Life Needs a Dog

I love having a dog. I really can’t think of a time in my life that a dog wasn’t in it. There’s a certain comfort having a dog in your life. Even with my environmental allergies, I need a dog in my life.

When I was born, my parents already had a wire-haired fox terrier named Whiskey. He lived until I was about five. I cried when we had to put him down. Poor old dog was deaf and blind by the end.

Then we had another fox terrier. This time a bitch named Brandy. And she was a true bitch in the most derogatory term imaginable. She bit everyone and clawed at kids. Less than two years old and she was given away. Having a puppy around small children isn’t the best idea I guess. No one was able to train her and we treated her like a living stuffed animal.

Then we had a cocker spaniel named Charlie. Unfortunately we only had him for about four years. He grew a cancerous tumor above his eye and we had to put him down. But he was cuddly and adorable.

Then we had a little white multi-poo named Alvin. He had skin issues and was rather over-weight as he grew up. He began a strict diet to try and help his heart. But he lived for a pretty long time all things considering.

When my wife and I met, she a dog named Chuppy. When we moved in together, I inherited Alvin in what my mother thought was his final year. He became active and healthy again as we looked after him. He lived on for a few more years. Then my mother took Alvin back for his final days.

My wife’s dog Chuppy was a Rhodesian ridgeback she rescued in Turkey. He was super loved by everyone who met him. I wrote about him back in September: Good Dog if you want to read more.

Lex is our most current family member. He has been great in so many ways. He was one of my first topics when I started blogging back in the start of 2016: Lex. He is still one of the greatest dogs I have ever met.

But once he is gone, we may not adopt a pet again for a long time. Our children will be older and possibly moved on in life. My wife and I are planning more traveling. And that leaves no time to take care of another family member. So while I’ve enjoyed having dogs around (I am a dog person not a cat person), it will be time to move on.

Thank you to all of the four legged family members I have had in my life. I hope that the enjoyment I received from them being around was reciprocated. It’s difficult to say.

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Good Dog

Today is the three year mark from when we had to say goodbye to one of our best friends.  Not only was he a friend, he was a family member. This is the first time I am writing about Degarip Capkin.


Most everyone knew him as Chuppy.  Or Chuppy the Puppy. His name loosely translated from Turkish meant “Silly Flirt”. He was true to his name. Everyone loved him.  He was a sweet & adorable dog.  He embodied what I always imagined a dog should be.  Medium-large animal with brown fur, long snout, big paws, always happy.

When I first met my wife, he was already a part of her life.  I accepted him and he accepted me in each other’s lives. My wife had just returned home from Turkey, where she had adopted him from.  From what my wife had told me, he was a very young street dog that was tormented by children when she first found him.  She immediately took to him and spent a small fortune getting his health up and being able to transport him back to Canada.


He was a mix breed but mostly Rhodesian Ridgeback.  He lived with us for many years.  All of our children grew up with him around. He was always tolerant of them as they would hug and love him. He lived a very long life of nearly 17 years. Towards the end, he had a tough time just getting out of bed.


On his last day, we took him for a final walk. I lifted him into our SUV and the family went to the vet. Before the vet put him to sleep one last time, we each made our peace with him. Tears were shed as his last breath was taken and he went peacefully into the void.

To this very day, many of our friends fondly speak of Chuppy.  He was a cherished dog that was the mascot of our home.  It was nearly impossible to meet him without wanting to give him rubs and hugs.  Not only was Chuppy a good boy, he was a great friend. We still miss him tremendously, but my wife misses him most of all.

Grumpy Bums

Our two youngest children are attending some free summer school programs this month.  Essentially it’s a summer camp Monday-Friday as they learn about science and tech.  It’s as if the school board took all the fun stuff from elementary school and put it together for three weeks of fun. Our children are really enjoying it. That’s about the nicest thing that I can say about today.

This morning, I told my wife at the last minute that we were going to take our oldest daughter and the dog when we went to pick up the two youngest.  I said that I wanted to go for a picnic and we could pick up some KFC and find a park or some place.  That’s when the grumpiness kicked in.  


Our oldest daughter didn’t want to go.  She had slept in until 11am and barely wanted to get dressed.  My wife didn’t want to go without a better plan in motion.  She was also upset that we were behind schedule in leaving to get the children.  It’s not that we would be late to pick them up, just late to find good parking.  It didn’t help that on our way we got stopped by a train for an extra few minutes…


After we picked up the kids, we went to pick up KFC.  I thought it would be a nice treat: some greasy overpriced chicken.  It’s something we rarely eat, to a point that our 11 year old son says he’s never had it. We took our bucket of 12 pieces and a box of fries and hit the freeway.  Seriously.  There is no nice way of advertising a “Bucket of Chicken”. 


We got off the freeway a few minutes later to go to a small place called Barnston Island.  As we headed towards the tiny ferry, we got stopped by another train.  Sometimes my work follows me everywhere. The touching, pushing and nagging was in full force in the back seat. We made it to the ferry (aka tugboat and small barge) and crossed over to the little island in the middle of the Fraser River.  I drove us around to the other side, pulled over and we all got out and headed towards the edge where the water was.

