Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Love a Dog and Everything Gets Better

An old friend passed away yesterday after a long struggle with cancer. She was a dog lover (and animal lover generally), but dogs were really special to her. I think it is impossible to overstate what loving an animal means to a person like my friend, Mary. That particular connection of one soul to another with no need for words makes life a little less solitary.

In November 2014, when preparing to go into hospice care, Mary posted these words to friends on her social media forum:
As I've always said, "You never know when your number is up." I've been given more of a hint than most people get. Meanwhile, it's okay to talk to me about death, and mine in particular. I want to talk about it. So, no tiptoeing around the subject, please.... In the context of the universe and infinity, my whole life is an infinitesimal blip, as is the entirety of all lives on this tiny little planet in a vast universe (or multiverse). No need to dramatize it.
The photo above shows Mary a few years back with her last and much-loved dog. She was unable to keep another dog at the end of her life, but I hope the vast multiverse is piling on lots of loving lap dogs for her enjoyment now. R.I.P.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Finally, Spring (sort of)

Jack looking over the snow across the frozen pond on the way to Queen Annie Falls.
Jack perusing the still frozen pond on one of our favorite walking sites. No sign of turtles yet.
Last week, Jack and I walked the snowy trail that leads to Queen Annie Falls but didn't make it past the pond. The snow had been compacted and melted enough that Jack only occasionally sank in up to his belly and I could get away with simple hiking books as long as I chose my path carefully.

The pond, as you can see in the photo, was still frozen on April 12. Today it is raining, but the forecast says it will be dipping back into the 30s again so I'm betting there will still be ice on that pond when we venture out again.

I think I'll start a competition to see whose back yard holds its icebergs the longest. Or maybe it should be whose back yard defrosts the fastest? Along with the frozen pond, we have a large mound of compacted snow slowly melting along the cedar hedge in our yard. My money is on that iceberg hanging on until mid-May. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Relax, it's just a blizzard.

Jack's inconvenient resting place at the base of my office chair.
Eagle River beach on Lake Superior...frozen solid as far as the eye can see.
Winter on the Keweenaw Peninsula has a way of focusing the mind. It's pretty damned cold and there are currently over 256 inches of snow on the ground and a blizzard is howling outside. If your front and back doors happen to open outward (as mine do) you've spent a portion of the past 24 hours just making sure you can get out of the house if the need arises.

But if you are Jack, you take it all in stride. 30-mile-an-hour sustained winds, all the better to catch those exotic scents from the woods outside of town. Mountains of snow where the back yard used to be, all the better to watch the passing snow plows and check up on the neighbor's black lab two blocks away.

And when the blizzard does finally pass, your favorite beach—now an expanse of snow and frozen waves—will be ready for another visit. And the deer herd wintering by the lake is soooo interesting it more than makes up for the cold.

Deer at Eagle River, MI.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sweet Slumber

Eloise and Jack in training for their "long winters nap."
Any animal, no matter how undisciplined, seems positively saintly when they're asleep. These two are no exception.

Shortly before taking this picture I had to rescue Jack's backside from Eloise (who was laying in wait to swat his tail if he tried to move past her).

And not long before that I had to rescue Eloise's food dish from the Hoover vac that is Jack (when he thinks neither she nor I are looking).

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Make Yourself Comfortable

It's no use trying to write early in the morning if you're sitting on the same couch as a large sleepy dog.

This morning I rose just before the sun was fully risen, made my coffee, sat down on the couch (notebook on lap) before anyone else in the house was up—ready for inspiration to strike. My favorite time to write. Also, Jack's favorite time to stretch out and make himself comfortable on the couch.

I've known since the very earliest days of dog ownership and starting this blog that I really am not cut out for the role of alpha dog, but this did clarify things in my mind.

Still, it got me back to my long-neglected blog and it did get me off the couch. So...thanks Jack?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Big Lake in May

photo of Bette Grise rocky beach with dog

Recently, my daughter and I drove Jack for a walk on one of the sloping, rocky-slab beaches on the south side of the Keweenaw Peninsula. It's a completely different beach experience than Jack's usual jaunts on the opposite side of the peninsula at Eagle River

Jack's different reactions to the sloping plates of rock instead of the sandy beach got me thinking about the next Adventures in the U.P. story, which is long over due. I think it's going to be an adventure to the "Big Lake" (a.k.a. Lake Superior) which will give me a great excuse to sneak in a geology lesson disguised as an animal story. It also means Jack will get many more romps on the beach in coming weeks. My idea of a win-win situation.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Jack takes on the "Cone of Shame"

You can see it in his eyes...I don't think I'm his favorite person today.
This seemed like a good idea at the time, but the "Cone of Shame" clearly is not going to be the master of Jack. It took him about 30 seconds after this photo was shot to pull the thing off his head.

And so Jack maintains his Alpha standing, even with a sore back paw. Next up, a sock with a rubber band. Yeah, that outta work.