Thursday, September 30, 2010

Steppin' Out with Sadie

I've been getting cabin fever, keeping so close to home on account of Lackadaisical Lucy. Today I could stand it no longer - the sun was shining, the air was crisp, and the recent cold nights have turned the leaves to gold. Since Lucy didn't seem to be thinking about having pups, Sadie and I headed out to Chemainus Lake Park - a very lightly developed 40 acre offleash park with a 2.5 km loop trail around the lake through second growth and some old growth forest.

It has been a while since we went there - Charley has difficulty walking now, even the short distance to the beach, and I seldom take one dog out without the other. I wasn't sure Sadie could manage it either, but it is a fairly easy trail with just a few minor climbs which provide nice views of the lake.

There are also lots of benches enroute, affording an opportunity to rest a bit, breathe in the damp forest smells, and listen to the birds and squirrels gathering seeds for winter.

Mushrooms pop up in every colour :

And small flowers offer splashes of colour amid the still-green bushes:

Slivers of sun shone through the trees in places, highlighting the yellow-gold foliage,

While in other places the moss hung thick on the boughs.

I love the diverse colours and shapes of old rotting stumps. This one, with holes on either side and hollow in the middle, has so many hues of rust and orange and brown:

And this one has become a 'nurse tree', giving life to another that grows on top, its roots creeping down the stump like tentacles in some old science fiction movie:

Sadie was happy to plod along, up hill and down, sniffing at all the interesting smells and periodically checking in with me to make sure I hadn't strayed too far.

It was a much-needed outing for both of us - fresh air, nature, gentle exercise, a beautiful setting all to ourselves.

(Note: You can click on the pictures to enlarge them, then use your back browser to return to the blog)
(c) 2010


Lucy's temperature this morning is a full degree below her previous lows. I'd say she's gearing up for a weekend birth. That figures - it is my mom's birthday on Saturday and I was just beginning to think that if Lucy still didn't show signs of going into labour I might be able to get some friends to dogsit so I could make a quick daytrip to the mainland. At mom's age, I know there won't be many - if any - more birthdays left to celebrate.

Ohhhh Lucy....... it's a good thing you are sooooo cute and sweet.

We'll see if the temperature continues to drop this evening. At the moment, she shows no other signs (well, except for the HUMUNGOUS belly) - she ate a big breakfast, she's snoozing at my feet, not a care in the world.

In other news, Allie gave me my laugh for the morning. While I was outside with the dogs, she jumped up on the mudroom windowsill to watch us as usual. But instead of jumping back down the way she came, she looked at the sheet I had draped over the end of the x-pen to make a den for the whelping box and she thought "Oh! a new surface to walk on!" - and promptly pounced on it and tumbled, sheet and all, into the pen. And since the door to the pen was shut, she was trapped. The cat who can jump from floor to the top of a door, could not jump out of that x-pen! She meowed piteously and I opened the gate for her. Hopefully she has learned her lesson - it's a good thing there wasn't a new mama and a couple of dozen puppies in that box!!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bedtime Banter

Charley: It's not fair! How come SHE gets the nice big bed and the xpen in the mudroom?

Me: Because she's going to have puppies, and we need a safe place for her to have them.

Charley: Why can't she have 'em in the bathroom? I don't use that room.

Me: The cat uses that room for her litter box. Besides, there won't be room for a dog and sixteen puppies in the bathroom!

Charley: Well, I want that bed. And I want the xpen. And I am NOT A HAPPY CAMPER! Nobody asked me if I wanted another foster dog in the house.

Me: Charley, suck it up babe - sometimes we all have to put others first. Even you. You've been cared for all your life, and lots of dogs are not so fortunate. So sometimes you need to reach out a helping paw even when it means giving up something you'd like for yourself.

Charley: grumble grumble grumble.

Charley is once again terribly unhappy about the newcomer in our house. While jealousy is part of the issue - she dislikes my giving any attention, treats, or direction to Lucy - the bigger issue seems to be about BEDS. Whatever Lucy gets, Charley wants.

When Lucy came here from the shelter, I brought with me a very large plastic bed to use as her whelping spot, and I put it inside a couple of x-pens joined together and taking up part of the mudroom.

While I did have to move a large wardrobe from the room, and a few smaller items, I did not disturb the raised dog bed that Charley likes to sleep in. It is on the other side of the room.

