Thursday, February 24, 2011
A couple of weeks ago, a dog just north of here went missing. Tonka's body was found several days later - he had fallen through the ice of a pond and died. Yesterday, a friend's dog went through the ice while on the Wednesday Walk - fortunately the story had a much happier ending, with a chilled but thankfully alive dog making it out (though not, I'm sure, without knocking at least ten years off her owner's life!).
Tonight is supposed to be even colder than last night - minus 16 with the windchill factor. Ponds are frozen - but they are NOT safe! For a pond to be safe, we would need well below freezing temperatures for a very extended period of time, producing several inches of consistently thick ice on still water. One weak spot and the dog falls through - and frantic attempts to clamber out of the frigidly cold water only result in more ice breaking off. Human attempts to rescue the dog can result in almost immediate hypothermia -- and the loss of both human and dog.
Please - if you live in the (now freezing) south western part of Canada (or northwestern part of the States) don't let your dogs run loose anywhere near frozen water.
Off my soapbox, and on to an update on Sadie. Sadie visited the vet about her strange eye problem today. Doc had dried liver treats, her absolutely-most-favouritest treat in the whole wide world, so she was putty in his hands.
The diagnosis??? It's "A Puzzle". That's his exact words. A Puzzle.
He rules out Horner's syndrome - there's no drooping of the upper lid, which he says is most characteristic of Horner's (though I have heard and read that this is not always the case). He also ruled out the most obvious infections: no dental problems, no nasal infection (in fact he did a swab to be absolutely sure), no ear infection. He froze the eye to check behind the third eyelid (that little part that comes up from the bottom, like a pearly-white cover) - no infection or inflammation there. No redness. No foreign body.
However, there is definitely something wrong with it. He says it is tracking okay, but the rate of dilation and amount of dilation differs from the left eye, and the visible shape is different too - it looks different, more sunken, than the left eye. And there's some squinting.
He said there are a few possibilities. First is the possibility of an infection behind the eye - for that he has given me antibiotic eyedrops to use on her for a week. Second is the possibility of a neurological problem that is affecting the muscles behind the eye, and third is the possibility of a tumor or other scary growth behind the eye. For those last two options, he would need to refer her to a canine opthamologist, which means a trip to the mainland and mega big bucks.
His recommendation is that we try the antibiotic and monitor it for now. It doesn't seem as bad this week as it did last weekend, and she sometimes goes hours at a time when it looks virtually normal. We'll keep our toes and fingers crossed (and paws, too) that Sadie soon recovers fully from The Puzzle.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
Sadie will be going to the vet's this week - her right eye has suddenly sunken inward for some unknown reason. It occured a couple of days ago and has not corrected itself, and though it doesn't seem to bother her or to affect her vision, it is very worrisome.
I received a call from our little village Post Office last night (on a Sunday evening yet!) to say my mailbox (which is located in the post office building - there's no delivery here) was one of several to get broken into sometime during the wee hours, and all the mail stolen. I only pick up my mail about once a week, so who knows what might have been in there.....bank statements, credit card statements, income tax forms. So today I have to do all I can to prevent identity theft, something I'm a wee bit paranoid about. Not how I wanted to spend my Monday morning. Maybe the thief is really a Secret Santa kinda guy who is going to make large deposits into everyone's accounts and pay all their bills?????
And one more piece of bad - or rather, sad - news. Zuke, Lucy's only 'black' (reverse brindle) pup, has been injured. His mom tells me he was in an accident a week ago Friday.
Here's a phot0 of him last October:
Elizabeth, his mom, tells me
He is trying his best to recover from pelvic damage. We are trying to keep him inside and not moving about too much. You can imagine how difficult this is. He thinks he's just fine and wants to run and play.
Yesterday was such a beautiful day, we couldn't bear to leave him behind so we took him to the boys soccer games. He was so happy to lie on the field and just be with everyone. He is such a good dog, he let everyone admire him and little hands pet him while he licks them back.
This week we all missed having him come to the bus stop every morning. He cried from his crate. He walks so well with us. I felt awful leaving him behind because he is sooo sweet and well behaved, he doesn't deserve this at all. I can talk to Zuke and he understands. Every night at 9:30 pm he gets up from lying in front of the fire and puts himself to bed.
