Sunday, August 28, 2011

The 2011 Turtle Gardens Animal Rescue Reunion

They came in cars and trucks and vans. They came by ferry and road and foot. They came from Saltspring and Quadra Islands, from Topley and Richmond and Campbell River, from Courtenay and Cobble Hill, Lantzville and Victoria. They came from Nanoose Bay and Nanaimo, from Cowichan Bay and Duncan, and of course some came from Crofton. And I’m sure I missed a few places.

They came. Turtle Gardens adopters and Turtle Gardens dogs. Friends and supporters and neighbours and kin. Adopted dogs and fostered dogs, Turtle Gardens dogs and other dogs too. Dogs and people. People and dogs. The sign in sheet lists 29 humans and 32 dogs, but I know there are people who forgot to sign in and dogs whose names I didn’t get - I think, altogether, there were about 35-40 dogs and 30-35 people. At least. And I was afraid no one would come!

A major event at the camp next door led to bumper to bumper traffic on the little dirt road in and a wee bit of confusion for some (note to self: better signage next time!), but the sign at the camp stating “no dogs allowed” got most lost TGers turned back around.

And soon they were striding across the fields, being greeted by a host of rambunctious off leash dogs. A little intimidating for some, but we coped and no fights broke out and no one bolted. (Note to self: next time have sign in right by the gate, and then direct people and their dogs to a hang-out area further away).

There was a nice shady spot protected by a tent, with photo displays and handouts, dog cookies and bottled water, buttons and magnets and t-shirts and bandanas and all sorts of print materials. We visited and chatted and played with the dogs, who were busy playing with each other.

Most of us headed down to the beach about one o’clock. The tide had come in quite a ways so a long amble on the sand wasn’t possible, but there was still lots of beach for playing and swimming and sitting and talking.

We raised over $300 in donations, introduced unsuspecting park visitors to a mighty fine rescue group, exhausted some dogs and a lot of their humans, traded adoption stories, and had a great time.

I’ve posted a few of my favourite photos* in this blog entry, but I took many, many more. You can see all ninety or so of mine on Photobucket, and download any that are special to you. Just click on this link

I am terrible at remembering names, so in most cases I have not indicated who’s who. I wish I remembered everybody’s names – some days I have trouble even remembering my own. But I do know that the dog roll included Amie and Kabuki and Amber and Ruby, Cree (formerly Toast) and Trixie and Isabelle and Sail, Coco (formerly Clover), Abby (Hannah), Skootch and Morel, Muskwa and Tonsi, Findley, Fissure, Missy, and Doots, Des, Lola, Tilly, Molly, another Missy, Opie, Tanner, Huli, Dolly, Quinn, Vimy, Drew, Fifa, and more. I truly apologize to those dogs whose names I didn’t get – you are no less important and certainly no less loved!

There are still more photos (and video too) from other attendees, on the Turtle Gardens blog – and still more coming in, so keep checking that blog.

Meeting everyone was wonderful.  Sitting on the beach, with all the dogs playing in and out of the water, was wonderful. There were so many special moments, it is hard to recount them all, but here are some of the highlights for me:

  • Seeing wee Tilly run up to Dave and greet him with love and enthusiasm! She sure hasn’t forgotten him!

Heheheh, of course Dave remembers me!

  • Meeting Isabelle, Lisa B’s senior foster dog who is the doppelganger for my granddog Becky and every bit as wonderful! If I didn’t have a full house of seniors, I would adopt her in a flash. I am in love.

Isabelle, my granddog's doppleganger

  • Watching Coco (formerly Clover) gain a wee bit of confidence throughout the day, and finally play with the others on the beach.
Ummmm, wanna be friends?

  • Seeing Marla, Noon, and Cree (formerly Toast). There’s a story here – Marla came to my house to have a look at a dog barrier I had advertised on line. She had Noon in the car with her, and mentioned she was looking for a second dog. I gave her the nudge she needed to send in an application on Toast, and a couple of days later it was a done deal. And Toast’s new name is actually Mo Chroi (shortened to Cree) – which is Irish for “My heart”. What a great name for a great dog!

"My Heart"

  • Watching Dave, Brian and Lisa B with the dogs – three faces, hands and hearts of Turtle Gardens. You rock!

