Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ms. Lucy is a devious diva!

Lucy never fails to amaze me - Every day she becomes more of a trickster, finding new ways to show me just how smart she is.

Yesterday evening, I was trying to get in touch with a couple of people who had expressed interest in possibly adopting Lucy. I emailed them, and gave my phone number so we could chat about her if they were still interested. This morning I had to go out for a couple of hours. When I returned home, I went to the phone to see if there were any messages, and discovered - nothing! No light, no call display, no dial tone. I soon discovered the large power plug (the one that powers the cordless extension, voice mail, etc.) was unplugged. Since it is half behind my bedside table, it didn't simply get tripped over. It's possible Ms. Lucy was harassing the cat (whose kitty condo is nearby) and accidently pulled it out - but I suspect she wanted to make sure no potential adopters could get hold of me. I'm sure it wasn't the cat who pulled it out - she would have answered the phone, given the caller our address, unlocked the door, and helped lead Ms. Lucy to their car!

Later, I am sitting at the kitchen table having some soup when I hear a commotion from behind the couch where Charley's crate is located. I glance over to see two pointy reddish-gold ears appearing and disappearing behind the back of the couch. Allie is on top of the crate - and Ms. Lucy is bounding up and down like a kid on a pogo stick, just to bug her. Lucy could easily put her paws up on the crate - it is not as tall as the kitchen counter and she has no trouble reaching that! - but, no, she has to boing, boing, boing while the cat plasters herself to the wall with her eyes as round as saucers and her fur standing up on end.

And lastly, I am sitting in my recliner watching the evening news. Ms. Lucy decides she wants to be a lap dog, and soon all 45 pounds of her has wiggled its way onto my lap. Keep in mind, this dog is 36" long from nose to butt (and another foot of tail), and sixteen inches high at the shoulders. So what does she do? She leeeeaaaans back against me, sticks her head right in front of my face, points her nose to the ceiling, and repeatedly moves her head back and forth - blocking my view of the screen. I tolerate it for a while, trying to get her to lie down and cuddle, and then make the mistake of getting up to get a cup of tea. I dump Lucy off my lap, stand up, and I'm no sooner a foot from the chair than Ms. Lucy has jumped up and stolen my seat. And there is NO budging her. I quite suspect that was her game plan all along.

And to think when she first came to me she was such a nice, quiet, easy-going girl. Now she thinks she owns the place!

Anyone wanna adopt a devious diva?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lessons for Lucy and Pups on the Move

Lucy has been going for daily walks, expanding her horizons daily. This morning she made her first trip to the seawalk and along the beach (sorry, no photos as it was raining). She did very well. She handled the metal grid at the entrance to the seawalk without hesitation, showed some anxiety walking the seawalk as the tide was right in and there was water on both sides (so it was like walking on a bridge), and loved investigating the interesting beach smells. And unlike a certain collie named Sadie, she did not try to gobble up all the crab, prawn and oyster shells.

I decided to try her on the looooong flight of stairs coming up from the seawalk, and she handled it quite well. Again, she was not bothered by the metal grid (I'm trying to expose her to different types of surfaces), though she did balk about halfway up the fifty-something stairs when she suddenly realized the ground was down below us. The stair treads are solid, but the risers are open so the dirt and bushes are visible below as we climb higher and higher. Still, a little encouragement and she soon made it to the top, through a neighbourhood with cats wandering around and vehicles coming and going, and back home. The biggest distraction today was a large flock of crows - Lucy wasn't sure whether to be scared of them or to chase them!

This week I will start Lucy on lessons in the car - taking her for short drives that end in pleasant experiences, and leaving her in the vehicle for increasing lengths of time while I do some errands - safely secured behind the doggy barrier, and with a stuffed kong for company so my relatively new-to-me van doesn't end up minus seatbelts, seats or floor mats.

In other news, the pups are going fast. Deli, Peanut and Pumpkin have all gone to their new families on foster-to-adopt (pending their spays/neuters), Summer is spoken for, two or three other applicants have had homechecks and been approved but still have to select their puppy, and six of the pups will be going for their spays/neuters on Thursday.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Beautiful Borzois and a Passel of Puppies

Beautiful Borzois and Passel of Pups

Regular longterm readers of my blog will remember Pearl, Karen's beautiful borzoi who passed away last February. I loved capturing her on film - so regal, so breathtakingly beautiful. Here's one of my favourite photos of her:


And you can read more about her here and here.

