Our dogs Veterinary staff are wonderful. They send us timely health reminders for our dogs and pet health tips and information ahead of every holiday and season. I'm used to those informative communications. But on November 22nd at 3pm I received dog health information from our Vet that totally freaked me out! 

The email was to notify us of a Mystery respiratory dog illness that was rapidly spreading across the country. After reading the details, the hair literally stood up on the back of my neck. 

Mystery Dog Respiratory Illness

It was especially frightening to me because my Husky Icy, is 14 years old. A senior dog could certainly be more at risk of getting this respiratory illness. This mystery respiratory dog illness striking fear in dog owners certainly struck fear in this dog owner!



After further research I found out that the dog respiratory illness began over the Summer of 2023 in a Western state.  Currently, the illness is present in at least 15 states so far, including here in Florida.  

As of 12/3/23, the illness has been detected in; California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.  It's also shown up in several Provinces in Canada. I expect the number of identified cases will continue to grow, especially through the holidays with people traveling with their dogs or dogs being boarded while owners are away.

The symptoms are similar to that of the highly contagious kennel cough, but much more severe and longer lasting.

The scariest thing about this illness is that some cases are proving to be FATAL, and that there is no specific, effective treatment that has yet to be identified. Well that just sent me over the edge!

Dr. Rena Carlson, President of the American Veterinary Medical Association, reported that by November 27th, 2023 the illness has spread across 14 states, from California to Florida.  The cause of this illness has still not been identified. It's not yet certain whether this respiratory illness is viral or bacterial.


🐾 Coughing or Sneezing

🐾 Fever

🐾 Lethargy

🐾 Loss of appetite

🐾 Difficulty breathing or wheezing

🐾 Eye or nasal discharge

In severe cases, this dog respiratory illness can result in pneumonia, turning into severe pneumonia within 24 to 36 hours. If your dog becomes sick, and shows any of these symptoms, contact your Veterinarian as soon as possible.  If you're traveling, find an emergency Veterinary clinic that can see your dog right away.

The illness seems to be spread through close contact, similar to the way kennel cough spreads. 


This illness doesn't seem to respond to the standard treatments or antibiotics used for known respiratory illnesses in dogs.  Your Vet will likely prescribe the standard treatments that are given for illnesses like Kennel Cough which includes; 

> Antibiotics, not to treat the specific illness but to treat any secondary illnesses it may cause due to the immune system being lowered. 

> Oxygen therapy may be prescribed if your dog is having difficulty breathing or has contracted pneumonia.

I've heard from several sources that the antibiotic  Chloramphenicol  had some success. This is a strong, broad spectrum antibiotic that has been around for a long time in Veterinary medicine. It's mainly been used for gastrointestinal disease, UTI's, skin infections and some respiratory disease. It's not used very commonly anymore.

Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM and YouTube content creator at Veterinary Secrets, also suggests that treating this serious mystery dog respiratory illness with Chloramphenicol may be successful.

In an ABC News report, a family in California has a Golden Retriever, Ike who was extremely ill with this unknown dog respiratory illness. He had been receiving oxygen therapy, but was given a poor prognosis. They didn't think he was going to survive.

Using Chloramphenicol was a last ditch effort to treat him - and it worked!  Ike was off oxygen 12 hours after receiving the Chloramphenicol, and was home later that week. I was so happy when I read this story. At least it appears there is a possible antibiotic treatment option that might work.

Dr. Jones also suggests some natural remedies, such as;

🌿 Green tea mixed with honey 

🌿 Flavonoid, found in red onion and apple peel 

🌿 Querceteen, which has antiviral properties 

🌿 Licorice root tincture, also with antiviral properties (NOTE: should not be used continuously or long term!)

🌿 Elderberry Concentrate

🌿 Slippery Elm, from the Slippery Elm tree

🌿 Olive Leaf Extract, has antibacterial and antiviral properties

NOTE: Never give your pet any natural remedies yourself without first consulting your Veterinarian!



Since this respiratory illness is very contagious and spread from dog to dog, I would avoid placing my dog in close contact with other dogs. I'm keeping my dogs away from other dogs and away from the following situations;

🐾 Shelters - If you happen to adopt a dog, isolate them from your current dog(s) until consulting with your own Veterinarian. Many dogs are kept in close proximity to each other and their stress levels are high. That can be a prime environment for contagious illnesses to develop.

