[VIDEOS] Summer Vacation

It’s been a couple months since I’ve posted a full length video on YouTube, but I  kept the camera rolling on our vacation. If you follow us on Instagram you’ve seen the latest, but for all those who don’t  use the app, I wanted to share some of the short vignettes from our time away.

In the immediate future my plan is to focus more on longer written pieces than on videos, but I’ll definitely keep posting these shorter clips along the way. It’s good to be back – happy Friday!

 

After a twelve hour car ride last week, the pups appreciated a warm welcome, plenty of romping, and a comfy spot to lay their heads. #rhodesianridgeback #projectrr #dog #dogsofinstagram #dogs #primepet #petsofinstagram #pets #instadaily #puppy #video #adventure

A video posted by Eko, Penny (and Will, I guess) (@ekoandpenny) on

Eko wanted to lazily relax in the sun. Penny Mayhem had other ideas. She always knows how to stir Eko up! #rhodesianridgeback #dogstagram #dogs #dogsofinstagram #projectrr #primepet #adventure #adventuredog #vermont #vacation #hound #pets #puppy #video

A video posted by Eko, Penny (and Will, I guess) (@ekoandpenny) on

Our lifegaurds kept a close eye on us anytime we went paddle boarding. Eko declined to join me for a trip, but then decided to come "save" me anyway. #rhodesianridgeback #projectrr #primepet #tbt #dogs #dog #dogsofinstagram #adventure #adventuredog #vermont #hound #video

A video posted by Eko, Penny (and Will, I guess) (@ekoandpenny) on

Loved all the running and hiking we got to do on vacation. So great to spend so much time outdoors with family and they pups. #rhodesianridgeback #projectrr #dog #dogstagram #dogs #instadaily #hound #adventure #adventuredog #video #excellent_dogs #primepet #pets

A video posted by Eko, Penny (and Will, I guess) (@ekoandpenny) on

It wasn't all mayhem on vacation, we actually did plenty of relaxing. My sun dials could always be found wherever the best rays hit the house. #rhodesianridgeback #dog #projectrr #dogs #hound #dogsofinstagram #video #adventure #adventuredog #primepet #pet #pets #excellent_dogs

A video posted by Eko, Penny (and Will, I guess) (@ekoandpenny) on

Penny's my deep sea specialist, but when it comes to salvage operations, no one is better at recovering sunken toy treasure than Eko. #rhodesianridgeback #dog #projectrr #dogs #hound #dogsofinstagram #video #adventure #adventuredog #primepet #pet #pets #excellent_dogs

A video posted by Eko, Penny (and Will, I guess) (@ekoandpenny) on

Eko is a total sweetheart and puts up with Penny starting a lot of trouble. Every once in a while though, he likes to remind her that he's the big dog in the family. #rhodesianridgeback #dog #projectrr #dogs #hound #dogsofinstagram #video #adventure #adventuredog #primepet #pet #pets #excellent_dogs #dogbeach #chicago

A video posted by Eko, Penny (and Will, I guess) (@ekoandpenny) on

Penny makes honey badgers seem mild mannered. Nothing stops her from going wild – on land or sea. #rhodesianridgeback #dog #projectrr #dogs #hound #dogsofinstagram #video #adventure #adventuredog #primepet #pet #pets #excellent_dogs #instadaily

A video posted by Eko, Penny (and Will, I guess) (@ekoandpenny) on

No dog left behind! Wherever I go, the pups insist they must follow. And, as always, every great adventure must end with a hug. #rhodesianridgeback #dog #projectrr #dogs #hound #dogsofinstagram #video #adventure #adventuredog #primepet #pet #pets #excellent_dogs #tbt

A video posted by Eko, Penny (and Will, I guess) (@ekoandpenny) on

Powerful. Agile. Graceful. My dogs are poetry in motion…until you throw a ball their way. Then for some reason they become the most hilariously inept dogs on the planet! #rhodesianridgeback #projectrr #primepet #dogs #dog #dogsofinstagram #instadaily #photooftheday #puppy #hound #pet #pets #excellent_dogs #video #adventure #dogbeach

