Friday, April 18, 2014

A very good dog

Since I can't seem to do much today other than think about my Sophie, here are some pics of our sweet girl who left us too soon.

She was holding her sit for me so I could take her picture, but she really wanted to run!

This was taken just after the dogs arrived at our farm in November 2007. Sophie was a kissy girl from day one! You can read about how they came to us here. Because of the dogs, we have two great friends and a godson. Our godson's mother fostered the dogs for two weeks before handing them over to us. We have been friends ever since. As Patrick (godson's Dad) pointed out to me yesterday, that's Sophie's legacy. A fine one it is!

She didn't like dressing up, but she wanted to please me so she tolerated hats. :)

Sophie liked to herd ducks and chickens.

She loved her daddy a whole lot.

She and Tristan always had their noses to the ground!

And she loved to run. My, how she loved to run!

I think winter was her favourite time of year. She truly seemed to love the snow.

And I loved her.

I loved her blonde eyelashes and big brown eyes.

And her expressive ears!

I know that look. That was the "Please let me out of this sit-stay so I can come kiss you!" look!

She gave great doggy kisses.

Because she was a great doggy.

My walks won't be the same without her. She took such pleasure in them!

She was bossy with her buddy Tristan, but they were together almost their entire lives. Tristan was just a month younger than Sophie, and was adopted by their former owners when Sophie was three months old. Tristan seems to be doing okay without her. I think he's trying to cheer me up.

Sophie was always with me, whether outdoors or snoozing on her bed next to my desk.

Nothing made her happier than the prospect of a walk, except maybe the prospect of a swim! I only had to say the word "walk" and she'd go crazy.

She liked her food, too. We usually fed her outside, because she was on a raw diet and it was less messy to feed her there. She had a whole pre-meal ritual. As I carried her bowl outside, she'd launch herself off the porch steps (literally flying off the top and down to the ground, rather using the three steps!), spin around once, then wait expectantly for her meal.

I knew something was wrong Wednesday when she padded down the steps slowly, and didn't do her little spin. But she still wanted her supper.

Three weeks ago, on March 24th, we took one of our last walks together...

...she was so happy and energetic! I can't believe she was already full of cancerous tumours.

She adored the woods.

Tristan needed to lie down for a rest halfway through the walk. Not Sophie!

It won't be the same for any of us without her. 

She often found a cat in her bed, and would just stare at me beseechingly until I removed the offending feline. She sniped at the cats a lot, but she knew who was really the boss!

And there were always kisses! So many sweet kisses.

And mud. So much mud! And she was great at bringing me stinky dead things! And she LOVED butt scratches. Her favourite thing.

But most of all, she loved to run. Especially towards me. I'd call her name and she would come running, no matter where she was. Usually she delivered kisses upon arrival.

This week she really wasn't feeling well...

...but she kept her good nature. 

Every morning, the dogs and I had another ritual. I would eat my toast in bed, but leave a crust for each of them. Every morning, as soon as Sophie finished breakfast, she would tear up the stairs and sit next to my bed, waiting for her crust. Even yesterday she did that, albeit a bit more slowly. But her ears pricked up as soon as she saw me handing that crust to her, and down the hatch it went. I wasn't supposed to feed her anything before her vet visit yesterday, in case they needed to sedate her for x-rays. But I completely forgot when she came for her toast crust. I am SO glad I did. So glad she got her last little treat.

This morning Tristan got both crusts. He seemed pretty happy about that.

On March 24th, just before we went on our trip, I took a series of photos of Sophie running towards me. Today I figured out how to make an animated GIF with them:

You can see the joy etched on her face. She adored being outdoors and just running, running, running. It's so hard to believe that three weeks after these photos were taken, she's gone. This is how I will always think of her: running towards me with a big doggy grin, ready to give me kisses.

Our hearts are broken but we'll always treasure the memories we have of our Sophie, a very good dog!

Sophie, September 2002 - April 17, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A very sad day for us here

This morning, we had to have our beautiful dog Sophie put to sleep. 

I took her into the vet today because she had been lame on her front left leg, and yesterday I knew she really wasn't well. We just thought it was a muscle or ligament problem, but it turned out to be exactly what Tristan had last August: hemangiosarcoma.

Except Tristan had his spleen and a huge tumour removed, and is still with us (on borrowed time.) Sophie, however, had three huge tumours on her liver, plus a scattering of small ones, plus a large metastasis on her shoulder (which was causing the limping.) She was already anemic and had a low platelet count due to internal bleeding. Fortunately, because of Tristan's cancer, I am well-read on the topic of this disease and knew the prognosis was terrible. Sophie was going to bleed out and die, probably very soon. We might have been able to bring her home for a day but we didn't want to risk having her die an agonizing death here, particularly as she was already bleeding internally and it was just a matter of time.