🐾 Boarding facilities - If you're traveling and must board your dog, have a conversation about how to prevent dog to dog contact. What is the facility's plan to prevent dogs in their care from contracting the illness?

🐾 Doggie day care - Personally, I would not bring my dogs to doggie day care at all until more is known about what this illness is, and a firm treatment option is identified

🐾 Training facilities - If your dog is in a group training class, have a conversation about how to prevent close dog to dog contact. Ask what the plan is to prevent the dogs from contracting this illness

🐾 Grooming facilities - If you must have your dog groomed, exercise caution. Again, ask what the facility's plan is for protecting the dogs they groom from contracting this illness

🐾 Dog Parks - I would keep my dog out of dog parks until more is known about this illness, and a treatment option is identified

🐾 Pet Stores - I wouldn't bring my dog to any stores where there might be other dogs. For me, it's just not worth the potential risk until more information is known about this illness

Ask your Veterinarian if s/he recommends that your dog receive the Bordetella vaccine, which helps protect dogs from most strains of Kennel cough.  

Ask your Vet to recommend supplements that may strengthen a dog's immune system such as Fish oil which contains Omega 3's, Vitamins such as E and C, and perhaps a Probiotic.  

I give my dogs Fish Oil several times a week, as well as a daily Probiotic. I also cook salmon for them several times a month.  I add Bone Broth that contains Turmeric to their food as well, and I add Manuka Honey to their food fairly regularly. Note: dogs with diabetes should not consume honey!

Dogs living in the same household could spread the illness to each other. Keep an eye out for any of the above symptoms in your own dogs. If any of your dogs show signs of these symptoms, isolate them immediately and contact your Veterinarian.

If you're traveling for the holidays be extra cautious if you're traveling with your dog or if you will be boarding your dog. Other dogs in hotels along the way, or at your dog's boarding facility could have potentially been exposed to this unknown pathogen.  

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Sweatshirts, Wall art and Mugs are great Christmas gift ideas 

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Another article on this Mystery Dog Illness from our friends at Five Sibes.


I've been hearing a lot about Lion's Mane Mushrooms lately.  I've been hearing that Lion's Mane mushrooms for dogs can be beneficial to dogs, just as it supposedly is for people.  A couple of my friends have given Lion's Mane mushrooms to their senior dogs and feel it's made a difference. Both had senior dogs who were experiencing some decline in cognitive ability, and were also seeing some restless behavior like pacing and whining in their older dogs.

Lion's Mane Mushrooms For Dogs.  Photo of Lion's Mane mushroom growing on tree
Lion's Mane Mushroom growing on a tree

My dog Icy recently turned 14, and she has been experiencing some of these common signs of aging in dogs as well. She paces quite a lot, especially in the backyard. She often insists on going outside many times a day, but just wanders around the perimeter of the yard. She doesn't need to potty, she's not eating grass, smelling flowers, or pursuing squirrels. She just wanders around aimlessly until we finally insist she come inside. She has recently had some hearing loss as well, which probably doesn't help her agitation. There are times when my sweet dog, who was always full of life and energy, seems a little confused.

Lion's Mane Mushrooms for Dogs  Photo of dog pacing the yard aimlessly
My senior dog Icy, pacing the yard

As people age, the ability of the brain to form connections and new brain cells (neurons) is reduced. This often leads to dementia in elderly people. Studies have found that lion’s mane mushrooms are a good source of two chemicals; hericenones and erinacines, that accelerate the growth of brain cells. 

This means Lion's Mane Mushrooms could positively impact the mental functioning of people with cognitive impairment. Many dog health professionals believe it can do the same for dogs.

I've been thinking about Lion's Mane Mushrooms, wondering if they could help my dog, and alleviate her restless behavior. I spoke to my Veterinarian about it and she agrees that Lion's Mane Mushrooms could be beneficial for a senior dog's cognitive ability. She said that if I wanted to try them for Icy, she would support my decision.


I decided to do my own research on Lion's Mane Mushrooms to learn more about what they are, and to see what other Veterinary professionals and dog owners have experienced. Here's what I found out.

