Archive for the ‘Pets’ Category

Happy Trails… Taking An Eastern Shore Trail Ride

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Getting Ready For The Eastern Shore Trail Ride

A few weeks ago a friend and I dropped in on the spring Eastern Shore Trail ride to speak to a few of the folks who had come out for that Ride.  I was interested in learning  where the riders  were coming from and in taking a peek into a couple  of the live-in  horse trailers  ( when I say “live-in” I don’t mean just for the horses, I mean for the owners !)  At any rate,  when we  arrived most of  area was already set up,  trailers parked,  horses happily munching away on what I’m assuming were tasty chunks of  hay, etc.  I’m not sure just how many people or horses were there that afternoon but the  official  Eastern Shore Trail Ride web page (  indicates that the Rides are limited as to the number of  participants, with only 250  previously registered horses and riders allowed.

On The Trail, A Very Comfy “Home Away From Home” For Both Horses And Riders

One of our first stops was at the handsome trailer of  some folks from up near Farmville, VA,  about 3  hours away,  who were just settling down with several friends to prepare what smelled like a scrumptious dinner.  They were kind enough to invite us to take a peek inside– surprisingly roomy,  with a bunk over the hitch area, cute kitchen with  a little  stove and microwave, built-in table with a window, a  bathroom that included a shower with skylight plus a satellite dish on the roof,  nearly all the comforts of home.   And the horse’s digs were great too !  After our peek into  their  “home away from home”  they were kind enough to then introduce us to a nearby friend, a  nice fellow in a 10 gallon Stetson,  hailing from from the mid- part of Virginia,  sitting on a robust 16 hand horse  ( showing my age again,  but he really reminded me of Hoss  from Ponderosa )  who had a  unique wedding last November … he and his bride,  a veterinarian who has more than 20 horses, were actually married in the saddle !  Definitely wishing  Happy Trails to them !

All the way from N.J., Grilling Corn, Potatoes, Shrimp And Steak On The BBQ

Walking on down the line,  we met 2 couples who had driven all the way from New Jersey to participate in this Ride,  their first time to come to the Shore.  I was curious and when I inquired as to why they would drive so far to ride their horses,  they indicated that they were really interested in seeing Virginia’s Eastern Shore and that the prospect of being able to ride their horses along a private beach was most intriguing to them. ( Lots of info on the trails, etc. plus an application to attend can be found on the official Eastern Shore Trail Ride website. )   They too were just beginning  to cook an aromatic meal over the fire,  corn on the cob and baked potatoes wrapped in foil already cooking,  with shrimp and steaks primed to  pop on the grill,   a great trail dinner for sure.  Walking back towards the car, we passed a sort of  “saddlery on wheels”,  with all kinds of items that might be needed by the riders on the spur of the moment, doing a brisk business, everybody laughing and talking in anticipation of the big ride the following morning.  It all seemed like a lot of fun to me and clearly the folks who were participating were looking forward to some happy  times on the trail.  And all for a good cause as the proceeds benefit  Northampton County Fire and Rescue Company 16.

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

Wiley, My Eastern Shore of Virginia Arabian Horse. The On-going Saga, Part 6. Wiley Lands In “Time-Out”

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011
My Arabian horse Wiley working on the lunge line

Wiley On The Lunge Line, Buffing Up Those Abs

Everyone has heard that old expression, “boys will be boys”,  it’s been used for eons to excuse rascally behavior from boys in  just about any age group.   And I’m of the opinion that this holds true for young boy horses as well !   For the first time ever,  Wiley now finds himself in  “time-out”  and he’s missing out on lots of  horse play. It all started when Wiley and my son, Chris,  were continuing  to prepare for the first Region 15 show of the season to be held in Raleigh, NC.   Down on the farm near Cape Charles,  Wiley was working on the lunge line,  doing sweeps of the ring to continue building  up his chest and  hind quarter muscles which lost a bit of their tone over the relaxing winter spent with his buddies in the pasture during the day and horsing around in the barn at night.  But now it’s walk, trot, canter, walk, trot, canter around and around the ring,  buffing up and practicing  voice commands as well.

