Friday, October 31, 2008


I won't write "Happy" in front of the word Hallowe'en, as I know that this is not a happy day for many critters out there - strangers at their door, voices in the street, and worst of all, firecrackers going off around them.

Firecrackers terrify many dogs. Every Hallowe'en I hear of yet another dog or two or three who "never runs" "never leaves the yard" "always comes when called" who ran, broke out of the yard, and didn't come when called. No matter HOW sure you are that your dog will not bolt and cannot get out of your yard, please keep your dog on leash at all times this afternoon and this evening - when you take him/her out for a pee AND when you open the door to children. It only takes a split second for your pet to be spooked and bolt.

Even if firecrackers and fireworks are illegal in your community, you know that some kids will still be setting them off. Try giving a little Rescue Remedy (available from most health food stores and some drug stores) and turning up the volume on the television in the room where your dog is spending her/his time today.

I can't help but feel concern for Misty, who is still missing in the Pitt Meadows/Maple Ridge area. She bolted at the sound of a gun last Sunday; tonight will be terrifying for her.

Edited to add:
This just in - an update from Jim:
Misty was spotted Thurs 6pm about one mile west of where she was spotted three
days ago. She was trying to cross over the Lougheed Hwy (4 lanes 80kmh)westbound at the Golden Ears Chrysler dealership at Tamarack Ln and Lougheed, which is one block east of 232 St. The reason she was crossing was Kanaka Creek goes under the Lougheed Hwy there and she cannot get back across the creek without going over it on the Lougheed Hwy or on the CP main line trestle. She appears to want to head back to where she came from which I believe are via CP tracks. The woman that called me almost hit her on the Lougheed Hwy and there was another woman parked at Tamarack Ln trying to call her off the highway. She would not come to the woman that was calling her. She was last seen heading north from the Lougheed Hwy up Tamarack Ln. We rushed out there tonight and went up there but a few blocks away they had a fireworks display go off which had huge air bangs, which were way louder than what spooked her in the first place. Don’t know where she is going to be tomorrow but six of us are going to spread out around the
area and call her and put more posters up. The good news is she is still
alive and has not traveled too far in the last three days. The first day she
went about 10 miles and she only went about one mile in the last three days.

So close to being safe, and then the fireworks...... Please, Great Spirit, guide Misty to safety this morning.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Room With A View

Sitting in my university office yesterday, I was contemplating the many changes that I have seen in the twenty-something years since I first came to work at what was then a small community college. My first office had no view at all - in fact, I don't recall if it even had a window. My second office had a view of the heating system and parking lot. And finally, when the campus expanded several years later, my department moved to a new building and I moved into A Room With A View, the office I still inhabit today.

When I first moved into this office, I had a clear view of the mountains, including the magnificant Mt. Baker, rimming the horizon. The view of Mt. Baker was very meaningful to me, for I had grown up admiring its splendor from my family home. (It wasn't until after I had left home and my folks had moved elsewhere that we discovered Baker is actually a volcano - a discovery which prompted my dad to say he would never have slept as soundly as he did, had he known!)

Between the growth of the campus buildings and the growth of the trees outside my window, I have lost much of the original view. Only a few distant peaks from the endless chain remain visible on a clear and sunny fall day. To gaze at Mt. Baker now I must take a stroll across campus, across the green, past the library, past the bookstore and student residences.....and there it is, that incredible peak rising majestically above all the others in the distance. Sadly, I seldom have time for such a stroll.

I miss the small campus and the big view. I miss the small town feeling and the big world vision. I liked things how they were - I have always tended to resist change rather than embrace it. But I had forgotten how changing landscapes bring their own beauty. Just as the seasons come and go in my pasture, each with its own special beauty, so too I watch the years come and go from my office --- and while the view is ever changing, it still has the ability to invoke a sense of reverence.

One of these days I must take the time to wander across campus with my camera and capture Mt. Baker's beauty for the blog. For now, however, I shall just enjoy my Room With A View. We truly live in a beautiful world.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Humankind's Shame

Today, four separate incidents, each showing humankind's inhumanity:

A 19 month old collie with a few minor, fixable behavioural issues (from lack of training) was euthanized at the request of his owner, who had refused help from a rescue organization to find a suitable home for the dog. Shame on the owner, and shame on the vet that would euth a perfectly healthy dog.

