Tag Archives: House sitting

To Love Them All 1

To Love Them All

At the end of May, I returned to North Boulder to housesit a dog and two cats. Everyone, meet Noodle the Labradoodle,
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Pabu,
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and Momo.
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Noodle is a silly and sweet dog who requires very little effort. Her most consuming care is twice daily walks around Wonderland Lake. But when this is your walking area, it’s not a burden at all.
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Heath is also quite taken with Noodle and he dotes on her quite a bit. It’s all very cute.
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The problem is she’s such a delightful dog that we want to take her with us everywhere. Yesterday when we went to see The Fellowship of the Ring, which was re-released in the theaters this weekend, we lamented that we had to leave Noodle behind. So unfair!
Nevertheless, we persevered and went without her.
When people ask me if I’m going to get a dog once we settle down (which is very, very soon, by the way),  I tell them no. And it’s because of dogs like Noodle.
And Max.
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And Maka.
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Who are Max and Maka, you may be wondering? They’re the dogs I took care of in Central Boulder for most of May. Every morning we walked in the open space areas by their house and it was such a joyful experience to see them zooming all over the place.
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I became so attached to them that in the week following the housesit move to Noodle’s house, I went to visit them twice and walk them once. Not because they needed someone to walk them but because I missed them so much and wanted to spend time on the trails with them.
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When I also take into account the other dogs across the country that I love, frankly, I don’t have it in me to want a dog of my own.
In Connecticut, there’s Dodger, Annie, Chloe, and Fergus. In Tennessee there’s Rafiki. In Washington there’s Arnold, Kona, and Bitsy. And in Colorado, there’s now Foster, Mookie, Willow, Arthur, Stella, Max, Maka, and Noodle.
And this doesn’t take into account the cats and goats I love, too.
Because I know myself so well and I know how attached I get to animals, it’s best for me to spread all my love out and care for other people’s animals.
Maybe someday I’ll see things differently. But for now, it’s my goal to love all the dogs as much as I can. And cats. And goats.
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Dogs and Cats in Bunny Ears 12

Dogs and Cats in Bunny Ears

This year, I’m celebrating Easter with dogs and cats in bunny ears.

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These photos bring me joy, and I like to think that the time I spend creating them is one way I demonstrate my love and affection for the animals involved and their associated people.

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Now that it’s almost April, I only have a few more days with Basil and Irving. This month with them has gone by way too quickly. I’m no longer convinced they’re cats. After careful consideration, I believe they’re wizards and that they’ve cast a love spell on me.

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The level of ardor and devotion I have for these two is unprecedented because they’re, well, not dogs. I’m as surprised as anyone!

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I did put in an offer to be added to the list of people called if there’s ever a catastrophe and their humans need to find them a new home. I’ve been fantasizing about packing them up and taking them with me, so I’m pleased my offer was accepted. Maybe someday we’ll be together again; of course, I don’t actually hope for this outcome to happen. But it’s nice to know that I can now count wizards in my extended family.

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Happy Easter to all who celebrate! For those who don’t, Happy Sunday!

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24 in 24 19

24 in 24

So far, I am not impressed with 2024. On a macro level, that is. The big things I want, like my own bed and home, continue to be outside my reach. I will nevertheless persist because that’s the type of person I am.

On a micro level, however, things are going well. The podcast discussion group I lead finished off 2023 with some Gretchen Rubin “Happier” podcasts. Gretchen and her sister each came up with 24 in 24 lists, which are 24 goals they’d like to accomplish this year.

Most of us in the discussion group liked this idea, and we had a fun time creating our own. Here’s my list:

  1. Order a passport to replace my stolen one.
  2. Move for at least 24 minutes a day.
  3. Meditate for at least 24 minutes a day.
  4. 2-4 minutes of breathwork, 2-4 times per week.
  5. 24-hour social media breaks every week.
  6. 24-hour game breaks every week.
  7. 2-4 months of news fasting.
  8. Review 24 dog books for a new Instagram account.
  9. Create 24 dog posts for a new Instagram account (same new account mentioned in #8).
  10. Eat 24 baby spinach leaves 2-4 times per week.
  11. Revise 2-4 manuscripts I’ve already written.
  12. Watch 24 sunrises outside.
  13. Do yoga 2-4 times per month.
  14. Visit 2-4 friends out of state.
  15. Go rucking 2-4 times per week.
  16. Meet 24 new dogs.
  17. Write and post 24 new blog posts.
  18. Listen to 2-4 Great Courses.
  19. Attend 24 cold-water plunges (assuming we stay in CO).
  20. Buy 2-4 outfits I genuinely like and that feel comfortable.
  21. Hike 2-4 times at Rocky Mountain National Park (assuming we stay in CO.)
  22. Sell my book, D Is for Doggo, at 2-4 events.
  23. Give 2-4 psychology presentations.
  24. Color 2-4 times per week.

