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Such a Good Girl !

Today I was struck by a bystander in our therapy dog group setting who told me that I am so “lucky” to have such a great dog. To the untrained eye it does look that way and I do feel so lucky to have Brya in my life.

Brya IS a great dog. But she could just as easily been a crazy anxious misbehaving dog. I consider us a team. I put the work (and it was a lot of work) in when she was very young to train her. I tell my clients this all the time- if you put in the intense work, no matter what the age of your dog, for the first 6 months and you will have the rest of your pet’s life to reap the benefits.
I practice exercise, discipline and affection in that order. Because I fulfill Brya’s physical needs and I give her reasonable boundaries and limitations, she is a happy girl. This allows me to give her the affection for a job well done. I never wonder how she will act in a public setting. I have exposed her to many different situations and know that she will behave. How, you say? Because we are a team. She looks to me for direction. I was able to build that bond with her and take the leadership role.

Having such great manners and socialization allowed us to pass the Therapy Dog Evaluation and Certification with flying colors-at 1year old!!  We didn’t know what would be asked of us on test day; however, we knew we could handle anything they threw at us…..together!  Brya loves her job and we hope the kids/people she visits agree :)


Our situation may be a bit different from most dog owners because I happen to work for myself. Therefore, I was able to spend a great deal of time with Brya and she often comes to work with me. But never think you don’t have enough time to train your dog. Even a small amount of consistent training is beneficial. It may take a bit longer to get results, but they will come!

Happy Training!

15 Towns in 12 Months-December

Brew-Cliff Pond -1 2014December finally arrived! The weather on Cape Cod has been so mild this fall (now technically winter) that we have been crazy walking fools. Last but not least, we headed to Yarmouth!

First on the docket: Historical Society Trails You can find the trailhead at The Faith Tufts Gatehouse behind the post office on Route 6A in Yarmouthport.  These trails maintained by the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth. A generous 50 acres of conservation was once the first golf course on Cape Cod.  Built in the 1890s as a private course for the Thacher family, the course was used for several decades until generously donated to the historical society by Mr. Guido Perera, a descendent of the Thacher family.
If you look closely, you can still catch a glimpse of the golf course landscape.  We lingered too long at Miller’s Pond losing track of time.  Time in December goes fast, and we were losing daylight.

So we headed straight to Grays Beach.  I had heard a lot about this beach since my town of Sandwich has a boardwalk and this one rivals ours.  It was beautiful in its own way, however dogs are NEVER allowed on the beaches of Yarmouth which shocked me!  We had our photo op and were on our way. IMG_2436

Very disappointing  :(

We had just enough time for a quick walk, so we picked Dennis Pond Conservation area. With parking on Willow Street and Summer street, the trail is a quick out and back with nice view of Dennis Pond. This pond is shallow so there are many opportunities for viewing of wildlife.  A very pretty walk with option of a Power Line addition to the walk if you are looking for extra mileage.  Cute!


Trail map:





15 towns in 12 months-November

November is here! Am I running out of steam? YES! Even though I am having 20 people for Thanksgiving dinner and family staying at my house, this challenge forced me to get out there to a new location and out of the local rut I tend to give in to this time of year when there is no “time” to go out of town.

Orleans is a connector town in my mind. This is where the rotary links the mid cape to the towns of the outer cape. My first trail was the Three Ponds Conservation Area. This 2 mile trail was interesting in its layout. It winds around Meadow Bog Pond and Sarahs Pond as well as a few house lots and streets, so keep your pup close by for safety.

Seabury Farm WBarn-1 Dec 2014 I parked at the Meadow Bog Entrance: From the intersection of Rt. 28 and Main Street in Orleans, follow MA-Route 28 toward Chatham for 2.5 miles. Turn left onto Quanset Rd and veer right at the Y to stay on the road. Follow Quanset road to trail head on left (1.2mi). There is a 1-2 car designated parking area on the corner or park at the Town Landing 200 yards farther down the road on the right.

map was helpful

Next Brya and I Headed out to Kents Pond Conservation Area. Another Orleans Conservation Trust property, the trail is about 1 ½ miles long. The outside loop of what is basically a finger peninsula in the northernmost part of Chatham Harbor and is intersected by several connecting trails to make the outing longer by winding around and around. There are benches to watch the beautiful scenery and a boardwalk with access to the water. STUNNING!! A Must See!!Parking is a lot at the end of Frost Fish Lane (watch for signs to Kent Point).

