Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Big 4.0

Lacey turned 4 years old yesterday!  My little girl all grown up.

Look how little and round she used to be!  (Her head is wet as she got sprayed every time she tried to play tug with my pant leg.  Apparently that was often!).  She was always a feisty little thing.

Liz took this photo - it is still one of my all time favourites!  She was still looking for a home at that point (we were just supposed to be her foster home).

Here she is playing with  a sweet lab at work (Kayla was the best puppy playmate!).  I think at this point, we'd officially adopted her.  I have no photos of her and Coulee doing this.  I think Lacey was about 9 months old when they finally played together.

And here are some pictures of her on her actual birthday this year...  One day I'm going to her a superman cape!

Coulee was very sweet and let her get the frisbee a few times...  You know, 'cause it was her birthday and all.

I love how enthusiastically she runs back, even when she loses the race.  :)

Happy Birthday Little One!  Thanks for all the snuggles, nose kisses and sass.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Kiss

This series made me laugh.  Coulee's expression is so clear as to what she is thinking.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Light Load

The photos from the day I took the girls out when Coulee was carrying the iPhone are some of my favourites that I've taken lately.  Maybe it is just the addition of the backpack and therefore some colour?  Or maybe the lighting was just nice that day?  Who know.  Who cares.  :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Comparison Walks

For a long time I've been meaning to attach a GPS (aka my iPhone) to the girls to see how far, and how fast they go on our walks.  Not surprisingly they are quite different.  I tried to duplicate the same walk for both the girls (aka same path, same level of energy/enthusiasm and same amount of time).  This is our standard "tight timeline walk" and it usually takes us around 40 minutes.  The backpacks (which held the GPS) did change their behaviour a little bit - Lacey was less sassy (and therefore ran a little less than usual) and Coulee's long lead outs were shorter and less frequent, especially at the start of the walk.  But it is as close as I'm going to get unless I buy a GPS to attach to their collars or I condition them to their packs more.

Lacey's Walk:
- she traveled 1.58 km
- we walked for 39 minutes
- her average speed was 2.4 km/hr
- her maximum speed was a whopping 25.3 km/hr.  This surprised me, but it was probably only for about 5 seconds.  LOL
- her highest average speed over a one minute period was 6.2 km/hr

This is the route Lacey took:

As you can see, Lacey sticks pretty much to the path.  I doubt her stats and map would be much different than mine.  She just putters along at her own pace.  She often stops to sniff and then just runs to catch up.  She has occasional bouts of sassiness where she'll attempt to beat Coulee to the toy, but that usually lasts for 5-10 throws at most.  She is pretty content to just putter along (just like her mama).

Coulee's Walk:
- she traveled 3.59 km
- we walked for 38 minutes
- her average speed was 5.7 km/hr
- her maximum speed was 33.1 km/hr
- her highest average speed over a one minute period was 14.8 km/hr

This is the route Coulee took:

Coulee is a fetching machine (when I let her be).  That wide loop you see in the middle is her "leading out".  She often drops the toy at your feet and then takes off.  She does a long loop and doesn't expect you to throw it until you've made eye contact with her.  She'll start to glance over her shoulder as she hits the 3/4 mark of her loop to see when (and where) you are going to throw it.  I try and throw the toy so that she doesn't have any sharp corners and can just keep running along the smooth path she has chosen.  Ideally, she'll be able to catch it just as it is coming down to land.  We used to have our system down to an art form so that she was able to catch more than 50% of my throws, but lately we've had our timing off.  We need to get back in the groove with each other - we are just out of practice.

You can see where Coulee petered out on the way to the river... she just walked along the path with the toy in her mouth.  After the river, she felt refreshed a bit (I took the GPS out of the backpack while the girls went to the river), but she was definitely slower during the second half of our walk.  Her endurance isn't what it used to be. 

