Category Archives: Animals

Of meteors, ducks, and toots in the night.

We drove 1/2 hour outside of Saskatoon to lay in the prairie grasses beside a lake, cuddled up close to protect against the night chill as we listened to the ducks and other wild life calling to one another, watching the meteors streak across the sky.  The girl alternatively whispering in awe and shrieking in excitement while the cold slowly worked it’s way into her bones.

Every so often we could hear the crunch of something walking or landing nearby, but in the almost complete darkness knew it would be useless to try and identify what it was.  Nothing attempted to approach, so I’m sure whatever it was had been benign… or at the least, more curious than hungry.  We’d call back to the animals who called out to one another and us.  And every so often our giggles and hoots would cause curiouser sounds to come back to us on the night air.

It was close to one a.m. when the kid passed gas, giggling when her Dad suggested it was probably a duck who had made the noise. Then we all fell silent again, just in time for him to let one rip too:  “Yep, it was a duck.”  And I’ll admit it, in the stillness of the dark and wild night, I let one go too:  “Lot’s of ducks out tonight.”  We all cracked up when a duck, with perfect comedic timing, seemed to quack in reply.

Time passed both too quickly and too slowly.  It’s amazing how quickly the night air chills you, even in August when the days are still hot.  In spite of laying so close to one another on that soft bed of grass that our arms and legs intertwined, in spite of the heat I could feel being generated between our bodies lying there, we chilled all too quickly… making time feel slow.  And memories, dear, precious memories being formed, the kind that will last a lifetime, making time feel all too fast.

“How many more meteors do you want to see?”

“Two”

“Okay, we’ll wait for two more.”

“Oh!  There’s one!”

“I didn’t see it, that one doesn’t count.”

“Over there?  Did you see that one?”

“I did.”

“I didn’t.  It doesn’t count either.”

And so our last two quickly became four or five…  but who was counting anyway.  😉

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Easy DIY Father’s Day Plaque

I’m in a pensive mood tonight, and realize it would be quite easy to ramble on about any number of topics.  So I turned to my iPhone for inspiration.  I began scrolling through all the photos and videos stored within my happy little device (yes, I imagine it’s a happy device, it’s well loved and frequently held, I believe it would feel cared for and treasured much like the old rocking horse or velveteen rabbit).  That’s when I realized, I never did share the Father’s Day project we came up with for Pop Pop.  I suppose it’s about time I gave up a few details on that one.  🙂

My Dad is a squirrel nut (pun intended, obviously).  He feeds them at the lake, and collects pictures, stories and the like.  I’m not really sure how his collection started – it’s really only as old as the girl is… so it’s not a long standing one.  One day we just kinda all seemed to agree that we should give him squirrel related gifts, and thus a collection was born.  I have to say, it’s a better idea than the Xena Warrior Princess figurine my husband and I jokingly gave him a decade or so ago – gotta love a scantily clad warrior princess, right?  LMAO

So I had this idea, that the girl and I should create a squirrel crossing sign for him, you know… for at the lake.  Problem was, I couldn’t find the materials I needed.  What I did come across though, was this cool tree round with the bark still on.  I bought it, not quite sure what it would become, but I loved it and knew I’d figure something out.  By the time we got home?  I knew it would be the perfect canvas for a squirrel picture.

Now, I’m not a cartoonist.  Impressionism I can do – in fact, I spent a number of years working as an impressionist painter and illustrator (sold quite a few pieces too) before I traded in my brushes for a camera.  So I’m not lacking in some skill, but cartooning has never been my strength.  I even tried my hand at some basic folk art, gave the results to my siblings (who were still wee things at the time)…  I see them all the time at my parents place and… well…  yeah…  cartooning/folk art?  Was not my strength even back then.  So clearly I would not be freehanding anything.

While the girl was occupied, I did some looking online for a “squirrel colouring page”.   Thanks to Bing (yes, I bing rather than google stuff) I found a few super cute little doods.  I asked kid kid which was her favourite, and we had our inspiration.  I downloaded it, resized it, and printed it out.

