Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mitzi's first week

Mitzi on the seawalk

Mitzi is adjusting well to her new home with Mama Jean, and has brought an energy to it that we have not seen here for a while.  She may be twelve, but she bounces around with the exuberance of a much, much younger dog.  I must try to capture on video her playful puppy bows, her lion imitations (roar, grrr, roar, roar), her teasing 'catch me, Mama Jean, betcha can't catch me' as she tears around the house, always whipping her little head around to make sure I am playing the game.

This is the first time in her life Mitzi has lived in a home with a backyard, and it only took her about two days to learn to love it.  Of course, that may have something to do with the fact that I rewarded her with a treat whenever she did her business in the yard and then returned to the back door.  She loves her cookies.  And any trip outside ends with her tearing in the house and running straight to the kitchen to sit tall in front of the counter where the cookie jar is kept.  We will be phasing out that reward system shortly - it has become a game with her, and the dog who once needed to go out only two or three times a day, now figures twenty trips outdoors is just about right.

I shouldn't say she always runs straight to the kitchen - she coordinates the run to the kitchen with chasing the cat.  Poor Allie - like any curious cat worth her salt, all she wanted to do was peek out the mudroom window to check what the dogs were doing, and instead she gets the crazy-pup barrelling in and down the hallway after her.  To her credit, she hasn't sunk her claws into Mitzi's face yet, but she has managed to take a swipe or two at  Mitzi's side, resulting in a lot of drama-queen antics from the half-pint furball. Though Allie has not drawn blood, Mitzi's squeals must make the neighbours think all kinds of mayhem are happening here.

Of course, Allie has other reasons to be ticked off with Mitzi.  Mitzi’s  two crates, two beds, two cushions, two blankets, and one warm jacket of Anita’s apparently do not provide a suitable place for Mitzi to nap and feel at home.  Nor are any of the dog beds here up to snuff, according to Mitzi.  The two spaces she has chosen for her ‘own’ are Allie’s mat on one of the living room armchairs, and Allie’s spot on my bed!

After some serious sibling rivalry in the wee small hours between Allie and Mitzi the first night (who would have thought that little dog had such a BIG voice, or that she would be one of the few dogs ever to stand up to my hissy tortie cat!), I had to put Mitzi into her crate for her own protection.  However, they how now worked out the bed thing, and Mitzi sleeps curled up tightly against my shoulder, while Allie snuggles near my feet.  For the time being, however, Mitzi is crated when I leave the house - to protect her from the cat.  Now that's a switch!

An' that's what I think of  the new furball! 

And while Anita warned me Mitzi was not a lapdog or cuddlebug, she is proving to be a bit of both.  She frequently hops up on my armchair to snuggle down on my lap or between my leg and the side of the chair as I read, and her decision to sleep on my bed - not just on my bed but snuggled up tightly to me - is completely her own.  While she has a dog bed in the bedroom, the only one to spend any time there is Riley, who apparently thinks small dog beds can accommodate big collies! People furniture is much more to Mitzi's liking apparently.

Well, of course Mama Jean's bed is more comfy than my own!

Mitzi loves her walks, and has adapted quickly to a change of leash. She has always walked on a 15' flexi leash.   I'm no fan of 'flexi' leashes except on trails or in fields as it is too difficult to control a dog on the end of a flexi around traffic or other dogs or people,  so our walks around town are with a halter and 6' flat leash.  Two walks with the clicker and treat pouch and she had it down to a fine art.  An afternoon trip to Osborne Bay Park on her flexi gave her lots of freedom  - she will not be an offleash girl - she is much too small and rabbit-like to be off leash in our eagle-populated parks and beaches.

Ah think the eagles would find a chicken much tastier than little ol' me!

Mitzi walks about 3 km every morning and another one or two at night.  She can clamber over logs, run up and down stairs, meet all kinds of dogs big and small without fear, and can bring a smile to almost anyone's face with her dark shiny eyes and upturned face.  She really is a delightful little dog.

An' I can make funny faces, too!

Eddie is a little jealous when Mitzi is playing with me, but expresses it only by over-the-top barking and bouncing around.  I've found playtime with Mitzi works best with one dog in the house and the other outside.    Eddie and Mitzi are not yet  interested in playing with each other - both think humans are for playing with, not dogs. Perhaps in time that will change.

Boring.  Dogs and dog toys are boring.
Gimme a good hike any ol' day.

Riley has been very accepting of Mitzi, and isn't even bothered when Mitzi walks right underneath her, between Riley's legs,  if Riley is blocking traffic in the doorway or hall.  Riley still gets her solo walks to the beach and park each day, and really enjoys just hanging around with me.  Fortunately, Mitzi has not tried to steal either of Riley's favourite napping places - the futon in my office or the raised dog bed next to my armchair.

