Tag Archives: dogs

Happy Birthday to Me, Happy Birthday to My Blog

Happy Birthday to Me, Happy Birthday to My Blog 1

Yesterday I turned 43 and this blog turned 4. The amount of joy I feel on any given birthday can be hit or miss.

I’ve celebrated some birthdays in the most wonderful ways, surrounded by friends or family.

Four years ago, on the day this blog was born (and my first birthday married), Heath surprised me with the one thing I asked for: a birthday party with the animals wearing party hats. We were housesitting in Johnsonville, NY, for the summer and the animals included dogs, cats, and goats.

Only the dogs wore actual hats to the party. The cats and goats smiled for Heath’s camera and then Heath photoshopped the appropriate party wear onto those pictures.

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Other years, particularly my first few in Illinois, I spent my birthday alone. On those birthdays, I sat alone on my couch. An occasional text or phone call would come in. Sometimes, I responded and sometimes I didn’t. Because in those times of loneliness it can be hard to accept long-distance birthday wishes when all you want is someone right there next to you.

This birthday, I am not alone. I am with my mom and brother. They made my favorite cake – butterscotch!

 

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Heath showered me with treats on Thursday night before I drove to Pennsylvania on Friday, including surprising me with vegan bacon cheesy fries from Arles & Boggs, my favorite restaurant, located in Wallingford, CT. Wallingford is 65-miles one way from Norfolk, so this was quite the commitment from Heath. He then made a trip to Dee’s One Smart Cookie, an allergen-free bakery in Glastonbury, to get me gluten-free chocolate chip sandwich cookies. They’re a favorite sweet indulgence of mine and I enjoyed every bite of them.

I also received multiple birthday cards in the mail. Dozens of social media birthday greetings and text messages blew up my phone. I spoke with friends and family on the phone, some for over an hour. It was a perfect birthday.

And, yet … this birthday of mine has been underscored with sadness. On July 19th, my father died of complications from Guillain-Barre syndrome. Then, on July 23rd, Smudge had to be unexpectedly put down. It is a lot of loss and grief to experience, especially during a time of pandemic when there is already so much stress and uncertainty bubbling around us.

This birthday is an excellent example of the duality of life in which my therapist has been working with me over the past few weeks. Yes, it was a perfect birthday. Yes, I feel sad. Both can be true.

I don’t really have much more to say right now.

Thank you to everyone who made this is a perfect birthday.

Dad, I love you!

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Smudge, I love you, too!

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Have You Met Stevie?

For the first time in a long time, I find myself living without any dogs. Long story short: our Norfolk housesit is on hiatus due to the pandemic. Smudge and Faith now have their human brother living at their house, and Heath and I moved into a small apartment in Norfolk.

The first few days upon moving here, the sadness of being without Smudge and Faith stayed with me like a shadow. I scrolled through my phone, looking at photos of them.

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I watched videos of them being silly. Even mundane videos like watching them walk down the stairs, I would watch on repeat.

Confession: It’s been about a month and I’m still mooning over their photos and videos. This may or may not be the most effective coping mechanism. Of course, I still visit Smudge and Faith, and I’m still walking Annie and Dodger.

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Annie!

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Dodger!

And, yes, having Heath be so supportive and loving helps quite a bit.

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But with all these changes in my life, plus living through a pandemic, and witnessing the heartbreak and injustice of racism in real time, and grieving the loss of my father’s health as he remains in the ICU without a good prognosis, I find myself struggling to let go of my attachment to Smudge and Faith.

So, when I feel like I should be doing more to help deal with my sadness over not living with Smudge and Faith anymore, I turn to the wealth of dog videos that is the internet in an attempt to branch out.

Sometimes, I think the invention of the internet has done more damage to the world than its intended benefits. But if it wasn’t for the internet, I never would have “met” Stevie the Wonderdog.

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This photo is from Stevie’s Instagram account.

Stevie has cerebellar hypoplasia. This means Stevie’s cerebellum is much smaller than normal or not completely developed. It’s the reason why Stevie’s balance, posture, and coordination is much different from other dogs.

Here’s the first video I ever saw of Stevie:

You can see why I love him!

When I watch videos of Stevie, my heart does a tippy dap dance of joy the same way Stevie tippy taps his paws in puddles. It’s like I can press pause on my life for just a moment. He’s the breath of fresh air I need to know I’ll be okay with all these changes in my life.

That’s why I want to share Stevie with you today. Just in case you could use some tippy tap love and joy in your heart, too.

