Tuesday, May 29, 2012


She's got a smile that lights up a room.

A Sign of Trouble

I try to not let Coulee's health issues surface too often in my daily life, but they are always there in my thoughts.  Always.  I think part of the problem is that we don't know what is wrong, so I obsess about everything that is slightly out of the ordinary.  Lacey could be exhibiting the exact same "symptom" and I wouldn't give it a second thought, but with Coulee I wonder what it means.

Sometimes I think I should stop obsessing and just let it go - what will be, will be.  Nothing we've done has made an impact at all on her health.  NOTHING.

Although we did discover that she is at Stage 3 kidney disease before she started showing symptoms. Or at least we think it is kidney disease - you never know with Coulee!  I guess time will tell.  We are getting another blood test today, so we'll see what weird and wonderful things show up this time.

My obsessing has also finally created the lightbulb moment that this is a sign of trouble:

I used to think she was looking old and gaunt some days, then I realized that the tight facial muscles you can see above were a sign of her pain.

On walks she still runs like a wild woman.  You'd never know there was anything wrong at all.

Her gait isn't the same as it was in her younger years, but it appears to be permanently altered and no longer appears only when her feet are showing major symptoms.  I used to think it was a sign of discomfort, and while I guess it may be (assuming she is always slightly uncomfortable - which is entirely possible), it is now the "norm".

But when her face starts doing this, I know it is time to head for the car.

I try not to let it get to that point, but it happens. There is a pretty fine line between having fun and doing too much. We've started doing some leash walks and while they don't bring out the pain in her feet, they only hold the household madness back for so long.

The main thing that has motivated me all these years to walk regularly (aside from a happy dog), is the peace and quiet at home that comes with a well exercised dog.  Nothing drives me battier than barking at every little noise, chasing the cats, wanting to constantly play fetch, beating up Lacey, etc. etc.  She just can't settle if she hasn't had enough exercise.

And if I slow her down for a week or so, she just runs more when I finally let her off leash.  I don't even need to play fetch - she just drops a toy at my feet and runs a giant loop just for the sheer joy of it.

The good news is, we don't think the running and walking does more damage (unlike a sprain for example) but I still hate to see her in pain after a run.  I feel like I've let her down by not seeing the signs earlier. I'm still trying to find the balance.  It changes from week to week depending on the state of her feet, which makes it even harder to get it right.  Some days I expect her to be hurting after and there is nothing, other days she is hurting and I don't expect it.  But I think I'm getting better at reading the subtle signs.

If only they could talk...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Waterton Walk

We went to a wedding in Waterton this weekend.  We went early so we'd have time to give the girls a decent walk so that they'd be calm and quiet for the evening.  There is still a lot of snow in the mountains but there are a few lower elevation trails that we could go on.  Because we were in a National Park, the girls had to stay on leash so I took the opportunity to take a picture of them with Marlin.

This is Marlin's "neutral" face - he can't fake smile to save his life.  LOL.  He looks kind of grumpy to me!

Marlin dropped the leashes so they could run to me.  Coulee motored a little faster than Lacey.

Lacey is claiming that is because she was the one carrying all the water.

The wedding was good. They opted to have it inside (thank goodness - I would have frozen!).  When we woke up the next morning it was snowing.  So much for hiking in the near future!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Road Less Travelled

This highway goes from "middle of nowhere Canada" to "middle of nowhere USA".  There was NO traffic.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Perfect Picture

I have in my mind a picture that I'd love to take.

The sky is a bright blue and has big puffy clouds.  The scenery is a farmers field with gently rolling hills. The crop is just starting to grow and you can clearly see the rows of green crop and brown earth in the field where they hit you at just the right angle.  In the foreground is a dog.  While the scenery is gorgeous behind them, the dog is clearly the focus of the image - they are large enough that you can see the details of their expression, yet they aren't so big that they are blocking the beauty behind them.

I can't take this photo. I can't take anything even remotely resembling this photo.  Believe me I've tried.  I've "practiced" this shot many times in the field near the dog park.  It isn't quite ideal, but I thought if I could figure out how to get it, if the right opportunity ever presented itself, I could just duplicate the set up.

The dog is either too big or too insignificant.  The horizon is never right - I want lots of sky, but also lots of land. I can't seem to find that sweet spot.