Now, like I said… I’m not a cartoonist – but I do have a pretty good eye.  So what I did was to hold the print out in place over the wood, and using the back of a paint brush (no, I didn’t trade them ALL in), I traced/etched a few lines to help with the proportions.  I etched six or seven little notches, but I imagine you could actually do the entire drawing if you can’t freehand at all.  Personally?  I have no patience for things like that – but if you can’t draw?  I think it would work just fine.  Then I took out one of my paint pens (just a plain black one) and sketched the line drawing out.  If you did etch the whole thing, you could then just trace over your etching to give you the black outline.  That gave me this:

A squirrel for pop pop

If you look closely at the paper, you can see where I’ve etched/traced a line here and there.  And comparing the two you can easily see the differences too.  LOL  But it’s not about creating an exact replica, it’s about having something that gives the impression of what you are creating.  Clearly, that doesn’t look like a REAL squirrel…  but you see it, and you know that’s what it is.  So whatever you create, the idea is for it to give the impression of the thing.  If you can tell what it is?  You’ve succeeded.  🙂  And for us, this particular squirrel holding a strawberry is significant.  I’ve called Lily-Ann “my strawberry” since the day she was born.  So finding a colouring page illustration of a squirrel holding one?  Pretty cool….  and I think that’s what swayed the girl to this particular free use image.

After the black ink was dry, I just let the girl have at it.  She painted it.  And to be honest?  I was actually downright shocked at how well she did.  She was only four at the time!  At one point she even had me stumped:

“Momma?”  she asked.

“Yes Lily-Ann.”

“Can I have the white paint again?”

“What do you need white for?”

“The strawberry.”

“Oh…  you don’t need white on the strawberry, do you?”

“Yes Momma, I do.”

So I dug out the white paint again (totally thinking she was going to make a mess of the very pretty berry she’d already created).  You can imagine my surprise when my girl, who doesn’t do anything gingerly or daintily, ever so carefully touched the very tip of her brush into the paint and dabbed a tiny highlight on the strawberry.  I shouldn’t have doubted her, or questioned her vision, but she showed me.  LOL  She knew exactly what she was doing.  And here’s the result:

The finished plaque - a pretty painting for Father's Day of a delightful little red and brown squirrel.

After it dried it just needed a couple of coats of sealant (which I did without the girl, don’t need her breathing in that scary stuff) and it was ready for Father’s Day.  All in all, a very cool project.  We had fun doing it, it turned out fabulously – and was well received.  A successful project to store in the memory bank.  🙂

Summer Birthdays Stink!

I don’t care what some folk try to say (generally in a reassuring fashion to a child), it stinks having a birthday in the Summer.  Seriously!

Kids who have their birthday during the school year get to enjoy celebrations at school with their classmates.  When they are young their teachers always make a big deal about their special day, when they are older their chums decorate their locker and arrange surprises during the day…  Kids born in the Summer don’t get any of that.  Heck, they’re lucky if they get to even have much of a party.

The girl’s birthday is tomorrow, and her party is on Saturday.  She’s going to be five.  Which, honestly, I can hardly even believe.

Before school let out we gave out cards to her school friends with her email address, asking them to drop us a line so we could invite them to her party once we had plans in place.  Only two of the eight kids she gave her address to actually contacted us with their mailing addresses.  Thankfully she’s got friends from the year before whom she still loves, as well as lots of cousins.  Except that only one friend has actually RSVP’d saying he’d be there… one friend, one cousin.  Like I said, birthdays in the Summer stink for a kid.  We’re hopeful that some people just don’t know what “RSVP” means, and that some people will just show up on the day.  We’re actually banking on it.

My birthday was always awesome.  Every second year it would fall on a school day, and on the alternates it would be during Easter break.  So half the time I was on holidays and half the time I got to celebrate at school.  It really was the best.  I absolutely loved it.  And even as a kid myself, I always felt bad for those kids who had their birthday during Summer vacation.  In theory it may seem like a great time to have a party, but as a kid?  Those parties pretty much always fell flat.  😦

sad and lonely birthday bear

lolz cat - why no one comes to mai party

I Haz Ball?

Okay, I can’t really think beyond the ear infection and associated issues…  so tonight, here’s a cute picture:

"I'll do anything you want...  just throw it please"

Thora, Bucky, and Sweets; our old dogs.

I started writing a post about old dogs…  got about a paragraph in, and deleted it.  The fact of the matter is that we now have three old dogs, and as much as I love old dogs (seriously, I’m a sucker for a senior dog, there’s just something about them) I worry for our hearts.

We’ve only ever had one senior dog at a time before.  And it wrenches your heart out when they leave you.  Time helps you heal, but the hole they leave in your heart never completely closes back over.  I imagine my heart looks like swiss cheese.  I’ve had far too many go on ahead to Rainbow Bridge to wait for me.  I wonder how many more holes I can handle.

Thora.  Can’t believe she’s 11.  I have no idea how it happened.  I remember the day she arrived (via the underground railroad – volunteers each driving a leg of the journey to bring her here).  I cried when I saw her for the first time.  She was everything I had ever hoped for.  Lurchers are fabled as the “ultimate” dog, and she really is.  The idea that she’s a senior is just so foreign.  She’s still my “baby girl”.  She’s still that ultimate hunter and protector – the perfect dog.

