Everyday Adventures in Havachon Heaven

The Good, Crazy, & Adorable Life of One Havachon Puppy

Backroads Discovery: A Most Unusual Train Hotel

One of my favorite things to do is explore small towns, places with no tourist attractions. I love Pennsylvania for that reason – it’s loaded with my favorite Small Town America that takes you back in time to when people were friendlier and even though you were never in their town before, they make you feel like you’re returning home.

PA Manheim house

One of the striking old homes in a small PA town. You know how much I LOVE old architecture!

DH and I discover these places by driving up the PA Turnpike and taking exits for towns that sound interesting – all very spontaneous, which I prefer to planned trips. We explore the town itself on foot, then drive along backroads to see what there is to discover.

Driving through Amish country

Driving through Amish country

One of the interesting places we happened across was plopped miles away from any main roads or town centers, in the middle of hundreds of miles of Amish farms. We crossed a railroad track, and suddenly this popped up:

PA railroad hotel

Nope, this isn’t a caboose graveyard, it’s an honest-to-goodness train hotel! They’ve collected real train cars (mostly cabooses, but some larger ones and one of the biggest is called the Bridal Suite!) and converted them into “hotel rooms”. It’s called the Red Caboose Motel and it’s so unusual.

PA railroad hotel dining car

PA railroad hotel car

PA railroad hotel caboose

PA railroad hotel (2)

Look how many there are!

A short distance away, there was a train depot…out there…in the middle of nowhere…

PA railroad depot

The proprietor of the hotel was kind enough to let us see the inside of one of the cabooses, and I took pictures but they’ve somehow magically vanished into the digital netherworld. It was amazing to see how much they could fit into those small cabooses – they even put in a small loft with another bed! They made every inch count without overcrowding.

Later we pulled into the parking lot of a large chain hotel to find out if it was pet friendly, planning, of course, for a future weekend away with Daisy. Nope, no luck, not pet-friendly…YET LOOK AT THE PATHWAY PAVING STONES THEY USED:

Is there any wonder why we thought this was a pet friendly hotel??

Is there any wonder why we thought this was a pet friendly hotel??

Daisy was none too pleased at this misrepresentation.

I'm throwing a BIG raspberry at that hotel!!

I’m throwing a BIG raspberry at that hotel!!


Two Gals and a Dream Cottage

DD and I have taken a girls’ weekend getaway vacation twice a year for the last couple years, and this past weekend was our first four-day getaway for 2015. I thought my blogging buddies might like to come along for the ride. 😀

Two years ago we found an immaculate Victorian cottage for rent that’s only half an hour away and within walking distance of the beach. We were thrilled, especially because it’s clean, cozy, and its ambiance has become a sort of muse that inspires our writing (we’re both writers).

Nothing promotes creativity like inspirational new surroundings where we can shut off our phones and focus on writing…and a bit of fun…okay, way more than a bit of fun…

We’ve been going there for two years now – it’s like our own home away from home (without all the work!).

How charming is this?!

How charming is this?!

It may not be far, but it’s a whole other world, and our four-day break is incredibly refreshing.

A small section of the living room, where we spend most of our writing time snuggled on the couch. :D

A small section of the living room, where we spend most of our writing time snuggled on the couch. 😀

One corner of the bright, homey kitchen.

One corner of the bright, homey kitchen.

Dining room complete with china and crystal in case a formal dinner party should suddenly erupt... ;)

Dining room complete with china and crystal in case a formal dinner party should suddenly erupt… 😉

Plus three bedrooms upstairs: one in blues, one in pinks, and the other in deep rich red, all with coordinated quilts, period accessories and lovely furniture. The upstairs bathroom is done in lavender and white and still has is claw-foot tub and pedestal sink. So sweet.



The town is filled with Victorian beauties and has a LOT of history behind it.

Look at this beauty just a couple of blocks away!

Look at this incredible beauty just a couple of blocks away!

 They call these the "Painted Ladies" of the town - two facing rows of gorgeous Victorian homes right across the street from the beach. Prices? A cool $1.5 million (for those needing repairs) and UP. Beautiful, yes, but location is everything!

They call these the “Painted Ladies” of the town – two rows of gorgeous Victorian homes facing a central parkland and right across the street from the beach. Prices? A cool $1.5 million (for those needing repairs) and UP…way up. Most of the oceanfront homes are Grand Dames that make these look like little sisters. Beautiful, yes, but location is everything!

This is a single family home with a beautiful breezy view from every level.

This is a single family home with a beautiful breezy view from every level.