Barn-Sandy Neck stroll jan 15

Trail map:

There are several other areas we did not get to but the two that peaked my interest were Ice House Conservation and Bakers Pond Conservation, both owned by the same Orleans Conservation Trust

In season, the Main Street in Orleans has outdoor patio seating ripe for dining with your dog, but one can usually find a picnic table on a sun filled winter day to enjoy a salad. Don’t forget the beach policy for Orleans is Sept 16-March 14 dogs ARE allowed on all town beaches. Check out Coast Guard Beach for sure!



Therapy Dogs Rock!

Brya and I just wrapped up our first season as a Therapy Team at CAP (Companion Animal Program).

Brya in scarf

I must say I have been drawn to volunteer work my entire life, and this job did not disappoint! After being certified, we visited nursing home residents, college students, rehabilitation patients, as well as the awesome middle school students at the Wixon School in Dennis Brya Wixon 4

People wonder (and we get asked frequently) how just bringing a dog in to a facility is therapeutic. Many studies have shown that Pet Therapy :

-Reduces anxiety, loneliness & helps people relax

-Stimulates communication, increases mental stimulation, and can act as a catalyst in emotional therapy process

-Makes reading easier for a child with a dog present and it is shown to reduce self-consciousness, it also helps to practice reading in a less stressful environment

-Lowers blood pressure and could reduce the amount of medication and not only slows your heart rate and decrease blood pressure, but the animal’s does as well!

-Helps with physical therapy by encouraging increased movement in joints, maintain & increase motor skills, and helps stroke patients exercise longer (studies show they walked up to 35% farther and 35% faster with pets than human therapists)

All of the facilities Brya & I visit bring a different aspect to the reward we get from being there.  Can’t wait for next season!

Brya Wixon 1  Brya Wixon 1

You wonder how dogs are allowed into such sterile buildings? The biggest concern, particularly in hospitals, is safety and sanitation. Most hospitals and other facilities that use pet therapy have stringent rules to ensure that the animals are clean, vaccinated, well-trained and screened for appropriate behavior. In fact, there is a process for all dogs to go through to be certified as a Therapy Dog.

To shed a little light on this wonderful organization; around since 1986 over 200 members and over 130 Therapy Teams visiting 35 facilities and 7 libraries. If you are interested in becoming a therapy team on the Cape, feel free to contact CAP:




15 Towns in 12 Months-June


This month we straddle the spring/summer seasons, but here on Cape Cod summer is already in full tilt! Dogs are allowed on the beaches Oct 1-April 30, so off to the trails we went!

The Knob-Quinnaquisset Ave-One of my favorite haunts! Such beautiful landscape and places to roam all year long on the ocean! Some pluses are the many spots for awesome photos and two small beaches that allow the dogs to swim even in the summer! Minuses to this location are the limited parking spots and the trails are not very lengthy. A definite must see!!!!!     Map:

The Knob Falm July 2014-4   The Knob

Crane Wildlife Reservation-Located on Route 151 this 1800 acres of property was acquired from Frances A. Crane in 1958. The landscape is so vast and starts in an open field (which can get muddy) and heads into an array of wooded trails that intermingle. If your goal is to let your dog run, this is the perfect place to make it happen! Trail Map:

Falm-Crane Reservation Feb 15    Falm-Crane Reservation 2 Feb 15

Shining Sea Bikeway is a bike/walking trail that extends from Route 151 all the way down to Woods Hole. Along the way, such beautiful landscape surrounds you that I got lost in it and ended up walking 8 miles…..yikes! A typical up and back you have several opportunities to sit on a bench and people watch or sit and listen to the birds. Helpful hint: when you are a walker, stay to the right of the trail and listen for bikers signaling to pass. Trail Map:     

Long Pond-This walk is awesome! Starting on Brick Kiln Road and park just before the Goodwill Park. The walk is approximately 4 miles around the pond and is gorgeous. We saw a lot of wildlife and the only downside I saw was that the dogs are not allowed to access the pond since it is a source of drinking water for the town. Trail Map:      

