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The puppy pool

Day 4, Writing 101 – Write about a loss

Well, for one thing, I’m not a person who hangs on to stuff. In fact, quite the opposite, I love to purge!!! However, there seems to be an item that I am having trouble parting with and that stuns even me.

My Great Dane, Piper, is six years old. I got her from the Sunshine Coast SPCA when I was living there in 2009.

IMG_20150216_213151 Piper 2015

I had the heartache of losing two dogs in 14 months – Scout was my heart, an ethereal black lab-border collie mix who touched many lives died suddenly at age nine and Ella, the husky-German shepherd with ice blue eyes that I adopted shortly after ended up with an incurable illness. I had to euthanize her after only having her for about a year. She was just two years old.

Scout  Scout eyes Scout

Ella  Ella Beach Model 021 Ella

Ella had many issues. She was a feral dog when I adopted her and I had to work relentlessly with her to overcome negative behaviours. Just shy of her death she started showing real progress and we were a bonded unit. By the time she died I was pretty exhausted. The day after I put Ella down, I headed to the SPCA to start volunteering as a dog walker. I’m one of those people who is lost without a dog around. The SPCA manager knew Ella’s story and said, “You need a happy-go-lucky dog. I’ll keep any eye out for you.”

Enter the Great Dane litter that was rescued from an abusive backyard breeder with their mama. They ended up in an amazing foster home on the Coast and I was introduced to “Pick Me,” named for her outgoing personality and who literally picked me.

What a joy! Piper was the easiest puppy I’ve ever come into contact with. She has a gentle, sweet nature and loves everyone and everything.  To this day she can melt my heart with a single look.

At the time the litter was old enough to be adopted out, I was fostering a senior dog who had been deteriorating in the shelter. The foster home hung on to Piper a little longer until we placed the old dog with a permanent family. That gave me lots of time to prepare for her arrival and as this was going to be my third dog as an adult, I had the situation totally figured out.

I bought a purple kiddie pool. You know, those ones you buy at the local Peavey Mart or Zellers for five or 10 bucks. It was round and I bought a dog bed that fit perfectly in it. I wanted to teach her to go to one place on command when I was at home and have her be somewhat cordoned off but not in a full kennel. The pool had high enough sides that even thought she had legs like a baby moose, it wasn’t easy for her to get in and out of and any pee accidents were contained by the plastic.

more piper 006_1  more piper 005_1

And then she started growing. I did say she is a Great Dane, right? And she grew and she grew and she grew and the pool ended up outside being used as a pool. She loves cooling off in it on hot days and fetching toys from it like someone bobbing for apples at Halloween. She barely fits in it. It take a fair bit of wiggling around to keep all of her long legs and tail within the walls of that fading purple pool. Often her arse is hanging off the edge and her front paws are up against the other side.

Piper in the pool 008 Then …

Random June 2013 007 Now …

The pool got a hole in it last summer. It still holds water, just a slow leak, but we live two blocks from the lake. We don’t really need an old, leaky pool and yet I can’t throw it out. I haul it to the gate and swear I’m taking it to the dumpster and somehow it ends up back in the yard.

If I had to guess, I suppose I can’t throw it out because Piper was such a source of joy, love and hope after so much loss and the pool represents that puppy who bumbled into my life (and two cats) and lifted my spirits.

more piper 049  more piper 050 Piper 3.5 mos

And every time she tries to curl up in it now that she is grown, it takes me back to those days of innocence and newness, which still makes me smile and can still lift my spirits after a rough day.

IMG_20150315_154635  IMG_20150118_133357

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Posted by on April 10, 2015 in PonderQs

 

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The Soloist Sojourner

Elbow River Alberta 2014-06-29

I am the Soloist Sojourner. I am not journeying alone because I’ve lost love, but because I’ve never discovered it. Lovers and bubblehead boyfriends don’t count!