Wiley my Arabian horse in his new braids

Wiley Sports His New Hairdo

In fairness to Wiley, there were several other  horses around and a fair amount of noise.  And Wiley was feeling pretty good about himself,  sporting his new haircut,  complete with handsome braids,  and  some “six pac” abs from the prior weeks of training,  showing a bit of attitude.  Well, in the excitement of the moment, Wiley lost his good judgement and before he realized it,  his mouth was on Chris’s arm.  Oh,oh, that’s a definite no-no !  And bad horses get put into “time-out” and on  restriction after that.  They don’t get the excitement of traveling to shows, they miss getting to meet  all those  pretty new fillies and the fun of  hooking up with last year’s show buddies.  Yup,  it’s no fun at all being left in the barn while all your stall mates are out of town,  living it up in Raleigh, complete with room service and in-stall showings of  “Seabiscuit”, “Secretariat” and “Black Beauty”. Poor Wiley, but  “no pain, no gain”  and  I’m sure he  has learned his lesson and will be  getting  it together before the next show.   P.S.  For those of our readers who are considering buying a horse property here on the Eastern Shore,  Blue Heron has just listed a beautiful 13 acre waterfront farmette,  with 1500 feet of shoreline with deep boating water, absolutely perfect for horses,  check it out at and click on boating properties.

Wiley, My Eastern Shore of Virginia Arabian Horse. The On-Going Saga, Part 5. Wiley Learns About The Birds and The Bees !

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

This is Wiley’s second spring here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia,  a 2009 Christmas gift to me  from my son.   He has settled in so well, but then who wouldn’t love life on a huge waterfront farm south of Cape Charles, Virginia,  just grazing on the lush grasses,  cool Chesapeake Bay breezes  blowing through your mane,  dining on gourmet oats  every night in your  comfy stall in a  brand new barn ?    As  the very smart horse he is,  I’m  sure  Wiley  realizes  he’s living the life of Riley.

Week old colt with his mother

Welcome To The Eastern Shore, Little Guy !

Spring has sprung here on Virginia’s Eastern Shore and with spring comes new life.  Wiley now has a brand new stable mate,  a little colt  which came  unexpectedly early,  born  quietly in the middle  of the night  and found bright-eyed and bushy tailed at  Bayview Farm’s  morning feed.   Now Wiley,  being a young bachelor,  had never actually been told about the  “birds and the bees”  or,  in this case,  about the mares and the stallions.   So he was pretty curious.  He knew it wasn’t a pony but was not quite sure if  was actually a horse.  It walks  pretty funny and  looks like it’s all legs,  with a head too big for such a small body.   But all in all,  Wiley thought he was a cute little fellow,  bay with a long white blaze and 4 white sox,  described by one of the  mares  who is  a serious  NASCAR   fan  as having  “lots of chrome” ,  and he has welcomed him as an additional stable mate so long as he  doesn’t  cry a lot during the night and  disturb his beauty sleep.  And he’ll need all the deep beauty sleep he can possibly get because this is the time of year that every horse aspiring to be a show ring star needs to get to work to get back in shape.

As anyone who owns  equestrian property here on the Shore knows,  the gorgeous Eastern Shore of  Virginia’s  spring weather also brings the need to shed any excess  winter  pounds  as  the 2011 show season is just around the corner.  No more lazy short winter days  just lounging around in a warm blanket,  chatting with friends in the pasture  or cozy evenings playfully horsing around in the stables.   No,  now it’s time to work,  work, work to get his  boyish figure back.  Wiley is currently evaluating what meal plans and work-out routines he’ll use to get the most from his efforts and he  wishes there was a  TV  set up in the barn so that he and his buddies  could look at a  few  YouTube videos from leading health and fitness experts on  the most  up- to- date  methods of  slimming the flanks,  firming up  the withers,  toning neck muscles, etc.   Wiley knows that the time to get serious about fitness is upon him,  his first show appearance of the season is coming up in Raleigh, North Carolina  in just a few weeks.   Oh,  the price to be paid for being a beautiful horse !     ( P.S. If  you’re  thinking of a farm or farmette here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia,  equestrian or otherwise, please visit our website, , and click on the listings link– we currently have some outstanding  farm and farmette real estate opportunities.)

The On-going Saga Of Wiley, My Eastern Shore of Virginia Arabian Horse. Part 4

Monday, January 31st, 2011

It was a very happy holiday season for this Virginia's Eastern Shore horse.