Three weeks into the new year, I’ve kept my daily tasks, such as meditating for 24 minutes every day and 24 minutes of movement every day. I’m on track for my weekly tasks, as well, and I’m enjoying the heck out of rucking.

I had never heard of rucking until late last year when the NY Times ran an article. Essentially, rucking is hiking/walking with a weighted backpack. Should I ever get hired somewhere, one of my first fun purchases is going to be an actual rucksack. Right now, I pile barbells and books in my regular backpack and use that. It’s certainly sufficient, and as a minimalist I appreciate using what I already have, but I would love less bulky weight, as well as a pack that has hip and chest supports.

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Sunrise rucking session on Thursday,  January 18, 2024

I find my list manageable and doable, especially when I use the two-to-four mindset for activities I’d like to do but aren’t my highest priority, like doing yoga 2-4 times a month.

And for anyone who knows me, I also just like setting goals and achieving them!

I’ve already met three new dogs: Packa, Karmine, and Nala, and I’ve even been to Rocky Mountain National Park once already in 2024.

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Hiking to The Pool at Rocky Mountain National Park on Friday, January 5, 2024.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of my new canine friends, but you can enjoy these photos of Willow and Mookie. I came back to Fort Collins for a housesit two weeks ago, and now I’m back with them again.

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I’ll be here until Tuesday. After that, it’s back to Boulder for the time being. Fingers crossed for some macro-level progress in the coming weeks.

 

Thinking about Death in the New Year: 2024 Edition 24

Thinking about Death in the New Year: 2024 Edition

It’s time once again for my annual death meditation. Every year, I imagine what my life would be like this year if I knew it was my last one on Earth.

Previous death meditations have prompted me to visit more National Parks and go all in with my writing. Last year, because I knew 2023 would be filled with immense change, I made it a goal to keep breathing to get through what I knew would be stressful times.

Now that 2024 is here, I still need to keep breathing. The stress and uncertainty that lived with us for 2023 is sticking into 2024. Despite my best efforts, I still don’t have a job. And finding decent housing in Boulder is proving to be much more challenging than I ever thought possible.

But through it all, I’ve learned what I really and truly want, and that information is priceless.  It’s just three things: a bed, a home, and a Heath. Anything else is a bonus.

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What I want more than anything in 2024 is my own bed. A bed that I picked out for its features, comfort, and design. I want to buy my own sheets (bamboo for warmer days and flannel for colder ones) and comforter (style and material yet to be determined). I want to wake up feeling refreshed and energized, ready to tackle whatever comes my way. I don’t know if that will ever be possible because of narcolepsy, but I’m ready to do all I can to get a good night’s rest.

I also want that bed in my own home. I love housesitting and meeting new furry friends. Taking care of dogs brings me joy and purpose. But I also need my own space. A place to return to that holds the most important things in my life. Heath has been my “home” for nearly eight years, but we both need a physical space that belongs to us. Heath has been saying this for years. I am now 110% on board.

Thankfully, I already have a Heath. At least for now. The future can be amazing and wonderful. It can also be challenging and cruel, a reminder to never take anyone for granted. We all know what it’s like to lose someone too soon.

I don’t think I’m asking for too much. I’m certainly willing to do the work. Fingers crossed that the stars align sooner rather than later. I have never been more ready than I am right now.

Happy New Year, my friends!

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Happy Howlidays! 27

Happy Howlidays!

In honor of all the animals across the United States I’ve had the privilege of loving and caring for this past year, I present Happy Howlidays 2023:

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Happy Howlidays! 29

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Thank you to everyone who has shown us support, encouragement, and love this past year. It hasn’t been the easiest to be on the road since May but fingers crossed we’ve found our home in Boulder.

