Folks, thanks for taking a wee look at my latest art. Remember, this is a new thing to me (age 56) and I am learning a ton! I’m so very much enjoying this form of hobby. Take a moment to make a comment! I love them.
‘I’m your friend…and as your friend I gotta be honest with you. I don’t care about you or your problems.’
~Chloe the Cat
The Secret Life of Pets
We adopted a tabby kitten from a friend in Polar River, NWT. She was a tiny cat, but she was mighty. We named her Sahtu after the region by that name in the Arctic, but, perhaps we should have called her SAW-TOOTH, as one of my nephews would call her.
We were living in Inuvik then and in the midnight sun of the summer, insects grow freakishly large. Sahtu learned to hunt by catching the massive dragonflies in mid-flight. She would jump up and grab them in her two front paws. Then… she would eat them, turning her sweet head to one side and crunch as she used her chewing teeth to devour her catch.
The first night she was with us, she slept on the fridge. She was tiny and she had never seen two big dogs before. Within a matter of days, however, she was completely in charge of the dogs. We had an old couch that the three of them would share. Sahtu would put her two dainty paws on Delta
or on Grizzly and she would knead their abdomens. She would sometimes receive a nice big lick but never a growl. The odd time, not wanting her attentions, Delta or Grizz would quietly get up and vacate the couch to her. The dogs just loved her. They were ten times bigger, and could kill her with one powerful shake, or one absent minded bite, but they were mush in her green-eyed gaze.
We moved to Toronto after that, all five of us, and had this great three-story brick house at Birchmount and The Danforth. I am fond of saying that we were in the North Beaches, but those who know Toronto, know we were actually in Scarborough. There was a large, leafy shotgun fenced-in yard that the dogs would run the length of to chase their nemeses: SQUIRRELS, barking all the way. Never, of course, catching them. They should have recruited tiny Sahtu. She could catch anything. When Dean was studying and inevitably scrunching waste paper into balls, Sahtu would come a-running, the first time was out of curiosity at this new sound, the scrunching sound. Then Dean tossed the ball of paper high into the air and Sahtu executed a four foot high jump and twist to catch that ball of paper. After that, it became a game to her and a marvel to see. She had one lithe, muscular little body.
We had a little window over the kitchen sink that we would leave open for her to come and go. She was a happy little cat. We would put a bowl of food in a cupboard and we quickly taught her how to open the cupboard door. In she would go to eat in peace. Her food remained safe from the dogs.
The next year we moved to Virginia. Sahtu would come walking and hiking with us sometimes. My friend Nancy and her girls found it quite remarkable. We would be hiking through the woods and Sahtu would be following behind. We had a little bell on her which helped us keep track of her. Her cool feline presence added to the experience of hiking in the woods.
This one time, after we moved back from Virginia, to Milton, Ontario, we were living in an apartment out on highway 25 in the countryside. Going away for a few days, with our little guy, Leo and the two dogs, we decided to leave Sahtu with the affable young guy who lived in the apartment beneath us. We told him that if he left the low door window open, Sahtu could come and go and to simply keep her food and water full. After our weekend away, we returned to find what looked like blood and guts everywhere in the large front entryway and on the walls up to about four feet high. We found Buddy and asked what had happened, fearing the worst.
Eyes bulging out of his head to emphasis his words, he goes, ‘Man, that cat of yours is some kind of maniac hunter.’
‘What do ya mean? Little Sahtu?’ we asked, in harmony.
Still with the overly wide eyes, Buddy says, ‘Well, she may be tiny but she’s a force to be reckoned with! She caught a rabbit, bigger than her, and she jumped through the door window with it in her jaws! When I came out here it was half dead jumping around trying to escape her and it was bleeding EVERYWHERE. I had to get my hockey stick to kill it and put it out of it’s misery’. I am quite certain that Buddy had no idea what he was getting into upon agreeing to ‘watch’ Sahtu.
Another time, after we moved into our new house, we needed to have some electrical work done. My eldest brother Matt came over to do the work. Downstairs we had this huge basement which had a workroom at one end, which was unfinished with an open ceiling and a utility room at the other end, which also was unfinished with an open ceiling. From time to time, we would notice little Sahtu going up into the space between the ceiling and the main floor. She would often start in one end and come out the other, having done her rounds, looking at us as if to say, ‘Okay, my duty is done. Everyone can rest easy now.’
So, when Matt was having trouble telling a complex funny story while also pulling wire from the workroom to the utility room, he was getting frustrated because the wire just wouldn’t go through. His story came to a halt. I said, ‘Wait a minute. Maybe Sahtu can pull the wire.’ So Dean ran to get her little metal bowl full of kibble and added a bit of fresh and fragrant roast beef. I tied a light-weight piece of cord onto her collar. We then put her up to the opening in the workroom ceiling and…in she went. Quickly, quickly, Dean, Matt and I then clambered through the rec room to the other open-ceiling room where we shook her food bowl, making the distinct sound that she knew and loved — we often shook her food bowl to entice her to come inside the house. Within a couple of moments guess who’s green eyes we could see coming? Little Sahtu. Matt was very impressed and for a few moments we tossed around the idea of putting little Sahtu on the payroll and hiring her out to pull wire at other jobs.
