Eclipse Brewing; Merchantville, NJ

Eclipse Brewing is located in Merchantville, NJ in the town’s former EMS building.

I was excited to try this Brewery, as it is located in the town where I attended elementary school! 

The tasting room had a great atmosphere – and had a World, United States, and NJ map where you can pin the location you are from!

Getting Medford Lakes on the map!

The owner is a 27-year homebrewer, and has some very tasty selections!

I liked each of the four beers in my tasting – and so did Brian.  We stayed for a glass of our favorites.

 

We will definitely be visiting Eclipse again soon!

Rita’s 1st “Gotcha” Day / Rita’s 7th-ish Birthday!

Today is a very special day, as this date marks one year since we met Margarita, and brought her home as “Penelope / Penny,” our GSP Rescue of New Jersey foster dog.  Although we didn’t officially adopt her until April, We picked March 4th – the day we met her – as Rita’s “Gotcha Day /Bday.” During her initial evaluation last year, it was estimated that Rita was 6 years old, which makes her approximately 7 years old now!
Unfortunately, Rita, found as a stray, had a bit of a rough start to life. She went through some health issues and operations during her first month with us – she was underweight, had to have 9 teeth pulled, a lumpectomy, was spayed, had “happy tail” from being in a crate, and treatment for Anaplasmosis. However, Rita was a trooper, and has had quite a healthy and active first year with us!
I promised myself that because Rita didn’t have great experiences in the first part of her life, I would introduce her to as many good things as possible, finding what activities make her most happy, and continuing to have her participate in those events. During our first year with Rita, she has been on 15 camping trips, and visited 8 new states including, DE, IN, IA, MD, NH, NY, OH, PA, and VA. Rita has even been out of the country (Canada) as well! She has visited 4 wineries, 5 breweries, 3 restaurants/bars, stayed overnight in 2 hotels, and shopped at Cabela’s and Lowe’s. Margarita has participated in 5k races, Barn Hunt, Nose Work, Lure Coursing, swim lessons, and agility. Margarita also completed training and is a registered Therapy Dog with The Alliance of Therapy Dogs, and has begun her “official” Therapy Dog visits at assisted living facilities and a local library’s children’s reading program. Most recently, Rita and I have earned our registration as a Reading  EducationAssistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) team!
Brian and I were quite content with the size of our pack before meeting Margarita. However, Rita has filled an emptiness that we didn’t even know our family had. Not only has she been a great playmate for Hooch (who often was excluded by Cello and Lager during their play sessions), she has brought the utmost joy and love to Brian and I, as well as everyone she meets. People stop us continually and ask to meet her everywhere we go. My students at school – who have never met her – love her and talk about her constantly just from looking at her picture in my classroom. There is definitely something very special about this sweet soul, and we are extremely honored to have her as a family member!
Thank you to all of you who love and support Margarita both in-person, and from afar – we can’t say enough how much we appreciate it!!
Happy Gotcha Day, Señorita Margarita, we love you!!
Link to the public photo album of Rita’s first couple of weeks with us:
Link to the public photo album from Rita’s 1st Gotcha Day/7th-ish Birthday:

Registered R.E.A.D. Team

Not long after Margarita and I passed our test to become a registered Therapy Dog Team with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, I learned about a great program called R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs). I decided this would be an excellent opportunity for us, so I began to study for the written test.  One day before Margarita’s 1st Gotcha Day / 7th-ish Birthday, we received the great news that I passed, and we are now officially a registered R.E.A.D. team!

“The mission of the R.E.A.D. program is to improve the literacy skills of children through the assistance of registered therapy teams as “literacy mentors.”

The Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program improves children’s reading and communication skills by employing a powerful method: reading to an animal. But not just any animal. R.E.A.D. companions are registered therapy animals who volunteer with their owner/handlers as a team, going to schools, libraries and many other settings as reading companions for children.

R.E.A.D. is the first and foremost program that utilizes therapy animals to help kids improve their reading and communication skills and also teaches them to love books and reading. It’s been growing around the world since November of 1999 when ITA launched it here in Salt Lake City. More than 3,500 therapy teams have trained and registered with the program and are going strong!

Today, thousands of registered R.E.A.D. teams work throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, Finland, France, Sweden, South Africa, Slovenia, Spain, Netherlands, Norway and beyond. “

~Intermountain Therapy Animals

We are very excited to be a part of this wonderful program!

Rita’s First Shopping Experience at Lowe’s Home Improvement

Rita came along with us to Lowe’s Home Improvement to help pick out our porch floor stain!

Come on, Dad – you are taking too long!

My tail points to English Chestnut… trust me on this one!

Yup – we have everything, Dad! Now let’s go home and play fetch!

Margarita was a great shopper!

*Please note- not all Lowe’s Home Improvement stores are dog friendly.  The company leaves it to the store manager’s decision, so be sure to call ahead if you plan to take your pup along with you to shop in a Lowe’s store.

Barn Hunt at Tail Wagging Events

Rita and Limoncello have both earned their Rat I title (Instinct level), and both have one qualifying run for their Rat N title (Novice level).

We attended a barn hunt at Tail Wagging Events to see if we could both secure at least another qualifying run in the Novice level.

Unfortunately, neither team was able to do so, but we once again had a great time with our pups!

“Run Free” Virtual 5k

Rita and I ran our first 5K together through a site called Virtual Strides. Virtual Strides provides an opportunity to participate in a virtual race (which can be run or walked!) anytime — anywhere– with whoever your want — and even indoors on a treadmill!  Once you register for one of the virtual races, you can complete the distance any time and anywhere, and upload your finish time to the website. Virtual Strides will mail you a finisher’s medal after you upload your results, or at the end of the race period, whichever comes first.  The best part is that a portion of the race’s proceeds gets donated to charity!

Rita and I ran the “Run Free” race.

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This race benefited the National Mill Dog Rescue.  National Mill Dog Rescue has pledged to put an end to the puppy mill industry,  and has saved more than 10,000 dogs since 2007.  National Mill Dog Rescue hopes to educate the public to acquire their companion animals through reputable breeders, shelters, and rescue groups.

Once you register, you can download a running bib:file-aug-24-9-41-25-am

Rita did GREAT!  This was the first time I ever ran without music (running with music has been a MUST for me).  I wanted to be sure I could hear everything around us in order to protect Margarita in case there was a loose dog, etc.  I have to say – talking to Rita through the run was way more motivational than any music!

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Our finishing time was 40 minutes, 25 seconds.  Not bad considering Margarita decided she’d stop 3 times for potty breaks, TWO of which needed to be bagged-up, if you know what I mean!

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I submitted our results, and a few days later, the race medal arrived in the mail!

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Rita’s first official medal!  She now has a spot of her own, among her siblings, on the “Wall of Fame” in our bar room.

Congratulations, Rita!