They are called Lion's Mane mushrooms because they are large white mushrooms whose shape resembles a lion's mane. There are a few different species of these mushrooms, but Hericium erinaceus seems to be the most popular and available species. 


Lion's Mane mushrooms are large white mushrooms that resemble a lion's mane

Native to North America, Europe, and Asia, Lion's Mane Mushrooms have both culinary (mainly in Asian countries) and medicinal uses.

Lion's Mane Mushrooms contain thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. They are also a good source of essential minerals such as manganese, zinc, and potassium.

In a January, 2023 article in PetAge magazine, actress and animal welfare advocate Katherine Heigl  was quoted as saying 

 "Lion's mane mushrooms are a natural source of antioxidants that play an important role in the support of a healthy immune system."

I've mentioned Katherine Heigl before in this blog, because for years I've been reading about her animal welfare advocacy and her foundation, the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation, dedicated to animal welfare. I can see the passion she has for animals. She also has a lot of connections in the pet health industry, and access to a lot of current information on dog health from Veterinary professionals. 

Her foundation has saved many shelter pets that would likely not have survived. Her love for animals is evident, and I trust her resources, knowledge and integrity.

According to Only Natural Pet, a reputable provider of all natural pet products, Lion's Mane Mushrooms helps support digestive tract health, and can be especially beneficial for senior pets, as these mushrooms are known to help support cognitive function.

According to Only Natural Pet:

"Feeding your pet mushroom supplements can be a great way to help maintain the general health of all ages and breeds.... It's important never to feed raw mushrooms as they are difficult to digest...."  "The safest and easiest way to introduce your pet to mushrooms is by supplementing their diet with a high-quality mushroom supplement."

Only Natural Pet sells a mushroom blend supplement that contains Lion's Mane Mushroom, as well as several other mushroom varieties.


Most sources I found listed the main potential benefits of adding Lion's Mane Mushrooms to dogs diet as:

🦁 Lion's Mane Mushrooms can support Cognitive Health in dogs (as well as people). They can especially support cognitive abilities in older dogs.

🦁 Nervous System Support; Lion’s Mane mushrooms are believed to have neuroprotective properties, which could benefit dogs with neurological issues or dogs that are recovering from injuries

🦁 Immune System Support. Bioactive compounds found in Lion’s Mane Mushrooms could help boost dogs immune system

🦁 Digestive Health. Lion's Mane Mushrooms may have a positive impact on the digestive system. They have the potential to help with digestive issues and promote gut health

🦁 Lion's Mane Mushrooms contain compounds with potential anti-inflammatory effect, which could be helpful for dogs with inflammatory conditions or joint problems.

Overall, the consensus seems to be that Lion's Mane mushrooms show promise in many areas, but that more research is still needed to prove these benefits.  

Always consult your dog’s Veterinarian before administering Lion’s Mane Mushrooms, or products that contain Lion’s Mane Mushrooms.  

Your Vet can help you decide whether or not Lion's Mane Mushrooms are right for your dog, and can provide guidance on what type of Lion’s Mane Mushroom products and dosage might be a good fit for your dog.  This is especially important if your dog takes any medications or has any health conditions!

If your dog's Veterinarian thinks Lion's Mane Mushrooms might benefit your dog s/he can advise on which high quality product specifically for dogs would be a good choice to try.

Lion's Mane mushrooms are gaining popularity for dog health. But more comprehensive studies are needed to confirm these benefits conclusively. As always, consult with your dog’s veterinarian before introducing any new food or supplement into your dog's diet. 

I'm still on the fence about giving my dog Lion's Mane Mushrooms. I need to think about it a little more, although I am leaning towards giving them a try. If I do try them for Icy I'll let you know the results in a subsequent blog post.

Warning! There are some mushrooms that can be toxic to pets, so please be cautious if you give your dog or other pets any type of mushroom. Always consult your veterinarian first.

Have you used, or are you considering using Lion's Mane Mushrooms for your dog? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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Your precious furbaby has a Dog Birthday coming up and it's time to celebrate!  But what can you do for your dog's birthday, and how do you make a birthday party for a dog?  Throwing an epic dog birthday party that will make your dog feel extra special is easier than you think. Here are 6 tips for an awesome dog birthday party!

