Whatever Wednesday: Pet Fooled

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Have you watched Pet Fooled yet? All pet owners need to watch it.

A few weeks ago, Pet Fooled was recommended to me by a friend. It’s an investigative documentary about the commercial pet food industry. I was intrigued. Xena’s been showing food sensitivities to her food for the past 3 months all of sudden so I’ve been doing some research online about different pet food. I rented it from Amazon and watched it with curiosity.

Our pets are part of our family and we want to give them the best of the world. Do you know exactly what is in the food you give to your pets? Until this documentary film, there has been no other film to study the pet food industry. Remember Food, Inc from 2008? That documentary started a passionate movement that has had a positive impact on consumer education and buying choices, animal welfare, national health advocacy, food industry and farming. Ultimately, having a positive impact on the food we eat today. There is still a lot to be improved so the movement is ongoing. Now it’s time to take a closer look at the commercial pet food industry.

Fast forward to 3 weeks, I had a pleasure meeting Kohl Harrington, the director of Pet Fooled in person! He was super nice in person and I wanted to learn more about the stories of making this documentary. Lucky for us, Kohl agreed to do a Q&A for our readers! Yeah~! Meanwhile, go watch the film and let me know what you think. 🙂 It’s available on Netflix and Amazon.

Xoxo

Solo Travel and Hiking with a Dog

I get asked often about hiking and traveling solo from other women, “Aren’t you scared?” with horror on their faces. Yes, I do get anxious at times on the trails when the trail doesn’t show up on my GPS and I don’t see anyone for a while but those moments don’t stay long. A little bit of fear is good for you like anything else.

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I may be little more adventurous than an average person but I am never reckless. Let me share what goes on behind the scene that you don’t see in my photos and videos. Maybe this will give you some ideas on how to start solo traveling or hiking with your pup if you’ve been thinking about doing it.

1. Life is better with a dog

To be honest, traveling with a dog is a lot harder and requires more preparation than traveling solo. Not all hotels, restaurants with outdoor seating and hiking trails allow dogs so I need to research prior to getting on the road to make sure we both enjoy our trips. However, traveling/hiking solo with a dog comes with irreplaceable benefits.

Xena attracts good people. I am lucky that she is patient with kids, not a barker and behaves well in public places. We always seem to meet the kindest people when we travel. I’ve received kind and encouraging words from older people. “It’s not usual to see a woman traveling by herself with a dog. Good for you!” and they always tell me to enjoy myself on the trip but be careful. Maybe because Xena puts strangers at ease. She makes everyone from kids to elderly persons smile when we pass by. I know for sure if I were to travel alone, I wouldn’t experience the same warm encounters.

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However, if Xena sees a person who looks suspicious(e.g., hood over their head so we can’t see their faces, refuses to make an eye contact while passing by, walking tensed, etc.), Xena stops still. Her body tight and tense, she stares at the person until the person is far from us or out of the sight. A lot of times, her fixed stare makes these suspicious grown men feel uncomfortable to move away from us instead of walking straight. “Good girl, Z”, I tell her when we are alone. She protects us from bad energies from every directions. Dogs can sense things humans cannot. I listen to her instinct without a question.

2. Common sense goes a long way

Often we travel to an area where there is no cell phone reception when we go hiking. While I love exploring wilderness, it raises a safety issue in case of emergency for sure. My biggest fear is ‘what if my car breaks down in the middle of nowhere.’ However, I have no interest in cars and don’t even want to learn how to fix a flat tire. I don’t even know if I can physically do it with my wimpy upper body strength. Any way you slice it, it’s a bad situation. So I religiously keep up with regular maintenance of my car. I should probably still learn how to change a flat tire…sigh..

I always let my sister know where we are going. We both use Waze, a free community-based mapping, traffic & navigation app, and we are “friends”. Before each drive, I send her an ETA from the app. She can check the app on her phone to see where I am on my route and gets a notification from Waze when I am about to arrive at my destination. This tool has been great for us especially when I am on a road trip because I am always on the go. This prevents her from worrying about us and also makes me feel safe that she can come and rescue us 🙂 or call for help for us if needed.