See you next year 🙂

Dogs, Cat, Book 31

Dogs, Cat, Book

Greetings from Boulder! After a couple of weeks housesitting outside of Taos, New Mexico, we are back housesitting in Colorado until next year. Haha! Can you believe 2024 is a little over a month away?! Seriously, though, we’re here through December.

There’s been a lot of new animals in my life these past several weeks.

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Friends, say hello to:

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Tobi, a sneaky German short-haired pointer with the snuggly heart of a little dog, and who nearly always has his emotional support stuffed animal with him.

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Gus, the ring-leader of the New Mexico pack, who zooms with style and gusto when we’re out on our walks.

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And Puddles, who may have some fluff for brains, but also wins over hearts with just one look.

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I’ve posted multiple times on this blog about my love for walking dogs (especially Annie and Dodger) in the woods. It turns out I also love walking dogs in the high desert of New Mexico. Few things in life have brought me as much joy as walking with Tobi, Gus, Puddles, and Heath on a one-mile stretch of dirt road that leads to a national forest. We walked together every day, and every day I felt connected to something greater than myself. Dogs really are magical that way.

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Although I was sad to leave our housesit in New Mexico behind, I wasn’t sad to leave New Mexico. It’s a beautiful state, and I saw shooting stars in light-pollution-free skies. But, it’s not a place I want to live.

Which brings us to Boulder ….

Friends, I would love to stay here for the foreseeable future! I’ve applied for so many jobs back in Connecticut, none of which have panned out, that I’m forced to conclude it’s not yet time for us to return there. Of course, I could get a job offer tomorrow and then we may be packing our bags and humming a different tune come January. Until that happens, Boulder is the place I (we) want to be. I have honestly never seen Heath happier anyplace than here.

Unfortunately, Boulder is absurdly expensive and has limited options for housing. We’re using this time housesitting to investigate whether we can realistically stay. For me, that means applying for jobs in the area. Monday I’m going to visit a few places in person to network and see if I can make some connections. I’ll also continue applying for remote jobs. So if you know anyone who needs a talented research psychologist with excellent communication and community engagement skills, feel free to send my information their way.

In the meantime, I’m savoring my time in Boulder. The house we’re staying in is at the base of the Flat Iron Mountains. We got a couple of inches of snow over the last few days and I’m filled with wonder and awe every time I look at them. To make my heart completely buoyant, I’m also walking one of the sweetest, lovey-dovey-est dogs I’ve ever known.

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Everyone, meet Foster:

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Foster is half couch potato/half love bug who enjoys walks as much as I do. I love taking him outside for our daily sojourns and we’ve become good friends.

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Foster also has a cat brother named, Joey.

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Joey is aloof most of the time until he absolutely wants your attention. Which, he then lets you know. He’s a champion mouser and very vocal about his trophies so I’m learning to deal with some circle of life stuff that I’d rather pretend doesn’t exist.

While in Boulder, I’m also sorting out what it means to be a self-published author. Yes, that’s right – I took the plunge and decided to self-publish an illustrated book about dogs (BIG surprise there) and the ridiculous ways we describe them.

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If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know it’s my dream to be a traditionally published author. I’ve been working at it for seven years now and I reached the point where I wanted to see something published with my name on it.

So, I took this book of silly dog poetry I wrote nearly six years ago about doggolingo (the internet language invented to better describe our dogs), purchased some photos from Shutterstock, and hired a book designer that I connected with through Facebook. I’m thrilled with how the finished project turned out.

What’s not so thrilling is that the self-publishing landscape is not easy to figure out. For example, I don’t know why my book is available through the Barnes and Noble website (you can buy a copy HERE), but not Amazon. Lest I let perfection be the enemy of good, I’m simply embracing my I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing  ways and leaning into the discomfort.

At the very least, it’s a good (albeit expensive) learning experience.

Thank you to everyone who’s been reading this blog throughout the years. I’m grateful that you’ve been with me on this journey. Now, onward and upward. I’m excited to see what happens next.