But from the moment the xpen and large plastic bed made their appearance, Charley claimed them for herself. And at bedtime when I wanted to put Lucy in the pen, it became a struggle to get Charley out of there and Lucy in. Just as I'd get one where I wanted her, the other would move to the same spot.

Because Lucy somehow escaped her pen this morning, I decided I may as well make some adaptations to the bed situation while I was making the xpen more secure. So I removed the plastic bed, which Lucy seldom used anyway (prefering to sleep on the floor beside it) and built her a larger wooden bed. I reasoned that the plastic bed didn't allow Lucy to stretch out on her back quite as fully as she likes, and perhaps Charley would stay the heck out of the pen if I put the plastic bed elsewhere.

I spent the day using odds and ends of salvaged wood to build the bed and reinforce the x-pen. It was a beautiful day and Lucy enjoyed sitting in the back yard soaking up some rays:

and lying on the back porch with Sadie:

I made her big box more denlike with the addition of a sheet over the top - Lucy now has her very own canopy bed. Tomorrow I hope to add some netting to the rest of it, to prevent her climbing or jumping out of the x-pen like she did this morning.

But did the bed-swap solve Charley's problem ? Nope. As soon as I put my tools away, I turned around to find this:

Poor Charley. I can think of two reasons she is obsessing about this pen. The first is that when she was young, we used to visit my sister who lived right by a lake. She (Charley, not my sister) slept in the x-pen at night, and she lay on the lawn staring at the water by day - she loved, loved, loved it there. Maybe she still remembers the fun we had when I pulled out the x-pen for those trips. It has seldom been used for anything else.

The second possibility is the location - when we first moved here I located her crate in that spot, and that is where she slept. Some time ago, I moved it to the living room (it was too hard to get into the wardrobe with a very large crate in front of the doors), and she does use it there, but perhaps she is telling me she wants it back in the mudroom again. She has always been a mudroom sorta girl - from the time she was a pup, she slept in her own room near at the back of the house.

Anyway, Charley is sad and sulking and pulling every guilt string I've got. Lucy, on the other hand, is oblivious and continues to just enjoy life with not a care in the world - and not a contraction, a temperature drop, nor a sign of nesting. Just eatin' and sleepin' and moochin' and enjoying life to the fullest. Looks like our visitor is going to be with us for quite some time yet, Charley.

Leapin' Lucy!!!!!

Lucy either climbed or jumped over the 36" x-pen this morning. I was awakened from a good night's sleep by a clanging of metal fencing and a thump, followed by the pitter-patter of little paws. Seconds later Lucy, with Charley close behind, barged into my bedroom.

I have no idea how she got out. I cannot imagine that a very large butternut squash on little tiny legs could jump over a 36" barrier, nor climb up it and hoist herself, with babybump, over the top. There is a lower barrier on the wall side, but there is no way she could have squeezed her portly self through the 2" between the xpen and wall, and the frame I built around the xpen has not budged.

Now I have to spend the morning figuring out what to do about this. I don't want her injuring herself jumping out. While I don't mind her wandering around the house I certainly don't want the sixteen puppies she is obviously going to have parading all over the house with her, which means I can't leave the gate open once the pups are mobile. And, since Charley is in love with the x-pen and whelping bed and goes in there every chance she gets, I can't make a system that allows Lucy to hop over a lower fence but contains the pups - because I don't want Charley in there pestering the pups and upsetting Lucy. And I can't give Lucy the whole mudroom because (a) it is access to the back yard for the other dogs and (b) I really don't want my newly-renovated mudroom destroyed by puppies. And there is nowhere else in my small house that would work for Lucy and pups.

Shoot. Now what the heck am I gonna do????

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Languishing Lucy

I wonder if it's dinnertime yet?

I'm huuunnnggggry !

Relax, dude, it'll be a while yet .

I'm starvin' !!!

Maybe if I act really cute?

Oh! Foster mama's in the kitchen !

Why so sad, Charley? You starvin' too?

Maybe if I just wiggle in a little closer.

At last!

Dogs! They're so pathetic!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Still nothin'

Lucy is still eating, still sleeping, still going for labour yet. I've cancelled my appointments on the mainland (I was supposed to be over there tomorrow), and I'm just sitting here twiddling my thumbs.