We will take him for another vet visit tomorrow, I hope it is good news. We will do everything we can for him.
Here are some photos of Zuke, presumably before his accident. You can really see the reverse brindle in this first one:
Thanks for keeping me informed, Elizabeth - many healing vibes to Zuke.
We also have an update on Hubbard, who used to look like this:
He now looks like this:
Readers may recall that he was the one pup I was most concerned about in his early weeks, as he was very lethargic with a very fast heart rate. Whatever it was (perhaps the worms he was born with) he's certainly over it now! Hubbard's mom, Leah, tells me
Hubbard is asleep beside me on the couch as I type, a happy member of our family. He is doing great! He’s 45-50lbs and a big cuddler. We live on 5.5 acres in Sooke and he loves running, sticks (more like branches), frisbees, soccer, exploring in the forest over logs and wherever he can go, chasing birds, and wondering why our 14 year old siamese cat won’t play with him.And I'll end the post with one more photo of Hubbard - I love, love, love this shot! It is sure to make you smile:
He has long strong legs and a beautiful brindle coat he gets a lot of compliments on. We see mastiff in him, though some of his behaviour reminds me of a beloved corgi I grew up with. He’s a good boy!
I really enjoyed reading about Lucy after Hubbard came home. He definitely has some of her traits!
Thanks for the update, Leah. Give that happy pup a belly rub from me!
Saturday, February 19, 2011
I sit at my computer all morning, sluggish and bleary eyed from a night of reading too late and sleeping too little. I am chilled to the bone, having forgotten to turn the heat on when I got up – a frequent failing of mine. (I turn the thermostats for the electric heaters right off at night, and then just don’t think to turn them back up in the morning until my hands are shaking with cold and my muscles tensed from trying not to shiver.)
I look outside and realize there is a clear blue sky and brilliant sunshine – too beautiful a day to stay indoors! But gusty arctic winds catch the edge of the back door and rip it from my hands, having me rethink my plans for a walk on the nearby beach.
I toss the dogs in the car (well, not exactly!– Sadie climbed in all by herself. Only Charley needs ‘tossing’ in, as her weak back end can’t make the jump, and it was a very gentle toss), and we head inland for a more protected walk.
I point the car west on Hwy 18, thinking to take the dogs to Skutz Falls in Cowichan River Provincial Park, where I remembered wide trails and unused logging roads on sun-drenched hillsides with tall trees here and there to break the wind. I have not been there since last spring. On a sunny but chilly day like today, I figure there will be enough people around for me to feel safe, but not so many that their presence would detract from the beauty of the area.
I hadn’t counted on the lack of signage. I have a vague idea of where I’m going, and catch the first turn off the highway with no problem – there is the familiar blue BC Provincial Park sign. Same for the second turn. But at the road where I should have made a third turn, there is no sign. So I just keep right on driving. And driving. And driving. Right into the snow. Yes. Snow. Not in the air, where the day was still gorgeous, but on the roads and trees and trails. There's not much, but enough to make be cautious - I've told no one where I'm going and my cell phone doesn't work here. This would not be a good place to slide off the road.
In Crofton, we seem to live in our own little micro-climate. In the past few days, there has been snow in Chemainus and Ladysmith to the north, and Shawnigan Lake to the south, and, apparently, Cowichan River Park to the east. But none in Crofton. Not a single flake. So being a nice sunny day, I hadn’t thought of there being snow on the roads. Still, with my new winter tires that have seen virtually no cold white stuff this winter, I keep driving.
I finally find a sign pointing to Marie Canyon, 66 Mile Trestle and, five kilometers further will be the south entrance to Skutz Falls. I stop at Marie Canyon. There are four or five cars there, but not only is there no sign of a trail, I can’t see or hear a soul, nor spot footprints in the snow. It is as if the inhabitants of the cars had simply levitated and flown over the tree tops to wherever it was they were going.
I drive on and stop at 66 Mile Trestle. Same story – four or five cars, no trail, no signs of life.
