The ‘Bucket List’ as we age we start to contemplate our mortality, ideas like ‘perhaps we may only have 35 more summers left’ cross our minds. The concept that those things we have talked about doing, those places we have said we would like to visit, the musician that we absolutely have to see in concert, the recognition hits us that time is of the essence. You come to the realization that the Trestle bridge trail you wanted to hike, experienced a huge forest fire and was decimated, that the lead singer to your favourite group has taken his life, it becomes evident that we shouldn’t put off until tomorrow, what we should do today. That Carpe Diem is really how we should be living our lives. According to the Urban Dictionary, a “bucket list” is a list of things you’d like to do before you die, like visiting the Grand Canyon, falling in love or falling in love at the Grand Canyon. Is this a concept exclusive to humans or do our animal friends also experience a yen for adventure and experiences before they approach the pearly gates? Recently one of my senior feline friends, who I’ve developed an affection for was M.I.A. Barney has a reputation in the neighbourhood of being a wanderer. When I moved here approximately six years ago, I used to see him all over the subdivision, he was the tough guy, as is visible from one of his ears that flops over, giving him a a look of character. Barney is 18 years young, and his years are starting to become evident when you see him. He has a bit of a wobble when he walks, he moves slower and his cat like reflexes aren’t what they used to be. For example, Barney ventured into my back yard awhile back (something he hadn’t done since we moved onto the block and changed the height of the fence and filled the yard with various dogs visitors). I had a four legged friend residing with us that discovered Barney had decided to throw caution to the wind and was traipsing through the back yard. A chase ensued and thankfully luck was on the cat’s side, he made a huge leap and narrowly made it to safety. As of late, Barney’s adventures have been limited, he is on pain medication and is not allowed to roam like he once was. Barney has so many stories, so many lives he has touched…many of the folk around here tell ‘tails’ of how Barney used to curl up at night at the end of their bed or wander around their house like he was part of the family. In his twilight years he has settled on two homes that he goes between, with two women that adore him. His daily excursion these days is to meander from point A to point B, often getting a drive home at the end of the day, even though it is technically around the corner. This past Sunday when Barney left home he never showed up to his intended destination, what a worry. I think we all assumed the worse, that he had gone off and curled up under a shrub to have his final sleep. The search was on to find the old guy in whatever state he was in. Much to all of our relief, Monday evening the cat came back…with a little assistance! Turns out, Barney was just working on his bucket list, he had meandered through a hole in the fence to a cul de sac he used to frequent, to visit some of his old haunts. He enjoyed a meal or two with friends, who affectionately know him as Felix….as an aside, it turns out many people have their own handle for the ‘stray’ cat, who has duped many in our area to opening their hearts and doors for him. I think Barney, like many of us, as we get on in years, wanted to cross a couple things off of his bucket list, he wanted to revisit a few places he used to enjoy hanging out and see some faces he missed. The only trouble, when he went to return home he couldn’t, someone had replaced the fence panel, his entry route he had used to gain access to this other neighbourhood was no longer viable and the days of jumping up and over were no longer an option. So close to home and yet he wasn’t able to get back to ladies in his life. Thankfully, persistence prevailed amongst the women in his life and after a door to door canvas of the area, pieces of the puzzle were put together and Barney was found! As he pulled up to the curb in his chariot, a flock of women stood on the front lawn joyously hooting and clapping at the sight of him! Barney’s expression was comical, he couldn’t figure out what all the fuss was about! Just because he is a senior doesn’t mean he is done being an adventurer! He gave us a look like “relax ladies, I was just crossing another item off of my Bucket list!”
The stairs have become my Mount Everest.
