Saturday, June 18, 2016

Saying goodbye

Pet lovers know just how hard it is to lose their furfriend, and saying goodbye to my buddy of 13 plus years was not easy. We adopted him from Northern Illinois Samoyed Assistance  when he was a one year old crazy boy. He'd had a tough first year of life haven been born in a puppy mill and then chained outside by people who should never have had a high energy dog. Baxter had little in the way of manners. We were initially his foster parents because, having no kids, other pets and experience with quirky rescues, we were the perfect place for him.
Baxter LOVED to play.
Yes, he was a crazy dog! And DH and I aren't exactly disciplined dog trainers--we are both kind of easy going and live and let live. Somehow, we managed to help a high-energy silly boy calm down and be a better canine citizen. His own loving nature and natural desire to be a good boy and family member went a long way as we helped get him more properly socialized. And that is key!  Dogs want to be loved and love!

Oddly, one of the important things was to change his name. The moment we called him by his new name he perked up. He loved his new name. Maybe for him it meant he was accepted into the pack. His former name was a verb and if we accidently used the word in a sentence, he'd get visibly upset. (Notice that even now, I can't use that verb!) This was true of our former rescue when we stumbled upon what was likely her very unimaginative name--she was NOT happy. She had been clearly abused--to the end of her days she would flinch ever so slightly when we reached to pet her.  Our "training" regime was telling her what a good girl she was because if we said "bad" she'd start trembling. What is with that? People are (expletive deleted).

Anyhow, the name thing would make an interesting study for dog cognition.  Just saying, if you ever adopt a dog, and you want to change his name, go ahead and do it. Both our rescues thanked us for it.

Waiting for us on a cool day in Colorado.
That aside, Baxter was a great dog. He kept an eye on us at all times, such as in this picture where we had run up to check out a rock.  Don't worry! It was cold out and we were just gone for a minute! Somewhere, I have a picture of him driving the car. Unfortunately, lots of our older pictures are on CD's.

Samoyed's usually shouldn't be off leash, but this was a special situation
He loved going for walks. He even pulled a sled for a bit when he was a young man. And he LOVED to run around the back yard and the dog park. He was a fast guy. And as he got older, he slowed down a bit but still loved being out and about. Every Sunday, he'd go over to DH and remind him it was time for a trip to the dog park and off they'd go! I went sometimes, but usually the buddies went together.

Baxter camping in comfort.

And he loved camping and hiking. Here he is in our pop up trailer. He kept us plenty warm during some of those cold mountain nights. He was funny because he insisted in going back into the camper at sundown. No hanging out in the wilds at night for him! Yes, he was that smart.  Also, we like to say we purchased the pop-up because our first rescue absolutely HATED the tent. When we camped, she would insist we let her sleep in the car. She was quite happy when we bought the pop-up!

Baxter loved his treats.
And Baxter loved his treats and toys. Frosty Paws were a favorite (that's doggy ice cream cups), and even at the end, when he could barely lift his head, he enjoyed this treat.  Yes, we spoiled him! He has a big box full of toys which will be going to animal shelters! He especially loved those plush toys in the shape of animals. He'd run around the house squeaking and slobbering on them. When I'd exercise he'd share a special slobbery toy when I was trying to do crunches. It usually landed just under my chin. He also like weaving around me during squats. It was always an adventure with that guy!  He loved helping with yard work, especially when it came to pulling the tarp full of leaves during fall clean up. The only problem was Baxter usually wanted to pull the tarp in the opposite direction DH did!  They'd get it sorted out eventually.

My little helper
And, of course, he LOVED helping me with my crafting. He lie down as close to my spinning wheel as he could without getting in the way (mostly) and would regularly pay a visit to me at my loom and wind his way through it. On the big Leclerc, he could come right into the loom and curl up next to the treadles. The smaller looms he tried his best to get at least part way in.  The one thing about Baxter, is he always had an enthusiastic and positive attitude, even as he aged and things got much more difficult. He was a great, loving companion.

Thank you all for reading these stories (and some opinions) about my dog. One of the most important ways to deal with loss is talk about all the good memories of the lost friend or family member.

He had a very peaceful passing at the age of 14+. Thank you so much mobile veterinarian for coming to our house! They are  They were wonderful and Baxter had a peaceful and dignified end in his very own home. (If I could be so lucky when my time comes!) They are a full service mobile vet, because they can bring all the doggy wellness care right to people's homes! This has to be a godsend to the elderly with pets or the middle aged with  big dogs they can't boost into their SUV any longer!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Birds and bees

I love bumble bees. I'm always glad to see them each spring, those improbable roly poly bundles moving from flower to flower. Bumble bees are our native bees and I like to see them thrive. I am proud that some are able to overwinter near my house. No you won't see fuddly green chem crud truck in front of my house. You will see dandelions.

The yard in late April. Things are starting to grow and things planted.
Gardening has been a bit of an obsession and this year we made an extra effort toward our goal of a bird and bee friendly suburban plot. Sun and more native plants were added to the front yard. We had removed some kind of an inedible pear tree that came with our house and this spring planted some bee balm where it once stood. Along the walk to our house we have bergamot, purple and yellow coneflower, butterfly milkweed, Joe Pie Weed and a couple of native plants whose names I forget.

Today you can see more things growing.
We also added a Redbud to the front lawn in a spot where it shouldn't grow to shade all the prairie plants and give lovely flowers for bumble bees to forage from in early spring. Knowing how things will shade requires knowing where the sun strikes around the house. I think I have it figured out. We shall see as I hope to show the progress of this garden throughout the summer.

The walkway: Roses and blue false indigo on one side, allium on the other.
You may recall all the bulbs I planted last fall. They are growing! You can see a variety of allium to the left. I planted these to add color in June and because the bunnies won't eat them. Sadly, the bunnies have snacked on some of my yellow and purple coneflower which are slowly growing next to them on the walk.

 I took this photo kind of late so it isn't very clear.  I will take better photos as the summer progresses so you can see how pretty a critter friendly suburban yard can be.