Today was a stellar day.

Today was a stellar day. I mean one of the best honestly in a long time. I took a hike in the woods today and it was glorious. As I sit here typing about it my eyes are welling up in happiness and a little flutter of excitment moves through my body.

It began with waking up to the thought of our new (proper adjective not yet determined) puppy being an amazing trail hiking and camping dog. His name is Otis, as in Otis Redding because my kids love me. He is very food motivated, is very eager for peoples attention and is very smart. He is also a puppy, and jumpy and moody and not quite totally trained demon of my household for the past three months. He had pooped on our bed. He has peed on our bed. He is a jumper. He paws our faces in the morning really early and really close. He pounces on the belly and groin area while I am laying down. He went through a phase of walking over my face as I lay down dragging his low hanging privates across my face. I laid the dicipline down quick and hard on that one. His name is Otis as I said but when he is being difficult he is called SCOTUS, and when he is super ill behaved we call him POTUS. All this being said I have been having a difficult time bonding with our puppy.

The temperatures were in the mid-40’s today. Jenn, not knowing about my morning thoughts of super trail camping dog, asked me if I wanted to try to bundle up and take the dogs for a hike at Cherry Hill. It has been 16 days from my last chemo infusion and my third day off my chemo pills. I was optomistic that my side effects may have chilled out enough for me to try to hike outside. Enthusiastically I agreed to the idea. I drank up my morning coffee and went to bundle up. First the leggings, then the fleece socks, the christmas leg warmers, the sports bra, the tank top, the hooded sweatshirt, then the hat, then the scarf, and then the gloves stuffed with activated hand warmers. Oh, wait! The scarf I chose was too small and drafty. I ran back in the house and swited my little scarf for my lovely warm big plaid scarf that could double as a lap blanket. I am ready!

Three dogs on thier leashed and we are on the trail. We saw no other cars so, soon into the trail we dropped the leashes and the dogs trodded along with us. We decided to head to the left which took us up a little steep hill. Feeling energized by the crisp cool air and being in the woods that I love, I started to run up the hill in my Muck boots. It felt amazing, while I was on my way up. Then I realized I am a little out of shape in the cardio region of my life. Whew! Once I reached the top I felt like I was hyperventalating for five minutes trying to catch my breath. I would do it again though because I felt like me again running up that hill.

The dogs were having an amazing time. This is the first time Otis has been on a trail as a bigger dog. He stayed with us and listened very well. When he would think about running up ahead with his brothers he would glance up at me. It felt like he was a kid checking in that he could go play with the big kids. Our oldest, Doctor, is a 6 year old chiouahoua who mostly stays with Jenn and I. He will run ahead with the other dogs but usually come back and check in. Our middle dog, Gizmo, is a 2 year old shit-zhu/terrier who acts like a middle child. He has become a bit sweeter and a bit sassier all at the same time since we introduced Otis to the home. I think Gizmo also had mixed feelings about Otis.

We hiked through the woods and came out to the back of the nature area that is more underbrush and less trees. It is a collection of a couple of small hills. The entire hike I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I was so happy to be moving my body and being able to be outside was so amazing. For awhile I was able to take my gloves off and my hands were ok. In the big sky above there were birds flying in a V-formation. My dogs came whipping past my legs bringing my gaze down to their little wiggly rumps sprinting down the hill, and to my beautiful wife hiking about ten feet in front of me. My mind then flashed to my kids at home still sleeping because of a late night of hanging out. In a matter of a heart beat a huge tital wave of joy and gratitude washed over me like I have not felt before. I felt so happy to be alive today. I am grateful and happy to be alive everyday but today out in the woods again I felt a bit more like me again and a better me than I was before all this started. I told Jenn how I was feeling through tears as she gave me a hug. Then she cracked a joke and got back to hiking, smiling and laughing.

Along with my profound “Joy of Life” moment was intermingled the feeling that my demon puppy might be a good trail camping dog someday. This super combo created a rainbow of love for everything, including Otis. In my gratitude of life itself in its purest form creating a true feeling of happiness and optomism, I do believe I bonded with Otis today.

I am thankful for today and everyday. As we hiked back to the car I watched Otis bound along. At one point he looked back to check in with me. In that moment I looked him in the eye and I made a promise to him that I will out live him with the long life he is going to have. I fell in love with Otis today.

Today was a stellar day.


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