Griffin passed away two weeks ago, at 12 1/2 years old. I got him from Doberman rescue in 2008, after they sprung him from the SPCA. He was three or a little older, and someone left him in the SPCA lobby with his collar and nothing else. Over the course of his life, he went to 20 states, saw the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, traveled over 10,000 miles on road trips and moves, hiked, rolled in animal shit, ate whatever he could get his mouth on, and was generally the best dog ever. We had nine years and to me, it wasn’t enough.
A few months ago, I packed up the dogs, the mead, and various fish and houseplants for a work move to western Washington. Instead of snow six months a year… well, who am I kidding? There’s some places out here that have snow year-round. But we moved from 8,000 feet to near sea level, so I drive to see snow now instead of living in it.
This area has some choice hiking.
Some seriously choice hiking. I can get to mountains, beaches, forests with a couple hours of driving. The Pacific Northwest is a friggin fantastic area of the country to live in. Both the dogs think so too.
This is also one of the best areas for berries. I’ve got plans to shift over to some berry meads: blackberries (my house is full of them), huckleberries, salmonberries, raspberries. Apples are everywhere too, and it’s proving easy to barter for them. Some of the brewers and brew shops will rent cider presses, so it might be time to branch out a little.
And now, it’s time to get some mead started. I have an empty 5 gallon from the hibiscus mead, and four more batches that are ready to bottle. It turns out moving, with all the associated shenanigans that go with it, is good for your home brewing. My batch of coffee mead benefited from being left to sit for three months, and so did the blueberry and killer bee honey batches.
Six weeks of unpaid furlough is one of the deals that came with my job. It’s not terrible, because other than the not getting paid part, I can pretty much use the time to do whatever I want. I do split the time up so I don’t have all six weeks at once. It’s a nice break after what happens here in the summer, too.
The other downside is having all that work waiting for me when I get back.
Screw it, I’m on (unpaid) vacation. Not thinking about work for 4 weeks, damnit. Booze and being lazy.
Another bonus to furloughs? Road trips. Griffin and I did around 5300 miles in 2014, before he retired. We hit 17 states, both coasts, a bunch of National Parks, and got to hang with some cool people. I also had to replace two windshields on the Jeep, but hey. Thank you State Farm? Yes. Thank you, State Farm.
2015 was occupied with a new puppy. This fall, I’m flying back east to visit family instead of driving because Griffin isn’t able to travel in my Jeep. Old dogs don’t mix well with narrow spaces in cars. I’m kicking around the idea of getting a beater van in the spring to head out to Olympic National Park and Highway 101.
That’s one of the reasons why. Also, Oregon’s beaches are 100% public access. None of that bullshit with the private beaches… you can go anywhere. And you can drink on the beach. There’s just no way this could go wrong. I’d throw a futon mattress in the van, for Griffin to stretch out on, and hook Viking’s crate up too. He’s a jerk, because 9 month old puppies tend to be jerks, and would probably see how car seats tasted if I left him loose.
If I can have Griffin be comfortable in the car, then another trip out to the coast might be possible. It’s not as far as driving back east. He wouldn’t have to jump into a van the way he would into the Jeep. Still, he calls the shots. If he can handle it and wants to go, then we’ll do it. His unofficial birthday is April 14th and he’ll be 11+ at that point. The 14th was his shelter intake date and 11 is his estimated age. Old man dog gets to choose, though. He loved the beach, as long as his feet didn’t get too close to the ocean. I’d like to do one more trip for him to enjoy, if he’s up to it.
Shit I’m doing on furlough, other than crashing on my sister’s couch for a week-
I’m putting in 5 gallons of mead today and another 5 when I find more honey that I like. Also doing a 1-2 gallon repeat batch of hibiscus mead and aging it. We liked it this summer and it was drinkable after 8 weeks. A bit on the sweet side and could probably use some aging, so I’m going to experiment. Oh, and possibly have 1-2 gallons of mead to take on a road trip in the spring.
Doctors. Shopping for winter. Errands. All that jazz. Since our roads close in about a month and my only way out during the winter is one of these:
Assuming we get snow. There would usually be snow on the ground by now, but a combo of climate change and a second El Nino year means we’re getting punched in the junk twice this year. I kid you not, I live at 8,000 feet and it’s 55 degrees out today. At the end of October.
WTF is this? I like winter.
Anyway, time to go get started on 5 gallons of mead. It should be ready to go by June.
Eventually I needed to get around to introducing the dogs this blog is named for. Here you go:
Griffin- who a 10-11ish year old Doberman from the Baltimore SPCA. His previous owners left him in the lobby overnight, with nothing but a collar with his name on it. It took him all of two days (and one attempt to mark the couch) for him to settle in. I got very lucky with this dog. He’s been my road trip buddy for 7 years, and retired from that last fall. He has Wobblers, and riding in a car for long distances is no longer comfortable for him. It honestly broke my heart to make that call, especially since it happened right before Viking arrived. I was hoping for a year or two of road trips with both dogs, but it wasn’t in the cards. He’s a professional couch potato now. He pretty much does whatever makes him happy, and that’s how it should be.
Viking- who is really, honestly 100% German Shepherd. Or, depending on who you ask, a purebred Lab, a wolf hybrid, or a straight up wolf. He’s from Blackthorn Kennel’s Z-litter. He’s definitely a dog who needs a job, so we’re working on tracking and IPO. I’m also teaching him some service dog tasks, just to see how he does. He is still a puppy… but serious and thoughtful, and has loads of confidence. I’m very happy with this boy! He also worships the ground Griffin walks on, and he’s got some big paws to fill as a road trip dog. More in the future about puppies, breeders, and two dogs living together. Blackthorn matched Viking for me, and he’s a perfect fit.
Greetings. I’ve had quite a few people tell me I should blog, and I figured now was a good time to bite the bullet and do it.
Expect to find any topic I’m in the mood to write about. Dogs, rum, hiking, parks, coffee, homebrew mead, fish, writing, Jeeps, more rum, more dogs. Depending on how things go, or how much I’ve had to drink, I’ll venture into the twin shitstorms of politics and religion. Those two things are best discussed with friends and booze… or on a blog, where you can say whatever the hell you want and moderate the comments for any fuckery.
What else should I mention? The dogs, probably, since they’re generally awesome and half of the reason why the blog is called Rumhounds. Mead is my other interest, but it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. Internet isn’t fast enough for photos right now, but I’ll get them posted eventually.
There’s Griffin, who’s somewhere around 10-11ish, and a sweet ol’ couch potato disguised as a Doberman. Best dog.
And Viking, who’s an 8 month old German Shepherd. Definitely not a couch potato. Usually sweet unless you’re a small mammal, a tug toy, or a sock. Best puppy.
We live in Wyoming, where I work in a park, homebrew mead, and mess around with writing. Also blog… which I intend to do on a regular basis. I have to admit that it’s a good way to let friends and family know what’s going on and a very nice platform for me to ramble on about random topics.