Saturday, March 30, 2013

Front Page Photo

While I don't consider it one of the best photos I've ever taken, I was thrilled nonetheless to see it on the front page of the Chemainus Valley Courier this week - nothing like our RCMP in red serge and little kids to catch readers' (and the publisher's) attention!

Cpl. Jon Stuart greets four-year-old Oscar Burdge at the
opening of the Crofton Community Seawalk Extension.
Photo by Jean Ballard (c) 2013 

I took the photo at the official opening ceremony of the Crofton Seawalk extension last weekend.  The event drew about 150 people and 30 dogs - not bad for our small village - and a number of dignitaries from the Municipality of North Cowichan, of which Crofton is a small but very active part. Crofton received praise from the mayor of North Cowichan, Jon Lefebure,  for raising $50,000 toward the extension.  He said "It is a great example of what a small community can do in partnership with others."  North Cowichan's Parks and Recreation director, Ernie Mansueti,  commented "This is just the best.  The people here are unbelievable."  I couldn't agree more.  Crofton has great community spirit and community drive. It's the best place on earth to live. 

Here's a few more shots from that very fine day:

The crowds pour in from Crofton Beach Park

Little Oscar wasn't the least bit shy -
he chatted with everyone!

We may be a small village,
but we have a might big pair of scissors!
Mary Beth MacKenzie, from the municipal office, passes them to Mayor Jon Lefebure

People on the beach below.....

And on the seawalk....

And along the rail...

Everybody and their dogs had a very good time.

All photos are property of Jean Ballard
(c) 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Dogs of Crofton

I have been so darn busy the past couple of weeks with some writing and photography obligations that I haven't had time, energy or inspiration to blog (though some of the projects I'm working on will also provide fodder for future blogs).  However, in the course of photographing local events for the newspaper, my camera sometimes has a habit of drifting away from the subject matter to snap a frame or two of the dogs in the crowd.  And no matter what is going on in Crofton, there are always dogs present.  I don't know all their names, but I sure love their faces.  So here's a few dogs of Crofton that you may not have seen on this blog before:

Linda's dog
Photo by Jean Ballard (c) 2013

Linda's other dog, Buddy
Photo by Jean Ballard (c) 2013
Smooth coated collie
Photo by Jean Ballard (c) 2013

A senior dog in the crowd
Photo by Jean Ballard (c) 2013

Senior pitti
Photo by Jean Ballard (c) 2013

Cooey's "little" brother, Fausta
Photo by Jean Ballard (c) 2013

Puglsey the pug
(not actually a Crofton dog, but a Chemainus dog visiting Crofton)
(and no, his mom isn't strangling him - his tongue always hangs out like that!)
Photo by Jean Ballard (c) 2013

Pugsley shows off his incredible tongue!
Photo by Jean Ballard (c) 2013

And I'll finish with a couple of shots of one of my favourite young neighbours:

Original English Bulldogge
Photo by Jean Ballard (c) 2013

Huli:  The things I have to do for my fifteen minutes of fame!
Photo by Jean Ballard (c) 2013

My favourite photo
Photo by Jean Ballard (c) 2013

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hey Chelsea Dawn....

Hey Chelsea Dawn
What's that flowerpot you've got on?
We had a lovely weekend with our newest guest, Chelsea Dawn.  We've known Chelsea since 2007 - at that time we both lived in the Fraser Valley.  Then her humans moved to nearby Chemainus the same year I moved to Crofton.  We see each other fairly often, but she hasn't had a sleepover here before.  The whole weekend went beautifully!

Chelsea Dawn, along with Eddie and Mitzi, helped me in the garden as we transplanted some existing plants and began to put in some new ones, mowed the grass, and finished filling the raised beds with dirt.  Spring is definitely here now, as you can see from the containers of flowers Chelsea is investigating.  (No, those are not Chelsea's feet you can see in the above photo - they are the feet of a yellow lab statue next to the pot! Bad photo!  :)  )

Chelsea allowed me to take lots of photos of her, and here are some of my favourites:

Chelsea loves looking out the window, and though she is almost the exact same size as Eddie, she can stand up soooo much taller than he!

All three dogs got along really well, and although Mitzi and Chelsea ganged up on Allie the cat a couple of times for a vigorous game of tag, Allie knew she really had nothing to fear and kept her usual sleeping, eating, and seating spaces - something she doesn't do if she is unsure of a visiting dog.

WHAT is that dog looking at?
There's nothing out there but a road!

I, on the other hand, had to find new places to sit a few times.  Both armchairs were occupied:

Occasionally I did stand my ground and make them scoot:

How come the humans get the chairs?

Eddie liked having company of someone his own size, and often hung around Chelsea Dawn:

I gotz a new best friend!

