Tuesday, February 19, 2019

House Arrest!

Last month, we were having a great time outdoors, enjoying our snow-free winter and early spring.  Last month, we hiked a lot, we played on the beach a lot, we explored the city a lot. 

The daffodils and other spring flowers were opening their colourful faces to the sun:

The birds were plentiful,  feasting at low tide, swimming at high tide, male ducks beginning to show the start of their mating colours:

It was so warm, in fact, that Maggie thought she could go swimming  (until she ran out of leash and her mean mama refused to wade in with her!):

We had days of high wind which brought in a lot of flotsam and jetsam, but that didn't stop Maggie from enjoying the beach:

We walked further and further on our morning walks, finding new vistas, exploring different roads and green spaces and areas of beach:

People were out hiking and fishing, paddleboarding and flying around with powered parachutes:

I experimented more with my new camera, finding interesting closeups and trying my hand at capturing the super blood moon lunar eclipse: 

Just a boring old log we pass almost every day......

....until you squat down and look through the middle.

Clam shell on sand ripples

Three shots of super blood moon lunar eclipse

The only white on the ground was up high in the mountains, or whitecaps on the water:

And then this happened:

And this happened:

And this happened:

And THIS happened:


No, Maggie's bandaged foot wasn't a result of the snow, though the wound combined with snow and ice put us on house arrest. 

This is a funny hat! What holiday are we celebrating this time, Mama?

Maggie was scheduled for a dental on February 4th, and in the pre-dental workup I asked her vet about a lump that had suddenly appeared on to top of her foot, about where the ankle would be if dogs had ankles.  We decided the vet would aspirate it while she was sedated for the dental.  But two weeks later, when I took her for the dental, the lump had grown so much that we decided to remove the whole thing rather than risk having to put her under a second time in short succession should the pathology show a problem.  As it happens, the pathology came back benign, thank goodness. 

It's not an easy surgery, as that part of the leg has very little skin with which to close a fairly large wound.  Small slits are made around the sides  of the area where the lump was removed, in order to be able to stretch enough skin to cover the wound.  It will be a long and slow recovery.  The stitched area over the wound looks pretty good to me (the stitches should come out later today), but the side slits are still raw. She is awesome about letting me change the dressing, thank goodness, but not so awesome about doing Houdini maneuvers to reach around her cone with her long sheltie snout and try to rip off the bandage.   I am tied to her 24-7, pretty much. Or at least within eyesight of her. 

At least ah can still play with my treat ball on our covered patio!  

At the moment, she is on short walks when there is a short section of dry sidewalk I can take her to (thankfully, snow disappears quickly around here - but thumbs down to people who don't shovel their walks resulting in a mess of slippery, icy, lumpy stuff that creates too much of a walking hazard for me and for Maggie!). However, for much of the past two weeks she has been on house arrest due to the phenomenal amount of snow, except for wee excursions into the back patio area to do her business. She has a collection of footwear and bandages - from vetwrap with sheep or pigs on it, to a rubber boot for heading outside for a quick pee, to a purple 'balloon' that covers her bandage for other short excursions - and a non slip sock-monkey sock which holds her bandage in place and helps her move around the house. The latter is my favourite. 😊

Maggie models a few of her wardrobe additions.

A day of rain and a day of sun this week,  and much of the 20" of snow has disappeared except where it was piled up by plows or left on sidewalks to be pounded into ice by passing feet.  I'm hoping that after today's checkup she will be cleared for somewhat longer walks once the ground is ice-free and snow-free, though her bandage will likely remain on for quite a while yet until the side-slits have healed more. 

Meanwhile, we watch birds through the window, play a lot of puzzle games and do some training in the house, and long for days when we can get back to the parks and the beaches.  