I just can hardly believe that Wiley,  my beautiful Arabian horse,  first arrived on Virginia’s Eastern Shore one year ago last month,   my most unique Christmas gift  ever from my son !   As they say,  how time flies !   Wiley really, really  loves it here on the Shore,  romping around with all his new friends, soaking up the cool breezes off the water,  enjoying the Eastern Shore’s temperate climate,  munching the delicious pasture grasses, visiting friends on other farms because the Eastern Shore really is an equestrian paradise.   At Wiley’s cosy anniversary party,  the guest of honor calmly munched carrots and sugar cubes in his stall while my son and I  toasted his good health with some pretty nice champagne.   But truth be told,  Wiley’s first Christmas in his new home,  a brand-new and spacious barn on a large waterfront farm just south of  Cape Charles, Virginia,  was just about more than the poor little fellow  could handle.  Just trying to figure out which stall buddies to give apples and which stall buddies would prefer carrots was pretty taxing,  plus having to decide whether it was truly necessary to put a bow on them all.  And then having  to decorate his  stall because he didn’t want to seem like the barn Grinch !   Not to mention that the older horses were all  party, party, party  into the wee hours,  keeping Wiley and the other colts up half the night.  It was enough to give a young horse dark circles under the eyes.  Although he loved  all his Christmas gifts,  including a  new  halter and a beautiful new green plaid blanket,  soft and warm as a down comforter,  ( nicely gift-wrapped for him by  Dover Saddlery ),   Wiley still insists that  it’s  lucky that Christmas comes only once a year !   He  thinks the craziest thing is that the barn is already looking forward to the Christmas holidays next year.   But I let him know not to worry,  come next December,  he and I will  face it together.  P.S. If you love horses and are thinking of a move to the Eastern Shore of Virginia,  please    call me at 757-678-5200  and I will e-mail you some data sheets on our great  “horse-friendly”  properties.

Gone Is The Wind But Dreaming Of A Little Snow

Monday, December 20th, 2010

One of the things I have always loved about the Eastern Shore of Virginia is its great weather- long pleasant autumns and springs,  hot parts of summer and winter quite short.  And fall this year was beautiful,  gorgeous blue October skies,  perfect temperatures most of the time, trees more exuberant than usual in November with their colorful foliage.   The first week of December was nice too– started out in the high 60’s and averaged in the mid-40’s.   But  last week was a proverbial pain in the you-know-what, with temperatures in the mid-30’s and breezy too.   Definitely not my kind of weather at all but sometimes you get  to take the bad with the good.

Sunrise Over The Orchard

And wouldn’t you know it,  these chilly temps and windy days came just as we were waiting for the installer to come back to add a loop to the dog’s invisible fence.  When the fence was originally installed we didn’t run it across the gate area figuring that the gate was so far away from the house that the dogs would never figure out that it was a free zone.   Wrong again,  the two Newfies  figured it all out although it took them a while  to do so.  Naturally they took advantage of this new-found knowledge to sneak a visit to the dogs next door,  next door being about a 50 acre farm so they have a ways to travel to make a visit.  And although our human neighbor loves Pumpkin and Honey,  his dogs are a bit scared of  them.  Pumpkin is now sized more like a small pony than a dog,  Honey a close second.  There is nothing in the world, including food,  that Pumpkin and Honey like better than to meet other dogs and start to play,  making little woofing sounds  and doing the prancing around thing to encourage a game of tag.  However,  to a small dog,  I imagine that the so-called little woofing sounds are more like a deep base barks and the prancing around likely involves having a 150 pound playmate’s  foot land on you somewhere.  So it’s easy to see why our dogs can sometimes be a bit intimidating to their smaller brethren.  In the meantime,  before the installer got  here  ( he does this only part-time so unfortunately,  it was  going to be another few days ) as the person who gets up first,  I was elected to take the dogs out for their first duty call of the day,  usually in my fluffy warm bathrobe,  fleece scarf,  maybe even gloves.  The last couple of days before he came were cold and windy,  unusually windy,  I had been muttering hurry up,  hurry up,  HURRY UP as the dogs dawdled around.   But then Tuesday the wind was gone,  it was just beautiful,  with crisp,  calm air.  Out there about 6:30 am,  the sun was just coming up over the woods,  the sky an azure blue,  punctuated with  small,  fluffy clouds, everything overlaid with a deep, deep pink glow,  just gorgeous.   