Well, Karen recently adopted two more borzoi. They came into one of my favourite rescues, Turtle Garden's Animal Rescue, located in northern British Columbia. Yvette, the tireless owner of Turtle Gardens, wanted a borzoi-savvy home for these two girls who are believed to be a little over six months old. And who better than Karen? Karen has had a number of borzois over the years and is a huge supporter of animal rescue - in fact, she has adopted numerous dogs from rescue, including some from Turtle Gardens. And, yes, this is the same Karen who has taken the SPCA monster pups off my hands pending their adoptions (two have now gone out on foster-to-adopt, two others are spoken for, six are still looking for homes).

And that's where this story comes together - the passel of pups and the beautiful borzois. Because the borzois love the pups. And what a photo-op that makes! The day was bright sunlight on snow, and it was the middle of the afternoon, which made getting just the right frame in my digital camera a bit of a challenge, but even with my amateur hand, the results can't help but make you smile.

So...introducing Karen and Norm's newest family members, Ruby (with the darker face) and Amber - playing with Lucy's pups. Enjoy! (You can click on any photo to enlarge it, then use the back browser to return to the blog.)

Ruby and pup (1)

Ruby and pup (2)

Ruby and pup (3)

Ruby and puppies (1)

Ruby and puppies (2)

Ruby and puppies (3)

Ruby and puppies (4)

Ruby in black and white

Ruby portrait (1)

Ruby portrait (2)

Pups in sunlight

Ruby and Turtle Gardens' Alumnus Kabuki

Here's a short series I love - watch what happens as the pups clamber over the borzoi:

Amber and Pups (1)

Amber and Pups (2)

Amber and Pups (3)

Amber and pups (4)

And some more of Amber with pups:

Amber and pups (5)

Amber and Pups (6)

Amber and Pup

And two last shots, not of borzois or pups:

Dolly in black and white

Drew and a Rainbow

It was a wonderful afternoon at Karen's and Norm's. I look forward to taking many more photos of the borzois in the years to come.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Lucy Tours the Town

The weather has warmed up, the snow is fast disappearing, and this morning Lucy and I headed out in a gentle rain for a walk about town. It was her first walk since having the puppies, and readers may remember that our previous walks had been very short due to her extreme anxiety.

I decided to dress her in Oliver's old coat - for warmth, for protection from the rain, and most of all as a sort of anxiety wrap. Some dogs who are anxious feel calmer when wrapped in a special "anxiety wrap" or a stretchy tee shirt or other cosy covering. Oliver's coat fit comfortably around Lucy's torso, though it was a few inches short along her back. Still, Lucy didn't mind it in the least. (She did ask why it had the letter O on the front, but I told her Lucy is her middle name and her first name is really Oh. As in Oh Lucy!!! Which she hears a lot of, these days. She bought the explanation.)

Lucy checks out the snow

And whether it was the wrap, her greater familiarity with me, or the fact that she's no longer packing a passel of puppies, she did do much better than on previous walks.

She did a lot of lip licking (a sign of anxiety in dogs) the first couple of blocks, with her ears flat back against her head, but pretty soon she had her ears up and was trotting along quite happily by my side, even through unfamiliar territory. She became nervous when vehicles passed but the only attempt to bolt was when a very noisy small truck without a muffler roared by.

We didn't go along the seawalk as it is very slippery right now, and I also didn't want her to encounter a lot of unfamiliar dogs on this first mild day in a week. We did bump into our friend Liz and her dog Sasha, and Lucy was very eager to say hi to Liz while virtually ignoring Sasha. Lucy has a good memory for people she has met before.

We walked around the town, through the little parks, up to the community centre and down to the dock, for about an hour. She had as much energy when we arrived home as when we left, and I think it safe to say she really enjoyed herself.

And so did I.

And then I put her in the house and headed off to do some errands and to drop in on Karen and the pups. And now I'm going to leave you with just one teaser photo of what's coming up in tomorrow's blog:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Youthful Energy

Help! Foster mama! She's eatin mah head!

Healthy young dogs are like healthy young kids – full of energy, exuberance and silliness that can make you laugh out loud - or get downright exhausting and annoying. And that is our Lucy – full of energy, exuberance and silliness…and exhausting and downright annoying at times!

Silly Lucy loves the snow. Have I mentioned how much she loves the snow? We had another dump of the powdery white stuff last night and it is still coming down in soft fine flakes that show no signs of stopping. Lucy trotted to the back door this morning, as usual. Then she stood completely still on the back porch as she took in the scene before her and processed it in her two or three year old adolescent dog mind. And like a child getting their first glimpse of the presents around the tree on Christmas morning, Lucy was off – bounding and leaping and jumping and barking and twirling and ....I swear.....laughing with glee.

