Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Shiloh Settles In

Sweet Shiloh

Shiloh is settling in very nicely.  We have been taking multiple short walks each day, in each direction from the house so she learns the neighbourhood.  Each new route is cause for a lot of sniffing and some apprehension on her part, but once she has walked it once or twice, she is raring to go.  She walks beautifully on leash and at a good pace too!  Tomorrow we shall venture down to the beach to see what she thinks of that.

She has a bit of a weak back end and possibly some neurological issues (one of her back paws drags a bit and doesn't return voluntarily to a normal position when I flex it), but it doesn't slow her down much - just the occasional stumble.  She really enjoys walks, and has decided (I swear Eddie taught her this) that poops can ONLY be done on a walk, not in the back yard. So now I have TWO dogs who pace relentlessly when they have to go, be it six in the morning or eleven at night.  Why can't they all be like Mitzi, who just cries to tell me she needs out, goes out to the back yard, and does her business? Ah well, I can use the exercise. Hopefully we won't get much snow and ice this winter or I will have two miserable dogs with all four paws crossed.

Like many older dogs, Shiloh has some night vision problems.  Taking her for a walk just before bedtime means watching her every step or she trips over curbs, falls into grates on storm drains, bumps into road signs - in daylight, these obstacles are not a problem.

She is fitting in well with the rest of the crew.  She does have to watch out for boistrous Eddie who tends to jump around and knock her off her feet.  As for the cat - I think they are at a draw.  The cat hisses at Shiloh, and Shiloh barks at the cat. Mostly they give each other a wide berth, though I'm sure Allie will take a swipe at Shiloh one of the days.  Turns out Shiloh is a lap dog - she loves to be lifted up to sleep on my lap, which until now has been pretty much Allie's private cushion. Allie jumps up on the side table and gives Shiloh the Royal Stink Eye, but Shiloh just says "nyah-nyah-nyah!"

Allie:  "Come in a little further you twerp.......

.....I've been reading up on how to get rid of you!"

Shiloh has decided to lay claim to every dog bed in the house, but NOT to the crates.  Although she slept beautifully in the crate the first night, night two was a different matter.  She howled.  Not a Northern dog sort of howl, more like a two-year-old-having-a-tantrum-in-a-grocery-store. She even lay right down, head and all, on the floor of the crate to do it.  It was heartbreaking and LOUD and incredibly funny, and I caved and let her out.  Ever since then, she has slept in a dog bed right next to my bed.  (Dogs are welcome to sleep on my bed, and I do bring her up for a cuddle each night, but I'm afraid she'll fall or walk off and break her frail little legs while I'm sleeping if I let her stay there).

I do like my dogs to be crate trained for travel, emergencies, and vet care so in another week or two we shall start the process of getting her more comfortable with crates by feeding her in there.  She loves her food so it shouldn't be a huge task to get her liking the crate.  For now, she is x-pened in the same room as the other dogs when I go out (so Sir Eddie doesn't accidently knock her over or jump on her), and she's fine with that.

She also likes to sleep under tables and desks (on a good memory foam cushion, of course), on Charley's old raised bed, in hard plastic beds with soft cushions, and in any dog bed that I might be thinking of removing for lack of space.

I'm just a recycled pet!

No, it's NOT too big for me.
Charley's old bed is Just Right - like all the other beds around here. 

Eddie never uses dog beds except for his crate; Mitzi uses just two - one in the mudroom and one in the bedroom; and Princess Shiloh makes use of  three in the living room, one in my office, one in the mud room, and two in the bedrooom. (Why so many, you ask?  Why, because on her first two days here, she couldn't settle anywhere so I kept pulling more and more beds out of storage to find one that she liked. Once they were all out - and I had even bought her a brand new one - she decided to adopt them all).   This Princess is not spoiled, oh no not much!

She has a new harness, a new bed, a new name tag, and a new family.  What more could she possibly want? I'm sure she'll think of something.