Sandw-Talbots April 2014

Bebee Woods-Depot Road, Falmouth. This hidden gem is located just behind the Cape Cod Conservatory at the end of Depot Road is a playground for dog walkers! There are two ponds, well marked trails and lots of shade for the summer. When the beaches are off limits, head here! You can tailor make your walk as long or short as you’d like!  Trail Map:


I can’t fail to mention the Falmouth Dog Park located on 254 Brick Kiln Road-there are ongoing events and ways you can help fundraise for the park…for more info:

Falmouth has an AWESOME main street with many patios to eat with your pooch and a large grassy common area in the center to sit for a picnic. Some ideas:

Stone L’Oven-271 Main Street

The Pickle Jar-170 Main Street

The Raw Bar-56 Scranton Ave


15 Towns in 12 Months-April


DENNIS is where it’s at this month! Now I know why people rave about the beaches in Dennis……it rocks!!! Being from the upper cape, we are used to having a lot of rocks under our beach blankets but not here. What fun we had exploring this huge town with so much to offer the pet friendly world! This is the first month the snow is GONE! Now we deal with mud here on Cape Cod.

The first week Brya and I head out to Crowe’s Pasture Conservation Area April #1  clue(Clue #1)                      Den-Crows Pasture trail 2015

Located on South Street just off Route 6A past the Quivet Cemetery, this beautiful piece of conservation is a cooperative project  Den-Crows Pasture that results in heaven. We started from the first parking lot after the cemetery, but if the first lot is full there are other opportunities to park along the road. As we meandered along the woodsy trail that had beautiful glimpses of Culvert Creek to our right we were thrust into an open field just before joining the off-road trail leading to the beach. Although the beach ground remains rockless, what lends to the beauty of this location are the rocks that jet up along the waterline. Brya loves to climb so she was so thrilled to do so and run and play in the waters of Cape Cod Bay. Best news—-leashed dogs are allowed YEAR ROUND on this property. Yay!


Another beautiful white sandy beach is Mayflower Beach (Clue #2).

Mayflower Beach Dennis 2014               Den-Crows Pasture March 2014-6

Located on Dunes Road also off Rte 6A, is not as easy to find as you think but there are signs so just be on alert or use your GPS. This is a great flat beach walk with beautiful stone jetties. Unfortunately, dogs are not permitted Memorial Day through Labor Day on this beach, so get out there quick or mark this on your calendar for Fall!


Very different from the beach atmosphere, yet with plenty of opportunities for swimming is the conservation at Flax Pond (Clue #3)             Den-Flax Pond April 15

This property was surprisingly large and we were able to do a 4 mile walk, but you can mix and match your route for a longer or much shorter walk. The parking lot is located on Setucket Road and has plenty of parking.  I am told this place is well attended in the summer for its shady trails and access to the Pond, so I would recommend going early or later in the day to avoid crowds. Trails are marked by either a white or red arrow affixed to tree bases. Starting from the trailhead, take a right when you dead end at the pond. It would be hard to get lost in here as most trails intersect or loop around to dump you back to the main trail. If your dog is a mud seeker, beware as there are several swampy areas in the middle of the tract…..or be prepared to get the shampoo out when you get home.


A much smaller walk, but ever so beautiful, Swan Pond Overlook Conservation Area

(Clue #4)                      clue 4

is located on Center Street (from Rte 134, take a left on Upper County Road and left on Center Street…parking lot on right). This property is GORGEOUS and all 4 loop trails give you a quick woods walk and if your pup is a swimmer you can certainly tire them out on Swan Pond! A great find!


Pet Friendly Eateries

Box lunch                 Patriots square, Route 134, Dennis-sandwiches, outdoor seating

Kreme & Cone         Corner Rte 134 & Rte 28, on Swan River, Dennis-great fried clams!

The Dog House       Outdoor picnic tables with umbrellas, 189 Lower County Road, Dennisport

Remember to ask if you see the restaurant has an outdoor patio, most will allow you to have your dog join you there!


Other quick notes:

Fresh pond dog park-Route 134  small fenced area, very close to road, ramp for swimming on Fresh Pond  Denn-Fresh pond Dog Park 2015

Cape Cod Rail Trail-also on Route 134-huge parking lot!  This trail is well shaded for the upcoming summer months.  Keep in mind that as we get to the warmer months it will be increasing in traffic and you will be expected to share the road with bikers and rollerbladers.         Den-Rail Trail 2015

Remember your bike path etiquette and stay to the right and pass on the left.