3. Get to know the trail before you go

Read trail stats (total distance, elevation gain, etc.), download the map of the hiking route to your GPS tracking app if you are going in to wilderness and do your homework on the current trail condition so you know what to pack.

  • Is it dog-friendly?
  • Is it exposed? Is there any shade?
  • What is the terrain? Do I need shoes with good traction?
  • Is there any water crossing? Do I need water shoes or a towel?
  • Are there any poisonous plants or wild animals to watch out?
  • Is it well-maintained or hard to follow? Is bushwhacking or scrambling required?
  • Is it shared with bikers and/or horses? How is your dog around horses? Look out for speedy bikers.
  • Is it a popular trail that gets busy during the day? How is your dog with a crowd?
  • Is there snow/ice? Do I need microspikes?

More information you have about the current trail condition, you are already better prepared to hike this trail and will be safer than someone who just shows up without proper gear and enough water. I recommend you always pack more water and food than you think you would need. You can get lost or you might decide to stay out longer. Dehydration and heat exhaustion are dangerous for you and your pup.

4. But just in case, keep the emergency kit close

Over time, my emergency kit grew. The list isn’t complete and I still have some items I would like to add to my backpack like a compass and a pocket knife. My phone has a compass but what if my phone get damaged?

So, what’s in my backpack?

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Extra battery pack, Xena’s first aid kit, whistle, antibacterial wipes and waterproof bandages

I also have two first aid kits in my car at all times – First Aid KitAMK Me and My Dog Medical Kit – and extra bottles of water. The AMK Me and My Dog Medical Kit has a comprehensive list of wound care, sprain/strain, medication and medical instruction for you and your pup. I recommend it to anyone who is active with their pup(s). The First Aid Kit is a backup plan and it’s also for home. I have it already so why not have it in the car. Did you know your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) covers for these?

5. Be your best friend and guardian

After taking care of things I can control, I try to stay calm and positive. When fear creeps in to my mind, I try to use my logical side of the brain. What is the likelihood of my car breaking down right here without any warning? Highly unlikely. What are the chances that someone will attack me from the back without Xena noticing the person first? Very unlikely. It’s more likely I will roll my ankle and sprain it or worse break it than the other terrifying scenarios. This type of self-talk works for me.

I enjoy solo travelling and the feeling of adventure. It’s a great opportunity to learn about myself. I learned to trust my instinct (and 6th sense) and especially Xena’s. At the end of each adventure, I feel more empowered and our bond deeper than ever.

Being aware of my surroundings, Xena’s guarding nature and being prepared for the possible emergency situations put my mind at ease. Hopefully, this blog helped you to get prepared for your first solo travel or hike with your pup. I am curious to know what other emergency gear I should carry in my backpack. Do you have any suggestions? Please share in the comment section below. Thanks so much!

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Never stop exploring!

Whatever Wednesday: Road Trip

I don’t normal blog two days in a row but Whatever Wednesday sneaked up on me this week. We recently took a road trip to Nevada and wanted to share a few photos from the road with you guys.

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Xena was not happy about being demoted to the cargo for the picture. HAHA

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I can’t wait to share our trail adventures from Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Valley of Fire State Park. Both parks allowed dogs on the hiking trails. All parks should allow dogs on the trails if you ask me.

Head over to our Facebook page for videos from the trip!

Xoxo~

Need Your Support!

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I am so stoked!! Most of you already know that I took a hiking trip to Alaska last summer. After the trip, I entered in to the 2016 guest photo contest hosted by Backroads. I received a notification email today from them that I am a finalist!! Backroads selected 30 photos out of 10,000+ submissions and just opened it up for voting. I need your support!

I would really appreciate it if you go here and vote for me. Look for the picture above. I am #27. It would be so awesome if I get to win.

