Saturday, December 6, 2014

In memory ....

In Memory of Princess Isabella
March 14, 1999 - December 4, 2014 

I am grateful to the staff of the Casselton Veterinary Clinic for their professionalism and compassion this week.   There is no easy way to let a pet go, but they certainly made it an infinitely better experience than I had with Dee Dee.   I am at peace with the decision, and grateful that I was able to hold Princess throughout the procedure.   She died in my arms, and the veterinarian and tech sat with us for another 20 minutes and we chatted about our dogs and the love they bring into our lives. That meant the world to me. 

This week marks the end of the "Princess, Dee Dee and Elvis era".   The memories of the times we shared with all three dogs are precious.   So much life happens in the span of fifteen years.  Princess was with me through upheaval at work, through the loss of my parents, through other changes in my family and in my own life.  For fifteen years she slept pressed against the small of my back.   I can hardly remember life without her.  

I look at Scarlett and Zak now and try to imagine what they will be like in 12-13 years .... what memories we will make together and what those years will bring.  I'll be in my 70's (yikes!!), retired, quite possibly living in some other place.   Dogs are amazing creatures.   They know more than we realize .... and they love unconditionally.   I have marveled at that over the years.   I shudder to think of how many mornings I was running late and snapped at Princess and Dee Dee or failed to give them the attention they needed.  And yet when I came home at the end of the day, they were at the door to greet me - butts wagging, so happy to see me; and I, them.   

I miss Princess terribly.   She brought more joy into my life than I would have believed possible.   She was my first corgi, and the reason I got the others.   She changed my life, and I will always be grateful.    Rest in peace, sweet girl.   You are forever in my heart. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Saying Goodbye

Princess, at the age of 15-3/4 years, has lived an extraordinarily long and wonderful life.   Our veterinarian gave me the supreme compliment at her wellness check in October when she said  "You've taken such good care of her."   I hope it's true.   Princess was my first corgi, and the one who made me fall in love with the breed.  Just like first time parents, you cut your teeth on your first puppy and learn as you go.   I'm sure I made some mistakes, but it wasn't for lack of love.   I adored my girls, and only hope Scarlett and Zak have lives that are just as good.

Sleeping in the car
The past few weeks have been tough for Princess.    We've had a cold start to the winter, she gets the chills when she goes outside and needs help going up and down the steps.   She drinks so much water and of course that means she has to go outside a lot too.   The puppies are rambunctious and bother her.   This Fall she went to work with me most every day but now that it's gotten cold, she can no longer do that.    She adores my neighbors and loves to go to their house.   But those trips are more difficult with the onset of winter.    Her digestive system has been upset, her back hurts and her legs are no longer stable.   It's time to say goodbye.

Princess with our neighbors, Mike and Gina

On Thursday, my neighbors will accompany us to our veterinary clinic in Casselton where we will help her cross the Rainbow Bridge.   Unlike Dee Dee, who passed in an unfamiliar place with a doctor we'd never met, Princess will have our wonderful Dr. Schmid, and Casselton has a special room, quiet and peaceful, just for this journey.   I anticipate that it will be a bit easier than it was with Dee Dee.    Princess is almost three years older and I have no doubt that it is time.

Princess and Susan
But the ache in my heart is still horrific.   Ever since the decision was made last week, I've had intermittent waves of grief.   Not one to cry in front of others, I've savored the moments we've had together at home.   But Princess is not just my dog.   Dee Dee was very attached to me and didn't even want to leave the house without me.   But Princess has so many, many friends.   And because of that, I've needed to let them say goodbye.   So, since Saturday, we've have a number of different friends stop over.   Princess has enjoyed tummy rubs and special treats, although I've maintained pretty tight control over that because I don't want her to have a tummy upset in her final days.   On Sunday, our friend Susan Lenthe took these wonderful photos of us together.    They will bring comfort in the weeks ahead.  Tonight I will bury my head in her back, memorize her smell and allow my tears to fall on her fur ... I will linger ... I will treasure these last two evenings together.   She will always be my PRINCESS.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Yard Work