Dave and New Girl

  • And getting a farewell hug from Dave.  :)

There are so many people to thank. All I did was check on the park regulations, send out some information, and bug people incessantly for stuff to go on the tables. Behind the scenes, others loaned the tent and tables and got water and baked cookies and printed materials and picked up and/or transported items. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

And thank you, everyone, for coming. Most of all, thank you Yvette and Dave Labatte, for doing what you do - rescuing dogs and finding them the best possible homes.

I usually don’t cope well with crowds and chaos, but yesterday’s crowd and yesterday’s chaos leaves a warmth in my heart and a smile on my face, and memories that will last forever.

(* Note: I generally don’t post pictures of people without checking with them first – I hate it when people do that to me - but as very few are close up and many are on the TG blog, I took my chances that no one objects. However, if your picture is on this blog or on my photobucket account, and you would like it removed, please email me using the contact at the side.)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ride needed for two dogs, Fraser Valley to Duncan

The rescue network is looking for someone to bring two dogs from Chilliwack to Duncan ASAP.  If anyone coming over for the reunion has room for one big and one medium dog, and is willing to transport, please email me right away.  We might be able to arrange transport from Chilliwack to the ferry or some other lower mainland community if necessary. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A story, and a sunset

When I posted the sunrise pictures a couple of days ago, I said there was a story behind my early morning photography session, a story that would keep. And here it is:

I was awakened at 4:00 AM to the sound of Charley crashing around the house. Once again, she was uncoordinated and blindly bashing into walls and furniture. She has had several such episodes this past week - none as serious as the other week, and most very mild, but giving further evidence of a brain tumor or similar neurological event.  Between the episodes, she is pretty much her usual 14 year old, arthritic, fuzzy self.

As she now sometimes loses bladder control during these episodes, I guided her outside and hung around the back yard with her. She lay down on the grass after a few minutes, panting lightly, a vacant look in her eyes. She seemed to be in some pain - her eyes were dull, her head and tail low, and she occasionally pulled her right hip/leg up as if trying to get comfortable - so I returned to the house for a pain killer and some broth to wash it down. Sadie and Pepper were sawing logs, oblivious, I thought, to Charley's difficulties. Both are very sound sleepers, especially deaf Sadie who was comfortably stretched out on the livingroom couch.

Charley and Sadie have never been 'best friends' like some dogs who curl up together, play together, sleep together. Charley has always been a loner, despite nearly always having at least one other dog in the house. She often removes herself from household activity, prefering either a quiet spot in a vacant room or a shady spot in the garden. And while Sadie will pay attention to visiting dogs, she seldom gets chummy with our canine family members.

And therein lies the story. Since Charley began having these episodes, Sadie has started watching over her.

My Charley has always been an outdoorsy sort of girl, having lived on acreage most of her life, and loves to just lie in the yard watching the world go by. (She is never left outside when I am not home, and always brought inside at bedtime; but during the day she often spends hours just lying on the grass if she so chooses). My Sadie is just the opposite - she will tolerate the yard for five minutes or so, but then she is at the door barking to be let in.

So the other morning at 4:00 AM when Charley declined to come back into the house and quietly lay on the grass as the painkiller took effect, imagine my surprise when Sadie trotted out and lay down just behind her. And imagine my surprise when an hour later she was still there, watching over Charley, as the sun began to rise.

And so I joined them, in my pjs and bare feet, to watch another morning dawn in colourful splendor.

It was not just coincidence, this new role Sadie has taken on. In each of the three episodes since then, she has done the exact same thing - selected a spot a couple of feet behind Charley, and watched over her until Charley showed some signs of being 'normal' again. When Charley lifts her head and acknowledges my presence, or gets up and starts mosying around the yard, Sadie feels free to go back in the house. She did it again this evening - just before sunset:

I must admit, it brings tears to my eyes - to know that my Sadie cares for her fur sister, and to know Charley's end may well be near. I can think of no other explanation for Sadie's change of behaviour. Sadie knows.

One day the sun will set on my Charley's life, and my Sadie will no doubt be there to say goodbye. May the passing be as beautiful as the sunset was tonight:

But I truly hope Charley has many more sunrises and sunsets before her journey's end.  And I think Sadie hopes so too.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Turtle Gardens Guys are here!