And now, added to the snow, I am met with hardpacked ice. And huge potholes. And isolation. And unsigned crossroads. While I customarily identify with Robert Frost’s sentiments in “The Road Not Taken," this was not the time for such a venture. And so I turn back the way I’d come, and at the next intersection, I look at the tire tracks in the snow and I choose the road more travelled. It was a good choice.
I find myself at another area of the park, Stoltz Pool. A dozen cars in the parking lot, several anglers just returning from the river, footprints going in and out along the trails, yet peaceful overall. And so the dogs and I head out.
With the river fast and high, and the dogs slow and hard of hearing, I keep them on leash. No unplanned swims today, thank you. (Both Charley and Sadie have, on separate occasions, toppled right into the river at Swallowfield and had to be fished out, as neither swims). Besides, this is not an offleash park.
For nearly two hours we putter around – sometimes walking, sometimes sitting, sometimes staring into space. The dogs, of course, are busy doing what dogs do best – sniffing every tree and stone and leaf.
We wander through a field and along a trail by moss laden trees. I love the old gnarled trees in this park. They are covered with moss and lichen, and their dark twisted arms reach out like those of the forest in a child’s scary story. Or maybe they beckon for a child to climb up and sit among the leaves come spring.
We meander over to the river where we stop briefly to say hi to two women fishing with their lovely old sheltie-terrier cross. At a shallow beach area, Charley goes for a paddle in the water and Sadie has a quick drink, though quickly backs out when her toes get wet.
At various points, attempts to rehabilitate the bank and prevent further erosion have led to the development of ladder-like access points. We choose not to descend them, or the dogs won't be the only ones tumbling into the cold water.
We continue along the trail, the distinctive sound of a pileated woodpecker following us from tree to tree though I was unable to spot him well enough to catch his picture. While I stop to listen, I notice a tree with moss is so deep that the spores of ferns have taken root and grow downward from the trunk.
Brilliant crimson of Oregon grape adds colour to the walk, though the icy blue of the water is colourful in its own right. Spray and steam from sun on icy water add an eeriness that make me thankful for the sunlight and warmth of the afternoon.
Returning to the car, I lift both tired dogs in and we head home – only to get lost again, as I have no sense of direction, didn’t bring a map, and couldn’t use a GPS if my life depended on it. Eventually I find a familiar road and soon we are back on Hwy 18 heading east to Crofton. When we arrive, the wind has dissipated, the sun is still strong, and the dogs and I are ready for an afternoon nap. It was a very good day.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Just a wee bit! His vet says he doesn't seem to have any newfie in him, but looks much like a really nice lab/shepherd cross! Oh Lucy, what were you up to??? He sure didn't inherit her short little corgi legs or the fluffy fur of the dog presumed to be his dad! But of course, that is the gamble you take with dogs of unknown mixed heritage breeding with other dogs of unknown mixed heritage - they may look like corgies or pittis or newfies or poodles, but ya just never know what's really in them and what genes will predominate. (And, no, those DNA tests you now buy to find out the breed of your mutt are NOT reliable at this point in time).
Anyway, I was very happy to get an update on Major and some photos. His mom says:
Thought I would send a picture or two of Major. His name keeps growing, justNow, I'm guessing this might be the "cousin" he's playing with here - probably destuffing a toy as I see white fluff on the ground.
like he does. I believe you named him Bo, and Don and I renamed him Major, then
it became Major Bo, but with his tags on his collar, he now is called Major Bo
Jangles. He is an excellent puppy. We are taking him to agility classes where he
is learning lots of new tricks. He has a lot of friends, and a "cousin" dog
staying with us which he adores.
But what I love about that photo is...the chickens!!! Totally unconcerned about two monster pups tussling away right near them - and the dogs totally disinterested in the chickens! How cute is that!
And here's another of Major Bo Jangles - All he needs is a parade following him, as he already has the baton with which to lead the marching band.
I'm going to send emails to a few of the other adopters - I'd sure love to see pics of them now. They were such an assortment of puppies - short ones, tall ones, fluffy ones, smooth ones.......
Thanks, Gerri and Don for the update. I think it must be almost time for a reunion!
