Penelope’s Adventurous Weekend

Some weekends you know what your adventure is going to be long in advance, and some weekends, you wait for inspiration. Then you realize the date, October 1, just happens to be Penny the Faithful Pooch’s five-year adoption anniversary. And lo, inspiration has arrived.

What kinds of adventures can you do with a dog on a rainy weekend? We debated museums or the symphony, or perhaps taking in a movie (though Penny considered that a bit low brow, and she knows about brows). Ultimately, however, we decided to visit the local pet store, and go on a hike when the rain let up.

A pet store, you say? That qualifies as an adventure? Well actually, yeah, when it’s That Pet Place/That Fish Place, the largest pet store I have ever seen. Have you been to a Costco? Imagine a building that size full of animals and pet supplies, and then add a huge room full of thousands of fish in at least a hundred tanks. This is ten minutes from us.


Penny was trembling with joy at going out with us instead of being left at home. Well… and a little apprehensive about the massive shark over the door!

Of course, once inside is when her apprehensions really should have begun, because of one of the first things we saw. Naturally, when in Amish country, who doesn’t need old-timey Sunday best attire for their pup?


As you can see in the main image for this post, Penelope’s Southern belle origins (born in Mississippi!) came back to her as she proudly donned a flowered straw hat. Or, briefly tolerated wearing it, anyway. So obviously she loved it.

Now, at this point Ben decided that he should buy an “adoptaversary” present for Penny, because once he got onto the whole “Penny celebration weekend” track he had to fully commit to the concept. I, on the other hand, got pretty distracted because a visiting animal shelter had a room full of adorable cats and kittens they were trying to place, and there was this super sweet half grown orange kitty who just wanted to be cuddled so much, and no, we are not getting another cat because it’s bad timing, but a girl can dream.

No Dogs Allowed in the adoptable cat room!

Except for highly disturbing this one cat, Penny made a huge hit in That Pet Place, with the employees all stopping to fawn over her handsome beard and her excellent manners, giving her free samples of various treats. She also met quite a number of other dogs, a few of who she did not outright avoid or shout at (victory!), and after much deliberation picked out a charming raccoon rope-toy for much future tugging-of-war.

So far, pretty standard pet store, right? But wait, what’s that over there?



Here’s a little glimpse of what that experience was like — the most notable aspect being the stingrays hopping up out of the water in their excitement to be fed! So weird to see.

From there, we wandered through a doorway and found ourselves in another astonishingly big space, the fish section: actually two rooms, one for fish who live in the darkness, and one for fish in the light. (And a small, sad side-room of betas in plastic cups. As Ben asked, why are betas considered the garbage of the fish world?)


I’m not actually the world’s biggest fish appreciator (their lack of affect, and their propensity to die, makes me uncomfortable), but I liked some of these guys, like the mustachioed scooters below.


And of course, Penny is always eager to make new friends:


There were also some old friends in the mix…


To be honest, clownfish in pet stores just make me sad, but it’s nice to know he and the “bubbles” guy still hang out. I really liked this pair of cool dudes:


But then, as we turned a corner in this vast maze of tanks (seriously guys, an entire warehouse of fish tanks), we saw something rather chilling. The fearsome… the enigmatic… the truly unsettling MANTIS SHRIMP.


Note the sign. What can we conclude, but that this is the Goldendust of the Ocean?! Some might choose to pay $150 for their own doom. I am not ashamed to say it: we scarpered.

After all, we had Penny to look out for. It was important to get her to safety… wait, Penny? Penny? Where have you got to–?

Phew, there you are!

Penelope can be a little impetuous at times, throwing herself into, shall we say, some bearly safe situations? She was pretty happy that we came and reclaimed her:


After that, we moved on the last area that we hadn’t been to yet, which housed such varied creatures as rats, ferrets, chinchillas, a pretty fantastic Flemish Giant Rabbit, as well as snakes, chameleons, a bearded dragon, and a monitor lizard. This area had an, erm, pretty darn bizarre name emblazoned on a bold, idyllic mural…


And that about wrapped up our adventure in the pet store (with a side trip to grab a treat to bring home for Bingley, since he did not get to go on any adventures for his adoptaversary sometime-or-other in September).

Then, there was the hike, for which we ventured about 20 minutes from home to one of the very few forested patches of this part of Pennsylvania. It was the Trout Run Nature Preserve, and can I even articulate how sad it makes me that “nature preserve” means “place for hunting”? I mean, that that’s our #1 reason to preserve nature? Also, it made me quite nervous any time Penny went bounding off-trail, even though I’m sure hunters normally do not shoot dogs, especially near the hiking path.


Penny, of course, could not possibly have had a better time. She did all the things she most loves to do: she bounded, she ran, she herded (Ben and me), and — oh bliss! — she got absolutely filthy and rolled in things that stink.


Isn’t that the face of a dog who feels she has finally found her element and never wants to leave? Oh, and look how happy Ben was that I’d thought ahead and made sure to drive, so she’d ride home on his lap!


But bliss can’t last forever, even on your adoptaversary… as Penny learned when we got home, and put her straight into the bath.


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