Treats?  More treats?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Shiloh's Story

Once upon a time there was a little sheltie puppy named Shiloh.  She lived with a family – a mom and a dad and a couple of kids.  Perhaps it was a good home, perhaps not, but it was a home and she grew into an adult and learned a few things about family life and the days slipped into months and months into years. And years.  And years.

Then one day mom and dad split up.  Mom took the kids, dad took the dog.  Unfortunately, dad was an alcoholic, as were his new roommates.  And so they forgot to feed Shiloh.  And they had anger management issues.  And so they yelled at her and swore at her and sometimes even kicked her.  Her health deteriorated, opportunistic fleas took over her malnourished body, her fur matted and her nails grew long, and she was one sad sheltie.  One sad senior sheltie.   Her records show she was born May 11, 1998 – fifteen and one half years ago.

One day, a friend of one of the roommates could stand it no longer, and confided in her animal-loving colleague at work.  That colleague networked with other animal-loving people, including me.  

When I received the email, and saw the photos,  I knew I wanted to help.  But I knew I couldn’t take this on alone at that particular point in time – my mom was palliative – and so I contacted the Shetland Sheepdog Club of BC.  They are a group of sheltie breeders who believe that their obligation to the breed extends to helping shelties in need, and who have therefore established a Sheltie Rescue branch within their organization.  They have helped us out before  - they had a hand in Belle’s rescue, they had contact with Eddie’s former owner, and they also offered assistance on two or three other occasions when I heard of other shelties that might be in need of a rescue placement.   They said if we could get the owner to surrender her, they would help out however they could.

The friend of the roommate removed the dog from danger and got the owner to sign surrender papers.  (Sometimes a voluntary surrender is a faster and more surefire route to get a dog out of a bad situation than calling in the authorities).  She said the owner seemed ‘relieved’.  Her colleague who had networked for her took Shiloh for a few days, got her to a vet for immediate assessment, treated her for fleas, tidied her fur, gave her food and water and love.  Then Sheltie Rescue sent someone from the island to the mainland to pick her up, and one of their members has been fostering her for the past several weeks  - Shiloh was groomed, had much-needed dental work done, began the process of regaining her health, and received all the love and attention she wanted.  They prepared her for her forever home.

With me.  With Eddie and Mitzi and Allie and me. 

Today I drove down to Victoria to fill in the adoption papers and bring Ms. Shiloh home.  She is sweet, loving, shy, timid,  and very beautiful.  She is very small and thin – only 17 pounds. She is a bit bewildered at the moment, but after a couple of hours checking out the garden and the house, she tucked into her dinner, then settled into a crate and fell fast asleep. 

Thank you to K. who couldn’t stand by and see her suffer,  and who persuaded the owner to surrender her. Thank you to Wendi who networked her, and took her in while the rest of the rescue plan could be put in place.  Thanks also to Julie who went to the mainland to pick her up, and to Joanne and Julie who fostered her and loved her these past few weeks.  Thank you to the Shetland Sheepdog Club of BC,  Sheltie Rescue who took her on, paid for all her immediate veterinary care, and who have now entrusted Shiloh to my care.  Sometimes it takes a community to save a dog. 

Welcome, Shiloh, welcome home.  I promise you good food and exercise, comfortable beds and regular grooming, vet care when needed, and love.  Lots and lots and lots of love.  I hope you like it here. At fifteen and a half, you may not have a long time, but I promise you it will be a good time.  

Shiloh, before rescue -
The photo that broke my heart.

Shiloh, approximately one month later -
checking out my back yard today.
(Hopefully she will cooperate more with the camera in the days ahead!)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Midday Magic

It was getting close to noon when I heard Allie clicking her tongue, as she does when something exciting is in her sights - a bird or a cat or an interesting spider.

I looked out the window to see what had caught her attention, but could see nothing there.  Allie was persistent, and jumped up on the sill to show me.

