Long Weekends are Made for Adventur-ing

It’s the May long weekend here in Nova Scotia (otherwise known a Victoria Day for the cultured types, and May-2-4 weekend for us beer-oriented, un-civilized Canadians). Unfortunately for Jason, it’s not a long weekend in the States and he works for an American company, so we decided to get our adventur-ing in early and head out on Saturday.

First stop… well, not too exciting for Kaylee, but a trip to the Army/Navy Store on Agricola Street.

Mom and Dad take me to the weirdest places sometimes.

When I popped my head in to ask – tentatively, and assuming I knew the answer – if dogs were allowed in the store, I was pleasantly surprised to be met with “oh yeah of course, bring ’em on in!”  Awesome. About this time of year we have to start taking turns going in stores so one of us can stay in the air conditioned car with the pooch(es), so any places that lets her in automatically becomes a summer destination for us (I’m looking at you, Canadian Tire Lower Sackville and most of Dartmouth Crossing. You have our business this year.) Kaylee was enthralled with all the smells in the Army/Navy store. I imagine she had a much better idea of the history of most of the items than we did!

Ok I’m starting to get weirded out, let’s go already!

After picking up a couple items for an upcoming camping trip – yes, really, I convinced Jason to go actual camping, with a tent and everything – we headed out to look for a walking location. Point Pleasant was our original destination, but this is Bluenose Marathon weekend in the city and we didn’t want to get caught up in the end of the Youth Run so we opted to head down the Bedford Highway and landed at Hemlock Ravine.

The heart-shaped pond. Less romantic than we’d have you believe.

Hemlock Ravine has a great history; I was a tour guide for five years, and we tell a much more.. romantic… version of the truth to out-of-towners. The gist of the tourist-version is that Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, spent some time on the estate with his french mistress, Julie St. Laurent, and formed a heart-shaped pond for her out of love. When Edward was called back to England to marry and produce an heir (later to become Queen Victoria), he was forced to leave his beloved Julie behind forever. All that remains of their love today is a rotunda and the heart shaped pond, forever sealing their love.

(Several parts of this story are distinctly untrue. You can read a little more about it here, or hit up Wikipedia. The TL:DR version? Edward wasn’t that nice a guy, Julie was already married when she left her husband for the him, they spent 28 years together but Edward had other mistresses, he ditched her in Canada when he left, and he didn’t create the heart-shaped pond, his grandson did it “in honour of their love” years later. You can see why this doesn’t make the best story for tourists.)

But I digress.

Here’s a cute picture of Kaylee to distract you from how depressing that story really is.

Even though it’s not so far away, we’ve never managed to get Kaylee out to Hemlock Ravine before, so this was a nice treat for all of us. You can read more about Hemlock Ravine here and here, including some maps of the trails.

One of the great things about Hemlock Ravine is that it’s largely unspoiled by hundreds of years of development. As an estate, it was untouched for many years, so there are some trees that are upwards of 300 years old inside the park. There are also lovely groomed trails and an off-leash area (yay!) so it’s really a lovely destination to go with your dog. It was also impeccably clean – they offer clean-up bags at the entrances, there are garbage cans strategically placed throughout (thank you) and the people who use it clearly care about it, because I didn’t see garbage or even dog poo anywhere – a rarity sometimes.

I love it here! Can we come back?

Kaylee was a little too interested in the ducks, but otherwise it was a nice relaxing stroll for about an hour, looping our way around the various trails and just enjoying the day.

Let me love them with my teeth… please…?

After our walk we decided to take the long way home and go for a drive through Waverly and Fall River. If you’ve driven the area, you’ll know it’s scenic and also pretty twisty-turney, which makes Jason a fan.

Weeeeeeeeeeee!

I was feeling an icecream, so we kept meandering along the road until we hit Wellington and found a delicious little spot: Just Around the Corner Store and the Wellington Bakery. 

A cute spot!

Tea biscuits? Check. Peanut butter balls? Check. Ginger snap cookies – complete with still-soft-and-chewy-ness? Check. Icecream?

Yes, please!

Ok, so I got Kaylee an icecream. Yeah, I know she doesn’t need it – do any of us? – but it was an adventure day. And, man, did she enjoy the hell out of that icecream.

Maybe not so much Jason putting icecream on her nose.

Nope. No. Just no.

The drool… oh man… if you have a dog you understand. If you don’t…

We were all pretty beat by this point so we headed home for a group nap… and really, there’s nothing better than snuggling up with your puppy after a great adventure.

The only thing missing was a swim… next time Kaylee, I promise!

