Fitdog Friday – Hiking at Sunol Regional Wilderness

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Dogs at Sunol Regional Wilderness

Beginning last fall, we started exploring new hiking venues. We’ve somehow got into a rut previously, always returning to the same 3-4 places every weekend. Familiar hiking trails are nice – you recognize landmarks and have an idea of how long it’s gonna take to finish the hike, you know the types of dogs and owners that frequent these trails, you know what to expect. But after awhile, it gets a little bit boring. We’ve been to some of these trails so often that QQ isn’t excited during the trail, he doesn’t run back and forth, instead he keeps a steady pace sniffing along behind us. It’s familiar and comfortable, like a worn sweater.

But every now and then, I like to break it up. Previously we didn’t dare go to new places because we didn’t know how QQ will react.  Now we got his reactivity somewhat under control, I decided that it’s high time we break the monotone. Sunol Regional Wilderness has been on my list for awhile, it’s a little bit of a drive for us, which was another reason we kept putting it off, but one weekend last fall, we decided to go for it.

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Sunol Regional Wilderness’s Canyon View Trail

Sunol Regional Wilderness is a huge park with multiple loop trails of varying difficulties. It can be very hot in summer, which was a reason why we chose to go in fall. Being that this was our first time, we also opted to go for the easier Canyon View trail which loops in to Camp Ohlone Road to make for a total of approximately 3 miles round loop. Part of the trail towards the end goes near a creek. However, the ranger at the visitor center warned us that there’s algae in the creek that’s poisonous for the dogs so we made sure to stay a distance to avoid the dogs drinking any water out of the creek.

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QQ at the beginning of the trail

One reason we really wanted to try this hike is because it’s one of the rare off leash trails. Dogs are allowed off leash on undeveloped areas, which is most of the Canyon View trail. We did need to leash the dogs up when we got to Camp Ohlone Road but that was near the end of the trail.

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QQ clearly having fun

It was a crisp fall day and Sunol had plenty of fall foliage for us to enjoy along the trail. There was a mix in landscape with hilly views and meadows interposing with wooded trails. We went after lunch and although there was long lengths of trail where there wasn’t any shade, it wasn’t hot. We brought water and stayed hydrated.

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Fall foliage along the trail

 

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views of the hills in the distance. QQ looking back at us, likely wondering why we were so slow.

There was some elevation at the beginning but the trail soon flattened out before it led down to a small attraction called Little Yosemite. Unfortunately when we were there, there hasn’t been any rain recently so it was mostly dried. We plan to return in spring when the park is known to have plenty of wildflowers and hopefully the falls will have plenty of water too.

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Beautiful Fall Foliage near the Little Yosemite area

Towards the end of the hike, we also witnessed the moonrise. It was so beautiful.

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Moonrise at Sunol

 

Sunol also has many other longer and tougher trails for when we build up my stamina. It’s even possible to hike all the way to to Mission Peak (another yet to try park on my list). Also do note that the park charges a $5 fee per vehicle and a $2 fee per dog. Not expensive and we like to think of it being a way to support these parks.

Overall, we really enjoyed the hike. Because of the drive, this likely won’t become a regular hiking destination. But I do want to return for a spring hike maybe in April. And the park would be a great alternate destination whenever we feel we are getting into a rut again.

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QQ clearly likes this park!

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A Day in Sacramento

On our way back from Tahoe, we decided to stop for a day in Sacramento to break up the long drive and check out the state’s Capital.

Sacramento is actually quite dog friendly!

We started off with a visit to Nimbus Fish Hatchery where dogs were allowed to enter the enclosed area with the fish runways. In fact, dogs were allowed pretty much anywhere except the visitor center.

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QQ standing up to check out the fishes

QQ was typically interested and wanted to see everything, frequently standing up on his hindlegs if he was too short. Chyler, on the other hand, didn’t want to go near any bodies of water. She refused to go near the fish run, maybe it was the sound of rushing water that scared her so?  I ended up having to carry her most of the time so her leash don’t create barriers for other people to trip over.

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QQ checking out the fish ladder, where salmons swim against the current

Next to the hatchery is the small trail to the river where we could see fishes in the wild. It was a beautiful walk filled with fall colors.

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You can really see the fishes flapping near the shore, the river was filled with fish.

On the other side of the hatchery is one of the gateways to the American River Parkway. This trail leads all the way to the downtown historic district in Old Sacramento. It’s about 23 miles though and we weren’t heroic enough to try it. Instead, we walked for awhile and opted to drive to Old Sacramento. It was a pretty nice walk with occasional views of the river.