I pressed up against the window, and then saw directly below me a patch of brown fur.  Too tall to be a cat, too big to be a bird - was it a stray dog hiding up against the house?

I softly crept out the back door and around the side of the house.  And that's when I saw it.

A deer.  A teeny, tiny, itsy bitsy deer.  Not spotted like a newborn fawn would be, but also not any bigger than one.  In fact, it was much smaller than the long-legged, spotted fawns I saw near the ferry terminal a week or two ago.

The bottom edge of the window frame is only 22" from the ground.  The tips of her ears (I think it was a she - I didn't see any evidence of any boy bits), even when standing with her front hooves on one of the good sized rocks that are part of the landscaping, barely reached the frame.

And when she stretched up as tall as could be, to get those leaves above her, she still wasn't tall enough to send Eddie, who notices everything that dares trespass by the window, into paroxysms of barking.

She didn't seem at all afraid of me, though I made use of the zoom lens to keep my distance as much as possible.

She took time to smell the roses.....

And then eat them.

She hung around outside my windows for nearly an hour, before moving off to the neighbour's when I brought Eddie out to take him for his walk.

The walk with Eddie brought more magic - the coho are running and the bay is full of large fish flipping themselves high in the air.  The salmon run has brought the seals and otters into the bay and the sea lions to the islands just off shore.  One very large seal or perhaps a sea lion surfaced noisily as we wandered the seawalk, startling both Eddie and I, as it grabbed a good five pounder who thrashed mightily but could not escape.  By the time I got my pocket camera out of my raincoat pocket, both the fish and the marine mammal were gone.

Returning home half an hour later, the little deer was still in the neighbour's yard, huddled against the front of their house, trying to keep out of the rain.

She looked cold, and if she was a baby her mama was nowhere to be seen.  I checked on her twice more during the next hour and she was still there, still as a lawn ornament save the occasional nibble on the foliage. Later in the afternoon, I looked again, but she was gone.

A magical, very special day, just one of many in this paradise I call home.

Eddie:  Tomorrow's gonna be a special day too -  right,  Mama?
Me:  Right, Eddie.
Eddie:  Can I tell our readers why?
Me:  No, not yet, Eddie.  It's never a good idea to count your chickens before they hatch.
Mitzi:  Chickens???  Is we gettin' chickens?????
Eddie:  No, silly!  And if they didn't hatch, they'd just be eggs.  Nothin' special 'bout that!
Allie:  This better not be what I think it is!
Me:  Go to sleep, all of you.  Tomorrow will come soon enough.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Morning Zen

Morning Zen
(c) Jean Ballard 2013

For the past several days I have been on the mainland, spending time with family and friends.  I hardly took any photos, and those I did were rather ho-hum.  I wanted to capture fields of pumpkins with mist rising above them - but most of the time there was nothing but heavy fog and pollution, and the only pumpkin field I saw had nothing but broken pumpkin chunks on it, ready to be turned under with the next turn of the plow.

And then I came home.  Back to my island.  Back to a place where a walk in the morning, even in the fog, is a zen experience.  Simple.  Silent.  Serene.   The rest of this blog needs no words:

(c) Jean Ballard 2013

(c) Jean Ballard 2013

(c) Jean Ballard 2013

(c) Jean Ballard 2013

(c) Jean Ballard 2013

(c) Jean Ballard 2013

(c) Jean Ballard 2013

(c) Jean Ballard 2013

(c) Jean Ballard 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving

"Over the river and through the woods"

I'm thankful our Canadian Thanksgiving is in October, and not merely the precursor of Commercial Christmas with hardly time to digest the Thanksgiving meal before beginning to cook the Christmas one, as is the case in the Excited States.

With Thanksgiving in October, we have the perfect timing for a true harvest meal with the last of the fresh-from-the-garden produce to fill the plates and the first of the crispy autumn apples to fill the pies.

