Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What a great community!

They came with trucks and they came on foot. They came with carts and they came with bags, with kids and dogs and grandma too. And they came with cash.
Lots of cash.

They crowded the gate waiting for us to open – not just Saturday, but Sunday too. The annual Cowichan and District SPCA garage sale is a local legend, and no one, no one wants to miss it!

They wandered the booths looking for treasures,

and they chowed down on burgers and hotdogs and muffins and water and pop.

They shopped for books and clothes, kitchenware and tools, sports equipment, pet stuff, craft supplies and Christmas things. For movies and music, for linen and shoes and purses, for fine china and furniture and jewelry and toys and puzzles. For foot baths and fans, for candles and vases and lawnmowers and pots of flowers and even for trees. I’m not sure that we had a kitchen sink for sale, but we certainly had everything else.

And they kept on coming.

And they kept on shopping.

And by the end of Sunday, there wasn’t much left except some very weary volunteers.

And a lot of cash left behind by shoppers. Over $22,000. Yes, you read that right: over $22,000. All for the animals at Cowichan and District SPCA.

It's a great community effort - from the supporters who donated the goods, and the merchants and organizations who provided food and tents and flowers and tables and advertising, to the volunteers who pulled it together and of course the shoppers who came to buy, buy, buy. Truly a community success story.

I’m still exhausted and there were others who worked much harder – and much longer – than I did, so I can only imagine how they feel!

But I'd say it was all worth it. And I'm sure the animals think so too.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Scary Stroll with Sadie


As mentioned in my last post, I have been taking Sadie along on Sam's longer, brisker strolls. (Sam is an energetic 17 year old dog I am looking after for some friends). We worked up to it gradually, and for the past three days Sadie has been doing the approximately 1 mile loop morning and night with no problems. She slows down toward the end, but so does Sam.

Today, however, we had a scary event. Sam, Sadie and I headed up the hill through the town at a fairly brisk (for me - moderate for a more fit person) pace, then travelled about four blocks on level ground before heading back down to the ocean. While on level ground, I noticed Sadie stumbling a bit, but didn't think too much of it as it is not the first time I've had old dogs who trip over their own back feet.

However, after going about a block downhill, it was clear there was something seriously wrong. She started staggering as if she was drunk, and her back legs were getting tangled up and her rear would buckle under her. We stopped to rest, then she stood up and we continued. I slowed the pace considerably and suddenly she staggered again and had a complete collapse, simply falling over on her side and lying there, conscious but unblinking and unresponsive.

Of course, I didn't have my cell phone with me. And the skies chose that moment to dump a sudden heavy shower upon us. And there wasn't a soul in sight. I sat on the sidewalk, Sam's leash wrapped tightly around one arm, and cradled my twelve year old Sadie on my lap. She lay there a bit, then as I stood up to look at the homes within shouting distance, she got up and continued to walk. She had a few more staggering episodes and her back end collapsed a few more times, but after a moment's rest she would continue.

We reached a bench at the top of the path to the beach, and I sat there with the two dogs for about twenty minutes. Then we very slowly meandered down the path, along the beach, and back home, stopping frequently for rests for Sadie, though she showed no more signs of problems and even managed to snag a crabshell for a little snack along the way.

She has been fine since we got home, though tired as she always is after a walk. She ate a normal dinner, she barked loudly at someone daring to walk down our street, and she jumped up on the couch with no hesitation.

My first thought was her heart, though she has been to the vet recently and has always had a sound heart. My second thought was the very large lipoma on her chest might be pushing on her lungs and/or interfering with her blood flow - but all three vets she has seen in the three years she's lived with me have counselled against removing it and felt it wouldn't cause problems. My third thought was a neurological issue triggered by a tumor - you may recall she has had a weird problem going on with one eye (though it has been a lot better lately), and she has also recently gone deaf, very suddenly. It could be any of those things.

