property of K.S. Mueller) 


Hear the ocean roar from this pet-friendly vintage 1950s vacation cottage located at the entrance to Cape Cod National Seashore in beautiful Eastham, Massachusetts.  The iconic Nauset Lighthouse is literally in our back yard.  

Hobie walking on the dead-end road by our house.
This photo was taken by me, standing in my back yard.


Three bedrooms (two upstairs, one downstairs) 
Master bedroom has ceiling fan
1 1/2 baths (shower - no tub) 
Two outdoor showers - one piped into house with hot water; the other vintage holding tank  
Fully-fenced, escape-proof yard for pets
Steps from Nauset Lighthouse 
Nauset Light beach across the street
Three Sisters Lighthouse 1/8 mile away
Coast Guard Beach one mile away 
Easy bike ride to Eastham center and bike trails 
Satellite TV and internet 
Washer/dryer on premises
His and her bicycles on premises
Lawn furniture and picnic table on premises
Window air-conditioner in main living area
Located on safe dead-end road, some traffic due to lighthouse



click on photos for expanded view

Spacious, dog-friendly yard


Master bedroom - queen-size bed on ground floor

Vintage 1950s galley kitchen - all appliances fully functioning

Open-concept living area with slider to fenced-in yard; satellite TV and internet with wi-fi.
(Please note, fireplace is currently out of order due to severe storm damage)

Left:  Ground-floor full bath with shower only       Right:  upstairs half-bath

Not pictured (but coming soon!): Two bedrooms upstairs

Outdoor view of the house (above) from the dead-end road.



The famous Nauset Light Beach is just steps away!

View of the cottage from Nauset Light Beach (zoomed in)

View of Nauset Light Beach and the ocean from upstairs bedroom
View of Nauset Light Beach Parking lot from house

Pet-safe fence surrounds the property which is adjacent to Nauset Lighthouse

More pics!!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Pup-peroni Has My Pups Saying "Woof Yeah!" on International Bacon Day

Ok, admittedly, this is a weird one for me to jump in on, since I'm a semi-vegetarian.  But, every once in a while, I eat bacon.  I know.  I'm horrible!  It's a holdover from my childhood.  My family always cooked bacon and it was the one "meat" I would eat, even back then. 

My dogs, on the other hand, are pure carnivores, and they love Pup-peroni and they sure love bacon (what dog doesn't?).  So, to share a moment of pure happiness with my pooches, I figured I'd give them a tail-wagging experience by chiming in on International Bacon Day, which is coming up soon.

High-five, Mom!  Woof, yeah! 
We picked up Pup-peroni's new Filet Mignon and Bacon Flavors treats, and brought them home for a taste test with Cooper and Charlie.  These treats are no joke!  They're made with delectable Angus steak and pack a bacon-y punch that my dogs absolutely love.  I have to be careful to limit the treats.  The soft, chewy texture really gets their tails wagging.  I think I enjoy giving them these Filet Mignon & Bacon treats, almost as much as they love devouring them.

Bacon?!!  #woofyeah "Woof!  Yeah!"  It's International Bacon Day

So, if you celebrate International Bacon Day, your pooch just might also say "Woof, Yeah!" to the tasty flavor of these new Pup-Peroni treats.

You can learn more about Pup-Peroni Filet Mignon & Bacon flavored dog snacks through the link below:
Feel free to share your personal 'woof yeah' moment with your dog in the comments below.

As compensation for writing this post for Pup-Peroni, I received a gift box of goodies for me and my dogs.  I am happy to endorse their products!  Find Pup-Peroni on social media = @pupperoni 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Natural Balance Celebrates National Guide Dog Month With the Top Human-Canine Teams Who Make Us Believe

Have you ever seen a visually impaired person in public and didn't know how to react, or felt awkward? Have you ever wondered what it's like to 'see' through the eyes of their guide dog? I know I have.
September is National Guide Dog Month, so I decided to learn more about what it might be like for people who are blind or visually impaired.
I'm partnering with Natural Balance [] (the maker of premium-quality pet food) and Guide Dogs for the Blind [] (a non-profit charitable organization that raises and trains exceptional guide dogs to serve the blind and visually impaired) to recognize the 'Top Human-Canine Teams Who Make Us Believe.'

Guide Dogs for the Blind
 These nine teams are outstanding examples of the amazing partnerships possible between humans and canines.

While reading about each of visually-impaired human and his or her canine helper, I was struck by the fact that it was too difficult to choose which pair to write about.  But when I saw Michelle & Oscar's story, it really resonated.  My mother had glaucoma, which did not cause significant problems until she was well into her eighth decade of life.  Sadly, she became legally blind and it was hard watching that happen to such a vibrant, exuberant woman.  When I read that Michelle was born with glaucoma that caused her blindness at a young age, I knew her team was the one I wanted to focus on to bring awareness to National Guide Dog Month.  I hope you like their story as much as I do.

Michelle Yoo was attending her first year of college -- getting used to a new campus, juggling multiple classes, and making lots of new friends. Imagine doing that when you are blind! For Michelle, this is not an imaginary scenario -- it's her everyday life.

As I mentioned before, Michelle was born with glaucoma.  She spent a big portion of her young life unable to navigate the world around her.  Later, when Michelle became more mobile, she had more than her fair share of bumps and bruises.  Michelle lacked depth perception, and therefore lived in a constant state of discomfort.  

She was finding it increasingly difficult to get around, but wanted to pursue an undergraduate degree in psychology.  Michelle made a split-second decision to apply to the Guide Dogs for the Blind program, and she has never regretted the decision.  From the beginning, Michelle knew that the program had done a marvelous job matching her with her beautiful golden guide dog, Oscar.  They immediately fell into step with each other, and within two months they knew they had a lifelong partnership.