A Little Sunrise Water Colour In Shades Of Pink And Violet

 Zipping  Honey back  inside,  I grabbed my camera,  setting out with Pumpkin  to try and capture the wintry scene.  High overhead,  honking  geese were heading in the direction of our neighbor’s pond– the sounds always intrigue Pumpkin,  although I’m never sure if she can actually see them,  she does love hearing them.   I was a bit late to film the very deepest colors over the orchard but the waterfront  was starting to pink up nicely.  Click, click, click,   then back inside for a hot cup of coffee,  a  pot of  “Machipongo Morning”,  a delicious blend from the Eastern Shore Roasting Company located in Exmore, Virginia.   I  brewed  an extra full  pot  because the weatherman had said  we were going to get an inch or more of actual white flakes before it turned to rain.  Since Northampton County almost always gets  rain instead when nearby places get snow ( the moderating influence of  the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean at our very narrow southern tip), when  the weatherman says snow,  I always want to make the most of  this little treat of  Nature,  by  just relaxing,  coffee mug in hand,  watching the flakes as they fall,  fall,  fall,  knowing  that likely they will be melted and gone by the next day.

If You Want To Purchase A Boating Property But Love Horses, On The Eastern Shore Of Virginia You Can Have Both !

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

It seems like more and more,  we are getting  calls from people who are looking for boating real estate on Virginia’s Eastern Shore but who want a property where they can have both a boat dock  in their backyard and horses on the property  as well.   Now in most areas this simply is not possible.  But  on the Eastern Shore of Virginia,  we have a number of opportunities  to buy properties where you can do just that.  I think one of the unique aspects of purchasing property here is that,  unlike so many other waterfront areas where the land has been chopped up into quarter acre lots, or even smaller in many cases,  on Virginia’s Eastern Shore,  many of the available waterfront parcels range from three to six acres in size,  and some are even larger.   These properties with acreage present the perfect scenario for having both a boat pier and a horse on the same property.

Take for example a ten acre parcel we have listed not far from Nassawadox, Virginia.  A  beautiful property,  it features wide water views and easy boating access to the Chesapeake Bay within 10-15 minutes of the property.  The best place to site  a custom home would be at the top of the knoll,  looking down towards the water.  This would offer terrific views and the access to a boat dock would be down a gently sloping path to the shoreline.   A pristine property,  this waterfront acreage is a perfect purchase for a boat lover .   And for a horse lover too  !

Partially wooded and partially open,  this parcel offers  easy conversion of the open area to  good horse pasture.  Fortunately, on this parcel,  as on most of the land in Northampton County,  the soils are excellent sandy loam soils which offer top notch  drainage — nobody wants their horse to have wet feet !   The property also has good depth which keeps the horses  away from the house and away from the water.  ( An important factor in helping maintain clean water would be  keeping  the nutrients from the horse patties from entering the water. )   Attractively priced at $399,000,   this property is ready for a beautiful custom home,  a backyard boat dock  and ,  if desired, offers room for a horse barn and pasture.  So if you want to purchase a boating property but you love horses too,  on Virginia’s Eastern Shore,  you won’t have to choose– you can have them both !   ( Take a peek at the  Farms and Farmettes   listing section on our web page, ,  to see other  real estate opportunities including beachfront properties where you can also have a horse. )

The Life Of Wiley, The On-Going Saga Of An Arabian Colt On Virginia’s Eastern Shore– Part 3

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Watching the Breeder’s Cup last week-end made me think about just how much animals are very much like humans in many respects. Some have the heart to win and give it their all to the very end.  Others are happy with making just enough effort to just get by.  Very much like our human race.   Now I’m not comparing my little grey Arabian gelding,  Wiley,  to the great race horse Zenyatta but I do see a similarity in the hearts of both animals.  Wiley was purchased last Christmas from a horse farm in Tennessee that was going through very hard times.  In distress situations like that,  owners usually do not have the funds to continue to feed their horses the grain and hay supplements they need.  Instead,  the horses are turned out to grass pastures  to live on the land so to speak.  So Wiley only got a minimal amount of care,  he and his buddies being left very much to fend for themselves.