To vote, simply click the ‘Submit Vote’ button under my photo and you will automatically go to the voting page. Once there, fill in your name and email address in the text fields and you will receive an email asking you to confirm your vote. You must click on the link in the email to officially cast your vote. One vote per email address. Voting ends on 2/14/17.

Everyone who votes is automatically entered in a random drawing for a $200 Patagonia gift card. Good luck!

Thanks so much for your support!!

Thank You!

I am super excited to share that Hiking Girl with Dog made to Feedspot’s Top 100 Hiking Blogs! I am thrilled and honored to be part of the group of seasoned hikers and hiking bloggers.

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The blogs are ranked based on following criteria:

  • Google reputation and Google search ranking
  • Influence and popularity on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites
  • Quality and consistency of posts.
  • Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review

Thank you all for your love and support! ❤

Appreciation

My blog has been award free. That’s just how I liked it and still do. When I was nominated for the Liebster Award last year, I appreciated the nominations but didn’t accept the award both times. But when my blog was recently nominated by one of my favorite blogs – Lesser Places, it felt different this time. I will explain why but first,

So what is the Liebster Award?

The Liebster Award 2016 is an award that exists only on the internet, and is given to bloggers by other bloggers. The earliest case of the award goes as far back as 2011. Liebster in German means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

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I like the intention behind the award but I don’t like the chain letter feel of it. After thinking about it for two weeks now, I decided not to accept the award and keep my blog award free. Instead, I want to take this opportunity to share my favorite blogs with my readers. Sort of like Pay It Forward in my own way.

If interested, here are the official rules for the Liebster Award 2016.

Max and I have been following each other’s blog for a while and commented back and forth many times. Maybe because I felt like I know him through his writings, his nomination felt real and sincere which triggered to me write this post. Bloggers know how much time and effort go in to writing a post and to keep up with the blog. Being recognized by a peer blogger who reads my blog on a regular basis meant a lot to me. Thanks Max for your kind words and encouragement! Please be sure to check out his blog, Lesser Places. He writes about backpacking and hiking in the beautiful state of Arizona and other outdoor related topics. He is a great story teller and he is very knowledgeable yet humble. But it’s his sense of humor separates his blog from other hiking blogs for me.

Questions from Max:

Cutest animal?  Dogs! Seriously, I have a special place in my heart for dogs.

Why did you start your blog? I wanted to create a place for dog-friendly trails for active dog lovers like me. I always loved hiking and taking photos. I didn’t know what to do with all the pictures I took. My blog gave me a place to display my photos.

What do you get out of blogging?  As I began to make connections with people with a kindred spirit around the world, I saw the value of the blogging community. It’s been a wonderful journey so far and I think it would only get better. It created opportunities for me that I never dreamed of. Also, blogging has been an inspiration for my adventures for sure.

What makes being outside fun to you? Nature never fails to amaze me and not knowing what’s around the next bend keeps it interesting. And I have the best trail buddy to share this passion with. It can’t get any better!  

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My Favorite Blogs

I have several favorite blogs and the list is growing. I will share a few.

  1. Mildly Extreme:  Jane writes about her hiking experiences in her country Australia. She also likes to hike solo. Her writing is honest, funny and very informative about nature. Trees, flowers, bugs, birds, you name it, she knows so much about them! I love reading about her adventures. It always makes me smile and laugh out loud at times.
  2. Adventure 69 Degrees North:  Inger and her husband currently live in Norway but when I started following their adventures, they lived in Alaska…then later in Alberta, Canada. Anyhow, no matter where they lived, they explored the most beautiful places and I was constantly in awe with their photos. I will be traveling to Alaska this summer for a week-long guided hike. The trip was inspired by this blog!
  3. Cooking with a Wallflower:  Andrea’s presentation of recipes is simple and lovely. Recipes are easy, simple and delicious! I especially like the Asian inspired recipes. Even I can follow them and they make me think that I can actually cook. Hah!

So there you have it. I sure hope you do check out these blogs. Maybe you will find them enjoyable and inspiring as well.

xoxo~