Another testament to her hunting prowess was the time our old Army friend, Nee asked if we could bring her along to his cottage in Haliburton because it had become infested with mice. ‘Absolutely!’ We arrived at the cottage, in tandem with Nee and Pauline. Just as Nee was unlocking the cottage door, I said, ‘Let’s put Little Sahtu inside first and see what happens.’
‘Really?’ Nee asked, skeptical. ‘Okay.’
We opened the door a crack and put Little Sahtu inside.
A split second later she came out with a wriggling mouse in her jaws and..she ATE it, head first. All but the tail and the gizzard. Such a delicate little thing. Pauline stood frozen with dainty fist pressed to her mouth, horrified.
All night long she battled the infestation in that cottage. There were minor crashes and thumps and bumps as she became the scourge of the Haliburton mice.
A few years later, we sadly lost our Little Sahtu. We aren’t absolutely sure, and we never found her body or any other evidence, but there was a massive bald eagle scoping her out as she herself hunted in a field.
The circle of life sucks sometimes.
We miss her.
(Cat photos courtesy of google images)
One more funny for ya…
I do not try to disappoint
Or mean to disobey
There is no reason you’d suspect
I’d go another way
For we are born to what we are
With choices we must make
I see no point in taking sides
I see no sides to take
~John McCutcheon’s Bird Dog
‘Could I possibly meet Jack,’ I said. ‘We could come on Sunday, ‘ I said.
…Jack has been with us ever since that day. He was impossible not to love.
You see, our senior girl, Lady-Jane passed away about ten months ago and her passing was heart-breaking as she became quite ill with an awful infected lump on her haunch – after never being sick a day in her life….
Well, we now have a new pup and heading, head first into another decade and a half of fur-face lovin’. This guy’s name is ‘Jack’. He is hilarious and goofy and very loving and, yes, even chill, at times.
Jack was listed on Kijiji, the same way we adopted Lady-Jane, actually. Unbeknownst to my friends, I had been perusing the Kijiji re-homing ads for several months. This time I wanted a goof-ball dog. No more of this big pointy ears and pointy wolfish snout. Lady was a fabulous girl, (as were Delta and Grizzly before her) but, almost daily she scared the bejeezus out of people and other dogs. She was just so ‘ON’ it protection wise.
Jack, on the other hand, has had Acadia U. students at my door to just pet him for a minute. Folks have said things like, ‘Thanks, I needed that!’ after running their hands through his puppy fur and, burying their face in his fur and smelling his puppy smell. Other friends have received the exuberance of a four foot high jump, so excited was Jack to meet them!
Jack is a black standard golden-doodle who was being trained to be a PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) service dog. Unfortunately for the PTSD folks, he failed his trials. ‘Too bouncy’ was the verdict. So after being with the breeder in Montreal for four months, he then went to the trainer for two months in Halifax. Now he is with us in Wolfville.
We have loved him since the moment we met him. He comes to my office with me and is settling in very nicely. Here’s a picture of him on the couch (no other dogs have been allowed on the couch), splayed out in the reverse flying frog posture – letting it all hang out – throwing caution to the wind. Just so chill. I felt very pleased to see this. He is AT HOME and he knows it. He is with us for his fur-ever.
It is wonderful to have a fur-head again. He has brought much joy. One young student, while petting Jack at my office door said, ‘Dog’s are here to love us, you know’. Wow. Isn’t that the truth.
He has gone for the snip. He thought he was going to the ‘tutor’. Turns out, he was going for the ‘neuter’! He was very very tired afterward and then it was ‘the cone of shame’ for a few days. All went well and now he is back to being his goofy self, lying beside my chair awaiting his next soft hand, or treat or walk.
By the way, Jack has his own Instagram account. He’s pretty funny: @jackthewolfvilledoodle check him out!
(All photos are mine).
When you see my Lady, with the twinkle in her eyes, tell it to her softly and hold her if she cries. Tell her that I love her and I will till the day I die. Tell it to her gently when you tell her that I won’t be coming home again
~ Burton Cummings
How I shall miss you my best furry girl-friend of the last decade.
Every time I pulled my coat from the cupboard to turn around and you’d be there. Tail wagging. Wet nose smelling. Long tongue lolling. Eyes asking, me too, Mom? If I told you not this time, you would turn and lay down. Disappointed but disciplined. Stoic.
Every time, without fail, the cheese came out of the fridge. From the far reaches of the house you came a trotting.
Running clothes on, Dad? Let’s go, your body said. I’m ready.
Danger in our yard? You would inform us with an important chuff or alarm bark, and make us feel safe, especially from the most feared: a cat! You were ON it! But should a friend come by, there was nary a woof. Not even if years had passed.
I see your water bowl, food bowl, your leash and collar, your tie-out rope, your bed of old blankets. All are sad reminders of your doggy-ness. Your unconditional love of us. Your pack whom you would protect, without question.
