Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Single Plump Female Seeks Loving Companion

Companion Wanted

Plump but currently petite and youthful diva with an inflated sense of privilege and a ton of energy seeks a companion or two or three, any sex, with a willingness to work hard to develop a compatible life-long relationship . Sense of humor imperative. Size not an issue – I hope mine won’t be, either. I may grow to be a BIG girl. Must occasionally put up with my pigheaded behaviour, but will be rewarded with affection, entertainment, and laughter. Prefer financially secure homeowner with small acreage. I'm not interested in having offspring or ending up on someone’s table – serious inquiries only, please.
Contact the Cowichan and District SPCA at 250-746-4646 for more information and ask for an application form for Dover.


Dover has gone back to her regular foster, but what she really needs is a great forever home. That home must be prepared to offer her comfort, safety and companionship for her entire natural lifespan. A big unknown is her potential size - a fullgrown Berkshire is 600-700 pounds, but her current weight (about 3 pounds, after her stay with Auntie Jean) is well below that of the other  pigs in the litter, who are the more typical 20-25 pounds and about the size of a small pitbull. Whether she is a genetic anomoly and will remain disproportionately small, or whether she will eventually catch up to breed average is a huge unknown.

Once she has achieved a safe weight, she will be spayed and available for adoption. She will need a special placement with someone who can work with her so she doesn't become a 600 pound pushing, shoving pigheaded Diva. She will only go to a home who will keep her as a companion pig (though not necessarily a house pig!) for life - she is not for slaughter, for eating, for breeding. While the breed itself, a Heritage breed with a small population, is considered vulnerable, it is quite simply poor animal husbandry to breed the runt of the litter. And animals who are wanted for breeding are often considered disposable once their breeding years are over. Dover must be wanted for herself, for her piggy personality, not for what she may or may not bring to the table. Oops....poor choice of words.  

Ideally, she will share her new life with another pig - pigs are herd animals and do best with others of their kind.  Pigs can be picky about their pen-pals, but a pig-savvy person who takes things one step at a time can often effect a successful introduction that allows unrelated pigs to become good friends. At the very least, she will need other non-predator companion animals around her - unless you plan to share your house and your bed with a large porcine princess.

So: If you are interested in adopting Dover, can offer her a lifetime home, and are either pig-savvy or very willing to be mentored, please contact Sandi at the SPCA, 250-746-4646. And if you can't adopt Dover, but know of people who may be interested and fit the criteria, please send them a link to this blog (let them know there are several entries about Dover, not just this one, so they can see what a busy little girl she is!).

We hope that networking with our animal-loving friends will help us find Dover's perfect forever home. Suitable applicants will go through the usual rescue process which includes a homecheck.

Adopt me!

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Value of Piggy Playtime

Pigs are said to be the third most intelligent species in the world, ranking right behind primates and cetaceans(whales and dolphins). Little Dover may have been the runt of the litter, but she didn’t miss out on a single cell in the brains department. She figured out in no time where the gate to the xpen was. The first day, she just ran to the fence whenever she saw me. By the next morning, she ran right to the gate. Yesterday she realized that if she pushed and pushed and pushed, the bungy cords that keep it closed would give juuuuust enough for her to slip through. We now use caribiner clips instead. It takes a bit longer to open and close the gate, but at least I won’t wake up to find a piggy, whose primary activity seems to be peeing and pooping, running loose on my living room carpet.

She spends a fair bit of time outside of the xpen, in the mudroom with me. The mudroom is separated from the rest of the house by a dog gate. While she plays in the mudroom, I do mundane tasks like cleaning her pen, running laundry back and forth, taking her dishes to the kitchen. She sees me go through the dog gate. It took her all of about three observations to decide she would test her luck getting through the bars. She almost made it – and would likely have become stuck, head one side, belly the other, if I hadn’t stopped her. I now stretch the x-pen across the gate when Dover the Explorer is on the prowl.

So.... just what does one do to keep a wee little piggy entertained and meet the growing needs of her Very Big Brain? Most piglets her age would be rooting outside in the dirt and grass, looking for tasty bugs and worms and other things to eat. They would be running around with their siblings, stopping for a snooze in the sun or a roll in the mud, chasing butterflies and playing with falling leaves. But Dover is still too wee and vulnerable to expose her to the great outdoors.

