Tar Lightening – Gizmo

Gizmo died Aug 2, 2011 and the grief still catches me and I miss him so much it hurts. It’s been four months that I’ve been without my Gizmo and life is not as rich or as full. Of course we go on, but the loss is incredible and affects every day of my life.

My good friend Chris has set up the website, so I can categorize the posts into groups making them easier to find. I read Goodbye Gizmo (category: Gizmo) which tells about the night he died and I cried so hard. The tears fresh like the night it happened. I miss him so much.

The pain is like a bolt of lightening covered in hot tar that rips through my chest and sends the grief directly into my heart. I wish for so many. I wish for Gizmo to be back. I wish I’d left him in the stroller. I’d wished we’d built the fence like we’d talked about so many times.

I wish I could turn back the clock.

Even months later I am broken. Torn apart. Alone and lost.

This video was taken the day Gizmo died. He was playing in the living room and I picked up the video camera and shot the last images I’d ever have of Gizmo.

Little did I know that I would be having one of the worst days of my life that would haunt me a lifetime. I miss Gizmo.

 

D-fa Dog Coats

Every year I get the dogs new winter coats. Do they need them? No. Do I love shopping for them? Yes. This year we found D-fa Dog (say it fast: D is for Dog) and fell in love with the language on their website and their well made product. The striking photos of the most beautiful black lab in a shocking red coat help the marketing as does the hip language and exotic allure of New Zealand.

http://www.d-fa.com/

We got the coats in the mail and they clearly aren’t made for super little guys, but with a few alterations they’ll fit. I love the Ice-Barker made from 100% merino wool from New Zealand. It’s made for the older guy who might have some cold weather joint pain. Perfect for my aging Poco.

I though the puffy coat would be perfect for my Super Taz Adventure Princess Puppy Dog who will stay outside in the freezing cold until she shivers and sneezes. Unfortunately, the puffy coat is a little too big for the delicate Princess, but D-fa has offered to custom make one just for her.

The Sub-Woofer seemed like the perfect coat for Jackson who doesn’t stay out any longer than is necessary. It’s a soft shell coat made of synthetic materials that is super light. It’s like he’s wearing nothing at all. It’s a bit too big, but we’re hoping Aunt Carolyn will shorten the back a bit.

Her name is Angela and she’s fantastic. She’s a customer service rep for D-fa Dogs and has offered to do any alterations and make any exchanges to make the coats fit my wee adventurers.

For Poco we’re trading in the P2 for the P1 (smaller) Ice-Barker and it should fit perfect. Poco weights about 11 pounds the P1 is a perfect fit with no alterations required. If you’re little ones are ten pounds the P1 should fit.

For Taz D-fa Dog is customizing a Puffy Coat just for her at no charge (they’re even covering shipping). The Puffy coat is super light weight, water resistant and incredibly warm. It will be perfect for long winter days on cat patrol.

Jackson got the Sub-Woofer which fits the smallest of all the dog coats. Jax weights about 7 pounds and the only alteration needed is to shorted the back. I’m going to take this to Aunt Carolyn to get it shortened (rather than risk eye injury if I tried to sew). He looks incredibly sharp in the bright red, light weight coat.

I’m very happy with the customer service of D-fa Dog. I would highly recommend their products and their company. If you’ve got a dog that needs a sturdy, well made, lightweight coat that won’t make them look like a sissy check out www.d-fadog.com

 

Winter Hay

It’s late November and there is a thick layer of ice on the horse water, frost on the ground, naked trees and yellow grass. The ducks look fluffy, the pigs look blacker and the horse is starting to look like the Abominable Snowman from Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer. These are signals for winter meaning its time to get the hay in storage and the farm ready to survive the icy onslaught of the deep freeze.


Over the year the hay storage areas turns into various other storage areas for: plywood, insulation, four wheelers, motorcycles, truck, welders and various other tools. When it comes time for the hay storage area to be converted back to the “hay storage area” it often takes us days to re-organize and decide what’s going out into the snow.

We use two outbuildings to store all the round bales that we’ll need till spring when the grass starts to grow and the horse prefers all things green after a harsh winter. Spring seems so far away.