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QQ checking out Chyler

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QQ checking out the river view

Nimbus Hatchery was a very interesting stop for us. Not only did we get to visit a fish hatchery, we also got to try out two different trails. We are used to taking the dogs hiking, but this was the first time we took them to a hatchery, which was a different learning experience indeed.

After checking out the fish hatchery, we drove to Old Sacramento for lunch. Old Sacramento is dog friendly enough to have several restaurants with open patios that welcome dogs. We chose a ramen place. After lunch, we decided to walk down to the historic waterfront district.

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At the historic waterfront promenade, which runs along the historic railroad

 

We walked from Tower Bridge to the other trailhead of the American River Parkway. It was a pretty walk. The waterfront promenade was lined with fall foliage and the views of the river was gorgeous.

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QQ wanted a closer look at the pretty fall tree

We also walked around some of the historic streets and stores which were all decked up for the holidays.

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Overall, we had a very nice day in Sacramento, not a bad stopover on the way to or from Tahoe!

Ruckus the American Eskimo Dog Blog

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Wordless Wednesday – Rainbow after the Storm

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It’s been raining quite frequently recently and both the dogs and I are getting cabin fever. I’ve been feeling quite frustrated with the wet weather, even though I know that California needs the rain, but the dreariness of the skies keep my spirits down. But yesterday after a huge downpour, the sun came out for a couple of minutes and suddenly, a rainbow appeared. It feels like a slice of hope. The dogs were napping but I woke them up and made them go out to the wet patio to pose for photos. They weren’t very happy about it, hence the stink eye, but I gave them treats after.

Sometimes it’s not the weather. Sometimes it’s life that get you down. But no matter what, if you hold out long enough, one usually do see hope. It’s not much – the rainbow lasted for about 30 mins before the skies turned dark and grey again – but it’s enough to lift the spirits and let us tell ourselves – spring is coming!

 

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Fun in the Snow at Tahoe

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QQ at Lam Watah Trail, Lake Tahoe

Over Thanksgiving of 2015, we took the dogs to Tahoe for two days. We had one simple goal – for QQ to play in the snow. During our epic winter road trip of ’14, we discovered how much QQ love the snow. It must be in his Spitz genes, although it was the first time he encountered snow, he was soon galloping around the snow covered park and having the time of his life.

Given that we live in the Bay area, if we want to let the dogs have fun in the snow, we have to drive to higher elevations. Tahoe was the best choice. Neither the husband and I ski so it never crossed our mind to make the snowy trek to Tahoe in winter. It is a testament as to how we plan our lives around QQ and Chyler that this trip happened. We were lucky in the sense that this year Tahoe got a ton of snow and there was snow EVERYWHERE. One of the local guys we met said Tahoe got more snow in the one month of November 2015 then it did in the whole winter of 2014-15.

I was a little worried that there won’t be anything for us to do in Tahoe, given that we don’t ski or snowboard. But as it turns out, there’s plenty of fun to be had with the dogs! We did two snow covered hikes and went to a couple of beaches for the dogs to just run and also visited the local dog park.

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small little dog lost in the woods

The first hike we did was the Lam Watah Trail on our first day. This is a short 2.2 mile hike that was a great starter. It’s not too long so you won’t feel that you’re out in the elements, and also, it leads to Nevada Beach, a dog friendly beach. We had a lot of fun in this short hike and the dogs got to run off leash.

Chyler did not like the snow at all last year. One of our funniest memories was Chyler trying to climb up a tree to get away from the freezing cold snow. This year, we came prepared. I bought a thick waterproof jacket that she looks uber cute in. Everyone commented on how cute she looked in the jacket. It might be because of the jacket, or it might be because she trusts us more (we’ve only adopted her for 2 months during the road trip last year and she came to us really scared), this year, she had a lot of fun in the beginning running around with QQ too! After about an hour, we noticed that she was getting icicles stuck on her paws and fluffy bottom that wasn’t as easy to brush off, and the husband decided to pick her up.

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Nevada Beach

The beach was mostly covered in snow and there was only a skinny stretch of sand, but QQ still had fun running up and down.

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Bijou Community Park Dog Park

The second day we visited Bijou Community Park. This park actually had two dog parks within it. The first is a agility park, the second is a large open space dog park. We started off trying out the agility equipment in the agility park before moving on the the large open space park. I guess we were the only people crazy enough to go to the dog park in such subzero weather. We had the whole park to ourselves. The dog park is the most beautiful dog park I’ve ever seen – all covered with snow and surrounded by white tipped Christmas trees.

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QQ sinking into the fluffy white snow at the dog park

After the dog park, we visited Regan Memorial City Beach. The beach is dog friendly on the east side. The first question on my mind when we arrived was, what beach?