(Photos and information used with permission)
Thursday, February 10, 2011
So, from time to time, I am going to share these untold tales. For the most part, they will be presented just as I wrote them at that time, though I am in the process of selecting and revising many for future publication as short stories. All stories, as with all content on this blog, are copyright and may not be reproduced without permission.
Here is one of those stories. It took place at Hearts on Noses Sanctuary, where Janice, the owner, had asked me to help build a pen for the newly arrived seven month old farm pig, Roscoe.
The handywoman, the pig, and the hot summer's day
Roscoe, the farm pig, watched as I came toward his pen armed with a hammer, a bucket of nails, and some yummy red watermelon. I said good morning, fed him his treat, and told him I'd be finishing off his enclosure today, tacking down the wire more securely to the fence rails encircling his pen.
And so I got to work. I put the bucket on top of a tall post by the gate and started hammering. I had shown Roscoe the bucket of nails so he would know that it didn't contain anything interesting to eat, but Roscoe is a seven month old piggy whose cognitive skills are still developing and whose curiosity is like that of the proverbial cat. As I banged the first nail into place, Roscoe stood up on his hind legs, front feet on the top of the gate, and nudged at the bucket with his snout……over it went, nails everywhere.
I carefully picked up each and every nail, ever mindful of Janice's cautions about leaving nothing on the ground that could hurt the piggies' feet, and berating myself for leaving the bucket where he could reach it. I put the bucket on the roof of his house, pocketed a handful of nails, and began again.
But Rascally Roscoe had seen my hand go into the bucket and was convinced that hand held something yummy. So as I attempted to hammer in nails, I repeatedly found a pink piggy shoving his adorable mud-covered snout into the hand holding the nail - and invariably trying to take the whole hand into his even muddier slobbery mouth. Place nail, shove piggy snout away, hit nail, shove piggy snout away, recover hand from mouth, hit nail, shove piggy snout away….and on it went. When I put the hammer down to pick up some more nails, he decided its wooden handle might make a good tasty treat - or at least he thought a bit of slobber might make the task more interesting to watch.
I tried to distract him with off-key singing about sunshine and piggies and friendship and bluebirds and other cheerful feel-good songs. I gave him branches from the nearby hazelnut trees. I tried to splash him with water from his pool. He responded by nudging me with a muddy mouth, trying to knock my glasses off with his energetic branch-waving, and sloshing through the muddy water before again checking out what goody I might have dragged from my pocket and now be trying to fasten to the fencepost. I was his Very Best Friend for the morning, and he stuck to me like we were joined at the hip. But I didn't really mind - he was good company, didn't criticize my singing, and kept me smiling at his antics.
And then he got just a wee bit too personal and pushy. I remember, years ago, taking an anthropology course in which I learned about an African tribe whose custom was to urinate on another's foot as a form of greeting - the welcoming exchange of warm body fluids. Roscoe had obviously taken the same course because.…well….....he didn't exactly urinate ON me, but right next to me so it sprayed and splattered all over my runners. Okay, I was fixing the fence in his potty corner, but couldn't he have just held it a few minutes longer?
I sternly asked him to back away while I finished, and he generously gave me an extra three inches of working space. I knelt down to nail the bottom rail when all of a sudden - WHUMP!!!! - one set of piggy paws squarely planted on my upper back, and one two-hundred pound piggy coming in much too close and personal to my …ahem….backside. Roscoe was trying to mount me! And since I'm all of five foot one and weigh -- well, lets just say I weigh less than a two hundred pound seven month old farm pig -- I was knocked off balance and went SPLAT right into the mix of piggy pee and poop freshly deposited there. I jumped up, roared "NO" at him and shoved him away.
Roscoe looked appropriately contrite and wandered off to his blanket, where he lay down with a sigh and watched me with a "woe is me, I'm just a little piggy, please don't be mad at me" expression. I finished the section of fence and then moved outside the pen to work on the opposite side.
At that point Roscoe decided it was safe to approach me again and as I tried to nail the wire to one side of the fence, piggy snout pushed the wire outward from the other side. I finished the job despite his assistance and my last image of him as I headed down the driveway was his muddy little snout carefully checking my work, ready to nose his way through any section I might have overlooked. After all, I was his new love interest, and he was determined to follow me anywhere.