Since I wake up at every wiggle or burp she makes, I'm not sleeping at all well (okay, maybe the sleeplessness is also due in part to a sore back and the very humid weather we're having - I won't blame it ALL on her). By the time these pups decide to show themselves, I'll be a zombie.

Lucy, my girl, you better have an easy birth and be a really good mama.

Lucy's favourite sleeping position. Sept. 27/2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Five Things you might not know about Lucy

1. She gets the hiccups at least once a day!

2. Some dogs chase rabbits in their sleep. Not Lucy. She wags her tail like crazy instead! (Ohhh I'd so love to know what she's dreaming when she does that!)

3. She can hold her ears in any direction she pleases - up and pointy, down and floppy, back and flat, front and wide, or sticking straight out sideways.

4. She is gaining more and more confidence every day on our walks. Today she never even faltered when a truck sped past us, and she sat quietly by my side accepting treats as a skateboard rattled by not a metre away, and she not only let a man pet her but then she waddled towards him for more!

5. When the puppies kick, she whips around and pokes her belly with her nose. sign of those puppies making an appearance yet.

So, while we await Lumpy Lucy's big event, Charley and Sadie and I went down to the beach for a while, where we

watched a kingfisher contemplate buying a boat:

and watched a man in a toque paddling all over the bay while standing up on a wakeboard or something:

and enjoyed the bright yellow flowers growing by the start of the seawalk :

and watched this cat, one of many feral and semi feral cats who were being fed by a man who has just been evicted, reportedly to make way for a new fourplex:

All that is left is one red mop, a broken dog crate, some planters, and several hungry cats.
(And yes, I have let the feral cat rescue know - perhaps now they can get in to trap/neuter/release them).

And continue to wait for Lucy's ship to come in:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A morning conversation at our house

Charley and Sadie

Sadie: (Peering at computer) Just look at these stats! How come all those people keep checkin our mom's blog?

Charley: Cuz they want to see if Looney Lucy has had her pups yet.

Sadie: Well the only thing she's done lately is bark-snap at me when I tried to clean up some crumbs she'd dropped. Pure helpfulness on my part - just saving mom the trouble of bending over for them - no self-interest at all..........

Charley: Yeah, bark-snapping Lucy thinks she's something special now that she's a Plus-sized super model. Do you know she even dared climb up into my raised bed this morning? MY bed - the one I've had since I was a little tiny pup!

Sadie: No!!! What presumption! She's getting faaaar too big for her britches!

Charley: Heheheheheheh! Too big for her britches! Good one, Sadie!

I is NOT gettin' too big fer my britches! They fits just fine!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Lucy, the Plus Sized Supermodel

(If you don't get this, check the first comment in the post below!)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The dog who swallowed a basketball

Once upon a time there was a funny looking dog named Lucy. She was low to the ground and a meter long, and had reddish-golden-brown fur. She was very unique in appearance.

But she decided to do something to make herself even more noticeable, so she swallowed a basketball. And there she was - a skinny front end, a skinny back end, and a basketball in the middle.

At least, that's what I think happened. Because there's no pups coming out of there, and if the belly gets any bigger it will go POP.

Her appetite is still - ahem - VERY healthy, her temperature is stable, and she shows no signs of impending birth.

Except for that basketball in her belly.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lippy Lucy

Lucy showed a little attitude today, and for the first time since her arrival eleven days ago, I heard her bark. Cheryl from U-Dog arrived at the door with a bag of items I’d ordered, which she placed on the floor while I wrote out the cheque and she lavished attention on the dogs. Lucy and Charley were checking out the bag while making sure they got their fair share of attention, when suddenly Lucy bark-snapped at Charley. “Get outta my face you old fuzzball!”

Poor Charley! She was so surprised that she, social butterfly extraordinaire who would NEVER leave a room when a visitor was present, slunk off down the hall and into my office, where I found her feeling sorry for herself on the sofabed awhile later.

The dynamics between Lucy and Charley have interested me from the beginning. Charley sulked and showed a high level of anxiety when I brought Lucy home - enough to press every guilt button I have. But she exhibited no negative behaviour towards Lucy. And that was remarkable - Charley is usually the dog I have to watch a bit with newcomers as it is she who will growl a warning when another dog gets in her face, and it is she who is sometimes a resource guarder if others come around her dish when she is eating. This time, there had been none of that – Charley showed not one iota of irritation towards Lucy, and in fact on several occasions recently has gone up to Lucy and poked her long collie nose into Lucy’s mile-wide puppy-filled belly. This merely resulted in a nonchalant look from Lucy as if to say “Yeah, I got knocked up, so what?” For all intents and purposes, they almost seemed like.....friends. So why the bark-snap?