She better NOT try to steal mah bed.
Even if I do steal hers.

In other news, Riley will be going home on Sunday - Deb and Tom are on their way home and will come to the island for her Sunday afternoon.  I can't wait to see Riley's reaction when Deb walks through the door!

Eddie's cruciate ligament was definitely torn and the knee does show a drawer motion now that the swelling is gone.  However, he is able to walk 2 - 3  km each morning without problem, and is on green lipid mussel supplements and weekly cartrophen shots which seem to be helping considerably.  His knee shall always be a concern, though, and the ligaments prone to tear or rupture, so there'll be no leaping logs or bounding out of cars for this boy.

Well, Mitzi says it is time for her evening yogurt, so this slave to a pint-sized powder puff better get off the computer and into the kitchen.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Wrestlers

Starring:  Major Bo Jangles and Angel, with Zuke as referee

Wanna go play?

And around and around and around they went.
And like little kids, sometimes one would
reverse direction to cut the other off!


Zuke:  Hey, guys, can I play?

Angel:  Hey, Major, wanna wrestle?
Zuke here can be the referee!
Angel:  I may be part boxer, but I'm a champion wrestler!

Zuke:  No holding!

Body Slam!

Angel:  I got you, suckah!

Major:  I'm not out yet!

Angel:  Say 'Uncle',  twerp!

Major:  Never!

Angel:  We'll see about that!

Angel: Yer goin' Down, man!


Zuke:  One, two, three, four......

...eight, nine, ten....YER OUT!

Zuke:  And Angel the boxer-pitti-wrestler
takes the Canine Championship!

Major:  It's not whether you win or lose,
it's whether ya have fun playing the game,
right dad?  

Monday, January 28, 2013


August 7, 1999 - January 28, 2013
Georgi, the funny, sweet, water-loving King Charles Cavalier spaniel who stayed with us on a number of occasions, passed away at her home this afternoon, with Gail and Jim by her side.

Georgi never failed to make me laugh during her visits here.  For the first couple of days she would sulk.  Then she would suck it up, assume an air of Royalty, and look at me with such an expression of contempt. I expected her to sleep WHERE?  I expected her to eat WHAT?  We were going to walk WHERE?  "That's not the way it is done; don't you know ANYTHING?" 

I think she was the only dog who ever had me grovelling and saying "Yes your Highness, No your Highness, would you like me to scramble some eggs for you, your Highness?"

What a character!  I remember her first stay here, in October 2011.  We went for a walk to the beach and she was so eager to get into the water I was afraid she would jump right off the seawalk.  For a Queen, she wasn't the least concerned about getting her beautiful fur wet and sandy - she would barrel into the water over and over until the stick she was chasing disappeared and she decided it was time to go home.

Throw a stick for me, Servant!

Georgi always arrived with a van full of her belongings - beds and blankets, various foods and treats and medications for her renal problems.  Invariable, she would choose the beds that were already here - the ones that Charley or Sadie or whoever I was fostering liked best.  She just plodded over to the bed of choice and took possession.  And not one of my dogs ever challenged her.  They knew they were mere commoners, subservient to Queen Georgi.

Ah'll use THIS bed, thank you!  

As her health began to fail, our trips to the beach were curtailed.  Instead, we would mosey up the road a short distance, she dragging behind like a water-soaked log on a leash.  Sometimes, in order to keep her moving, I had to walk backwards, crouched down, holding out a treat like the proverbial donkey-and-carrot trick - though in this case I think I was the one who looked like a jackass.  Still, she kept moving and invariable perked up a little afterwards.

In good weather, I made her stay outside in the garden with me for a while each day.  She glared at me as she tried to get back in the house and  I called out  "Just half an hour of fresh air and sunshine, Georgi Girl, and then we will go back in".  Eventually she would plop herself down in the grass or on a cushion on the patio and snooze, periodically opening one eye to make sure I was still around.

She was a great little dog, a Royal Character with an endearing attitude that readily put one in one's place without hostility or aggression.  A simple glare from Her Highness and we all did her bidding, yet she ruled with a velvet paw.  I shall miss that funny girl who could always make me laugh.

My  deepest condolences, Gail and Jim and Sadie B.  You gave her a great life;  she gave us all great memories.  She will not be forgotten.

Run free, precious Georgi.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Morning Rush Hour

It is 5:30 AM

The cat scratches in her bathroom litter box, and awakens Eddie in the nearby mudroom.

Eddie scratches at the mudroom gate, and barks his annoying barkless bark “Get up World it’s time to get up! I’m starving!

He awakens Mitzi, curled up on my bed, who joins the chorus.  Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark.  For a wee little dog, she has a very big bark.

