Sunday, November 29, 2009

Barges and other sunny day scenes

Barges and birds in Osborne Bay

Out of my window looking in the night
I can see the barges flickering light.
Silently flows the river to the sea
And the barges too go silently.

Barges, I would like to go with you,
I would like to sail the ocean blue
Barges, are their treasures in your hold?
Do you fight with pirates brave and bold?

Each time I see the barges in the bay, this beautiful song from my Girl Guide days pops into my head and stays there for hours. The song, I was taught, was written by a young girl dying of cancer and confined to a bed which overlooked the river. Whether that is an urban legend or fact, I don't know. An internet search failed to reveal the author, though I did find many versions of its several verses, and most provided a similar history. The song was always one of my favourites. You can hear a beautiful rendition of it on Youtube by clicking here.

After days of rain, the amazing sunshine of Thursday and Friday, and the efforts of the sun to shine through clouds again today, is uplifting. Everything seems even more beautiful - the marina, the bay, the dogs in sunlight.

Reflections of a marina

Ducks near a dock

Dogs on a wharf

The dogs and I have been for many short walks around town and along the seawall the past few days - sometimes rushing out between showers, sometimes in brilliant sunshine. It is hard to believe that in less than a month it will be winter solstice and the daylight hours will once again begin to lengthen!

Sunshine after rain

Mist, sun, and cloud

Christmas decorations are going up everywhere and the local paper is full of announcements of Christmas shows and concerts and carol boat rides and craft fairs and light tours. The people in the house 'round the corner have put up their tree already, wreaths are appearing on doors in the neighbourhood, and strings of lights are slowly showing up on outdoor trees and along the rooflines of houses. There is always something magical about the lights and music and joy of Christmas, and I look forward to watching the Christmas season come alive in this community I now call home.

Life is good.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

An update from Janice, Hearts on Noses

Janice at Hearts on Noses is without internet until Monday, so phoned me to ask that I relay the following information to you, since many of those who read my blog are also followers of hers:

The very last of the pigs were moved to the new place today, as were their houses. Things were a bit chaotic, compared to the previous two days, due to some mix ups regarding who was coming when, followed by the flat deck with houses getting stuck in the mud at the new place and effectively blocking entry for the piggies’ trailer, which led to some frantic moments but it all worked out in the end. The moving truck also came today for the rest of Janice’s household belongings/furniture, so nearly everything is now on one property.

HOWEVER, Janice still needs hands to help her tomorrow (Sunday) and possibly Monday to clean up and clear up the miscellaneous debris at the old place, including salvaging whatever can be salvaged from the fences/pens etc. And while we didn’t discuss it, I expect she would welcome helpers at the new place over the next week or two to clear up debris, organize equipment, etc. over there.

Tomorrow is critical – the new people take possession Monday, so help to finish up over there and salvage what can be salvaged needs to happen tomorrow – trucks and vans for moving salvaged wood etc to the new place also welcomed!

Obviously she can’t be reached via email. If you need to call her, Hearts on Noses NEW phone number is 604-462-0958 where you can reach her this evening or tomorrow morning, or leave a message there. The OLD property, where you are needed tomorrow, is located at 13287 - 232nd St. in Maple Ridge.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Horse sense and moving moments

I am a writer who writes best when I am inspired to write, not at a set time or place. The stories I want to tell, in the way I want to tell them, come to me at totally impractical times for scribing or filming. They come to me when the hands are full, the clothes are soaked, the boots are muddy, the body aches, and the laptop is far, far away.

And that’s how it was these past four days, as I helped move an animal sanctuary and looked after the porcine and equine migrants. Never have so many stories been written in my mind, so many images captured by my eyes, with so few moments or materials available to record them so they could be shared. The words flowed through my mind like the floodwaters at high tide; they came to me as I wandered the pasture or mucked out the stall or slogged through the mud or strained under the weight of a bale of hay. And by the time I returned to my home on the Island, the images remained but the precise wording was lost.

And so, I apologize in advance if my words get jumbled and the description is lengthy. The few pictures I took are mostly dark and grainy. I only wish I could convey to you just one iota of the excitement, delight, anxiety, anticipation, worry, fun, humour, frustration, and amazement that the ever-resilient animals gifted me with this past week. So grab another coffee, and curl up for a long read, and as you do, imagine piggy snouties and soft horse noses looking over your shoulder, for this story is not my story but theirs.

