Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Emma has left for the Rainbow Bridge

December 01, 2004 - January 22, 2019

Tonight, my Emma is running free at the Rainbow Bridge. 

Emma was just a baby when her dad brought her home - a wiggling, happy, silly, plump little yellow lab puppy to be company for our border collie-rough collie cross Charley.  I was on sabbatical from work and would be at home for the first eight or nine months after Emma's arrival, a great opportunity to teach her and exercise her and bond with her.

Hai! Can I come live with you?
I promise I'll only chew things I'm supposed to.
I'd never, ever, ever, chew your shoes. No, never. 

Emma in snow
Mah big sister Charley can show me the ropes.
Sit!  I can Sit! 

Part of her socialization was to spend one or two days a week at doggy daycare, where she loved playing with dogs of all breeds and sizes, and went hiking for hours in the hills of the Fraser Valley. 

Emma (in front) and her daycare buddies on a spring hike

When Emma was about 18 months old, her dad and I split up.  We both desperately wanted Emma, but as we had two dogs and the law considers dogs 'property', we were given no choice but to each take one.  As Emma was bonded to each of us, but Charley only to me, Charley came with me, and Emma stayed with her dad, with an agreement in place for me to continue to see her regularly.

Emma grew from an exuberant pup to an exuberant teen to an exuberant adult.  There is a saying that labs remain puppies until they are about eight years old, and this was certainly true of Emma.  She had lots of energy and that legendary happy lab attitude, and would coerce anyone she could into throwing a ball or a stick for her, especially if treats were involved.

Food motivated, play motivated, happy happy happy Emma was a quick learner, and even as the years went by and distance made visits a bit less frequent, she still happily went through her routine of sit, stay, down, come, heel, fetch, etc. whenever I visited. 

The older I get, the more I like doing "down"

Emma remembered me from visit to visit, greeting me enthusiastically.  But when treats were gone and playtime was over, she quickly ran back to her door and her dad and her soft spot on the couch. 

Mom! You came! Hiya!

Emma love water - from the time she was a pup and right through her senior years, you could not keep her out of a pool or a lake or a stream.  And if you had a stick to throw for her, she would happily pursue it, using her strong lab tail as a rudder as she retrieved it and swam back to shore, head up and proud as punch.

Several years ago, Emma and her dad started spending summers in the interior of BC, where  Emma reveled in the attention of new friends and enjoyed frequent cooling swims in the streams and more time with her dad.  In 2017, they moved there permanently.  She had aged considerably the previous year, and I knew there was a good chance I wouldn't see her again.  Her dad kept me updated on her well being and activities and sent me photos of her enjoying her new life.

Emma having summertime fun in BC's interior
Emma and her best friend Abby

Yesterday, Emma went for a nice long walk with her dad.  This morning she got up as usual.  And then this afternoon, she appeared to have suffer either a stroke or a cardiac event from which she could not recover.  Her dad and a caring vet were with her at the end, and she peacefully slipped away.

Emma, you were the bestest, happiest, most loving lab in the world, and I smile through my tears just writing this.  You made me laugh with your antics, your expressions, your funny little wrinkles on your brow as you worked something out, your ball-crazy and water-crazy and stick-crazy energy. 

You had lots of friends, human and canine, but most of all you had us. A mom who gave you a good start, a dad who continued to love you and take care of you to the very end.  Run free, happy girl, run free at the Rainbow Bridge. 

Thank you, Emma's dad, for all the love you gave her and for keeping me in her life.  She was one very lucky and very loved dog and neither of us will ever forget her.

In life we loved you dearly, in death we love you still,
In our hearts you hold a place no one could ever fill. 

(Author unknown)  

Monday, January 21, 2019

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Eagle at the Beach

Most mornings we see eagles at the beach - up in the tree, or out on a sandbar or small island, or - sometimes, on a tree stump right along the shore.  This one was flying around with his or her mate for awhile, before landing to watch the sun rise with us. 

I hope your mornings are us full of magical moments as ours are!

Monday, January 14, 2019

I love to go a-wandering ....

I often find myself humming that old song, The Happy Wanderer, when I'm out tromping around in the forests.  Remember it? "I love to go a-wandering/along the mountain track/and as I go, I love to sing/my knapsack on my back ♪ ♪ "

Today was no exception, as my Monday hiking buddy and I headed out to explore two connected parks a few minutes drive from my home - Top Bridge Park and Englishman River Regional Park.  It was one of the best hikes we've had in a long while (which is why I'm skipping over some backlogged photos of other outings to blog about this one).  After wind, rain, storms, power outages, fatigue, Christmas, and other factors kept us selecting urban parks, as nice as they were, it was great to be back in the woods on more rustic trails in more isolated environs.

We started at Top Bridge Park.  While there is a 5 km trail from Parksville up to the top of the park, we chose to begin at the end of Allsbrook, where both Top Bridge Park and Englishman River Regional Park (not to be confused with the nearby provincial park of the same name) have trail heads. 

Top Bridge Park is a popular swimming area in summer, according to my sources, and I can see why - lots of accessible, warm, flat rocks and shallow beachy areas leading to what, in summer, would be calm pools of beautiful cooling water.  This time of year, however, the river was somewhat more dangerous.  We walked across the long, wobbly, metal suspension bridge, taking photographs as we went. Because of the bridge, I had chosen not to take Maggie on this hike (sorry, Marie, no doggy photos today!), and that was a good decision - not only was the bridge long and wobbly, but the deck was open-grid metal with those sharp upward-pointing non-slip spikes that few dogs would be willing to walk on.