Brandibuck is 12.  Boy, she and I have weathered a lot of storms.  She was my Service Dog for a number of years.  I retired her officially at 8.  She was ready to just be a pet, she didn’t want to deal with stores and people, and traffic, and crowds any more.  Now she just has to patrol the yard…  keeping everyone in line.  She’s always been a momma dog.  Keeping the unruly puppies in check.  She’s what we call a gentle alpha, though the last year or so she’s kinda let the alpha part slip (allowing Thora to step in).  She’s always been a bit of a princess too – unless she’s rolling in the dirt and mud.  Good grief.  I wonder how I ever kept her in show coat.  Oh right!  I used to brush her long locks every day.  I enjoyed it too, she mostly just tolerated it.  I think she was relieved when I finally relented and clipped her down.  My funny little Havanese…  my little Neezer.

Sweets.  Well…  Caesar.  He hasn’t been with us that long.  But like I’ve mentioned, we’re kinda suckers for an old dog.  CZ came here for his “last hurrah” – to breed to a couple of girls.  It didn’t take long for us to realize he wasn’t going anywhere, that at 11 he’d found his forever home.  He’s very much the king of the castle here.  The girls all pander to him (except Thora, who’s top dog, and she mostly lets him do his own thing) and the people all dote on him, heck even the cat – who avoids all the other dogs – will love him up.  He’s one seriously spoiled old dood.  And he really is the sweetest little old man Chi, which is why I’ve dubbed him Sweets (and yes, it’s a nod to Bones as well).  We’re quite happy he chose us as his family.

So there we are.  Three old dogs.  One who joined our family when she was two, one at three months, and one at 11 – yet all are within a year of one another.  I can’t imagine how our hearts will fare when they begin to say goodbye.  I truly hope it’s a long, long ways away.

 

one of our wedding photos, with three of our dogs

Our wedding in 2006; with Thora, Brandibuck, and Nico (now at the Rainbow Bridge).

You can meet some of our dogs here:  http://www.dogster.com/family/373333  But it’s a few years out of date.  Guess it’s time to think about updating it (especially seeing how half our dog aren’t even there).  😉

A one-two punch for the ear troll!

With thanks to a lovely woman I met through Saskamoon and her gift of breast milk, thanks to the doctor at the mediclinic for his prescription of novamoxin, and thanks to Dr. Shaun and his amazing organic ear wash I should hopefully be all better very soon.  My head still feels like there is a nasty little troll living in my inner ear, but it’s better than it was last night.  So – knock on wood – I should be all good in time for my photo shoots later this week.  Thankfully the beginning of the week was blessedly unscheduled and will be uneventful as I recover from this ear infection.

So… two things you ALL should know about.

One:  The power of breast milk!

Seriously!  Any time anything goes wrong, find a friend who is still actively engaged in a nursing relationship.  Breast milk is amazing for curing almost anything.  In this instance?  An ear infection.  Just a few drops in the ear a few times a day.  Let it woosh around in there a bit, and voila!

Two:  The awesome organic ear wash from Dr. Shawn!

Dr. Shawn's Herbal Ear Wash - for pets AND people

Dr. Shawn’s Herbal Ear Wash: made for pets, used by people!

This stuff was part of a parcel I received from Dr. Shawn for a review I did elsewhere two or three years ago now.  And I have ensured I’ve never been without it since.  Yes, it’s formulated for dogs, but so what!  It’s totally amazing stuff full of wonderful organic oils (like peppermint, tea tree, jojoba, eucalyptus, and a bunch more).  A few drops in the ear, squish it around, let it sit (it feels so nice when it’s in a sore, infected ear canal), then wipe it out.  Use as needed – I’m doing it a few times a day presently.  Click on the image above to visit Dr. Shawn’s website!

So…  I’m pretty sure that any ONE of these things would take out this ear bug, but I have no intention of having it take a week or more to get on it’s way out.  LOL  So I figure by doing all three?  I should be delivering a one two punch that knocks it on it’s proverbial ass, then kicks it once for good measure after it’s down.  Wish me luck!

 

A Little Frog Friend

Tonight, while visiting at my parent’s place, we happened upon a cool little froggy dood… just hanging in the yard.  My husband put him in the girl’s tiny bathing pool, and I grabbed a small bucket.  Figured he should have an island – in case he gets tired of swimming.

We entertained our “house guest” for about twenty minutes, before we let him go on his merry way.  Or well, rather, I should say he entertained us.  And being who I am, I couldn’t resist snapping a few photos.

