Spokane does not suck: Reflections on a summer of ups and downs

woman and dog reflected in Spokane River

In the blink of an eye, summer is over.

It’s been a crazy, tumultuous year thus far, one that has many of us crying out “OMG, 2020 SUCKS.”

And it does. In so many ways.

Yet, there are bright spots, including a big reminder that Spokane does not suck.

(Caveat: I never thought Spokane sucked. I’ve always loved it there. #spokanedoesntsuck is a popular Instagram account and hashtag and I thought I’d run with it.)

Spokane does not suck

Just as the novel coronavirus was being introduced to our U.S. population, I reunited over Facebook with a Calgary friend with whom I hadn’t spoken in almost 15 years. We’d grown apart. We started planning a visit for me and Bella to her new home in Radium, B.C. We would hike mountains, visit glaciers, and drink good Canadian whiskey and wine.

The border shut down within days and the order keeps getting extended. Bets are, it will stay shut for the remainder of the year and well into 2021.

It forced me to take another look at the scenery close to me. The rolling hills of the Palouse are breathtaking, the lakes of North Idaho pristine, and the rugged, rocky landscape of Eastern Washington matches my personality — a little rough around the edges.

amazing landscape because Spokane does not suck

22-image panorama of Bella at Saltese Ridge on Tuesday

I just love being able to showcase your dog on that landscape. The opportunities around here are endless, and I can’t wait to create Pupscapes of you and your dog enjoying the scenery.

Nope. Spokane does not suck.

Into the woods

Are you one of those people comfortable at home and were happy to be on lockdown? Or are you more like me, full of wanderlust and a need to be outside in the great outdoors?

There was a bit of time where we weren’t even supposed to be in Idaho. My husband’s mother lives there so we had to make occasional trips but there was no getting caught with a Washington license plate in recreational areas!

Once the restrictions eased, I was gone into the woods. Bella and I put more miles on our feet this summer than we ever have before. I tried to make a point of hitting a trail at least once a week, and we’ve seen some pretty amazing spots — awestruck at some new locations and refreshed with a new look at others.

Definitely, hiking in and around Spokane does not suck.

It also gave me an opportunity to pitch a monthly “hiking with dogs” column to the good folks at The Spokesman-Review, where I work part time as a copy editor, and I think it’s been pretty well received.

Business has been slow

Hey, you know what? I get it.

So many people in Spokane have lost their jobs thanks to the pandemic shutdowns — temporarily or permanently — and other priorities are top of mind.

No, worries. I’ll be here when you’re ready. And don’t forget that if your dog is terminally ill or nearing his end of days, I drop everything to get you on my calendar. Just don’t miss that chance to have beautiful memories of your love together.

On the bright side, it’s given me time to learn new skills, like the Pupscape panorama portrait, and adjust my business and art offerings to serve you better. I mean, you have to check out The Big Bark. It’s 10 mounted 8x10s with a wooden block stand for easy display on your shelf. I just friggin’ love it, and I have one of Bella that my husband stole for his office.

And sessions are starting to pick up again.

coeur d'alene bernese mountain dog and her wheelchair

Maggie and her wheelchair

Bella’s health

One thing has been more stressful than anything this summer. I’ve shed many tears waiting for the September liver chemistry that might give us insight into what is going on with Bella.

The ALT levels in her liver have been significantly too high. I’ve learned that in dogs, the acceptable levels are 10-52 blahblahblahs per yaddayadda (medical words of measurement). Her first test last March, they were around 140 and then in June, they had doubled to about 260.

Guilt and fear rolled in. Was it something I did? Fed her? What’s going to happen to her? Is she going to be OK?

Well, dear readers, we had another test this past Monday. Her ALT levels are 280. A slight rise but nothing significant. Our vet used the words “stable” and “OK.” Everything else at her biannual checkup showed “perfectly healthy dog.”

Maremma sheepdog hiking Spokane

My healthy girl

So is there a bright side? I don’t know. She doesn’t need a biopsy yet. She stays on Denamarin supplements, and her liver chemistry will be checked again in the new year. We also have to continue monitoring her signs of liver disease, like vomiting, diarrhea, yellowing of the gums and lethargy.