And then I remembered a blog I had read about another dog that did this, and I went searching, and now I wonder if Sadie has EIC - Exercise Induced Collapse - which is a fairly common genetic disorder found in border collies. Some things don't fit: it isn't warm out today (EIC is more likely to occur in hot weather); she used to have long runs/walks without exhibiting it (though perhaps not as fast as today's walk, as Charley has always been a much slower walking companion for Sadie than Sam is); and she wasn't panting at all.

But when I watched some videos on youtube of dogs with EIC, it was very much like what I saw. EIC is also likely to occur about five minutes AFTER the exercise (Sadie's collapse was about five minutes after our uphill hike). And, after an episode, dogs are back to normal in 5-30 minutes, which Sadie was.

Here's a couple of links to videos/articles on Exercise Induced Collapse:

Youtube video on dog experiencing EIC

Article by University of Minnesota

Sadie has recently been to the vet for a full checkup, including blood tests, but I will likely take her back again next week - or sooner if any more episodes occur. Meanwhile, she is on house arrest, and will go back to short, painfully slow walks with Charley. Sam and I shall do our longer treks unaccompanied.

This weekend is the SPCA garage sale, for which I am on the coordinating team. It was while I was working that sale last year that my Oliver was taken ill due to a misadventure with a petsitter, and passed away two days later. You can be sure my friends checking in on my dogs this year will have strict instructions not to walk the dogs. I don't want history repeating itself.

Stay well, Sadie. I'm not ready to say goodbye to you yet.

Sadie and Charley

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Here's Sam

Hai! I'm Sam! Sam, I am!

Sam is visiting me for a month - I am petsitting him while his folks are in England for the birth of their grandchild. Sam is probably the BEST, least annoying, and most cheerful houseguest I have ever had (sorry, Big Sis, but Sam has you beat by a country mile! Hahahaha!). Even Allie the cat gives him a ten out of ten.

Sam is an amazing seventeen year old border collie cross (I'm thinking crossed with Malamute or Sibe?). He was adopted from the SPCA sixteen years ago when he was about a year old. Sam is 29" at the shoulder - he makes my girls, especially Charley, look like small dogs by comparison. He has bright eyes and a big happy smiling mouth and a quiet demeanor. Quiet, that is, until I put on my shoes or pick up a leash - and then he barks and grumbles and talks incessantly: "Are we going for a walk, huh huh huh??? Hurry up, let's go, hurry up!!!"

Sam is my personal fitness trainer - he loves a brisk 45 minute walk morning and night, and is quite happy going up hill. So after months of only doing leisurely strolls along the beach with my two slowpokes, or very short walks with scaredy foster dogs, I am finally getting the workout I need and already feeling better for it. Best of all, he walks beautifully on leash so despite the faster pace he isn't dragging me around.

Essentially, I have three loop walks from my house, all of which take me at some point along the waterfront. The shortest loop - to the green space near the museum and marina, is Charley-length. With Charley, who is slower than a slug, it takes at least twenty minutes, but with Sam it would take less than ten.

Crofton museum and marina

The moderate loop - down the long flight of stairs and north along the seawalk (with a side trip along the berm that leads out to the RV resort wharf) is Sadie-length - it takes Sadie about twenty minutes, but when Charley is along it takes us closer to forty.

Sam and Sadie at top of stairs

Seawalk looking north

The berm

The long loop - down to the marina, south along the sea walk, across the beach front of the RV resort, up the hill back to one of the main residential streets, and back along the roads to home - is Sam length.

Crofton seawalk looking south from marina

Beach in front of RV park

Sam on beach

Up the hill and back through town

Most mornings and evenings, I do the Sam-walk first, then take Charley and Sadie on one of the two shorter walks.

However, Sam is also Sadie's personal fitness trainer, as Sadie has started coming on the longer walk sometimes and I have noticed a marked improvement in her stamina after only six days. Sometimes I have to take Sam on a short walk sans Sadie first, to get the willies out and bring Sam down to a pace Sadie can handle, but the dogs and I are all really enjoying the mix-and-match walks.

Sometimes Sam and I do a town route instead - last night, we did a mile loop heading up from my house (away from the beach) after a lovely evening of laughter with a couple of friends, a bit of wine, and a test run of the new fish and chip take out place in town (Finally! What seaside village is complete without take out fish and chips???).