Celebrate Your Dog's Birthday in Style!


Celebrate your dog's special day with these Dog birthday party ideas. Your dog's birthday party celebration can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. Honestly, your dog doesn't care, she just wants to feel extra special and be the star of the day. You're probably wondering what you need for a dog birthday party.  Here are 6 dog party essentials for a fabulous dog pawty!


I think everyone agrees you need a delicious Birthday Cake that's safe for dogs to eat. You can buy a pre-made dog birthday cake, make your own from a dog birthday cake mix, or make one yourself from scratch. It doesn't need to be elaborate, dogs aren't too picky about that. As long as it's dog safe and tastes yummy!

My dog's Birthday Cake for her 14th birthday!

It doesn't even have to be a birthday cake, you can have a dog birthday cake, pupcakes, or dog safe cookies. You can also order pre-packaged dog goodies online as well.

We are lucky enough to have a wonderful dog grooming salon near us that also sells dog supplies, dog toys, and they make a beautiful assortment of decorated dog birthday cakes, decorated cookies for dogs, decorated pupcakes, and a few other specialty goodies for dogs. 

Check out this gorgeous Halloween assortment of dog cookies from the grooming salon we get our dog birthday cakes from. They always look so good I want to eat them myself!

Dog Cookies for Halloween

You could also serve some dog safe ice cream (I saw some at Petco recently), dog treats, or dog chews instead of a birthday cake.

Dog Birthday Cake Recipe

If you want to make your own birthday cake for dogs from scratch, you can make a simple fun one, or if you're craftsy you can make a more elaborate dog birthday cake. It's up to you, like I said your dog doesn't care as long as it's yummy!

I've seen many dog birthday cake recipes, from the super simple to the downright opulent!  There are so many dog birthday cake recipes online, all you have to do is search for them. For example, here's a good dog safe cake from Zoetis Animal Health. And here's a really nice collection of dog cakes and dog cupcakes from Rover. It's easy to find one that will work for you.

If you want to make something super simple but delicious, check out some of my easy dog treat recipes here. Or the delicious Pumpkin Spice Dog Treat recipe that my dogs love. 


You might want the pups at your dog's party to have some games or activities to ramp up the fun! These don't have to be elaborate either, they can be super simple. As long as the doggos have fun with each other, that's what counts.

Even if you only have one other dog, or just your dog's human family and friends your dog will still have a blast knowing the celebration is all about her. Making your dog feel like the star, getting all the attention is what matters most.

But if you want to do some special activities, you can put out a couple of dog puzzle toys and let your dog and her friends have fun playing as well as exercising their minds. If you don't have any puzzle toys, just hide some treats around the yard or the house and let the dogs loose to find them!

You could also get an inexpensive dog agility course for the yard. Or just make a fun agility course yourself using items you may have around the house. A hula hoop to jump through, a large paper bag fashioned into a small tunnel (No plastic, it's dangerous to pets and kids), a couple of PVC poles for an agility jump or weave poles, or other dog safe items you have at home.

A fun game of fetch in the yard with several doggie friends is just as fun. It doesn't need to be fancy for a couple of dogs to have a blast!


What's a birthday party without Presents?! This should be the easiest thing to get for a birthday dog. You know what kind of toys, treats, dog bed, and other gifts your dog will love. But if you want to streamline that task and leave it to someone else to select dog gifts, try a PupBox, GoodyBox, BarkBox, or other packaged dog gift boxes and baskets.


Last but not least, you may want something extra special for the Birthday Dog to wear! This can be a simple Happy Birthday dog hat, a Birthday bandana, or Birthday neckerchief. There are so many adorable birthday dog dresses and t-shirts. 

Just make sure your dog is comfortable and ok wearing whatever dog birthday outfit or accessory you pick out for them. My Husky Icy doesn't like to wear clothing, so for her birthday I chose a cute neckerchief with colorful strands. See her photo at the top of this post.


You want to get the full effect with some decorations for your dog's birthday party, right?  If the thought of decorating for your dog's birthday makes you feel exhausted, you can make it easy by ordering a Dog Party Kit from Amazon, Chewy, or other pet supply store.