This morning I awoke and waited for your bedside greeting. Every day for ten years your nose was there nudging my hand. Your tail wagging us into a new day. Walking to my office where you would take up your spot under my desk. I would warm my feet under your furry belly. Time to go home? Up, shake, let’s go.
But the last months something was wrong. A growth grew. An infection. Blood. A smell that was full of not good. Piddly pee. Howling at the vet’s office – singing the song of your people, the Vet said. Wagging tail stopped wagging and now clamped under to hold the foreign growth on your haunch. You would sandwich yourself between my legs and the cupboard when I was chopping. You would pant and pace. You were not yourself. Oh dear. We would have to face it. You were not feeling well, dear Lady, searching our faces with those pretty brown eyes.
Those hard days are over. We have let you go. We will not forget your sweet furriness and your wonderful doggy-ness. You were love itself.
A Magnum P.E.I Mystery
Lady Jane was our black shepherd mixed-breed dog that we rescued when she was ten-months old thanks to an ad that Dean saw on Kijiji (which is like ‘Craig’s List’). He fell in love with her picture instantly and asked me could we go see her. By then, our two big Northern dogs had passed away, each in their thirteenth year and buried in our back yard with collars hanging from an overhanging limb. They had been good dogs but, sadly, their day was done.
Normally I would have jumped at getting a new dog but at that time, I was feeling pretty over-worked with the house, the yard, the business and the various students we would take in for months at a time.
I would hear other moms saying that the dog care always came down to them. That’s how I perceived it. It was me who worried about them. Me who made sure they were walked, or who got after Leo or Dean to walk them. They had been a lot of work that I felt relieved to be rid of. However, the look on Dean’s face after seeing the picture of that black tapered snout and high, pointy ears. Well, I could not disappoint. (That’s how he used to look at me, I realized). I told him I would go see the dog but, ‘no promises,’ I said.
She was gorgeous. Dean couldn’t stop patting her and saying sweet nothings in her direction. I said we needed to give it a tiny bit of thought. What I actually wanted was Dean to promise to take a more active interest in her.
So the sales pitch began by Dean: ‘I promise I’ll do it ALL for this one!’ he pleaded.
Next we went to the Farmer’s Market and met up with a friend from across town. Dean told Wayne all about the dog we had just looked at. Wayne wondered what there was to think about. I chimed in that having a dog again could be rather inconvenient. Wayne says, without skipping a beat:
‘The best things in life are inconvenient.’
We looked at him. We nodded. We turned and went to get our new dog. That was nine years ago.
Besides running off several times as an adolescent, sometimes being nasty when meeting other dogs while on leash, and an awful patch of killing chickens that nearly cost me a dear friend, she has been the best dog ever. She has never been sick. She rarely makes a mess. She doesn’t steal food. She doesn’t chew and she doesn’t over bark. Get this: she bites her nails. We have NEVER cut her nails, and they are fine. Of an evening, we will hear her surreptitiously biting them while laying on her mat.
But lately…there had been this mystery of the shit-breath that we could not figure out. And when I say shit-breath, well, that’s an understatement. I would have to roll all the windows down if it happened while out in the car and spray lavender water at her. And it would seemingly come from nowhere.
I decided to take a good look in her mouth. Perhaps it was an abscess? What I thought I saw in there, and it wasn’t easy to keep Lady’s jaws wide open, was a broken top molar-type tooth at the back.
Off to the vet we go and wow, were we impressed with this vet who was as high-energy as a boarder collie. She got right down on the floor with Lady and really checked her out well, while asking us various questions. She told us that Lady was in fabulous shape. Great teeth. Good pulse. Good eyes – no cataracts. She asked us what we fed her. Our answer: kibble and plenty of table scraps like meat, potato, cheese, carrots. Fresh water with a bit of organic apple cider vinegar (which instantly pretty much cured some piddling that was occurring after a run). She asked about vaccinations. We don’t do them, we said. We do get her seasonal tick and flea treatment though. (The thought of a dog being crazed by itchiness saddens me).
Then she asked about when the shit-breath occurs, because at that moment, it wasn’t there. We said it’s odd. It just happens seemingly out of the blue and lasts for a few hours.
‘Ahh’, she said.
‘Ahh?’ we asked.
‘Has she ever had trouble with blocked anal glands?’
‘Yes. We would sometimes see her scooting.’ And I knew from reading James Herriot in my teens, that scooting was a sign of blocked anal glands and that what would come next would be REALLY gross. And, by the way, what the hell are anal glands good for?
The vet took a look (with gloves on) and sure enough. Blocked anal glands. She explained that Lady would be licking at them to release the blockage. At this point we almost hurled, but, held it together while the Vet squeezed them for a few minutes to drain them…I’m almost sick as I write this.
Mounds of grey gunk came out on her paper towel. She showed it to me while I turned green.
‘Lady should be fine now.’
Lady? I’m pretty sure she meant we. We should be fine now.