Brent and I started last week loading the truck and trailer full of plywood and insulation to be transported to covered storage in Wainfleet. We moved a few things around, put my tractor under a big silver tarp outside and made room for hay.

Hay must be stored inside or it rots as soon as it gets wet, so we empty one bay of the back garage and use half the horse lean-to for storage. We currently have fifteen round bales in storage with each weighing over five hundred and fifty pounds. One round bale generally lasts Autumn two weeks in the dead of winter with nothing natural to consume.

I buy my hay from Farmer Steve who lives about a kilometer up the road. Steve’s grandfather used to have a pair of Belgian horses he would hook up to a sleigh and take me for rides in the winter. He was one of those cool old farmers. I’m happy that his grandson has taken over the farm. Steve is kind enough to deliver my hay and help me put it away.

This is usually a job that takes three people: one to drive the tractor unloading the round bales from the wagon and two people to push the round bales deeper into the storage where the tractor can’t reach. The leanto storage area has a low ceiling. Brent was working when Steve brought the round bales, so he was on the tractor and I was the sole pusher of bales.

What a work out! I huffed and pushed and groaned as I rolled and flipped the over five hundred pound bales into place. Some bales weight a little more due to moisture content and some a little less. Either way, they’re incredibly heavy. Steven had to help me move one of the heavy round bales and he said after I’d moved two by myself, ” you know, these are really heavy”. I was huffing and puffing so hard I couldn’t get out a response, but I swear I heard him giggle as he walked away.

 


Guest Writer: Brent Lindhurst on Jackson

Cutest Puppy  (also know as Jackson) Story.

This morning, Sunday, woke oddly refreshed — oddly 8 hours after getting into bed.  Stepped the 13 carpeted treads down into our bright warm kitchen, Jax waiting at the bottom – supporting his cuteness on the bottom step with his front legs, looking up at me,  leaking cuteness into the whole room.  (Baby puppy is dangerous sweet, we have to be careful with him around diabetics and kids easily subjective to cavities).  Knowing all to well about how diligent we have to remain while training Baby Puppy, I immediately pick him up and walk through the kitchen, the back entrance, an open sliding glass door and into the remarkably beautiful unseasonable warmth.  I carefully support his warm body which supports the over-sized tongue while discussing my plans with him.  “You’re going to use the outdoor toilet and then we get treats”.  I’m sure you can reason with a baby puppy.


I set Jax down behind the pool shed in the safety of the second fenced pen.  We talk for just a moment or two (“Do you have to piddle?”), me feeling a little absurd in my boxers.  Jax runs back to the house, through the high security fenced pen, the back room, the dog door, and into the “I-deserve-a-treat” position.  I followed, and while very tempted by the cutest dog, I did not give into his treat beg.  Instead I explain the very valuable missed step between going out doors and coming in for a treat and prepare to investigate.  I figured there’s a little baby puppy treat somewhere for me to clean up if Jax has no interest in being outside for his morning constitutional.

During my unsuccessful investigation I catch, out of the corner of my eye, a very cute puppy doing a very naughty thing on the entrance mat.  I scare the poor guy by sweeping him up mid-activity and running him outside.  We have another – slightly different – conversation.  It ends similarly, except while Jax begs for a heart-shaped cookie, I employ the power of some Green cleaning agents.  I think he’s smiling.  He’s always smiling.

A third time I pick up our Jaxson and carry him out to the furthest reaches of the second fenced pen.  I carefully take up a conversation dropping bribes and trying not to whine.  “Please?”.  Success!  A “piddle”!  It’s little, but a defined moment in our training.  Finally I get to give this little guy the cookie he so richly deserved all along!  We run back to the kitchen (Jax uses the swinging puppy door, I opt for the more conventional “man” door) and I dole out the cookies.  Poco gets one for his guard work – I always feel safe with him around.

I’m so proud of my excellent puppy training.  I wonder if there’s a future in it for me?

Simba vs Jax

Big dogs seem to think they are top of the pack, but Jax shows us that regardless of size some behaviour is simply unacceptable. I was concerned Simba might hurt our little guy, but he was not to be belittled or bullied.