Some of the town’s most interesting history is still visible today. There were religious Camp Meetings during the 19th century at the church on a large lot of land capping off the end of the Painted Ladies’ street…

The church/auditorium that is the centerpiece of the Tent Colony.

The church/auditorium that is the centerpiece of the Tent Colony.

…and families would stake claims to land on the same lot where they put up actual tents in the summer to be close to where the religious services were held. There were originally 600 tents, now there are 114 permanent “tents”.

More permanent “Tent Colony” structures of today. Furnishings and rugs are removed for the winter and brought back in spring/summer, and a canvas tent is erected over the wooden frame in front of the wood structure you see – the wood structure is only storage. There’s no real privacy. As tiny as they are, “tenters” have made them quite homey and cozy inside!

These “tents” are passed down from generation to generation; one couple has rented their tent for the past 75 years. “Tenters” love the simplicity of their little homes and usually spend all summer there. Quite the juxtaposition against the neighboring Painted Ladies.

Gorgeous Victorian gingerbread, but definitely more difficult to maintain than the tent homes!

Gorgeous Victorian gingerbread, but definitely more difficult to maintain than the tent homes!

I'd love to see that room!

I’d love to see that room!

Imagine the ocean view from that top balcony!

Imagine the ocean view from that top balcony!

No two are exactly alike, from color to gingerbread design.

No two are exactly alike, from color to gingerbread design.

Details, details everywhere.

Details, details everywhere.

Four blocks from our cottage is the town center with NO chain stores, just small, independent shops, indie restaurants, bakeries, etc. Just a few blocks farther is the ocean.

I love the beach during the off season, you wouldn't find me anywhere near it during summer with the crazy crowds!

I love the beach during the off season, you wouldn’t find me anywhere near it during summer with the crazy crowds!

It’s a walker’s paradise and the people are all so friendly. And so many people have dogs that a lot of the shop owners leave bowls of water outside for passing pups! 🙂 In fact, one shop has several bulletin boards with pictures of the pups who visit. 😀

Unfortunately, Daisy couldn’t come along with us, but I don’t think she was too upset – she had Daddy all to herself!

I love Daddy time!

I love Daddy time!

We’re part of the Thursday Barks and Bytes blog hop!


Monday Mischief: Travel-Ready Puppy

I keep a couple of older suitcases to store seasonal clothes away in during off-season. I was just starting to put some summer clothes into one of them when I was called away. Look what I found when I came back – do you think Daisy is hinting that she’s ready for her next travel adventure?

Uh ohhh….am I allowed in here? It sure is cozy!

I can stay? Thanks Mom! I’ll just make myself nice and comfy.

This is my new favorite bed! And if there’s any traveling planned – well, I’m ready to go! 😀

And so am I, my little Daisy! I just may jump on in there with you – after all the craziness around here this summer, I think we’ve earned an adventure!

We’re part of the Monday Mischief Blog Hop! Join in and meet some new furry friends!


Daisy’s Big Weekend Adventure!

What a gorgeous summery weekend we had! Can you guess where we took Daisy for her first big summer adventure?

You got it – the beach! But not just any beach – this is an amenities-free beach and a nature preserve, a completely natural peninsula along our coast. No noisy boardwalk games, no oily fried smells filling the air, no man-made attractions detracting from nature’s beauty.

This was Daisy’s first time on a beach, and we were so excited to see how she’d react to the sand, the new salty-sea smells, the water, and all the other new discoveries.

Why is all that water rushing toward me? Is that a giant bathtub??

What’s that over there?

Needless to say, she LOVED it!

This is one happy pup! 😀

What a great time we all had! Daisy was constantly on the alert, chasing birds while they flew overhead, testing the salt water, checking out the sand (and deciding it wasn’t so tasty after all!), and investigating the newness of it all.

This is SO cool!

I’ll be posting more pictures of the great birds and other natural beauties of this place soon! 🙂


Houdini Havachon!

Daisy’s travel adventure continues….

During our long car ride south, we discovered another side to Daisy – she’s the Houdini of Havachons!

There we were, innocently riding along, music playing, DD reading in the back seat, when suddenly we hear DD cry out, “Daisy! How did you get over here?!”

Daisy had quietly and imperceptibly escaped from not one, but BOTH of her harnesses! We test the fit of her regular harness and her car harness every time we put them on her – they were snug when we put her in the car. Really. They were. (This dog can make us doubt ourselves sometimes!)

DD had suddenly felt a little paw poking her leg, asking for permission to snuggle on her lap. She looked up and there was Daisy, standing next to her “naked” –  no harness on her at all!

