On December 10th, twenty-five Westies, their owners & guests donned cozy tartans and jingle bells for the 4th Annual Jingle Bell Stroll at the Stony Point Fashion Park in Richmond, Virginia. Participants enjoyed holiday sweets, hot cocoa, specialty-made dog treats and shopping discounts – along with a few surprise drawings and a “Cutest Cozy Tartan” contest! A big congratulation goes to Gracie, owned by Julie & Chuck Eiwen, for donning the cutest costume!
Born in Kentucky, Gracie’s life has been anything but a dog’s life.
She was the only pup in the liter and as soon as she was able she was on a plane to Cleveland Ohio to meet her first family, consisting of Amy, our daughter, Bo, a Boston terrier, Jessie, a Lab, and two elusive cats. Here she learned not only what activities were meant for inside and outside, but also how to deal with an old grouchy lab, a way too anxious Boston terrier and two cats that seems to sneak up on her much too easily. But even here, in a large family, she quickly became the “apple” of everyone’s eye.
But her life in Cleveland was short lived and soon her second family, Julie, my wife and I were driving her to her new home in Spotsylvania, VA some 400 miles south.
Spotsylvania quickly became the base of Gracie’s adventures. As an active dog, always ready for a walk, she soon became familiar with the parks and recreational areas of Virginia. Traveling in all directions from her new home, Gracie visited all the state parks from the deer filled forests of the Shenandoah to the Civil War battle grounds of Virginia.
One of her favorite trips is to the Shenandoah National Park including the Big Meadows and Skyland camp grounds. Here dog friendly cabins are available amid the mountains of Western Virginia. Around the cabins are paths leading up and down and through the mountains. While there are a few that do not permit dogs, Gracie found many that provide her the smells and views that made each day different from the previous. The frequent deer and occasional bear also provided adventures that are not quickly forgotten.
Of course she would also tell you about the hotels that she has visited. Having doors that open for her, lobbies to walk through and beds to jump on, they make sleeping away from home a treat. Luckily it has become easier to find hotels that allow dogs in the room even though there are some that think it’s an excellent excuse to make a little more income.
But Gracie’s adventures have not been limited to Virginia. When our daughter moved to California, Gracie’s adventures turned to the skies. Of course first there was learning how to be comfortable in an airline approved bag which tend to be only slightly larger then she is. For a dog whose ancestors crawl through tunnels however, this proved to be a quick lesson. She found the bags comfortable and suitable for a six hour nap without a problem. Of course the halfway stop in Dallas isn’t wasted and she explores the parking lots and the large grass areas just outside of gate C72. Getting to California and seeing her old animal friends from Cleveland and exploring the mountains of the western United States seems to make these trips more than worthwhile.
But her favorite trip of all is the one to Richmond where, on a monthly basis, she meets with her friends of the River City Westies. Here she has met over 25 different Westies and a Scottie, discussing the previous month’s events, running through the fields and just sitting among those who she feels most comfortable. And for them and only for them will she “dress up” for the Jingle Bell Stroll to celebrate the Christmas Season.
Proceeds from this annual event benefit rescued West Highland White Terriers. To learn more about River City Westies, visit www.rivercitywesties.org