A 14 year old Shih tzu is sitting in a vet clinic waiting for someone to be willing to adopt her, after she was "left behind" by her owners. What kind of owner abandons their 14 year old dog? What kind of owner abandons ANY age animal????? Shame on them!!

A pig, a horse and a llama are left on a property by the person responsible for them, a person who sold the property and told the purchasers "you'll have to take the animals, too". The new owners closed the deal and then proceeded to dump the animals on whatever rescue or shelter they could dump them on. One new incoming piggy for Hearts on Noses. Shame on the old owner, shame on the purchaser.

Endless ads on craigslist of people getting rid of senior dogs, young dogs, middle aged dogs, cats, horses, bunnies......animals they swore they loved and now no longer do. While there are a few legitimate reasons for rehoming (I have great sympathy for people with life-changing crises in their lives, such as having to move into an eldercare facility) the vast majority of those advertising on craigslist don't seem to give a d*mn. Shame on them.

Another pig, dumped on the sanctuary property while the sanctuary owner is away at her paid job. No notice, no nothing.....Janice comes home to find a young unneutered male pig running around her property. Good thing none of the other pigs were out for their pasture time - you can't just throw a stranger into the midst of a herd animal. Of course, the cost of building a house, building a pen, neutering the pig, feeding the pig, will all fall on the shoulders of the already over-extended sanctuary. Fingers crossed that this is a lost pig who broke out of his yard and some well-meaning good samaritan managed to grab it and didn't know what else to do with it other than take it to the sanctuary. Hopefully that lost pig has human family frantically searching for it. I'll reserve the "shame on you" until we know the full story.

Some days people just plain suck. Is it any wonder my heart belongs to the critters?

Please help find Misty!

I know there are many readers from the Maple Ridge/Mission/Pitt Meadows area, and I am asking for your help to locate a lost dog. She is a slim medium size saluki-husky X, mainly black with tan eyebrows and white markings on her chest and legs. She is shy, but is normally people and dog friendly. She is wearing ID. Misty was adopted from Turtle Gardens Rescue Society.

On Sunday, Misty was out for a walk with Jim, her human companion, on the Fraser dikes about two miles west of the Pitt Meadows airport when gunshots frightened her and she bolted.

Jim reports that she was spotted yesterday evening about 8 miles east of the Pitt Meadows airport, at 240th and Lougheed Highway. She likely followed the railway tracks and then crossed over the wide, busy Lougheed Highway, heading north. Searchers converged on the area but could not locate her.

Please call Jim at 604-209-3438 if you have any information or can help search, put up posters, etc.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Who's dat on OUR ROOF????????

RobRoy: I tink it might be SANTY CLAWS!!!!

No, silly, Chwistmas isn’t for anuver couple of months!

Well, maybe he’s just doin’ a dry run, checking where all the chiminineys are?

I don’ts think so…….he came last year so he knows where our chimininey is .

Martin the Alpaca:
Maybe it’s the BIG BAD WOLF!!!


Foster Mama:
Silly piggies! It’s not the big bad wolf. It’s the Big Good Jim. He’s putting a new tarp on your roof to keep you all DRY when it rains and snows! He’s a friend of the Piggy Lady from Hearts on Noses; she arranged for him to come here.

Oooooh!! That waz vewy nice of her! An’ vewy nice of him, too! We will like having a nice dry barn.

Awww…. I wanted it to be Santy Claws.

Mama Soda: Well, if you are all very good little piggies, I’m sure Santy Claws will come visit you in about eight weeks from now. And in the meantime, you can enjoy your nice dry bed with the fresh sun-warmed blankets that Foster Mama has put down for us. Good night!

Piggies: Good night Mama Soda. Good night Papa. Thank you Piggy Lady and Foster Mama and Mr. Jim
. We will sleep tight now.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Friday Flicks

I've never understood what draws people to the theatre, where the seats are uncomfortable, the volume too loud, the screen blocked by others, and the people around you obnoxiously sniffing and munching and talking and coughing.