A video posted by Eko, Penny (and Will, I guess) (@ekoandpenny) on

As if my two didn't worship the sun enough, it just so happens that the rays fall directly on their food bowls when it's time for #rhodesianridgeback #projectrr #primepet #dogs #dog #dogsofinstagram #instadaily #photooftheday #puppy #hound #pet #pets #excellent_dogs #video

A video posted by Eko, Penny (and Will, I guess) (@ekoandpenny) on

When Dogs Are The Best Medicine

Who are you?

It’s a simple question. It’s also an impossible one. When asked, we answer with a name. But a name is a sound, not an identity. We quickly follow up with a job title. But a job is what we do, not who we are. The distinction is important.

Earlier this summer, Emily stumbled through the door and fell into my arms after her last shift as a medical resident. She was sick, exhausted and spent. It seemed a fitting physical, emotional and psychological accounting of the true costs of residency.

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Residency is no joke, but it certainly helps to have a sense of humor about it

“Hand over your old life for 4(+) years and we’ll hand back your new life for the next forty years.” That’s the deal residents across the country eagerly accept. Why then, after willingly sacrificing so much to achieve their goal, do physicians have such high rates of burnout?

I suspect in many instances it’s a case of mistaken identity. Residents learn to answer the simple question, “Who are you?” with the simple response, “A doctor.” They, like many of us, often forget to wrestle with the impossible part of the answer.

Emily and I often discussed the importance of work/life balance, but it was a hilariously theoretical conversation. Residency unequivocally prioritizes professional development over personal development, so we had precious little time to practice that balance.

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Ever work so hard you didn’t notice two dogs wrestling across your laptop?

We signed up for a cooking class once, but I had to go by myself because Emily was called to the hospital for an emergency. I still remember the looks of pity my fellow classmates gave me as I frantically explained that I did in fact have a real wife – which sounds exactly like what a guy without a real wife would say.

Emily and I ran the Chicago Marathon together, and at the finish line kept right on running to catch the train. Emily had to hustle to make it to work on time.

As I held Emily on the couch that last night of residency, the pups jumped into our laps. Eko and Penny knew nothing of Emily’s struggle the past four years, but they were just as eager to love and comfort her. That’s who dogs are.

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Don’t try to tell these two they’re not lap dogs

In love? Depressed? Ecstatic? Exhausted? A dog happily welcomes you home regardless. Money, accolades and status similarly hold no sway in a pup’s heart. Dogs accept all our changing and complex answers to the question “Who are you?” with the simple request the answer begins, “I’m with you.”

Between Emily’s last day of residency and her first day of work she decided to take six weeks of vacation. Six weeks sounds like a lot, but if you saw Emily that night you’d probably think it wasn’t nearly enough. So how, in just six weeks, could we salve the wounds of residency and help prepare Emily and our family for a successful and happy future?

Simple. We treated each other like dogs.

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And dogs certainly know how to treat a lady right!

First, Emily slept like a dog. Eko and Penny are world-class snooze machines, but Emily put them both to shame in those first few days. In the few sleep-walking moments Emily was awake, I could tell she felt compelled to check in at the hospital. To reorient herself and reaffirm her identity. Instead I closed her laptop and ushered her right back to bed, where the dogs happily napped at her feet.

The next week we loaded up the pups and drove to Vermont for a vacation on Lake Champlain with Emily’s family. We blissfully disconnected from time, space and the internet. With Eko and Penny leading the pack we spent our days hiking, swimming and laying in the grass. We turned off our alarms, turned off our phones and tuned in to the present moment.