I do wish I’d had my good camera with me, but I made due with my iPhone:

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The Baby Crow

Every year our yard serves as a playground for at least one baby crow (sometimes two, depending on how many eggs the parents hatch).  We have had one die in our yard, which broke our hearts.  Not everyone is as gentle or appreciative of these incredible birds, and some folk will do what we consider to be unspeakable things given the chance.  But generally our encounters with them are positive.  Today, we even got to witness the joy of seeing our current crow baby take one of it’s first successful flights.  It caught me off guard at first – and so I didn’t follow it as easily as I would have, but you can see it soar on the clip I managed to snag.  Once they get started, it doesn’t take them long to master it at all.  Pretty darn cool.  😀

We really do love and respect these beautiful animals.  They’ve always held great significance for me.  And I truly treasure every interaction we are lucky enough to have with them.  We are very blessed that they have chosen our yard to come back to year and year again.

See y’all at the Pride Parade tomorrow!!!  Look for me!  I’ll the one dressed all in yellow on the Avenue Community Center’s float, and you can’t miss the girl!  I’ve done up a rainbow tutu and headpiece for the girl, she says she’s the Rainbow Bride.  😀  Spent the day sewing her stuff and my skirt.  It’s gonna be EPIC!

The girl’s best day! (loaded with photos and videos)

Well, today was another busy one with the girl. And at her insistence I took pictures and videos throughout our afternoon. It was definitely one worth remembering. Heck, as we walked out of the school gym after taking a photo with the guys from Hoja she exclaimed: “BEST DAY EVER!”  So, even though it was bright sunshiny and beautiful when we left to walk to school, and (with no rain in the forecast or grey cloud in the sky when we got there) we gratefully had to borrow Ms. Tracy’s umbrella for the walk home?  It really was a lovely afternoon.

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And in case you’d been wondering, Lily-Ann asked the guys from Hoja what their favourite farm animals are.  Turns out Matt (the fellow with the beard, who was absolutely amazing with the girl… seriously super sweet fellow who couldn’t have been nicer to her) loves cows.  He likes their bells and the silly way they move.  Dave and Jesse both prefer pigs; Jesse (the young kid in the center) thinks they’re cute while Dave (who received gasps from the students when he revealed – shockingly – that he is THIRTY) likes the noises they make.  The girl?  Being swayed by her animal sign likes pigs too.

You can check out Hoja at http://hojaworld.com.

Steve Dale and Cesar Millan: Whispers and Screams

For those of you who have talked dogs with me in the past (I’m fluent in canine body language, and a former professional trainer and behaviour specialist) you know how I feel about Cesar Millan – the “dog screamer”.  I’ve written articles encouraging dog folk to look elsewhere for answers to their canine dilemmas, and warned against the dangers of following this man’s advice.  I have nothing against the man personally, but I do have something against any method that harms dogs and puts negative pressure on the bond between dog and their trusted people.

So, today a fellow dog writer (and someone whom I’ve come to consider a friend over a number of years – we met online as fellow DWAA members) blogged about Cesar.  Seems he sent a rather harsh message to Steve, and just as he screams rather than whispers with dogs, it appears he communicates in much the same way with people.

Cesar Millan telling off Steve Dale

Cesar Millan and his anything-but-whispered communication style.

 

 

Some years ago now, I was sent a copy of Cesar’s three DVD training program to be reviewed for my website Nose Licks & Tail Wags – where I used to actively post articles on training and communicating with dogs.  The fact of the matter was that his assault on the dogs in the video (on one in particular) was so mortifying that it brought me to tears.  And this was before the hormonal shifts of pregnancy, these days it doesn’t take much to move me to tears, but back then?  It was an incredibly rare occurrence.

Dogs are experts at body language.  You can be extremely subdued, and they’ll read you loud and clear.  Heck, I’ve trained my dogs to respond to cues as subtle as the direction of eye movement.  The smallest gesture holds a world of meaning to a dog.  And Millan?  He’s about a subtle as a bull moose charging through your living room.

Whether or not you want to hear it, the man is a bully, and his methods are dangerous.  Using his techniques you could quickly and easily turn a timid dog into an aggressive one.  Dogs will only be backed so far into a corner before they’ll attempt to protect themselves.  And what do people do when that happens?  They ditch “fido” at the shelter where he is put to sleep as a dangerous dog.  Shelters can’t place a dog with a bite history, the liability is too great.

So yeah.  Think about the image of him above, next time you’re thinking of following some of his advice.  If you’re comfortable saying “F you” to your dog, then his methods may be for you… but if you love your dog?  I’d recommend heading over to http://www.noselicks.com instead.  The advice is free, and your dog will thank you for it.

And if you want to read what Steve had to say about the screamer flipping him off, head over here:  http://www.chicagonow.com/steve-dales-pet-world/2012/06/cesar-millans-dutch-response-piep-you-steve-dale/

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