Simba is no longer afraid of little dogs and Jax is willing to teach him the difference between playing and fighting. I think…

There has been a fair number of posts about the dogs lately, but the reality is there’s been a fair number of dogs in my world right now.

The Foster Dogs We’ve Loved

Brent and I started fostering with Pomeranian and Small Breed Rescue in the fall of 2008 – the same time we adopted Gizmo.

Gizmo opened our eyes to the plight of rescue dogs, particularly puppy mill dogs. We instantly decided to become a foster family to dogs who needed help and guidance in order to become adoptable.

Gizmo – our first rescue dog we adopted right out of a puppy mill in Ohio. It was a long drive to Ohio and it felt like an ever longer drive home with our very sick puppy in the back seat.  Adopted as a companion to our Super Taz we quickly realized we had far more to learn from him than he did from us.

Gizmo. So unique. So amazing.We lost Gizmo suddenly and traumatically on August 2, 2011. He was 4 1/2 years old and in the best physical condition of his life. See the post titled “Goodbye to Gizmo” on our devastating loss.

Gizmo’s spirit and teachings thrive as we continue through the pain as a foster family for canines in need of rescue. Enjoy our stroll through our foster rescue dogs.

Missy (October 2008) – our first foster dog:

This is our first Foster Dog Missy through PSBR in October 2008

Missy came to us from Kingston, ON and was full of mats, feces and urine burn. her nails were so long they were cutting into her pads on her paws. She had a sweet face and her personality softened when she realized food was available, fresh water, a warm bed and a few canine friends. She’s in the picture above with Taz the moment we brought her home. She was adopted out several weeks later.

The sweet girl buried under all the dirt.

Our next foster was tricoloured poodle with no name. He came to us through the puppy mill auction in Ohio. Another puppy mill pup with limited exposure to people and fearful of everything.

A tricolour Poodle who got a home very quickly.

The tricoloured poodle was only with us for a couple weeks before he was adopted out to a lovely retired lady in Niagara Falls. I did the transport to his new home and had a cup of tea with his new mom. Meeting the people who wish to rescue a dog is incredibly rewarding. People with big hearts and kind souls.

Next we had Nora (third foster)  who ended up having several names before she was adopted out nearly a year after coming into foster care. Nora aka No-Nose was a puppy mill bitch who spent the first five years of her life having litter after litter of babies. She was so horribly constipated when she came into rescue that the vets mistook her x-rays of a full colon as more babies.

I had Nora and the tricoloured poodle at the same time.

It took months for Nora to find her feet. She was about five years old and considered useless in the Puppy Mill world and deemed unworthy. She was banished to the puppy mill auction where other millers looked for new bitches. Luckily Nora was saved by a rescue group and ended up on the farm. Funny how she looks like Jackson.

Often the frightened fosters would gain comfort from each other.

This is the tricolour poodle and Nora gathering comfort from each other. Shortly after the poodle left, Bianca arrived (fourth)! She was a very small maltese girl also from an Ohio puppy mill who achieved emancipation at a puppy mill auction by a rescue group.

Bianca – not up for long.

Bianca wasn’t with us for long before she was adopted by a wonderful lady near Windsor, Ontario. Bianca was a tiny girl and now spends her days on a pink princess pillow lavished with love. It’s a long way from the puppy mill.

Gizmo and this pup were in love!

Next we had a three month old poodle cross (fifth) that Gizmo fell in love with. She was high energy and incredibly sweet. She and Gizmo would chase each other so much that he actually lost weight. I remember being in the bathtub one night and she came around the corner so fast she leapt and ended up in the tub with me! Fostering can be very exciting.

Perry, a striking grey poodle with matching attitude.

Our sixth foster was a silver poodle named Perry. This young man had some territorial issues that needed to be worked out before he could go to his forever home. He was with us for a few months before a lady who was wheelchair bound with special needs adopted this handsome boy.

Then came Poco…

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Poco arrived at our doorsteps through the SPCA in March 2009. Rescue groups frequently take dogs that fail the behaviour test and are considered “unadoptable” – without rescue these dogs would be immediately euthanized.

