I have a love-hate relationship with Alaska.  I love the beauty and splendor of what surrounds me.  I love the uniqueness that comes with living in Alaska.  I love the small town feel even though we live in the biggest state in the United States.  The people are down-to-earth and no-nonsense.

On the other hand, I hate how isolated we are.  I hate the road system consists of basically 3 main highways: one going South to Homer, one going North toward Fairbanks, and one going Northeast toward Canada.  To get down to the Lower 48, you can always drive the AL-CAN or take the ferry but count on at least a 4-5 day trip.  And, who has that much time when you only have a week or two for vacation?  So, what do I hate the most about living in Alaska?  I hate that the only quick way out of Alaska is to fly and I HATE to fly.

I’m a terrible flyer.  I get anxious and panicky days before we have to fly.  It’s on my mind constantly.  And as the time to fly nears, I get worse: racing heart at just the thought of take-off and landing, sweat pouring from my pores at the thought of the small bumps we always encounter, and let’s not mention the bigger bumps that pilots like to call “minor turbulence” those thoughts bring me to tears.

I know…I have a serious problem.

When I’m lucky enough to have my husband with me as we fly, poor Steve ends up with nail marks in his arm and a mess of a wife.  He reminds me that “flying is safer than driving” but that gives me no solace; give me a car and an open road and I am a much happier camper.  But when I have to fly alone, which I have had to do the past couple of trips, I do my best to hold it together.  I load up on the Cortisol Manager and even order a drink or two to calm my nerves.  I set my watch to my destination’s time so I know exactly how much more time I have to endure surging through the air at 500 miles per hour, 37,000 feet above the sweet ground.

Years ago, I learned a mantra that I teach my elementary school kids when they are feeling anxious or upset.  It’s one that I use myself and will even admit to them that I use it when I am feeling scared and uneasy: like when I am flying.  This mantra runs through my head as we take-off, during each bump we hit, when I feel my heart racing because there’s a strange noise, as panic sets in because I am stuck in this plane, and when we land.  It has gotten me through many-a-flights and will hopefully get me through many-a-more…like the one I am on now…



Happy Birthday, Pongo!

Our sweet boy Pongo turns 3 today.  From the day we brought him home to this moment, we have seen immense amounts of change in him.  He’s gone from a nippy, pushy little tyrant to a kiss-giving, goofy little man who will only sometimes now push the limits just to see how far he can get…but that’s also a Cattle Dog for you!

To start off the birthday celebration, Mama made sweet potato/pumpkin cupcakes with peanut butter frosting and topped with meaty treats for Pongo to share with his doggie friends at daycare yesterday.

Note to self: do not use peanut butter frosting on cupcakes and then try to stuff them into the tiniest treat bag known to humankind.

Pongo’s favorite part of baking…licking the spoon.

Our plan for this morning was to try breakfast at the Glacier Brewhouse (so not worth it but glad we tried it so that we can cross it off of our breakfast dining possibilities) and then go for a walk downtown.  Unbeknownst to us, or maybe we are just really out of it, a HUGE festival was going on downtown: Downtown Summer Solstice Festival.  It was starting to become a madhouse by the time we were done with breakfast and ready for our walk. Pongo can handle lots of people but was pretty stressed out as we were dodging dogs left and right.  We got as far as Town Square where we quickly stopped to enjoy the gardens, and then hightailed it back to the car because it was too much for Pongo; he just wasn’t enjoying himself.  We were able to snap a couple pictures before our retreat.

Anchorage has been experiencing some phenomenal, well-deserved weather these past couple of days.  Weather nice enough to pull out the pool for Pongo’s birthday enjoyment. We did add water, incase your wondering.

Pongo also got to play a little frisbee.

And then watch for squirrels while resting.

Pongo’s last mission on his special day was to help Mama and Papa nab all the mosquitoes that latch onto Pongo’s underside for a free ride into the house.  He’s actually a very good bug catcher, if he doesn’t spaz too much when he hears the “Get the bug” command.

And now, we have one pooped birthday boy.



It’s always a crapshoot going into our small-spaced vet’s office.  It could be completely empty or it could be like running the dog gauntlet.  Today, it was the latter. Pongo and I walked up to the door and saw a woman with her dog standing at the front counter, which is right smack as you walk in the door.  Pongo saw the dog and seemed to just shrug it off–no reaction whatsoever.