Silly Lucy! Poor Sadie and Charley, who had also gone outside to do their morning business, were subsequently knocked right off their feet by the Whirling Dervish. I distracted Lucy long enough for the older girls to do their job, then shepherded them back into the house where I grabbed the Flying Squirrel (a durable Frisbee-type toy) and headed back out with Lucy.

For the next hour, Lucy jumped and twirled and chased and even retrieved (we’re working on fetch and drop, and she is showing signs of understanding), until I accidentally tossed the Squirrel over the neighbour’s fence. Oops.

Lucy learning fetch

That still wasn’t enough for Lively Leaping Lucy, but it was enough for me, so in we came. Lucy decided since the older dogs wouldn’t play with her, she would try the cat. I was sitting at my computer when I heard strange scratching sounds from the dining room. I thought perhaps Lucy had stolen a loaf of bread from the kitchen counter, so I snuck down the hallway to have a look. There is Lucy, in a perfectly executed play-bow with her head low and her rump up in the air, making short little hops on the carpet as she tries to entice a very baffled cat into a game of Chase Me or Kissy Face. Darn, I should have grabbed the camera!

With snow still falling on the roads, the errands I had planned got put on hold. Lucy and I played some more Flying Squirrel, worked a bit on her manners, and just puttered around doing not much of anything for the rest of the day. At least, I did not much of anything. Lucy, I’m sure, spent the day scheming. She has taken over my chair, she has figured out how to get Sadie off the couch when she wants it, she knows how to filch stuff from the counter, she’s figured out how to de-stuff cat toys, and she has obviously gotten in touch with her inner-pup.

WTF? Some people put cookies on their dogs' noses. My foster mama puts snow on it!

I think we need Else’s dog Tess to come back over – they played together the other day and after Tess left, Lucy slept for hours! They sure know how to play.

In these first shots, they remind me of two silly little girls with the giggles:

And then they decide to wrestle:

Lastly, they trot over for a talk with Sadie:

Wanna wrestle with us?


Adopting pups from shelters and rescues

Deli has a family!

Yesterday I received a call to let me know Deli has gone into foster-to-adopt (pending her spay). She is the long legged brindle girl with lots of energy, and has gone to a home with two young boys who will no doubt give her a run for her money. Good luck, Deli, I hope you had a good first night with your new family.

Whee! I gotz kids!

On a dog forum I belong to, a poster put up a photo of her new pup (who looks quite a bit like Zuke from our Lucy's litter!) - a pup she obtained from a newspaper ad when she was looking for a Doberman pup. Three months later, she can tell it is no doberman - more like a lab/rat terrier mix. But she loves it and she is very involved with her dogs, so it will have a good forever home. Her post got me thinking, though.

Some of Lucy's litter are now listed on the SPCA website. I chuckled - or to be honest, I groaned - to see them listed as “corgi cross”. There may be some corgi in there somewhere, but the pups like Pumpkin and Hubbard are much more Newfie cross or Mastiff cross than corgi!!!

I'z no corgi - I'z gonna be a GIANT breed! Mah mama's genes sure don't fit ME!

In fact, the only ones that may be corgi-sized as adults are Peanut, Summer, Patty and Acorn. And even that is a “maybe”. Many, like Deli, are more likely to be lab sized.

For those who have been reading this blog for information on the pups, a relative of Lucy’s late owner says Lucy is a corgi-pitti cross (which would be my guess too-- corgi with either rednose pitti or possibly some Rhodesian ridgeback), and there is a good chance the father of the pups was a newfie cross (newfie-pitti, perhaps?) who also lived on the property.

It is also possible there was more than one dad (as often happens in backyard breedings) –those fawn pups with black muzzles look like they have some mastiff or boxer in them somewhere!

Whatever we are, we is 100% CUTE!

So here is the bottom line: the breed identities on both the BC SPCA site and on sites like Petfinder.com , may be misleading and sometimes downright wrong. This is particularly true with pups - young pups often look amazingly similar regardless of breed. These sites are excellent resources when looking for a pet, but searching by breed may mean you miss a dog that would be perfect for you; searching by size is no guarantee that the pup will end up the size you want.

Meet the pup, find out what you can about its history, consider its current age and weight (an eight week old pup who weighs 15 pounds is NOT going to be a small or medium sized dog!), and be prepared for anything. Hopefully by the time you accept the fact that this cute little pup is a hundred and twenty pound fur-covered teenager, you will have spent lots of time teaching good manners, and will love him/her so deeply that you would no sooner get rid of the dog than of your human kids. In fact, if you've done your job as a doggy parent, you might even prefer to get rid of the human kids!