Becky contemplates trail at Osborne Bay Park

It's only four more sleeps until the Turtle Gardens Animal Rescue reunion - which is being held here in Crofton. Due to some changes of plans, Yvette won't be able to make it but TG will be well represented by Yvette's husband Dave and helper extraordinaire Brian. They phoned last night from Victoria - I'm expecting to see them some time today.

For those who don't have a clue what I'm talking about, Turtle Gardens is a rescue organization in northern BC, run by Dave and Yvette Labatte. The need for such a rescue is huge - dog culls are still held in northern communities, dogs get abandoned in large numbers, dogs packs are left to run wild. Dave and Yvette take them in, get them well, have them spayed/neutered, teach them some family-living skills, and try to find them homes. Many of those homes are here on Vancouver Island, so the annual reunion, usually held in the lower mainland, is being held here for a change. It's a chance for some of the dogs to reunite with those they were once rescued with or living with at Turtle Gardens, for adopters to meet other adopters, and for us all to meet the faces behind Turtle Gardens.

If you are a supporter, a wanna-be adopter, a looky-loo who wants to know more, or just someone with a friendly dog, come on over! Here's the goods:

Osborne Bay Park
Smith Road, Crofton, BC
Saturday Aug 27th, 12:00 - 2:00

Fields, trails and beach. Just look for the tent. For a small fee, we'll have bandanas and cookies for the dogs, teeshirts and bottled water for humans, and free information.

A few things to know:
  • The whole park is off leash, but not securely fenced so if your dog doesn't have excellent recall please bring a leash or longline.  Let's not have a lost-dog tragedy!
  • Please keep your dogs away from neighbouring properties and the children's camp. 
  • The beach is mucky beyond the initial pebbly part, so wear old shoes if you want to wander very far. There's lots of neat stuff to explore on the beach, so don't let a little muck deter you! 
  • If you have questions about the location or need info about accomodations, email me using the contact link at the side of this blog.  
  • There is no washroom, so pee before you go! (we looked into a porta-potty but decided the time span didn't warrant the money - and there is a public washroom a five minute drive away).
  • Coming from the mainland, you'll find it quickest to come into Nanaimo and drive south.

Coming from Victoria on Hwy 1, turn right onto Herd Road just north of Duncan, the left onto Osborne Bay Road and follow it into Crofton. Just as you enter the village of Crofton, turn right on Adelaide and follow it to the end (where it will be called Smith). When it forks, take the right hand (dead end) section, and you'll see the park. You can't miss it!

Coming from Nanaimo on Hwy 1, turn left at Mt. Sicker Road just south of Chemainus. (Be sure to move over into the left lane at the blue  GREEN bridge - oops). Follow Mt. Sicker the very short distance to the tee-intersection, and turn left onto Chemainus Rd. After a few minutes, turn right onto Crofton Rd (there's a wood stove shop on the corner), and follow Crofton Rd into Crofton. Crofton Rd then becomes Chaplin - head down to the ferry dock, turn right just before the ferry (onto Queen St), go to the top of Queen and turn left on Adelaide. From there, follow the instructions above to get to the park.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Morning Sunrise

Though there is another story to tell, the story behind my being wide awake enough to capture this Sunday morning sunrise, it will keep. For now, suffice it to say there are times when one just has to be thankful for dogs who wake their humans early. Enjoy!

The photos were all taken from my backyard. I pondered running down to the beach to capture the sunrise on the water (I only have a bit of an ocean view from my backyard), but decided to stay put, in my pjs and bare feet, rather than miss a moment of it. Imagine my surprise when I downloaded the photos and saw what looked like the waves on the ocean:

A layer of cloud, between land and sunrise, created a beautiful ocean-like scene. 

Perhaps tomorrow morning, I'll walk down to the beach at sunrise.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Updates and News on a hot Saturday morning

It's going to be a scorcher (for Vancouver Island, though nothing like the temperatures people are experiencing elsewhere in North America), and I really have to get some housework done before it gets too hot. The dogs have been walked, with a quick stop at the Saturday morning Crofton Farmer's Market for homemade dog biscuits, and a leisurely stroll along back lanes gathering blackberries. I hate housework, so may as well update the blog. I'll throw in a few photos from the past couple of days for added colour, though they aren't specific to what I'm writing about.