Our seventh foster Poco came to the farm in March of 2009 and was one of the worst cases of abuse I’ve ever encounter. We can only guess by this guy’s physical injuries what kind of abuse he must have suffered at the hands of his owners: a mother and teenage daughter.

Poco was so matted we couldn’t tell his gender until we shaved him down to the skin. His hair was thick with feces and urine that burned his skin. He had sores on his paws because his nails were so long they had cut wounds into the pads of his paws.

Poco’s back end was a mess of hunks of feces hanging from the hair. His legs are disfigured and he has an unusual walk. He is blind his right eye due to retinal detachment from a blow to the head. The vet said his cardiovascular system was so damaged that his veins would collapse when they tried to get blood for tests. They said he was only six years old, but had the body of a fifteen year old dog.

Feeding Time!

Poco would bite to defend himself. We had to muzzle him to get shave the filth off his skin. We had to muzzle him to give him a bath and wash away the urine that was constantly burning his flesh. He was angry and horribly sad.

Poco had given up on life. His depression and fear was palpable. He would sit in the middle of the kitchen floor and shake for hours. This behaviour lasted for years.

Poco has the potential to bite. If he was startled or afraid he’d nip. He’d bitten me three times in the first two months at the farm. This was a difficult time at the rescue and there was some pressure to adopt out the unpredictable Poco and after some discussion we decided to adopt Poco.

This is the only time before or since we’ve adopted a foster dog. When we foster we go in with the idea that this is not our dog, but a visitor who is waiting for their owner to bring them home.

Sure he’s not good with kids! Poco and my 2 year old nephew James.

Sure he’s not good with kids, but he hasn’t bitten anyone in months. Sure he’s afraid of loud noises and storms, but he doesn’t spend all his time shaking anymore.

Poco at the CCG 2011

 

 

 

 

 

Poco is a part of our lives and we’ve had the privilege of watching him become an  amazing dog. Adopting Poco was one of  the best things we’ve ever done.

Then came number eight: Sammy.

Sammy

Sammy had some severe aggression issue due to abuse at the hands of a heavy drinker. We were surprised when a family wanted to adopt and work on his issues. I’m so proud to know people who would take on a challenge.

Kayla was our ninth foster dog.

Kayla was only with us a for less than a week when she was snapped up by a wonderful family who smiled and waved so brightly when they came to pick her up that I got tears in my eyes and a really good feeling in my heart.

We had another foster dog named Kalie who was a similar looking female shih tzu cross who was adopted by my good friend Maria after she agreed to look after her while we were on vacation. She fell in love and we were open for another foster. Kalie was our tenth  foster dog.

Sweet eleven! Chico was one of the most affectionate dogs we’ve ever fostered. He loved kids and would let them do anything. Chico was lucky enough to be adopted by a family with four children, so he was  guaranteed lots and lots of cuddled!

Our twelfth  foster was from the Potcake Rescue and was a lab cross from the Bahamas. Archie was incredibly energetic! He was adopted by a wonderful family in Toronto with two little girls who promised to walk him every day!

 

Number thirteen is our first foster from the Canadian Chihuahua  Rescue and Transport (CCRT). Little Vincent is from a hoarding situation in Oakville. We picked up Vincent from the Mississauga / Oakville humane society a week after Gizmo died. Little Vincent was terrified of everything, but so desperately wanted to cuddle. We nearly adopted Vincent, but decided it was too soon after losing Gizmo. Vincent had lost one ear and part of the other one in his hoarding home and that’s how he got his name. Vincent Van Gogh.

Number fourteen can’t really be counted as a foster dog because we adopted him straight out of Ohio. They called him Drover and we changed his name to Jackson. This is the ad that broke my heart and I knew this guy needed us as his forever home.

The heartwrenching photo of Jax

Once we cleaned Jax up and gave him a few good meals he was forever bonded to our family. He big bear fights with Taz and loves to cuddle with his mama.

Jackson starting to settle in

Our second CCRT foster dog Pepito (fifteenth foster dog). Pepito was found roaming the streets of St Catharines and was never picked up by his family.

