The Path to the River, and A Tale of Two Dogs


See this steep hillside? Our house is up there. Way up there. The river is way down here. We’re quite safe from floods. However, we’re not exactly handy to the river. Well, relatively speaking. The river is a short walk away–down the driveway and out the road about a one-minute stroll. The river ford allows a public access point and there is a swimming hole nearby with a rope tied from a tree. The kids love to play there. But for a property that actually borders the river, our direct access from our own property seemed somewhat impossible. Unless you like sliding down steep hillsides.

Or clambering off cliffs.

The part of our farm that borders the river is at the bottom of this cliff. The river makes a bend here, comes alongside our farm, and carries along the border of our property for some way–and all of that way, it’s straight uphill to our house.

Then we pushed through some brush toward the bottom of our driveway and discovered this.

There are old logging trails throughout our property. Our driveway, in fact, was originally a logging trail. But we had no idea that there was another logging trail here, at the base of our steep cliff along the river, or that there was this shelf of flat land at the base of the cliff that was also part of our farm.

Following this logging trail at the base of our cliff, we found the metal pins that mark the property line all the way around our farm. The pins are laid out to the side of the trail, giving us just enough space to walk along the bottom of our hillside and reach the river, directly from our farm.

The Pocatalico is not a big river. It’s a river based on length, not width. In many places, it looks like a creek. I sat down on a rock to take in my newfound view. With summer fading fast, I will miss this lush green soon. Look at me–I even wore my boots. For once.

I sat there watching the leaves falling on the water in the light breeze, enjoying the peace and the quiet and–

–the company.

You can’t go to the river without dogs tagging along.

Coco hasn’t quite figured out this whole water thing yet.

Is it a giant mud puddle? Will it suck her under? Will it attack?

Dookie’s an old hand. “I’ll show that giant puppy,” he said.

And he jumped right in.

Coco was so distressed, she didn’t know what to do with herself.

“Come back, Dookie! Come back!”

Dookie: “Now do you see what I’ve been telling you? I’m better than the giant puppy. I’m the top dog. I’m the king of the world!”

After he was done showing off, Dookie slopped back ashore.

To Coco’s delight.

She was so happy to see him alive and on land again, she tried to bite his neck.

To show her love.

Which explains a lot about their relationship. That, and the way Coco likes to wake Dookie up in the morning (er, noonish, Dookie likes to sleep late) by picking up the corner of the blanket he sleeps on in her teeth and dragging it off, dumping him unceremoniously from his bed.

Still, they have their moments of bonding. Mysterious moments when they speak dog to dog.

Dookie: “I’ll teach you all about the big water, grasshopper. Stick with me.”

“You gotta start small,” he told Coco as they walked away from the river.

“Like with this little creek here. Go ahead,” he told her. “Jump in. Run up and down the creek two hundred times and you will defeat the water and have power over it, like I do.”

Me: “Coco, no! I don’t want to–

–take home–

–a messy, dripping–






  1. Kathy says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for satisfying my Coco fix!
    I’m so glad that “wise ol’ Dookie” is around to teach Coco the ins and outs of being a farm dog. My “giant puppy” is a Lab/Retriever mix and won’t go NEAR water. May I can hire Dookie to give my puppy (all 92 lbs of him) a few swimming lessons? :snoopy:

  2. Carolyn A. says:

    Great commentary! I enjoyed that so much. Did you ever get them both back home? Now you know where they’ll be if they wander off together. xxoo

  3. Beckynsc says:

    And Dookie reigns!!
    Great pictures and story, Suzanne!
    Whatever happened to Bluebell?

  4. sc says:

    Beautiful….thanks for sharing the joy!!!

  5. Suzanne McMinn says:

    Unfortunately, Bluebell didn’t work out very well on the farm. She had a lot of issues with the other animals and we had to decide whether we wanted to keep her tied up the rest of her life or give her away. I don’t like to have a dog tied. I just can’t stand it. So we gave her away. (I miss her! But on a farm, the welfare of the majority of the animals has to come first…..)

  6. Blaze says:

    Yesterday was a good day to be at the river.
    It was like a hojillion degrees yesterday. Ugh.
    I’m sure it was much nicer riverside!
    Even with giant wet puppy to deal with.

  7. heidi says:

    Great story- I love finding old paths that lead somewhere unexpected. In fact that is the basis for many of my dreams! And to find an access path to the river- tht is just all good.

  8. MARY says:

    :butterfly: That’s why they are dogs!!!! Messy little creatures, aren’t they?? LOL! Looks gorgeous! Wish I were there!! Have a great day. :mrgreen:

  9. Abiga/karen says:

    Such a cute story to read this morning, thanks. Blessings.

  10. wammy says:

    I want to put on my hiking boots and join the climb. I too spent time by a river yesterday..the Mighty Ohio. An friend and I were looking for treasures. And did we find some! Haven’t had a chance to blog it all yet but hopefully I will today. Coem visit.

    Love the BIG puppy in the water puddle. It made me laugh. And I am still grinning.

  11. Shelley says:

    :mrgreen: Loved seeing your dog’s joy – and Dookie’s face in the last photo says it all!!

  12. Jen says:

    Oh I wish I could’ve been there to walk around the trails. I’m enjoying the last days of summer here too.
    You should use these stories with your pictures and make children’s books, my son would love them!!

  13. Cecelia says:

    I have the biggest smile right now. Awesome pictures and story. Thanks for sharing and I love Dookie’s smiling face, wouldn’t you love to be able to read their minds? LOL


  14. maddie says:

    OOoh, I love that giant puppy! And the wise one, Dookie. But most of all your pictures were peaceful, Suzanne. Sigh. Loved it. thanks for sharing.