With Thanksgiving in October, we have the perfect setting, with fall colours at their prime  - happy trees bedecked in reds and yellows not from artificial Christmas lights but from nature herself.

With Thanksgiving in October, the day is bright and sunny, yet the sun is low enough in the sky by mid afternoon to capture the magic of a spider's web.

Spider's web in sunlight

With Thanksgiving in October, we have fall flowers sending sunny smiles from each pot and plot.

Two years ago, someone gave my mom a wee little potted chrysanthemum when they visited her at her care facility.  When I visited a few weeks later, she gave me the little pot, blossoms dead but roots alive.  I planted it in my garden.  Today it is over two feet high and three feet across and makes me smile everytime I look at it.  Mums from my mum. So fitting.

Mums from my mum

With Thanksgiving in October, the morning sun hits the cold night air and the mists rise from the waters creating scenes that take my breath away.

Morning Mist rising over Osborne Bay

I'm thankful for so many things - the beauty of the world around me, the friends and family that are always here for me and especially during these past difficult weeks, the critters with whom I share my life.

I'm thankful that Allie is back to being a Naughty Tortie, scattering my papers, opening my kitchen cupboards in the dark of night, hollering "me first, me first" when it's time to feed the four legged crew.

I'm thankful that Mitzi, who has been very under the weather the past ten days, seems to be almost back to normal.  I'm thankful that Eddie, whose seasonal allergies have been driving him and me crazy and whose ear became infected, is no longer spitting out the benadryl and is gradually tolerating his daily ear treatments.

I'm thankful that life is slowly getting back to normal for a while.

And I'm thankful for you, my readers.  Happy Thanksgiving. Happy Autumn.

Autumn Sunset

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Last of her Generation

Rose Ballard - my mom
October 2, 1918 - October 10, 2013
Forever in my heart
Last Sunday my family gathered to celebrate Mom’s 95th birthday – the one we all knew would be her last.  I could not be there, so they read her a letter from me.  Perhaps she heard it, perhaps not, but I know she felt my love. 

Sunday night, her care facility phoned to say she likely wouldn’t make it through the night.   Still she hung on for three more days. She always was a strong-willed woman, doing things her own way in her own time. 

Early this morning she passed away.

Her last week on earth, like much of her life,  was full of music:  the care home’s music therapist sat at her bedside, playing guitar and singing;  our dear family friend sang all the old campfire songs and when she ran out of those made up songs about Mom’s life;   the staff brought in CDs of her favourite music to play for her.  She was surrounded by caring people who helped to make the passing easier.

Mom lived a long and full life – a life of adventure and family, a life of laughter and friendships and service to others.  She was a camper, a hiker, a lover of mountains and oceans and all nature, a traveler to places like Africa and New Zealand and Coppermine, NWT.   Most of all, she was a mom.  She loved her family deeply and was there for us through good times and bad.

Mom and Dad's wedding
England, 1941
Mom with one of us kids

It would take a book to tell her story: a child growing up in England, a war bride, an immigrant with husband and three young children, active member of PTA and church in our home town of White Rock.  

Mom as a teenager in England
Part of the grass hockey team at school

And  for 55 years, she was a very active member of the Girl Guide Association – Brown Owl, Lones Advisor,  National Cadet Coordinator, Commissioner, International Trainer, Trefoil Guild member, and I’m sure many other positions that I’ve forgotten.  She was honored with two of the highest awards given by the Girl Guide Association -  the Medal of Merit, and the Canadian Beaver Award, as well as a Lifetime Membership. 

Mom, honored member of the Girl Guide Association

The outdoors was, next to family, one of her greatest loves.  Each summer Mom and Dad piled us kids and all our gear into the car to camp our way around British Columbia.  We hiked and mom taught us the names for the flowers and trees and birds;  my dad and I fished, and mom cooked our catch for dinner in a cast iron pan over an open fire. 