Sam and I met through one of those "small world!" coincidences. Sam's dad and I worked at the same university, and while I knew his dad quite well I never met Sam back then. When Sam's folks retired, they moved to the island and I did the same when I retired in 2009. Last year, I was invited to join a book club, and Sam's mom was also a member. We have since become friends, and Sam had several visits here leading up to their departure for England. I hope Sam (and his folks!) will be a part of my little world for a long time.

Margaret and Peter, if you are reading this from across the ocean, Sam is doing just fine! He isn't even staring out the window wondering when you'll return like he did those first couple of visits - he has just moved right in and made himself at home. And he is the best houseguest ever!

The End

(Sam's marvellously flamboyant happy tail!)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Turtle Gardens Rescue Flooded - Mandatory Evacuation

Longterm followers of this blog know that I am in awe of the work of Dave and Yvette Labatte, who rescue, rehabilitate and rehome dogs in northern BC. In the past 36 hours, the river near them has overflown its bank as a result of heavy rains and a swiftly melting deep snowpack. Much of their property is now under water, and they are being relocated, with 43 dogs, to a trailer on higher ground in town - in boats, wheelbarrows and wading, as the road out is closed.

Those of you who have known me since 2007 or earlier, will remember the Allouette River flood that wiped out the Hearts on Noses Potbellied Pig sanctuary, putting the pig yards under four feet of water, wiping out fences, knocking the shavings shed off its foundation, eroding the land, washing away pig houses, and pouring mud and silt everywhere.

To our shock, the provincial emergency 'flood relief ' covered only flooded homes in which people, not pigs, live. The Hearts on Noses human home was the only thing that didn't flood, and so neither the relief funds nor private insurance paid one cent towards the repairs to the land - or, for that matter, to the house, into which we had to move nearly 30 wet, terrified, pooping and peeing piggies.

And so I know first hand some of the devastation flooding causes and the money and labour to make the property once again secure and comfortable for the animals.

If you have a wee bit of money to spare, please check out the Turtle Gardens Rescue blog for ways to donate.

Here is a link to CTV's news report on the evacuation of Turtle Gardens: Click here.

And another news report: Click here

And if you have a large cube van (two ton) and you are interested in doing a Turtle Gardens fundraiser garage sale with a truck load of clean, quality, priced and sorted goods - and can pick them up in Duncan on the afternoon of May 29th - please contact me via the 'Email me' link at the side of this blog immediately.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sort of back....

A wonderful computer guru was able to clean out the malware, which was particularly vicious , and retrieve my files. I can now access email and internet, but there are still some problems - primarily with opening word documents and with uploading photos from the camera.

I cannot fathom what drives people to develop and circulate malware - such a mindset is evil, pure evil. I must confess to entertaining the notion of a conspiracy - software companies, particularly those producing the types of programs that are SUPPOSED to block things, obviously benefit. I envision some money-grubbing corporate executive busily slipping huge wads of cash under the table to some evil-minded, immoral computer geek who is now filthy rich from continually producing malware and viruses and worms to infiltrate and defeat the latest version of firewall, virus protector, or whatever. May karma bite them in the butt - hard!

Since I'm having problems with the photo program, I can't show you the amazing sea life we've been observing in the bay recently - ospreys, river otters with kits, seals, and....though I didn't see it....even a grey whale yesterday morning!

Nor can I show you Sam, who is staying with me for a month while his folks travel overseas for the birth of their grandchild. Sam is, of course, a dog - I don't do kids! Sam is the most amazing SEVENTEEN year old border collie cross I have ever met - he has more energy than Charley, Sadie, Allie and me put together!

Nor can I show you the first ripe strawberry which I picked from my patio strawberry pot this morning. But I will tell you it was delicious!

And I still have photos from Deb and Sharon's fabulous visit to share.

But that shall all have to wait for another day or two. Stay tuned.