I wish I had done this a few years ago when Coulee was in great shape.  I'll be repeating this again in the future to see how different things are.  It will be a great way to track how much the dogs slow down as they age, although I'm hoping that Coulee's will actually be faster in 6 months after I whip her back into shape.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Roller Derby

Last night Marlin and I went out to watch the Dethbridge Dames race Roller Derby against the Tar Sand Betties from Fort MacMurray.  I never watched it as a kid but recently I've become quite fascinated with it.  I love the toughness, the quirkiness and the athleticism of it and I have to admit, I love the thought of an alter ego too.  :)

I took a bunch of crappy photos - I had the ISO cranked up as high as it could go (6400) and it was gritty and still blurry.  Thankfully the sport kind of tends to be kind of gritty.  I couldn't decide on a editing style I liked (hence the different styles you see here) - basically I was trying to turn crappy photos into something interesting which is something I'm not very good at!

We were a little confused at times when we were watching.  We know the basic rules, but were often confused by the penalties and why sometimes half the team was missing from the rink.  But even without a full understanding it was pretty fun to watch.

Basically the woman with the star on her helmet (the jammer) needs to get through the pack more times than the other team's jammer.  Everyone else on the course is trying to stop the opposing team's jammer and assist their own.  There were 6 refs on site making sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing.

I've decided I'm going to start practicing with them.  Did I mention I can't skate? 30 years ago I could fumble around an ice rink, I rollerbladed once about 18 years ago and I haven't been on any kind of skate since.  But apparently they'll teach you how... I'm hoping I won't be the worst they've ever seen.

It is comforting to know that you need to pass tests in order to play.  It is actually quite stringent and there are different levels to get through before you are officially an active member during a bout.

It isn't comforting to know that you must purchase insurance and show proof of health care before even being allowed to practice.  I made the mistake of looking around flickr yesterday for Roller Derby pictures - there are some pretty amazing bruises out there!  I might just volunteer to referee instead.  It looked quite a bit safer.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Do a Little Dance

Some days, I think I have the least graceful dog on the planet.  :)

We "chatted" with the vet yesterday (via email) and we have good news.  Coulee's feet responded so well to the Propylene Glycol soaks that we are NOT going to put her on steroids.  {Insert Happy Dance}.  Every time her feet have gotten better, it has amazed me at how quickly it happens.  In a matter of a few days they go from looking like crap, to looking smooth and healthy again.  It really is quite amazing. Her pads this morning are smooth, soft and only  have a slight grey discolouration. But there are no cracks, no feathering, and no dry chunks.

Because her feet responded to the propylene glycol, the dermatologist is now thinking that she has "Idiopathic Hyperkeratosis of the Golden Retriever".  Which basically translates into "We have no idea why some golden retrievers get dry, cracked and thick pads, but they do and it seems to be genetic/breed related." I don't care what it is, as long as we know how to make it better.  Coulee isn't following the traditional symptoms (they showed up too late in life) but it is our best guess.

So our fingers are crossed that this is not just a huge coincidence in timing, but at this point our plan is to continue with the soaks for a few more days then reduce them to once a week.  We may need to play with the timing of the soaks to determine how often we need to do it, but we'll play it by ear.

Oh and in other happy news - she gets to run completely bootie free again.  AND as hard and fast as she wants.  We may even get a few more swims in before winter hits.  Yippee!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Little Things

It's the little things in life that make you happy.  Things like:

Being first to the toy.

Funny Faces.

Playing Fetch.

Blue skies.

Running bootie free - even if it is only part of the time.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Childless By Choice

The other day, I saw a poster for a research study being done.  It was about being Childless by Choice.  I grabbed the tab with the contact information.

I am Childless by Choice.  There I said it.

It is something that no one ever seems to talk about and not surprisingly, a lot of the questions seemed to be about keeping this decision a secret.

I definitely haven't broadcasted it (well until now that is!) but it isn't something that I purposely kept a secret.  My family knows.  A few of my friends know (I've actually had the conversation with a few but I'm sure many more have at least assumed by now).

When people asked me when I was going to have children I usually just brushed them off instead of telling them I didn't want to.  Why?  Because the people that normally are asking the question are people that have a strong opinion about the answer. They are the ones that are going to judge me, argue with me and try to convince me to have children.  Do they really think I haven't thought about things? With societal expectations, doing something outside the norm usually takes more conscious thought than just going with the flow.

I've had very few conversations with other childless women because a) it is none of my business why they don't have children and b) I am worried it isn't by choice, but by necessity and I don't want to bring up the heartache.

