Monday, October 12, 2009


 Head for the Hills!
by Robert David Bretz

Three dogs sleep at my feet tonight. Content and exhausted, they think nothing of the coming workweek and the pressures it will bring. They have no concern for the leaves piling up in the yard or painting projects that will soon elude me if I do not attend to them before winter has us firmly in its clutches. They do not judge me for having made it through only half of my weekend to-do list.

As always, they are planted firmly in the moment. I hope they will remember a weekend well spent, a weekend of baths, play, nail trimming, treats, car rides, naps and more play. Food and walks aside, they require little else in order to achieve bliss. As I watch them sleep I am filled with wonder, even now, after a lifetime shared with many dogs. My respect for them is immense. They want nothing but good, and each day that I spend with them assures me that I will have another chance to grow.

The inevitable questions loom surrounding the thousand follower mark. What does it mean? What will we do to mark the occasion? I wanted to take time away from the usual noise in my head to consider it: so I followed the example of my canine companions, closed the computer for the weekend, and immersed myself in all things dog. We lived this weekend, and lived well.

We were quiet, and listened to the sounds of fall - leaves brushing the street as the wind swept them by, birds and squirrels scurrying to beat the first blanket of snow while they build their food stores. There was beautiful light on the mountains, and cold, biting air to remind us that they days will soon be shorter, darker. We paused to take in the new smells of a changing season - and I marveled at the first whiff of dried leaves while the dogs sat beside me, noses raised to the air, each breeze carrying a thousand messages straight to their snouts for consideration.

I could not help but come back to the second question, and wondered what I should do next. One of the projects I have considered for a few months is a giant blogroll. It would have been great to finish it in time for the occasion, but that was not to be. Of course, there is always the award route - but trying to achieve distribution among hundreds of folks is just about impossible. I look forward to next summer, when we hope to sponsor a few events along the east coast and get on the road with the dogs to meet the throngs of amazing dog lovers who have made this year truly memorable for us.

All in time. This weekend was a revelation. I am grateful beyond words to the dogs who have shared my home, the kind people who have shared our experiences, the bloggers who have offered constant examples of dog greatness, my patient wife who has pushed aside her own needs to give me time to keep up with this crazy venture. How could I possibly repay so much good will in a giant, sweeping gesture?

I could never. And that brings me squarely back to the essence of Life With Dogs. I wanted to make a little blog about what a privilege it is to live with these remarkable creatures. I thought it would be fun for friends and family to keep up with us as we lived out our days in the scenic mountains of Vermont. I thought I might crack a joke or two. I hoped that those who landed here would come to understand that if I could ever be half as good as any dog I owned, then I would be on the right track. I wanted people to share their love of dogs, to laugh, to find a smile along the way. And on some level, I wanted to give back to the dogs. If the past year has taught me anything, it is that I will never give back more than a fraction of what I get from the moments I share with them, but that I am a better person for always trying.

The follower count at the top of your screen changes none of that. It does give me the hope that as dog lovers congregate, we are able to collectively do greater good for the animals we love. Our fan page was started as a place to do what there is not time or space for here - and will probably emerge as a rescue-centric effort in the long term. It is the very least I can do, and will hopefully be the first of many small acts that show my appreciation for these loving, joyous beings.

So again, what next? The first thing I will do is give a little more time to the stars of the show this week. No post tomorrow. :-p   I do consider the possibility of going back to a three day schedule for winter in order to free up time for writing. I'm not sure if I can keep myself away for four days a week, so we'll see how that works out. For this week, it feels like a good plan. I'll use the time saved to cherish my family, remember the great people who have shared laughs with us this year, and to be certain that I never forget exactly what life with dogs means to me.

The first question was always a simple one, and clarity helped to flesh out my response as we drank in every last bit happiness the weekend had to offer. We were not busy, stressed, hurried, worried. We just were. In this peaceful quiet my answer emerged, and came as little surprise.

One thousand followers means more dogs, more dog lovers, and more goodness. My heartfelt thanks to those who have taken part, and to those who may never even know - our dogs!

P.S. Even I must appreciate the irony in the fact that there have been more funny experiences in the last week than I could have hoped for, just as I decided to take a small break. Wordless Wednesday will continue, and Thursday promises to be great fun for those who find their way back...