She awakens Riley, who circles the bed, back and forth, back and forth, long collie nose nudging my face, my hand.  “Auntie Jean, my biscuit please

Oh doG, I want more sleep. 

I stumble out of bed, give the three dogs a biscuit, and send them outside.

The cat circles my feet, meowing loudly.  I stumble to the fridge for her food and fill her dish. Dogs back in.  Eddie and Mitzi race for the kitchen. "Breakfast! Breakfast!"  they clamour.   Riley prances down the hall behind them.

Oh doG, I want more sleep.

I switch on the coffee which I have set up the night before. I fix their breakfast.  Raw for Eddie.  Kibble with two supplements and a little water for Riley.  Kibble with lots of water and one supplement for Mitzi.  Mitzi doesn’t want to eat hers in the kitchen.  Too close to the big dogs.  I move her dish and she gobbles greedily, flinging water and kibble across the living room floor.  I mop it up.

Oh doG, I want more sleep.

I pick up the dog dishes, check if anyone wants out again (Eddie does – he was too starving the first time to take time to pee).

I put Eddie out, let him back in, stumble to the washroom and then  back to the kitchen to pour my coffee. I head to my armchair in the living room, hands wrapped tightly around the warm mug. 

It is 6:30 AM.  The house is quiet and still.  Mitzi is curled up on my bed fast asleep.  Riley is curled up on the couch fast asleep.  Eddie is stretched out on the floor fast asleep.  The cat is curled up on my lap, fast asleep. The morning rush hour is over.

And I am wide awake. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

More than just a Footnote

There is a bittersweet footnote to my last blog entry, and she is oh so much more than just a footnote!  Her name is Mitzi, a little Bichon Frise who celebrated her 12th birthday on Saturday. 

When my cousin was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last fall,  her one concern was the future of her dog.  Mitzi had only Anita,  and Anita loved her dearly. 

My cousin read my blog regularly,  and our frequent phone calls and emails often included chatter about our dogs.  So it was only natural that we should discuss Mitzi’s future. And it was only natural that I should offer to take her in.  She is family, and my passion is senior dogs.  I had never met Mitzi (who lived in the States), but Anita had met my dogs, seen my island home, read my blog.  She had a pretty good idea of what I could offer to Mitzi, and of the changes Mitzi might face.  A few days later, Anita asked me to be Mitzi’s Mama Jean.  I am honored to be entrusted with her care. 

In the past three months,  we talked often about Mitzi’s personality, her needs, her temperament, her habits.  Mitzi, an only dog, is polite to all she meets.  Anita told me that despite her diminutive size (about eight pounds soaking wet), she’s no lap dog.  She likes to have her person around, but as for cuddling -– not so much.  She’s an independent little lady.  She enjoys twice-daily walks, and she wants her evening treat of yogurt.  I promised my cousin that I will always respect Mitzi for who she is, and provide her with both the care and the space she needs.

In mid-December,  I went to meet Mitzi for the first time, and brought home some of her  belongings.  For as long as possible, however, Mitzi would stay with Anita. And she was with her to the very end.

Yesterday, I took the ferry over to the mainland.  Anita’s sister transported Mitzi across the border, and with tears in our eyes and lumps in our throats, we transferred the little white half pint from her car to mine, and Mitzi and I headed home. 

And so, with both sadness and joy ,  I would like to introduce you to Eddie and Allie’s little “big sister”, Mitzi. 

Welcome, Mitzi, to my home, my life, my blog, and my heart.  I hope you will like it here. 

Mitzi checks out Crofton beaches

(For those looking for further pictures of Major, Zuke and friends, I will return to them in the next day or two, along with the adventures of Mitzi, Allie, Eddie and Riley).  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Saying Goodbye to my Amazing Cousin

She was my idol when I was a young child, a source of ‘bragging rights’ among my friends.  She was a ballet dancer with Theatre under the Stars, danced with Robert Goulet, appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, danced for five years with the June Taylor Dancers on the Jackie Gleason Show.  Her name was Anita, and she was my eldest cousin, the daughter of my maternal aunt.  

After the dancing came the storybook romance.  As she told me just recently, they saw each other across a crowded room and instantly they knew they were meant to be together.  He knew she was the woman he was going to marry.  She felt they had always known each other.  They married and lived happily ever after.  They had what sociologists call a ‘total relationship’ – deeply in love throughout their lives, working together,  playing together, each other’s very best friend and closest confidante.

Nineteen years ago, when Anita was sixty, Dick passed away.  Anita continued to feel him near, as she moved from Nevada to Colorado, rode horses, hiked long steep mountain trails, hauled her fifth wheel (and later her motorhome) across the country on Elder College treks.  She was adventuresome and full of courage and positive energy.  Just being around her brought smiles to our faces and a wonderful feeling of warmth and joy.