And often Eddie and Mitzi asked Chelsea for the Road Report:

Mitzi:  What're they lookin' at, Mama Jean?

I think Chelsea had an enjoyable weekend, checking out Mitzi's toys

And going for a stroll on the seawalk:

And each night she climbed up on my bed for a good night snuggle before voluntarily going to sleep in her own bed on the floor next to mine. .

She was the perfect guest.  Come back any time, Chelsea Dawn!

Only if I get the armchair!

Dogs rule! 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St Patrick's Day from Mitzi

In honour of  any Irish readers,
ah is wearing the requisite green!

Actually I waz helping Mama Jean in the garden, and she had just cut the grass.  Oh, if Mama Anita could see me now!  This is me just before Mama Jean spoiled everything by sticking me in the sink to wash me off:

Ah loves to help in de garden!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Mitzi's Mutiny

By Mitzi

Well!  If Mama Jean isn't going to blog about me, I'll just flex mah little paws an hop up on de chair in front of de computer, and TAKE OVER!  DOGS RULE!

It's a MUTINY!
Ah'm takin' over!
A couple of weeks ago I had a misadventure.  I know Mama Anita told Mama Jean about my leg before I came to live here.  I know she did.  She said "If you see Mitzi licking her foot, just say 'Mitzi! No Lick!' and she will stop."  And just in case I didn't stop, she sent along my cute little white socks and my big plastic cone of shame Easter Bonnet.

But I guess with all the stress of moving, and since licking mah foot is a comfort thing, I kinda snuck around licking it when Mama Jean wasn't looking.  Like when she was sleepin'.  Or out.  Or on the computer.  In other words, most of the time.

Mama Jean did try "Mitzi! No Lick!".  And she did try the sock.  And she did try the cone of shame Easter Bonnet.  But I managed to do a real number on that foot and eventually Mama Jean had to take me to the vet. Where they shaved mah leg!  And gave me a bunch of pills to take!  And wrapped it in a bandage which Mama Jean was to keep dry and then remove after 24 hours.

The grass waz wet so Mama Jean put a funny purple balloon thing over it when I went outside.  I didn't like that, even if it was a pretty colour.

Ah'm NOT a happy camper!
Anyway, long story short (because typing on a compooter is NOT easy fer a dog), it STILL hasn't healed even though Mama Jean is making me wear the cone of shame Easter Bonnet almost all the time.  So I might have to go back to the vet.  I don't mind the bonnet at all - it doesn't bother me in the least - but I do think Mama Jean should make it look pretty by drawing some flowers on it, don't you?

Ah'm a girly dog.  Ah need a
BOOTIFUL bonnet.
Colour it, Mama Jean!
In other news, I haz been helping Mama Jean in the garden, as there are two yards of dirt to be shovelled from the driveway to the raised beds.
[Mama Jean:  Ahem, excuse me Mitzi, you have been HELPING?  Is that what you call climbing all over the dirt and getting in the path of the wheelbarrow?]
 I was SNOOPERVISING!!  I am a very good snoopervisor.  Wait till you see how well I snoopervise the planting and watering and picking of flowers and veggies!

Anyway, Mama Jean has been very busy, helping wiv other animals like the lost dog Levi who is still missing,  and taking photos of a marine rescue, and taking hundreds and hundreds of photos of a float home being moved into town, and writing fer the newspaper, and doing STUFF.  I dunno what, just STUFF.

And Eddie is fine.  And this afternoon we haz a friend coming for the weekend while her humans go away.  Her name is Chelsea Dawn - izn't dat booootiful?  She is a DUCK TOLLING RETRIEVER.  I hopes she doesn't think I'm a duck to be tolled.  Or retrieved.  Or whatever.   Mama Jean will take lots of pictures of her.  You just have to tell Mama Jean to get back to blogging and show you her photos of all this stuff.

Iz boring when Mama Jean's busy. Or Lazy.  Or Whatever. 

Your friend,

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Still here, still looking

And I had another word to go in that title, but - whoosh- it just got sucked right out of my brain.

The search for Levi is still going strong, and the dog that *might* or *might not* fit his description is still hiding in the bushes near Qualicum Beach, while other reports drift in from time to time from other areas of the island and mainland. I'm not involved in the actual ground search myself but helping in other ways - handing out flyers wherever I walk my dogs, putting up posters where it is legal, and now working on a press release for a wider media audience.  Tracy stayed here the other night and I am SO impressed with her dedication to finding her Levi.

Here is a Shaw cable newscast on Levi's story:

And here's a CHEK news report:,AAAA4mHNTzE~,ejlzBnGUUKauc2zn_kmUm9i-CLdp2qnb&bctid=2201450419001

Both are awesome, and worth watching.