An Unexpected WOW Moment

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I had the opportunity recently to share some of my ideas on spiritual ways to manage anxiety, stress, and depression. Of course, I spoke about the therapeutic power of dogs. Here’s a little teaser:

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If you want to read my full coping method, as well as methods from other experts you can read the full list here: https://mattbeech.com/spiritual-ways-manage-stress-anxiety-depression/

Last week, I experienced a one-two punch of spiritual therapy when we had an unexpected snowstorm. There I was sitting on the couch with Smudge, Faith snoozing on the floor next to me, and as I glanced out the window, the rain had turned into what looked like a snow squall.

It snowed that way for maybe an hour. Then the sun came out. The combination of snow and sun is one of my favorites for being wowed by nature, so I put on my boots and the dogs and I headed outdoors.

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While we were outside, the snow started melting from the tree branches at such a rapid rate, it felt and sounded like rain.

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If you’d like, you can listen to the wonder of it for yourself here.

I’ve never experienced anything like it, to feel the raindrops fall on my face, under the shining sun, while snow crunched under my feet. Then there were Smudge and Faith snooping around the yard just being dogs.

WOW, indeed!

I hold on to these little moments of joy as we continue facing the uncertainty of what’s happening in the world. It’s not much, but it reminds me that unexpected events can be beautiful and wonderful and full of magic. Thank you, God, for giving me this moment, and thank you Smudge and Faith for bearing witness to it with me.

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Hello, Daylight Savings Time! I Hate You.

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Welcome back, Daylight Savings Time! Except, you’re not really welcome here. In fact, I kind of hate you. Not that I mind the extra sunlight. It’s losing that hour of sleep. For a person with narcolepsy, daylight savings time can be especially challenging. Keeping a consistent sleep/wake cycle goes a long way towards managing my narcolepsy symptoms. With daylight savings time, there’s nothing I can do about it other than accept the loss of the hour and try to recover the best I can. Sometimes, it can take weeks.

Good thing I have an excellent napping companion with Smudge.

So, on that note, I give you my latest blog post: Pictures of yawning dogs (that I personally know and love) because I’m too tired to come up with anything else.

I hope you enjoy!

Love,
Kelly

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Hello, Daylight Savings Time! I Hate You. 23 Hello, Daylight Savings Time! I Hate You. 24

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What’s in a Name?

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I took this guy to the vet on Friday. Dodger is not my dog, but I sure do love him a lot. His mom, Cecily, can’t drive anymore so I help out when I can.

While there, the vet said, “Okay, Dodgeball, let’s go.”

Dodgeball?!?!

How had I never thought of that nickname for Dodger before? Dodger already comes with quite a few nicknames: Dodge Podge, Dodgey, Podgey, Mr. Podger*, Rodger Dodger, Didgeridodge, BossyPants*, BossyBritches*, Sassafrass*, Dirt Bag Dodger* (reserved for the summertime when he gets filthy dirty from laying in the dirt all day long), and, most recently, Pork Chop Dodger*, owing to the fact that he has gained 10 lbs since his last visit to the vet. Let the diet and exercise regime begin!

But Dodgeball certainly fits in with his personality, given the way he bounces around the woods.

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Suffice it to say, I will be rotating Dodgeball into the mix.

My husband, Heath, thinks I’m terrible at coming up with nicknames for dogs. According to Heath, only one time in the history of our four-year marriage have I come up with a good nickname for a dog. Meet Mission Control on the left (her real name was Missy). What's in a Name? 29

 

I, respectfully disagree with Heath. I think my nicknames are hilarious. For example, this is Smudge:

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I think he needs a fancier name sometimes, and so I call him Smudgerton. I also gave him the middle name Peter, which is shorthand for Poop Eater (I know, gross, but … DOGS!).

Then there are times when he’s just a cuddle bunny. So in those instances, I call him Smudgey Bear.

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Okay, maybe this one is embarrassing. But he’s so cute. I can’t help it.

Smudge’s sister, Faith, on the other paw, comes with a whole slew of nicknames, as well.

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She has been known as Lumpy Butt, because of, well, a lump near her butt. Also, just Lumpers because we as humans like to shorten long names. Then there are times when she’s been out romping in the woods all day long and she gets kind of stinky. So then she becomes Stinky Lumper/Lumpy Butt, also shortened to Stinky Lumpers.  A few times she has been THE PREDATOR because her hunting skills on poor woodland creatures are quite good. And every once in a while we call her Bulldozer because she likes to push her way past Smudge.

Coming up with these names is one of the simple things in life which brings me a lot of joy and laughter. I don’t think I’m the only one who does. Anyone else want to fess up?

And feel free to send me photos of your dogs/cats/nicknamed animals to my email genesispotentia(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)gmail.com. I would love to see them!

Have a great day, everybody 🙂

* Indicates Dodger nicknames I personally created.

A Bold Prediction for 2020

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Less than two weeks into 2020, I am ready to make a bold prediction:

I, Cosmo, will be my favorite book of the year.