JJ’s Retreat

The last couple of weeks have seemed to rush by; with work and friends and Jason’s birthday weekend away, there’s barely been time to think about what’s next, let alone make a decent blog post!

But speaking of weekends away…

For Jason’s birthday we decided, along with some friends, to visit JJ’s Retreat, a set of “camping cabins” in the Salt Springs region of Nova Scotia. They’re… rustic… but comfortable, and there’s electricity in each cabin and a central bathroom with running water, showers, and flush toilets, so it’s really like camping without the tent or the cooler. Not too shabby!

From the moment we arrived, Kaylee was enthralled. She loves the woods. She was running back and forth between the two cabins we’d rented, bouncing the whole way. You could practically hear her thinking… “we’re in the woods! We’re sleeping here! And there are so many hands to pet meeeeeeee…. “

Getting a head start on cuddles with Alek

Unfortunately the forecast wasn’t what we’d hoped, but we made the best of it; Friday night was the only clear night, so we took advantage of the break in the rainy weather and had a pretty awesome campfire.

Just chillin <3

Kaylee really seems to love campfires… I don’t exactly know why, but I suspect it has something to do with the frequent consumption of hot dogs and marshmellows (and the sharing… always the sharing). There may have been … ahem… a little alcohol also consumed, which meant Saturday  morning mostly looked like this:

Go ‘way. Sleepin’.

We eventually all got moving – Kaylee included – but since it was a pretty rainy day we mostly relaxed with some board games and some good conversation. Kaylee didn’t seem to mind the low key day… I have to remind myself sometimes that she’s no longer a young dog, and she needs more naps than she used to.

ZZZZZZZZZZ

Of course, cuddles are worth getting up for… or at least moving to the couch…

Kaylee gravitates towards my friend Julia… I suspect because she knows she’ll get so many belly rubs…

We finished off the night with a big feast of pulled pork and other awesome snacks (of which Kaylee may have partaken… yes, I know. She’s kinda fat, and this is why!), followed by a few card and board games.

I think we broke the dog.

It was a much earlier night than the night before, but Sunday morning still looked like this:

Can’t tell who’s the favourite here…

All in all it was a great weekend. We’d recommend JJ’s Retreat – they were great guys, very responsive when we needed something, and it’s a nice, laid back location if you’re looking for outdoor time with a few amenities. They’re completely dog-friendly too, so go check them out!

Kaylee says they’re the perfect place for napping, too.

Dog Friendly Halifax – Best Buy, Dartmouth Crossing

Have you ever wandered into Best Buy and thought, “gee, I wish I could find a sales associate to help me with a thing ,” but couldn’t for the life of you actually find anyone to help you? I have the solution.

Bring a dog. I suspect any dog will do, but a cuddly Golden Retriever works nicely.

Dartmouth Crossing touts itself as a dog-friendly shopping destination, and it does a pretty good job living up to that title (you can find a list of their dog friendly stores here – it’s fairly impressive). Since we lost Guinness we’re doing more and more of our shopping in dog friendly stores so we don’t have to leave Kaylee in the car alone, and Best Buy is one of her favourites.

Hasn't quite figured out where we're going yet...
Hasn’t quite figured out where we’re going yet…

The sales associates genuinely love dogs … at least the way they flock to Kaylee, they seem to! She always manages to become the centre of attention int his store… but the sales associates always ask if it’s cool to pet her, which I appreciate more than you know. See, everyone assumes the wiggly Golden Retriever is friendly (and she is) but people petting my dog without asking is one of my pet peeves. Not everybody’s dog is quite as good natured. Good training for your staff, Best Buy!

They have a section for dogs, too!
They have a section for dog-related gadgets too! Fun!

I don’t know if all Best Buy locations welcome dogs so enthusiastically, so check your local site for specifics before you start parading Fido around, but kudos to the Dartmouth Crossing location for not just welcoming dogs, but embracing them… well at last my dog, but how could you help it with that smile?

Tripods, harnesses, ... wait, AM I GETTING A GOPRO?!
Tripods, harnesses, … wait, AM I GETTING A GOPRO?!

(For the record, we were at Best Buy scoping out GoPro accessories…  more on our new piece of kit in a future post!)

 

Dog Friendly Halifax – The Cape and Cowl

We’ve been trying to take Kaylee with us to more places lately, and so finding out which parts of Halifax (and surrounding areas) are truly dog friendly has become a bit of a mission. When we can find a place close to home, it’s always a bonus.

Some places say they’re dog friendly, but you can tell they don’t really want to be. It’s just not something they want to deal with – the dog fur, the chance for accidents, the weird looks from people as dogs roam their stores.

The Cape and Cowl in Sackville is NOT one of those places.