I arrived in the rain and I left in the rain. And in between – it rained. Not the ideal conditions for moving an animal sanctuary, but much better than a foot of snow and arguably better than the scorching heat of summer.

I arrived Saturday afternoon. The horses had been moved that morning and were patiently waiting in their new pasture. Though I have not spent a lot of time with them, Dior knows I am a “bringer of apples” and trotted over for her treat. Lacey was a bit more edgy, keeping a watchful eye on the ducks and geese in the neighbouring yard. My job that night was to stay at the new house with the horses, ensuring they were safe and providing their feed in the morning.

We had chosen not to close the horses into their new shelter at night – it was not yet divided into separate stalls, but the horses would still have access if they chose to enter. We fed them some hay from the hay storage shed next to their stalls, locked the shed with the clips provided, and said goodnight.

I was up at dawn on Sunday, peering through the darkness to see how they were doing. At first, I couldn’t spot them – evidence later showed they had entered their stalls, if only to use them for bathrooms. I turned on the porch lights and stepped outside, and suddenly all hell broke loose. The geese started honking, the ducks started squawking (they had just been let out of their nighttime enclosure), and the horses started stampeding. Around and around, back and forth, from one fence to the other they raced.

I am not a horsewoman. I have ridden exactly twice in my life – both times when I was fifteen years old and visited a riding stable where I was placed on an old mare who plodded along with her eyes shut and with no need for me to direct her in any way whatsoever. More recently, I did, for about 18 months, help care for some horses at another sanctuary, but that was mostly directing traffic as they trotted happily into their stalls for dinner, giving them feed and water, and mucking out the stalls from time to time. I had not had the experience of a few thousand pounds of nervous horses flying around a pasture close to a fairly busy road, and not knowing how to stop them or if they would jump the fence.

Fortunately, they eventually stopped of their own accord, and trotted nicely towards me when they saw me head to the hay shed. It wasn’t due to hunger, though, for they had already helped themselves to breakfast – or a midnight snack – for they had busted open the door by pulling the three inch eyebolt right out of the wood and scattering bales of hay into the mud. Nice job, Dior – I know you were the instigator!

Who me?

I cleaned up the mess, improvised a way to hold the door shut, told them what I thought of their behaviour, assured them their mom would be coming over soon, and headed out to the old sanctuary to help with the loading of the pigs.

We moved fifteen pigs on Sunday: Scotch and Soda and their herd, whom I had fostered; Rose and Roscoe, the two farm pigs; and Comet, that most mischievous and very strong potbellied-farm pig cross whose body has grown large but whose actions remain that of a spoiled and very smart child.


Rose, I think

With the aid of a small group of hardy volunteers who came bearing coffee and cookies, pizzas and power bars and pastries, and with the help of truckers and horsefolk who came with their big rigs and relevant know-how, we loaded the piggies into horsetrailers and the piggy houses onto flat decks, and caravanned twenty minutes east to the new site. There, the fencers were madly finishing off the stalls for the first fifteen pigs while the truckers lifted the houses high over the trees along the side road and into the pens.

Finishing the pen

Memorable moments abound – but carrying my camera around in the pouring rain was neither smart nor practical. And so the camera stayed in the house while my hands were busy and my mind snapped “moving moment” images.

Moving moment #1: Standing amid the trees and mud and pens, glancing back to see a large piggy house - a good sized shed – swinging forty, fifty, sixty feet up in the air, over the treetops that surround the property and separate it from the road, and down into the pen. That such a feat was even possible amazed me; that it was being done for the animals gave me great joy.

Moving moment #2: Watching Janice in green rubber raingear and boots striding through the mud with Roscoe trotting briskly along right behind her, his snoutie up, his eyes fastened intently on his human in adoration and with great confidence that she was leading him to something good. I was instantly reminded of my favourite illustration from one of my favourite childhood books –Christopher Robin in mac and wellies (Macintosh raincoat and Wellington boots, for those without a British background!) striding through the rain, head high and arms swinging, with one of his friends (was it Pooh Bear? Eeyore? Piglet?) running along behind. It was clear that Roscoe loved and trusted Janice just as A. A. Milne’s characters loved and trusted Christopher Robin.