One look at this cover gives you a hint why.

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Okay, probably not what you were thinking in terms of bold. Except I have made it a goal to read 104 books (including picture books) so I think this is really saying something about how much I love this book.

I came across I, Cosmo, while reading Kirkus Reviews as part of my job at the library. Yes, you read that correctly: I get paid to read book reviews and then I make recommendations for which ones the library should buy.

For the purposes of my library job, I mostly stick with the adult books for recommendations since we have a children’s librarian. But when I saw the cover of I, Cosmo, I thought I’ll just take a look at this review. Here’s the first sentence: “Cosmo has the soul of a dancer.”

A story about a golden retriever with the soul of a dancer? Say no more. I already know I’m going to love this book. It’s not like I don’t already know and love two goldens in my life.

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Phyllos!

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Annie!

I bought the book the day it released on Christmas Eve at Oblong Books in Millerton, NY (the closest indie book store to Norfolk).

I, Cosmo, didn’t disappoint. Cosmo learns he has the soul of a dancer because his family leaves the TV on for him during the day and, one day, he watches the movie Grease.

This book is everything I want my writing to be. Funny, imaginative, heartwarming, and sometimes heartbreaking.

Carlie Sorosiak, really gets dogs and her descriptions of how Cosmo comes to make his decisions, like eating a sheepdog ornament on the Christmas tree, or inviting a stray cat into the house, seem so plausible, I’m now looking at Smudge and Faith with a renewed sense of understanding.

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Smudge!

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Faith!

I recommend this book to anyone who loves dogs. If any of you do decide to read, let me know! I would love someone with whom I could laugh about it.

Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas to all my family and friends! May the joy of this holiday season be as much as the joy of Smudge running in the snow:

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And since it is Christmas, here’s my gift to you: Some of my favorite Norfolk animals in Santa hats. You’re welcome 🙂

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Cuite pie Faith (with a photo bomb by Smudge)

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Santa Smudge with a snowy snoot

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Dodger and his cousin Maestro! Too much cuteness for words.

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Sooty Sam and Stuffed Dodger (courtesy of the incomparable Eve Thew)

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Benjamin Button, the bravest kitten I’ve ever known

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Annie Banannie, the happiest dog I’ve ever known

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Chloe, a dog with the heart of an angel

I hope you all have a wonderful day.

Love,
Kelly

Happy Fall Ya’ll!

This fall has been glorious in Norfolk. When Heath and I began housesitting here in September 2016, people assured me the fall we were experiencing was not up to its usual standards.

I respectfully disagreed because I thought this was pretty good:

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October 10, 2016 in Norfolk, CT

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October 16, 2016, in Norfolk, CT

We heard the same thing in 2017. Still good, I thought. In fact, maybe even better than last year.

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October 23, 2017, Norfolk, CT

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Zorro the Goat, October 23, 2017, Norfolk, CT

In 2018, I don’t know what people said because I was off to Churchill for my seven-week stint as a polar bear season volunteer. I did see what I think is a halo:

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October 13, 2018, Churchill, Manitoba

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October 13, 2018, Churchill, Manitoba

And polar bears!!

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October 15, 2018, Churchill, Manitoba

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October 20, 2018, Churchill, Manitoba

This year, however, I think I understand what everyone had been saying. The colors POPPED overnight. And they’re lingering, too. Add in multiple days of sunshine and crisp temperatures, and you have yourself a Gold Medal in Fall Foliage.

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All this loveliness makes me want to skip my plans and go off for a walk in the woods with my favorite friends.

And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing!

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Annie, October 12, 2019

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Annie, October 12, 2019

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Dodger, October 13, 2019

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Dodger, October 13, 2019

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Smudge and Faith, October 13, 2019

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Faith, October 13, 2019

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Smudge, October 13, 2019

I hope you’re enjoying your fall, wherever you are.

Link

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Happy Birthday to my blog! And Happy 42nd Birthday to me!

It feels like I just wrote my second blog birthday post a few days ago. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, sure is on to something when she says, “The days are long but the years are short.”

So what have I learned this past year? Most importantly, I learned how to reincarnate.

This year, I died a metaphorical death on my Mount Everest (i.e., publishing). Nobody is more surprised about this turn of events than me. It all started back in December when I did my most recent death meditation.

During that time, I realized I was letting fear keep me from going all in with my writing.

I then decided 2019 would be my year of discipline and I would put everything I had into getting published.

So far, I’ve written a lot of new material and I’ve now submitted my manuscripts to more agents than ever before. I’ve had some requests for more material and although I receive plenty of form rejections, I’ve also gotten some really nice personalized ones. All good signs on the path to publication.