 Sigh. At least we have fun trying and playing around.

And practicing finally got my wider angle lens back on the camera for a walk.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Long Time Coming

When Marlin and I moved in together in 1998, he had a very old, very ugly couch.  It was brown, velvet and covered with hideous flowers.  But it worked and it was all we had.

When we moved to Edmonton at the end of 1999, we couldn't fit everything into the moving truck so the couch (and matching chair) made a trip to the dump instead of a trip to Alberta.  We thought we'd have no problem replacing it.

Man, were we wrong.  Every time we went furniture shopping, we had wildly different ideas as to what we liked.  We couldn't even agree on the basic style, never mind the colour.  Our opinions were so different, we couldn't even compromise without us both hating the options.  So we lived for a while with no couch. A long while.

A few years later, when my Oma passed away, we inherited her couch.  It is most definitely not in a style either of us would have chosen.  But we were thrilled to actually have a couch that we could sit on. Together.  LOL.  It has spent the last few years hiding in our basement in front of the TV.

Last weekend we finally picked up our first real furniture purchase.  It is a beautiful, red double chaise lounge.  I love it.  It is now gracing the spot of honour in front of our TV in the basement.  We actually had no problem at all agreeing on what to get and even picking the fabric wasn't too much of a challenge!  My how times have changed.

Imagine this in a solid dark red.  :)

The couch it replaced has now been moved to our upstairs living room (to replace two hand me down chairs from my other grandma that were literally falling apart) and I can't believe how much I enjoy having it up there!  It is so nice to have something comfortable to hang out on while reading a book, or watching the iPad or just chilling with the dogs.

I'm not the only one enjoying it.  Lacey, Lu and Jack have suddenly decided that it is the best sleeping spot ever.  They rarely got on it in the basement (well the cats did, but only if we were there with them) and suddenly I can't walk by it without at least one of them being on it.

I think we are going to have to invest in a slip cover though.  If the critters are going to keep hanging out on it, I'd really like to be able to photograph them on something a little less busy.  Yeah.  That's it.  It's too busy.  :)

Hopefully Marlin and I will be able to agree on a slipcover as easily as we agreed on the couch.  Otherwise, it may be a few more years of flowers.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Studio Pictures

Lorelei just started renting studio space and has been playing around with different stuff and generously offered to photograph my pets!  Coulee went in first a few weeks ago and was a super star.  She did everything we asked of her - other than hop up on a chair.  LOL.  She apparently only has one expression though.

Amanda was going to bring some of her crew yesterday but ended up having car troubles so Lacey and Lu stepped up to the plate instead.  I hadn't brought Lacey in the first place because I thought it might be too much for her.

As a rescued barn cat, Lu is the most comfortable of my three cats (including Chewy, the daycare cat) in new environments.  She is pretty easy going at the vet clinic and I thought would do OK in the studio.  She did pretty good, but really didn't want to leave the chair!  LOL

Lacey on the other hand, I knew would be a stress case.  She doesn't really like new people OR new places.  I brought along her favourite toys (which she ignored - which wasn't unexpected) and some hot dogs (which were not surprisingly, more appealing).

Lacey started off pretty stressed - she was panting with a stress smile (but still cute!).

She licked her lips a lot.

But in the end she recovered enough to do some "tricks". This is her sad.

She even relaxed enough to chase the laser light I brought for Lu.

And she managed to give Lorelei some cute looks too.

Studio work with pets is hard.  Really hard.  And wow does it take patience.

If you are bringing them into a weird, new place, you are bound to have at least a slightly nervous pet to start.  Cats especially don't like new places.  There are also lights flashing and even though the flashes are behind giant diffusers, the first 10 or so times the flash went off, Lacey came running back to me.  Lu didn't give them much more than a casual look though.

Lorelei did an excellent job!  Especially considering how hard Lacey made her work.  I'm so proud of Lacey for loosening up in the end - I wasn't sure it would happen, but I'm glad we tried.  There is something about the clean background of a studio setting that I really love and I'm so happy to have these photos.  Thanks so much Lorelei!!!

You'll probably never see any of the big chicken (also known as Jack). I'm pretty sure it would take him days to recover enough to act even remotely normal in a studio and if there is anything to hide behind, he'll find it.  :)