Tuesday, August 31, 2010



Yesterday, Charley told her version of our trip to the mainland, so now I get to tell you MINE. I luvs to travel in the van. I always hop in first so I can hog the back seat all for myself. And as long as I'm with my mama, I don't care where we go.

I wasn't sure about Auntie Deb's stairs at first, but I soon caught on and was bouncing up and down them like a pro. And I ignored the cats, and got along fine with the dogs, and mostly had a really great time.

Except for Wednesday. I did NOT like Wednesday. My mama ABANDONED me. Or I thought she had. We had been at Auntie Deb's for a couple of days by then, and mama had a meeting with Gran Rose's case worker to do an assessment for her longterm care. Gran Rose's current facility does allow dogs to visit, but mama decided it would be better if I stayed wiv Auntie Deb for the day. Only I didn't know what was going on, because all I heard her say to me was


And then she left.

Charley said not to worry, she'd be back. But I wasn't so sure, cuz a couple of years ago the family I'd lived with all my life took me to a strange place and never came back. Okay, they'd had some really bad stuff happen to them - our house burned down and dad lost his job and we were living in their car (mom, dad, the cat and I) in northern BC in the middle of winter - but I never thought they'd take me somewhere and then not come back! They loved me, I know they did!

When I first arrived at Mama Jean's farm in Mission, I lay with my nose glued to the patio doors watching the road for THREE MONTHS waiting for my family to come get me. And I raced to the door every time I heard a car in the driveway, and then slunk back to the patio door when I realized it wasn't mom and dad. I was very, very sad. It took a long time to get over losing my family and to realize my new mama loved me just as much as they had - maybe more.

But when Mama Jean drove away without me on Wednesday, I thought history was repeating itself. Charley didn't give a hoot - she trotted off to Mama Jean's bed and went to sleep.

But me? I lay at the top of those stairs and watched and watched and watched and watched, never taking my eyes from the route mama had taken out of the house.

Later, Auntie Deb took us all out into her back yard. Charley just found a shady spot under the rhododendren bush and had a nap.

But I hung out at the garden gate, watching the road.

And whenever a vehicle came into the cul de sac, I raced around to the other gate to check the driveway. And then back to the garden gate. I was very, very, very worried.

I don't think mama should ever leave me at someone else's place ever ever again. Even someone as nice as Auntie Deb. I am so glad my mama came back for me.

(All photos in this post are courtesy of Deb Strong, Cat & Mouse Designs. 'Cuz it's pretty hard fer a dog to use a camera.)

Love, Sadie

(c) 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Charley the Wanna-be Farm Dog

Until I retired and moved to the island, Charley had always lived on acreage. For the first 9 years of her life, we were on only a half acre but it backed onto agricultural land reserve. So she had a huge yard and wide open agricultural vistas. Then for three years we lived on five acres, where she enjoyed being outdoors, running in the pasture, hanging out in the barn, and being a farm dog. In fact, she “came alive” on the five acres in Mission – a totally different dog emerged from the Eeyore at my previous home.

When we moved to the island, for the first time she found herself confined to a small yard with solid fencing when she was outdoors at home. Still, she gets lots of walks and outings to offleash parks, so seems content enough. But last week when we went to Hearts on Noses sanctuary, I realized how much she misses farm life. I’ll let her tell you about the week from her own perspective.


Usually when mom gets out the suitcase, it means she is going away and Auntie Else is coming to stay with us. But that didn’t happen this time – she took my x-pen and our sleeping pads and some of our food and piled us in the car too. Yech! I hate car rides. Especially in the new van, because I can’t see out the windows or stick my head out for fresh air. Mama did have a static strip installed so I won't feel so carsick, but what I need back there is a big, comfy COUCH!

Then we went on the boat. The last time we did that, we ended up at our new house. Were we finally going back to the farm? Please please please please please???!!!

Nope. We ended up at Auntie Deb’s. Where there were stairs. Which Auntie Deb had to carry me up and down because they were NARROW and STEEP. And I did NOT like being carried. So far, I was NOT having fun.