We couldn’t figure out how she did it. The next day, she did it again. But the third time, DD caught her in action. Daisy quietly pulled her shoulders in tight, making herself as narrow as possible, then slowly started pulling one leg backward, slipping it through the harness opening.

That’s exactly the kind of move Houdini used!

Suddenly we heard a loud “NOOOO!” from the back seat; fortunately I had my camera on my lap and saw Daisy caught in the act with that telltale “deer in the headlights” expression – you can see her front leg has been moved back a few inches and her shoulder was partly behind the harnesses:

Foiled! Caught in the act!

Once DD knew Daisy’s trick, she kept one eye on Daisy all the time and stopped her before she got too far into her new escape routine. I guess we’ll always have to make sure someone is sitting in the back seat with Daisy – there’s no telling what new moves she’ll come up with! 😉


All Harnessed Up And Ready To Go!

Daisy loves going to new places, and we wanted her to be as safe as possible in this world of crazy drivers. So I did some research and decided that a car harness is the safest way to protect our little travelin’ pup.

I read that you should use the harness several times on short trips to get the dog used to it, because they generally don’t take to it right away. Well, we tried the harness out for the first time this weekend – I think Daisy rather liked the open-air experience, what do you think? 😉

This is much better than my puppy travel crate! I feel like a person!

“Thrilled” is the word that came to mind! She was SO happy and tried out all kinds of sitting, standing, and lying positions, always with that same happy puppy-pant.

I'm so happyyyyyyyy!

I was shocked to read in a Blog Paws article that there are still a lot of people who drive with their dogs on their laps – while they’re driving! Just take a look in the article at what the AAA (American Automobile Association) says happens to dogs of different weights who are unrestrained by a car harness – it’s terrifying. You’d think that would be enough to convince pet owners to keep their pet as safe as they keep their children.

Anyway, since our first 10-minute drive with Daisy was such a success, we’re going to increase that travel time. We also have a seat protector which we’ll use on our next trip because we know this time we’ll be taking Daisy out to explore. (Isn’t it funny how Daisy’s coloring just happens to match my car interior? LOL!) 🙂

Where are we going next??


Choosing a Dog Kennel

The thought of leaving Daisy at a kennel doesn’t exactly thrill us, but we have no choice. Personally, a dogsitter isn’t an option for us; we just don’t like the idea of someone having complete access to our home. That’s simply a personal preference.

Which leaves the kennel. We want a place that will treat Daisy like one of the family but won’t cost us an exorbitant amount of money. We also want to get the same Daisy back – when I was a kid, we put our dog in the local kennel for a week while we were away. In those years, there was no discussion about which kennel to choose, you just put your dog in whatever kennel was near you and that was that. Well, we did NOT get the same dog back – she sat with her back to us in the car and she didn’t interact with us for quite a while – over a week – essentially she was snubbing us. She seemed hurt and angry that we’d abandoned her like that. Thinking back, I’ll bet the kennel care wasn’t very good. I don’t want that to happen again.

I'm all suited up and ready to go!

Two places were recommended by our vet’s office, which we’ll check out soon – we’re not actually going anywhere now, but we want to be prepared and not leave it until the last minute. I made a checklist of things to check for, all recommended by experts:

1. Take your dog with you so she’ll have some recollection of the place. Her first visit there shouldn’t be the one where she’s suddenly left without you.

2. Do a “pop-in” visit – any kennel that needs notice that you’ll be coming in may have something to hide. You don’t want them on their best behavior for new clients, you want to see them “as is” – the real thing that your dog will be exposed to.

3. A “pop-in” visit will also show you whether climate controls are being used – the kennels should be air conditioned during the summer and heated during the winter. Your dog needs the same conditions she’s used to at home and needs relief from extreme temperatures and sun exposure.

4. If your dog isn’t used to being with other dogs or you don’t want him socializing without you being there, make sure the kennel offers private one-on-one outdoor playtime between a staff member and your dog, without other dogs being in the play yard.

5. Some places charge extra for “cuddle time”, extra play time, administering medicine, etc. These places usually have very low daily rates, but when you add in all the extras you may need or want, you could be looking at a far more expensive daily rate. And the services that are included with the low daily rate are usually very minimal, so check the details to make sure your dog can tolerate minimal care. One low-priced place we checked out only offered 20 minutes of human interaction per day, and every extra 15 minutes would cost more; for Daisy, 20 minutes is far too little. She’s used to much more attention, so we need a place with more human contact.

6. There is a possibility that if your dog needs veterinary attention for any reason while you’re away, the kennel could charge an hourly rate plus a mileage fee to get your dog to the vet and back. Some other kennels only use their own visiting vets, which still entails a fee but you don’t know what kind of care that unknown vet is giving your dog. Check before booking to see what the kennel’s practices are for emergency veterinary care.