While much of the country is languishing in record breaking November snowfall, here in Northwestern Minnesota, we have been largely spared.   We've had a couple inches, and the surrounding area has had much more, but right here, the ground is bare.    We haven't been as fortunate in the temperature department, as we have been well below normal (even below zero) for the past three weeks.    But the lack of snow has enabled me to finish up my raking and late Autumn yard work.   One Saturday, several weeks ago, I decided that I'd better go full throttle on spreading the black dirt and mulch I had delivered to spread over the area where three large trees were taken out last Spring.   I planted an Autumn Blaze maple and a hydrangea tree. watered them faithfully until freeze up and look forward to filling in the area with perennials next Spring.    That particular Saturday I was bemoaning the fact that I had to do this all alone, with no DH to help.    Just then I turned around and saw that the 'man of my house' (Zak) had come to my aid and was all too willing to 'help'.     That nice, cool black dirt was SO soft and completely irresistible, and he was happily digging himself a trench to lie in.    One look at him, and all I could do was laugh.   I was nearly as filthy as he was, and we both found our way to the tub an hour or so later.   I really should have taken a picture of the bathwater!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Autumn, Nature's Loveliest Smile .......

Yunker Farm Dog Park
We've been enjoying a nice stretch of Indian Summer, which generally occurs right after a hard freeze.   As I recall, we never really got that last year, so we are especially enjoying the nice days this year.   With daylight hours waning, I rush home after work and we head to the park to get some playtime before dark.   We all sleep better at night when we've had some exercise!   Evenings have been cool; just perfect for sleeping with the windows open.   Last night was particularly lovely, with a nice breeze drifting right over my pillow.   
Maplewood State Park

With my favorite boy
A couple of Saturdays ago we made our annual Fall trek to Maplewood  and Glendalough State Parks.  It was a picture-perfect day and our friend Susan Lenthe snapped these shots of us.  We got there early enough in the day to beat the crowds and by afternoon it was warm enough that the dogs could swim.   Princess was in top form that day, easily beating everyone but Susan's border collie, Tulip, to the stick in the water.    I wanted to get Zak into the water one more time this year, to reinforce his swimming skills and was gratified to see him take right off without hesitation.   Yay!!  
With Miss Scarlett

Princess got the chills when she got out of the water. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Happy Birthday Miss Scarlett!

This beautiful girl turns two years old today!   Scarlett has been a wonderful addition to our family.   She has a sweet personality, can be quite comical at times and is very obedient.   She loves to be told she's a 'good girl'.    Scarlett will crawl up on your lap, unprompted, and is very affectionate.    She has learned from Princess that the house next door is a good place to go for treats, and will often follow her over there.   She gets very excited when she sees me grab her leash and LOVES to go for car rides or to the park.    She plays well with other dogs, always has to go on at least one 'tear' and adores Zak.  When I think back to last December, when I almost lost her, I shudder.    We may never know what it was that made her so sick, but she is in perfect health now.   I am so grateful!  

Happy Birthday, Miss Scarlett!    You are deeply loved!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Zakki Learns to Swim!

The first of August took us back to Au Train, enjoying another week at the cabin with my brothers.   Dan is home from China for a year, and hadn't met the puppies yet.   They had a great time together.   It was a wonderful week.