Top Bridge suspension bridge

Looking down from the suspension bridge

After exploring the far side of the bridge, we wobbled our way back and then headed along a trail that would link up with the Englishman River riverside trail through the regional park.  The trail was quite easy walking with only a few minor uphill or downhill sections, and well marked (though we could have used a few extra 'maps' along the way to help us orient ourselves through the loops and dead-ends and options available). 

We found some comfy logs on which to sit to eat our lunch, while looking out on the river and the trees beyond.  The morning fog had lifted and blue skies appeared to warm the day.

Continuing on, we came to the end of Beaver Pond, where we saw no beavers, but did see their home.  The angle didn't work for taking a photo of the dam (unless I wanted to wade out into the pond!), but the view from behind the dam was quite lovely.

The beavers get to enjoy this view from the front of their lodge
(we didn't see the beavers - perhaps they were hibernating).

A better view of the dam, from the back.

Continuing on along the side of Beaver Pond, we looked out at reeds and grasses reflected in the blue water, and saw a heron perched in a tree.

Reaching the end of the pond, we continued walking the trails for awhile, over little bridges, past clearings and lookout points.  We admired the incredibly high clay banks, towering above us across the narrow river, and the sunlit river views, smooth rocks, and silhouetted deadwood.

Sally beneath the towering clay cliffs

I love to wander by the stream/that dances in the sun/So joyously it calls to me/ 'Come join my happy song' ♫

Stones washed smooth by time and river

Deadwood reflected in water

We were nearing the Allsbrook fish hatchery and several other trail loops when we noticed  the sun was starting to sink in the sky, creating a backlit beauty to the moss-covered trees:

We decided it was time to head back to the car, and to save the rest for another day.  No doubt, this was just the first of many hikes we'll take in these parks.

Monday, January 7, 2019

A cold winter's day

Here's a teaser so you know I 'm not missing in action - the weather is sunny but crisp, and I'm out playing with the new camera. Here's a couple of shots of winter on Vancouver Island, taken in downtown Nanaimo this morning ....more to come:

What's a post without a dog photo?

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The dawn of a New Year

I spent much of yesterday, after walking the beach at sunrise and hiking one of Nanaimo's urban parks, trying to come up with a blog post about saying goodbye to 2018 and welcoming 2019.  After all, the dawn of a New Year should merit acknowledgment on the blog.

Parksville Beach at sunrise
December 31, 2018

I came up empty.  Oh, there's the usual stuff about what happened in 2018 - the sad stuff like my nephew's passing, and seeing Allie off to the Rainbow Bridge; and the happy stuff like Maggie's little successes and mini-vacations at Saratoga.  And there's the in-between stuff that caused chaos and stress and joy and relief and worry and anticipation and a lot of hard work (also known as:  buying a patio home in a city where you know nobody and all the drama that comes with a move).

Maggie resolving to spend more time on the beach in 2019

And, since I'm not one to make resolutions, there's the blah-blah-blah about hopes and dreams for 2019, goals that may or may not be realized, plans that may or may not come to fruition.

Let's see, I could resolve to climb Mt. Arrowsmith.  Uh-uh.
(Photo taken from Parksville beach with the new camera.  Mt. Arrowsmith is about 25 km away as the crow flies, I think) 

Or I could plan some trips to the mainland and gulf islands - maybe....
(Photo taken from Parksville Beach with full zoom on new camera - the north shore mountains in the background are probably around 50 km away, according to google.  I think that is Lasqueti Island in the foreground, though it might be Texada. )

I couldn't come up with anything creative, so I didn't post last night.  I hoped something would come to me this morning.  But here I sit, mid-afternoon, staring at the computer and still empty-handed empty-headed.  It could be due to feeling slightly under the weather, despite not having had a single drink to see in the new year.  It could be due to the fireworks that went off at 8:00 PM (the community celebration ones), at 9:00 PM (someone in the neighbourhood), at 10:00 PM, and 11:00 PM and 12:00 PM and - yes - 1:00 AM (I guess those people are still on daylight savings time).  Thankfully, Maggie was NOT reactive to them - perhaps four hours of walking earlier in the day had worn her out.  But it did disturb my sleep from 10 PM on.  And left me with brain fog today.

Maggie:  Mom, that's not fog!  That's the sunrise through the trees! 

So, other than posting a few photos of yesterday's wonderful sunrise beach walk, and a collage of some of the damage done at Nanaimo's Beban Park during the recent storm, that's all I've got.

Reflections of a resort

Cleanup has begun at Beban Park.
The forested 23 acres on one side of the park (dirt path) did not seem to have too much damage other than one small section shown in the top left hand photo. The paved section of path on the golf-course side had dozens of trees uprooted and lots of damage.

I do wish you and yours a Happy New Year.  May 2019 bring you joy, good health,  fun times with people you care about, and the strength to face any challenges that come your way. 

Maggie says she hopes it also brings more treats.

Yum! More treats!
And more beach time, more hikes, more training time, more puzzle toys, more food.
Less vets. 
Happy New Year, everyone, from Maggie and me.