  15. Egghead says:

    That was a fun trip along with you and the pups. Very cute. Thank you. :heart:

  16. Lora says:

    Great post, Suzanne! Wonderful way to start the morning.

  17. Nancy says:

    I’m with Cecelia – I’m wearing a giant smile after absorbing your pictures and comments!!! Your photos reminded me of the days when I hiked along the Chattahoochee River – MUCH bigger river, but I climbed some similar places through the trees to the top of a ridge. And the dogs are great – where was Dookie when my huge German Shepherd needed coaxing to get into the water? Fritz just didn’t like that big wet mess!!! Thanks again for another great start on the day. :purr:

  18. Claudia W. says:

    Your property is so beautiful and vast! It looks like there is a lot to explore and discover there.
    Dookie is such a good teacher. Coco seems to have grasped the concept of the river very quickly under Dookie’s tutalage. (spelling???)

  19. Donna says:

    Wow, more land with another gorgeous view…that was exciting to find another old logging trail!!!!

    OHHHH those pups!!!!!! :mrgreen: They are so entertaining and fun!!!! That was ADORABLE!!!!! Cutest personalities and I loved that Coco pulls Dukie off his blanket, er noonish. LOL LOL LOL Characters! :mrgreen: :woof: :hug: PRECIOUS pups!!!! (and little goat up there!)

  20. L says:

    Thanks for making me laugh this morning.

    Or maybe I should say, “Tell Dookie thanks for making me laugh this morning.”

  21. Marissa (Michigan) says:

    Coco looks like she found a new pastime! She seems to be intrigued by the end and maybe not so sure she likes to get wet!

  22. Amy says:

    Huh. Between Dookie, Spartacus, Clover and Coco, you may one day have a coup on your hands. 😉

  23. Debbie in Memphis says:

    The photos are wonderful. The river looks so peaceful; I can almost imagine that I’m sitting there with you. And it’s always fun to watch dogs playing in the water.

    Thank you for sharing everything with us!!

  24. Dejoni says:

    Dookie is DIRTY!!!!
    Don’t ya just love dogs!!!

  25. Shari C says:

    Wonderful and cute story. Dookie reigns supreme…this time!
    Did it take forever to turn the ‘giant puppy’ from muddy brown back to white? Still is a cutie no matter what.

  26. Suzanne, the Farmer's Wife says:

    Dookie’s “Da Man”. I love both those dogs. What breed is Coco?

    – Suzanne, the Farmer’s Wife

  27. Suzanne McMinn says:

    Coco is a Great Pyrenees (livestock guardian dog) and Dookie (believe it or not since he looks like such a pig) is a shih-tsu.

  28. RosieJo says:

    You’re alot more fun than Pie-Neer Woman!!! Now I must go wake my hubby from his Noon Nap to tell him we are moving to a remote location with a smallish river for the dogs. Thank you.

  29. Meadowlark says:

    I’m in love with Coco. (shhh, don’t tell my Tonic)
    This was such a great post.I stumbled it. Thanks!

  30. kacey says:

    How long does it take to make Coco white again after playing in the mud? That would be one big wet dog smelling puppy!

  31. Suzanne McMinn says:

    Coco is self-cleaning. I know that sounds unbelievable, but it’s true. She gets so muddy then it’s like the dirt just falls off her a few hours later. I have no idea how she does that. Happens every time.

  32. Sarah S. says:

    :rotfl: Hee Hee, It looks like you all had fun!

  33. Tori Lennox says:

    Coco is so funny! and so is Dookie!

    And the picture of Nutmeg is precious!!!

  34. Maureen says:

    What gorgeous pictures and Dookie is too cute.

  35. catslady says:

    Your pictures and stories are always great :yes:

  36. Estella says:

    Suzanne, that was great. Love the pics!

  37. Brandy says:

    Awwww, cutie-patootie doggies! Thanks for the pictures. *G*

  38. Susan says:

    Dookie is such a good sibling! :hug:

  39. SuzieQ says:

    Love seeing dogs having a good time, just playing and enjoying life…they can teach us all to slow down and smell the flowers and walk in the puddles..

  40. annie d. says:

    The look on the dogs’ faces was pure dog JOY!

  41. jane says:

    I went to the dog park here in Dallas the other day – they have a part of it that is the river and the dogs love it. doogie and coco look great together.

    Thanks to whoever suggested the peach jello to save my jelly – it worked. I jsut hate it when it does not turn out. thanks for starting the blog and forum – love it. I just saw a thing on TV where these woman from all over the country are part of an organization called FLIP – who help the police find criminals. they only do their work through email and at home. it was fascinating how they put their info and research and skills together through the comupter. One woman did handwriting analysis, one trained young kids to protect themselves and was a licensed investigator -several women are. so amazing

    you go girl!!! I like hearing positive things that happen bec of the internet.

  42. Lisa in California says:

    I was laughing out loud at the sight of Coco. And the last picture of Dookie was the perfect finishing touch! Thanks for the laugh!! :woof:

  43. sunnid755 says:

    What a great country-in-the-woods-river day! Thanks for the great pics and stories, you make my day!


    GO DOOKIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL :rotfl:

  45. MJ Krech says:

    :wave: Hello! I’ve been a lurker on your site for a while and have really enjoyed my visits! This entry has compelled me to say hello and thank you! I love the part about finding the hidden path to the river! THAT part really resonated! Thanks for all your time and effort to produce such an interesting look at your changing life from city to country. What fun!

  46. paulette says:

    love that! I have two corgis that love the water, and two Maremmas that don’t have a clue except to hang with their goatie friends! and I love them all….

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