Zak learns to swim

When we were at the cabin in June, we tried to get Zak swimming, but were unsuccessful.   He loved the water but was afraid to lose contact with the ground.   So last week, with summer slipping away, I was even more determined to help him conquer his fears.   We took him to a small lake a few miles from Au Train; one that is warmer and more placid than Lake Superior.  We put a life jacket on him, and enticed him to deeper water with a toy.   Then Tim pulled him around by a leash until he was comfortable.   We removed the life jacket and then dropped the leash and he was swimming!   By the end of the week, he was in Lake Superior, swimming like a champ.   He is very intentional as he wades out as far as he can, pauses and then takes a little jump into the deeper water.   It's pretty cute.    Zak swims with great speed and is very focused on retrieving.  Scarlett has a natural buoyancy with her wider hips, and Princess still loves to swim as well.  It's an equalizing activity that allows her to stay cool and doesn't stress her joints.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Spray Falls 
Three batches of jam!
The week went fast. We picked wild berries every day, made three batches of raspberry jam, did a bit of entertaining and enjoyed a three hour cruise of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.    I had a bit of drama with one of Tim's many kayaks; one I have named "Tipsy" after a face to face encounter with the bottom of the Au Train River!

Sunset at Au Train
Daniel and Princess
We had to leave Princess at the cabin for most of our day time outings, as she isn't able to keep up, but I tried to give her some special time of her own with my brothers.   One evening, after the puppies were sleeping, we took her down to Au Train Bay to watch the sunset with us.   She cuddled up next to Daniel and enjoyed having him all to herself.   

Zak loved all of the attention he got too; wrestling with my brothers, playing 'Fetch' and just generally being the star of the show.   He traveled much better this time, placing his back legs on the hump of the back floor and stretching the rest of his body between the front seats. I had my right arm around him, scratching his neck and he thought that was just great!   Whenever I quit, he would strategically place his head next to my arm as a not-so-subtle hint,  just like Dee Dee used to do!

Swinging Bridge at J Cooke State Park

Gooseberry Falls
On the way home, we stopped at Gooseberry Falls, and J Cooke State   Parks.  We had perfect weather all week!   Now back at home, Princess is next door visiting the neighbors, Scarlett is relaxing in her kennel and Zak is going through attention-withdrawal!   I'm busy unpacking and wondering - where did the summer go?! 

J Cooke State Park 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Zacchaeus!

One year old! 
I can hardly believe that this handsome boy is one year old already!    When I brought him home at 6 weeks, he was just 2-1/2 pounds and fit in the palm of my hand.

Seven weeks old
In fact, I snuck him into the food court at West Acres Mall (in my purse) and passed him around the table for my stamp group to meet.  He grew so fast over the next few months that I could literally see him change from day to day.

Zacchaeus Robert is now a big boy at 31 lbs; lean and muscular with a long back and, by corgi standards, very long legs.   He is full of puppy mischief, loves to play with anyone who will engage him but is just as content to snuggle up beside you.   Zakki loves everybody!  The only time you hear a snarl is if Princess walks too close to his kennel when he's eating.   He is very sweet to her and always gives her a good-morning kiss.   He loves sticks, Frisbees and balls of all shapes and sizes, but his favorite 'thing' to play with is Scarlett.    The chasing and rough housing show no signs of slowing down.   They love to go to the dog park and play with the other dogs there, but are always happy to get home so that the 'real fun' can begin!

Happy birthday, dear Zakki!   Happy birthday to you!!  What joy and fun you have brought into my life.

As this handsome boy was entering the world, another handsome boy was preparing to leave it. Elvis Bogart Wales left us on July 29, 2013 - just one day after Zacchaeus was born.  Of course at tthat time, we had no idea of that link. We miss him so much, especially when we're together at the cabin.   We will be there again next week, spending a few days with both of my brothers.   The weather is looking to be much warmer than it was in June.   Can't wait!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Week at Au Train and One Determined Puppy!

About mid-March of each year, when Winter seems endless and Spring as elusive as a moonbeam, I begin counting the days before we go to Au Train.   In the upper peninsula of Michigan, snow pack lingers far into May, but by the end of June, even in a year such as this, it has given way to wildflowers and lush green countryside.   However, because so much of Lake Superior froze this year, swimming is unthinkable, and even in a kayak, the cold permeates the floor and sends a chill through your body.  But Au Train Lake and the Au Train River (on which our cabin is located) are surprisingly warm.