15 Towns in 12 Months-February


What a challenging month! I was able to do all but one trail in this month’s review. I did walk it in December so I did include in this article. I must say that the die-hard walkers are out there in snow shoes and cross-country skis with their dogs and everyone is still having fun! If you think your favorite trail is impassable because of snow, double-check because I was pleasantly surprised everywhere I went!

Clue #1

South Cape BeachMash-South Cape Beach Mashpee May 2014-1

This trail is 19.3 acres of oceanfront dunes and salt marsh on Vineyard Sound.  It is the only town-owned saltwater beach surrounded on 3 sides by water! When you start out, I suggest you start on the scrub brush trail. You will enter through the gate at the entrance to the parking lot. Beautiful at any time of year, unfortunately dogs are not allowed in the summer months. About 1 mile in you can take one of the sandy trails on the right to walk on the Waquoit bay side. Kayakers and kite surfers populate this area in the warmer months, and Washburn Island is in view as you stroll along. Technically part of Falmouth, this island is available for camping and hiking but you need a boat to access! Check out the website for more info   As you reach the point of the peninsula, you will see the jetty that separates Waquoit Bay (where I took the picture). A popular spot for fisherman, be careful climbing the rocks in the winter (live and learn) and follow the beach back to the parking lot. One of my favorite haunts! Give it a try!

Directions: From the Mashpee Rotary take Great Neck Road South past Roche Bros market and main entrance to New Seabury.. when the road bends to the right, stay straight on Great Oak Road. Take this to the end until you see a sign “all beaches”. Do not turn into the first state park lot. Just before you turn left into the parking lot you will see the gate referenced above.

Clue #2-not so obvious!  Heritage Park

Brya February 2015 clue 2

This was a trick!  Picture was taken at Heritage Park which is 27 acres of recreational fields, playground and basketball court.  A fun place for sure, but not so much for dogs!  I went about a mile away to one of my top 10 walks on the cape.   Lowell Holly Reservation is located on South Sandwich Road near the Sandwich town line.  Owned and operated by the Trustees of the Reservation, the trails are wonderfully marked and maps abound so there is no excuse to be lost.  The parking lot is small but the sign is visible from the street.  This 135 acre conservation area is  a GREAT place to take your dog all year long!  Again surrounded on 3 sides by water, Brya loves all the opportunities for swimming. You could spend an entire day at this location in the summer as picnic tables and a portable toilet is available.  Several “Beach” areas for lounging and trails are well shaded for those hot summer days (oh doesn’t that sound wonderful this time of year?)  Definitely a must see.  Have fun!

Sand-Lowell Holly 2 Jan 15

trail map:

clue #3-Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge

          Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge March 2014

Located just off Great Oak Road, this huge piece of conservation is owned by the US Fish & Wildlife Service and has an enormous amount of trails, abundant wildlife and beautiful bodies of water both salt and fresh water to visit.  For more information visit their site :vis

     Mash-Commons dog store 1 Feb 15                         Mash-Sweet Waves  Aug 2014-1

Lastly, a great area to visit with your pup is Mashpee Commons!  Located right at the rotary at the junction of Route 28 and Route 151, this open are shopping mall is home to many high-end stores and great places to eat.  We visited with the owner of Hot Diggity Dog who was very helpful directing us around the plaza and letting us know that in the nicer weather you have several options for dining.  Bobby Byrnes has a patio, as does Panera Bread and Starbucks.  Many stores have water dishes out available for visiting dogs, and the Black Dog Store (circa Nantucket) allows dogs inside their store. Even in the winter, just walking around the complex is something different to do.  Open year round, Sweet Waves frozen yogurt has a few tables outside in good weather as well as a few Adirondack chairs.  Brya loved her dish of vanilla!!!

Remember to support local businesses and volunteer or donate to these conservation groups who keep the areas we enjoy in such pristine condition.





15 towns in 12 months-January

January was the month of Bourne

Congrats if you guessed It!!!!!!

Bourne, MA is the first town you hit after crossing either the Sagamore or Bourne bridge. Here is a review of all we discovered!!