A pox on malware developers everywhere!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Quick Note

My computer was hit by a horrible worm/trojan/malicious virus a couple of days ago, which has totally fried my system and left me computerless. My only access to anything - email, photos, internet or this blog - is from the library computer, which means driving to the next town (there's none in Crofton) and accessing it during the very limited hours it is open.
Hopefully a computer guru can restore the system for me, but it will likely be several days before I am back online.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Notes on the Run

I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. Nor, of course, have my dogs. We have been enjoying the occasional sunshine (what is this business of one day of spring, one day of rain and cold, one day of spring...? We are being teased by Mother Nature. It is most frustrating!), getting my little patio retreat planted with flowers, preparing for the SPCA garage sale, catching up on some chores around the house and yard, catching up on emails, celebrating my friend Else's 65th birthday (great party, Char!), and generally keeping too darn busy.

And today, I am off to the mainland for a day to visit my mom - likely my last chance until the end of June. And since this neglectful daughter forgot to send her a card or flowers for Mother's Day (though I did remember to phone her!), I can pretend it is a Mother's Day visit and all will be forgiven. Enroute, I'm transporting a dog for one of the rescues, so my own girls will stay home by themselves, with Mary and Else dropping by to feed them and let them out as needed.

Hey, what about ME?

(photo by Deb Strong)

Keep checking back - some time this week I WILL put up more photos from Deb and Sharon's visit. Meanwhile, island people mark your calendars for the BIG annual Cowichan and district SPCA garage sale, May 28-29, 8:30-3:00, 7550 Bell McKinnon Rd, Duncan. Tons of great stuff - tons!!!

Gotta run. Ferries and dogs don't wait for bloggers.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A great visit, a great few days

My friends Deb and Sharon and Riley and Taleah have gone home.
We had a great time.

We saw kingfishers and cormorants, otters and eagles, osprey and oystercatchers and starfish and swans.

Starfish on Crofton Beach
Photo by Deb Strong, used with permission

We enjoyed all the bright colours of tulips and apple blossoms and primroses and pansies and blue sky and blue-green bays and the beautiful green of new growth on trees.

Tulips at Genoa Bay marina

We laughed and we talked and we ate and we walked and we drank and we snoozed and we toured and we just breathed in the wonderful sea air and gazed at the water.

Sharon and Taleah at Maple Bay
Photo by Deb Strong, used with permission

And the dogs walked and barked and played and snoozed and traded beds and cuddled, then walked and barked and snoozed some more.



Riley and Sadie
Photo by Deb Strong, used with permission

And of course, we took pictures. Hundreds of pictures.

Float home with Canoe, Genoa bay

These are just a few teasers. More will follow in the next few days.

Thanks for coming, my friends. Come back again soon!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hello out there......!!!

Okay, so it has been a while since I posted. I know. I know. My friends Deb and Sharon, with dogs Riley and Taleah, are visiting.



Last night the humans were sitting around talking about blogs - how some people think one must blog every day and use it more as a personal (sometimes VERY personal) journal, while others whose blogs we enjoy don't blog anywhere near often enough!

I blog when I think I have something to share that others might enjoy, and focus pretty much solely on animals or nature. And now that I'm not on the farm or fostering piggies, and my dogs are too old to walk far or to explore new and interesting places, I often feel I have nothing new about which to blog.

Deb and Sharon encouraged me to broaden the range of topics I cover - to talk about other things I am interested in such as social issues and the arts and theatre and books and recipes and even (gasp) politics (though I think Canadians are probably maxed out on all things political right now, having just had our fourth federal election in seven years!). I'm thinking about it. I'd love to know what my readers would like to see, so feel free to comment.

I have two guiding principles when it comes to blogging: I don't blog just for the sake of blogging, and my real life relationships with people and animals take priority over time spent blogging. Those principles will continue to hold.

But for those of you who love to see photos of the animals, here's my funniest shot from last night:

The Evil-Eyed Cat contemplates the Alien Intruder

Today is sunny, my friends are here, and we are off on a day's adventure - cameras in tow, of course! Stay tuned.