She spent a few years living in Quebec – my dad was transferred there from British Columbia shortly after we kids had all left home – and when she was widowed at 59,  she returned to her beloved west coast, back home to White Rock, BC.  She joined with a group of friends for weekly hikes until well into her 70s or early 80s.  In her little gold Honda Civic,  friends by her side and a thermos of tea and a packet of sandwiches in her knapsack,,  she would putter off here and there to hike this trail or that.  Her favourite hikes were trails to the alpine meadows of Mount Baker and Manning Park.  She called those places ‘her’ mountains.  

Mom's Mount Baker
Always visible from our childhood home

The last two years have not been easy for Mom as she experienced the loss of her sight,  her mobility, her memory, as well as the loss of several  close friends and family members including my sister, Carole.

We all grieved for Mom, and she for herself, when she could no longer live the life she loved.  But even these past few months,  she was still in there, her love of family always present, and her sense of humour popping out from time to time.  She was still the mom we knew and loved.   And now she is painfree at last, and at peace,  and reunited with my dad and my sister and all those who have gone before her.

For many years, Mom has been the last living member of her generation on our family tree.

And now she is gone.  

The Girl Guides make trail signs as they hike,  using twigs, grasses or stones to leave silent messages for those coming along behind them.  The sign I always liked best was a circle with a single rock in the middle.  It meant “ I have gone home”. 

Mom has gone home.  Her long hike is over.   It is time for rest. 

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest;
God is nigh.*

Love ya Mom.  See ya on the other side.

(*TAPS – lyrics by Horace Lorenzo Trim.  Sung at the ending of each Girl Guide day. )

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Never Get a Tortie Cat!

Tortoiseshell cats, or torties as they are affectionately known,  are often high spirited, obnoxious troublemakers.  While tortoiseshell refers only to the coat colour and not to a specific breed itself, any tortie owner knows they are indeed a breed apart.  They are the feline equivalent of the stereotypical red headed, freckle-faced child - mischievous, hot tempered, but incredibly endearing.  Anne of Green Gables on four furry feet.

Allie is the quintessential tortie.  A devil in fur. A thorn in my side.  As likely to lash out and slash you as to nuzzle your chin and meow for treats.

For the past several days she's been under the weather (just one of several under the weather pets and people in my life right now).  At first I thought 'hairballs', as she had thrown up a few times in recent weeks, and so I pulled out the hairball medicine and a fresh pot of cat grass. She's an indoor cat, so lives in a pretty safe environment.  Not much to cause her harm here.

Then I came home Sunday to find her totally spooked by something, eyes big, slinking under furniture and hiding out behind the toilet.  I knew it wasn't the dogs' fault as they were all with me.  And so I watched her carefully.   Noticing she wasn't jumping, climbing, pouncing, talking, kneading, biting, or even eating, I wondered if she had fallen somehow and hurt herself.

She would eat and drink when I put food or water right in front of her, but mostly she just hid under a blanket on a chair in the corner of the living room.  I moved the litter box from the bathroom to her side, put an x-pen around the whole area to keep the dogs from getting in her space, and continued to monitor her.  She'd pee at night, she did a very small poop one day, but she very definitely wasn't her usual self.

So I made an appointment to take her to the vet.  That is a decision not made lightly - she is every vet's worst nightmare, and they are no happier to see her than she is to see them.

An hour before the appointment, I pulled out the travel crate, walked over to the lump under the blanket, and picked her up.  She took one look at the crate, stretched all four limbs out as wide as possible, extended claws and fangs to grab onto anything within her reach - drapes, blankets, edges of crate, and any part of  the only person in the world who gives a damn about her, and with a quick twist of the body and a large chunk of the gloved hand that feeds her, she flew across the room hissing and growling and standing her ground.