Butterfly bush in bloom by Crofton Marina

Pepper, my SPCA fosterdog, visited the vet last Monday. She was a good girl, even though she had to go in the back for xrays and blood tests and have me pick her up a couple of hours later. She has a urinary tract infection, the xrays showed clear lungs and nothing sinister about the lump on her chest, and the blood tests suggest we were probably right on our diagnosis of Cushings.

Cushions?  I haz cushions? Yup, and they is very comfy, thanx you.

However, further Cushings tests - to determine if it is adrenal or pituitary - are needed to prescribe a course of treatment, and both the testing (an eight hour process) and the treatment options are expensive and unpleasant. Whether the SPCA will choose to go that route for this 16 year old dog will depend on further discussions between the SPCA manager, myself and our very competent vet. For now, she is on antibiotics for the UTI and has another appointment booked for August 31st.

Oh no! Pills!  I hates takin' pills!
She is eating like a horse and I think she is finally putting on some weight - I have added digestive enzymes and probiotics to her top quality food, and she is feeding four times a day much to her delight and Sadie's dismay (poor hard done by Sadie who only gets fed twice a day!).

Ah dunno why ah can't get fed four times a day.  Favoritism, that's what it is, favoritism!

Sadie and Charley continue to plod along. We have now banned floofy beds (the kind full of foam chips, that 'floof' up when the covers are changed and slowly flatten over time) after an incident that left me feeling like a very bad mama. I got up the other morning and noted Charley was lying at the back of her crate, on her side, unmoving. No big deal - Charley often doesn't get up until the rest of the pack. Two hours later, when I was about to feed Pepper her second meal and Sadie and Charley their first, Charley still hadn't moved a muscle. I went over to talk to her, and suddenly realized she had soiled and soaked her bed and was unresponsive to my voice. No tail wags, to eye blinks, no twitch of the ears.

Noooo!  Don't go tellin' people I pooped the bed!  Aaarggghhhh!

Fearing the worst, I knelt down and reached into the crate. Still breathing. Thank goodness. I realized then that she was simply stuck, unable to get herself upright from the position between the wires and the floofy mattress. Who knows how long she had struggled during the night before soiling the bed, or whether she had perhaps even had a seizure or another stroke - I hadn't heard a sound even though I'm a light sleeper. She was clearly in despair, having resigned herself to immobility.

I'z sowwy I scared you, Mama!

I crawled into her crate and slipped my arms behind her to turn her and assist her out of the crate, and after a few unsteady moments she wobbled over to her food dish to eat her breakfast. I disposed of the soiled bedding, cleaned the crate, and put down a very flat pad instead. I have since also removed a floofy mattress from the large basket in the mudroom, and all others that are against walls or in locations where she might get trapped. The flat pads may not be as comfy on her old bones, but they are a lot safer for her. Having an aging dog means continual adjustments to accomodate their needs. The trick is staying one step ahead so incidents like the one Charley experienced don't happen.

Dogs, dogs, dogs!  Why doesn't she ever write about CATS???

In other news, North Cowichan has once again voted to support the gassing of stray cats rather than the use of the more humane lethal injection. It's been two years since we fought this battle; interestingly, this time it was Coastal Animal Services who made the request for extra funding for injections. Turns out, their private boarding business has been suffering since word got out that they use a CO2 box to kill cats. Our two weekly papers both have stories online here and here and I have written an op ed piece for the monthly Chemainus Courier which comes out in print next week.

Given that the new (draft) guidelines of the American Veterinary Medical Association specifically spell out that shelters and animal control should use lethal injection (including distressed, dangerous and/or fractious cats, with presedation - ie feral cats), and only conditionally accept CO2 "in unusual or rare circumstances, such as natural disasters and large-scale disease outbreaks” , it is unfathomable that for a mere $5000 a year, North Cowichan council would once again opt for the less humane method.

Coastal Animal Services purportedly stopped using the gas box three months ago and has been paying for lethal injections from their own pockets, a process they say they can't afford to continue. As their contract does not specify a responsibility for feral cats, they claim they will no longer accept them. One councillor's response? We'll find someone who will gas them for us. Good luck with that.

Of course, the real issue is the irresponsibility of those who let their unspayed/unneutered cats roam freely, or worse, dump them, abandon them, to survive by their wits and to reproduce several times a year.

The whole issue of euthanizing stray cats could be eradicated if people would be responsible, lifelong caregivers. Sadly, I doubt I'll see that in my lifetime.

One of Crofton's many backlane cats