Pepito was clearly loved and is not shy with people. He’s an interesting blend of chihuahua and italian greyhound. His long legs and beautiful ears make him an interesting combination. I’m shocked this guy hasn’t been snapped up yet due to his loving nature and toughness. This guy can handle himself.                                                                                    

These are the foster dogs we’ve had as of December 2011. We’re proud of the dogs we’ve helped and always regretful of the ones we couldn’t. Consider being a foster home and rewarding the animal lover inside your heart.

Some people think I’m a little crazy to donate my time, home and money to save these guys, but I don’t think we’ve done nearly enough.

On top of the foster dogs all our farm animals are also rescues. It’s how we roll.

                    

 

 

 

 

My own Dog Park

There was a heavy dark cloud of grief hanging over the farm after Gizmo died and the farm was very quiet and sad. Having only two dogs in the house made it very very quiet.

Taz and Poco are two of the easiest dogs to look after. They will free feed, so never wake me up for breakfast or dinner. They can use the dog door, so I never have to take them outside. They are both completely house broken. Neither require walks, although they do enjoy investigating new places. Except for the occasional cat patrol barking from Taz it was quiet.

Jackson arrived at the farm on Canadian Thanksgiving and he needed care. He’s still getting the hang of housebreaking and has to be taken out regularly even though he can work the dog door. He does free feed, but loves to eat and will wake me up in the morning for breakfast. The stairs seem so big and elusive, so Jax will sit at the bottom and bark to go to bed or at the top and bark to come down. He needs to be cuddle and loved. He needs reassurance and attention.

A few weeks later Simba came for an extended stay. A big dog with big dog mess and big dog fun. Simba is completely house broken and will free feed. He’ll sleep, but does get restless and wants to play in the early morning. He manages to squeeze out the dog door and needs a good walk everyday to prevent general craziness.

A week after Simba came to visit the CCRT called and asked if we could foster Pepito. He’s a chihuahua / italian greyhound cross who is an easy keeper. He will free feed and loves to sleep all day long. He has the hang of the dog door, but was only neutered a week ago, so he still marks. Luckily, he only marks in the back porch and not the house anymore.

From two to five in a month. I’ve got my own dog park and race track.

After a long day of racing around the farm we end with a nice dinner. Every few weeks Brent and I make dog food. It’s chicken and vegetables done in the crock pot and we then put it through a food processor and mush it up a bit. We were using a new food processor and ended up with chicken bits all over the counter. What better way to clean up then to let the dogs do it?

Don’t worry we cleaned everything with extra vinegar. Maybe you want to pick up a pizza and wings if you’re on your way to the farm for dinner?? It’s not a place for the squeamish.

 

 

Puppy Night In

You can learn so much hanging with the dogs. You can learn to sigh deeply when you find that comfortable spot on the couch. You can learn to play with all your heart and wag your whole body when you’re happy. You can learn to correct your friends with kindness remembering not to bite when only a growl will do. You can learn to pee outside, greet your friends with enthusiasm, let the wind blow in your hair and don’t be afraid to cuddle on the couch. You learn it’s best to stretch before getting up, let people touch you, eat with gusto and bond with your pack.

Brent in relaxation puppy class

My good friend Tanya sent me an email last Saturday asking if I was planning on having a puppy night in. An idea had never sounded so appealing. Tanya smartly brought an overnight bag as we dug enthusiastically into the red wine and nachos that Brent was kind enough to make.

We talked about life, work, family and our favorite topic: the dogs. As we told stories about our four legged friends it was nice to caress the head of the dog we were telling the story about.

I think she's got the idea of "relaxing"

It’s surprising how quiet it can be with eight dogs comfortably ensconced with three adults in a century farm house. We never turned on the TV or played any games. We sat and talked. We cuddled puppies, played with puppies, went for periodic walks outside and drank some excellent red wine.

I like to stretch out. The dog behind me is pretty big, but managed to squeeze in behind me.

It was a great way to spend a Saturday night. If you ever want to come to the farm ask if I’m having a “puppy night in” and I’ll happily change my plans to hang with you and the canines.

 

Foster Dog: Pepito 11/11/11

Day one in foster care: 11/11/11

Pepito is our new foster pup we picked up on 11/11/11 from St Catharines. Pepito was found wandering the streets as a stray and he’s learned some street lingo and gotten a few scars.