The chase was on.  No amount of Temptations, sardines, cajoling, swearing, chasing, blanket tossing, or pleading was going to get her within my reach.  After half an hour of trying to get her,  I ended up cancelling the appointment.

I'll just let nature take its course - if she can race all around the house trying to avoid letting me put her in the carrier, then she's not as close to death's door as I feared.

Allie, there are thousands more where you came from -  if you die through your own silly fault, you can be replaced!

Okay, I don't really mean that, but if anyone wants a cat with attitude, I might have a deal for you.

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Clarification on Import Regulations

A short while ago, there was a rush of excitement in the rescue world when someone noticed this statement come across the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS), an electronic system for distributing information as quickly as possible regarding importing to and exporting from Canada. 
"Please note that the importation of rescued dogs will 
no longer be permitted after November 1, 2013."
As I indicated in the post below, this information was false.  

Today I was contacted by another person from rescue and asked if I would clarify this point as some key rescuers in Canada are apparently still under the impression the borders are about to be closed. I intended to clarify the regulations in the final post on the importation series, but personal  matters have kept me from completing that series just yet, so in the interest of debunking the myth that the borders are to close, I'll quickly sum the importation regulations and changes here.   

Further inquiry, including information from  CFIA (the branch of government responsible of import and export of animals) and updates on both AIRS and CFIA sites,  reveal the following points:

1.  The term 'rescued dogs' as used in the existing (pre Nov 1, 2013) importation regulations is VERY SPECIFIC and refers ONLY to stray dogs picked up in the aftermath of a natural disaster and being transported to animal welfare organizations.  It has NEVER referred to dogs being brought to Canada after a life as a stray on the streets of Thailand, or as an owner surrender in a high kill facility in California, or found on the beaches of Mexico, or any other variation of dogs that those of us working with rescues and shelters in Canada might otherwise consider 'rescued dogs'.  

2.  All other dogs coming to Canadian shelters or rescues in the past, at present, and post Nov 1, 2013, are/were supposed to be governed by the regulations for "Commercial - for resale" dogs.    The term 'resale' specifically includes those for adoption.   

3.  As of November 1, 2013, the ONLY change is that 'rescued dogs under the age of 8 months' (that is, puppies found in the aftermath of natural disasters) will no longer be allowed into Canada.  Puppies from other sources, as well as dogs over the age of 8 months from both natural disasters and from other sources, will still be allowed into Canada under the Commercial- for resale category.  The 'end use' of 'rescued dogs [as defined by CFIA - those from natural disaster areas] destined for animal welfare organizations' will cease to exist. 

It appears that the reason for this change may be due to the confusion the term 'rescued dogs' caused among importers, exporters and border security personnel.  

So, what are the implications of this?  

In the past and until Nov 1, 2013, stray dogs under 8 months coming from a natural disaster area and headed for an animal welfare organization required an import permit and a veterinary certificate of health, including a rabies certificate for dogs over three months of age (unless coming from an area recognized as rabies-free).  Dogs over the age of 8 months coming from a natural disaster area required only a rabies certificate (unless coming from an area recognized as rabies free, in which case nothing was required).  No permits, no health check.

After November 1st:

Dogs under 8 months of age coming to rescues and shelters in Canada will come in under the Commercial - for resale category and will require:
  • an import permit, 
  • a health certificate, 
  • a microchip, 
  • a rabies certificate (unless from a rabies free country or under three months), 
  • must be vaccinated for distemper, hepatitis, parvo virus, and para-influenza
  • be at least 8 weeks of age
  • must have been born in a licensed kennel   
More importantly:

These dogs, AND ALL THOSE IN THE KENNELS FROM WHICH THEY ARE BEING IMPORTED, must be "certified as healthy and free of all clinical evidence of contagious or infectious disease and, as far as can be determined, exposure thereto."  There can have been no cases of distemper, hepatitis, parvo, or parainfluence in the kennel of origin for 90 days preceding shipment.  

