Dogs on Nantucket holidays (part 2)

Girl Friday ACK
Hudson enjoying a Nantucket beach.

Following on from my last post, here are the remaining 5 tips to ensure you have a safe and happy holiday with your canine companion.

6. Places to walk

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Happy walking on Nantucket.

There are a ton of great places to take your dog on island. For helpful trail maps and information visit Nantucket Dog Walk. Please remember though that there is a leash law and your dog must always be under your control. While your dog may be “friendly” it doesn’t mean everyone else has to or wants to say hello to him/her! As for the beach, your dog should not be with you on beaches where there is a lifeguard in attendance. And please don’t forget to pick up the poop.

7. Dinner time

For health and safety reasons, dogs aren’t permitted inside restaurants. There are a few places to eat with outside terraces where it’s possible to sit fairly close to your dog without them actually being in the food service area. If you can’t leave Fido back in your accommodation you’ll need to arrive early to ensure you have your choice of tables. Lunchtime is definitely easier – think sandwich spots like Something Natural, Bartlett’s Farm, Claudette’s in Sconset or Millies in Madaket. All are great picnic spots.  While well-mannered dogs are welcome at Cisco Brewery, be warned that this is one of the busiest spots on the island after a day on the beach. With lots of people, children running around, live music and other dogs, is this really going to be a happy outing for you and your pup?

8. Doggie supplies

If you’ve forgotten any of Fido’s essentials Geronimo’s and Cold Noses are the places to go. From eco-friendly poop bags to Nantucket themed collars and leashes, you should be able to find anything you might need. For prescription diets Offshore Animal Hospital may also carry your preferred brand – worth calling them first before you drive over.

Girl Friday ACK
Geronimo’s of Nantucket has everything you might need for your companion animals.

9. Pet services

Girl Friday ACK
The Dog Wash

There are dog walkers and pet sitters aplenty on the island but do your research and book well ahead of time. The adage “you get what you pay for” is as true on the island as it is anywhere else. Offshore Animal Hospital offers outside daycare within an enclosed area making it a good choice for pups that might otherwise stray. And for the times when Fido finds something super stinky to roll in, clean him off at The Dog Wash.

 

10. Lost pets

With all the bunnies, deer and fabulous places for a dog to run, it’s no wonder that pups and people do get separated. Store this number for just such an emergency: 508-825-2287. This is the phone number for Nantucket Island Safe Harbor for Animals (NISHA) – the island’s shelter for lost and abandoned animals. Any stray dogs picked up by the Animal Control Officers, or by the public, are brought to NISHA. You’ll need your check book, proof of identification and a rabies certificate to be reunited with your four legged friend. Consider a visit to them in any event and see first-hand the great work they do on the island. And their logoed merchandise could make pretty cool souvenirs too!

Girl Friday ACK
One of NISHA’s amazing volunteers.

Springtime in Paradise

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Earth Day 2017 and life is definitely returning to the island. How better to celebrate this time of year than with “Spring Fest”. By bringing together a number of local organizations devoted to promoting and protecting the island, its heritage and the well-being of everyone living here, the Rev. Tamara Grenier and Nantucket Eco Group artfully put into perspective just how much Nantucketers have to be grateful for.  I braved April showers to attend and was so pleased I did as I was able to see a big screen viewing of the beautifully shot “The Last Bay Scallop” . In just 30 minutes local filmmaker John Stanton brings the Nantucket Bay Scallop industry to life and hammers home how its future rests uneasily on the quality of Nantucket’s water. Why specifically is it under threat? Mainly because of the decrease in “Eel Grass” around the island – on to which the baby scallops latch for survival. And the principal contributing factor for that decline appears to be high use of fertilizers on the island. It was a fascinating glimpse into Nantucket’s last commercial fishing industry.

Next weekend is the annual Daffodil Festival and those bright yellow flowers really are an incredibly welcoming sight at this time of year. Although this winter hasn’t been very harsh in the scheme of things, warm and sunny days can’t come soon enough.

The “off-season” whisked by in a bit of a blur. Islanders take advantage of the quieter months to travel and to brace themselves for another busy summer. While I spent the winter of 2015/2016 undertaking a dog training course at the Victoria Stilwell Dog Training Academy, this year I had the incredible opportunity of putting my newly acquired skills into practice by teaching a “Basic Manners” class at the Nantucket Community School. My first students have been so much fun and I’m eagerly looking forwards to the next class which starts this coming Tuesday.