I was walking along the Elbow River on Sunday when a stone caught my eye. It was unlike any of the others. Instead of black or blue or slate gray, it was a myriad of greens and yellows. In fact, at first glance I thought it was petrified wood because of the layers and striations but it was a rock. I picked it up and walked for a long time working it through my fingers and then stopped to look at it again.

It had a face blurred into it on one side and when I flipped it over it had a perfect yellow heart on the other side. An omen! I thought maybe I should take it home and add it to my stone collection.

But you know what? I’m sick of omens and palm readers and messages from relatives who have passed over telling me there’s hope on the horizon. In case no one else ever noticed, the horizon always stays just out of reach as does, apparently, the guy who I’m supposed to meet and spend the journey with.

I chucked that F’ing rock as far as I could down the shoreline, just mad all of the sudden.

Elbow River above falls

It would seem that I have to remind myself every now and again that my life is full and fulfilling regardless of whether or not I ever meet someone to share it with. There’s something so sneaky and cruel about television and movies and pop music that make a person think they’re “less than” if they don’t have some sort of earth-shattering love affair going at all times and if they haven’t found THE ONE!!!

Anyway, after I threw the rock I felt a bit silly and went in search of a better attitude, which I found quickly and enjoyed the rest of my day with Piper exploring the Elbow post-2013 flood havoc.

Start of the falls

It was unnerving how different everything still looks one year on and yet Nature is never wrong so it was equally as impressive and beautiful. It will be interesting to see how Alberta parks decides to set up the picnic sites again with the new shape of the river and shorelines.

Allen Bill Pond is now simply Allen Bill [giant white box placed over top of the word “pond”] because the river has changed course entirely.

 IMG_20140629_165134  Allen Bill [pond]

I tried hard to get an “USie” with Piper to capture our lovely day but

1. she was NOT co-operating and

2. my arm is NOT long enough to get both of our faces in the shot properly.

I started to get frustrated and then it got silly and THEN I realized she had spotted a woodpecker on a tree in front of her and she kept ducking her head from the camera this way and that NOT because she was purposefully being obstinate but because she was intensely intrigued by the bird. And then it was hilarious just trying to get the photo at all!

The USie The USie try again The irritated USie

Ohhhh it's a woodpecker  Interesting woodpecker

Back to the USie No I'm not punching her Ridiculous i give up

We topped off the afternoon by stopping in at an off-leash hill near my parents’ house. They have all of these urban wildland corridors in Calgary that are worth their weight in gold. Even though there were police sirens and traffic on Stoney Trail and houses all around, it felt like I was in the middle of nowhere.

On Saturday, I walked Piper there and there were bucks with velvet antlers munching grass in the valley and the hill was covered in wildflowers, too many varieties to count! Then the rain stopped, the clouds began to burn off and one of the brightest rainbows I’ve ever seen stretched across the entire community. Magical! So I went back to take some photos of the flowers even though it wasn’t quite as magnificent as it had been on Saturday.

IMG_20140629_175200  IMG_20140629_174701

   IMG_20140629_175116

I even captured some daisies dancing in the wind.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2014 in PonderQs

 

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This is Minus 40

Walk to Work 2013

It takes a lot of energy to play outside these days because it’s so cold. We’ve been basically hovering around -30C to -50C because of wind chills for the better part of a month now. Once in a while we’ve had a -25C break but pretty much it’s just been plain colder than cold.

My dogs are even challenged by it. We had a week break in Calgary over Christmas where it was a balmy +8C  a couple of times and then we had to run for home a day early to avoid a major winter storm, spent 11 whiteout, blustery, snowy hours on highways and woke up back here the next morning to -32C with a wind warning making it feel like -50C.

UG!

Today, the chill was still on but we – and I do mean WE – are starting to go stir crazy inside. I know it’s possible to play outside even in this weather. You just have to take the time to dress for it and not stay out as long but it is possible. And so, I bundled up, (can you tell? I’m smiling!)