Pigs may be very smart, but they also have very short attention spans. The toys she enjoyed for a short while yesterday and the day before – the I-cube and Wag-O twisty and the big round ball – are boring to her today.

She tastes the doormat and boot tray, nibbles my shoes, snuffles around the freezer for dust bunnies. She redecorates her xpen by shoving her crate over here, her blanket over there, and then does it all over again. She tips the water dish, shreds the pee pad, and checks in with me every few minutes to see if I happen to have anything for her.

I pull out some dog toys she hasn’t seen, and that keeps her busy for ... oh ....all of two minutes.

Hmm...what's this?  Oh, toys.  Boring!

I fix up a tray with some washed river rocks and tuck cheerios among them so she can root. That keeps her busy for perhaps five minutes.

Then she decides lifting up the corner of the tray with her snout and letting it bang back down is more fun. For perhaps 30 seconds.

I pull out some tiny dog clothes – they are awaiting transport to Broken Promises Rescue. I find an outfit that fits perfectly, but Dover is less than cooperative about modeling it and goes into a full fledged Drama Queen Routine. I’ve seen her wearing a Santa suit in the SPCA ad in the paper, but still I fear causing porcine heart failure, so I quickly remove it. So much for doing a fashion photo shoot for the porcine crowd.

Get if off! Get it off!  I iz NOT a fashion model!

I suggest she hang her Christmas stocking on the door of her crate,

Deah Santa, Fer Christmas I wud like a forever home!

...and she wants a little tree as well, though her interest in it lasts only seconds.

Nuffin' to eat on here.  You'd think she'd hang some gingerbread cookies or sumthin'.

I give her a few sheets of newspaper and she shakes them vigorously and races around the room waving one over her head like a flag. For all of 30 seconds.  I invite the animal-loving teen next door over to meet her. Dover becomes very quiet and shy when visitors appear, but it gives her a new scent to investigate. For a minute or two.

I sit on the floor and she climbs all over me, nibbling at my shirt, tasting my hair, tugging on my pants, nosing her snout under my arm.

Auntie Jean!  I can pinch an inch!

Eventually, she curls up on my lap for a nap.

We can cuddle?

I put her back in the xpen and leave the room. I’m hardly out the door before the squealing and squeaking, the barking and snorting, the oinking and crowing and noisy pig hollering begins once more.

I warm up some goat's milk and pigmush and feed her, even though it’s only two hours since she last ate. I leave again, and after a few minutes of histrionics she calms down and is fast asleep.

The toys and rocks and cheerios and clothes, the furniture and dustbunnies and my grey hair may not have been high value entertainment from her point of view, but the entertainment value to me was ......priceless.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Magic Moments with Diva Dover

Magic moments from today:
--Waking up to the snuffle, snorkle, oink oink oink of a wee little piggy in the next room.

--Hearing that snuffle, snorkle, oink oink oink rise to a cacophony of squeals and screams and moos and clucks and grunts and chatters of a hysterical diva-in-training who wants her breakfast NOW!

--Watching her learn to roll a ball, pushing it around the room with her wee little snoutie.

--Seeing her push and pull and tug and knead her blanket to get her bed 'just right'.

--Discovering that today, on Day 3, she has decided I am the cat’s meow (or the piggy’s oink) as she suddenly climbs on my lap for a cuddle after play.

May I come up here, pwease?

You makes a good cushion, Auntie Jean!

I'z sleepy.  I'z gonna haz a nap now.

-- Listening to her scream every time she sees me – not from hunger but from her demand for attention.

-- Feeling incredibly ‘needed’ by this little piggy, and caving to her demands to play EVERY SINGLE TIME.

-- Knowing that I would have made the perfect grandmother: Spoil the kid rotten for a few days and then send her back home.

Dover and I are having a blast. By Tuesday she will be truly, totally, a full-fledged Diva. And then I will hand her back to Sandi.  <<< insert evil grin here>>>  

Dover, in black and white

Friday, November 25, 2011

Dover the Drama Queen

Dover gets quite excited when it is dinner time:

Excuse the poops in the video - piggy wakes up, piggy poops;  piggy gets excited, piggy poops.  Piggy poops and poops and poops.  But then she also has sweet, sweet moments like this:

I'z sleepy now. Pwease go 'way.