Moving moment #3: Watching as the next partition of the horsetrailer was opened, and my twelve precious piggies ran to the open end of the trailer and stood three deep, heads peering over the shoulders of the ones in front, trotters on the edge, snouties up, sniffing the air, looking around with bright eyes and quizzical expressions – “What is this place? Are we there? Is this HOME?” It was a re-enactment of their move from my old farm to the sanctuary, albeit this time with a much bigger trailer. This picture was from that first move, and is one of my favourites:

When all the animals were penned and fed and settled into their straw-filled houses and everyone had left for the day, I did one more check before falling into bed. I was cold, wet and dirty, but the mechanism that runs the well had died so there was no hot shower for me.


The next morning I awoke stiff and sore and still tired. The rain was pouring down, there was mud everywhere, it was dark and cold, and as I dragged myself out the door after chopping up pumpkins to feed the little pigs and boiling water to wash my hands and face, and I thought “Oh gawd, how does Janice do this???”

And then the piggies heard me. And they came running from their houses. And their upturned snouties and joyous squeals gave me my answer. She does it because every morning, every morning of every single day, she gets to smile as I was smiling, to laugh as I was laughing, to know, as I knew for that moment, that these funny, squealing, messy critters are worth every hardship, every muddy floor and aching muscle and empty bank account. Their squeals tell it all: they are very glad to be alive, to be in this place, to be loved. And while they might be mostly interested in the food the human brings, methinks they also love their human.

Good morning!

Hi Foster Mama!

And there were more moving moments. Even nature cooperated, with a sudden though short lived sunrise show of beautiful orange clouds and sparkling, brilliant sunlight. It lasted just long enough for me to feed the pigs before the torrential rains returned.

Orange clouds

Sunrise over piggy homes

After feeding the pigs, I went over to check on the horses one more time and for a moment could not find them. And then I saw them – Dior and Lacey standing behind the tool and feed sheds in the only corner of the pasture from which they could watch the piggies. Dior, her thoughtful eyes taking it all in, stood completely still and watched intently as Scotch and Soda and all the youngsters rooted in the fresh green grass, drifted in and out of their house, came to the gate to see if more treats were coming…… Dior, watching, listening, figuring it out. “If the pigs are here too, then we haven’t been abandoned. So that’s it – we’re all going to live HERE now.”

That’s not all Dior figured out that morning. The pasture fence closest to the house contains a section with removable rails that lift and slide so a vehicle can enter the field. Dior had seen me slide the rails over to move the wheelbarrow of manure out, and then replace them. As I returned to the house after morning chores I glanced back just in time to see Dior, mouth firmly wrapped around the top 2x6, teeth buried in the wood, attempting to lift the rail. Heck, if her pigs were over the other side of the house, and this fence was all that separated her from them, then she was just gonna hafta figure out how to let herself out for a walkabout. Now that’s horse sense!

As I watched the horses and the piggies over the next couple of days, I was pleased to see how well they had settled in, and I knew that to them it matters not so much where they live as much as who they live with – someone who feeds them and protects them and loves them.

Take your cue from the animals, Janice – they are happy to be there, curious, eager, enthusiastic. They took to it like ducks to water and pigs to mud. They are telling you – this is HOME. We’re not sure what this place is, or what life will be like here, but we know it is GOOD.

And so, Janice, as you begin your life in your new home, may you have many such mornings when you are glad to be alive, when the pigs squeal and raise their snouties to wish you a good, good day. May you have dry days but with enough rain to keep the well filled, sunshine but with enough clouds to bring cooling relief, not too much snow but a dusting from time to time to cover the poops and mud and mess and make the world pristine again. May donations be plentiful, and critics be scarce. May the neighbours be helpful and the volunteers frequent. And may you and the critters find comfort and happiness and beauty in your new surroundings.

Welcome home, Hearts on Noses, welcome home.

For more stories and pictures of this moving adventure, check out Janice's blog here, and Black Jack Carol's blog here.