Clue #1 This colorful wall is the underpass below the railroad tracks at our first stop-Monks Park, one of the many wonderful properties of the Bourne Conservation Trust. Located on the shore at the end of Valley Bars Road, this favorite of the locals is on the small side (20acres) but packs a big punch! There are loops and cross trails that are very well marked. You will encounter some moderate hills and do use caution when near railroad tracks and the water. This property borders Little Bay with beautiful views throughout and several access points. The property adjoins another trail named Little Bay so we combined the two and were able to squeeze out a great 3 mile walk. We will definitely be back in the spring when the ice breaks! Trail map:

Bour-Monks Park underpass jan 15     Bour-Monks Park jan 15

A stop at the Lobster Trap on your way out after a walk would be a great treat! 290 Shore Road, Bourne. They have outdoor seating in season to sit with your dog and great take out year round!

Clue #2   Four Ponds Conservation is absolutely magnificent…….located on Barlows Landing Road just past County Road with ample parking on the right. Brya is a Lab afterall, so water is our best friend! This 280 acre property is owned by the town and very well maintained. My only criticism is there is not a trial map on the property so we walked “blind”. For those who love adventure like me & Brya, you too could get a bit lost and end up in the adjoining Pocasset Town Forest like we did! There are literally hundreds of different ways to enjoy this property. I did finally find a trail map when I got home; however the trails were marked by different names. It should prove to be helpful anyway!

Four Ponds Bourne      Bour-Four Ponds jan 15 (2)

Clue #3   Ironically, the town of Bourne stretches long and wide encompassing the Cape Cod Canal which in itself is a perfect location for walking your dog. This third clue was at the windmill poised at the entrance to the Aptucxet Trading Post (pictured) anchored by the Abandoned Grey Gables Station (on right) originally built for the use of President Grover Cleveland during his presidency in the late 1890s to access his summer home in Bourne. For more history:

Aptucxtet Bourne         Bour-Gray Gables station jan 15

The Cape Cod Canal paved trail is well maintained and spans 13.5mi from Railroad Bridge to the Sandwich parking lot. You will often see tugboats, barges, and other boat traffic. I once saw a seal swimming along at low tide. After finishing a respectable 4 miles on the canal we stopped at Gray Gables Market under new ownership after being closed for two years. This store located at 185 Shore Road, Bourne, has been a landmark in the town for years, so we are glad to have them back! You can get everything from fresh made donuts, sandwiches, groceries for your visit, and any other essential you can think of!

Bour-Gray Gables

Clue #4 You would drive right by Bourne Sister’s Woodland as we did if you weren’t really carefully looking. Tucked away between two residences, on County Road just before Shaker Drive where there is enough parking for 2 or maybe 3 cars. By far the smallest conservation area we traversed, but so quaint! The heavily wooded trails are well marked and abut a small pond and Brookside Golf Course. This is where we found the Christmas tree fully decorated by the “forest elves”. If the walk isn’t quite long enough, the Leary Property owned by the Town of Bourne is directly across the street that abuts Eel Pond and is beautiful in its own right.

Bour-Bourne sisters woodland bridge jan 15         Bour-Boune Sisters Woodland entry jan 15

Make sure to come back in season (spring-fall) and dine outside at the landmark Chart Room, located at 1 Shipyard Lane, Cataumet which has a history all its own and breathtaking views.

We are so lucky to have such wonderful conservation trusts and local pet friendly restaurants here on the Cape. Please consider becoming a volunteer or give a gift to keep these trails as fantastic as they are today and try some great local food! There are so much more to do in this town….Brya and I will be back for sure!


Bourne Conservation Trust

 Chart Room

Gray Gables Market

Lobster Trap



Therapy Dog

On my usual morning trail walk, I saw this quote on a plaque placed on the bridge over a creek. It so sums up my life these days!

“The path of life is seldom straight, around each turn adventures wait”-Mother Nature

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Brya was brought into my life for a reason. I am not fully sure why yet, but around each turn I am enjoying the adventure!!

This week we started an adventure of being a new Therapy Dog team with CAP (Companion Animal Program). It was pure joy to see the smiles on the client’s faces at Royal Megansett Nursing Home and the kids joy by hugging the dogs at Cape Cod Community College for finals week. One girl said to me “this made my whole day worthwhile” as she thanked me on her way out-PRICELESS.

In this holiday season, the gift of love and comfort is truly better than any present.IMG_3611                     IMG_3617IMG_3622                            IMG_3623

Looking forward to my journey with Brya and hoping the adventures never stop.