Television is little better, with annoying advertisements in which someone screams at the viewer about low prices, or women flaunt their (hetero)sexuality in exchange for a glass of beer. Then there's the steady stream of so-called (un)reality shows that practically make me gag, and the continual screaming and yelling of dramas and sitcoms.

It is so much more restful and entertaining to watch the dogs rather than commericial media. Ellen and the whippet boys were over for our usual Friday Night Beer and Food Fest, and then we chatted companionably in front of the now-working natural gas fireplace with the six dogs. (Of course, I was probably annoying the heck out of Ellen with my attempts to capture the mood on film - or computer chip - but she is too polite to tell me to "Stop that!!"! )

Here's a few of my favourite images:

Sadie and Kinley spent the evening curled up together on the couch:

I love the way Kinley uses Sadie's tail as a pillow!

Who me?

Oliver is so photogenic:

And so is Kinley:

One relaxed Sadie:

And one image from earlier in the day, when the dogs and I finally got out in the pasture for a walk:

Friday, October 24, 2008

A close but beautiful encounter

It is a good thing today is a non-teaching day for me or I would have had the dogs in the pasture before the day was light. As it is, the cloud cover and fall colours masked the presence of Brazen Coyote until we were practically upon him. Sadly, this will mean an end to our morning walks in the pasture for a while.

I had done a quick check of the pasture, but in the grey morning light saw nothing of concern. The dogs bounded up the path – Charley and Sadie in the lead, Belle and Oliver investigating the trail behind me. Charley and Sadie were clearly excited, prancing back and forth, side to side, as they checked out the fresh smells of coyote or bear or deer or small ground critters that greet them each morning.

While the big dogs were off checking the western fence, I paused to wait for the little ones to catch up. That’s when I saw him – Brazen Coyote, not fifteen feet along the path in front of me. Despite sitting in the middle of a cleared trail, he was virtually invisible, camoflaged as his multi-coloured coat of browns and greys and whites and goldens and reds blended in with the grasses and shrubs behind him. Thank goodness my big dogs did not see him first, for I suspect their “reliable recall” might not withstand the temptation of a coyote to chase or to fight with. Brazen's eyes met mine and he turned tail and started up the hill, heading toward the trees beyond.

I hurriedly reversed direction, calling the dogs to me and hustling them back toward the relative safety of the yard. I was about a hundred feet from the pasture gate, when I glanced behind me to ensure Brazen had taken off.

And there he was, following us down the path, perhaps thirty feet to the rear. He did not seem to be in prey mode, just curious and alert. But a wild coyote is not a pet, and I have no intention of trying to tame him – it is in neither his best interest nor mine.

I got the dogs to safety, then went back to flap my arms and yell at him to back off. Instead, he just sat and watched this silly overweight woman in pj's and winter coat flapping around like a fool, and within minutes he lay down on the path to enjoy the show. Sigh.

Dogs in the house, I stood at the pasture gate and watched him watching me. After a while he decided I was a rather boring reality show, and showed me what real entertainment is – a coyote pouncing on field mice, happily doing whatever it is that coyotes do best.

I feel honoured to see this part of nature so close up; he is truly a beautiful animal and his cat-like moves and canine features are a combination that never fails to fill me with awe and reverence for the natural world.

Thanks for being part of my life, Brazen. You touch my soul even if you complicate my routine.

The dogs will get a walk in the pasture later today, or perhaps even a trip to the dikes or the park. But until the mornings are once again light before breakfast, our break-of-day jaunts are hereby curtailed.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Princess has been de-throned!!

In the five weeks that Oliver has been with me, he has never chosen to sleep in a bed or crate, preferring the floor instead. This is consistent with what I know of his habits in his former home - he chose to sleep on the floor rather than on the people bed or in a dog bed.
Suddenly today, he changed his mind. First he wandered over to the Petmate raised bed near my armchair - a bed Charley has had from puppyhood, but now also frequented by Sadie and Belle. It is the most popular bed in the house. He stuck his nose along the edge, put his paw on it, looked at me, hopped up, and settled down for a nice long nap.