  1. I am thrilled to be able to be the first to congratulate you on your 1000 official followers. That number is no mistake-and today's well written post is a testament to why we hit that follower button in the first place. We love our dogs and love to listen to people who love theirs. Your mixed bag of tricks including cool writing style, great photography, twisted humor and love of photoshop has us hooked. It's been a joy getting to know you and your pack thru your blog and we sincerely thank you for all the fun.

    Congratulations and thanks a million for all your time spent to make our days brighter!
    Chester & Mom ;0=)

  2. I am more than thrilled to be the next in line to congratulate you after my buddy. 1000+ and counting followers is no small feat and I speak for myself when i say this:

    "Sometimes I do question my own sanity while reading your posts", more than sometimes really....

    Thanks for being YOU and it's been MY pleasure
    CoCo & her mumster

  3. Dogs definitely represent time well spent. Happy 1,000!


  4. Your blog should be required reading for all the sick people who abuse and neglect ANY animal. Perhaps they would FINALLY see what they should be doing and just how much they are MISSING. Your thoughtful posts could not help but soften those hard hearts.

  5. Beautifully stated. Congrats on the milestone. We have so enjoyed our time here, as usual, and look forward to the days ahead.

    Emma Rose

  6. Congratulations on your 1000+ followers. Your posts are awards for anyone who follows you and your furry friends ;-)

    Very big and warm hug for all of you.

  7. I'm just glad to be one of your followers. Your "Life With Dogs" is a gift for me. Todays' post is the perfect way to celebrate 1000 followers!

  8. Congrats not only on the number of people, but the number of times you have touched each and every individual. I feel like for me this is the Crack Life with Dogs. Going to this blog to see what today holds is the 1st thing I do after booting up my computer of a morning. Some people pick up the newspaper, I log on to Life With Dogs!!

  9. Ahhhhh.......wonderfuly written! Happy 1,000*!

  10. I'm so glad to be a part of the party here. I remember when I first joined blogger and I was like, what is this Life With Dogs thing? I thought I was wasting my time on your site and that my comments would go unnoticed in the throngs of messages you received. You've proven me very wrong! You're a special person to be able to keep up with a monster blog like this and keep your blogging buddies so close to you. You've brought me so many laughs along the way.

    It goes without saying that I'm happy I hit that "follow" button so many months ago. :)

  11. Your following is well-earned -- congratulations!

  12. Let me add my congratulations as well, to your achievement of 1,000+ followers. . . . .a testiment not only to the unique and special bond that people have with their own dogs, but also to the inimitable style with which you share your own experiences, stories, musings, wit and wisdom related to dogs.

    I never tire of reading your posts, and today's was particularly touching and nostalgic. Thanks so much for sharing.

  13. Congratulations! I'm happy to follow you in this "Dog Blog" world we have here :)

  14. You are right that the greatest lesson we can learn from our dogs is to step out of our heads and just enjoy the moment. It's awesome of you to share those moments with us:)

  15. Aren't dogs amazing creatures? They keep me sane. My goal is to live life with the mentality of my two.

  16. Congratulations! You have fostered a wonderful community here and I wish you the best of luck for even greater success in the days to come!

  17. What a beautiful post and congrats on your 1000+ followers, well deserved. I LOVE your blog, and this post echoes so many sentiments that I can not express so beautifully as you do. Yes! Take time to write - we'll all look forward to the days you post. And I DO indeed know that I can never give Sammie back even close to 5% of what she gives us. Thanks for the great blog (and your cool and wonderful pups!)
    Hugs xo Sammie et family

  18. Khongrats x 1001!

    PeeEssWoo: As fur pawing bakhk, don't even try! Just know the good woo do doesn't go unnoticed! As my mom said today 'it isn't about 'us' - I think woo know that too - not all the hoomans seem to know that anymore ;-(

  19. Absolutely beautiful post! You easily put words to what I've been feeling lately - This online community sharing our love of dogs is a wonderful thing and benefits dogs and people alike. It's humbling and an honor to be a part of.

    Big congrats on your 1000+ followers, you deserve it!

