It used to be just Edgar who used to offer up, Queen-like, his pithy Christmas thoughts, but this year we’ve got a bit of clamour of creatures willing to share their musings for 2017.
I’ve told them all they’ll need to be brief if we’re going to fit everyone in.
Naturally, my thoughts are the most important.
For maximum efficiency, combine your stretching exercises with relaxation.
Claiming the higher ground always gives you a comforting tactical advantage.
As a rescue dog I am, by nature, a pessimist — but nevertheless I try to be brave and plunge into new things. Most of the time (except for the baths) it’s turns out pretty well. Also, I like it when everyone is kind to each other.
MARVIN & MAVIS
Sometimes life can throw you challenges.
With a bit of perseverance though, you can learn new things.
Sometimes your loved ones will try to do helpful things …
… which will result in a hairdo like this. But, they love you and they mean well, so just keep your beak shut and say thanks.
Sometimes it’s nice to get together will a bunch of friends over the festive season.
… but sometimes it’s nice to spend a bit of quiet time on your own.
Be bold! Be free! Don’t miss out on the peanuts!
And that’s about it from all of us over here at The Urban Nature Enthusiast. The sparrows and juncos wanted to put their five cents in as well, but I have still got some wrapping to do!
Thank-you so much to everyone who has read the blog this year and sent me so many kind comments.
Have the very brightest holiday season, whether it’s being surrounded by friends and family, or simply enjoying the quiet of the winter season with some good books and walks outside. Much love to all of you.
Every dog walk with Nina is an adventure these days. Our objectives are in direct conflict.
Nina’s goal: nab a squirrel.
My goal: avoid becoming airborne* — I hear the waiting list for new hips is long.
Nina is my daughter’s dog and lives with her, but Lily works long hours, so I do some dog sitting most days. My dog, Geordie, has a pretty laissez-faire attitude towards squirrels. Nina, on the other hand, considers it her highest destiny to one day catch one. This seems entirely unlikely as she’s a lot slower than a squirrel on the flat, and her tree-climbing capacity is negligible.
However, a girl can dream.
I know you’re out there …
Generally, we see one or two squirrels on every walk. I keep a close eye on the landscape and try to detour us away from dog/squirrel proximity.
At this time of year though, squirrels are everywhere. And I do mean, everywhere. In the garden, outside of the window, velcro-ed to the neighbour’s stucco wall, up every pole and in every tree. Not only that — they seem fearless. They sit, waiting for us on the road, looking like Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry.
Make my day, punk.
Many of the local trees are dropping hazelnuts and walnuts, so I imagine that thought is filling their little rodent brains. The microscopic danger posed by Nina and her ambitions are as nothing to them. “Must store nuts.”
One year, the squirrels in our garden “harvested” most of the LED bulbs from our outdoor Christmas lights. Our next door neighbour still occasionally digs one up in his garden. They didn’t do it the next year, so I presume that they remembered how disappointing that particular nut harvesting effort was.
Evasive action is pointless.
If I make a quick change of course to avoid one squirrel, there are three more, making each expedition with Nina a tense and exciting operation.
This baby squirrel got “stuck” on our neighbour’s “beer bottle stucco” house wall for several hours. Nina, of course, when bonkers every time we went outside, so we had to go out of a side door to go on walks until the squirrel finally figured out how to climb down and escape.
All of the squirrel photos in the blog were taken when not in Nina’s company. Geordie is quite happy to wait while I snap a squirrel. After all, he is now trained to be patient for my endless visits with the crows, so he probably just considers the squirrel another boring delay on his walk.
Looking down as Geordie takes a leisurely pee at the foot of this squirrel’s Hydro pole.
I was sure I left that walnut in there …
I’m not sure if the squirrel in the video below had hiccups, or was making some sort of garbled announcement with a mouthful of walnut.
* I do have past experience of being airborne on a dog walk. We used to have two yellow labs (brother and sister). One day they spotted a cat scooting under a skip full of rubble by the side of the road. The grass was muddy and wet and I lost my footing and was momentarily flying. Luckily I emerged from that adventure only muddy and slightly bruised.
This week I was going write a blog post with an update on the nesting crows.
There were a lot of things I planned to do this week.
But everything has gone to the dogs. Well, THE dog.
Our house has been dogless for over two years, since Molly, the last of the brother and sister Labrador duo, died at the age of 15.
We’ve been thinking of getting a rescue pup for the last few months. Our daughter, Lily, introduced us to lots of fabulous rescue dogs through her volunteer work with Leash of Hope, so it just seemed the right way to go.
Leash of Hope is a wonderful charity that rescues unwanted dogs and trains them to be service dogs. You can read more about the amazing work here.
Photo by Lily Ditchburn
Lily and I visited some local shelters, and tried local dog adoption agencies but we found that many small/medium dogs and puppies were quickly spoken for.
We began to spend hours looking at heart-breaking photos of puppies online. Most of them were in the US or abroad in what are known as “high kill” shelters. In Canada, dogs are generally kept in shelters until they’re adopted unless found to be too aggressive or too sick to be saved. But in the US, Mexico and other parts of the world, the sheer volume of unwanted dogs means that they have only a short time in a shelter before being moved to the “euthanize” list.
It was so tempting to just send for any of the lovely little faces we saw on these web sites, but I really wanted to meet the dog we were going to share a home with for (hopefully) 15 or more years before committing.
Also, there’s Edgar. Any new family member would have obviously have to pass the Edgar approval test.
Then, as I had a feeling it would, the very perfect dog just appeared.
About a month ago, a Leash of Hope trainer saw this photo online and brought the puppy to Vancouver from a shelter in LA.
He had only a few days left there before running out of time, and they hoped he’d be a good candidate to be a service dog.
However, his traumatic early days in the shelter (and wherever he was before that) had left a mark. After being assessed while in foster care, it was determined that he was a just bit too nervous for life as an assistance dog. And so a home was needed.
First, there was the Edgar test. It helps that Edgar is one of the most relaxed cats in the world. He was very tolerant of the pup unless he went into “let’s play” mode. Edgar, first of all, gave him a hiss and a rapid-fire series of a slaps to the face (no claws) to express his disapproval. Message received. When the pup forgot the first lesson an hour or so later, Edgar only had to languidly raise a paw to refresh his memory.
Just to make sure, we had the pup over one more time. We decided he was definitely the dog for us. An intensive naming debate ensued. Suggestions were texted furiously back and forth between family members and collected on this white board. A final selection was made. Geordie was the unanimous choice.
Edgar makes sure to add his opinion to the puppy naming debate
For one of the best Mother’s Days ever, we brought him home for good.
While his shelter profile had him listed as a Lab, I don’t think there’s much, if any, labrador retriever in his make-up. Some border collie for sure and perhaps some spaniel ..?
Everyone is thrilled with Geordie.
He’s a lovely dog and I’m sure he’s going to be the perfect family dog.
Geordie is a great new studio assistant
… although he does seem to sleep on the job quite a bit.
While some puppies are boundlessly optimistic and bold, Geordie seems like an old soul. He’s been through a lot in the four short months of his life, which tends to make him a bit pessimistic about anything new (particularly vans and crates). For now, he sleeps on the floor of our bedroom, rides in the car with a seatbelt harness, and gets a little bit more optimistic every day.
Geordie and Edgar have already discovered a shared interest in bird watching.