A few hours later, he got up and wandered into my office where I was working at my desk. There are two crates in my office - one is constantly used only by Belle, and the other by Charley. Neither like to share "their" crates. And what does Sir Oliver do? He brazenly struts into Belle's crate, ignores her alligator-like little snaps and protests, starts pawing at the mattress, and settles in for the night. Our Princess Belle haughtily moved out and with a deep sigh settled down on the floor.

Belle! I can't believe you let him get away with that! Was it royal graciousness or are you one of those females that lets a man control your life? We need to have a little talk!

Dear Brazen

Dear Brazen Coyote
I'm sorry I haven't seen you to say hello to the last few days. The very large, fat, dead mole you left by the pasture gate this morning was a kind and generous gift. However, as mole is not a part of either the dogs' diet or my own, please share it with your many kin who were howling all around here last night. I have carefully placed it over the other side of our pasture fence so you may retrieve it. Thank you for your sweet gesture.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Uh oh......we's in BIG TWOUBLE!!!

Ummmm......we finks we is in BIG twouble!!! Reawwy BIG twouble!!!! Our Foster Mama is NOT happy wiv us tonight. No siree. Not one widdle bit.

Foster Mama stayed up vewy vewy vewy late last night, till two-firty, marking papers. Then she gots up again this morning early cuz she forgots to tell Belle not to sound the sheltie alarm at o-dark-firty like she always does. So Foster Mama was pretty tired all day today. An' she went to the unityversity to teach an' it waz gettin' late an almost dark an' we waz hungry. It was 'way past our dinner time. But we fixed that. We helpeded ourselves!

When Foster Mama camed home, she let the dogs out of the house and then headed to the barn. She heard us before she saw us. Or she heard us before she saw this:

An' this:

Those garbage bins was all fulls, waitin' to go to the dump. They nots full no more - we waz doin' her a favour!!!! We emptied them an ate up as much as we coulds. Now she won't hafta pay to dump them! We even licked all the papers clean!
We also ates up the nice big watermelons that were hidin' in the big Wubbermade totes:

An we ates a tote an' a half of apples too:

Umm....we dids dent some big tins that held tweets, an' got the lids off the alpaca food an' even off one of our grain bins, so I guess we made a bit of a mess. But we cleaned it up by dumping a five gallon pail of water on the floor to wash away the watermelon and apple joose.

Foster Mama isn't sure how we got out into the main part of the barn from our stall, cuz our gate was still latched. We didn't tell her that we wiggleded it opens and then we pusheded it shut again wiv our cute little patooties.

We was scared when Foster Mama came in, even though she didn't yell at us. She just groaned. Loudly. An' groaned some more. An' said "Ohhhhh you piggies! What have you done???!!!".
We all ran in every direction but we couldn'ts get back into our pen 'cuz every time Foster Mama opened it, sumbody would crash around an' bump it shut again. Foster Mama couldn't get it to stay open 'cuz of all the containers we'd spread around everywhere. We was panicky. One of us even twied to climb through the slats. He jumped up onto these two split rails which is a foot above the floor.

He gots stuck!!!! Foster Mama was vewy scared he was gonna break a leg, but he managed to get hisself outta there and we was all standing on all four legs later so she thinks he's okay.

When Foster Mama moved the tubs an got the gate to the stall open, Mama Soda stood there and waited while all us liddle piggies raced back to safety. These three of my bruvers were the last to go in - they was in the furthest corner of the barn and vewy scared. They was tryin to be brave an' to pretend they didn't do nuffin':

"Wasn't us! Reawwy!!! We didn't do nuffin'!"

But foster mama gave them lots of room and they raced back to the stall and then Mama Soda told us we should ask nicely for our dinner.

Foster Mama said "NO DINNER FOR YOU!!!!" so we all stood vewy, vewy, vewy still and were very quiet while she fumbleded around in the dark trying to clean up the mess.

Martin is mad at us cuz he didn't get no dinner since it was all dark in the pasture an' he had given up an' gone back to his favourite campin out spot. The dogs is mad at us cuz they didn't get to go out in the pasture cuz it was vewy dark when Foster Mama waz finished. Foster Mama is mad at us cuz we made a lot of work an' we scared her an' besides she was wearin' her most favouritist light tan cotton pants an they not very light tan no more.
Foster Mama sat on a container an' looked at us through the slats.