I am home

I have stories to tell and pictures to post from the very wet, very muddy trip to the mainland to help move the Hearts on Noses Sanctuary.

But YOU, my dear readers, are going to have to wait.

Because it is SUNNY OUT!!! And it is BEAUTIFUL! And life is GOOD!

So the dogs and I are heading out for a walk.

And the rest of the world can just gol-darn wait for us.

'Cuz sometimes ya gotta grab life's pleasures before they zoom right by.

Friday, November 20, 2009

From too much water to too little.....

Aaackkk! There has been so much rain here that the rivers in nearby Duncan and North Cowichan have flooded their banks and a state of emergency has been declared, with hundreds of families being evacuated. I'm not affected, but the flood area is about 15-20 minutes from here, along the routes I normally take to the stores.

I did finally finish my deck, despite (or because of) the rain - complete with ramp that slopes in two directions so little arthritic shelties don't jump off the side and don't have to deal with a single stair. And I did a temporary raft/bridge so Else won't have to swim from the carport gate to the back door while she's looking after my dogs. (This is "temporary" because workers are supposed to come with gravel and landscape ties tomorrow to do this area properly - but given my luck with tradespeople around here, I wasn't about to count on it!).

HOWEVER, Janice just phoned from Hearts on Noses to tell me there is NO WATER (at least, not in the plumbing system) at the new property and the plumber can't figure out why and won't be back until Tuesday. And so I will be mucking out horses and piggies in the rain but with no hot shower or clean water to drink at the end of the day. Blech!!! (Note to self: take bottled water and lots of deodorant).

Too much water......too little water........some days ya just can't win!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Water, Wellness, and Wishful Thinking

Water: We need the ark after all. Despite the occasional brief sunny interlude, torrential rains have been the order of the day and my back yard is now almost completely under 1" - 4" of water. I have been trying to get the deck finished but this is where I REALLY miss a garage - working in the carport or the outdoors in pouring, driving rain and wind and brrrrrr cold temperatures is the pits! However, enough of the railings are up to keep the little dogs safe, the step is made, and the wood is cut to enlarge a ramp for the mobility-challenged Princess Belle and Sir Oliver. The neighbour tells me my yard will be under water all winter, so I guess re-landscaping moves to the top of the "need to do" list for the spring - aerating, leveling, adding sand, adding drainage tiles, etc. Meanwhile, I wonder if old dogs can be taught to go pee with water wings on???

Wellness: I had the mobile vet come to our home this week to meet and examine all the animals. I was not happy with the first vet I had chosen here, but I am delighted with this one (AND she gave us written support during our fight with council to end the use of the gas box and offered her services to council at a very nominal fee, to provide lethal injections - for cats, not counselors though I rather wish the latter - on site at animal control). She favours a holistic approach to canine health (in fact she also has training in canine physiotherapy), which is in line with my preferences. And she was thorough and affordable. For those who know my dogs, or who have met them through this blog, here's the rundown:


Sadie: nothing new with this girl. I recently had blood work done on her and her hyperthyroidism is well in hand, as is her weight, etc. At about ten years of age, she's my youngest and generally the healthiest.


Charley: At twelve and a half, I thought Charley's slowing down was just age. However, an exam revealed considerable muscle-wasting in her hind end - strange given our increase in walking and hiking over the past six months. Her spine shows some problems near the sacrum, and possible scoliosis. We are going to try her with some acupuncture and possibly an underwater treadmill at a canine wellness centre near here. Her behaviour has also changed recently, which may be indicative of living with pain. Nothing specific - just a sense of neediness and sadness about her.


Belle: The Princess, at about 14, had some lumps I was concerned about. We aspirated two, which turned out to be fatty tissue. She has some other smaller ones we will monitor, and she has a large cyst-like lump that has been growing but is not attached to anything (ie, it is in or just under the skin), which we will also monitor since putting the Princess under anesthetic at her age could be more risky than leaving it be. She has gained weight and her coat has become really thick - far from the sparsely coated, skinny little thing I first met two years ago. She does have some coughing episodes that might indicate some acid reflux, but her lungs sound healthy and her heart is strong.