Jay, the owner, LOVES dogs. You can tell from the moment you walk in the store that he’s happy to have you there. And you know what? Kaylee freaking adores Jay.

I think the feeling is mutual <3

Every time we go in the door she loses her mind. The wiggle-butt kicks in, and she starts wagging so hard I worry she’s going to put her eye out with her own tail. And the noises… well let’s just say everyone in a two block radius knows that Kaylee loves Jay!

IMG_8861
Tucked away in a strip mall on Sackville Drive… keep your eyes peeled or you might miss it!

This really is an awesome spot. In addition to being a terrific comics and collectables store – with some really cool locally-made stuff, too – they’re also a safe space for youth. Does it get any better?

The Cape and Cowl  is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – go check them out, and tell them Kaylee says rawr rawr rawr!

 

Review: BarkBox (March 2017)

If you have a dog, you probably have at least heard of BarkBox.

I’ve always wanted to try BarkBox. They have a great reputation, and I’ve never heard of anyone being disappointed with them, but they’re American so the not-so-favourable exchange rate has always kept me from biting the bullet before now. We enjoyed our Canadian-made Bowzer Box’s in September and October, but Kaylee’s on a diet because she’s um… a little… er… fluffy right now… and BarkBox has more toys and fewer treats in it, so it seemed like a good fit.

The last few months have been rough in our house, and Kaylee has been pretty sad. She misses her brother, and I really hoped a BarkBox would be just the thing to cheer her up.

BarkBox is the original monthly subscription box for dogs – each box “has at least 2 innovative toys, 2 all-natural bags of treats, and a chew, curated from each month’s unique themed collection.”

Costs for BarkBox vary depending on how long a term you sign up for, from $21/month for a year’s subscription, to $29/month for a one-off. They also have the option to “pugrade” to an extra toy each month for $9. Small, medium and large dog boxes are available, and they also have options for dogs with allergies, and special toys for power chewers.  (Keep in mind, these prices are in American dollars. Ouch). I did manage to score a groupon that added the extra toy for free, so that certainly helped.

This review is for the March 2017 BarkBox, with it’s “Bento & Blossoms” theme.

BarkBox does a GREAT job on their themes. So much fun!
BarkBox does a GREAT job on their themes. So much fun!

Here’s what we got!
(All descriptions taken from the BarkBox shop, BarkShop.com. Most of the products in this box are exclusive to BarkBox, or made specifically for them… that’s buying power for you!)

Adorable!
Adorable!

Etta Says 10″ Liver Chew – $4 USD – Treat Planet
Determined dogs love this Beef Liver Super Chew because it’s delicious, nutritious, and a whole heckuva lot of fun to chew. Nutrient-dense beef liver is blended with super-tough beef ligament to make a flavor-packed chew that doesn’t give up easy. Made in the USA by Treat Planet, it’s tough and crunchy for dogs who love to work for their reward.

Clearly not going to last long, but looks like fun.
Clearly not going to last long, but looks like fun.

Mr. Sakay Salmon and Rice Treat – $6.00 USD – Mountain Country Foods
Just like the best Teishoku House in Japan, we’ve curated a complete treat made from delicious fresh salmon and hearty brown rice. These soft and chewy morsels were made in the USA with no weird dyes, fillers, or preservatives. With wholesome ingredients and a delectably delicate flavor, these treats are sure to make your dog say “Arigatou.”

I'm digging how themed this box is!
I’m digging how themed this box is!

Snickity Snacks Wheat-Free Shareables Granola Clusters – $8 USD – Treat Planet
Open a bag of Coconut and Cranberry Shareables dog treats, and the only thing you’ll have to worry about is who gets the last bite. Made in the USA by the the folks at Snicky Snaks, this crunchy treat is for your dog AND you. Baked with USDA organic-certified ingredients, the 100% human-grade recipe features sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, wheat flakes, and dried cranberries, blended together in rich coconut oil. With these tasty, crunchy treats, you and your pup will have all the fuel you need for your next nature walk, camping trip, or couchsurfing marathon.

NomNomNom... can I have some? Wait... "not for human consumption" right on the back. Damn.
NomNomNom… can I have some? Wait… “not for human consumption” right on the back. Damn.

Murphy’s Mochi – $12 USD – A BarkBox Exclusive
This dessert-inspired mochi toy is sure to tickle your dog’s squeak tooth. Three kawaii mochi, with squeakers inside, slide up and down a t-shirt rope, making a games of tug sweeter than ever. Easily whipped and flipped, your pup will be entertained for ages by thrashing around this string of smilin’ gems.