However, once upstairs it wasn’t bad as Riley let me use her big bed in the kitchen whenever I wanted.

Charley in Riley's bed
Photo by Deb Strong, Cat and Mouse Designs
Used with permission.

And most of all there were the cats to watch:

Jasper and Rupert
Photo by Deb Strong, Cat and Mouse Designs
Used with permission.

I had fun obsessing about Jasper, who likes to hang out in the grape vines on the deck but takes off into his safe little room if I get too close.

Photo by Deb Strong, Cat and Mouse Designs
Used with permission.

Rupert thought I was okay. He hung around in the house with me quite a bit, and he really liked my mom and was always jumping up into her lap. And he likes the grapevine-covered deck also.

Photo by Deb Strong, Cat and Mouse Designs
Used with permission.

And then there was the Pawty that my mom already wrote about, and a visit with my Gran and some trips to the park which mom will write about later, but the best part of all was the trip to visit the Piggy Lady at Hearts on Noses Sanctuary.

We got outta the car and I sniffed the air. Yum! Familiar scents! Almost like the place where we lived wiv the piggies and alpaca. My favouritist place of all!

And soon there was piggies coming to meet me. I smiled and wagged my tail at them.

See how happy I am?

They weren’t my piggies, but I ‘membered meeting them before though not on this property. Hmmmm...this was confusing. Did Piggy Lady move too? Yes! My mama said she did. So I wandered around checking out the place, and said hello to the horsies and piggies. Dior was playin’ games wiv my mama – she wanted her picture taken.

Silly Dior!

We walked around a bit and chatted with Piggy Lady and just as I was lying down for a snooze.....I saw them! My Piggies! My Very Own Piggies! My foster bruvers and sisters! They all came running out of their pen to say hi to mama and me and Sadie. There was Scotch and Soda and Tom and Lizzie and Rob Roy and Swizzle and Fizzy and Whisper and Derby and Rickey and Toddy and Spritzer.

NOW I was happy!

My Piggies!

They had some lettuce to eat (Yech!) and then I watched them haz a bath (Double-Yech!). This is how a piggy haz a bath:

First they sticks their snoutie waaay in deep to test the water

And then they blows bubbles to make the mud all frothy. Who needs a jacuzzi?

Next they puts the bum down.

And sits fer a while.

Then it is time to lie down

Waaaay down

An' roll over!

Next, ya gotta call yer friends to join ya!

Three is a good number.

After a while, it is time to get out.

And head over to mama fer a hug.

(I don't know why my mama didn't want to hug him just then!

My mama sez they use mud wallows to keep cool because piggies can’t sweat. My mama sez the Piggy Lady could raise monies for the pigs by offering mud baths to hoomans for a fraction of what some hoomans pay at fancy spas, or maybe she could host a mudwrestling match for peoples who like that sort of thing. Me, I think I’ll just lie in the nice cool grass and enjoy bein’ back on a farm wiv my piggies.

I luvs farm life!

When it was time to go, I ignored my mama calling. I even ignored her when she said “NOW!” which is supposed to be my “Reliable Recall Word” that I always, always, always respond to. I just lay in the field with my piggies and totally ignored her.

La la la la la la.......

Mama got in the van and started to drive down the driveway, and I still didn’t get up. Eventually she brought the leash over and made me walk back to the van. Ratz! I wasn’t ready to go home yet – let alone back to Auntie Deb’s and the dreaded STAIRS.

But I did. And after a couple more days we came back to the island. I loves my mama and I am glad she is my forever person so I don’t really mind living here in this little house with the little yard.

But I’m tellin’ ya, if anything happens to my mom, I’m going to live with the Piggy Lady!!!

Me an' the Piggy Lady

Love, Charley.

(c) 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

Eleven Friends and a Garden Pawty

The last time the herding dogs (Sadie, Charley, Riley, Crystal, and - at that time - Belle and Oliver) got together, was May 2009. I was just about to leave my five beautiful acres in the Fraser Valley to move to the island. Three honorary herders were also invited - whippets Kinley and Cisco and pomeranian Ginger (aka Ginger Snap). Four humans and nine dogs - thirteen friends and a garden pawty. You can read about it here.