Oliver: Oh, Oli, my poor confused little man! Oliver is fifteen and a half, deaf, pronounced cataracts (and likely very visually impaired), and has canine cognitive disorder (the doggy equivalent of alzheimers). In many ways he has been deteriorating quickly over the past couple of months, and has frequent panic attacks, but we think it is due to increasing loss of vision compounded by the confusion of the move, renos, and shortening daylight (darkness is very problematic for dogs with canine cognitive disorder AND for those with cataracts). Ironically, he is also in great shape physically - heart, lungs, joints, etc. are all sound. I have reached the point where I now crate him at night, confine him when I need to go out, and take him into the back yard only on leash when it is dark. He still does his happy dance every day. His health problems are ones that simply require careful management of his environment.

All the dogs will be started on Recovery SA instead of their present glucosamine hydrochlorate supplements, to see if that helps provide a greater sense of wellness and mobility for them.


Allie: Allie declined to be examined, and she hissed, growled and clawed at the vet. She's a healthy, indoor eight year old cat and I have no concerns about her, so we didn't push the issue. Little brat.

Wishful Thinking: I am hoping, hoping, hoping for an end to the endless rain - both for Else's sake as she will be petsitting my crew while I go to the mainland for a few days to help move Hearts on Noses, and for the sake of those of us working to move piggies, ready pens, haul horse supplies, and generally get the sanctuary in working order on its new property. The forecast doesn't look great - let's hope the weather forecasters are wrong, wrong, wrong!!!

Piggy in mud

(photo by Red Dog Photography)

Horse and piggies

I'll be on the mainland from early Saturday to Wednesday, mostly without internet connection, so this will likely be the last blog post until next Thursday (unless it stops raining long enough to take pictures tomorrow!). I'm looking forward to seeing several old friends, including meeting my blog-friend Black Jack's Carol (and Bill) for the first time as they will be coming to help with the sanctuary move. And I'll take an afternoon off to go visit my mom, and to see my Emma. Coming home, I'll be picking up a dog to transport to a rescue here. And so I'm wishing for good weather, good travel, good ferries, good times. Good night!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cancel the Ark!

A half hour after I posted the last blog, I looked out my back door and this is what I saw:

Blue skies! Sunshine!

Grey skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face....lalalalalalala.......

Oh it takes so little to make me happy!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Oh Noah......Another ark please!

I have two collie crosses and two shelties who need to come aboard!

It is raining. Understatement of the year. Up island from me, a state of emergency has been declared due to flooding. Closer to home, the only road between Crofton and Chemainus was also closed due to flooding. There are lakes where no lakes existed, rivers threatening to flood their banks, and approximately 2.2 tonnes of mud in my mudroom (courtesy of four sulky, soggy doggies).

I had a covered deck built last week so I can get the dogs in and out the back door without getting soaked to the skin. I used the same man who had done most of my bathroom renos - except he was a subcontractor on that job and this time I hired him directly. Big Mistake. He obviously needs a general contractor to do his listening and thinking for him. The ramp (for Princess Belle and Oliver who cannot do stairs) was supposed to be under cover. It is not. So now there is a lake at the bottom of the ramp. The ramp is also 10" narrower than I specified - too narrow, so wobbly arthritic Princesses are falling off it. The downspout, which should have been sunk into a pit of pea gravel, empties right onto the lawn and has formed another lake between the back door and the gate from the carport. In other words, we have to swim to the house or bring muddy dogs right into the living/dining room via the patio or front doors. And the ground-level deck is 6" higher than I was told, making it dangerous for little bouncy dogs named Oliver, who have little sense of depth.

So, I fired the guy (still haven't paid him either - but then he hasn't provided me with a bill for the work he did do), bought some deck railing that cost almost as much as the deck and cover together, bought some more boards, and now yours truly is building steps and ramps and fighting with bad instructions for installling railing. Not my favourite pasttime - especially in the rain.

And so we are cranky. We are all cranky. Wet dogs. Frustrated mama. Only the cat is her usual pesky, funny self.