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Regan Beach. What beach?

All we saw was a huge expense of white. We couldn’t tell where the beach ended and the lake began! But this made for a really large expanse of “land” for the dogs to run in! There were already a lot of dogs having fun chasing each other around. I asked a local how far we can walk out, and she said the ice is pretty thick so it’s pretty safe to walk. I took QQ and we made it out really far until I could see that we were walking on ice then I played it safe and walked back to meet the husband and Chyler.  We made QQ wear his shoes here because he was also getting icicles stuck on his paw pads after the morning fun at the dog park.

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QQ on Lake Tahoe

After lunch, we tackled our second hike at Van Sickle Bi-State Park. This is a large park with long trails. We did not attempt to hike for too long, but instead made our goal the vista point.  We hiked for about 2 hours. The sun came out and so it wasn’t too cold, the trails were covered in snow, but mostly flattened so it was actually quite easy. There were orange markers on the trees so we didn’t get lost either.

It was a beautiful hike, it was like hiking in winter wonderland. The white tipped trees and pristine snow and clear blue skies all made for a perfect day. The dogs had a lot of fun too.

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QQ camouflaged in snow

When we got to the vista point, we could see the lake

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view at the vista point of Lake Tahoe

We took a lot of photos of the dogs.

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QQ and Chyler at the vista point

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QQ ruling the world

Overall, it was a fun filled two days at Lake Tahoe and both dogs had their fill of playing in the snow. After seeing how much fun the dogs have, we decided that even though there’s no snow where we live, we will make it a personal goal to ensure QQ gets to play with snow at least once a year!

We are also planning on returning to Tahoe in the summer so we can utilize the dog friendly beaches to teach QQ how to swim. There’s also several trails that we gave a miss this time round because we were afraid that the snow might be too thick. Those trails would be great for summer!

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Happy 2016

Firstly, an apology for not updating for a hundred years. Some things happened around September of last year and I got very distracted, and somehow weeks turned to months.

Secondly, Happy 2016! It’s a brand new year and we would like to make a fresh start of it all.

The start of the year is a great time to make new year resolutions, and it’s also a good time to recap. Given that I slacked off about half of 2015, doing a recap is a way for us to summarize the time we neglected to update.

2015 wasn’t exactly a super smooth year for us. But I would say it’s a good year.

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Jan: QQ meeting up with his Mom and Sis on the first day of the year!

We started 2015 with the last few days of our epic Winter Road Trip. We took January easy because we were still recovering from the road trip and mostly went for familiar hikes.

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Feb: Exploring the green hills of Ed Levin Park.

In February we started doing more stuff on the weekends. We went biking in Alameda for the second time. You can read about our first experience here.   We also explored a new park in Milpitas, Ed Levin Park. We really like this park because it’s filled with rolling green hills and wildflowers. It reminded us that we should start exploring new places instead of always going to the same places.

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March: The dogs enjoying Carmel’s marvelous weather and coast

March was an eventful month. We went to see Somi’s puppies and also did several waterfall hikes. We also did a short getaway to Carmel. Overall a very exciting month!

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April: Haku, Chyler and QQ at John McLaren Park

In April, Haku came to stay with us for a week so QQ had an active playmate. We went to the city for one weekend. We discovered yet another new off leash park, John McLaren Park.

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May: Paddleboarding with QQ!

May was the first time QQ was diagnosed with patellar luxation, which was a huge bummer. We fostered another Japanese Spitz, Tailz for a week. He was a little shy at first but soon played with QQ. We took the dogs to a new park and I took QQ on a paddleboard for the first time, achievement unlocked!

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June: QQ enjoying life on a houseboat

In June, the doggies’ grandparents came for a 3 week visit. The dogs were super happy because they got to go out pretty much everyday. Grandma did not like dogs and was quite adamant about not playing with the dogs at first, but soon couldn’t resist the doggies’ cuteness. The whole family went and lived on a houseboat for 3 days! We also went to Corgi Con, which was amazing fun.

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July: QQ at the bayland park

July was a lot more sedate than June. This was partly because we did so many activities in June when entertaining the grandparents, and partly because we noticed QQ’s reactivity was getting worse. It got to the point that we did not like to take him out to busy places, and stuck to places that are a lot more quiet. We found a bayland park that is relatively unvisited by other dog walkers and went there quite often.

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Aug: Chyler’s woebegone face after getting a face wash after she got peed on by QQ is a very apt look for August

In August, QQ’s reactivity showed no improvement. This was a very disheartening and difficult period. We had to keep QQ crated when visitors come. When taking him out for a walk, he barked and lunged at every passing dog, and occasional cat.  Because QQ is the center of our lives, this caused a great deal of stress in the family. This is a major reason why I stopped blogging. We were so unhappy I didn’t know what to write about.