We didn’t want to take any chances of an incident, so we decided to take a few minutes outside to give them some time and give Pongo some space.  After a drawn out potty break, we walked into an empty waiting room.  I grabbed some scrumptious looking treats out of the jar on the counter and chose a seat the farthest away from the front door and exam room doors as possible, which is only like 5 feet.

Pongo knew there were dogs in both of the exam rooms; he could hear their little tags a tinkling.  The sound of dog tags usually riles him up but he was too focused on those soft, meaty treats I was holding in my hand…basically torturing him with so he would pay more attention to me.  He was actually being a REALLY good boy.

Then it happened…I heard the doctors finishing up with their respective patients and knew the perfect storm was brewing.  Both dogs came out of their exam room at the same time.  I was trying to keep Pongo focused on me and not on the two, big dogs that had just exited and were basically invading his very large space bubble.

Pongo looked at the dogs then looked back at me.  “Good boy!” and treats galore poured from the sky.

Look at the dogs…look back at me.  TREATS!!!

Look at the dogs…look back at me.  MORE TREATS!!!

As I am praising and stuffing treats into my dog’s face, one of the owners asked the other if their dogs could meet.  “Oh yes!  He’s SO friendly.”  The dogs greet each other politely as Pongo and I look on.  All of sudden, I see this woman and her dog turn around and walk the 3 feet we had between us.  I immediately knew her intentions and gave her a firm, “No.”  It didn’t register, so I said it again with a little more oomph, “NO!” Then, the lightbulb turned on: she gave me this eat-you-know-what look and said something to the effect of-Oh, I guess your dog isn’t friendly as she walked off.  Really?!? I’m the bad guy?!?  You just assumed my dog wanted to meet your dog without even getting my permission!  She was the classic case of a My Dog Is Friendly owner, and there were a few choice words I would have loved to have said to her but I kept my mouth shut.

This whole time, while a dog slowly invaded his personal space, Pongo sat quietly watching for more treats to come his way.  No snarling.  No growling.  No barking.  No lunging.  Not a single peep out of him.  I was dumbfounded that this was my dog attached to the end of the leash I was holding!

I am SO proud of our boy for keeping his cool under some pretty severe pressure for a dog in need of space (DINOS)!

Here and Now?

I’ve always heard that dogs live in the here and now. Don’t worry about the future. Don’t worry about the past.  Pongo has proven that it’s all a big myth.  This dog worries about things that are about to happen and lets these events turn his whole world upside down.

Last night, I was packing my bag for a quick trip down to Seattle to visit Steve’s family. I am usually not the one to pack bags and leave for trips–that’s Steve. Pongo saw what I was doing and immediately put his long face, mopey ears, and worried eyes on.  Bags being packed equals someone is leaving, and that just does not sit well with Pongo.

Pongo curled right up next to Papa when Steve got in bed, as I was still packing.  It’s a rarity for Pongo to snuggle with Papa in bed.  He is usually sleeping right on top of me every night and trying to snag some of my pillow.  But last night, he wanted nothing to do with me.  He is breaking my heart with his worried looks and little sensitive, hurt soul.

I wish he would buck up and realize that Mama will come back!

A Wet & Wild Day

The weather here in Anchorage has been less than desirable for the start of our brief summer: grey and cold.  So last night when I looked at the forecast for today and saw that it called for 59 degrees and sunny, I knew we needed to get out and take advantage.  I cancelled Pongo’s daycare reservation for today, packed up our backpacks and Pongo’s other outdoor essentials and made a plan to head out to Eklutna Lake for a walk by the lake.  When we arrived at the lake today, there was one car in the parking lot and one car unloading their kayak–we basically had the lake to ourselves.

I always thought it was hard to keep Reid out of the water but I have to say, Pongo is right up there with her; he loves the water!  Eklutna Lake is glacially fed, which means it’s darn cold.  It was near impossible to get Pongo to stay on dry land long enough for him to warm up and stop shivering.

Pongo entertaining himself while Mama eats lunch.

And as they say, “A tired Cattle Dog is a good Cattle Dog.”