I've had to bite my tongue when people brought up all the wonderful qualities of children and "argued" with me why I should have them. I'm not going to get into an discussion about this. It would be like arguing about religion - there is no right answer. There are only two outcomes.  You have to agree or agree to disagree.  So instead, I usually smile, nod and either gracefully exit or change the subject. What I really wanted to turn to them and say is, "We've been trying for years and had numerous miscarriages but we just can't.  It breaks my heart and I just don't want to talk about it with you."  I pity the poor women for whom this is true and I wish I had been brave enough to say it for you. If I had, at least a few people out there might realize this is really an inappropriate conversation especially when you are at work, during a social gathering, etc.

I can't remember the last time someone has suggested we get a move on and have some kids. I guess it is a benefit of getting older - people have finally figured out that it isn't going to happen.

It isn't that I don't like kids.  I just don't know where people find the energy. There are so many days where I am drained by my own responsibilities, I couldn't imagine adding more to that. I know. I know.  If I had my own child I would love them so much that I wouldn't ever resent the time and energy they took.  But what if I did?  I can't give them back.  I can't change my mind.

Thankfully this is something Marlin and I always saw eye to eye on.  He doesn't want children any more than I do.  For quite a few years we would reconfirm our decision every time we spent some time with children.  After visits when the kids were "a handful", we would look at each other and laugh with relief.  After visits where we had fun with the kids, we had more serious conversations but they still ended the same - we were sure.  No kids for us.  We don't even think about it much anymore.

If we had an "Ooops" and I got pregnant there is no question we would keep the child. No question at all.  And I know we would love him/her and I know we would do what needed to be done to be good parents.  But that doesn't change the fact that we wouldn't have chosen that life path.

I worry a little bit about having regrets later.  I like the relationships I have with my parents now that I'm an adult and I know I'll miss that.  But that doesn't make the first 20 or so years worth it to me.  :)

My biggest worry is who will look after me when I'm old.  It is pretty much a foregone conclusion that if Marlin and I live to old age, he'll die first (he is almost 11 years older) and I'll be by myself.  And some days that scares me but not enough to change my mind.  Besides, that would be a pretty selfish reason to have children.

I'm not really sure why I am sharing this with all of you.  I'm not sure if there is a real or imagined stigma against people who choose not to have children. Like I said at the beginning, no one really talks about it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Just a few random pictures from the other day.

The plants are looking ready for winter already!

They spotted a deer.  Or rather I spotted it, they heard it.  I don't think they actually saw it.

Short dog + tall plants is not a good combo for photos. There is a reason I have way more of Coulee.

It's like she was made to be there.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Safety Net

Lacey was having some behavioural issues this summer.  To put it bluntly, she was going after dogs at the dog park.  I have no idea what brought it on but I don't feel like I can trust her around other dogs.

We still go to the dog park but we go when it isn't busy (I consider 5 cars in the park busy - our parks are not well utilized) and when we are there, I usually just avoid everyone else.  Most of the time this isn't a problem, but we are occasionally surprised by someone.  In those cases, I need to make sure I can grab Lacey quickly.

You may have noticed a second collar around her neck lately... This is actually a very cool leash from Ruffwear that velcro's around her neck.  She basically carries a leash everywhere she goes so I can have control when I need it.  We've had to use it a few times, and each time it has worked like a charm.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fall Walk

The girls and I headed out to Fort Macleod today for a change of scenery. It was a great walk.  I love that dog park, even though I often seem to get turn around and lost.  The colours were gorgeous and Coulee seemed to fit in perfectly with the surroundings.

Not sure what this look is about!  LOL

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I went out with Amanda and Brit today to photograph some sheep herding out at Alta-Pete.  As always, it was fun watching a dog do what it was born to do. And pretty amazing too.

The victims sheep...

Brit in action...

Brit at "rest"...

The barn cat (who ran across the field at full speed after watching and visiting for a bit with Brit)...

As with photographing any sport, it takes practice and I'd love to shoot more of it.  I don't really understand the dynamics of herding and I think that would go a long way in improving my photos too. I don't actually know if Brit is doing what she is supposed to be doing in these photos - they could be good examples of herding or bad ones, I have no idea! Sorry Brit if I've posted an "embarrassing moment" without knowing it. LOL.

I'm sure someone will be able to twist my rubber arm to get me back out there again.  :)