Monday, June 26, 2017

Mornings with Maggie

Every morning, Maggie and I head out for a walk.  Most days we go early - between 6 and 7:30 AM - when there aren't a lot of people around for Maggie to meet.  She is getting more comfortable with those we meet often, especially those with gentle dogs, but still tries to head for home when encountering strangers.  It is baby steps with this timid girl - baby steps and lots of treats.

The nice thing about those early morning walks is the tranquility - the morning sun rising, the ocean gently splashing, the sea birds fishing, the first of the boats slipping out of the dock.  Most days I carry my camera - when I forget, I always regret it.  Like the day this week when Maggie and I sat on the beach watching an osprey hover like a helicopter, then dive, dive, dive and come up with a fish just a few hundred feet away.  But most days I carry it, and most days I see something that catches my eye, and that I catch with my lens.  Here's just a few of the images I captured this past week.

I can spend hours watching and photographing the herons as they fish in the outgoing tide.

And even the less glamorous seagull provides fodder for the photographer.  This gull dropped each clam in the shallows, presumably to rinse it off,  before flying it above the rocky beach where he dropped it to smash it open.

When the tide is a very low one, Mags and I can walk for quite a ways.  As we leave the seawalk and sand beach area and head around the point, we pass a barnacled and musselled old boat abandoned on the shore.  When I first moved here, in 2009, it was a nice cream coloured motorboat in which I would see the owners go fishing;  a couple of years later, it became abandoned and each year has disintegrated further. Now, its pieces are scattered all over the shore.

One morning, I watched  from the entrance to the sea walk as a man carried a canoe from the campground, along the berm, up the wharf and down the other side.  A few minutes later, he was joined by another person carrying the paddles.  I watched as they put the boat in the water, climbed in, and started to paddle away.  I turned away, and Maggie and I walked the short distance back to the park above the parking lot - perhaps a three minute walk at most - five if Maggie had to read her pee-mail enroute.  Imagine my surprise when I glanced back and saw the same man now carrying the canoe back along the wharf!  A leak?  A fight with his companion?  A change of heart?  He may not have gotten any exercise from paddling, but he sure did hauling that canoe both ways!

I'll wager a bet that I spent more time playing with the dozen or so photos I took of him, than he spent in the water.  I'm particularly partial to how this one turned out:

Man with a Red Canoe
Other days brought other interesting shots.  This fellow was jumping logs as he rounded up stray ones enroute to the log sort at nearby Shoal Islands:  

And there's a story behind this next shot.   Again, I had forgotten my camera. As Maggie and I sat on the rocks at the end of the berm, I looked back toward shore and saw the iconic seaside shot -  a line of white recreational vehicles broken only by one orange one and one turquoise one along the curve of the bay,  its reflection a mirror image in the glassy smooth water of a very high tide and a rising sun.  It was a photographer's dream and  I wanted that shot!  I decided I would take Mags home, grab the camera, drive to the end of the seawalk, and hustle back to this very same spot.  Alas, Maggie was not to be rushed, dilly-dallying all the way home.  By the time I got back to the rocks a half hour later, the sun had moved, the tide had receded, and the ferry was churning up water in the bay while other boats headed out to sea.  My perfect picture is not so perfect - it was "the one that got away".  

 There were, of course, other morning walks with beautiful reflections, but by the next day the trailers were gone - weekend campers migrating back to the hustle of the work-a-day world. Still, I always get pleasure from the images in water, like those at our marina:

And even when we look away from the water, there's beauty to be found.  This morning it was found in the long weeds and grasses that front a boarded up motel building at the start of the sea walk - a deer, heading down to the beach.  Deer are plentiful here - there's rarely a day I don't see a few - but this one had more curiosity than fear, and my cat-chasing dog seemed oblivious to his presence. (Note: Mags was in no danger:  the deer was lower than the seawalk and on the other side of the rails, and I was using a zoom lens some distance away to photograph him boldly approaching the rail to see what we were up to, while Maggie was leashed to my waist).  

And that's it for a week's worth of mornings with Maggie.  Y'all come back, y'hear?  July 1st will be my annual Canada Day blog - the best of my photos of the past 12 months, a tribute to this country I love. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Can you say Happy Birthday?

I've written before about how much courage I think it takes to run a sanctuary. The endless hours of heavy work, the frustration at the never ending requests from people unable or unwilling to keep their animals for life, the fear when a loved animal resident becomes ill, the worry about where the money for vets and feed and property maintenance will come from, the difficulty recruiting and keeping reliable volunteers.

