Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Little Ray of Sunshine...

In her little ray of sunshine

Isn't she sweet?

Please move, Mama Jean -
You're blocking my light. 

And while you're up..
Please bring me my sunglasses.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Hurry, Shiloh, Hurry!

Sometimes having dogs and loving nature are not compatible interests.  Like this morning.  Shiloh was pacing, ready for her morning walk.  I put her harness on her, attached her leash, and stepped outside to see this through the crack between my neighbour's house and garage:

Oh. My. Goodness.  It was shaping up to be an amazing sunrise, and I wanted to watch and photograph every second of it from the best vantage point ever - the beach.  The beach is less than two blocks from my house.  But sunrises change by the millisecond and I was going to have to be quick if I wanted to catch the most colourful of the crimson and orange and yellow swoops and swirls on camera.  And here I was heading out on a walk with my almost-seventeen year old dog.

The solution, you'd think, would be to stick Shiloh back in the house and hotfoot it to the seawalk.  But you don't know Shiloh.  Her walks are the highlight of her day and she was already bouncing down the driveway.  
And then she decided to become The Slowest Dog On Earth.  She sniffed.  She snorted.  She shuffled and shimmied.  But she did not move forward at a pace faster than an earthworm in molasses.  So a lot of the first shots were taken enroute, complete with trees and powerlines and more than a few cars.  After all, it was rush minute in Crofton, with island-hopping commuters heading to the Crofton-Saltspring ferry.

Shiloh even decided to have a poop right in the middle of the largest intersection in town.  Not that it's large by city standards, but construction on that corner means walking diagonally from sidewalk to park in order to get to the beach.  And she chose the very middle for her business.  Thankfully, ferry patrons had lots of time and were goodnatured about waiting while I stooped and scooped.

We eventually reached the waterfront, but the seawalk was very frosty and too slippery for this old blogger or her old dog, so we eschewed the best vantage points and stood at the edge of the parking lot.  The reds had all but disappeared from the sky, but the yellows and oranges were more pronounced than ever, spilling across the water.

As the morning sky lightened and the sunrise faded, we headed back, wandering through the green space above the marina enroute, and catching a few last shots.

Then Shiloh hotfooted it back home, with nary a sniff or stall or struggle.  Sigh.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Hearts and Critters

(Well shoot - in trying to adjust the template so the right hand border of the collage would show properly, I changed the whole dang look of the blog!  Guess it is a hint that it is time to redesign it.  And here I thought I was doing great to put together this collage with the heart and the writing and the frame using PicMonkey.  Aaack - I need my own personal computer guru!) 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

One of those rare moments...

My critters aren't particularly closely bonded to each other, nor do they tend to hang out together.  So it is a rare moment when I see all four of them in the same room, let alone in close proximity.

Of course, the click of the camera awoke Mitzi, who then moved, which awoke Eddie, who then barked, which awoke Allie who then took off, which awoke Shiloh - who then chased Allie, of course.  So much for peaceful moments.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Need a splash of spring?

Look what I discovered when I opened my patio blinds this morning!

And the nice thing is, they were freebies from the nursery a couple of years ago and I had forgotten they were there.

And remember my "alternative" Christmas tree, the winter jasmine that bloomed pretty much right on Christmas Day?  Well, I moved it to the patio just after Christmas and it is still blooming like crazy!

On recent hikes, the Indian plum bushes have been getting greener by the hour.  The leaves are starting to unfold now and all it will take is one afternoon of sun for them to be fully open.

Crocuses and snowdrops are everywhere on my hikes, and the budding daffodils in my garden are swelling quickly.  A rhodo a couple of streets over is fully in bloom.  But the tulips outside my patio doors are my favourite splash of spring.

"Splash" might be the operative word here.  Rivers are high, trails are muddy and riddled with runoff and pond-sized puddles, and my back yard is nothing but gumbo-type mud.  I'm thinking instead of spending $5000 on drainage back there the other year I should have just buried the money in a tin can.  Then I could dig it up, toss the dogs in the car, and take off until the mud dries up.

But, of course, that's life on the wet coast.  We have the flowers.  We have the birds.  We have the lovely scenery.  We have early spring.

So now all we need is sunshine.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Farewell, Archie, run free good dog.

October 30, 1998 - February 6, 2015

Today my good friend Else said goodbye to her Very Old Dog and best friend, Archie.  He would have been 17 this year, and lived with her for most of those 17 years.

Else adopted Archie from the Cowichan and District SPCA when he was just a young pup.  He had been picked up for running loose and terrorizing his neighbourhood. He could have so easily become a Bad Boy Dog. Else took him to classes, did agility with him, helped him qualify as a Pet Therapy dog and accompanied him on his visits to seniors' facilities, hiked with him, played with him, and most of all loved him. And he was one of the most gentle, laid back, good-natured dogs I have ever met.

Archie was the first dog to welcome me to Crofton, two years before I moved here.  Else and I knew each other online through the rescue network, and she persuaded me to come to the island to meet a dog at the shelter that she thought might be perfect for me.  So in May 2007, my other dog Charley and I came for a visit to meet Toad (yes, he was perfect for me and I adopted him and renamed him Caleb), and Else and Archie invited Toad, Charley and I to join a group of friends on a hike at Swallowfield.  My first picture of Archie - and of  Toad - is one of the two of them together, swimming in the Chemainus River at what has become my favourite place to hike.

Archie and Toad (aka Caleb)
Spring 2007

Archie was my kind of dog - great with dogs, dog-savvy cats, and people;  active explorer outdoors;  couch potato indoors.  In fact, his visits to my house were always a source of laughter, as he would say hello, have a treat, and then trot into my bedroom where he felt no compunction whatsoever about jumping onto my bed for a nice long nap.  If the weather was fine and Else and I sat outdoors, he headed for the hydrangea in the corner of the yard, where he enthusiastically dug himself a comfy hole in the dirt beneath it, and curled up for a snooze.

Who me?
I never dig holes in Auntie Jean's garden!

On our many outings, Archie loved to run and swim and play and then would retreat a short distance to simply sit and watch.  In fact, when I was searching for my photos of him for this blog, I had better luck searching with the words "watcher" than "Archie" - because that was how many photos were labelled:  The Watcher.
The Watcher

The Watcher

The Watcher

Archie had the most beautiful old dog face, the softest eyes, the sweetest demeanor.  In the last few days, we knew the end was very near as he stopped eating, became unable to get up, and then let Else know he was ready.  Today I had the honour of accompanying Else on that final journey with Archie.

As I sat beside him on the floor of the van while Else went in to tell the vet we were there, I chatted to him about the old friends he would see at the Rainbow Bridge as I stroked his head.  When my hand moved away to pull out a kleenex, his head followed it and he did exactly what he has done ever since I've known him - he shoved his nose under my hand and nodded his head up and down to say 'Pet me, please, don't stop now!'

Gently the vet carried him in, and gently, oh so gently, with Else stroking his head and me stroking his back, Archie slipped away.

But forever he is in our hearts.  Forever and always.

Else, thank you for sharing Archie with me.  May memories sustain you through this sad time.

Run free, Archie.
Love, Auntie Jean.