Bahahaha
Bahahaha

Sydney’s Salmon Nigiri – $10 USD – A BarkBox Exclusive
othin’ but raw fun here. This palm-sized toy is ideal for a game of fetch with your favorite fine diner. The picture-perfect piece of sushi houses a high-pitched squeaker to enhance the experience of play. It’s a delicate noise for the delicate simplicity of Nigiri. Mmm, chewmami flavor.

Has sushi ever been so adorable?
Has sushi ever been so adorable?

If it holds treats, it’ll be a hit.

Bella’s Bloomin’ Lotus Blossom – $12 USD – A BarkBox Exclusive
Traditionally, the lotus flower represents elegance, purity, perfection, and grace. If that doesn’t also describe dogs… well at least the perfection part does. This toy is a multi-layered playtime staple befitting its beautifully complex namesake. Crinkle-lined petals create the soundtrack for finding treats that can be tucked into the pockets inside the toy. Made with durable canvas and reinforced seams, this is not a delicate flower.

It holds treats... she'll like it!
It holds treats… she’ll like it!

 

All in all, this was a really awesome box. I actually ordered in early April, but BarkBox sends out your first box right away, which meant we didn’t have to wait till mid-month to receive it.  The extra toy was definitely a great addition for Kaylee. I don’t know why, but having more toys makes the box feel more… worth it, I guess? I do feel like this was a good value for what we paid. But the most important question is… what did Kaylee think?

Well…

Kaylee devoured the liver chew. It didn't last long, but she thoroughly enjoyed it for the three minutes she had it. I was hoping for a longer chew, but if it's soft, it's gone in this house. 7/10.
Kaylee devoured the liver chew. It didn’t last long, but she thoroughly enjoyed it for the three minutes she had it. I was hoping for a longer chew, but if it’s soft, it’s gone in this house. 7/10.
The Mr Sakay Salmon and Rice treats are a hit! They're big, but soft and easy to break. I also appreciate the nutritional info - including the all-important calories - on the back of the package!
The Mr Sakay Salmon and Rice treats are a hit! They’re big, but soft and easy to break. I also appreciate the nutritional info – including the all-important calories – on the back of the package! 9/10
I really honestly almost ate one of the Granola Clusters myself. These smell unbelievably good... they say in a couple different places on the package "not for human consumption" and now I understand why. These are pretty hard, and kind of calorie-dense, but they'll be nice "special" treats. I think I loved these more than Kaylee, but they still get a 8/10.
I really honestly almost ate one of the Granola Clusters myself. These smell unbelievably good… they say in a couple different places on the package “not for human consumption” and now I understand why. These are pretty hard, and kind of calorie-dense, but they’ll be nice “special” treats. I think I loved these more than Kaylee, but they still get a 8/10.
A tug toy with soft squeaky bits?! That makes for a happy girl in this house. She's gone back to this one multiple times, and I think it's a new favourite. 10/10.
A tug toy with soft squeaky bits?! That makes for a happy girl in this house. She’s gone back to the Mochi multiple times, and I think it’s a new favourite. 10/10.

This is a fun one.. pretty adorable, but I suspect I'll come out one day to find it de-fluffed before long. Still, a solid 8/10
This is a fun one.. pretty adorable, but I suspect I’ll come out one day to find the Nigiri de-fluffed before long. Still, a solid 8/10
I had reservations about the Lotus Blossom. Kaylee ... uh.. struggles a little bit with puzzles at times... heh... but this one was fun for her! She really enjoys digging and chewing. It'll be gross before long, but it's easy to stuff with low-cal treats and will keep her busy for a few minutes. It also seems really durable...even after some serious tugging and pulling it's in great shape! 10/10
When we pulled it out of the box, I had reservations about the Lotus Blossom. Kaylee … uh.. struggles a little bit with puzzles at times… heh… but this one was fun for her! She really enjoys digging and chewing. It’ll be gross before long, but it’s easy to stuff with low-cal treats and will keep her busy for a few minutes. It also seems really durable…even after some serious tugging and pulling it’s in great shape! 10/10

Anything to make my girl happy.
Anything to make my girl happy.

Overall verdict?

BARKBOX!
BARKBOX!

I only ordered the one month – with exchange and shipping, this bad boy ended up costing $46.55 CAD ( and that’s with the groupon for the free toy…which would normally be another $9 USD). That isn’t a bad value for what we got in our box – in fact it’s pretty good – but is a little rich for every month. We’ll definitely be ordered again in the future though! I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend BarkBox – it’s just what we all needed as a pick me up.

If you feel so inclined, use our referral link to get a free box with every 3, 6 or 12 month subscription, and be sure to check out  Barkbox.com or find them on facebook, twitter and instagram!