With the search for Levi, I have finally been dragged kicking and screaming into the wonderful world of Facebook, and the more I try to use it, the more I'm convinced the whole world (or at least the world of facebook addiction) is crazy.  I value organization and efficiency and, in the realm of anything related to technology, user-friendliness.  Facebook is none of those things and I find myself thinking how much better it could be if the person(s) who invented it actually shared those same values.

As a case in point, the facebook place to keep up with Levi's search has been changed - apparently a 'page' is more efficient than a 'group', though many of us are still using the original group so who knows?

For those following this search or who may be able to help, here is the link for the new Facebook page:

And here is the link for the old Facebook group:

Mitzi's nose is out of joint because she says she has a story to tell, and Eddie is all beautiful from a visit to his groomer and thinks I should photograph him.......but I have told them there is a time for them to take the spotlight and a time to shine it on others.

Please continue to share the links with your facebooky friends and others.  Here, once again, is the information on Levi:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Update - Clean cities over Lost dogs

Both Nanaimo and Duncan have contacted Tracy this morning to tell her to remove all posters from posts and poles in their cities - it is illegal and she will receive a hefty fine if they are not removed.  SO - if you are postering, please do NOT put them on any hydro poles, road signs, city intersections etc.
EVERY community bulletin board, hand deliver to stores, gas stations, put them in your car and house window  - get them out there, but try to do so legally.
Apparently it is more important to have a clean city than to find a lost dog.  Tracy has put up about 7000 posters from the lower mainland to Qualicum - these are the first two cities to call.
Spread the word via social media, please.

Calling Duncanites

The search for Levi is re-focusing on the Duncan area, as there have been a number of reports from around here.  Tracy, Levi's owner, is staying with me tonight (Monday) and we are going to be putting up as many posters as we can tomorrow - she has already done some of the key areas today, where a dog similar to Levi was reported being seen.

If you can put up posters for us  - particularly anywhere dog people congregate or where transients frequent - please contact me via the email link on the side of the blog and I will make sure we get some posters to you and coordinate efforts so we aren't sending people out to areas already done.  Even if you are not available Tuesday, but can poster in the next few days, your help will be appreciated.

The search is still going on in the Qualicum area, with mixed reports about the size and colour of the dog dragging the rope - no one has yet obtained a photo of it so still don't know if it is Levi.  One person who saw it there is "1000%" positive it is not, but another describes the dog as a small sheltie-like dog with black, gray and tan.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sunday Morning Solitude

Sunday morning.  Sun is bright, sky is blue, air is crisp.  Eddie has been driving me crazy, Mitzi had a slight misadventure which resulted in a visit to the vet (nothing serious - I'll post about it later), and my calendar has been far too full of commitments for the past week.  I check google maps to see if I have time to drive up to Qualicum Beach to help with the search for Levi, but between driving distance, the dogs, and a shift at the theatre starting at 1:00, I know it's not realistic.

And so I decide on some de-stressing time for me and Eddie.  Since hurting his cruciate ligament two months ago, he has had a few off leash walks on the smooth paths at Osborne Bay Park or MacAdam Park,  and his daily walks around Crofton and along the seawalk, but all hikes on uneven terrain have been on hold. But he's doing well, and his anxious energy is reaching a crescendo, so I bundle him into the van, and we head to Chemainus Lake.  The 2.5 km loop trail there is quite good but does contain rocky areas and protruding tree roots, as well as many little semi-cleared side-paths to explore. And the whole park is off leash.

First stop was on the road between Crofton and Chemainus.  There is a wonderful view of the estuary, little islands, and the north shore mountains there, which varies as the tide ebbs and flows, and I have been meaning to photograph it for ages.  I pass it at least once a week:

View from Crofton Road

North Shore mountains in the distance

When we got to the lake, around 9 AM, we were the only ones there with the exception of one angler trying his luck from the small fishing dock.  Eddie took off like a shot, and I quickly found out his excellent recall was no longer so excellent.  Out came the high-value, wonderfully smelly dried salmon treats and the clicker, and we immediately did a refresher course, clicking and treating our way around the first quarter of the lake.  He caught on fast.

I'm comin', mama, I'm comin'!!!!

By half way around the lake, he was coming as soon as I called.  He had also worked off enough energy that he was willing to wait by my side as I took in the scenery - the beautiful reflections in the streams, the steam rising from rotted logs as the sun warmed their moist surfaces, sunlight on fresh spring growth, the little waterfalls where rivulets of runoff cascaded over stones on their way down to the lake.


Spring growth

Water cascades over rocks

By three quarters of the way around the lake, he was tired and had slowed down considerably.  For every metre  I walked, he had walked two - charging ahead and being recalled, charging off on side paths and being recalled, tearing around me checking out every sight and smell.  I take a few more photos, give him a few more treats, and we both head home happy and relaxed.

Heading home