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Fall in Fort Collins 46

Fall in Fort Collins

Where did the summer go? It seems like just yesterday Heath and I were saying goodbye to my beloved dogs, friends, and community in Norfolk, CT, and saying hello to a new future that was yet to be determined

When we left Norfolk we knew we would spend 5 weeks in Colorado and then 8 weeks in Washington, with a side trip in between to see the Redwoods in California and a road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway.

At least that was the plan. We also managed to squeeze in a short housesit in the Portland area before heading to Northern California. Things unfortunately went awry when our car was broken into while we spent the night at a hotel in Crescent City, CA. Not having a window in the back of our car thwarted our trip up the Pacific Coast Highway. We recovered the best we could, enjoyed 9-weeks in the Seattle area, and even managed a few days touring around the Olympic Peninsula.

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Cape Flattery, Olympic Peninsula

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Hall of Mosses, Olympic National Park

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Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park

After that, our next steps depended on whether I had landed a new job or if we had found a place where we both thought, yes, this is it! We both want to live here.

Since I do not yet have a new job nor did we find a place we both wanted to call home, we opted to keep housesitting. Yesterday we started a three-week housesit in Fort Collins, CO.

You may be thinking – but Kelly, you slept terribly while in Denver because of altitude insomnia. Why would you want to go back?

Well, the truth is the couple we’re housesitting for asked us. I had favorited their housesit listing on TrustedHousesitters.com because 1) Heath really liked Colorado despite altitude insomnia; 2) The dogs looked cute in their photos; and 3) The house looked comfortable. I had also favorited several others, but this housesit was the only one to reach out and ask us to apply.

In a summer of rejection from agents, editors, and employers, it felt good to be wanted. So we applied and now here we are.

Everyone, say hello to Willow and Mookie.

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Willow, a 4-year-old sheepadoodle; photo by Heath Hughes

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Mookie, a 6-month old golden doodle; photo by Heath Hughes

It’s going to be a fun few weeks in Fort Collins!

Meet Bitsy! 52

Meet Bitsy!

When I applied for us to housesit in the Seattle area I knew what we were getting into: a cat, two goats, and a beautiful house with views of Mt. Rainier.

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What I did not anticipate was a surprise guest who graces us with her presence on a regular basis:

Meet Bitsy!

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Bitsy was in fact the first one to greet us upon our arrival. We had turned down the wrong driveway and she met us on our way back up to the street. There she stood in all her floofy glory, alerting everyone in the area that we had arrived.

She held fast to her position to the point that I had to get out of the car and coax her out of the way.

We soon learned that Bitsy lives at one of the nearby houses, but that she comes to visit often. So much, that the couple whom we’re housesitting for have a box of biscuits from Costco and a dog brush in their garage.

During our first few days at the housesit, we would open the front door to find Bitsy lying in the sun. She acted hesitant at first, though her tail kept wagging the entire time. We would reach out to pet her, but she would dance away before contact.

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Except when offered a biscuit. Then we were suddenly her best friends.

After a few weeks, Bitsy learned to trust us. My interactions with Bitsy are how I know, 100%, unequivocally, that first and foremost, I am a dog person.

Not to say that I’m not loving my time with the other animals. Inky is such a delightful cat, Heath and I would like to clone her.

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JJ and Sumo are so silly and sweet that we’ve added goats to our future goals of when we finally have a home.

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But there is just something about Bitsy. Seeing her run down the driveway or the stone stairs and I know my day is about to get better.

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I reached a new milestone with her the other day when she let me brush her tail. The afternoon had turned to twilight and a cool breeze danced through the air. Bitsy and I spent some time chasing each other around the driveway until she plopped down and showed me her belly. I rubbed it for an appropriate amount of time before I started brushing her. I learned that if I kept one hand on her belly, I could tackle one or more tangles in her tail with a few brush strokes.

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We stayed that way for a long, long time. I haven’t felt quite like myself ever since our car was broken into in California in July and a lot of our stuff was stolen. In those moments with Bitsy, I felt content. I felt peaceful. I even felt joy at how such a simple act of brushing could soothe my weary soul.

When I asked Heath if we could plan to put Bitsy in our car on our way out of town, with the idea that no one would notice she’s missing because everyone would assume she’s visiting someone else, he replied that we certainly could. Then he added that once she realized she was no longer the Cul-De-Sac Queen, she may not be too happy about it. Of course, Heath is right.

And I (probably) wouldn’t steal someone’s dog, anyway.