I shouldn't complain. Hearts on Noses potbellied pig sanctuary is moving in this weather - trying to set posts for new pens in holes that fill up with water before cement can be poured, trying to pack and clean and feed and arrange trailers and flatdecks,, dealing with no-show tradespeople, etc. Check out their blog. They still need help, if any gum-booted volunteers can lend a hand/trailer/flatdeck/strong back any time between now and the end of the month. I'm heading over this weekend to lend a hand - I'd love to see you there!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Polar dogs and flooded fields

The enjoyment water dogs get from swimming in cold, cold ocean waters astounds me, but enjoy it they do. The above picture was taken Sunday, when Else and I took Sadie, Charley, Hugo, Tess and Archie to Osborne Bay Park, 65 acres of offleash trails less than five minutes from my home, trails that wend downward to an offleash beach. We had the place to ourselves.

Hugo, Tess and Archie are drawn to water like - um - fleas to a dog. And so despite the chilly air and the chillier water, they were soon swimming out after seagulls, racing each other through the surf, and splashing around like four year olds in a fountain on a hot summer's day.

Polar dogs

Charley and Sadie are so NOT water dogs, yet even Sadie was drawn to horse around with the exuberant trio tearing up the sand - vocalizing all the time, of course.

Dogs on beach


Whatcha got there?

A couple of days to recover, and then it was time for the Wednesday Walk. It was a chilly, stormy day where dark clouds and rain and something close to hail were interspersed with sunny breaks and blue sky. On the nearby hills, there was fresh snow, very visble from the main road, but less so in this picture:

Thar's snow in them thar hills

Gathering clouds

We headed out to Swallowfield, thankful that the fish had passed through and the garbage was gone, only to find the river almost flooding its banks. This is the "diving cliff" where Tess takes her flying leaps - usually a good four foot drop to the water:

The estuary from river to ocean was likewise flooded - a veritable swamp that denied access to walkers in runners or hiking boots.

Flooded estuary


And so we walked back to a fork in the road and took the other path - the road less travelled. There the dogs found sticks to haul out of the muck :

This one's the right size!

I gotz one too!

And mushrooms big and small, in all shapes and sizes and colours:

This bare tree had a beauty all its own, its curved branches reaching upward in a series of smiles:

My favourite photo, though, was this one - of Blue, I think, hoping for treats:

Soon it was time to head back, happy but tired dogs ready for a long, long nap.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

And the link for the other challenge...

In the comments below, AlphaMutt kindly drew our attention to another opportunity to win some money for Turtle Gardens - thanks, AlphaMutt. Since links don't become live in the comment section, I thought I'd make it easy for you with a live link.

Please note, this is a one-time vote, and for a different contest than the Shelter Challenge. The Shelter Challenge needs you to click daily.

So (just in case any of you are bleary-eyed over your first cup of coffee, as I am), here's a recap:

To cast a one-time only vote for TG in the Care2 challenge: click HERE


To cast today's vote for TG in the Shelter challenge: click HERE

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Woo Hoo - Turtle Gardens is #1!!

In the latest Shelter Challenge. Number One in Canada. Let's keep them there, and help them move up the overall challenge (North America) to win the BIG money. They are currently #30 overall.

So, every day please go to the Shelter Challenge (click HERE) and vote for Turtle Gardens. They need, need, need your help.

Once you have voted for Turtle Gardens once, each time you bring up that page, it will already list it for you so you just have to click on "vote" and then type in the name of the animal that appears, in order for the vote to register. It takes ten seconds each morning - ten seconds to help Yvette and Dave win some much-needed money for the dogs in their care.

Monday, November 9, 2009

How do you move an Animal Sanctuary???

With the help of a whole bunch of animal loving friends, that’s how. Hearts on Noses, the only potbellied pig sanctuary in western Canada, is moving. Regular followers of my blog will remember Scotch and Soda and their ten piglets whom I fostered for Hearts on Noses for nearly two years - they stole my heart and I know they touched the hearts of many readers. Now they, and the other 26 piggies at the sanctuary (as well as two horses, two cats, a dog, a turtle and a guinea pig) need help to get from the old sanctuary property in Maple Ridge to their new home twenty minutes down the road in west Mission.

It's a huge job. Possession of the new place is November 12th; the move must be completed by November 30th. With animal welfare groups, including Hearts on Noses, no longer having access to Gaming grants, money is tighter than ever. Janice Gillett, who runs Hearts on Noses, needs people/companies willing to donate or provide at low cost flatdecks and "high abs" (those machines that can lift sheds onto flatdecks) to move the piggy houses, horse trailers to move the piggies, and the people to operate the machinery, tow the trailers, help with the piggies, move the supplies, prepare the grounds, etc. etc.

