Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rest well, Paxil

Written through a veil of shock and tears, for less than 36 hours ago Paxil seemed healthy and happy. She was an older dog, but showed no signs that she was ready to move on.

Last night I came home to find Paxil stuck in her favorite dog house, unable to figure out how to turn around or move backwards to get out. She was clearly not feeling well so I carried her into the house and settled her on her bed, right inside the door beside the woodstove; a spot she claimed when she first arrived here and rarely ventured from if she was in the house. She wouldn't eat but she drank some water.

This morning she could not stand on her own. She had not made a sound all night or given a single kiss. This was a dog who talked all the time about everything and anything. There was no point wearing make-up around Paxil, she would just lick it off. My kissy girl.

We loaded her into the van for a trip to the vet, knowing that it was unlikely she was coming home again. She spent the day at the clinic. Our vet believes she had a mass in her stomach, perhaps an aggressive reoccurance of the mast cell cancer she had previously beaten. That mass started to bleed and sent a clot either to her spinal cord or her brain. The vet, sweet Dr. Candace, offered to do some tests and x-rays to determine where the clot was, but that knowledge would not have changed the outcome. Paxil was slipping away, her body slowly shutting down. Whatever made her my special girl was already gone. I sat with her until it seemed she starting to struggle to breath. Then I asked Candace to help her cross. Paxil offered no resistance and left her failing body gently.

Paxil changed my life. The very first time I ever stood on the runners of a dog sled and asked a team to "gee", she was my lead dog.

She was perfect then and I was hooked. A couple years later, the opportunity to bring Paxil here presented itself and I was delighted to offer her a semi-retirement home. She loved being a house dog who still pulled. She was the lead dog musher's dream about...responsive, consistent, she never missed a command, she always knew the way home, she was smarter than her musher, a trait that saved us from a couple long, cold nights in the bush! When she retired at the start of this season, I seriously considered it myself. There will never be another like her in my team or my heart. There are a whole bunch of recycled sled dogs here who owe her their home, for without her I would have no need for sled dogs of any kind!

I will miss her bossing me around; how she always pushed me out of the way to get in the door first, like I was going to steal her favorite spot if I got there before her; how she always waited until I was comfortable before deciding that she needed fresh water; how she followed me around the yard prancing and wooing her tales; that silly spotted tongue and her soft brown eyes.

I hate that empty blanket by the door. I hate that she didn't trip me today and that there is only one bowl of old house dog food being served tonight. I hate that she never told me she was so ill. And I am grateful she never told me, that she didn't suffer or linger for months; that she made it very clear when she needed to go.

Rest well, my girl. You earned it. Thank you..............

Monday, May 25, 2009


We are home from a wonderful vacation in Cuba. We had a great time, loved the country and the people. We started with three days in Havana.

Havana is a beautiful city, full of history, chaos and life! I wouldn't call it a relaxing start to our holiday, but it was unforgettable and we both loved it.

The architecture is stunning. There are remarkable old buildings everywhere. This was once the Cuban capital building, but is now home to a science institute. We stayed in the heart of Old Havana, a UNESCO world heritage site, in a 100 year old hotel. So we could walk to just about all the sites. Being a pedestrian in Havana is a bit tricky though. The Cubans drive like maniacs. There are no road signs, no crosswalks, very few lights. We got pretty good at dashing across busy streets!

We did take a few cabs including these fun little things, Coco Cabs. Basically they are three wheeled motorcycles with two seats and a bubble like topper. Much more fun than a plain ol' car!

We spent a full day exploring the fortresses that protected the city for hundreds of years. I think Stuart wants a cannon in our driveway! He liked the cannons!

We heard alot of great music in Havana and came home with quite a collection of CDs. Every bar band in Cuba has cut a CD!

We also went to the Tropicana show, a spectacle worth every dime of the admission price.

After three days in Havana, we cut a deal with a taxi driver and got a ride down the road to the beach resort town of Varadero.

Now that was relaxing! Twenty-one kilometres of white sand beach, plenty of sun and swimming, lots of rum!

We went deep sea fishing. Didn't catch anything, but as Stuart says it's called fishing, not catching! The open bar on the boat made him a happy fisherman anyway!

I went scuba diving. Stuart is a certified diver, but I'd never been before. His ears were acting up and he couldn't take the pressure in the ocean so he went snorkling and I went diving with Ivan, the uber-awesome dive master. Ivan was very good at getting me past the initial panic of being underwater and trying to breath!We did two dives, on a coral reef, saw lots of fish and funky underwater plants.

The sunsets were amazing. We just don't get sunsets like that up here. We had great weather, with a lovely cooling breeze everyday, lots of sun, no bugs and only a bit of rain on the last evening we were there.

I found some kitties to feed so I was not deprived of purrs while we were away! The hotel in Varadero had a small cat colony living on the grounds. The kittens were very friendly and sucked a few people into stealing food from the buffets for them!

It was a great way to celebrate our tenth anniversary. We will definately go back to Cuba to explore the rest of the island. The dogs didn't traumatize the sitters so we might not have to wait another ten years for a holiday!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Remembering Uncle Elmer....

In every young girl's life, there should be at least one man who adores her. I was lucky enough to not only have a remarkable father, but also his brothers. All of them loving, wonderful uncles; each of them holds their own place in my heart and many happy memories, but perhaps the most special was Uncle Elmer. I'm not entirely sure why, maybe because he didn't have a daughter when I was born(she came along a couple years later), but we shared a special bond. I always knew with absolute certainty that Uncle Elmer adored me. The feeling was mutual.

Life threw Uncle Elmer some horrendous blows; things that would have brought a lesser man to his knees or to the bottle and kept him there forever. But not my Uncle. I have no doubt that he never forgot, but he kept going; kept living his life; travelling with his faithful black lab, Dutchess, by his side; being a devoted father, grandfather, son, uncle and brother; finding new love and happiness.

It was a life well lived; a rich and full life. It was too short. Uncle Elmer passed away on May 17. I will miss him. I hope that wherever he is now, he has been reunited with his loved ones who left before him; that he has found peace and comfort; and that Dutchess is once again contentedly napping at his feet.

Rest well, Uncle Elmer.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

We are outta here!

Yup, for the first time ever, Stuart and I are going away together!! Usually one of us leaves--Stuart for work or hunting, me to visit my family in Saskatchwan--the other one stays home with the furkids. We have never gone away together for more than a few hours! This time we'll be gone for 12 days and we aren't going to visit anyone! We leave bright and early tomorrow morning for Cuba! We are going to hang out in Havana for a few days and then move over to the beach in Varadero. I am seriously looking forward to laying on a beach with a cabana boy bringing me Mojitos! :)

Our dear, sweet, brave friend, Stephanie has agree to look after the dogs, cats, house and everything that goes with that! We had to fly her in from Toronto, but the extra cost is well worth the peace of mind. I have every confidence that she can handle whatever the critters throw at her. Cross your paws that they behave themselves, at least a little bit!

The reason for this journey....May 15th is our 10th wedding anniversary! I doubt anyone would admit it now, but we know that more than a few people didn't think we'd make this far!

Look at us...we were just babies! How life has changed in the last 10 years! When this pic was taken we had one dog and one cat; we lived in a major city down south; I didn't even own a pair of Carharts, had never heard of bunny boots, but I had a vast collection of skirts and heels! It's been quite a trip so far and I wouldn't change a minute of it! I'm looking forward to seeing where the next ten years take us!

The next post will have weird pictures never seen before on this blog....sand, sun....See y'all in a couple weeks. Be well!