Anna's Hummingbird sits on a tree outside our window

Except the beach near our house will be off limits for the next two months as the migrating Brandt geese rest and feed here on their long journey from Mexico back up to Alaska.  No dogs, on leash or off, allowed on any of the Oceanside beaches from Mar 1st (or Feb 15, in some places) until May 1st.   We saw the first of the migration before the snow came, during our early fooled-ya spring in January: 

Black Brandt geese with a few photobombing sandpipers and a seagull

Maggie is going to be so bummed out!

Wake me when it's over.
House Arrest is so boring.
Life without the beach? Unimaginable!  

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Emma has left for the Rainbow Bridge

December 01, 2004 - January 22, 2019

Tonight, my Emma is running free at the Rainbow Bridge. 

Emma was just a baby when her dad brought her home - a wiggling, happy, silly, plump little yellow lab puppy to be company for our border collie-rough collie cross Charley.  I was on sabbatical from work and would be at home for the first eight or nine months after Emma's arrival, a great opportunity to teach her and exercise her and bond with her.

Hai! Can I come live with you?
I promise I'll only chew things I'm supposed to.
I'd never, ever, ever, chew your shoes. No, never. 

Emma in snow
Mah big sister Charley can show me the ropes.
Sit!  I can Sit! 

Part of her socialization was to spend one or two days a week at doggy daycare, where she loved playing with dogs of all breeds and sizes, and went hiking for hours in the hills of the Fraser Valley. 

Emma (in front) and her daycare buddies on a spring hike

When Emma was about 18 months old, her dad and I split up.  We both desperately wanted Emma, but as we had two dogs and the law considers dogs 'property', we were given no choice but to each take one.  As Emma was bonded to each of us, but Charley only to me, Charley came with me, and Emma stayed with her dad, with an agreement in place for me to continue to see her regularly.

Emma grew from an exuberant pup to an exuberant teen to an exuberant adult.  There is a saying that labs remain puppies until they are about eight years old, and this was certainly true of Emma.  She had lots of energy and that legendary happy lab attitude, and would coerce anyone she could into throwing a ball or a stick for her, especially if treats were involved.

Food motivated, play motivated, happy happy happy Emma was a quick learner, and even as the years went by and distance made visits a bit less frequent, she still happily went through her routine of sit, stay, down, come, heel, fetch, etc. whenever I visited. 

The older I get, the more I like doing "down"

Emma remembered me from visit to visit, greeting me enthusiastically.  But when treats were gone and playtime was over, she quickly ran back to her door and her dad and her soft spot on the couch. 

Mom! You came! Hiya!

Emma love water - from the time she was a pup and right through her senior years, you could not keep her out of a pool or a lake or a stream.  And if you had a stick to throw for her, she would happily pursue it, using her strong lab tail as a rudder as she retrieved it and swam back to shore, head up and proud as punch.

Several years ago, Emma and her dad started spending summers in the interior of BC, where  Emma reveled in the attention of new friends and enjoyed frequent cooling swims in the streams and more time with her dad.  In 2017, they moved there permanently.  She had aged considerably the previous year, and I knew there was a good chance I wouldn't see her again.  Her dad kept me updated on her well being and activities and sent me photos of her enjoying her new life.

Emma having summertime fun in BC's interior
Emma and her best friend Abby

Yesterday, Emma went for a nice long walk with her dad.  This morning she got up as usual.  And then this afternoon, she appeared to have suffer either a stroke or a cardiac event from which she could not recover.  Her dad and a caring vet were with her at the end, and she peacefully slipped away.

Emma, you were the bestest, happiest, most loving lab in the world, and I smile through my tears just writing this.  You made me laugh with your antics, your expressions, your funny little wrinkles on your brow as you worked something out, your ball-crazy and water-crazy and stick-crazy energy. 

You had lots of friends, human and canine, but most of all you had us. A mom who gave you a good start, a dad who continued to love you and take care of you to the very end.  Run free, happy girl, run free at the Rainbow Bridge. 