Here’s to you, Bitsy, Queen of the Cul-De-Sac!

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Another Trip Around the Sun 62

Another Trip Around the Sun

Happy birthday to me and happy birthday to my blog! On August 1, I turned 46 and my blog turned 7.

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Birthday kisses from JJ, one of the goats we’re taking care of for the next several weeks.

This birthday was low-key for many reasons, not the least of which we’re still grieving for the stuff we had stolen a few weeks ago in Crescent City, CA. We spent the day working on a puzzle, which may not sound fun to everyone but Heath and I enjoy puzzles a lot.

This puzzle was especially challenging because the box only gives you a hint as to what the pieces should look like after you put them together.

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I wanted to give up at first because I thought the puzzle would be too difficult. Heath convinced me we should keep going. I’m so glad we did because it felt so satisfying when we finished.

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Working on the puzzle had the added benefit of keeping my mind worry-free. I’ve been feeling stressed lately as we try to figure out where we want to live and as I figure out what my next professional life should look like. Applying for jobs at the same time that I’m querying my latest middle-grade novel is especially demoralizing because I’m getting rejected on what feels like an almost daily basis.

It’s also demoralizing to find a job I would love in an area we’d be interested in living, only to do a home search on Zillow and see nothing available for less than $500,000. And I don’t mean nothing good available. Just nothing. No townhomes, condos, or houses. Who are the people that can afford these homes? What do they do for a living and will I ever be one of them?

The brightest part of my birthday was the cake. Heath found a bakery in Tacoma that makes custom cakes. He sent them some photos and this is the cake they made:

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I teared up hugging the cake designer after I saw that little face.

The cake is gluten-free, chocolate with a strawberry filling, and buttercream frosting. It’s absolutely delicious and upon eating our first slices Heath announced, “I always knew Fergus had strawberries in him.”

We’ll be in the Seattle area for the next month or so. Where we head next remains to be seen. If anyone has a suggestion, let me know! And keep in mind our camping stuff was stolen ….

 

Sleepy time, Colorado 68

Sleepy time, Colorado

A few years ago, I got the idea that I wanted to live in Colorado. Maybe not forever. Just to give it a try.

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This idea was much in the same vein as my desire to live on a New England beach. I even started looking for jobs in Colorado after a particularly bad night in Norfolk when multiple nights of narcolepsy-related sleep deprivation culminated with a nearby house having a loud, never-ending outdoor party (complete with DJ). I thought Heath might have to take me to the hospital to be sedated I was so agitated. The police were also unavailable to help. Seriously. I called them multiple times between 9pm and 12am, begging them to put a stop to the noise.

Anyway, I eventually recovered from that bout of sleep deprivation. But my desire to live in Colorado continued.

So when we found out our 6.5-year housesit in Norfolk was finally ending, I immediately began looking for a housesitting job in Colorado. We found one for five weeks in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, applied, and got it. YAY US!

We left Norfolk on May 14th and arrived in Highlands Ranch on May 24th. We were immediately blown away by the area.

For starters, this house is so well-designed! I could say that about the entire Highlands Ranch area. Everything seems new, as well as intentional. This neighborhood, in particular, has tons of walking trails. Not only among the houses, but also at the back of the neighborhood where trails take you through 8,000+ acres of wild backcountry.

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The only thing I found weird about the neighborhood was that after meeting many dogs, none of them were golden retrievers. I reported this observation to Annie’s human mom, which I called “highly suspicious.” Sure enough, a few days later I met two goldens. Annie apparently has magical powers to bring goldens to me, wherever we land. I always knew she was an extraordinary dog.

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Annie, the magical and extraordinary golden retriever

Now if only Annie had magical powers to fix my sleep. It turns out that sleep issues are a common problem when people move to high elevations. Highlands Ranch is over 5800 feet above sea level. Most people experience fractured sleep at night, with less time spent in deep sleep. Essentially, I have narcolepsy times two now. Suffice it to say, I am tired. Three-naps-a-day kind of tired.

So it’s probably for the best that we decided to test drive Colorado as a potential place to live. It may be beautiful, there may be a lot of dogs, and it may be fun. But none of that will matter if I can’t stay awake!

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Roosevelt & Watson, who I met at the Home Depot in Highlands Ranch