There are jobs for everyone, and some of the timing can be flexible (weekends, weekdays, whatever suits you best). Individuals or teams of helpers welcome. How about getting a group of your friends or co-workers together and donating a day?? How about persuading your company to hold a "corporate community service day" by getting everyone out to pitch in? What about your place of business holding a fundraiser or taking up a collection to help the sanctuary? Would your company challenge its biggest competitor to raise more money or provide more hands to benefit the sanctuary?

If you are able to help, or if you know someone in the transport industry who might help, or someone in construction, or someone with a horse trailer, or if you can help with a donation, please contact Janice at or phone the sanctuary at 604-463-4059.

Feel free to copy this blog entry and circulate it among your friends and coworkers. Please spread the word. The piggies will thank you.

Hearts on Noses is a registered charity, and tax receipts can be provided.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Weird weather and loyal friends

The weird weather:

The weather the past three days has been tumultuous. That is the only word I can think of to describe it. It is brilliant sunshine one moment, torrential rain the next, and sometimes both together. The winds come up, the winds drop down, the clouds move in, the clouds move out……it literally changes minute to minute. At one point this morning, there was dark cloud and drenching rain out my front door, and blue sky and rainbows out the back!

Sky out front, 10:00 AM

Sky out back, 10:00 AM

So getting out with the dogs has been – um – fun. Especially with dogs who hate rain. The sun comes out, I say “Let’s go” and by the time their collars and leashes are in place and I have my shoes and jacket on – it’s pouring. And they stand at the door and pout.

Nonetheless, we did manage to get out between monsoons yesterday, the sun positively blinding us as it reflected off the puddles and raindrops everywhere.

Dog on a sparkly beach

Sunlight on black sand

Autumn reflections

The rest of yesterday was a lazy day – I did nothing but read, finishing off Dan Brown’s 736 page Deception Point in one day. I did not enjoy it as much as The DaVinci Code (my favourite of his other books) but an excellent read nonetheless. The best part of rainy days is curling up with a good book and a bunch of dogs.

The loyal friends:

My dogs are not particularly interactive with each other. Once in a long while, Sadie and Charley will engage in a game of tussle and kissy-face, and Oliver often follows Belle around like a lovesick adolescent. But overall, they are all very laid back characters, seldom getting their tails in a knot, quite independent and a bit reserved (kinda like their mama!). And yet, they watch each other’s back and they are loyal to their sibs.

Yesterday, Belle was very demanding and cranky. She barked commands frequently “Servant! Come Here! I need company!” and “Peon! You are Blocking My Basket! Move!” and simply “Get outta my face!” or “Feed me!”. The dogs just looked at her and backed off – no snarling, no talking back, no challenging the Princess Belle.

I'm being followed

Back off!

But I wuv you!

And then about four o'clock this morning, Charley came and pawed at my bed. "Mama, Mama, wake up! Something’s wrong wiv Belle! "

Sure enough, Belle was out in the hallway, retching and gasping. As she continued to cough and retch, bringing up bile, her little chest heaving in and out (I think she may have aspirated some reflux into her lungs), Charley lay right beside her – watching intently, her glance moving from me to Belle and back again. Eventually Belle’s breathing eased and she lay exhausted in the hall – where Charley stayed beside her until she felt well enough to move back to her basket.

This morning, Belle is still under the weather, and refused her breakfast – unheard of for the Princess, aka Alligator Jaws. Mostly she has been sleeping, but each time she gets up one or other of the dogs runs to check on her. Even Sadie has foregone a nap on my bed to stay close by. Right now, Oliver is sleeping next to her basket, keeping guard.

I hope Ms. Belle will soon be back to her bossy little self. If she’s not back to eating tomorrow, I’ll call the vet. But in the meantime, I have three very good Belle-sitters, who will continue to keep watch over her and let me know if she needs some help.

And now the sun has reappeared so I think I shall try to get two rain-repulsed black and white dogs out for their walk before the next downpour hits!