Trot, Trot, Trot For The Judges

Then overnight this little fellow’s life completely changed.   Being  loaded onto a horse trailer for the first time is  pretty traumatic  for a colt like Wiley — first you’re out in a sunny, wide open pasture and the next thing you know someone is pulling you up into a small dark box,  no buddies,  no mother,  then the door is slammed shut,  leaving you totally alone and scared.   And the unfamiliar noises and motion,  thumping and bumping,  starting and stopping,   down hundreds of miles of highway to a  new home,  all that is  pretty traumatic for first-timers as well.   And once he got  to his new home  on a large waterfront farm owned by a friend who boards horses near Cape Charles, Virginia on Virginia’s Eastern Shore,   being in his own stall with a less than friendly mare as a next door neighbor wasn’t a picnic either.   No doubt he missed his old buddies down on the farm but there was a big  upside — good food and lots of love, care and attention.  After a couple of months  of  good food  and being turned out during the day to graze in the large green pasture,  things seemed pretty easy to Wiley.   His new  life produced weight gain and a beautiful healthy coat.  Still had to contend with the old mare next door at night but,  all in all,  life was definitely good.

Wiley Puts His Best Foot Forward

Little did Wiley realize that with the coming of spring came the beginning of the summer Show Circuit and that his relaxed, comfortable life was now about to change once again.   Loaded on a trailer for only the second life in his young life,  Wiley was off on another trip, this time to Wolf’s Training Center in Georgetown, Delaware  ( .  Now it was time to leave the comfort and security of his new home,  now it was time to grow up and go to work.  Time to learn how to stand ( with his best foot forward),  to use  his neck and ears with positive attitude,  to learn to keep his undivided attention on his trainer and  to stand perfectly still to be judged in the ring without moving  a muscle.   These lessons aren’t the easiest to accomplish with any two year old and were  hardest of all for Wiley to achieve.   But when Wiley returned home to the Eastern Shore of Virginia after two months of intensive training,  all bathed and clipped,  sporting his brand new shoes,  he was no longer the little grey duckling  that left the farm  but rather a proud and beautiful Arabian swan !  Now Wiley can’t compare to a great race horse but he does have miles of heart.   Upon return,  the first thing he did when he saw me was to call out and nuzzle my neck to say it’s  OK,  I’m growing up,  I’m ready now for the show season.   Bring It On !

Measuring With Frogs, Swimming With Geese– A Peek Into The Life Of Two Dogs On Virginia’s Eastern Shore

Thursday, November 11th, 2010


Little Honey getting modeling advice from Pumpkin, May 2010

In July I posted a little story about how my daughter  “measures”  her dogs by posing them next to a couple of funky yard ornaments,  two frogs to be exact.   A couple days ago  it was time to  take the autumn measurements  of  these two bronze  Newfoundlands.   But  the very sweet Pumpkin,  now two plus years and the feisty Honey,  nine months,  had to be coaxed into primping  for the camera next to the quirky tall metal frogs.     They just really were not in the mood for a photo shoot .  Being a bit breezy that day on the Eastern Shore of Virginia,  dry leaves were gently fluttering down from many of  the trees,   rustling and swirling all across the backyard.   Both of   “the  girls” ,  as my husband likes to call them,  were infinitely more interested in chasing  leaves rather than posing docilely for the camera.  Leashes had to be produced and many commands of  “sit” and “stay” were given before a semi-satisfactory shot was obtained.  But the principal objective was finally met,  leashes removed  and off they set  in a mad dash,  crossing  the lawn in wild pursuit of who knows what canine goal.  Chasing deer is their very favorite pursuit.  If they see a deer in the yard,  usually following a little trail down by the water,  they give  great excited barks  and set off  at a gallop trying to catch one– apparently they will never learn that  deer run  multiples of times faster than dogs,  or maybe they’re  just doing the dog version of the 50 yard dash.   Anyway,  I  think they would probably freak out if they actually  ever really got close to  one.  Fortunately there’s no worry about that happening because  deer are so agile they could just jump past a mere dog in a single bound.   Which reminds me of  a  “dogs interacting with other animals”  little story my husband related to  me  the other day.