7. Does the kennel accept pit bulls,  rotweilers, or other potentially vicious dogs that might view your small dog as  a target? Pit bulls, for instance, are known as great escape artists, so you need to know what other kinds of dogs are being housed there.

8. How many dogs do they accept at one time? The more “house guests” they have, the less time they’ll have to devote to each dog, depending on the size of the staff.

9. Are fences and protective barriers secure? Does the kennel smell? Is it clean? Do they check dogs for fleas, parasites, etc. that could possibly infect your dog? Do they require proof of all vaccinations? Is the staff friendly? Is someone there around the clock or only during office hours?

10. Make sure the kennel allows you to bring your dog’s favorite toys and/or bedding. If your dog is on a special diet or you don’t want him given different food or treats, make sure they allow you to do that. Some kennels charge extra for that service too.

11. Size matters. Your dog’s run should give her enough room to trot around and wag her tail – 4’x10′ is the recommended minimum for a medium-sized dog.

It can’t hurt to check potential kennels out with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints against them. A perfect rating with no registered complaints doesn’t mean there are no problems with the kennel, but a failing rating can help to eliminate a kennel right away.

Some kennels offer round-the-clock Doggie Cams so you can see your dog online any time of the day or night.

If you notice, there’s one important underlying criteria here – the kennel should suit your dog’s personality and the lifestyle she’s accustomed to. If you have a rugged, outdoor dog who doesn’t need pampering or cuddling, then those things wouldn’t be of consideration to you. But a family pet who’s used to a lot of affection and attention may not be well suited to a minimalist type of kennel and could suffer from her stay, sometimes with long-term consequences.

In the end, be as careful about choosing your dog’s kennel as you would about choosing your child’s preschool or summer camp!

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Daisy’s First Trip to PetSmart!

We love socializing Daisy, but we had to wait until she was a little less skittish before taking her to a place like PetSmart. She seems to have overcome that hurdle and now looks to us for the sign that a new place and new people are safe to explore, so we felt she was ready. Into her travel crate and off we went!

We were so excited about seeing her reaction to this big new world that the whole family came along for the trip, plus we all love witnessing all of her “firsts”. We certainly weren’t disappointed!

They were having a rescue dog adoption outside of the store, which started things off with a bang. Daisy was so excited at all the big barking dogs, I thought her senses would overload!

Inside the store, she was greeted and fussed over by so many different people and boy did she revel in all that new attention! She couldn’t care less about the toy aisle, the treats – nothing interested her outside of people and other dogs. Some little kids even sat on the floor and let her climb all over them while they giggled up a storm – she was in her glory!

One thing did intimidate her, though – she hasn’t been spayed yet (that’ll happen in October), and when an over-eager suitor became overly interested in her, she slinked away with her ears down and tail under, clearly uncomfortable with the amorous vibes she was getting from this dachshund Romeo. She finally decided to sit down and keep her back to him. We’ve been dreading the idea of her upcoming surgery (over-anxious parents, of course), but now we’re viewing it a bit more positively. Ugh.

Funny thing, though – she just LOVES getting into her travel crate! It’s so small, I thought she’d hate it, but she races in when we open the door and we have a hard time getting her out at home! We decided to just let her come out in her own time, which usually takes about 15-30 minutes. I guess small dogs really do love their small, safe places.

Anyway, the trip was a success, so now we’ll be taking her out to more places. This coming weekend we’ll be going to a town where just about everyone has a small dog, so that should be fun for us all!


Making New Friends

We’ve been introducing Daisy to our friends one by one, a little at a time, so she wouldn’t get overwhelmed. Of course, she has to initially meet them outside because she tends to piddle with excitement with new people!

This weekend we took her to our friends’ home nearby, and we were shocked when we opened her travel crate and she dashed into it before we could even get her harness on! She was so excited at the thought of a trip!

She always yaps and whimpers while traveling in the car – we figure she’s probably anxious to get wherever we’re going, kind of like kids always asking, “are we there yet??” – but this time she only did that a little bit and then calmed down.

She absolutely LOVED our friends’ beautiful back yard, it’s not too big but they’ve turned it into a garden paradise with flower gardens, veggie gardens, beautiful bird houses, a small fountain, a bird bath, a patio barbecue area, swimming pool, and more. It’s like a calming suburban oasis tucked into a line of homes. Daisy went nuts saying “hello” to everyone, then enjoyed exploring the new yard, with all its new fragrances and sights. And our friends just went gaga over her too! Great day for everyone!

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