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Great people, great pups, great vacation

After our time in Vermont, we helped my mom move out of her house in New Jersey. Eko and Penny provided careful supervision. Together we hauled out boxes of my old trophies, clothes and trinkets I’d preciously stashed in the attic. I once held on to these things to help me answer that vexing “Who are you?” question, but it was clearer than ever the things which define me were no longer, well, things.

What defines me? Dancing with Emily in our kitchen, racing across the beach with my dogs, staring at the ceiling at night wondering what the hell I’m going to do with the rest of my life. The answer depends on the moment, but I’ve learned it’s certainly not something I can store in a box.

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You know what I mean

After all our time on the road, I’m still not quite certain what dogs think about cars. Did Eko and Penny have any idea I controlled where the car took us? Did they think the car was the master of our fate? Or maybe they thought of the car as an engine of chance, each turn of the key a gamble, or an act of faith.

In the end, I don’t think the pups gave much consideration to where we went or how we got there. Their only concern was that we go on the journey together. They greeted each new destination with the same routine. A stretch, a shake, and a look back at me which said, “We have no idea where we are and no idea what we’re doing. Let’s find out!”

Unsurprisingly, we found what dogs always find – opportunity and possibility. The opportunity for adventure and the possibility of great discovery along the way. The familiar sentiment is true – we travel to find ourselves. And when traveling it’s certainly helpful to have a guide, or in our case, a couple of guide dogs.

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We’re all tourists in this life, and we couldn’t ask for better traveling companions than our dogs

One evening we sat with those dogs, watching a summer sunset, lamenting the impermanence of all things. The sun sets on the horizon, then on vacation and, in the end, on our own lives.

The truth is as simple as it is brutal – you will lose everything.

Nevertheless, in an effort to ameliorate those losses we often struggle feverishly to anchor ourselves to material things and structured identities.

As Emily and I waxed philosophic, Eko interjected with a mighty yawn before curling deeper into my lap. We both laughed with the realization we’d spent our time mourning the waning sun while our dogs had simply savored it. Dogs, like the rest of us, lose everything. But they live in a state of preternatural joy because unlike us, they don’t try to keep anything.

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Unless you count when they keep bugging me for more dog treats

Since then, Emily and I vowed to keep hold of fewer things. Both fewer material possessions and fewer immutable ideas about who we are. So who is Emily? Six weeks ago I think she would have told you she’s a doctor. Since then she’s untethered herself from that singular notion and embraced the opportunity of her profession, rather than the identity.

Last week, after an incredible summer of love, adventure and learning, Emily assumed her new role as an attending OBGYN physician. I never doubted Emily’s clinical skills, but thanks to a bit of help from Eko and Penny, I’ve never been more confident of her (and our!) future.

It’s a future which undoubtedly contains loss and heartbreak, but it’s a future we’re eager to experience nonetheless. Because we’ve learned to hold tightly to one thing, and one thing only.

When we ask ourselves the impossible question of who we are each day, we begin our answer, “I’m with you.”

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The Dog (and not dog) Days of Summer

Hello! We’re still here.Rhodesian Ridgeback, Chicago, puppy, adventure, dogs, blog

Though with a two week absence from blogging, it may seem we’re in hiding

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But we’ve been keeping busy with plenty of new additions and activities

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We even managed to get Emily to the beach with us. Eko demanded lots of hugs, while Penny insisted Emily watch her careen across the sand

We used a week of Emily’s vacation time to take a trip to Florida…without the pups *gasp*

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Eko didn’t let us get out the door without packing some addition emotional baggage for us to carry

Despite the sad face, Eko and Penny had a wonderful week in Chicago with my brother and his pup.

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We also had a great week!

Rhodesian Ridgeback, Chicago, puppy, adventure, dogs, blogAnd even found a few reminders of Eko and Penny along the way

For some, the end of a great vacation is a sad conclusion. But if you have a dog to come home to, it’s just about the best feeling in the world.
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The four of us, exhausted from our respective adventure, reunited in a dogpile nap on the couch

We left the city at the end of a tepid spring, but our return flight landed us back into a full and beautiful summer.