Hard work?? But we're so CUTE! 

And I KNOW that most of my readers get it - most of you came here to follow stories of the critters because you, too, are animal lovers. And, as animal lovers, you probably recall that a few weeks ago the Cowichan and District SPCA had 24 potbellied pigs surrendered to them, several of which were pregnant.  Sadly, finding homes for potbellied pigs is next to impossible - hence the massive numbers that end up in farm animal sanctuaries, and specifically pot bellied pig sanctuaries, across North America.

And yet, you'll also know how intelligent and funny and strong-willed and loving pot bellied pigs are. At least, you'll know that if you followed the stories I wrote way back at the beginning of this blog when I fostered two, then twelve, potbellied pigs for Hearts on Noses Sanctuary, a not-for-profit registered charity now located in Mission, BC.

Did foster mama bring us some treats?

A month ago, I wrote about transporting three of the SPCA pigs to Hearts on Noses.  Janice Gillett, who runs the sanctuary had kindly agreed to take them in.  She named the mama Rainbow, and the two babies Plumb and Tierra.

Rainbow in transit

Janice welcomes Tierra and Plumb

She took them in even though she has forty pigs there already and  struggles financially. She took them in even though she has a heart condition and needs heart surgery pretty damn soon. She took them in even though slogging through rain and snow and mud and blazing sun to feed all those pigs, to make sure they all get turns in the pasture, to scoop their poop and fix their houses and bring them straw for their beds and water for their dishes and feed for their bellies is hard work - darn hard work!

She took them in even though she knew she was somehow going to have to raise at least $1500 for their spays, in addition to the monthly costs of feeding three more mouths.

I hope this place has enough food for us!

One anonymous donor offered to pay for one spay. Several others have donated to raise another approximately $500 online at For the Love of Pigs, on Fundrazr.

In another month or two, the babes (and their mama, who is barely more than a babe herself)  will be ready for spaying, and we still need to raise at least another $500 - preferably more, as there are always more costs....medicine, unexpected emergencies, ongoing costs for growing piglets, alterations to the shelter and fencing.

An adorable house sits by the edge of Hearts on Noses' driveway,
waiting to be moved and fenced for the new piggy residents

And I know you get tired of being asked for money. Many of you are facing challenging financial times yourself. But if your good friend was celebrating a birthday, would you find a couple of bucks for a card? Maybe even buy them a cup of coffee, or spend a few dollars more on a gift, or a dinner, or a bottle of wine?  Would you?

Birthdays are meant to be CELEBRATED! 

Well, today is Janice's birthday!  If you appreciate the hard work she does for the animals, if you are thankful that there is a place piggies can go to live out their lives, knowing they are safe from abuse and neglect and abandonment,  perhaps you might think of her as a friend. So take that money you'd spend for a card and stamp, that money for the drink or the fancy cupcake you might buy her, and instead donate it to Rainbow, Plumb, and Tierra's spay fund.  Let's see that figure rise as the birthday wishes pour in.
Rainbow, Plumb and Tierra

Or go to Canada Helps and donate to Hearts on Noses there - you can add a message to specify it is for the spays of the piglets.  You'll even get a tax receipt.

Two dollars, five dollars, twenty dollars......whatever you can afford, whatever you might scrape together to wish your friend, your very courageous pig-loving friend,  a very happy birthday. Let's make this a birthday to remember - the birthday when the gifts didn't arrive in gaily coloured paper but instead arrived in the form of money for spays of three more rescued potbellied pigs.

Janice,  thank you for all you do for the pigs.  Thank you for adding Rainbow, Plumb and Tierra to your already large family.  Happy Birthday, my friend.  I'm heading to Canada Helps now.

Let's all head off to make a donation!
(Plumb front, Tierra rear) 

Again, here's the links for two ways to donate to Rainbow's, Plumb's, and Tierra's spay fund, the best birthday gift you can give our pig-loving friend:
Canada Helps
For the Love of Pigs

(Confession:  Some of the photos in this post were stolen from Janice's own page, since I'm too far away to get new photos.  I'm pretty sure she won't mind). 

Friday, June 9, 2017

A Letter to LAPS, from Allie (now Maggie)

Dear friends at Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS),

Remember me?
I was called Allie, but now I'm Maggie!