Thank you, Emma's dad, for all the love you gave her and for keeping me in her life.  She was one very lucky and very loved dog and neither of us will ever forget her.

In life we loved you dearly, in death we love you still,
In our hearts you hold a place no one could ever fill. 

(Author unknown)  

Monday, January 21, 2019

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Eagle at the Beach

Most mornings we see eagles at the beach - up in the tree, or out on a sandbar or small island, or - sometimes, on a tree stump right along the shore.  This one was flying around with his or her mate for awhile, before landing to watch the sun rise with us. 

I hope your mornings are us full of magical moments as ours are!

Monday, January 14, 2019

I love to go a-wandering ....

I often find myself humming that old song, The Happy Wanderer, when I'm out tromping around in the forests.  Remember it? "I love to go a-wandering/along the mountain track/and as I go, I love to sing/my knapsack on my back ♪ ♪ "

Today was no exception, as my Monday hiking buddy and I headed out to explore two connected parks a few minutes drive from my home - Top Bridge Park and Englishman River Regional Park.  It was one of the best hikes we've had in a long while (which is why I'm skipping over some backlogged photos of other outings to blog about this one).  After wind, rain, storms, power outages, fatigue, Christmas, and other factors kept us selecting urban parks, as nice as they were, it was great to be back in the woods on more rustic trails in more isolated environs.

We started at Top Bridge Park.  While there is a 5 km trail from Parksville up to the top of the park, we chose to begin at the end of Allsbrook, where both Top Bridge Park and Englishman River Regional Park (not to be confused with the nearby provincial park of the same name) have trail heads. 

Top Bridge Park is a popular swimming area in summer, according to my sources, and I can see why - lots of accessible, warm, flat rocks and shallow beachy areas leading to what, in summer, would be calm pools of beautiful cooling water.  This time of year, however, the river was somewhat more dangerous.  We walked across the long, wobbly, metal suspension bridge, taking photographs as we went. Because of the bridge, I had chosen not to take Maggie on this hike (sorry, Marie, no doggy photos today!), and that was a good decision - not only was the bridge long and wobbly, but the deck was open-grid metal with those sharp upward-pointing non-slip spikes that few dogs would be willing to walk on.

Top Bridge suspension bridge

Looking down from the suspension bridge

After exploring the far side of the bridge, we wobbled our way back and then headed along a trail that would link up with the Englishman River riverside trail through the regional park.  The trail was quite easy walking with only a few minor uphill or downhill sections, and well marked (though we could have used a few extra 'maps' along the way to help us orient ourselves through the loops and dead-ends and options available). 

We found some comfy logs on which to sit to eat our lunch, while looking out on the river and the trees beyond.  The morning fog had lifted and blue skies appeared to warm the day.

Continuing on, we came to the end of Beaver Pond, where we saw no beavers, but did see their home.  The angle didn't work for taking a photo of the dam (unless I wanted to wade out into the pond!), but the view from behind the dam was quite lovely.

The beavers get to enjoy this view from the front of their lodge
(we didn't see the beavers - perhaps they were hibernating).

A better view of the dam, from the back.

Continuing on along the side of Beaver Pond, we looked out at reeds and grasses reflected in the blue water, and saw a heron perched in a tree.

Reaching the end of the pond, we continued walking the trails for awhile, over little bridges, past clearings and lookout points.  We admired the incredibly high clay banks, towering above us across the narrow river, and the sunlit river views, smooth rocks, and silhouetted deadwood.

Sally beneath the towering clay cliffs

I love to wander by the stream/that dances in the sun/So joyously it calls to me/ 'Come join my happy song' ♫

Stones washed smooth by time and river

Deadwood reflected in water

We were nearing the Allsbrook fish hatchery and several other trail loops when we noticed  the sun was starting to sink in the sky, creating a backlit beauty to the moss-covered trees:

We decided it was time to head back to the car, and to save the rest for another day.  No doubt, this was just the first of many hikes we'll take in these parks.