Up and Over!

I am lucky enough to live just two hours and two mountain passes away from one of my favorite little towns ever. The problem with those mountain passes though, is that they get so snow covered and dangerous in the winter that they open in May and close for the season in November. That leaves a very limited amount of time to travel over and visit this town. I could technically drive all the way around using one of the other mountain passes, however that would easily be a 5-6 hour drive one way, which is not exactly conducive to a day trip!

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There is still quite a bit of snow on top of the mountain passes.

Luckily the pass opened late last month, and my dad and I took the opportunity to drive over and spend the day in the sunshine. Of course, Helaine joined us and remained calm and polite in the car, despite the changing elevation. My ears were popping like crazy with the elevation change, and I imagine hers were a bother too.

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The view on the other side

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We didn’t do much while over there. We visited our favorite grocery store, picked up a few items and sat and enjoyed a nice lunch. It’s impressive to me just how much Helaine has grown up. We are nearing the end of our time together, and I can tell she’s really ready to move on. She is bored of our mundane routine, and I can tell that she just isn’t getting anything out of our outings any more. Of course, we will continue to go to create memories, and in the event that something out of the ordinary will happen and will provide a great training opportunity. She is solid, and so smart. I am excited for her to start her next chapter and to see what she can do in advanced training, but I’m also sad because I know I may never have another dog like her. She may not be perfect, but she’s perfect for me.

This little mountain town we visited, I imagine, doesn’t see many service dogs or puppies in program. When we walked into the restaurant, every face looked up as we walked passed. People stared with wonder in their eyes. I have never felt that uncomfortable before. I couldn’t wait to sit down and put Helaine under the table, away from the gawkers, and left to blend in to the atmosphere. She did just that. No one knew she was there, until a curious little boy saw her, and walked up and stared at her as we were eating. Helaine didn’t notice him thank goodness. Eventually he walked away, but I could see him just staring from the table. It made me realize that just because I am very lucky to live and train in areas that are thick with both working dogs or puppies in program, not every area is used to seeing a dog in a restaurant or out in stores. It reminded me to try to use those moments as teaching opportunities, so someone who actually needs one of our dogs won’t have to deal with the awkward, uncomfortable stares.

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Almost to the top of the pass.  Ross Lake Overlook

After lunch, we enjoyed a nice drive around the valley. The weather was just perfect, and the scenery was beautiful. I love the east side of the state, I’m sure I’ve mentioned it a thousand times. Something about going east of the mountains just makes me come alive. The wide open spaces makes me feel so free. I’m glad that I was able to share this day with my dad and my pup, and I look forward to many more trips over there with Helaine, and with my next puppy. I will take every opportunity to go up and over the mountains, because memories always await.

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