Did Lucy smell the treats in the bag even though they were in sealed foil packages? Was Lucy just asserting her “I’m going to be the princess here, and I want to get all this visitor’s attention” attitude, now that she has adjusted to her new environment? Is the honeymoon over? Was Charley muttering something under her breath about “I’m gonna send you home with this woman, you intruder you!" Who knows what was going on?

And that wasn't the end of Lucy's lip. After Cheryl left, I took the dogs into the back yard. Lucy had a two-bagger dump, and when I opened the back door to reach for an extra bag, Allie the cat managed to slip out between my feet. With one very full bag in hand, three dogs underfoot, and a cat on the loose, I tried to stay calm and catch the mischievous tortie. As she hopped up on the garbage can to give her greater access to the top of the fence, I grabbed her with my one free hand – and immediately Lucy decided to get this meowing, fighting feline by repeatedly leaping up at her like a five year old on a new trampoline, and bark-bark-barking. Hurriedly I stuffed Allie back in the house –apparently cats indoors are fine with Lucy (Allie can literally walk all over her with no reaction), but cats outdoors are fair game. Crisis averted.

And this evening, the dogs are flaked out on the living room rug, as if Lippy Lucy was merely a figment of my imagination. Allie, however, has decided to keep her distance.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

No News is.......No News!

That's it - there's nothing new to report. Ms. Lucy is still eating like there's no tomorrow, leaping up in the air for her dish, smothering me with kisses in exchange for liver treats, and showing no signs of labour.

However, she is ENORMOUS! I swear she has at least a dozen pups in there, or perhaps two hippopotamuses (hippopotami?). In the last three days her midsection has suddenly doubled in size, bulging out at the sides that it is a miracle she can fit through the doorway to the x-pen. And her hips look smaller than ever, so I am now hoping we have many small puppies rather than just a few very large ones.

I think those puppies need to come out SOON. All together now "Come out, come out, come out..."

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Many Faces of Lucy

If Lucy was an elementary school student, she would be the Class Clown. She'd be the one kid in the class picture who is pulling a face. The one kid who can wiggle her ears, stick her nose in the air, wink and get the whole class giggling. The kid who likes to engage in staring competitions just for the heck of it. And when the teacher catches her, looks completely innocent, deep in thought, or just plain sad and serious.

And, of course, she'd also be the one who is always late for class and doesn't have her homework done on time. C'mon Lucy, produce those pups! (Wait! Not tomorrow, when I have to go out! You may have an extension until Wednesday. But I expect to see A+ work .)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Just passing time.....

Beach at low tide

Sunday morning, I take Lucy for her daily walk to each end of the block and back. She is much more comfortable with this journey now, trotting along happily at my side. When we reach the end where the scary skateboarders were the other day, I decide to take her a half block further. She follows, but reluctantly, and so I stuff her mouth with liver treats and slowly turn back.

She has begun to anticipate her walks, and to jump up eagerly and run to the back door when I call “Lucy, walk!” and hold up her leash. Once the puppies arrive, those walks will stop for a while, but I hope I have drawn the template for further learning. Walks are FUN, Lucy, FUN!

I put her in the mudroom and take Charley and Sadie for their walk. Knowing that Lucy could go into labour any time, I have moved our summer’s evening walks back to the morning lest fostermom responsibilities should steal away the day and shortchange my collies. We head to the beach, a light breeze keeping the pulp mill smells away, and a weak sun vying for attention amid spots of rain. The faintest of rainbows appears in the sky, and gradually becomes more vivid as we walk.

Rainbow on a Sunday morning

I glance downward and see a rainbow there too – someone has spilled a fair quantity of oil which is spreading across the road, slithering down the asphalt and into the storm drain at the corner. This annoys me no end – surely car buffs can be more careful than that. I cross the road so the dogs won’t pick up oil on their paws, and we head for the beach.