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The water’s not quite as warm as it is in Florida, but Penny doesn’t seem to mind

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We’re charging into June rested and ready for a great summer

As always, for more regular updates you can always find us on instagram @EkoandPenny. Hope to catch up with everyone soon!

My Little Teapot

Penny, bless her heart, makes bulldozers look like ballerinas. But she tries, she really does! Some of the most exciting/frustrating/anticipatory/agonizing moments of a dog’s life are the moments before mealtime.

Penny used to fill those moments with an all out assault on my person, but she’s graduated to what I call the “Teapot Method.”Rhodesian Ridgeback, chicago, blog, adventure, puppy

Like a teapot first put on the stove, Penny starts off totally cool

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As mealtime approaches she begins to bubble…

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Pacing, dancing and staring are all apart of Penny working herself up into a boil

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By the time I start dishing food out, you can practically see the steam coming from Penny’s ears

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My little teapot gives one high-pitched shout, and mercifully, I let Penny tip herself over onto the meal

Penny gives me plenty to worry about, but I never have to worry she isn’t telling me exactly how she feels!

Penny’s (Almost) Doppelganger

Comparison is one of the things humans do best. We compare choices, decisions and situations countless times a day. So it’s only natural we have the inclination to compare our dogs to other pups.Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, dog-friendly beach, rhodesian ridgeback, marking our territory, adventure

Nonetheless, it can be difficult to compare Penny with other dogs because, well, she’s Penny

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It’s not very often you run into a female Ridgeback running wild on the shores of Lake Michigan

But recently the number of romping lady-Ridgebacks doubled! Meet Phoebe:

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Nope, that’s not Eko. But Phoebe does have a similar build/look to Penny’s big bro

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As always, Penny wasted little time introducing herself

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And the girls were soon tearing up the beach together

After a glorious romp, Phoebe did something I’ve never seen Penny do…

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Phoebe relaxed!

It was truly astonishing. Of her own free will, Phoebe decided to lie down and take it easy. Remarkable! Obviously, Penny continued tearing down the beach looking for more trouble.

But it gave me hope. I compared Penny to Phoebe and realized if a romper like Phoebe could mature and learn to relax, Penny could one day do the same. Carrying that hope in my heart I turned and asked how old Phoebe was.

“Oh, she just turned one!”

One!? One! One. Penny’s already two!

With a deep sigh I set off down the beach after the incomparable Penny Mayhem. Unless any runaway trains show up at the beach, I’m not sure we’ll ever find Penny’s perfect doppelganger.

 

On Instagram? Let Me know!

While I won’t be posting here five days a week over the summer, I do plan on making daily updates to our instagram page. I’ll put up our latest adventures along with a few remixed old ones. This week I’ve had fun putting a soundtrack to some past video clips.

For some reason Disney hasn't responded to my emails about producing an all-dog version of the Lion King. That hasn't stopped me from working on the opening sequence. #rhodesianridgeback #dogsofinstagram #dog #dogs #lion #lionking #disney #projectrr #pets

A video posted by Eko, Penny (and Will, I guess) (@ekoandpenny) on

 

After last week's video of puppy Penny running in circles like a lunatic, people asked what she's like now, two years later. Here's some video from this week, with an explanation from Gnarls Barkley. #rhodesianridgeback #dogstagram #dogsofinstagram #chicago #beach #projectrr #primepet #instapuppy #crazy #hound #tbt

A video posted by Eko, Penny (and Will, I guess) (@ekoandpenny) on

 

It's all fun and games until you realize your dog might be smarter than you are. #rhodesianridgeback #dogsofinstagram #dog #dogs #hound #jeopardy #primepet #projectrr #instapuppy #instadaily #video #petscorner

A video posted by Eko, Penny (and Will, I guess) (@ekoandpenny) on

If you want to keep up with the latest, be sure to follow @ekoandpenny on Instagram. I know I already follow many of you, but if you have an account to share just let me know in the comments so I can follow back.