  20. Congrads on your 1000th Followers! Bark! Bark!
    Such beautiful words. Thanks for sharing your life with all of us pups and more out here in cyberspace. Have a Barking Great day!
    Licks and Wags, Ariel <3

  21. We love your site and your words are amazing. Congratulations!
    We love all that our furrie pals bring us!!
    Will look forward to your next post. Definitely rest, read the stars, watch the changing weather, enjoy your time!

    Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
    Sierra Rose

  22. We don't get here anywhere near as often as we wish we could, but we do congratulate you on your accomplishment. Even without 1000 followers, your blog would be pawesome.

    Woos, the OP Pack

  23. Well, how fortunate we are to have a first hand peek into you, your family and your adventures. As we tune in, our curiousity ramps up wondering what awaits us only a click away. You bring us joy, laughter, insanity and even tears with your writing. We thank you for all of it...well done!

  24. Very cool! Both the 1000 (now the 1007, I think) mark and your writing. Congrats!

  25. Congratulations and well done on a blog filled with laughter and love in equal measure.

  26. we soooo love your bloggy - does a fun thursday promise mean you might be gonna play true colours??

  27. Anonymous4:41 PM

    Thank you for knowing what it's like to be a dog parent and expressing it. Thank you for knowing what it's like to be a well loved dog..and expressing it. Thank you for reminding me that the only important day in my life is this one...and then tomorrow. I used to think I was the only one who loved her dogs with such passion but you and your followers have shown me that I am not alone. Thanks for a job well done.
    The western SC gang minus our angel Sophia

  28. That was great
    Thanks...and have a happy day
    Benny & Lily

  29. Congrats on your 1000 follower mark. That's an awful lot of followers! If anyone deserves it, though--

  30. Your blog is one of the best- no surprise from my end. Congrats on your 1000!

  31. Congratulations on the big 1000!
    I say, "Lead the way; I'm happy to follow."

  32. I'm still amazed that the Sola story and the mannequin happened five years ago! Holy Toledo! Time flies when you're having fun! I hope it keeps going on and on!

  33. Congratulations on your 1000 followers!
    Thanks for sharing your reflection!
    Kisses and hugs

  34. Eliza Welch11:27 PM


    I just started a blog and would love it if you'd stop by!
    Eliza’s blog

  35. What a milestone - congratulations! Belly rubs for all the furry characters!

  36. What a beautiful post and thank you. Your blog and facebook entries have brightened my day more than you can imagine. I understand that you need more time with home and hearth and you have to listen to your heart sometimes. I love dogs and agree with your thoughts on the respect for my pets and what they have brought to my life. God bless you and I will look forward as always to future posts.

    Anne and Sasha

  37. Chester couldn't have said it more eloquently - and he's right, there's a reason people hit that "follow" button here. As much as you make us laugh, you also make us think. Your post today proves that. I have the utmost respect for you - how you keep up with this blog, and all your fans on Facebook, and your life in general, amazes me!

    I also agree with Frankie Furter - your blog should be part of a list of required reading for those who abuse animals. It's beyond me how anyone could be so heartless, but I think they might have a chance of developing warmth and caring toward dogs and all animals, if they only realized the wonder that is truly "the dog".

    I also found it interesting that you mentioned you started your blog for family and friends to follow - isn't that the reason almost all of us started our blogs?! And then we are all amazed to find the world that awaits us, and the new friends we are bound to make, in the world of bloggyville!

    Nigel, Sola and Truffles have truly created a unique world of dog lovers here in the world of blogs. Thanks so much for every post you send our way, to make us laugh, to make us think, to brighten all our days! :) And a big congrats to you on the success and kudos you have earned along the way!

  38. Canine Hobbs6:17 PM

    Congratulation on 1,000. Truely deserved :o)

  39. Great post, great blog. Congrats on 1,000, you deserve the success and the love.

  40. Theresa5:50 AM

    Congratulations on reaching the 1000 mark! It just goes to show that there are so many of us out in cyber space that love our dogs, love your dogs, and love a good laugh (and the occasional teary moment too). No matter what type of day I've had my beautiful greyhounds make me feel like a million dollars, and I can never repay the wonderful feeling they give me (although I do try). Best wishes and lots of pats and cuddles to the furries!