No one wanted to carry anything.  Not the food, not the drinks, the blanket, not even the leash for the dog.  So my wife barked some orders out, and the grumpy noises occurred and they all took something.  We headed towards the rocks and found a little spot to eat lunch. 


Even though the weather was a bit grey, we sat and ate.  The meal was peaceful.  No fighting.  Except when my wife tried to use her new selfie stick to get a family shot.  No one was cooperating.  Even the dog was unimpressed. Shortly after eating, a few raindrops happened, so we packed up and got back into the Pathfinder.  It was a brief lunch. The bickering and touching occurred in the back seat once more where it had left off.

What I was hoping to be a nice surprise picnic lunch was less than stellar.  Last minute planning isn’t our thing as a family it seems.  I better plan the next “spontaneous event” at least two months in advance.

Little Birdhouse In Your Soul

Yesterday I complained about rats in my post Screw Ratatouille.  No complaints today.  I want to talk about something more fowl. Birds.  Stop with the dad jokes already.


Yesterday I discovered a woodpecker had made a new home in a dead tree near our house.  A friend on Facebook mentioned that it is a Western Flicker. Most people would be all, “nice bird pic” but I find it cool that someone out there knew the exact breed.


Even though we have lots of trees, the birds usually find nests elsewhere. A favorite spot is on top of a wood carved sculpture we have near one of our back doors.  Every year a red breasted robin makes its home there.  


Even my derelict AT-ST had a nest on it.  Birds just seem to be attracted to our man made art pieces. Seeing all of these birds finding shelter near our home is great. Sometimes they fly in and out of our home.  But my favorite adventure with these birds was the time a hummingbird flew inside our home.

We left our doors open like we usually do in the summer.  A stray hummingbird made its way into our dining room.  It got trapped by our skylight.  My wife devised a plan to cover the skylight with a blanket while I stood on our table and caught the bird in my hands.  Its little heartbeat was going at a furious rate.  I stepped outside and opened my hands to release it.  The bird took a few moments, then flew off. 

Birds are much more beautiful than rodents.  It’s funny how the cuter an animal is, the less likely I want to kill it.  

Camping Pt.2: Family

Yesterday I wrote about a couple of my previous experiences camping as a young adult.  As fun and memorable as those camping trips are, those days needed to remain in my past.  I am now on to creating new memories, only this time with my family.  

2014: A single night of camping.


A couple of years ago, I took my kids out for a night of camping just to see if they liked it.  They did.  We all wanted to go again, but it took me two years to convince my wife to join us.

The SUV packed full with kids and dog ready for camping.


Earlier this week, I had changed my work schedule and got a “three day weekend”.  From Monday-Thursday morning we hit the road and said farewell to our luxuries.  No electricity, no running water, no internet.  We still had our cellphones for music and photos- we aren’t savages- so I’d like to share some pictures of our trip as well as my thoughts.

An SUV in the wild? Beautiful BC.


We drove about two and a half hours from our home.  The last hour or so was down a 33 km logging road which included a few wrong turns.  But we made it to our destination at 20 Mile Bay by dinner.  We set up our tents and made our little piece of home in the seclusion of the wilderness (albeit still a Provincially run campground).  The campground had 50 sites, and we booked a double site on the south end.  No one was near us until the last evening.  The solitude and peace was just what we needed.

20 Mile Bay is right on Harrison Lake.  A beautiful lake that I’ve been boating on with friends in the past.  The bay itself is just that, a shallow bay with warm water that looks out into the rest of the lake.  For the three nights we spent there, we only saw a couple of other campers.  It felt like we owned the lake.  It felt like paradise.  


During the days we cooled off in the water.  The kids got along famously.  Our dog enjoyed a dip as well as all the new smells in the air.  My wife and I put our chairs in what felt like the middle of the lake and read our books.  We went for walks around the lake with our dog walking calmly beside us unleashed.  I even taught my children how to use a slingshot and skip rocks across the water.


In the late evening, we enjoyed a campfire along the beach.  We roasted marshmallows, some getting burned like they usually do.  We added a packet of coloring to the fire, making green, blue and purple flames.  The children were at peace and we talked.   The night sky was clear our entire trip and we saw more stars in the sky than we usually do at home.

Our last night there, a campfire ban was put in place by the Province.  So we sat around our table and played cards in the evening and enjoyed some hot chocolate. This was also when we received new neighbors at the site next to us.  

Happy Campers!