Can you tell Im smiling

strapped on my brand new Christmas snowshoes and headed out with little True-lou the husky first. I dragged her through deep snow. She was in to her chin for most of the walk and had to hop like a kangaroo. There is method to my madness. I wanted to try out the new shoes and I wanted to maximize my effort by wearing her out as efficiently as possible before either of us got too cold to stay out any longer. It worked!

New Year's Day 2012 023

I arrived back home drenched in sweat which is rule number one of what NOT to do in winter. Don’t sweat! Oh well… we’re staying close to home today. I stripped down a bit to dry off and rolled my old guy Charlie onto his back and put his Muttluks on. He loves those red super sneakers!! I got re-bundled up but ditched my snowshoes because he’s so short that’d be cruel to drag him through deep snow and we headed out for a walk. He did very well and loved it. I started to get drafty because I wasn’t working as hard as before.

December Cold Spell 002

Back home. Shed the coat while I took the muttluks from Charlie and wrestled my nervous Nelly Great Dane Piper into them. She has a lovely matching Chilly Dogs red and black coat. She’s black and white. Looked like a runway model! There is something about those shoes that makes them zippy.

You know that scene from Bambi when the fawn is spiraling out of control across the pond? Picture my black Dane trying to sprint on hard-packed snow and losing control, stick legs bracing while she slid and spun. She loved it though and we spent half her walk running. And can she run!!!

Back to the yard, pulled the shoes off of her so she could get some grip, let the other two out and they wind sprinted around the yard for 5 mins before we were all frozen and had to go back inside. Here we are:

This is Minus 40         Checking me out

This is Minus 40 060

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2013 in PonderQs

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

The Great Divide Move 09Roger’s Pass 2009

I spent a couple of years in flux which included going back to school at age 35 to complete a post-degree journalism certificate in Calgary, Alberta and then moving to the Sunshine Coast, B.C. to work for a newspaper and then the move that this photograph represents which took me to La Ronge in northern Saskatchewan.

I had fire in my belly and my confidence was growing and I can tell you that I felt like the King of the Road driving along coast, across ocean by ferry, over the great divide of the Rocky Mountains, through thunderstorm Prairies and north to the boreal forest and beyond in this moving truck with my life’s contents inside of it and towing my own car.

What you can’t see is that up in the cab of the truck with me was my 10-month-old Great Dane riding shotgun and two cats in stacked kennels between us. Piper is timid and could not figure out how to get up and down from the truck so every time we stopped so she could pee or to stop for the night, I had to lift and carry my pet “moose,” poker stick legs sticking out every which way. You try shoving those long legs back into a truck cab!

It took us three days to get from the Coast to La Ronge in oppressive August heat but I love a road trip and I particularly loved that one because I felt like I was finding my way in life

FINALLY!

The Great Divide Move 09

“Easier to Load/ Seats 3?” I guess they didn’t know that I was having to load a Great Dane in and out of the cab four times a day with 2 yowling cats in kennels. fun fun fun. Oh, plus me Seats 4!

 

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2013 in PonderQs

 

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Running with Dogs

A content version of weary

Overcomes me.

Eyes droopy and legs weak.

Lips burning from sun and lungs wheezy.

I have run this day.

With dogs at my side

I feel powerful and confident.

With dogs at my side

We are a force to be reckoned with.

Beware squirrels and bunny rabbits of the forest.

The pack is panting, plodding its way past

We stop only for them to munch on elk droppings while

I blow my nose.

With dogs at my side

Running

We are anything but hip – gangling Great Dane, punk husky and asthmatic, allergic 40-year-old woman.

But we run because it feels good.

Because we can.

Like a kid at recess blowing off steam and sweating hard.

I will slow down when I am old and then

I will stroll with equally old dogs at my side

And at that stride I will still feel

powerful and confident

With dogs at my side.