After a liddle while, we said

"You still mad at us, Foster Mama????"

An' then we said

"We's vewy sowwy Foster Mama."

We saw a liddle smile on her face an' then she laughed an' we laughed ha ha ha and then she got us some food and put us all to bed. And that was our vewy adventurous day.

Don't tell foster mama..tee hee.....but....tee hee hee....Bwhaaa haaa hhhaaaaaa...


An' now we hear her comin out of the shower so we best gets back to bed and go to sleeps. G'night All.

Love, Toddy, Fizzy, Lizzie, Rickey, RobRoy, Whisper, Tom, Spritzer, Swizzle, and Derby (an our mama and papa, Scotch and Soda).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bits and pieces

Just a short post as I'm up to my eyeballs with work. Oliver is doing fine (oohhhh, he is SUCH a sweet boy! I am so in love with him!), though his boy parts are still swollen which is a bit of a cause for concern. He returns to the vet Saturday for another checkup. Ellen came over Sunday to remove his bum stitches, and everything there has healed up really nicely. He must be feeling better as he runs and dances his way down the pasture, having the time of his life.

The rain has held off, so we are all a wee bit happier. I picked up some more tarps on the weekend to cover things inside the barn. Hopefully we will find someone who can put the humungous outside tarps up on the barn roof and tack them down with strips of wood.

The days are getting so short! I am not looking forward to the end of daylight savings time - it is already dark when I feed in the morning and almost dark when I feed at night. It becomes more difficult to give the dogs a proper walk in the safety of the pasture or to give the piggies their pasture time on days that I have classes. Spring can't come fast enough for me. Too bad we have winter between fall and spring!

I haven't seen Brazen Coyote since Saturday morning - I don't know if he has moved on, or if young Master Buck became a very filling feast for him, reducing the need to hunt mice and voles in my pasture. I haven't seen Master Buck or any of the local deer or bear since last week either.

Here's a few pictures from the other day:

Piggies in pasture:

Martin needs his bangs trimmed!:

Charley, enjoying a rest in the pasture:

Charley and Oliver holding a conference (and Belle objecting!):

The fall colours are amazing - I saw the most glorious brilliant yellow tree on my way home today, and a whole yard of multi-coloured reds and salmons and yellows and oranges yesterday. With the sun shining on them, they are absolutely breathtaking. I think I should start taking my camera in the car with me!

Back to the books.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Girls just wanna have fun!

Charley, Belle and Sadie playing in the pasture.
(Oliver declines to join in, but watches from the sidelines).

And one more of girls having fun:

Looks like my arthritic senior dogs are still young at heart!

Pigs on the Run!

A beautiful day - piggies got some pasture time, and I couldn't resist sharing what it looks like heading out to pasture and returning back to the barn. (My apologies to those who have only dial-up internet - I'm betting this takes forever to load!).

Hey piggies, the gate is OPEN!

A conversation with Soda:

Oh piggies - dinner time!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Noah! Send help!

The barn is floating away....well, maybe not quite but I do believe we could use a carpenter like Noah to build us an ark. I've had no time to make arrangements to get the roof, doors and gutters fixed, nor to supervise anyone onsite (I don't trust strangers around my critters!), and so it has been left undone.
And now I am paying for it with stress and worry. The water is pouring into the garage all over my tools, part of the ceiling looks ready to come crashing down, the thinly tarped straw and hay and alfalfa is getting wet from both above and below (I KNEW there was a reason to only buy one bale at a time), the water is washing across the floors under the tarps, into the piggy stall...........yikes.

Let's can I put a positive spin on this?
As long as it is raining, the pipes in the barn won't freeze.
I don't have to worry about the well going dry.
I have a good excuse not to clean the piggy yard - it is a foot deep in thick mud.
I really needed to throw out a lot of stuff in the barn anyway.
It will help me get my priorities straight.
I can take it as a lesson about procrastination.