It is a good day for a slow stroll – or it starts out that way. We see deer prints on the sand, and seagulls rising and falling among the rocks as they smash shellfish for their brunch. It is the day of the black dogs – my two, plus three large black dogs plus two small black dogs – the humans chuckle about black dogs ruling the world as one lone white dog cautiously leads his owner past us.

Deer prints in black sand

The tide is out and I want to stroll some more, but Charley’s back end gives out. Her hind legs become splayed quite frequently in the house now, but this is the first time it has happened at the beach. I tell myself once more that I must remember to bring my cellphone on these walks or one day I may have to carry a 50 pound dog all the way home. We rest a bit, and as we do the wind disappears, the sun sucks up the morning’s rain and makes the air oppressively humid, and the wasps, overly abundant this year, begin their annoying attempts to make me dance. I oblige, flapping my arms and twisting my body as I try to evade their attentions.

The morning having lost its splendor, the dogs and I slowly make our way home, just as a volley of the first firecrackers of the season fires off in the neighbourhood park.

As we enter the back door, to be greeted by Lucy’s happy wagging tail and kissy face, I mutter to myself “it is good to be home”.

The rest of the day passes uneventfully, one butternut squash asleep on the livingroom floor, one elderly collie sleeping off her beach adventure in the whelping bed, and one collie cross snoozing on the couch. It should have been a good day to straighten my office but somehow time slipped away. Maybe tomorrow, if the baby butternuts don’t arrive.

Lucy's Messing with my Mind!

I awaken shortly after four to the sound of heavy panting in the mud room, adjacent to my bedroom. Charley comes pit-patting down the hallway and noses open my door. "Mom, Mom, Lucy needs you!"

Groaning from lack of sleep and morning stiffness, I stumble to the mudroom. Lucy is lying near the x-pen door, panting and looking at me pleadingly. (Yesterday I pulled out the power tools and made a tarp-lined wood frame for the x-pen so she can no longer push it around the room and my floor will be better protected from puppy piddlings. The tarp is covered with newspapers and a sheet, and the frame is rigged in a way that allows me to easily open one section of the x-pen if I need to get in or out in a hurry. And it works - the x-pen has not migrated across the room one inch!).

I let her out through the x-pen door and take her to the back yard where she has a long pee, supervised by Charley who is the Top Cop Dog in our house. Gotta make sure everyone else does what it expected of them!

Relieved of her full bladder, Lucy trots into the house and runs to the kitchen at full gallop. I follow behind her and arrive to see her sitting up as tall as she can in front of the treat jar, tail wagging briskly and happily from side to side.

She has clearly learned the routine at our house, if not the appropriate start time - once the dogs go out to pee in the morning, they get a treat to tide them over while I fix my coffee and feed the cat.

Treat over, she moves to the cupboard where I keep the dogfood - she's ready for breakfast! A bit ahead of schedule (Sadie has to wait a half hour after her meds before she can eat), but her enthusiasm convinces me that she is not in labour, panting notwithstanding. She is just happy and eager to start the day.

I check her temperature and - surprise! - it is back up to 37.4 and, though still below normal, no longer in the "labour will start in 12-24 hour" mode. Hmmmm...... the vet didn't mention this and neither did my canine health reference books or online materials, but a forum member who breeds collies did post last night that the temperature can go up and down for several days prior to birth.

And so we continue to sit and wait. It is raining today, but with patches of blue and glints of gold where the sun is trying to make its morning debut. I shall walk the dogs and then perhaps tidy the office or read a book while I wait for Lovely Lady Lucy to go into action. It looks like it could be a bit of a wait yet.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tails of a Butternut Squash

On Monday at my writers' group, I read a story I'd written about Lucy. In it, I'd made a comment comparing her to a trumpeter swan - thinking of the long thin neck and the bulbous back end I've seen as they fly over the Fraser Valley. However, the simile didn't ring true for some group members, and then one suggested she looked more like a butternut squash.

Yesterday at the market, I happened to buy a butternut squash. The squash is a bit on the small side, but I'd say the comparison is very valid:

Butternut squash


However, the comparison won't be valid much longer. Her temperature has dropped to the point where labour will begin in 12 - 24 hours. (It is now 36.8 C or 98.2 F. I took it again tonight as she isn't the least bit bothered by the procedure, and knowing does allow me to alert the SPCA I'm fostering for, in case I have to call them at 3 AM).

Stay tuned. It just might be another sleepless night.