Ugh.  These new arrivals almost ruined our experience.  They were the epitome of “White Trash Glampers”.  Travel trailer got parked, the guy immediately fired up his chainsaw (what????) to cut a log to balance the trailer, the dirt bikes unloaded, tarps and lights strung out, the generator went on, the young kids (two of them under the age of five) dumped their toys everywhere around the beach and site, the mother constantly yelling at them while the kids fought, and their dog got tied up and yelped all evening into the early part of the night.  As it grew dark, the noise level increased and their friends also showed up with a travel trailer and in the darkness attempted to set up as well. Absolute chaos and pandemonium was happening next to us.~END RANT~


As we sat at our table playing cards under the light of a single Coleman lantern, with our music on at a level just loud enough that we could still talk and sing without yelling.  We were glad that we had a couple of nights without these people.  The next day, we packed up to head home.  Each of us working together talking already about our next trip.  My wife has now become a camper and it looks like we will do this trip again.

Our little spot of paradise.

Exercise

Hahaha.

I don’t actively go out and do crunches, sit-ups, running or weightlifting.  It’s never been my style.  Kudos to those that are adamantly hitting the gym everyday.  You have a drive and a passion to perfect your body.  I can fully respect that.

 

Always remember to rest.

 
For me, exercise is the yard work I do, it’s the gardening, home renovations, walking around my favorite stores, or conventions or Disneyland.  I love walking.  Most of the jobs I’ve had all my life have had me walking from place to place until recently.  Now I sit at a desk and stare at a computer.  What I found?  I missed walking.  Getting fresh air, seeing nature, and clearing my head.  So, I take my dog for a walk more now than I ever did in the past.  Not everyday, but when I feel the need- we head out for some time together.  He likes it.  I like it.  I don’t need anything or anyone telling me I need more exercise.  My mind and body are in sync and I go out as needed.

This past Christmas, I gave my wife a Fitbit because I knew she’d wanted one.  To my surprise, she is still focused on it and how active she is.  It has made her more aware of how many steps she takes in a day.  The Fitbit has her setting goals of how many flights of stairs she needs to get done before midnight.  When she is sitting at the table or on the couch, she no longer asks me or the children to get her something that she needs, she walks over and gets it herself.  It may have been just as easy for one of us to bring it over, but now every step counts.  My wife’s goals aren’t intended to beat the other Fitbitters she is friends with.  They may have daily challenges between each other, but it’s not a contest.  The way I see it, they are promoting a healthy lifestyle, with each other as a cheerleader coaching them every step of the way.

 

I’m always thinking about my next nap.

 
My wife thinks I should get a Fitbit to push me a bit more.  As much as I love technology and gadgets, this one doesn’t appeal to me.  Aside from my wife, the friends that I know who have a Fitbit, tend to not use it as much as they did when they first got it.  Essentially like a treadmill being used as a clothes rack after the initial first wave of good intentions.  Just gathering dust until the next resolution or need to look good because summer is approaching.

This is why I don’t go out and spend money at the gym.  Or buy expensive exercise equipment.  I know my limits.  I know my human nature.  I know I wouldn’t be happy being forced to exercise.  I am healthy according to my last visit to the doctor a few months ago.

I enjoy walking on my terms.  I just need to get some better shoes.

January 13,2013 Lex

We adopted a new member of our family back in 2013.  He was about four years old and fit in almost immediately with our family.  I knew he was the right pet for us because he was farting constantly in the three hour car ride back to our place.  The evil that came from his butt may be the reason my son came up with the name Lex Luthor for him.

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Lex Luthor

A little over three years later and our fur-baby (oh gawd I said that) is a big part of our family.  He follows us from room to room throughout the house.  He’s there for family movie night, or dinners, and even answering the front door.  People love to see him, we even have a friend who loves taking care of him while we go away.  He’s a calm and lovable dog.  I only have one complaint.  He sheds.

Shedding

There’s a small animal being made right before my eyes.

Now, I know almost all dogs shed.  It’s just a fact of life when you have an animal in the home.  But the amount of fur that comes off our lovely dog on any given day, is enough to make a second pet.  (Imagine if you will, Gizmo from the 80’s film Gremlins after he gets wet.  I am happy that Lex doesn’t often get wet. That makes it nearly impossible to get rid of dog hair.)  I can deal with the fur gathering under the sofa and around the corners of the floor.  I have come to terms that I need to carry a lint brush for my shirts 24/7.  His hairs just float around and land everywhere.  I’m glad that we don’t have a forced air furnace heating our home: there’d be a per-pet-ual cloud of dog hair tumbleweeds.

But even after my complaining, we love our dog.  He is every part of this family as any one of us.  Adopting a rescue dog has been one of the greatest joys that we shared as a family.  He has enriched our lives, given us exercise, and has been there for each of us as we needed company.  Go out and save an older dog.  Puppies are cute as well, but the older an animal gets, the less likely they are to find a home.

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Family isn’t always blood related.

Since rescuing our dog, I have met some really neat people who also love their rescue animals.  One of the neatest people I met was Anne Wheaton.  She is always out there doing good for animal rescues in Pasadena California, check it out here: Pasadena Humane Society.  We adopted Lex Luthor from a small place in Merritt, BC called Angel’s Animal Rescue.  There are plenty of animal rescues out there, one may have your future family member there.