Day 9 NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month)

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2013 in PonderQs

 

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Great Dane, Great Love

buddies 005

He needed a foster home. I wasn’t really set up for it, living in a rented basement bachelor suite with a Great Dane and two cats, but he needed a safe haven. Those are hard to come by in small, remote, northern Canadian towns that are overrun with hungry stray dogs and where the local rescue agency volunteers’ homes are continually filled to the rafters with pups and cats. I called the rescue agency and let them know that I’d found him and that I’d hang onto the little guy until they had room.

His coat was brown and scruffy and a fat belly protruded around skinny legs. I’d later learn that was because he was full of worms, but initially, I looked at him and thought that with an orange sweater on he’d look just like the A&W Root Bear. I christened him Rooty Root Bear.

My Great Dane, Piper, was just shy of her first birthday when I brought Rooty Root Bear home. I had adopted her as a puppy from a humane society in British Columbia before moving back to Saskatchewan. When I showed her Rooty, she acted as if I’d brought her a new teddy bear. She loved him up and laid on the ground so he could romp all over her, acting tough and chewing on her cheeks and ears.

Volleyball tournie 015      Volleyball tournie 016

Volleyball tournie 018

It was a couple of days before one of the rescue volunteers could meet up with me at the local youth centre to check the puppy out and give him his first set of vaccinations. The first thing she diagnosed was lice. It was all I could do not to vomit on the spot once she showed them to me in the thick of his coat crawling about. If he wasn’t so dang cute, I’m not sure I would have taken him back home with me that night. There still wasn’t any room for him within the rescue shelter homes so back I trodded with Rooty Root Bear under one arm and a bottle of delousing shampoo in the other.

I bathed Rooty, the wee guy, in the kitchen sink and then bleached it. I trashed the floor rugs and started washing the dog beds. But how to bathe Piper? A Great Dane and late autumn. Too cold to wash her under the garden hose.

The bachelor suite had only a mini shower stall. Lift your arms to scrub the shampoo on your head and you’d take the skin off your elbows. It was so tight. There was only one way about it. I stripped down to my underwear, got in with her and shut the door. Every time I turned her to scrub another spot her nose went squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeak as it smeared across the plexiglass and made me laugh. The situation was so absurd.

Piper turned one. I bought party hats.

Piper's First Birthday 004

It lasted a whole 30 seconds before Rooty Root Bear ripped it off Piper’s head. I put another on her head and then strapped one onto Rooty which he pulled over his face and proceeded to attack.

Piper's First Birthday 008

Piper's First Birthday 012      Piper's First Birthday 009

Piper's First Birthday 013

Rooty Root Bear was a lovely little guy and he mimicked everything his big buddy Piper did. He didn’t have accidents in the house because he went outside just like her. He quit crying at night in his kennel because she put her nose to him at the kennel door and calmed him.  He learned to climb the stairs one by one because he wanted to follow her up and outside. He learned to wait patiently for his food because Piper sat and waited for hers.

I thought about keeping him. I really did. They got along so well and the cats accepted Rooty too

Theodore and Jack 2013

but, I realized, in the town that was my new home there was an ongoing need for short-term crisis housing for strays and I couldn’t keep him and continue to help other needy animals. I sent Rooty south to a long-term foster home in Saskatoon where he was quickly adopted by a loving couple with a young German shepherd who needed a friend. And Piper and I went on to foster several more pups and an adult dog. Always the friend, the social butterfly, the one to calm and play with and cuddle too, Piper has been a fantastic friend to many frightened, lonely, scared, sick dogs in her first three years of life. She is truly a Great Dane with a Great Heart and a lot of Love to share.

Olson play 017      Joe 008

Pup-pup 097

And when I was in my new house with a big back yard… I caved in and kept two of the fosters so now Piper, 4,  has a pack to belong to and she’s never short on someone to play or cuddle with.

Charlie and True.

Summer 2010 040      Autumn2010 020

True 2011 025     True 2011 034

Autumn2010 025 And Piper too!

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2013 in PonderQs

 

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