In this past year, Cisco, Belle and Oliver have passed away. Logan, another whippet, became Kinley's younger brother.

Handsome Logan
(Photo by Deb Strong, with permission)

And so this year, we are eleven, and we all met in Deb's back yard for dinner on Tuesday. Eleven friends and a garden paw-ty.

The weather cooperated, the food was excellent, and the dogs all got along just fine as usual. None of them did too much herding of the others, and in fact I think the only herding was when Logan spotted something (I forget what - a bird? a squirrel?) in a tree and decided he'd rather be a pointer than a herder.

All the dogs are beautiful. All of them are sweet. All of them are very well loved. But I covet this one:

Ginger Snap. Wee, tiny, cute, very well behaved, Ginger Snap with the biggest personality and the most demanding little tiny bark. I was truly tempted to sneak her into my suitcase when I left at the end of the visit. I think Deb might have noticed though. After all, how can you not notice this face peering over the back of the couch as you prepare your breakfast....or lunch.....or dinner?

But I digress. Back to the party...er, pawty.

Crystal is fifteen and lives with Sharon. She is much like Oliver in her present needs and actions - deaf, visually impaired, and while she doesn't have canine cognitive disorder like Oliver did (or at least, not noticeably at the pawty), she does have his habit of being very anxious in strange environments, and of taking tumbles on uneven ground. And she is beautiful:

Absolutely beautiful:

And very, very much loved:

Riley is Deb's dog (and Ginger Snap's canine sister) and she and Charley are so much alike. Riley is a rough collie (Lassie dog) while Charley is a border collie/rough collie cross, but when I see them together it is clear that Charley got more rough collie genes than border collie ones in both looks and temperment.

And when we add Sadie to the mix, my collie-crossed-with-who-knows-what, we get three giant commas punctuating the lawn:

Collie commas

(Photo by Deb Strong, with permission)

Of course, from the other side, they look like typical long-nosed collies:


(Photo by Deb Strong, with permission)

We sat in the garden and ate and drank and talked about - what else? - the dogs.

And once the dishes were done:

And the collies decided us humans were just a bit too strange to hang out with:

And even a whippet named Kinley admitted he can't keep pawtying all night:

We called it a day and said our goodbyes - until the next time the friends get together for a garden pawty.

Oh my goodness, I thawt they'd nevah leave! I'm exhausted!

The Teaser.....

I've just returned from several days on the mainland. Unfortunately, my usual in-home petsitter is no longer available, so the dogs had to come with me. Fortunately, my friend Deb, the artist who did my Caleb's portrait, welcomed us all to her home (even though it meant she had to carry Charley up and down stairs numerous times a day, as we discovered Charley can't do stairs any more - and I have a back problem that doesn't allow me to lift and carry her).

It was a very full week, with a trip to the piggy sanctuary, a herding dog pawty (honorary herding dogs included), and a meeting with my mom's caseworker to arrange her future care, as well as an outing to Deas Island Park with my mom and my dogs, and a few errands tucked in as well. I took approximately 350 photos. Stories and pics (not all 350!) will be forthcoming over the next few days. But here are a few teasers:

Sadie and Charley at Deas Island Regional Park



Ginger Snap

Charley and her piggy friend

And if you check out Deb's website, you will be able to see her beautiful portraits of four dogs you know through this blog - Else's dog Archie, Ellen's dogs Kinley and Cisco (who passed away last year), and of course my own sweet Caleb. Just click on this link to go right to the dog portraits' page.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Surreal Sunset

I was just heading out with the dogs this evening when I glanced at the western sky. For the next twenty minutes I was mesmerized.

What made it even more special occured a few minutes later. As the dogs and I walked to the beach, we came across an eight year old neighbourhood boy sitting all by himself on a rock staring at the last remnants of the fiery sky. The little boy turned to me, his eyes shining with excitement, and asked "Did you see that sunset? That was AWESOME!"

When a little boy can notice and take pleasure in a sunset, there is hope for this world yet.