And if you really want to know what size your dog will be as an adult, please consider adopting an adult or senior dog. In fact, consider adopting Lucy - a lovely, lively, cuddly 2-3 year old - um - corgi cross!

Lucy and her litter are currently in foster care and are available for adoption through the Cowichan and District SPCA, pending their spays/neuters.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Foster mama, Lucy Lou and a little Dr. Seuss

I do not like the cold and snow,
I do not like the wind to blow,
I do not like ice on the ground,
I do not like it all around.
I do not like it here or there,
I do not like it anywhere.
I love the snow, says Lucy Lou.
I love the snow I really do!
I will eat it from the ground,
And I will eat it on a mound,
And on a plate and on a plank,
And I will eat it from a tank.

Lucy, Sadie and Charley having fun in blowing snow

The snow is cold, says foster mum.
Cold makes my toes and fingers numb.
I do not like it in the air,
I do not like it in my hair,
Or in my ears or throat or nose
Or freezing up my garden hose.
I do not like this cold and snow,
This winter weather has to go!

I love the snow and cold, I do!
I don’t know what is wrong with you.
The snow is good to eat, you see,
And it turns yellow when I pee,
And yellow is just like the sun
Which makes me want to run and run.
I love the snow, I truly do,
Or my name isn’t Lucy Lou!

Lucy playing with friend Tess

I do not like it on a Sunday,
I do not like it on a Monday.
I do not like it in the fall,
I do not like it, not at all.
I do not like it in this rhyme,
I do not like it any time.

I love the cold, I love the snow,
I love it when the wind does blow.
I eat the ice that’s on the ground,
I eat the snow that’s all around.
I love the snow, I really do!
And wind and cold, says Lucy Lou.

Lucy in snow

I do not like the cold and snow
I do not like it, high or low
Not on the ground, not in the air
I do not like it anywhere

The cold is nice, says Lucy Lou.
I love the cold, I really do!
It makes me jump, it makes me smile,
It makes me want to run a mile.

Lucy and friend Tess

I do not like this awful snow.
I do not like it, it must go!
It makes me cold and shivery.
It all belongs in Calgary.
In Calgary, they do not mind,
They like to have a cold behind,
And frozen toes and hands and knees*.
It should go there, so I won’t freeze!

Please, Foster mama, don’t be blue!
I will snuggle up to you.
I’ll keep you warm, I’ll share your bed,
I’ll warm your toes, I’ll warm your head.
I like the cold and wind and snow,
I really like it, that I know.
But if you don’t, then Lucy Lou
Will have to take good care of you!

Please, foster mama?

Aw Lucy Lou, you are so kind.
If you’ll do that, then I won’t mind
If it is cold and there is snow
And all around the wind does blow.
If you will cuddle up with me,
And you will keep me company
Then I will not be sad and blue,
For I’ll be warm just cuddling you.

*(With apologies to my friend, two-legged Charlie, who lives in Calgary and hates being cold!)

Toto, this sure ain't Kansas!

Sometime while I was busy with puppies, Vancouver Island must have floated north and we are now anchored just a few miles south of Alaska. At least, that's what it feels like. Crofton is said to have one of the most moderate climates in Canada, protected as it is by Saltspring Island and Maple Mountain to the east and south, and a smattering of other small mountains stretching to the west and north.

But for the past couple of days, the wind has been blowing from the ocean right to my back yard, the ground is a mess of very hard, cold ice chunks, and I can hardly keep the house warm enough with the inefficient electric heaters. A five hour power outage the other day didn't help, but since then the power has only flickered off once or twice. Thank goodness, because the windchill factor last night brought the temperatures down close to minus 20 according to the radio.

It occured to me last night that I haven't shut off the two outside faucets, so I went scrambling around with a flashlight to find the turn off thingys. I found what I thought was one under my kitchen cabinet and far to the side through another little cut out, but there was no way that this chunky body was going to fit through a 14 x 14 inch space to reach it and my arms just aren't long enough. Besides, it looks like it also controls the water to my kitchen sink, so maybe it isn't even the right one.

The other shut off should be in my hall closet. I remember that is where the plumber told me it was when I first moved in and thought to ask about these things (of course, I failed to write down the answers, so now I don't remember most of what he said). My hot water tank is in the same closet. Again, flashlight in hand, I searched and searched but there is no shut off. Unless it is behind the drywall. Which I am not about to remove. I did have a bunch of bathroom renovations done last year, which changed the plumbing adjacent to the closet, so maybe that also changed the shutoff location.