Hey, wait! Come back! Don't leave me! I wuv you!
Roscoe, my sexual orientation is my own private business, but I assure you it does NOT extend to piggies!!! I will love you as a friend, but that is all you will ever be to me. I'm sorry, my boy, but cast your affections elsewhere …...like to the big pink piggy named Rose in the pen next to you. Better yet, get over it.
And now I better figure out how I’m going to explain the bruises on my back to my doctor at my upcoming appointment. I suppose I could say I was assaulted by an amorous male chauvinist pig. Yes, that will do ..... and it's the truth.
(c) 2007 JFB
The photos included in this story were taken the day the pen was built - when Roscoe was just seven months old. To emphasize how quickly and how big these pigs grow, I'm adding two more photos. The first was sent to Janice by Roscoe's previous home - Roscoe as a little wee baby:
And here is Roscoe today, full grown:
Roscoe and Janice at the sanctuary
Monday, February 7, 2011
Yesterday, I received my first blogger award - The Stylish Blogger Award:
Now that made me laugh, because I'm anything but stylish - but then, the person who nominated me (also a recipient of the award) confesses she, too, is not 'stylish'. At least, not in the fashion sense. So perhaps the person who first named this award was referring more to writing style than fashion sense. I certainly hope so.
Anyway, the rules of this award are as follows:
1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!
So thank you, EvenSong, from Mountain Music, whose blog has taught me a lot about the multifaceted work of raising horses and the art of trailriding, and whose photos and words give me glimpses of a person and several animals whose company I think I would very much enjoy if we were ever to meet.
I was very tempted to steal her list of ‘seven things about myself’, since at least three or four of them fit me to a tee. Instead, I have stolen only one of her ideas – the first one – as it is apropos given the name of the award.
Seven things about me:
1. I am not stylish. Okay, I could argue that I have my OWN style – it is “Comfort Rules”. If I don’t like the texture, the fit, the fabric, I won’t wear it. There hasn't been a dress or a skirt in my closet for over ten years, and I haven’t worn one since February 1997 when I wore a long skirt to my wedding to appease my (now former) mother-in-law who would have died on the spot had I shown up in pants. I like cotton pants and cotton knit shirts. For dressy occasions, I’ll add a blazer. My dogs are more stylish than I am.
You betcha! We gotz style!
Whazzat? Speak fer yerself!
2. I hate clutter. Can’t abide it. Can’t function in it. If my house/office/kitchen/workspace gets cluttered, it has to be de-cluttered before I can get anything productive done (which is probably why I sometimes go for days without being productive!). If I’m facing a deadline, I sometimes resort to putting all the clutter into a laundry basket and stashing it in the closet for a day or two. I never have more than one full laundry basket stashed in there, and even my linen cupboards and clothes closets are nearly always tidy. Clutter immobilizes me.
3. I am an RP – a Recovering Perfectionist. After years and years of having to do something perfectly or not do it at all, I now subscribe to the philosophy of “Good Enough”. This blog entry is “good enough”, that flower bed is ‘good enough’. I used to obsess over getting something perfect. I started on the road to recovery when I was in university struggling to get perfect marks while single-handedly raising a young child, and having trouble with both activities. A counselor I was seeing said to me, “Jean, you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be Good Enough”. They were life-changing words. There has been lots of backsliding, but I do constantly tell myself ‘that’s Good Enough”. I’m a good enough friend and family member, a good enough animal caregiver, a good enough fixer-and-builder, a good enough housekeeper. Well, except for the “no clutter” thing – for that, I have to be perfect.
4. I love my daughter but I hated being a parent. Perhaps my one regret in life is that I did not enjoy motherhood, and therefore did not give my daughter the sort of love-and-laughter-filled, secure, magical childhood every kid deserves. And I’m sure she sensed my ambivalence, even dislike, of parenting. That said, I was a Good Enough mom (see #3), and she has become an amazing woman. And, I might add, she has LOTS of style. She’s one of the classiest women I know. So much for the idea that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Or if it did, it rolled far, far away, took root, and grew into a beautiful Indian Bean Tree or maybe a mimosa.
Me. The Mom. The Apple Tree.