Lethargy. Ha. If you’ve ever met a livestock guardian dog, you might find that funny, too. LGDs sleep and sleep until they’re needed.

As a matter of fact, Bella is snoring softly at my feet as I write.

Yesterday, though, she was game for a 7-mile hike on the Saltese Ridge trail of Mica Peak Conservation Area.

She’ll awake sharply if I say “let’s go” but otherwise, she’s perfectly happy in her slumber.

All around the circle

Our topic for the worldwide pet photographers blog circle this week was reflections. I so wanted to stun you with beautiful water images but with wildfire smoke and deadlines for my other businesses, it just didn’t happen.

dog in lake coeur d'alene

Reflections in Lake Coeur d’Alene

So I had to pivot once again and share you with thoughts on the sucky summer of 2020. At least now if you hear otherwise you can confidently say, “No, I know as a matter of fact Spokane does not suck.”

Let’s head out and see how the pet photographers are celebrating best friend week. Start with Elaine Tweedy of I Got the Shot Photography, reflecting on her work in Northeastern PA and surrounding areas.

Click the link at the bottom of Elaine’s post to get to the next post and so on. When you get back here to my reflections, you know you’re home.

Right where you belong.

27 thoughts on “Spokane does not suck: Reflections on a summer of ups and downs”

  1. Great post, so much of 2020 has sucked, but our pets bring joy to our lives in the midst of all this uncertainty, so we just need to keep focusing on them. Glad to hear that Bella’s stable (keep up the good work girl!)

  2. First, Bella is beautiful! And I hope her liver panels stay stable, and even improve. I love your pupscapes! Amazing work. It’s so true that while Covid-19 pandemic put a halt on many things, it also forces us to look in our “own backyard” and discover quite a lot of beauty and fun! I am following you on Twitter, but just realized I had not been following you on IG and Facebook and now am!

  3. Congratulations on your monthly column! I would love to read them, are they also online? I’m glad that Bella is stable, that must be a big relief. I always love seeing your photos.

  4. Glad Bella seems on an upswing. Sometimes stable is a good thing.

    Probably the one thing that’s good about the pandemic is an appreciation of exploring local. Normally I’d be up and down the northeast at cat shows, but we’re shut down, especially with the border closure. So we’re learning to appreciate our area.

  5. So glad Bella’s health is getting better! I love your photography too. 2020 has been a very interesting year, and has been filled with many highs and lows.
    I do find myself grateful for being able to slow down a bit and enjoy the life I have right in front of my at all times. My wanderlust is definitely starting to kick in as I would have already been on a few fun trips at this point in the year. I find myself wondering what 2021 will be like, and already planning some close to home trips for myself and the pups.

  6. In spite of it being a tough year 2020 has given us so much. Friends, learning new skills, seeing beautiful photographs.

    Your article in the paper? If that doesn’t resonate with EVERY dog owner – sorry I think they have a heart of stone! Seeing photographs of pets people should think I need that done for my pet NOW!

    Glad Bella is still doing OK * thumbs up *

  7. Like you, I need to get our and spend my time in the great outdoors. During the start of the lockdown, I was going batty trapped indoors at home. However, when things started to open up locally, my husband and I were able to get out and enjoy some of the parks, campgrounds and trails here in Ontario. It definitely could have been worse!

  8. I am so happy the vet said Bella was ok, and your photography is amazing and I only wish I could get out to the mountains with Layla especially at the moment as being stuck indoors is awful.

  9. Hmm who would think Spokane sucks? I’ve never heard that implied before. I’ve only ever heard wonderful things about Spokane WA…well maybe some rain but it’s beautiful there. Lovely pictures too. I hope Bella’s liver condition turns around. She’s not letting that slow her down!

  10. Glad to hear that Bella’s health seems to be taking a turn for the better! Dealing with a sick pet can for sure be a stressful experience. The world has for sure thrown challenges everyone’s way this year. I’ve been so, so thankful that we were able to move out of the city not long before the virus struck, so instead of being stuck in our city apartment my pups and I have acres and acres of woods to explore without much risk of running into other people. Continued good thoughts for Bella!

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