Here’s what I didn’t expect: I lost my joy for writing somewhere along the way. Talk about a kick in the pants!

Of course, there are ripple effects when you lose something you value. My sense of wonder and awe in the little things all but disappeared. My curiosity decreased. So did my sense of adventure.

I didn’t even have the heart to write on this blog for the last few months, despite some truly wonderful happenings in my life.

Since January, I have now had eight articles published in a local newspaper. Bonus: I get paid to write these!

In May, I spent time in San Antonio and Austin, celebrating graduation milestones for my nephew and niece.

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In June, an actual dream of mine came true when Norfstroms, Norfolk’s first and only salvage shed opened at the town transfer station. We had a salvage shed where I lived in North Carolina and I’ve missed having one here in town. I’ve been working with a local grassroots organization called Norfolk NET (Networking Everyone Together) and town hall to get one here. And it actually happened! You can read about it here and here.

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Also in June, I was invited to speak at the Norfolk UCC Congregational Church during the pastor’s sabbatical.

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As I texted Heath that morning:

 

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You can listen to the sermon here. At the age of 42, I can say with certainty that experience was one of the greatest moments in my life.

And in a few weeks, I’ll be starting a part-time job at that same church as the director of community and creativity. This is a new position designed to increase the flow of God’s love in this world through good works and relationship building. What a gift and, again — I’m going to get paid to do it!

And speaking of getting paid for fun things, I have another opportunity in the works that I can’t speak about yet. But it involves working part-time at another one of my favorite places in the world!.

Then there are the little moments these past few months: so many dogs to love and each and every moment with Heath.

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Cutie Pie Faith

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Smudge

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Chloe

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Dodger and Annie

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Labrador with guitar

Smudge “helping” Heath practice the guitar

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All this joy, and, yet…I let the cloud of being so hyper-focused on my publishing goal touch everything that I forgot to enjoy myself along the way. As I learned in The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman, this is how people actually die on Mount Everest. They get so focused on getting to the top, they lose sight of everything else. This includes how they’re going to get back down.

The funny part is, I realized I lost my joy for writing when I couldn’t write for a few weeks.

I’m currently spending the month of July in Birdsboro, PA, taking care of the ever entertaining and adorable Bonnie and Jasper.

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While housesitting here, I don’t have a car. Which has been mostly fine. Until my Microsoft Surface crashed.

It’s been two weeks. At first, I tried writing using apps on my phone. This is okay for jotting ideas down and short pieces, but incredibly frustrating for anything longer that requires formatting. Case in point: this blog post has now taken me over three hours to write, format, and publish. It’s for this reason, I included so few dog photos above.

I also tried writing by hand. But as someone who wrote an entire novel with a pen on yellow legal pads and has yet to type that novel up two years later, I know the futility of this practice.

So I filled my time other ways. Every day, I dance for fun and exercise, especially since it’s too hot to walk outside for very long. I stamp and watercolor, making cards and art. I watch YouTube videos to learn how to draw dogs.

My work may not be a masterpiece in the traditional sense, but I DID THIS!!

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It’s good to have the joy back in my life. I didn’t realize how hard life has been without it. And I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday present!

#TongueOutTuesday

Dog standing on a rock

Last week, I attended a New England Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators writer’s retreat at Whispering Pines in West Greenwich, Rhode Island. In addition to making new friends, chatting with and learning from industry professionals, and eating New Orleans French Toast for the first time in my life (YUM!), I found out about something VERY IMPORTANT:

#TongueOutTuesday

How did I NOT know that every Tuesday social media encourages us to post pictures of animals with their tongues sticking out?

Special shout-out to my new friend, Kathy Halsey, a children’s book writer, school librarian, and dog mom to one Wiley Corgi, who first told me about #TongueOutTuesday.

Since I’ve been missing out for who knows how long, I am pleased to present you The Kelly Kandra Hughes #TongueOutTuesday Catch-Up Compilation. This is not an exhaustive list. If it were, we’d be here all night.

Enjoy!

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Cody, Naperville, IL

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Phyllos and Rafiki, Joliet, IL

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Lilu and Rafiki, Joliet, IL

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Lukas, Jackson Hole, WY

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Stella, St. Albert, Alberta

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Sam, Murfreesboro, TN

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Horse at the PA Farm Show

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Annie and Dodger, Norfolk, CT

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Chance Long Nose, Norfolk, CT

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Moon, Norfolk, CT

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Tobey, Norfolk, CT

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Smudge, Norfolk, CT

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Faith, Norfolk, CT

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Bruno, picture courtesy of my husband Heath, Kalispell, MT

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Dodger

PS – Are there any other animal-related social media hashtags I should know about? Let me know in the comments or you can email me at genesispotentia(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)gmail.com.