Pepito is an emaciated chihuahua cross. We guess he might be a little bit chi and a little bit italian greyhound due to his long legs, bigger size and arched back. He barely sheds and is very much like a cat as he tip toes around the house. He managed to climb behind Brent’s head on the back of the couch and curl up like my cat Spike used to do. It was a delightful memory that this stray brought to the farm.

Pepito failed the behaviour test at the humane society and was deemed unadoptable. His only salvation would be a rescue group willing to work with  him until he could be considered rehabilitated.

I can’t believe this sweet guy needs rehabilitation? He’s wearing a black fleece that used to be Gizmos and is sleeping on the couch beside me completely accepting any affection.

He’s great with my dogs and pays no attention to the cats outside. I’ve yet to hear him bark, but it’s only day one and he’s not quite himself after a long stay in a kennel with tests and stress. He’s sleeping his way back to health.

I don’t know how many foster dogs we’ve had over the past four years, but it must be close to twenty. I think of it as twenty heart beats we helped find  new lives. Twenty heart beats we brought back from the brink of destruction. Twenty little lives we had to be caring enough and strong enough to let go to their forever homes.

Some foster dogs are easier to let go than other and some foster dogs break my heart when I watch them drive away with their new loving parents. Some dog are only with us for a few weeks and some stay for a few months. They’re all welcome and we help them recover and realize that life is a good place to be a dog.

Super Taz - Ignore the bows: she's a 8 pounds of fury.

Taz is a huge helper in rehabilitating these lost souls. She’s the total package: nurse when their sick, mother when they step out of line, big sister if they try and borrow her clothes, best friend when they need to tell a secret, guide when they’re learning where to potty, eat, drink or sleep. She cuddles the afraid and straighten outs the rebels. I don’t think we’d be successful without our Taz. It’s one of the reasons we call her “Super”.

She’s not finding Pepito much of a challenge. He’s quiet and respectful. He sleeps in her least favorite bed and doesn’t bother her when she eats. He has yet to try and steal her toys or harass her little brother. He did sniff her with too much zest, but immediately backed off when she emitted a single, very female, low throated growl.

Looks like Pepito might be one of easier boys to foster. He’s a good eater and gets along well with everyone. He’s wonderful on leash. The only drawback? He was just neutered on Wednesday, so has a tendency to mark. He’s only marked twice in the house and is quickly realizing this is not acceptable.

Brent and I have so much to do today around the farm, but we decided to prioritize what was really important. Brent and I had one goal today that needed to be achieved: save a puppy.

We didn’t get the laundry folder, the back barn cleaned out, the garage straightened up, the floors washed, dishwasher emptied, eaves cleaned or the backhoe lubricated, but we did save Pepito. We picked him up on Friday.

On the following Saturday night we thought we’d lost Pepito. We tore the house apart trying to find him and found ourselves in the fully fenced yard looking beyond the fence. The dread grew and the harder we looked the less likely it seemed we would locate our foster we’d had for a day.

I had thoughts of cars, busy roads or coyotes. There are so many things that go bump in the night out in the country. My good friend was visiting with her three dogs and the one was in the kitchen while we search.

With a deep inlay of panic Brent and I  jumped when Tanya yelled “found him!” Relief led to tears and a desire to hug and/or choke our little Pepito.

Tanya found Pepito sniffing her dog Madeline in the kitchen and he didn’t really understand why all the hoopla. We still didn’t know where he’d been hiding.

After a quick drink to quell the anxiety we got ready for bed and started upstairs. I was afraid to ask, but where was Pepito? Brent and I exchanged nervous glances, but our stress was short lived because when Ipulled the blanket back on the bed there he was snug as bug tucked into our bed.

I’ve thought I’ve lost Pepito two more times, but I found him under the blankets of our bed and then under a pile of clothes in the laundry room. He loves to be covered up and it’s great information to have on hand.

We've only had him for 3 days!

After a few days Pepito is starting to fill out and look happier. He no longer marks in the house and is fairly quiet. He gets along well with my guys and seems to be recovering nicely from his neuter.

Pepito will be up for adoption shortly. If you’re interested please go to the CCRT website: http://www.ccrt.net and fill out an application.