Partners Oscar and Michelle Yoo

Even more surprising was the sheer number of people who approached Michelle on the first day of the new semester.  The questions on everyone's lips were, "Who is your furry friend?", "Where can I get one?", and, of course, "Can I pet him?"  With this positive attention, the pair were able to walk with confidence every day -- whether on a small grocery shopping trip, or a longer excursion to visit Michelle's sister in Los Angeles.  Together, the two also tackle intense psychology and jiu jitsu classes -- and, they always leave room for play time!

Today, Michelle and Oscar are primed to face tough deadlines together, and and are taking the mental health field by storm.   Way to go Michelle and Oscar!!

As Michelle's story shows, in addition to providing enhanced mobility, guide dogs can also be a social bridge, opening a world of possibilities for friendship and human connection. 
To help people like Michelle thrive, please consider donating to Guide Dogs to the Blind []. Once there, you can also read about the eight other amazing human-canine teams. There's no better time than National Guide Dog Month to show your support for these incredible people and their four-legged superheroes.

Guide dog puppy

One thing I've always wanted to do with Cooper is to get him certified as a Comfort Dog or a therapy dog.  With his disability (leg amputation), his loving demeanor, and his uncanny ability to always know when I need healing, I can imagine he could provide comfort to others, too.  Perhaps people who've lost a limb, just like he has.  Since he's a reactive dog, we have a long way to go, but it is something I might one day pursue with Cooper.  I am afflicted with fibromyalgia, and am a recent widow.  Therefore, I am often in physical or emotional pain (or both!). Coop always knows when I'm not feeling well, and sometimes he'll even put a part of his body against the part of my body that hurts, in (I believe) an effort to ease my pain.  Dogs are amazing creatures!

The amazing Cooper!
Do you have a special bond with your pet? Tell me about it in the comments below.

As compensation for writing this post for Natural Balance, I received a gift box of goodies for me and my dogs.  I am happy to endorse their products!  Find @naturalbalance on social media for more great products!  For this project, Natural Balance teamed up with Guide Dogs for the Blind, an organization I have supported with monetary donations for many years.  I am pleased to support both organizations by publishing this blog post.

Friday, September 2, 2016

3 Back-to-School Morning Routine Tips for the Whole Family #milkbone

Dogs and their human companions have something very important in common: both are creatures of habit. 
Even though we have no human children in this household, back-to-school is super important because it also means "back-to-work" for me.  I'm co-owner of a student travel company, and the new school year is just as busy for us as it is with any household that includes children or teachers. 

With school about to start—it's the perfect time to make sure the whole family gets off on the right paw with the right habits at the start of the day. (And it's so much more fun when the whole family is involved!) 

Being self-employed has its perks, and I am so fortunate that I don't have to run out the door at the crack of dawn, or battle traffic.  I have a 5-minute commute, and I work at home in the mornings.  This gives me plenty of time to be with the dogs at home for our morning routines.  The hounds usually get up when they hear a neighbor or two, and I let them outside into the back yard where they relieve themselves and run around for a while and yell at the neighbors!  The cats either go out with them, or, any cat that was out all night comes back in!  

Snooze time!

After that, we usually go back to bed for "snooze time" (yes, they sleep in my bed). The dogs understand the phrase "snooze time" (I've taught it to all my dogs).  They know it means we fall back asleep for 15-20 minutes.  I get up for real around 8:00, make coffee, and check my email.  If there's time, I take Charlie Brown for a walk, or take Cooper for a ride to run errands.  Admittedly, this is not exactly "exercise"! But Cooper is disabled, so we have to be careful not to exhaust him.  The dogs have a couple of Milk-Bone classic dog biscuits, and I clean the kitchen, eat my breakfast, take my vitamins and meds, and take a shower.  They are well-trained to understand that when I shower and brush my teeth, it means I'm getting ready to leave the house for a while, and fun time is over.  They lie calmly outside the bathroom door and then move to their beds.  They stay inside all day until I get home from work in the early evening.  Most days, my pet-sitter lets them out mid-afternoon for a quick romp around the back yard.

Here are some great suggestions from the folks at Milk-Bone for getting your pup in good habits, along with the rest of the family:

1Get active with your four-legged trainer in the morning.
40% of doggy mommies and daddies do healthy things with their pups at the same time that they do healthy things for their families. By adding doggy exercise to the rest of your family's morning routine, your dog can actually begin to encourage the rest of your family to stay active! 
morning walk
Charlie Brown and yours truly having a morning walk on the beach.  Hydrant and football optional.
2. While caring for Fido, care for your family, too.
Dogs need role models. A solid routine, and good daily habits like brushing teeth, exercising, eating right and taking vitamins is key. If you have human children, get them in the same habits at the same time.  Good habits will last them a lifetime, and they'll learn to be responsible and caring towards animals.  Win-win!

A basket of fresh fruit by the printer!
3. Make sure your dog consistently receives the nutrients necessary to live a long and happy life.
1 in 3 pet parents are confused about what's needed for proper pet nutrition, meaning many pup parents are unaware that their dogs' diets may be lacking in essential nutrients.  Milk-Bone Good Morning Daily Vitamin Treats were created specifically to promote your dog's well-being and longevity. So when you're giving your kids their daily vitamins, remember that your pup needs their nutrient-packed treats too.  Your dog adds so much to the family—make sure to take care of him/her for the long-term!
Learn more about Milk-Bone's Good Morning Daily Vitamins on their site:
What are your family's favorite morning routines? Tell us how you and your pooch get ready to take on the day in the comments section below!

As compensation for writing this post for Milk-Bone I received a gift box of goodies for my dogs.  As a decades-long supporter and consumer of Milk-Bone products, I am happy to endorse their products!  Find @milkbone on social media for more great products!