Thank you for taking such good care of me in your shelter. You have a very nice place there, but I have to say I like it at my new home much better! I have been here two weeks now, and my new mama says I am settling in well. My mama likes to take lots of photos, and most of them are of ME! She said I can use some of them for this letter, so you can see how I'm doing and where I live.

C'mon - I'll give you a tour! 

I have been slowly learning about life here on the island. Did you know there is a beach just a block or so from my new house? We go there almost every day on at least one of our two daily walks - oooooh the great smells on the beach!

This is one of my favourite places -
we see herons and eagles and otters and shellfish!

I can lie here for hours!

There's also lots of fun places to hike, and I've been to two of them. Last Friday I had my first hike at a place called Swallowfield with Mama and my new friends Pat and the Poms (no, that's not a singing group - it's my mama's human friend and her two Pomeranians). And on Monday I did my first hike to Crofton Lake too!

This is me at Swallowfield.
That's the Chemainus River behind me,
heading to the estuary.

And this is me at Crofton Lake.
I sure love hiking!

It's so pretty here.
My mama is always taking pictures! 

I also love Mama's back yard and like to spend lots of time out there lying on the grass or under the bushes or even on the back porch. Fortunately, mama has work to do out there so she can hang out with me.
Hey, Mama, I'll pose for you! 

Every day we do at least one new thing - walk a little further, meet one new person, practice one new behaviour. Yesterday it was raining, so my new thing was wearing a raincoat for my walk - I didn't mind a bit! And when we got home, we played with a toy that dispenses treats - I don't quite have the hang of it yet, but when Mama nudges it with her paw - er, foot -  to make it wobble, goodies fall out!

Okay, I do have a few challenges. Mostly with cats. I am very obsessed with the cat who lives here (her name is also Allie, which is why my mama had to change my name), but Mama puts a leash on me and ties me to her belt when I get too nosy or when I chase her.! 

When I am calm around the cat I get lots and lots of treats! And I am learning not to pull Mama off her feet when I see cats during our walks. Treats are also involved there! Because of my allergies, I get dried kangaroo treats and they are DELICIOUS! So it is all good.  Allie the Cat isn't very happy (she even peed and pooped on the rug twice - oh my!) but she is calming down now that I am learning to ignore her. Sometimes I sense her scowling at me when I am trying to nap.

Is there something watching me?

My other challenge is new people. I don't mind meeting nice well mannered dogs, but people are just plain scary. I run to the furthest part of the yard and hide when someone comes to the gate while Mama and I are in the back yard.  

Stranger Alert! Stranger Alert! 

Even after hiking with Auntie Pat and the poms, I wouldn't let Auntie Pat touch me, though I did let her walk beside my mama. More treats! And whenever we see a human on our walks, Mama gives me another treat before we even get to them. So maybe humans are okay.

What else can I tell you? I love car rides, but Mama won't leave me in a car when she's running errands so I only get to go when it is ALL ABOUT ME. I wear my seatbelt, and mama is teaching me to use a crate instead (which I Do Not Like!) because it is safer. Crate training involves treats too!

At first I hated being in the house  except at night, and paced continually, but now I am getting much more relaxed about it. I have claimed Mama's bedroom as my den - I sleep on her bed or sometimes in my own raised bed on the floor, and I like to help her when she makes the bed in the morning.

I'm such a good helper!

Mama fixed up the baby gates so I have access to my our bedroom when she goes out without me. Yes, sometimes she leaves me behind when she goes out (can you believe it!), and at first I howled like a husky when she left the house - she could hear me all the way out to the road! But she kept popping in and out several times a day for just a few minutes, and gradually lengthened the time away, and now I can stay by myself for two or three hours without getting upset. Treats are involved with that, as well!

I met my new vet and even though I don't like strangers I was a very good girl. I had some goopy eyes so I got some drops for that. My new vet was the  one who recommended the kangaroo treats so she is my new best friend.

As you can see, things are going well and my mama loves me to bits. And you should hear her laugh when I do my happy dog dance and play bow at her. I also love to get belly rubs from her so when we play I roll over lots and wave my paws in the air until she tickles my tummy.  Hahahahahaha - that is so much fun! And after showing my happy spirit, I get more treats!

Life is good! 

Well, that's about all I can think of to tell you. Thank you again for my three weeks with you, and matching me up with my new mama. I'm loving life and getting braver every day!

Lotsa love,
Maggie (formerly Allie).