Happy Friday!

How Does Your Dog Show They’re Ready to Play?

At the beach, Penny is a hand grenade. Pull the pin, toss her over the fence… and boom! Eko’s play is announced more like a calculated NASA launch.

First, he gets that intense look on his face

Then he slowly begins to tense his muscles

He pauses, ready for liftoff

And explodes into action!

He’s not made it to the moon yet, but my rocket sure does fly up and down the shore

I can point my camera at the Penny-grenade pretty much anytime to catch a fun action shot. Eko is more selective in his romps (but compared to Penny, who isn’t?), so I certainly appreciate the countdown he gives his photographer.

How do you guys know when your pup is about to play?

Summer (Blog) Vacation

As usual, we’re sputtering our way through mercurial spring weather in Chicago.rhodesian ridgeback, blog, chicago, adventure, puppy

But in between rainclouds we’ve glimpsed the warm summer days to come

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And we can’t wait to dive in

This summer is a special one for us because Emily (finally!) finishes her residency program at the hospital. It’s been a grueling four years for her, so she’s taking off a nice chunk of time before starting her new job.

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Think of residency like Penny – it’s a lot of work and it always seems to be chasing after you. Think of Emily like Eko in the above photo – delighted to finally turn the tables!

For nearly five years I posted here Monday through Friday without exception. From the worst days through my own wedding day, I’ve cherished every moment of it.

Up to this point I’ve followed a simple rule – Live the adventure, love the adventure, share the adventure. Always in that order. Writing/blogging/sharing the story should never supercede living and loving it.

With that mantra in mind, I’ve decided to take an intermittent summer vacation from blogging. We want to enjoy Emily’s Haley’s-comet-rare freedom to the fullest, so I’m prioritizing living and loving over sharing and blogging.

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Relax, Penny, you’re still getting just as many trips to the beach

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Sorry Eko, this doesn’t mean I won’t laugh and take photos when Penny harasses you

But let’s be serious. We can’t expect Emily to handle my inanity alone.I plan to check in and post here regularly throughout the summer. If only for her sanity. It just won’t be on my usual (or any) schedule. The pups are tagging along on most of our summer excursions and road trips, so I should have plenty of adventures to report in about.

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Our mission for the summer is simple, make like Penny and squeeze as much as we can into a limited space

Just wanted to give everyone a heads up in case I disappear for a day or two (or three) here and there. But never fear. Like a dog toy lost in the couch, I always turn up!

[VIDEO] Just A Dog

We have precious few moments on this earth. Why do so many of us choose to spend so many of those moments with “just a dog?”

I suspect we share many of the same answers, while each having our own reasons.

This is my story. What’s yours?

Fast(est) Friends

Ever been enjoying a relaxing dip in the pool until out of nowhere some chucklehead kid does a cannonball next to you?

Penny is that chucklehead

Penny certainly made a splash during her introduction to a German Shorthaired Pointer we’ve never met before. Penny kind of has a thing for Pointers.

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As expected, Penny’s cannonball hello sent the Pointer running

But that’s when things got interesting. Because some how dogs are able to know each other nearly instantaneously. In the space of a few strides – or a single camera click – pups can seemingly articulate a lifetime’s worth of information.

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It seems closer to telepathy than anything else, but in the fractional space between this photo and the previous one, the two dogs became best friends

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For the rest of our time at the beach these two were inseparable companions, storming through the sand and shallows

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It looked like these two were posing for a buddy-cop movie poster

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Anyone watching would have thought these guys had been friends forever

It seems you don’t need a lifetime to make “friends of a lifetime.” Nevertheless, my wife still says I’m not allowed to cannonball strangers at the public pool. Oh well, more friends for Penny I guess!

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