I was perusing Facebook this morning and was faced with a video of garbage….acres and acres of plastic that will not biodegrade. I was feeling saddened by what we are doing to this planet, and yet I know I am part of the problem, I get take out coffee in a paper cup with a plastic lid when I could bring one of my many thermal ones in the cupboard. Sure I recycle, but what I keep coming back to in my thoughts, is we have become on overtly disposable society! We skip the dishes, we throw things to the curb without the thought that perhaps someone else could use that perfectly good coffee table that no longer tickles our fancy and when we are saddled with the responsibility of taking care of a family members pet when they pass away, we toss it out onto the street. What is wrong with this world is that we have become inheritantly selfish and ‘me’ focused and blasé about how our decisions impact the other creatures we share this earth with. What kind of person drives out into the country, opens up their car door and abandons a dog or cat at the side of the road? What kind of foolish thinking leads them to believe they are going to find a nice farm that will take them in and that their life will be roses? Ridiculous….abandoned dogs end up having to forage for themselves, often hit by a car or ending up shot because they have become a nuisance….the cats freeze to death or get eaten by wolves. Shelters are truly a more humane option, and yet they have become the dumping ground for so many animals that have become inconvenient like the plastic water bottle, cell phone and computer monitor. We need to realize that everything we do impacts this planet. We need to work on being the solution…we need to open our doors, but more importantly, our hearts! We need to look deeper and see the value of all life and be respectful and kind. We can’t just walk away and hope that someone else will take care of that dog running along the highway, or that kitten eating out of a dumpster. And we need to support organizations that foster and give shelter to those disposable animals by donating food, our time or opening our homes temporarily as foster families. We are all given the opportunity to be the change, to carry reusable water bottles, drop a bag of litter off at the local shelter or give a cat or dog a safe habour until something permanent comes along. It starts with a small change, which becomes a new way of looking at the world, and then the ripple gets larger and larger until your behaviour starts to influence others around you, you can become the catalyst for change!
“No if’s, and’s, or but’s about it, it is COLD outside!” Our dog Lucas, hails from Thunder Bay, Ontario, he is used to a real winter. Frankly when we moved South, he found the humidity in these parts, oppressive and hard to handle, he much prefers the climate to where he was born. Lucas doesn’t really have a heavy fur coat, but it does the job and on truly frigid days I put on one of his coats. We have been having a cold spell for the past eight days, -25 with the wind chill when it is blustery. This real winter that we have been experiencing, hasn’t seemed to phase my boy, he starts pacing around the kitchen and up and down the hall if I haven’t gotten him out for his morning walk by ten o’clock. When I opened the blinds today the sky was clear and the sun was shining, the one thing I learned about gorgeous looking wintry days from our stint in the North, if the sky was blue and the sun was shinning, it was most likely frigid outdoors and one should prepare to dress warmly. The Weather Network was telling me it was -14 in K-W, but with the wind chill it was feeling more like -23. We have been out walking every day in similar weather, so we piled on our gear and got Lucas his coat and prepared to face the cold. When I opened the front door, Lucas’ response was unusual, instead of him bounding out, he just stood there and stared. Eventually, I nudged him outside, where he then became a fixture on the front porch. We put him in the car and drove over to get his buddy Diesel and do our little forest walk. It was evident within about five minutes that according to my canine friends, today was not fit for man nor beast! Both kept stopping, they would lift a paw and look back they way we had come, l think they thought we had lost our minds and were trying to do them in. Both of my canine friends were displaying to me that they were uncomfortable and needed to go back to where it was warm. A common thing I hear from humans is…”it’s a dog….they have a fur coat, they don’t care about the cold, they are suited for winter.” People scoff at the concept that our four legged friends can feel the cold and suffer from it’s affects. It is important to remember, we have coats, boots, hats, and mittens, our gear is engineered for severe weather, we can bundle up to protect ourselves! Even-though our pets have a fur coat, it isn’t an impenetrable shield from the elements, they can get frost bite! They can damage their paw pads and they can freeze to death if we leave them outside for too long! Just like in summer, do not leave your dog in the car for prolonged periods of time while you run in to do some shopping, they may be out of the wind, but when the temps dip below-20 they can die from the cold. Don’t put them outside to go to the bathroom and leave them without checking on them frequently. If you are out walking and they are lifting their feet, it’s time to head home (salt is not necessarily the cause for sore feet, if the ground is too cold your dog’s paw pads can become extremely painful, it’s almost like experiencing a burn from the asphalt in the summer). It’s supposed to get down to -30 tonight, batten down the hatches, keep your pets indoors and make sure you keep them warm!
My very dear friend and client, Maggie passed away this evening. It is an honour that I was entrusted to care of this lovely girl in her twilight years. Maggie taught me about grace and resilience. She reminded me that sometimes you need to slow down, find a shady spot and enjoy a summer afternoon. Maggie I will miss seeing you laying under the trees in your front lawn…I will just miss you Maggie😘
I had a rather thought provoking walk with my friend Newton last week. We are having some work done at our house and my being away in the middle of the day to walk wasn’t conducive to the decisions that needed to be made with where to put a niche in the shower, the spacing for my pendant lights and all the other minute details. Thankfully I have wonderfully flexible clients that allowed me to bring my girl friend to my house for the day…that way we got our walk, she had her lunch and pee breaks and the bonus of buddies to hang with during the day and the contractors got their questions answered when the need arose. My daughter was also part of the equation to facilitate my plans for the day, she was good enough to get up fifteen minutes earlier so she could give me a ride before she had to make her forty-five minute commute to work so I could collect my charge. On the ride over, I suggested instead of being driven all the way back home, that she could drop us off part way up the road, since Newton and I needed a morning walk anyway. My lovely child was insistent we didn’t need to walk home, but it didn’t make sense to take her ten minutes out of her way when we could enjoy a nice stroll through the quiet streets that we were going to take anyways.