Honey and Pumpkin, Measured With Frogs, November 2010

Pumpkin and Honey,   being Newfies,  and Newfies traditionally being water rescue dogs,  both adore swimming.  In the summer they love to go down to the inlet and swim in the salt water and do so just about every single day.  Last week,   my husband and the dogs were just sitting out on the deck,  enjoying some late day sun.  This being the time of year that flocks of  geese start  returning to the Eastern Shore to enjoy our mild winters,  a large flock passed overhead,  honking loudly as geese always do,  aiming  to set down in  the water just off our backyard.   The dogs stood up,  cocking their heads,  listening to all the noise  and then bounded  off for the shoreline,  which is about 350 feet from the deck.   By that time the geese,  with their  usual fanfare,  were settling down in the water  just off the area where  the dogs usually enter to swim.   My husband followed the dogs  on down,  hoping to get a good view of the flock,   assuming the geese would take off as soon as the dogs arrived on the scene.   But the geese didn’t seem to mind the dogs,  actually totally ignored them .   Into the water went Pumpkin and Honey,  quietly ,  not barking or carrying on at all.   And then they proceeded to swim along with the geese,  who were bobbing around not more than 20 feet away from them !   I have never heard of such a thing before but  my husband swears,  Scout’s Honor and pinkie swear,  that every word is true.  I can tell you that a human can’t get anywhere near that close to a flock of geese because the whole flock  will take to the air in a flash,  wings beating,  loudly honking.   And if only my husband  had his camera with him,  I would have loved  a  shot  of  Honey and Pumpkin,  slowly swimming with geese.


Measuring with Frogs

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Honey and Pumpkin, Two Sweet Newfys

Like most of the residents of  Virginia’s Eastern Shore,  my daughter has dogs that love the water .  Although most water loving dogs in our area are either labs,  ( yellow,  chocolate or  black)  or the famous Chesapeake Bay retrievers,  my daughter has two Newfoundlands,  a sweet, sweet breed.  Reddish brown rather than the traditional Newfy black,  her  dogs  are an endless source of amusement for  anyone who sees them playing together,  the gentle giant and the  feisty ball of  Newfy puppy fluff.   Pumpkin, who will be two years old next month,  is nearly the size of a small pony.    HoneyBelle,  Honey for short,  now  five months old,  is less than  a quarter of Pumpkin’s size.   But when they wrestle,  as they love to do,  Pumpkin is so sweet and patient with her,  the smart money is on Honey to win.    Aside from taking them to the vet where their official weights are duly noted in their records,  my daughter’s  favorite way of measuring them is with frogs.  Which takes a bit of explanation,  obviously.  

Out in the yard,  beneath a  large  Bradford pear tree,  side by side,  sit two yard ornaments,  large  smiling   frogs,  standing comically on their hind legs,  front legs akimbo,  fingers widely splayed  ( can you call them fingers ?).   When Pumpkin was a small  pup,  just 10 weeks old,  she loved smelling around those silly frogs.   One thing led to another and the idea to have her sit beside the frogs and have her picture taken posing  with  them was born.  In the first picture taken,  the frogs towered over Pumpkin.   And  then every  month or so for about the first year,  as  Pumpkin continued to have her picture taken with the frogs,  bit by bit she came abreast and then finally towered over them.  

Measuring with Frogs

 And now it’s Honey’s turn to be measured with frogs,  usually with Pumpkin by her side,  my husband and I  the official leash holders.   Already she  is getting close  the high water mark but the towering time is  months off.   As for future measuring —  Honey  won’t  mind,  she  loves smelling around that  tree and those silly frogs,  just like Pumpkin.

Kibble and Water : Honey’s Field Trip to the Barrier Island Museum

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Doggie Networking -- Meet and Greet Time

Dogs and museums are not usually thought of  as being at all compatible.   But that kind of thinking  is  sooo  yesterday now that   Laura   Vaughan,  the  director of the Barrier Island Center, ( BIC to  those who know it well ) ,   is making  BIC  the de rigueur destination for Eastern Shore doggy field trips.   Saturday was the first in a series of   “field trips for dogs”   to  be held under the tall, shady oaks at  the Center.