Everybody should foster a piggy at least once in their life!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My sister would have loved this!

We have a visitor.  We are looking after her until Tuesday while her foster mama, the manager of our SPCA, is away.  Her name is Dover and she is a teeny tiny Berkshire piggy, just over five weeks old but only weighing about two pounds (instead of the 15-20 they would normally weigh at this age).  She was, needless to say, the runt of the litter, and has been in foster care since she was 9 days old.  It really is a miracle she has survived.

And she makes me laugh.

Meet Dover:

Yum! Pig mash and goat's milk!

Is blue really my colour?

I'z all tuckered out - time for a nap!

So far I have learned
  • she is a very messy eater
  • unlike potbellies, she doesn't choose one corner for her bathroom and go only there - anywhere will do, the pee pads, the floor, the blankets, her crate. Silly Pig.
  • she likes her crate, but any warm blankets will do
  • she doesn't mind the xpen but loves to explore when I let her out,
  • she likes dog toys like I-Cube:

  • and especially this twisty thing which she really worked hard to shove into her crate:

Ta da!  I'z such a clever piggy!

Charley was happy to greet her and then went back to bed;

Oh, good!  Mama brought home a piggy again! Hi Piggy!

Sadie is absolutely infatuated with her and hardly leaves her side;

Hi Pig!  Wanna share yer food wiv me?

and  Allie  is still undecided:

Whoa!  What the heck is that?

That's gotta be the weirdest looking foster dog Mom's brought home yet!

Stay tuned for more tales and photos of Life With Dover.

I can see my sister's smiling eyes and hear her laughter loud and clear.

Miss ya, sis.  Welcome, Dover.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Big Sis

A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life. 
~Isadora James.   

My sister, Carole, passed away suddenly last night at the age of 66. My heart goes out to Bev, her life partner of over 35 years, and to Carole’s two sons, Peter and David. My nephews also lost their father very suddenly only two weeks ago.

Carole took me in when I first left home, was there for me through my marriages and divorces, through my single parenting, moves, career changes, and personal angst. She was my cheerleader and my sounding board, my go-to person when I needed a friend. She was a very significant part of my life, and I could always count on her.

She constantly showed me, in little ways, that I was in her thoughts: phone calls, emails, funny cards, little gifts, visits, long chats late into the night. She shouldered much of my share of the responsibility for mom. She always had some treats and a kind word for the critters.

Carole loved Christmas and blackberries and camping by a lake; she loved oceans, and mountains, and capturing nature's beauty through the lens of her camera. She took great delight in her grandaughter, Kaia. She was a good friend to many. She was my big sister and I looked up to her as only a little sister can.

My family is very small but we hold Bev and the boys in the shelter of our love. I cannot imagine the depths of their grief.

Big Sis, I will miss you so very much.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A visitor, an outing and a lot of crazy weather

Grasses along Qualicum Beach

My longtime friend from Alberta, Charlie, (herein referred to as two-legged Charlie to differentiate him from a certain dog) has been visiting us this week. Our friendship goes back about forty years, and we last saw each other when he visited in December 07 .  At that time,  I was still on the mainland, fostering piggies, caring for an alpaca, and sharing my home with Belle, Charley, Caleb and Allie. So he hadn’t met Sadie yet.

Sadie thinks he is A-OK:
Hey, Georgia, I'z got my own Cushion!

Allie is rather resentful – last visit, she flirted shamelessly with two-legged Charlie and even curled up with him, something she rarely does with visitors. This time, she watched him with Sadie and sent evil thoughts his way:

Stoopid dog, hogging all the attention!

Four-legged Charley didn’t care much either way, as long as she still got her short little walks through the pretty fall leaves that cover the ground:

La-da-da-da-da just walkin' in the leaves...