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Sept: QQ getting a birthday kiss from Chyler

September was QQ’s 2nd birthday and we celebrated it with a long hike in Half Moon Bay. September was also the month that we decided that we are going to send QQ for training bootcamp. We previously talked to many trainers of a great variety. Some outright told us that they don’t think QQ can be “fixed” and we can only greatly restrict his activity and keep him mostly indoors. Some said we have to muzzle him for life whenever we take him out. The trainer we finally decided on doesn’t use positive reinforcement. I wasn’t fully comfortable with her training methods, but I followed her closely for six months and saw the testimonials and successes she got. And truthfully, I thought she was QQ’s last chance for a “normal” life. So we sent QQ to her for 3 weeks in September.

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Oct: QQ at the beach on the day life finally returned to normal!

We got QQ back in early October, but the 2nd part of the training bootcamp continued at home. For two weeks, we were supposed to only run training commands with QQ in home. After not seeing our baby for three weeks, we were not allowed to show any affection to him at all. I can honestly say that these weeks of training is the hardest and most depressing part of my entire life. I was stressed and sad and every day felt dreadful. Thankfully it was all worth it. QQ’s reactivity greatly reduced. We could walk by dogs and QQ looks towards us for guidance instead of barking and lunging. We started with controlled leashed walks in neighborhood parks for 2 weeks after the 2 weeks of in home training, and then graduated to off leash parks. There’s a off leash park nearby where we stopped going because QQ goes crazy whenever he sees a dog there, we can now visit with no incident. QQ remains calm when he sees passing dogs! Halloween was the day QQ “graduated” (a term the trainer used to say we can return to normal life after the 7 weeks of training) and we celebrated by going to the beach!

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Nov: The dogs at the peak after a hike in snow

Life basically returned to normal in November, but we still took it easy. We only visited familiar places, we also slowly began “reclaiming” places we used to visit but stopped after QQ got too reactive. Towards the end of the month, we slowly started venturing into uncharted lands and visited places we’ve not been before. The highlight of the month was Thanksgiving, where we took the dogs to Tahoe so they can play in the snow!

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Dec: Four dogs at the beach!

December was a crazy busy month. I planned so many hiking trips for the two weeks of holidays. We also started doing longer hikes. In the beginning of the year, we usually did 2 hours maximum. In December, we started extending the hikes to 4 hours and completed 7-8 miles! We explored new places. For 1 week of the holidays, we also dog sat for a 8 month old standard sized American Eskie, which was a lot of fun but also not easy! Haku came for a 2 day visit during the period as well, so for 2 days, there was 4 dogs in the house! We also did a 2 day getaway to nearby Gualala. The year definitely ended with a bang!

And now it’s 2016, a brand new year. I usually don’t make new year resolutions, mostly because I’m so bad at keeping them. This year, I think instead of new year resolutions, I think I’ll make new year “hopes” – resolutions  of sorts, goals I’ll try to work towards and hopefully keep.

  1. To continue working on QQ’s reactivity. He improved greatly but he’s still not “friendly” or entirely relaxed. We can still feel him tensing up when he sees an unfamiliar dog on leash. He looks towards us now for guidance, but I want to continue working so that he can be more relaxed and walk by dogs without batting an eyelash.
  2. Work on getting Chyler to pass the Good Canine Citizen test and perhaps even certified as a therapy dog. This has been on the to-do list for awhile. Chyler is incredibly mellow and we feel that she would do well as a therapy dog. We’ve been so focused on QQ that we put this on the back burner. But I hope to at least at her to pass the GCC test this year.
  3. Explore more new places and take the dogs swimming at Tahoe in the summer. We found a couple of good dog friendly beaches when we visited Tahoe during Thanksgiving. Seeing as the beach was covered in snow and the water was freezing, swimming wasn’t really an option. But we want to go back in summer and try to see if we can really get the dogs swimming! Teaching QQ to swim has been a goal of ours for awhile, and perhaps this is the year we can do it! I’m also hoping we continue doing longer 7-8 miles hikes instead of going back to the short hikes we used to do.

I’ll also try my best not to abandon our blog for 2016. Thank you if you are still reading and may all of us have a wonderful year!

 

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Wordless Wednesday

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Is it just me, or do this photograph remind anyone of American Gothic? If I had better photoshop skills, I’ll photoshop a pitchfork in. It must be the pouty look on their faces. Although I seriously do not know why they are so sulky. We were in the middle of a long walk at Lovers Lane (oh, the irony).

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