Under the  expert direction of   Beth Ann Sabo,  a certified local dog trainer,  Saturday morning’s  experience started out  a little like an old time  country social  but with kibble treats and pans of water instead of  picnic baskets and lemonade !   It was a “doggy socialization”  event and my daughter  brought her Newfie puppy,  Honey,  for a little  “meet and greet”  with the 10 other dogs in attendance.  As anyone knows who has recently gotten a puppy and has purchased a  “how-to”  book ,  the modern standard for  socializing a puppy is to make sure it is equally at home around a variety of  dogs  as well as people.   The mantra for this  is   “100 dogs and 100 people in the first 100 days”    because the first 3 or 4  months of a dog’s  life and the experiences it has during those  3 or 4 months  imprint the dog for life.  Basically the experiences and training a dog receives during that time determine  whether it will be a friendly, timid or aggressive dog  in its relations to both people and to other dogs.  Beth Ann says that most dogs that are sent  to the SPCA are placed there  before they are two  years old,  primarily  as a result of a  lack of  early proper socialization and training by  their owners,  who then get rid of  the dog  because of  resulting bad behaviors.   Having once had a dog for 12 years who loved all humans but who never met a dog she didn’t hate,  (which was, of course, a real problem),  my daughter is working hard to see that  Honey does get properly socialized to  dogs as well as  people.   She jumped at the opporunity to bring Honey to the BIC party to meet  puppies  of  different breeds  and temperaments. 

K-9 Toys

So the dogs  introduced themselves the old fashioned doggie way, sniffing, licking, sniffing, licking  and then  some more sniffing.   And  no  ordinary “Spot” or  “Rover”   names for this crowd  —  instead  Honey the Newfoundland met  Hilda the English Bulldog,  Frolic  the Norwich Terrier,  Ginger the  Golden Retriever,  Trey the Beagle and Rupert the Italian Greyhound, to name just some  in the group.   Beth Ann remarked as she was about to get down to the “work” of  the morning  that she had hoped for a variety of  breeds  for this first session but could not have imagined such an eclectic mix  as a Newfoundland and an Italian Greyhound.   Then dogs and owners settled into a few tasks;  coming when called by name to improve focus and response;  owners switching dogs with other owners   to improve socialization with unfamiliar persons;  sitting, greeting and then passing  by another dog ( which, as  anyone who has ever watched a Cesar Millan show knows,  can be a bit dicy). 

The final  lesson involved having  all the owners stand in a long line, their dogs  by their sides. Then, one by one,   Beth Ann came down the line to hold the leash so the owner could walk  about 20 feet out into the  clearing and call their dog to come to them.  Honey was near the end of the line.  Being a hot July day and she being a furry Newfoundland,  by now  Honey was hot and a bit tired.   While all the other dogs were sitting and paying attention,  she  was sprawled out,  completely relaxed,  just taking it all in.  So,  when my daughter strode out and confidently called her name ,   Honey  just raised her head and gave a look which clearly said,  in her most  gracious Southern Dogese,    “Girl, I know you’ve got to be kidding.  You’ve had me running around for an hour now,  my feet  are killing me and I’m taking a load off.  Definately I’m not running out into the hot sun for some measly treat. ”   (If she were a Bronx dog she would have yelled   ” Forgeddabout  it !”   which would have totally said it all.)    Well, I had just resigned myself to the idea  that Honey was going to be the only dog in the entire class to  fail   “Run to Your Owner”   when up she jumped and  out she ran. And she got  the measly treat– plus  a lot of praise from her very  nearly embarrassed owner !

Will They Come When You Call ?

 The hour was up, doggies were ready to hit the  lunch trail,  as were owners.  We stayed to talk to Beth Ann a bit and learned that she gives private training lessons for dogs as well as the group sessions.  She will even travel to an owner’s home to work with a dog in its normal environment.  (For anyone who is interested,  learn about her certifications and contact Beth Ann  through her website– ).   After that  we stayed a little bit longer to talk to Laura Vaughan about some of the great work the Barrier Island Center  ( is doing to educate and inspire children here on the Shore  (which in itself  will be  a future blog post).   Laura invited all of us inside,  including Honey,  who promptly found an air conditioning register and plopped herself right down on it,  perfectly at home.  Laura’s philosophy is that people who love the Center also usually  love dogs.  So,  the more the merrier.   And that’s  how Honey the Newfie became the first dog  in our family to tour a  real live museum.   As I often say, only on the Eastern Shore !