I was hoping to get Zak swimming this week and we certainly tried. He is able to paddle to shore, but not yet brave enough to willingly lose touch with the ground.   We'll get there.   It was a relaxing week, with lots of time to sit on the deck,  hang out at the beach and explore the backroads.   We've been vacationing there for years, but now we are 'locals' so we figured we'd better get to know the area!

Princess rides home in style

If our week at the cabin was relaxing and uneventful, our trip home was anything but.   Zak has gone on several trips this year already - to the Twin Cities, to my friend's lake cabin over Memorial Day weekend - and done well in the car.   I decided that I'd rather have his wire kennel along this trip, so I left his travel kennel at home.   That was a bad decision.   On the way over, a couple of things happened that freaked him out.    We drove through a pretty intense thunderstorm with pea size hail (which sounds VERY loud on the car roof) and, taking state highways rather than interstate, we hit a lot of rumble sticks.   Like Dee Dee, Zak has a zero tolerance for rumble sticks! He felt that the only safe place to ride was in my lap, and THAT was where he determined to sit!   This didn't start until the last 100 miles of our trip to the cabin, and I was able to push him back with my hand, although it was hard.   He is 31 lbs; very strong and very determined!

So, for the trip home, I decided that he'd ride in the kennel in the back seat.   I thought that if I got it through the door flattened out, I'd be able to assemble it inside and it would fit on the seat.   It didn't.   Tim folded it up and made a barricade between the front and back seats by tying it to the headrests. It took Zak all of two minutes to figure out how to get under it. I stopped to plug holes several times, but he managed to find a way over, under, around or through every barricade. He wanted to be in my lap, and was determined to get there.   I had to pull over five times because he had gotten himself stuck between the door and the seat.   He nearly strangled himself when I leashed him to the kennel.  I was becoming far too distracted by his theatrics, and finally gave in and put him in the front seat.   I knew he would try to get into my lap, and he did, but when I shut off the AC vent in front of him, he finally settled down and rode reasonably well the rest of the way.    The girls slept nearly the entire twelve hour trip home, whereas Zak didn't take so much as a catnap.   He was exhausted when we got home, curled up in his kennel and went right to sleep.  

We are going back to Au Train for another week in August.   Needless to say, the travel kennel will be going with us!
Sunset over the Au Train River


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend

It is hard to believe that we began the month of May with temps   in the 30's and are ending it in the 90's!  We made a quick transition from winter to summer!   The puppies and I had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend at a friend's lake cabin south of Duluth.  We have so many wonderful memories of Princess, Dee Dee and Elvis swimming in the Great Lakes, so I was eager to teach Scarlett and Zak to swim.   I held Scarlett's collar for about five seconds and she took right off!   Zak was more tentative.  He desperately wanted to get the stick but couldn't muster the courage to get his nose wet.  My friend tossed him in once at the end of the dock and he paddled to shore; a look of abject terror on his face.   He didn't let her get near him again!  He loved the water though, and I have no doubt he'll be swimming by the end of the summer.
Scarlett learns to swim!

 Zak has been limping on and off  the past few weeks so I took  him for an Xray on Wednesday.   I expected to learn he had a bad sprain or maybe had sustained a hairline fracture when he jumped off the bed a while back.   Unfortunately, the news was much worse than either of those things.   Zak has a  condition known as premature growth plate closure, which occurs  most often in short-legged breeds.  I am waiting on a second opinion, but we are  almost certainly facing at least  one surgery; quite possibly  more.   It was a devastating  blow and has turned my summer  upside down.  The timing is  especially bad, as we had looked  forward to some summer fun, after a long, cold winter.   The hardest part will be keeping Zak quiet.  His favorite 'toy' is a chipboard mailing tube and I have accumulated quite a stash, thanks to a co-worker who works part-time at WalMart.  I'm hopeful that they will keep him happy and entertained in his post-operative recovery.