Staying on the subject of dog training, in March I attended Clicker Expo in Stamford, Connecticut – a huge conference for advocates of positive reinforcement/force-free teaching methods.  Wow, was that ever a mind-blowing experience. Talk about some really inspirational speakers and heaps of food for thought. I was lucky enough to listen to some of the most engaging figures in the positive reinforcement training world and even met Karen Pryor (author of “Don’t Shoot the Dog” and a leader of the Clicker Trainer movement).  I came back to the island absolutely buzzing with new ideas and thoughts to put into practice. Of course I might also have picked up some new equipment in the conference shopping arena.

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Buster on his new k9FITbone

On the travel front, this time last weekend I was back in the motherland visiting family. Home really is a wonderful place to visit.

From the tulips in St. James Park to Daffodils on Old South Road, it’s the season of new beginnings. Girl Friday ACK is eagerly looking forwards to welcoming everyone back to the island.

 

 

New beginnings

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Exciting changes are afoot for my Girl Friday business. From establishing an LLC at the end of last year, to new service offerings, and I’m about to launch an updated website to which this blog will link. Time to commit to regular postings.

New website.  Renewed blog.  Seems only logical that I kick it all off with a “new” piece – my journey into the dog training world seems a pretty good choice.

I’ve always loved animals. While still in the UK I remember Barbara Woodhouse on tv and even today I talk about going for “walkies”. We had the sweetest, silliest, least trained Cavalier King Charles Spaniel for much of my childhood. She endured a great deal in the way of infantile attention but never quite seemed ready to appear on the only dog show of which I was aware (Crufts). Undoubtedly a lasting legacy of having a family pet was a respect for them. While not fully attuned to canine body language, we knew to absolutely never pull, poke or tease. Lara was central to our family and of course came to Bermuda with us when we moved in the early 80s. I can’t imagine having grown up without a dog in the house.

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Back in the 70’s with Lara.

Petless through university and the early years in my legal career, I vowed to make space for a companion animal as soon as I could. Kitties were a logical next step for someone hardly at home during the week but somehow I also found time to give to my local RSPCA too. If I couldn’t have a dog at least I could still help the homeless ones. And when I moved to Nantucket it was only natural for me to connect with the island’s animal shelter. That in turn helped me set up my pet care business but a summer spent nursing a broken ankle left me with a lot of time to think and to regularly check the Victoria Stilwell “Positively” website for updates on her dog training academy. It seemed almost too coincidental that at about the same time I was back on my feet and looking to rebuild my business that the application process for the first Victoria Stilwell Dog Training Academy opened. My application was lodged within hours.

I’ll be writing much more about my experiences as a VSA dog trainer but it is important for me to express what it was about this particular course that really appealed to me. There are a host of different dog training courses out there, so why this one? In short, I’ve liked Victoria’s work. While I didn’t have access to the Animal Planet to watch every episode of “It’s Me or the Dog”, in seeking information to help me with my own dogs, I had followed her online and in print, and greatly admired her approach and her commitment to non-aversive training methods. The fact that as a fellow Brit, a certification from her would be recognised in the UK if I was ever to head back that way, also helped.

On 20 November 2015 I heard the news I’d been waiting for – I was going to be amongst the students in the very first class at the Victoria Stilwell Dog Training Academy. And so the journey began……

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Welcome winter

I haven’t posted for months. Which excuse should I use?

I was asked recently what there is to do in Nantucket in the winter. The answer is a resounding “that depends on what you like doing”. If you’re unhappy with anything but a fast paced way of life 7 days a week, Nantucket can be a challenge in January, February and March. But if you like to bundle up and go for rugged walks, or curl up at home with a good book, there’s always something to do.

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Walking dogs every day, I experience a fair amount of Nantucket’s rugged side. And winter here can be harsh. While we don’t get a ton of snow, we get freezing winds that cause the boats and planes to cancel and leave you literally stranded on the island. Winter vacations necessitate planning an extra day of travel to ensure you can leave or return to the island. Boats were cancelled last week and many travellers found themselves on the wrong side of Nantucket Sound. There will be more delays and cancellations as the first big storm of the winter arrives this weekend. As winter progresses, ice rather than wind becomes an issue.

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With that said, the deserted beaches on blue sky days like today are more stunning perhaps than in summer.

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One of my favorite events on the island at this time of year is “One Book One Island” presented by our incredible library the Nantucket Atheneum and sponsored by a number of local businesses . One book is chosen each year and island residents are encouraged to pick up and read one of the free copies before enjoying themed exhibitions, discussions and films. It’s a great talking point and a wonderful way to come across a new read. This year’s selection:authorbooklg

Work continues for many of us through the winter months, and for those it doesn’t, extended trips await. Nantucketers are a pretty well-traveled bunch. It’s not uncommon to be in a fairly remote part of the world and stumble across someone you recognize from back home. And before long the countdown is on until the Daffodil Festival in April and the constant escalation of activity and excitement of the approaching summer. At least that’s what we all remind ourselves in the depths of winter.