....or maybe the light and graceful mimosa.
5. I was fortunate to grow up in a great little oceanside community, with supportive parents. They were active in our school and church lives and took on major roles in Guiding and Scouting, to which we all belonged. My friends and I went from grade 1 to grade 12 together - the same group of kids. I had roots and stability, and they served me well.
6. I love living alone with just my animals. I love being accountable to no one. I love choosing when to be social and when not to be. I have been married twice – once when I was too young to know better (I am now a firm believer that no one should get married before age 30 – they aren’t even close to figuring out who they are and what they want to become!), and once when I was old enough to know better and did anyway. Suffice it to say, both were baaaad decisions. My first marriage ended just after the birth of my daughter, and the second began twenty-six years later, after she left home. That one ended five years ago, and I've never been happier than I am today.
If I should ever meet someone with whom I want to spend the rest of my life (a highly unlikely scenario, as I have no interest in doing so!), we would have to live in seperate sides of a duplex. I might agree to an adjoining door between the two units as long as there was a lock on it. I like my privacy and I like my solitude. I am me, not someone’s ‘other half’. And I am a servant only to my critters.
7. Although I was born in England (we immigrated to Canada when I was five), I am Canadian through and through. I have no desire to live in or even travel to any other country. Everything I could ever want to see or experience is right here in this beautiful country – ocean and mountains and prairies, history and modernity, cultural diversity and celebration and natural wonders. My favourite memories are those of camping and hiking and fishing my way around this province, as a child and as an adult. My favourite birthday, my 50th, was spent sitting in a small boat all by myself in the middle of a clear greenish blue mountain lake at sunrise on a crisp September morning. As the sun slowly stretched its golden arms and peeked over the hills, I caught a rainbow trout which I would later cook over an open fire at my campsite along the water’s edge while I listened to the loons and watched white fluffy clouds pass overhead across the wide blue sky. I am Canadian. This is my home.
Now for the difficult part - to which blogs should I pass on the award?
Most that I follow regularly concern animals. I've often provided links to the Hearts on Noses Potbellied Pig website, but not so often to their seperately-hosted Hearts on Noses blog. I'm a regular reader of the Turtle Gardens blog, about animal rescue in the northern part of our province.
I also love reading Bikesbirdsnbeasts, Crooks and Crazies, Haiku Farm, and BlackDogBlog. And I can't leave out Erin Vey's blog. Erin is a dog photographer who has been on maternity leave, but still posts from time to time - amazing photos of her dog Gracie, of clients' dogs, and most recently of Gracie and Maggie, her baby. And of course there is Wootube, whose humour and photography keep me coming back over and over.
I've recently revisited a couple of blogs I'd almost forgotten about - Vet on the Edge, and Indefatigable. I plan to go back more often.
Some I have only just discovered and I'm now hooked on, like Littledogsonlongleashes. Sometimes written by the dog, sometimes by the human, always fun and interesting.
Some blogs have little to do with animals, though I found them via a link from an animal blog - check out The Trials of Matt, for example. Matt adopted a Turtle Gardens dog who goes with him on his many hiking and skiing adventures in my beautiful province. Amazing mountain scenery.
Other bloggers that I followed faithfully seem to have stopped blogging. I miss them. I know some are now posting on Facebook, instead, but I don't do Facebook so I want them BAAACK. In particular, I miss Patience Please. Go leave her a comment and tell her to start blogging again! Another is The Inman Road Chronicles - I miss reading about my favourite little donkey, Rupert.
And then there is the one that was featured on the morning news this week. I spent an hour looking at it and I'm going back - it is funny, it is honest, it is a blog I wish had been around when I was the mom of a young child. Every parent out there, and every one who is thinking about parenting or has ever thought about parenting, needs to check out Her Bad Mother.
I think that's fifteen. I know I probably won't get around to notifying every one of those bloggers about the award. But that's okay - it's Good Enough. Hopefully, they will see the increased traffic on their sites and follow the link back to mine. If you are mentioned here, consider yourself awarded. And even if you aren't mentioned here, know that if I read your blog regularly I consider it worthwhile - so help yourself to the award. And then pass it forward.