A few years ago, she moved to Washington State, to be closer to the small kin group she had left – her two siblings plus my family, all living in southern BC.  She visited mom often, called us all regularly, joined us for family gatherings, came to visit me on the island. She was fit and healthy and looked twenty years younger than her birth certificate showed.

And then, in October, she was diagnosed with end-stage pancreatic cancer. Boom.

In typical Anita fashion, she took it in stride.  She believed our time here on earth is just a very small part of a much larger journey, and the best is yet to come.  She mentioned often, these past few weeks,  how excited she was,  how much she looked forward to the next stage of the journey, to seeing her beloved husband again.  She put her affairs in order,  was able to stay in her own home with the help of hospice, spoke with us all regularly, told us each that she loved us. 

This morning, with her sister by her side, she left on her next great adventure.   And we shall all miss her so very much.  

Love you, Anita.  Your joyful spirit truly inspires.

(Note: There is a little footnote to this entry......... And tomorrow I shall introduce her to you. )

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Major, Zuke, and friends

It's always hard to decide which photos to post.  Some tell a story, some are well composed, some just make me smile.  The many photos I took on Friday, when we met Major and Zuke at the park and were introduced to many of their canine friends, are likely going to be posted over the course of a few days.  But let's start by introducing you to the cast of canine characters:

This, of course, is Major Bo Jangles

And this is one of Major's best buddies, Angel.
Angel is a sweet four year old pitti-boxer cross.

And this, of course, is Major's littermate, Zuke

This is Mishka, who lives with Zuke's neighbour,
and is one of Zuke's best buddies.

And this is Mishka's sister, Bonnie.
Have you ever seen such a delightful smile?
Mishka and Bonnie are Siberian Huskies, and were adopted through rescue when they were just young.  They are now 7 and 9, I think. 

And shame on me - 281 photos and not
a single shot of Eddie except this partial. 

He liked this little puppy, whose name I didn't get. 

There were many other dogs at the park, but the first five were the main subject of my photos.  Stayed tuned to see the photos of them at play.

Eddie thanks you for your well wishes, and says he is feeling a lot better today.  I told him it was because of the drugs, but he thinks he should get to go for a walk.  Sorry, Eddie, you shall be a neglected dog and I shall be a mean mama for the next few days while we see how bad that cruciate tear is.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The answer to yesterday's question, and bedrest for Eddie

Georgia Little Pea guessed correctly - the handsome dog in yesterday's blog was indeed one of Lucy's pups,  one of Major Bo Jangle's litter mates.  This little reverse-brindle puppy

grew into this big boy:

Handsome reverse-brindle boy!

I wish she'd get that camera outta my face!
Major Bo Jangles and Zuke at play

Handsome Zuke

He has kept his original name, Zuke.  He is perhaps an inch taller than Major Bo, a wee bit bulkier, and with even longer legs.  It's still so amazing to me that short-legged, long squat bodied little Lucy produced such tall, long-legged offspring!

Tee hee hee!  You shoulda seen their dads! 

I have many more photos from yesterday to post, of Major Bo and Zuke and other friends in the park.  However, that will wait until tomorrow, because Eddie says I have to tell you about his misadventure first.

Yeah, it can't ALL be about other critters!
I haz a sad tail tale to tell!  
Yesterday, Eddie was tired from his two hours of walking in the park, and was a little too eager to jump in the side door of the van to head home. He didn't wait for the cue to 'get in'.   I moved just as he jumped, he missed the opening and tumbled back to the ground, landing awkwardly on his bum leg - the very arthritic one that was likely injured and left untreated before he came to me.  He hopped right back up, but after we arrived home, I noticed he was holding his leg up, tight to his body.  He's sometimes done that in the past and it has usually been fine in a couple of hours, so I gave him a pain killer and kept watch.

Twenty-four hours later, there was no improvement, so off to the vet's we went.  It appears he likely has a partially torn cruciate ligament in his right knee, which is what I suspected.  Fortunately it has not fully ruptured, though it will certainly be vulnerable to that in the future.   He received a cartrophen injection, is on two types of pain killers, and on full bedrest for at least a week and likely several.  No walks.  No bouncing around.  No jumping.  Fortunately the only time he really bounces and jumps is at meal time or when someone comes to the door, but he will hate not going for his twice-a-day walks.  He goes back to the vet in a week for another cartrophen shot and to reassess  - if he is still holding his leg up or limping badly, we will x-ray to see how bad the damage is.  Conservative management requires lengthy rest and a brace.  Invasive management requires an expensive surgery - though that is a last resort.

I should be treated like a king!
Meanwhile, he thinks he will milk this for all it is worth.  I, on the other hand, have told him that without exercise we have to cut back on the treats!  But I assured him all his fans will feel sorry for him and send him good wishes. You will, won't you?