Luckily I managed to get ahold of Gordon, who was working in the courthouse just a few blocks away. He came, we said our good-byes, and were with Sophie as she passed peacefully. She was 11-1/2 years old. 

It was especiallly shocking because for months, we have been preparing ourselves to lose Tristan (even with his surgery, his prognosis was not good.) Sophie has always been our healthy dog: no arthritis, no problems, no nothing. Instead today we found ourselves saying good-bye to Sophie. And my vet has never before had clients with two dogs suffering from hemangiosarcoma at the same time. Very awful luck.

The day before we left on vacation, I took her and Tristan for a long walk in the snow. She was running and happy and looked as fit as could be. Fewer than three weeks later, she's gone.

Good bye, darling Sophie. You were always such a good girl. The best! We miss you so much. I hope you are in some kind of doggy heaven with your former master, who loved you and Tristan so much, he (at the last minute) decided not to take you with him when he committed suicide in 2007. Because of that, we had 6-1/2  truly wonderful years with you. 

I will miss you so, my devoted friend and walking buddy. Wherever your little doggy spirit resides, I hope you are happy.

Monday, April 14, 2014


Who's a floozy?


Why is she a floozy? Because today, having just returned from Sri Lanka (and still not over the jet lag), I realized that my pig got really fat while I was away. And developed an udder. And huge teats. And then I put all that together...


Yes, Ophelia is with child. Or children. Not only that, according to my former pig-farming friend Eugene, she's going to drop those babies pretty darn soon. So we have to get her pen all set up with a farrow box and heat lamp and whatever else she needs. I am doing crash course on pig-birthing!

Here she was a few weeks ago...

Compare the back end above to...

THIS. I saw this today and that's when I knew. She didn't have an UDDER when we left on our vacation!

And she is LOVING the belly rubs more than ever ...

See? A couple of weeks ago, she was practically dainty...

And now, she is not.




The shelter didn't know she was preggars. They don't even have a real mandate to look after farm animals, but no one else is doing it, so they do their best for find homes for these critters. A pig's gestation period is around 116 days, so our floozy Ophelia was well knocked-up before she landed here.

I am IMMENSELY grateful she didn't give birth while I was away! The farm-sitter would have LOVED that.

So yeah, I was going to post more Sri Lanka trip photos today, but somehow the pregnant pig seemed like a more pressing subject. :)

Wednesday, April 09, 2014


Today we visited the ancient cities of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura, which are part of the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Here are some photos from Polonnaruwa, which we visited around 4 pm when the light was spectacular (and the temps a tiny bit better. It was 38C here today!)

Polonnaruwa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

This is what's left of the Royal Palace...

The Council Chamber, which was also the courthouse...

We drank four large bottles of water today and sweat like pigs. Once again, be glad there isn't smell-o-vision on this blog!

Here's the King's bathing pool!

A 25-ton granite tablet inscribed with the history of the reign of one of the kings of Polonnaruwa.

Satmahal Prasada

Polonnaruwa Watadageya

This used to be a big bell-shaped stupa.

Argh, can't remember what this structure was for. But there is a Buddha in the back that is fairly well preserved.

Polonnaruwa Watadageya

Ancient stone Buddhas.

It's okay to have your photo taken in front of a stupa like this. It is NOT okay to pose like this with any Buddha statue!! Don't turn your back to Buddha and smile for the camrea. We knew this, but some other tourists (who also apparently could not read the many signs saying not to have your photo taken with your back to Buddha!) did not, and were all posing like idiots in front of a Buddha statue. The staff made them cut it out pretty darn quick.

It doesn't take much to learn how to be respectful in a Buddhist temple! It amazes me when people visit a country but don't bother to learn some of the simplest ways to show respect when they are there. Speaking of respect, my legs were borderline today. All my pants were in the laundry this morning, and you should not be showing your knees at a Buddhist temple. I managed to cover my knees, as did Gordon his knees. You can borrow a sarong if you are indecent. Also, you need to remove your hat and shoes when you enter a temple. And don't, for God's sake, point at Buddha, especially not with your feet. Do not grab your boyfriend's butt while at the temple. And here are some more tips!

 Now back to Polonnaruwa...

Huge stupa!

Beautiful Buddhas carved in stone: 

What an amazing place.

And now, some animals!

Two monkeys. The one on the right is preggars.

Temple cat, zonked out in the heat:

And this guy was cuddling a sleepy little squirrel. I asked if I could take a pic. He was amused at my request but obliged!

More soon!