Friday, April 30, 2010

The Search Continues

It is dark and wet tonight, and somewhere out there is a black dog with three legs, hungry, tired and wishing his mom would find him.

It has been six days now, six days he has wandered around in the bush, following scents that fade away or confuse him. Where did they go, his familiar pack of dogs and humans? He was only gone a moment, deafened by the sound of the river, distracted by the smell of the deer, intrigued by the movement of a squirrel. And then he realized he was alone. Where was Drew and Quinn and Vimy? What happened to Amy and Kabuki and Dolly? Most of all, where was MOM?

He was hungry. The dirt and grass did not sustain him. He needed food. His only back leg was aching from the endless hours of travel. He knew home was on the other side of that mountain, but .... that river – it was so strong, so noisy, so scary. How could he get across it? Maybe he should head back to where he lost them, back to the spot where mom had parked the car.

But it was dark now and he was tired and cold. One more sleep in the shelter of an old tree stump. One more night of loneliness. Tomorrow they would come for him. Tomorrow he would find them.

We continue to search and to hold strong to our faith in Luger's will to survive. May the Great Spirit guide us to him, or him to us, tomorrow.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Luger is Lost

Luger is one of our Wednesday Walking Crew. He was also believed to be the father of my beloved Caleb, and was seized at the same time as Caleb from their abusive owner. At that time, he had a broken leg that was left untreated and dangled uselessly. The SPCA had the leg amputated and Luger was first fostered, then adopted by Karen. He is a sweet boy who adores his mom and keeps his eye on her all the time - except today.

Today Karen, Luger and friends were hiking in Copper Canyon, near Chemainus, where they tried a new trail. It petered out and ended in very rough, steep terrain that sloped steeply down to the river below. When Karen blew her whistle for all the dogs to gather for a head count, Luger was missing.

We searched until dark tonight with no luck. Tomorrow a woman with a tracking dog will be coming to help search. To my readers in the North Cowichan area, if you are walking your dogs in the Mt. Sicker, Copper Canyon, or Grace Rd areas, please watch for him. And please spread the word to others who might be in this area.
Karen has posted a $1000 reward.

Luger, stay strong and stay safe. Let yourself be found.

Please send positive vibes, prayers, whatever anchors your faith.....we need Luger home.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Princess and the Pesky Pupper

Princess Belle was in fine form today. She started out by insisting (as only a sheltie princess can) that I take her for a walk this morning. So after Oliver and Charley's morning walk, I headed back out with the Princess. Belle often chooses not to go for a walk - and there is no mistaking her message when that is the case - and when she does choose to go, it is usually a short pre-bedtime stroll just a half block down and back. This morning, however, she refused to turn around when I suggested we head back, and ended up walking almost four blocks. I really thought she would sleep the rest of the day.

But no - with the exception of a couple of hours when I had to go out, she spent the day bossing everyone around. She nagged all of us continually - get outta my way, move, I want that bed, get outta my crate, feed me, bring me fresh water..... the Princess is a Little Dictator.

And then there was the photoshoot episode. I was trying to photograph the birds nesting in the back yard when Ms. Belle started bark-nagging. Bark.pause.Bark.pause.Bark.pause.Bark. I finally figured out she wanted me to point the little black box at HER, to heck with the birdies in their nest. The rest of the shoot went something like this:

You may take my picture now


Mommm he's touching me!

Okay, one shot together.

I said ONE!

Older brothers are such teases!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Magical Morning Meanderings

It was one of those magical mornings that I doubt even the most skilled photographer could capture with the lens. The water was still, the images of objects above echoed in its glassy surface. The sun struggled to show itself through the light cloud covering, spilling pots of golden paint across the water. The tints and tones and shadows changed at every glance, the world seen through a kaleidoscope. The air itself was golden-hued and magical.

In the bay, a seal floats and dives and swims. I soon see what has attracted him – a school of shimmering fingerlings are literally dancing on their tails across the surface of the water. The voices of crab fishermen preparing their boat startles the seal and he heads out for deeper waters, allowing the gulls their chance to swoop in for a tasty fish breakfast.

Again I marvel at the many varieties of seabirds, the many colours they add to the morning’s palette – blacks and whites, grays and greens, reddish brown and chocolate brown and teal blue dive in and out of water, up and down through air.

Charley and Oliver stand patiently as I snap picture after picture. Every gaze at the horizon sees a new scene, another one too beautiful not to immortalize with the camera.

We stay an hour – sitting on logs, wandering the shoreline, resting against the rails of the seawalk. At first, we have the beach entirely to ourselves. Slowly the town awakens and joggers emerge, the rhythmic slap slap slap of sneakers on boardwalk providing musical score to nature’s production. Fellow dogwalkers stop to chat, each speaking softly, respectful of nature's awakening. Eventually the gold turns to silver, then to grey and blue, and the dogs and I head home.

I am disappointed with the photos today – the hills seem blurred, the colours less vivid, less golden, the birds less present. There are, I muse, some magical mornings that the camera cannot catch. They are held only in the mind’s eye and not transferred to the camera’s lens. These mornings, my friends, you will just have to experience for yourself. Come visit. Paradise awaits.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Morning walk

Life seems far too busy these days, and the dogs, the camera, and I have not had enough time together. I've made some adjustments to our routines, taking Charley on my morning walks with Oliver. Charley and Sadie were not walking well together - Sadie's pace is a bit faster, and a rushed Charley is a resentful Charley. She would drag behind, pull backwards on her leash, and eventually plonk her furry butt down on the pavement and refuse to move. Oliver, on the other hand, prances along happily going downhill to the beach and then just pokes and meanders and sniffs around which suits Charley just fine.

