French Broad River, Shoal Falls, Pisgah National Forest, Balsam Grove, North Carolina

My husband, Brad, and I had been planning to spend Labor Day weekend with my service dog, Rocco at my parent’s home at Living Waters in Balsam Grove, North Carolina for several weeks. Those plans were almost dashed when Tropical Storm Hermine surfaced in the Gulf of Mexico and eyed our area as a place to dump several inches of rain and damaging winds. It looked as if she might even look to swing by the place we were looking to get away.

We kept a close eye on the storm and by Friday afternoon it was evident our area was just getting mostly rain, and the area we were looking to get away was going to be missed, so we hurriedly packed up, jumped in the car, and were on our way. Thankfully, Hermine was nowhere near as nasty as she could have been and we arrived at our destination safely.

Hermine did leave the area with something we were not expecting – a drastic change of weather. Living near Savannah, we had temperatures of 90 plus most days. The highs over Labor Day weekend were in the mid 70’s, which meant the always frigid mountain water that can take your breath away even in 90 degree weather in the summer was a bit too cool for comfortably swimming, but we managed a small dip anyway (more on that in a minute).

Brad and Rocco

Brad and I took Rocco down to the falls to introduce Rocco to swimming. We quickly discovered we are going to have to take Rocco to different types of watering holes and for short periods of time, as Rocco did not naturally take to the water as some breeds do.

Even though my ankle is healed from being broken earlier this summer, it’s still going to take some time for my foot to heal. Not only do I have that to contend with, but my entire left leg just seems to not want to cooperate and swells despite the stent surgery I had to try and fix it. So Rocco is not my pet, he’s my service dog, learning to work for me.

I really wanted to go on the trails this weekend, but my ankle would not cooperate. So we spent our time relaxing, enjoying this gorgeous view, took the one trip down to the falls, and enjoyed our time off and being together.

Rocco in backseat of car

One of the huge benefits of training your own service dog is that you get to learn them, just like they get to learn you. Another benefit is you get to watch them learn things on their own, and figure things out, because that’s part of the process. I absolutely love to watch the “lightbulb go off” when Rocco figures something out, especially if he has figured it out on his own.

Here’s what you see in this picture – Rocco is sitting on a box in the middle of the backseat. Here’s the backstory – There’s a cooler next to the box, and his blanket is spread out on the back seat, and on top of the box. All of his stuff is in that box. Outside of the car, he has been taught to sit, to get on the blanket, and to put his paws on and off of the box as well as climb on the box. In the car, he likes to look out the window. By himself, he figured out he could sit on that box in the middle seat and see what we were seeing!! I call that pretty smart!

Brad Andrea and Rocco completely relaxed

Though this image is a little overexposed, it’s my favorite one from the weekend. All three of us together, and completely relaxed! The photo speaks for itself – enough said!!

How did you and yours spend your Labor Day weekend?