As we neared the juncture that made sense for us to take our leave, my daughter pulled over. I jumped out of the front seat, opened the back door and grabbed the leash. Newton came willingly, but looked rather confused when my daughter drove off without us. As we walked up the hill in the direction of home my girl friend kept pausing, looking up at me with a puzzled expression. I realized that her tail was between her legs and she was acting rather timid. I was chatting away to her as per usual, but she just wasn’t her typical happy go lucky self. After some thought, it occurred to me that my canine companion had misread the situation….I believe she felt that we were expelled from the car, abandoned at the side of the road by someone whom she considered her friend. Like some scene out of a movie where the driver is angered by their passenger and pulls over to the side of the road and says “GET OUT…” That wasn’t the case, but I think things happened so fast and unexpectedly, that is what Newton thought. Perception is an interesting thing, we humans believe we have the market cornered on misinterpreting a moment…but we do not! Dogs and cats are very used to our habits and the usual dynamics of the group, when we deviate from the normal routine it can give them pause to wonder what is going on. It wasn’t until we reached my front door that my four legged friend seemed more at ease, her tail began to wag and she was excited by the idea that she was going to see Lucas and Romeo. It was like she had an “ah ha” moment, and was now understanding what we were doing.
The next morning we went and grabbed Newton, as we neared the spot where we were going to get out to walk the remainder of the way I suggested that my daughter give her a little kiss on the head and say good bye. It was interesting, this time my friend didn’t seem reluctant or offended by being left at the side of the road. It gave me pause to evaluate that it is important for me to remember to be mindful of the feelings of my four legged companions. Helping them to go with the busy ebb and flow of our human world is an important thing to be mindful of. As one can see from the picture I snapped of her later that afternoon, Newton was quite happy to relax and go with the flow!
I had some interesting thoughts this morning as Lucas, my spouse and I went for a pokey walk in the rain! We were all rather soggy and slowly making our way back to the house…the first revelation my husband shared was that we had some how forgotten about day light savings time…I had been fussing that we were behind schedule, turns out that my timetable was perfectly intact and in fact we could meander. We were in the home stretch and our lovely old pooch was moving so slowly, his need for a leash was rather futile, we decided we might as well allow him a little freedom. He had just finished a light jog across the field in the park and was making his way up the street towards our house, I was a little ahead of the pack when I heard my spouse say “Wow…you really are getting old, in your younger days you totally would have gone for that Squirrel!” There was a furry grey little guy, quite brash really, sitting a few yards from Lucas, munching on an acorn, completely non-phased by seventy-one pounds of canine that stood rather intently watching him eat.
This lead me to my second thought, I mentioned that the squirrel was like an attractive young woman…in Lucas’ younger years yes, he wholeheartedly would have gone after that bushy rodent and interrupted it’s morning meal. It’s not that he couldn’t pursue it, it’s that he didn’t need to. In one’s younger days the chase is what life was all about…but now, he can stand back and he can appreciate the squirrel in a whole new light. I said to my hubby “You will become enlightened like our old boy one day too….you will see the “squirrel” which for you will be a lovely young thing in Lululemon and you will stop and stare for a moment, you will look back on your youth briefly and reminisce how fun those days were to flirt with such notions. Then you will return to reality and you will realize that if you did go after such a prize and catch it, what would you do with? You would recognize that you are way beyond such antics…so instead, you will look with longing for a few moments and appreciate the sight before you and then you will move on to much more rewarding ideals, like the warm couch at home where you can take a wonderful nap and dream.” When you get to be an old fart you comprehend that in one’s fantasies the outcome is more satisfying, the idea of catching that squirrel would be far more rewarding than the mess and trouble ensnaring one in real life would result in! With age, comes wisdom and my dear old boy has figured things out! He thought “Hey, that is one hell of a juicy looking squirrel, all fattened up for winter… ‘hukuna matata’, I am going home where it is warm and dry!”