If you enjoy party decorating like I do, get festive with balloons, crepe streamers, a fun Happy Birthday banner, garland, table centerpieces or other fun decorations for your dog's party. If you're the ambitious type, you can select a dog birthday party theme and decorate accordingly.

Most importantly, focus on a stress free dog birthday party. Your dog should have FUN and feel super special and spoiled for the day!


Sharing is Caring! If you enjoyed this post, we would really appreciate a social media share! 😍

Visit my ETSY store, Nature and Critters, where you'll find one of a kind Printable, instantly downloadable art prints, Nature landscapes, Inspirational quotes, and more.

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Dog treats are great when training our dogs, to help them stay mentally stimulated, to help them stay calm in stressful situations, and of course to show them how much we love them!  But buying treats for dogs all the time can be costly. Even worse, they often contain unwanted calories, fillers, preservatives, and other ingredients we'd rather limit our dogs consumption of. Easy Homemade dog treats are a great alternative to store bought treats for dogs. 

Homemade dog treats are a good way to control what goes into your dog's treats. With DIY dog treats, you know where every ingredient is sourced from and you control every ingredient that goes into them. You won't add fillers, preservatives, or those artificial ingredients you can barely pronounce! And, they are almost always much less expensive than store bought dog treats!  

But don't panic if you don't bake or cook - or don't want to! Many homemade dog treats are really easy to make, are no bake dog treats, and contain healthy ingredients.  The dog treat recipe I've included below checks all the boxes. It's a homemade dog treat recipe that's Easy to make, and your dog will love it.  This dog treat recipe requires No baking, No cooking, and is Healthy, and Inexpensive. All you'll need is two ingredients and a freezer!  You may even have these two ingredients right in your pantry or refrigerator. 

This two ingredient recipe for Dog Treats is one of my favorites. It's super easy, really healthy, and inexpensive. Best of all, my dogs Love these homemade dog treats.  The above video shows you how to create these delicious Frozen Pineapple - Blueberry dog treats.

Frozen Pineapple-Blueberry Dog Treats

All you need is Pineapple, Blueberries, and an ice cube tray. The fruit can be cut up fresh, canned, packaged, or frozen. You can really use any type of packaged pineapple and blueberries. The only thing to be aware of is that if you use packaged fruit, get the kind that is packed either in water or the fruit's natural juices, not syrup. Be sure there is no sugar or other ingredients added to the packaged fruit. 

Below are step by step instructions if you'd rather not watch the video. Although the video is kind of fun, especially when one of the frozen dog treats falls off the plate, lands on the floor, and Jessie is right there to grab it! She knows how to seize an opportunity!

Pineapple Blueberry Frozen Dog Treat Recipe:


1/4 cup Blueberries
1/4 cup of packaged pineapple in it's juices, or fresh cut up pineapple in small pieces with some of it's juices
1 ice cube tray


STEP 1  Pour the pineapple juice and pieces into ice cube trays.  Don't overfill, leave room in the tray to add blueberries.

STEP 2  Add blueberries on top of the pineapple juice and pieces. Add as many or as few blueberries as you want as long as they fit and the trays don't overflow.

STEP 3  Place ice cube tray in the freezer until frozen.  Pop the frozen treats out of the ice cube tray and serve to your dog for a delicious, healthy dog treat!

Can Dogs Eat Pineapple and Blueberries?

According to the AKC (American Kennel Club) Blueberries are a superfood rich in antioxidants, which prevent cell damage in both dogs and humans. They’re packed with fiber and phytochemicals as well.

Pineapple contains vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It also contains bromelain, an enzyme that makes it easier for dogs to absorb proteins.

Hills Pet Nutrition (Hills Science Diet) points out that Pineapple contains Vitamin B Complex and Vitamin C, as well as several beneficial minerals. It's also beneficial to dogs immune system and digestive health.

NOTE: Always check with your Veterinarian before introducing any new foods to your dog's diet. Some dogs with health conditions may not be able to eat fruits.

Most dogs like the taste of blueberries and pineapple. But if you find your dog doesn't like one or both of these fruits you can substitute with another fruit that is safe for dogs to eat like watermelon.

Easy Homemade Dog Treats  DIY Dog Treats
Jessie Loves these homemade dog treats!