In other news: Oliver had his checkup today. His mouth looks awesome, his butt looks awesome (Oliver is blushing!), but his - ahem - balls, not so awesome. Apparently the size of the tumour that was removed left a lot of skin behind that is not shrinking and is still swollen and hot. We have him on another antibiotic and will return in another week. If it doesn't go down by itself, he may need another operation to remove the scrotal sac. Meanwhile, he has to keep wearing the dreaded cone. Oh, and GOOD NEWS - all the tumours from both the testicles and the butt end were benign and localized.

And that's all for now. My sister has just arrived for a photography conference, my students are awaiting their midterm marks and their assignments, and the dishes are waiting to be washed.

Hmmm...maybe I could just spread the dishes out on the leaky barn floor.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Things that go bump in the night

My all-too-short-sleep was interupted twice last night by the bump...crash...thump...MEOW!..bump..crash...thump...YOWL!...
bump...crash....MEOW...thump, caused by THIS:

Allie and Oliver, the middle of the night is NOT the time to play games, especially noisy ones. And Allie, the bathtub was a silly place to hide. It's your own fault that Oliver shoved you in with his cone - you shouldn't have made fun of him, let alone stuck your face in his funnel.

(Oh, how I wish I had been awake enough to snap that last image - alas, my reflexes are a wee bit slow at 3:00 AM and all I got was one big blur).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sharing the Magic

What's the price of a day's visit to my little corner of the world? My friend Ellen can tell you:

Gas for return trip from a nearby community: $15.00
Treats for the dogs: $8.00
Gumboots for the muddy pig yard: $25.00
Apples for the pigs: $5.00
The opportunity to experience the magic: Priceless!

Ellen came over to dog sit for me while I went to class today, as I wasn’t comfortable leaving Oliver with his stitches and unwieldy cone for that length of time. She sewed up some drapes for me, shoveled piggy poop, played with the dogs, and she experienced what I am fortunate to experience every day: the incredible magic of life in this great place.

In fact, she got to see something I hadn’t seen – a young deer in my pasture, just 20 feet from the pasture gate.

I’ve seen deer in the neighbour’s unfenced yard and in the big fields across the street, but not right in my pasture, not just 20 feet from the gate, not right next to the piggy yard, not just a few feet away from Martin who was quite happy to share with him......and certainly not with Brazen Coyote patiently watching from just yards down the path!!

A deer, an alpaca, a family of piggies, six dogs and a coyote - all within yards of each other, in this beautiful setting of trees and grasses and mountains and creek.

Magic. Pure magic.

I'm so glad Ellen got to experience the magic. I'm so glad she had her camera handy to capture it. And I'm so glad she was there to make sure the deer didn’t end up being Brazen’s dinner. Good luck, little deer – do come again!
And Ellen, thank you. Come visit any time!

Now THAT'S Brazen!

As I was about to enter the pasture with the dogs this morning, I scanned the fields to make sure Brazen Coyote was not hanging around. My eyes rested on something nondescript lying on my bench at the top of the rise. Had I left my jacket there yesterday when I sat to meditate and enjoy the view?

No way - yesterday was pouring rain. Perhaps I had left a sweater or coat there on the previous day. Leaving the dogs in the yard, I wandered up the path through the pasture. As I neared the foot of the hill, the "jacket" sat up - Brazen Coyote!! Taking a nap on MY bench! In MY favourite spot!!

I continued up the trail, and he hopped off. Sitting up straight (such a beautiful animal!) he watched me advance before he sauntered off through some bent wires in the fence to the trees beyond.

I returned for the dogs, and watched as Sadie, Charley and Oliver (yes, Oliver! he's obviously feeling much better today, thank you) raced through the pasture and up the hill. Princess Belle took her own sweet time, stopping to investigate every leaf, every smell. Holding my position in the middle, I suddenly noticed Brazen had doubled back through the neighbour's field and was now eyeing Belle with interest.

I called the other three and ran back toward Belle, and together we made our way home. Obviously I need a new strategy for morning walks, yet with shorter hours of daylight seperate trips for fast dogs and slow dogs is problematic. And securely fencing (with impenetrable fencing to keep coyote out) all five rented acres is just not in the budget.

