Monday, June 27, 2016

Jessica Rhae Williams & Chester and Gretel

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Jessica. I started my blog - You Did What With Your Wiener? - in 2010 after adopting my second Dachshund Gretel. I since went back to school to earn my Masters of Communication in Digital Media. In addition to running my award-winning blog, I stared a business PetTalk Media to help pet companies with their social media.

Chester was my first Dachshund and the one who made me fall in love with the breed. He used to hike and run with be but now, at almost 14, he does only light hikes. My focus is on making his golden years the best they can be.

Gretel has been my unwavering hiking companion for years. She is extra special and made me realize what a "heart dog" actually is (a term I had heard people using for years). She was recently diagnosed with a hereditary spinal condition called Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD for short) so now, instead of just proving that small dogs can be active, she is also showing that having a physical disability doesn't mean a dog needs to stop hiking, traveling, and living life to it's fullest.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I work from home now so instead of being sad every day I had to leave my dogs at home and go into the office I can have "coffee with a canine" anytime I want. I guess this is just a celebration of that.

What's brewing?

I prefer mochas. I usually make my own at home by mixing hot chocolate with Starbuck's Via.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

I often have coffee with my breakfast, which is usually scrambled eggs and some kind of fruit. If I want to splurge, I'll also have bacon, sausage, or cheese on my eggs.

Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?

They definitely see it as a treat but it's really a health supplement in a dog treat. Late last year I discovered Hemp CBD dog treats (totally legal and won't get your pet stoned) from Pet Releaf. There are many benefits of CBD but I give it to Chester and Gretel to help with pain and inflammation. It helps them get a good start on their day.

Chester and Gretel are adventure dogs. When we were in touch in 2012 you were aiming to hike to the top of Mount Adams with them. Did you make it?

We haven't yet. It's still on the bucket list but we set our sites higher.

Any other notable climbs since then?

Yes! Last summer we drove to Colorado to hike the highest peak in the lower 48 that allows dogs - Mt. Elbert. The elevation is just over 14,400 feet and the route we took was about 9 miles round trip. Gretel was able to hike to the top herself. Chester made it most of the way but, because of his age, we carried him the last half mile over a rocky, steep trail.

Many two-legged hikers have to rest and rehab after a serious hike. Do Chester and Gretel have a special bounce-back regime?

For the most part they haven't needed one. The key is to prepare them for it in the first place. They walk around the neighborhood most days and do exercises to keep their muscles strong. In the summer we get out to hike almost once a week so they stay conditioned to it.

That being said, it's always important to not push a dog too far, too often. If they are showing any signs of soreness or stiffness, I give them more days of rest.

Also, since Gretel injured her back, and I found out about her disease, she had to stop hiking for a while so she could heal. That's meant about 12 week or rest, rehab exercises, and laser treatments. She is just starting to hit the trails again with me. Because her condition can be chronic, she may need more rest after each hike than she used to. We'll just have to take it one day at a time and see.

Chester and Gretel's adventures go beyond hiking; I've seen photos of them kayaking as well. Do you get the sense they enjoy their time on the water more...since, you, after all, are doing all the work there and they're along for the ride?

Definitely no to that one. First, they actually prefer to do the "work" of scrambling up trails and through bushes. Dachshunds are a ground hunting breed. It's in their bones. Second, there are so many more, and a larger variety of, smells out in the woods.

They definitely like paddlebaording though. It's just a different experience for them.

In 2012 Sienna, Swift, Kool, Marshall, and Bambi and Yogi numbered among Chester and Gretel's best pet-pals. Have any new special friends joined the ranks since then?

Yes... but we can't keep track of them all. I run a Dachshund club in Seattle - The Adventureweiner Club - and there are over 500 members. Our monthly walks can attract up to 70 Dachshunds! There are a lot of one-timers that come but we usually become friends with the ones that come to almost every event. I don't like to play favorites so I will just say, "they are all special in their own way."

Last time out I asked you about each dog's most endearing quality. You came up with Gretel's "crooky face" and "many silly expressions," and Chester's "friendly, cool demeanor." But these dogs contain multitudes. If you were writing dating profiles for them, what would you add?

Those things haven't changed. I guess I would add that Gretel is very sensitive and has eyes that look onto your soul. Chester is becoming more "distinguished" as he ages but he's also a "driven, cantankerous old man." I guess that wouldn't sound very appealing on a dating profile though. Ha, ha. Good thing he's already taken.

What advice would Chester and Gretel share if asked?

They would definitely both say do what makes you happiest and live life to the fullest.

Visit the You Did What With Your Wiener? blog, the PetTalk Media website, and learn more about The Adventureweiner Club.

--Marshal Zeringue

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