Two-legged Charlie arrived Monday night, and Tuesday dawned sunny, crisp and beautiful. Sadie and I had a frosty walk on the seawalk:

Frosty Crofton Sea Walk

Then we headed up to Qualicum Beach so two-legs could say hi to some relatives there. Four-legged Charley has not been at all well lately, so she stayed home with my friend Else coming over to keep her company (Thanks, Else!). Sadie, however, came for the ride and while two-legged Charlie visited, we went for a walk on Qualicum Beach. By mid afternoon the sun had dipped behind the hill casting grey shadows over the beach. Still, I had fun playing with the camera and took a few ho-hum shots:

Kingfisher (left) and heron (right)

Rocks in the ocean

Hey, what's that?........
Birds, birds and more birds!

Colourful grasses

Grasses by the ocean
Bird on a rock

Wednesday, the weather took an about-face, and while our plans were to tour the Cowichan Valley, the grey skies and rain turned to snow when we reached Duncan. We slogged on, out to Genoa Bay and Maple Bay, where we had a very nice seafood lunch at the Shipyard Restaurant and Pub in Bird’s Eye Cove before heading home. It was too wet and yucky for me to bother with photos, though two-legged Charlie took some which I shall nag him for. In the evening we took in Countryside Christmas at the Chemainus Theatre Festival.

Today I awoke to rain at 5:30 AM, snow at 6:00 AM, beautiful sunshine at 9:00 AM, cloud at 3:00 PM, and on our way to an AMAZING dinner at the Stone Soup Inn near Lake Cowichan, we ran into snow again. Walking the dogs just now, at 10:00 PM, there is a cloudless night sky full of stars and a brilliant moon. And it is cold – very cold. The forecast is for 10-15 cm of snow tonight on the east coast of Vancouver Island, where we live, so I guess there must be more clouds coming in.

During the day today, I put two-legged Charlie to work fixing all the problems with my computer (thanks, Charlie!). Yay - I can now post comments on my favourite blogs again, and access Shaw and Rogers websites, and I have a new-to-me piece of photography software installed so I can mess with my photos in more complex ways once I figure it out (thanks, Judy!).

Tomorrow two-legged Charlie returns home, flying out of Nanaimo – so I’m keeping fingers crossed that the snow doesn’t materialize. Who knows, with our crazy weather this week he could be grounded by a blizzard.....hmmmm, on the other hand, where is that “To Do” list I’ve been meaning to show him??????

Friday, November 11, 2011

Afternoon Delights

Autumn leaves, November 11, 2011

The shorter, darker days of late fall and winter have always been a challenge for me. Both my body and my spirit tend to feel the weight of winter, a reaction referred to by the medical profession as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). When I was still working for pay, I hated going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark, a mole forever underground surrounded by damp, oppressive dirt.

But now that I am retired, and can make a point of being outside whenever the opportunity arises to catch a bit of light, a breeze, a patch of blue sky, I am finding new wonders in the shortening days.

Boat in the Bay

Ducks on an autumn afternoon

This week, it is the afternoon light which mesmerizes me - at three in the afternoon, the clouds reflect in the rippling water;

Clouds in the water

Ripples in the afternoon

By four, the dusk creates a marine bas relief, and the juxtaposition of dying foliage against ever-changing seascape begs for capture by the camera's lens:

Seedhead in fall

Even in death, the flowers are beautiful and offer the promise of new life come spring. The  colourful leaves, too, are finally losing their grasp on the boughs to which they cling. This afternoon, a wind and rainstorm tore through the area, ripping leaves from the trees and sending them scurrying down the street and across the waters.

In the aftermath of the storm, I discover a dragonfly lying amid the leaves, life sucked away yet seemingly uninjured. I later learn that the lifespan of an adult dragonfly is less than six months, so perhaps it died a natural death. I am fascinated by the opportunity to look at it so closely - it is over three inches long, iridescent body, gossamer wings with a single black dot on the edge of each.

Dragonfly with gossamer wings

Wings more beautiful than Swarovski crystal

But most surprising of all was the face:

Dragonfly happyface

No graphic artist or cartoonist could ever create an insect's face that so instaneously makes one smile back at it. He must have enjoyed his very short life, I think, to look so happy in death.

By five it is almost dark and I am home with my blinds drawn, soft music on, cocooning with my critters and shutting out the world.

I could get used to this. At least for a couple of months.