Oh, Brazen, what are we going to do about you? As a kindred spirit, I understand the pleasures of the pasture and the bench at the top of the rise. I will share, but please leave the pasture for me for an hour in the morning and evening so the dogs can safely have a run.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Now that I have downed a thousand cups of coffee to make up for my sleepless night, fed the pigs, fed Martin, chased Brazen out of the pasture so the dogs can have their walk..... now that Oliver is fast asleep in front of the fridge and it is raining so I can’t finish the lawn I started that three of my four midterms are written up and the dishes are washed and the trip to the store for groceries is behind I can take time to be thankful.

I’m thankful for this beautiful province of ours, where the days of weather that is too hot or too cold are few and even the rainy weather eventually ends to reveal an amazing landscape of colour and sights and scents and sounds. I am especially thankful for my little corner of the province, where I get to drink in its beauty every single morning from my little hill in the pasture.

I’m thankful for the many critters with whom I share my life, both those that live with me and those I help from afar. I have learned from each and every one of them. I'm thankful for strong little Oliver and scrawny little Belle, for resilient Charley, soft gentle Sadie, and mischievous Allie. I’m thankful for funny piggy noises and funny piggy noses, and for an alpaca who teaches fearlessness and fortitude when those you cared about treat you badly. I am so very thankful for all the animals, past and present, who have touched me so deeply, brought love and laughter to my life, and helped me to grow.

I’m thankful, oh so thankful, I had the chance to love and raise Emma, and to know Caleb’s kisses and Isaac’s pressure against my side as we sat on the grass together, to feel Francis’s frail body in my lap, head tucked under my arm. They all so deeply touched my heart and awoke in me a compassion so compelling and alive that it could not help but spread and grow.

I’m thankful for my human family, ever supportive, and my human friends, always ready to listen and lend a hand. I’m thankful for the Spirit that guides my life, that gives me hope, that revives my soul when darkness falls, that connects me to nature in all its varied forms.

And I’m thankful for my readers with whom I get to share this journey of my life with the critters.

We live in a very blessed world; we need only to reach out with our hearts and our hands to share its richness with others less fortunate so they, too, can feel joy in their lives.

Happy Joyful Thanksgiving, everyone.

Free to a good home

Two shelties. Acting in cahoots to keep me awake the whole darn night. I am exhausted. New owner must be able to survive with two hours sleep a night.

After sleeping all day yesterday and having no problem with his plastic cone that keeps him from obsessing over his sutures, Oliver decided to start his pacing and bashing around just as I went to bed. He was frantic outside, frantic inside, bashed into everything. (I’m beginning to think he might have nightblindedness – even before the surgery, he was always bumping into things at night – doors, walls, other dogs).

Around 2 AM, I took him out on leash and practically raced him around my very large yard half a dozen times, then brought him in, dumped him in the kitchen, went into my bedroom and shut the door in desperation for some sleep.

There was silence for about an hour and a half before he started bumping his cone on the bedroom door. Bump. Bump. Bump. Got up, took him out again, tried taking him to bed with me but he wanted none of that. Put him back in the kitchen, this time with the light on. Silence until five, when Ms Belle decided to sing a serenade.

Yip (2,3,4) Yip (2,3,4) Yip (2,3,4).....

Wearily, I got up thinking she needed out. Nope, she’s still in her bed, looking at me down her long sheltie nose. Singing.

Yip (2,3,4) Yip (2,3,4) Yip (2,3,4,)....

I told her we are not amused. Sir Oliver was, for once, fast asleep on the kitchen floor but woke to find out what the commotion was about. I insisted both shelties go out in the rain to pee. None of us were impressed. Back into the house. Put on the coffee. Collapsed on the bed while waiting for coffee to brew.

Sweet silence. Disturbed only by the most bizarre dreams of a long-ago (35 years ago) ex husband, a camping trip, an antique store, and an artist friend (hey Debbie! What’re you doin’ in my dream???????), my mother, and a park in the middle of a city.

Until 7:15 when the dreaded bump..bump..bump of conehead on walls and doors starts all over again.