So, failing to find any way to shut them off, I wrapped both taps in comforters and bungy cords, and will keep my fingers crossed that pipes don't burst. When I think back over the 25 years or more that I have lived alone as an adult, I don't think I have ever shut off outside faucets in the winter - even during the three years I lived in the Northwest Territories - so either I live a charmed life, or the threat of busted pipes isn't as great as people seem to think. And now I have probably just jinxed myself.

I did inquire about alternate heat sources for this place - a lovely little woodstove that costs $699 will cost another $2,900 to install. And then I have to chop wood, take out ashes, and do all that other dirty stuff that I don't care for. I don't have gas, and both gas and pellet stoves are going to run about $5000 to install. But Home Depot showed me a unit that fits outside like central air, runs off propane, and is wired directly into the home so it comes on automatically when the power goes out. The really big ones come with REALLY BIG price tags, but a smaller one that runs eight circuits is about $2300 plus an electrician's installation - which sounds like it wouldn't be much more than the other options. Today I make some phone calls. It would really be nice to have a source of heat and light and cooking potential around here if this really is going to be the worst winter in fifty years. We live in an area that gets lots of power failures, and Crofton is the last place on the grid to get repaired as we have no urgent services here.

And who likes this cold? Ms. Lucy! She goes crazy every time she is outside, and she constantly wants to go outside. And since Ms. Lucy can't be left alone outside (if I disappear back inside the house, she jumps the gate to the carport to try to get back to me, instead of just coming to the back door and asking to be let in!) , that means I stand out there in the blowing wind and freezing cold, impatiently watching her run, jump, dig, sniff, and just plain sit with her head into the wind and her ears blowing back like some sort of strawberry blonde movie star on a photoshoot.

I want spring to come. This is just toooooo darn cold. I'll even welcome dreary dark days of rain.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

And off they go...

They emerged over a ten hour period on the first day of October, 2010, wrinkled and wet and searching for food. From a mom who looked like a butternut squash, ten pups emerged round and robust and raring to go.

And then they grew.

They crawled, they waddled, they walked, they climbed. They ran and pounced and pooped and peed. They wrestled and snuggled, they nipped and they chewed.

In just seven weeks, they went through over a hundred pounds of kibble, a dozen rolls of paper towel, three giant size boxes of green garbage bags, a van load of newspaper, three dozen cans of puppy food, eight litres of evaporated milk, three dozen egg yolks, thirty-six packages of gelatin, a bottle of enzyme supplement, twenty syringes of dewormer, six tubs of yoghurt, four boxes of pablum, a cup of corn syrup, three tarps, several pieces of lumber, ten collars, and a never-ending supply of blankets, sheets, towels, detergent, cleansers, air freshner, disposable gloves, and toys. Add to that a half dozen trips to the dump with the soiled papers, a pair of doggy diapers and three boxes of liners for mama Lucy, and of course the meat, broth, oatmeal, rice, eggs and supplements for Lucy’s homecooked food when her intestines couldn’t handle any kibble.

They kept me up night after night, and they left me so exhausted that sleep, when it happened, was deep and dreamless.

My washer and dryer were constantly running, the dishes were always piled high, the counters and table were cluttered with puppy paraphernalia, and there was never more than an hour or two when the floor was poop-and-pee-free.

They squealed, they squeaked, they barked and they growled, they howled and yipped and whined and grumbled.

They tried my patience, and they touched my heart. They made me laugh, and they brought me to tears.

They worried me sick, and they forced me to grow. They helped me define my limitations and know where my strengths in rescue lie. And it isn’t with puppies.

An army of wonderful people became my life-line. SPCA volunteers, neighbours, members of my community donated time and goods which helped me retain my sanity and live within my budget. And there were the professionals: the emergency vet whose voice on the phone guided me through delivering a stuck pup, my own vet who answered my email questions and reassured me when my confidence faltered, the SPCA vet who helped Lucy with her mastitis and intestinal troubles, and the staff at the SPCA who entrusted me with their care, and ultimately will have the responsibility of selecting appropriate homes for the pups and Lucy. To all these people, I am eternally grateful. It was, in so many ways, a joint effort.

And now the squealing, barking, whining, howling, running, pouncing, playing Butternut Squash Kids are moving on.

May their future families be committed to them forever, love them, teach them, feed them healthy food, nurture them, protect them, exercise their bodies and their minds, and share their living space with them. May not one of the pups ever end up in a shelter, may they never be homeless, may they never know fear or pain or hunger or insecurity. May they always be as safe and healthy and happy as they are today; may they truly be part of a family.

I cannot say with honesty that I will miss them, but I will certainly always remember them.











The last of the pups have left the building.