I hope your dog enjoys this yummy, healthy and refreshing DIY dog treat!  Leave a comment and let me know what you think of this dog treat recipe! Would your dog enjoy it?

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Like many other parts of the country, Florida has been experiencing an intense heat wave this Summer. The weather has been 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit every day for weeks on end!  We really needed a break from the Florida heat so we took a last minute trip to dog friendly Boone, North Carolina. Boone is in North Carolina's High Country, in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

We had initially planned a fabulous vacation in New Hampshire and Vermont, but Mother Nature refused to cooperate! First, the Canadian wildfires impacted the air quality all across the Northeast. We were elated when the fires were finally brought somewhat under control and air quality in New England improved.  

We thought we were in the clear, but wait! No sooner did we think our vacation was saved, when raging floods hit Vermont, as well as parts of New Hampshire! Sadly, we had to cancel that trip and search for another dog friendly vacation destination with cool weather. 


At first we considered the North Carolina High Country to be a "consolation prize". We figured at least we'd have cooler weather up there, even if there wouldn't be much to do. But we couldn't have been more wrong. The Blue Ridge Mountain area of North Carolina took our breathe away! And we found out there was plenty to do, and lots of dog friendly activities in the North Carolina High Country.

Icy with a Blue Ridge Mountain view in the distance

Not only was the weather in the High Country in the 70's and low 80's, but the landscape is absolutely stunning. It's also extremely dog friendly! There are miles and miles of gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountain hiking trails that allow dogs. There are many charming restaurants and coffee shops with dog friendly outdoor patios, and other places that welcome dogs.


There are many pet friendly hotels and vacation rentals in the Boone area that will welcome your dog.

Townplace Suites, our Dog Friendly hotel in Boone, NC

We stayed at the Townplace Suites, which is owned by Marriott. It was close to everything, right at the North end of the town of Boone. I really liked that it had a kitchenette and dining table, and check out that closet in the above photo! 

Another dog friendly hotel in Boone that looked really nice is the Holiday Inn Express, which was at the other end of the town.

The town of Boone is largely a college town, home of the Appalachian State University. It's an adorable, funky little town with thrift shops, coffee and donut shops, the charming Mast General Store (a Must see!), and an energetic vibe. 

If you're looking for something a bit more upscale and quieter, nearby Blowing Rock or Highlands might be more your speed. Banner Elk is also a wonderful town to visit. There are several charming little towns up in the High Country that are a short drive from each other, so whichever town you stay in you can easily visit the others.

This Explore Boone Guide has great information on Dog Friendly Accommodations in Boone, as well as Restaurants, Shops, Hiking trails, and Dog Parks where your dog will be welcome! 


The night life in Boone isn't really hopping, considering it's a college town, but we found a few restaurants we loved. 

The Red Onion for dinner was my favorite. They had a delicious veggie pasta dish I loved. My husband had a coffee rubbed steak dish that was delicious. The restaurant has it's own parking lot, which you'll appreciate in the town of Boone, plenty of indoor seating, and the most charming covered patio dining area out front!

Macado's is an adorable pub style restaurant with a pretty extensive menu. We had delicious sandwiches here and great service. The place is large with plenty of seating, as well as a bar area that looks really fun.

Carolina Pizza Co is a really nice little pizza joint with quite a large menu. As really picky-about-our-pizza native New Yorkers, we were pleasantly surprised at how good the pizza was. We loved this place, just what we needed after a day of hiking! The food was great and so was the service. Such nice people! Very reasonably priced, too. 

Another place you just have to visit in the town of Boone is the Mast General Store. Mast is a wonderful old fashioned looking general store, complete with creaky wooden floors and barrels of "penny" candy which you can gather into little baskets and purchase by the pound. 

I loved browsing in this store, buying old fashioned candies I haven't seen in ages, cool tee shirts, handmade soaps, local honey and other goodies.



There's no shortage of beautiful dog friendly hiking trails in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains! We stayed for a week, but there were so many nearby mountains and trails and other places we didn't have time to visit.

We had such a blast hiking with our Husky, Icy and our recently adopted Silky Terrier, Jessie.  Icy will be 14 years old next month (Yikes!) and we had no idea if 4 year old Jessie had ever hiked before so we weren't sure how this hiking trip would pan out.