The experience of pairing them up was interesting. Charley and Sadie have always walked one on each side of me, but both Oliver and Charley have been taught to walk on my left. So the first day, Oliver trailed along behind Charley like a little caboose. Charley kept whipping around to see what was going on back there. The next day, Oliver walked slightly behind and way over to the side, but then kept bumping into bushes or fences or falling off the sidewalk. By day three, they were walking close together, in step with each other, Oliver smiling at her big sister.

The only time Charley makes sure to pull away from his orange buddy is when the little polar bear trots off into the water for his morning dip. Charley is SO not a water dog!

As the sun rises earlier, we have missed the beautiful yellows and reds of dawn, and often get to the beach as the waters turn from grey to blue - beautiful in itself.

The number of bird species is phenomenal - from kingfishers to herons, oystercatches to all kinds of ducks and gulls. Watching them strut or hop or flitter on the sand or on posts above it is always relaxing and fun.

I have been trying for days to capture with my camera the heron who wades in the shallow water at low tide, watching for fishes and prawns, young crabs and fresh clams. Alas, he is always just a little too far or a little too fast. But one day, one day.

Today it was two geese that amused me with their nonstop honking. Like a car alarm with an oblivious owner, they honked and honked and honked for the full forty-five minutes we were walking the beach. They travelled with us, fifty feet out from shore, from the start of the seawalk to the end of the trail past the RV park, until finally they came just close enough to let me snap their picture before they floated round the bend and out of sight.

The diversity of shells on the beach is also phenomenal - large round ones, long skinny cone-shaped ones, flat or crinkly ones, many of them covered with hitchhiking barnacles:

And lastly, we stopped to look for the semi-feral cats that live in the bushes near the house nearest the seawalk. Charley knows they are there, and always stops to peer through the rails to the ground below. She wasn't disappointed:

Though the house is never likely to be featured in Better Homes and Gardens, I enjoy the pots of colourful flowers placed around the deck by the man who lives there.

Since life revolves around Oliver's need to be crated when unattended, I sometimes skip the afternoon leashed walk with Sadie and have even missed the last couple of Wednesday walks. Instead, Sadie and I have been exploring some other trails with other friends one morning a week, and I've been taking Sadie (and sometimes Charley, though she still hates the new van) to Osborne Bay offleash park for a long run/sniff/hike two or three times a week. Sadie doesn't seem to mind missing the occasional day's outing and instead we putter in the back yard or veg out on the couch together. I think she finds the trade off, more frequent offleash runs at our favourite park, worth the occasional day of inactivity. The trail to the beach was subject to a landslide recently, so we have been hiking the trails in the bush instead.

Last winter's rosehips contrast with this spring's periwinkle, providing many flashes of colour on our walk.

The next week is ridiculously busy, but I hope to check out a new park (new to me and Sadie) in the next few days and with luck it will provide some new fodder for the camera.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

These are for two-legged Charlie.....

...because I just saw Calgary's weather on the six o'clock news, and that white stuff on your roads sure ain't apple blossoms!

Taken in my back yard moments ago:

...........[ducks and runs away]

Friday, April 9, 2010

Becky's here!

My granddog Becky is with me for the weekend. My daughter and son-in-law adopted Becky from Vancouver Animal Shelter a couple of years ago. Like mother, like daughter - they chose to adopt a senior. Becky is thought to be about twelve years old. She is likely an australian shepherd/border collie mix. Like my senior crew, she has a tendency to be a little leaky. Unlike my crew, she loves to play frisbee, carry soft toys around, and pull on the leash. Oh, and she likes to eat cats for lunch ......well, to catch and shake skunks at BBQs. Allie is confined to my office for the weekend.

Becky has stayed with me at the farm, and visited my home here in Crofton with her mom and dad last fall, so she is no stranger to my dogs. Charley is infatuated with her, following her everywhere, wanting to be BFFs. The others are feeling quite left out.

Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert!

Wanna be my Best Friend Forever?

Humph! What're we - chopped liver?

Ha ha ha! We made a joke! Dogs LOVE chopped liver!

Can I go in now?

I am NOT amused.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Windy Walks

The Blustery Day

It was a blustery day with mostly sunny skies. Thick puffy clouds shone pink and gold beneath a clear blue sky shortly after sunrise. Oliver, Charley and I headed to the beach, where Oliver paddled in the water as the wind blew the sand from his fur. I always think of the "Lake of Shining Waters" named by Anne of Green Gables when I see the morning sunlight dancing on the rippling ocean surface. A cat watched from the shoreline:

Oliver paddling

Windswept fur

Ocean of shining waters

Peeping Cat

Later in the day, I took Charley and Sadie to Osborne Bay Park. A mudslide had closed part of the trail to the beach, and fallen boughs were everywhere. As the wind picked up, I decided it was time to turn around - no need to repeat yesterday's close call. It was the dogs' first trip in the new van - Sadie approved, Charley did not.

Dogs on a sun-dappled trail

Windswept Charley

Happy Sadie

We stopped to photograph some flowers in the field. I didn't notice the little bug (click on photo to enlarge image) on the dandelion until I downloaded the images.

Bug on a dandelion


Flowers on low-growing nettles

I took these three yesterday along the seawalk - rosehips, red currant, and Oregon grape:

In the morning I am off to help with the shearing of the alpacas on the farm where Martin lives, and then over to Saltspring Island to pick up my granddog Becky who will stay with me for the weekend while her mom and dad attend a workshop there. A busy day ahead!