Puppies picked up as strays in the aftermath of a natural disaster will no longer be permitted, nor will puppies in shelters who were not born in a licensed kennel.  There are some other criteria, but these are the main ones.   

Dogs over 8 months of age:

After November 1st, all dogs over 8 months of age coming to rescues and shelters in Canada, including those picked up as strays in the aftermath of natural disasters,  will come in under Commercial - for resale category and will require only a rabies certificate.  There is NO import permit, NO health certificate, NO 'clean kennel' requirements, NO requirements for other vaccinations.  That means there is no change for these dogs.  

And there is not, and never has been, a quarantine period. 

There are other rules for domestic dogs and puppies not bound for resale/adoption, such as a single dog/puppy being shipped by a breeder in another country to a buyer in Canada who has already paid the breeder and will be keeping the dog as a domestic pet, or those purchased in the other country and being brought back by their new owner for their own home. 

It behooves anyone importing dogs of any age, from any source, for any reason, to read ALL the categories and criteria regardless of what the shelter or the individual shipping the dogs to you may say.  You are the one held accountable at the border.  

Better yet, don't import at all.  

Note:  The writer of this blog takes no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of this information. There is a combined total of 37 pages of regulations on the importation of dogs when one accesses the AIRS and CFIA sites, and the regulations can change at any time. The above is my synopsis of the key points relevant to rescue organizations at the time of writing.  It is up to any person or organization planning to import dogs to Canada to do their own homework and read all the regulations found on this site:
There will be one more post on the importation of dogs,  addressing the health concerns being raised by veterinarians in Canada, and the ethics of rescue.  Due to personal matters here, I am not sure when that post will be ready.  

Edited to add:  I am turning off 'comments' for this post as already I'm getting backlash for posting this clarification.   A reader in Maple Ridge/Mission area (IP rudely objected because of the caveat that I am not responsible for the accuracy of the information.   WTF?  That's pretty standard practice when providing an interpretation of regulations!   Good Grief!  And yes, I DO know who you are!

Life with Sadie B

Sadie B is staying with me at the moment - a young border collie with all the intensity and focus for which her breed is renowned. Every day I am thankful that my Charley, whose mother was a border collie and whose father was a rough collie and the only dog I've ever raised from puppyhood to old age (she passed away in 2011), inherited the more laid back rough collie traits.  I might have sworn off dogs for good.

Sadie B's one passion in life is FETCH.  Every time I stand up in the house, she rushes to the back door, border collie crouch at the ready, expecting to go outside for yet another rousing game of  ball.  Walks don't cut it - though she walks very nicely and gets two a day - but even the longest walk has to end in a game of fetch or she simply won't settle.

I am lousy at throwing a ball.  Forced by my elementary school to play softball every lunch hour of my grade seven year,  I came to loath the game.  I was hopeless,  yet involuntarily was made captain of a team to the ridicule of my peers.  I have developed a hatred for anything requiring me to propel a round object from my hand across a field. Invariably, said object goes straight up, or backwards, or simply plops at my feet. Throwing a ball for Sadie in my small back yard invariably ends up with many trips to the neighbour's yard as the ball flops over the fence two feet behind me.

And so we have reached a compromise.  I can throw a stick with a fair bit of accuracy, and there is a very large ballpark at the top of my road.  So once or twice each day we walk up the hill and toss the stick a zillion times until her tongue is hanging out and my arm dangles weakly at my side.

Getting photos of her in action is as much of a challenge as throwing a spherical object.  She is SO fast that she has usually grabbed the stick and returned it to me before I have pressed the shutter button.  So I apologize in advance for these slightly out-of-focus shots:

I did ask Sadie to let me take a nice photo of her in my back yard one sunny afternoon.  She thought that was a strange request:

Ha ha ha!  Auntie Jean, you're so funny!
Just throw the ball!

Gawd this is boring!

So boring!

There, that's all yer gonna get!
Now play ball!