Icy did great! We were so proud of her, and honestly quite relieved that she was able to handle the hiking so well and thoroughly enjoy it. Jessie was a bit unsure at first but she quickly got the hang of it and was clearly having a great time. It was a wonderful bonding experience for all of us.

One of the best hiking trails for us was the Boone Fork Trail Loop. It's listed as being an easy 5 mile trail, but honestly there were several parts that were not so easy, especially if you have dogs with you!  

It took two separate days to complete the 5 mile loop. We did half of it the first day and half the second day, with a day in between to rest our muscles. The dogs seemed to need a down day too. It was a bit rugged in a few spots.  Here's a video with highlights from hiking the Boone Fork Loop Trail, which is a great place for hiking with dogs!

Grandfather Mountain, Banner Elk, NC

Grandfather Mountain, at a 5,946 foot high elevation, is considered the Mother of all mountains in North Carolina! It's located in Banner Elk, NC, a 13 mile drive from Boone. It's a massive mountain park with lots of hiking trails, some of them very challenging, camping areas (permit needed), a wildlife habitat, and the BIG draw, the Mile High Swinging Bridge! 

Grandfather Mountain allows dogs, pretty much everywhere that is outdoors. Much of the mountain is free of charge. However, special attractions like the swinging bridge and wildlife habitat are not free.  Access to the area with the swinging bridge was $22 for adults, but let me tell you I think it's well worth the experience!

Grandfather Mountain, Banner Elk, NC. Mile High Swinging Bridge

The Mile High Swinging Bridge, Banner Elk, NC

At Grandfather Mountain, dogs are even allowed on the Mile High Swinging Bridge! There was a guy with his English Mastiff, a huge dog, walking across the bridge. Personally I wouldn't take my dogs on that bridge, I think it would be too scary for them. The bridge really does sway noticeably. I'll be honest, I was actually a little scared walking on that bridge! But I'm so glad I went because the views from that bridge are stunning. The views and experience of it were well worth it.


We didn't make it to the town of Blowing Rock, and we didn't get to see the actual rock, the Blowing Rock, but we saw videos and it looks gorgeous!  We ran out of time, and had to choose the few places we most wanted to see.

The town of Blowing Rock is named after an interesting rock formation with beautiful vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The town of Blowing Rock is really quaint, and they clearly love their flowers! It looks like folks in that town must have green thumbs because all the videos and photos show beautiful flowers and gardens around the town!  

The Blowing Rock is an actual rock that juts out over the Blue Ridge Mountains. There is a charming legend behind it the rock itself and how it got it's name. 

One day a Chickasaw maiden, daydreaming on the rock, spied a Cherokee brave wandering in the wilderness far below and playfully shot an arrow in his direction. The flirtation worked and soon he appeared before her wigwam, courted her with songs of his land and they became lovers, wandering the pathless woodlands and along the crystal streams. One day a strange reddening of the sky brought the brave and the maiden to The Blowing Rock. To him it was a sign of trouble commanding his return to his tribe in the plains. The maiden implored him not to leave her, but the brave, torn by conflict of duty and heart, leaped from The Rock into the wilderness far below. The grief-stricken maiden prayed daily to the Great Spirit until one evening with a reddening sky, a gust of wind blew her lover back onto The Rock and into her arms. 

According to area locals, there is a mysterious wind pattern at the blowing rock that "causes it to snow upside down"! I'm not sure what creates that and I hate to be a buzz kill, but I'm sure this wind pattern is rooted in science.  We will make a point to visit Blowing Rock on our next visit to the area. 

The weather in the North Carolina High Country was glorious! It was a wonderful respite from the extreme Florida heat and humidity. I wish we could have stayed a whole month!

My dog Icy was as sad as we were to leave the cool weather in the Blue Ridge Mountains!

Goodbye North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains! We can't wait to visit you again!

I'm excited to share my new ETSY store with you! It's called Nature and Critters. True to it's name, I sell nature and animal inspired photos and design works that are in 
Printable, Digital Download format. I hope you'll stop by my store and check it out!

Digital Download Designs available in my ETSY store

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