Yesterday I phoned every pet store within a reasonable driving distance looking for one of the new soft cones or donuts so at least Oliver's nighttime meanderings would be less noisy. The plastic ones are the pits, yet no one carries the soft ones. They are only available online, it seems – and by the time they get here, Oliver won’t need it.

I do NOT do well without sleep. Thank goodness today is a stat holiday.

And before someone thinks I'm really offering the shelties free to a good home - not on your life! But if you have a soft cone, I'll trade you for the plastic one, ten buckets of piggy poop for your garden, and my first born child. Oh, wait, she's finally all grown up and turned into a lovely woman and besides she and her husband and dog might object neighbour's dog, that's it, I'll trade you for the neighbour's dog. The one who lives outside and barks half the night to keep the gremlins away.


Edited to add:
And where is Sir Oliver while I type this???? Fast asleep on the kitchen floor in the exact same place he was most of yesterday - right in front of the refrigerator. The sweet sheltie diet plan. I just wish I'd taken the coffee creamer out before he flaked out.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Morning News

Oliver on road to recovery; Coyote keeps close watch

Sir Oliver is recovering well from his surgery, after a restless evening but a sound sleep towards morning. The tooth fairy, however, did not leave any coins or paper money under his pillow; this writer suspects she left it under the vet’s pillow to help pay for the surgery.

Or perhaps she couldn’t figure out how to leave it under a head that is wedged against the door jamb like this:

Oliver enjoyed his usual morning walk in the pasture. We only went part way today as Brazen Coyote was watching closely, licking his lips in anticipation of one scrawny sheltie and one sheltie recuperating from surgery. If you look closely at the first two photos (or click to enlarge) you’ll see Brazen Coyote checking us out. (Sorry for the poor quality of the photo!)

Hearts on Noses Fundraiser! Join in the fun!

Hearts on Noses is a registered non-profit in Maple Ridge that rescues, rehabilitates and cares for unwanted, orphaned, abused, neglected and/or abandoned mini-pigs. Currently there are 26 Vietnamese Pot Bellied pigs and 2 farm pigs living on site plus the family of twelve being fostered by My Life with the Critters.

Date: Saturday, November 1st, 2008
Time: 6:00 to 10:00 pm
Where: The Golden Spike Pub, 3224 St. John's, Port Moody, BC
Admission: $15 per ticket

Menu Items:
1 Veggie burger with fries or tossed green salad
2. Veggie stir fry
3. Veggie pasta in marinara sauce with garlic toast

To order tickets, phone or email Wendi at 778-882-9247 or email her at Payment can be made via paypal at the Hearts on Noses website. Please indicate your meal preference from the above menu items, and order tickets prior to October 20th so numbers can be confirmed.

Great dinner, great company, and LOTS of great prizes and draws!

Calling all piggy fans: check out the new blog!

Hearts on Noses has started a blog! Now those who don’t get enough piggy stories and pictures at My Life with the Critters can learn more about life with piggies from Janice Gillett, owner of Hearts on Noses, at her new blog here.

And that's it for the morning news.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Hey Toof Fairy!!!!

These are all the toofs I lost yesterday. I will leave them under my pillow tonight. I hopes you will leaves me sum shiny monies (though my mom sez paper monies would be even better!). Or maybe you could leave me sumthing to makes the pain in my mouf and my butt go away? I is not feelin' too good tonite.

Luv, Oliver

The morning walk

Please join us on our morning walk!

The sun is just rising, lighting up the frosty fields:

With the falling leaves, we can see the mountains in the distance. Soon we will be able to see a ring of mountains surrounding our home:

It’s cold out – the piggies’ water has frozen:

Scotch stays under his new blanket as he munches his grain.

But soon the pigs are all outside, enjoying the crabapples from the neighbour’s tree.

The dogs head out to the pasture, hot on the trail of the Brazen Coyote.

Aha! Coyote dug a hole to try to reach a poor little vole.

The frost on the golden grasses turns the field to a veil of lace.

We stop to admire the llamas next door.

Off and running – Charley tries to engage Sadie in a game of tag.

Homeward bound:

Time to go pick up Oliver and have a chat with his vet.