The Grey Lady

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Brilliant Disguise.”

The houses are grey. The frequently visiting fog lies on the island like a grey blanket. When the ocean temperatures drop and cold winter winds move in the lush summer foliage disappears leaving everything a monotone grey. It’s pretty easy to see why the island is often called “The Grey Lady”.

During my fist visits to the island I was totally confused where anything was. How could you establish where you were when everything looks the same? Little by little I got my bearings – mainly through necessity as without a US driving licence I spent a lot of time on my bike. You tend to figure out the lay of the land when you’re looking for the shortest points from A to B on a hot and humid summer day. And now, when I hear tourists make similar observations about the likeness of everything, I think to myself, “Just wait and the island will reveal herself”.

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Nantucket is a vastly different place from America. Apart from the lack of traffic lights, McDonalds and shopping malls, the island prides itself on its historical and ecological preservation. Main Street is cobbled with stones allegedly carried as ballast by the earliest ships visiting the island. To explore the historical downtown area is to step back in time. Vast amounts of the island are undeveloped and remain covered in scrub brush making a haven for deer. Born in the English countryside and having lived in London, I am at home with both the rural and historical beauty of the island and it’s not at all difficult to see why the island receives so many accolades. Spend just a little time here and the island starts to reveal her many layers.

One of my favourite places on the island is Great Point. That’s Great Point Lighthouse in Great Point Nantucketthe picture at the top of the page and in the aerial photo to the right. To reach the lighthouse you drive approximately 3 miles on sand along the narrow spit of land at the northeastern most point of the island. It’s a stunningly beautiful spot and a fun place to fish in the summer – if you can beat the crowds of seals to anything biting on your line. And if you’re brave enough to face the bitter winds raging across the peninsula in the winter you’re likely to be rewarded with the sight of a majestic but ghostly white Snowy Owl. It’s incredible to think that anyone could ever live on this sandy spit. But they did, and you’ll pass houses which are still lived in (ok, mainly just in summer).

Access to the lighthouse is restricted in early summer owing to nesting “Piping Plovers” but otherwise, it’s a must see stop if you’re really trying to explore the island. The only thing grey on Great Point by the way is the colony of seals.

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Beach life

One of the biggest attractions on Nantucket is the beach. This is an island don’t forget so Nantucket has a fair number of sandy spots.

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Not being in a position to work here when I first arrived I dedicated much of my time to exploring the island – and that logically included a diligent study of the island’s shorelines. Water temperature in the summer is in the 60’s. For a girl who grew up in Bermuda this is a little chilly but when the sun is at its highest and the humidity is punishing, a fresh dip in the ocean offers instant relief.

The beaches on the North Shore tend to be calmer and are more gently sloping making them ideal spots for families with young children. The South Shore beaches on the other hand tend to be much rougher and the water gets deep very quickly. The South Shore is where you want to head if you’re looking to surf, while the harbour is better suited for SUP. Life guards are stationed around the island.

And surfing is pretty big out here. Almost every SUV you see in the summer will have a board on its roof rack.  I had a great first lesson with  Ack Surf out at Madequecham Beach my first summer. The other students were two teenage boys so they ended up with one instructor while I went out with the other – a private lesson for the group price! Interestingly these guys now appear to focus on apparel rather than lessons.

With a little assistance from the teacher I was able to catch a wave and even stand up once or twice. It was awesome and I’d love to try again but for one reason or another I’ve just never had the time. My husband recently purchased a couple of Stand Up Paddleboards and as soon as I’m given the all clear to bear weight again on the ankle I broke last month I’m absolutely going to be out on the water with it.

But as beautiful as the beaches are, swimmers have to be aware of possible rip tides. Breaking news this morning was a family caught in one. They were rescued by life guards and a mystery Good Samaritan.  Luckily they never dropped the Go Pro!

3, 2, 1…..LIFTOFF!

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You can read more about me on the next page of my blog but essentially I’m an English lady living on Nantucket – an island 30 miles out to sea from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. “ACK” is the airport code for Nantucket for anyone who may be wondering.

And what’s this blog all about? Essentially my life and adventures on this beautiful little island. Nantucket is a unique place and it has been quite a journey for me leaving my old life in Blighty and trying to start again out here. I’ve learnt a fair amount along the way and I thought it could be fun to share some of my experiences – particularly as people often ask what it’s like to live out here. I’ve set up my own small business in a totally unrelated field to what I used to do so maybe for someone looking to do the same my blog can offer a little support and encouragement. And above all, Nantucket has so much to offer and I love talking about the island and the goings on out here.