Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Life with a Dog

I never thought I'd see the day when I might agree with a student telling me "the dog ate my homework".  It's here, it's upon us, we are living proof that dogs can eat many things.  Some appear indigestible and some appear to flawlessly go through the digestive system without creating a perfect storm of you-know-what.  I am now a fervent believer.

Started with stealing a few bits from the bbq when she was only 3 1/2 month sold.  Ah, so cute.  So Tom flipped her a little piece of something and put it in her dish.  Now there is endless sniffing when the bbq is doing its bit.  The long snout faces up, and the sniffing starts. 

Then she ate the debris Tom cleaned from the bbq and "hid" in the garden -- charcoal bits loaded with grease.  Dogs do have 3 million olfactory nerve endings compared to our 300 (that's not an accurate number, but it gives the idea of the difference).  That did create a biggish issue with diarrhea, following on the tail of me not blending the new dog food with the old... the puppy's tummy couldn't handle the new digestive indignity on top of just settling down after the dog food change.  Then it all "dried up", so we watched anxiously for several days, only to have nothing appear.  Hmmm... I thought she probably now had an intestinal blockage and it would be an expensive visit to the vet's.  The vet has been helpful, to say the least.  The recommended diet when a dog's stomach gets upset is to make rice and boil some beef mince and voila -- a digestible food that doesn't traumatize the intestines.  So now we've created a huge interest in rice, and whenever we make rice, more sniffing.  If she doesn't want to eat her food (a nice brand of puppy food, believe me... high in protein, natural products, etc., etc.), I add a spoonful of rice when I have some made.  Bingo.

The tummy settled down, but we realize she's a garbage hound with the disposition of a delicately bred princess.  Kind of like the girl who couldn't sleep because of the tiny pea stuffed under many layers of mattresses.

This interest in food that isn't in her dish has led to stealing baggies of items from counters (bagels, bread, kids' candies from birthday parties, romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese, a bunch of grapes), culminating in a plasticine figure one of the boys brought home from a school project.  That was abandoned as unappetizing, but not until she'd gnawed off a leg and arm via the baggy.  One of the Barbies has a hand injury and a little frog is now legless...and baggies are now seen to be containers of delicacies.  She's getting taller so we have to move all food items up to higher levels.  

In June I bought a treat of five gummy snakes.  They were life size (garter snake size), weighed a fair bit, and I was keeping them around for a little Friday treat for the gang.  I was busy on the computer in the basement, helping Tom with something, when there was a thump upstairs.  Tom went up to discover Kallista with the 5th snake remnant dangling from her mouth.  Burp... actually for the next day or so, I could smell the wonderful jelly snake smell on her breath (compared to the usual dog breath we experience when she "kisses' us).  So no snakes for the humans, as the garbage hound struck again.  Needless to say, the lolly lovers in the house were disappointed.

The dog has a great interest in non-food items as well -- a pair of Teva sandals (Tom's) were wrecked by the removal of a key plastic "hook" holding the straps in place.  Nicole's shoes and flip flops have been chewed up -- we now know to put new shoes or sandals up on a higher shelf.  One morning my lunch was delicately removed from my work bag -- I heard the screen door slam as the dog hightailed it for the back yard... she now knows to give it up when I say "GIVE" in a firm voice.  Poor Kallista... so much great stuff to smell and chew, and so many 2 legged members of her pack trying to keep her from the treats.  So far a mouth guard has been the most expensive item that has been destroyed... Tom suggested I keep track, but other than documenting a few of the most intriguing items (and I don't really want to go into the gory details about the chewed-up underwear and socks), I think I'll just chalk it up my life with a dog. 

To see her racing along a sand bar near our cottage is heavenly -- she scared off a group of pelicans one day, as they were sitting in the early evening, taking their rest.  She didn't get near, but they heard or sensed her in the underbrush and they slowly cruised off in the water, six dignified pelicans leaving their sandbar.  She is happy to run in and out of the water along the beach, loves trying to chew the fish skeletons which I immediately try to get away from her, and is more than happy to find other unmentionable weird chewy objects on the beach.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Take on the 1868 Australian Aboriginal Cricket Team

In Australia we became aware of the game of cricket.  Go figure... cricket was part of the school sports days, the local teachers who were former exchangees made sure we learned some of the basics, and we all tried a few runs and hits of the ball.  Complicated enough to keep me asking questions.   Friends from the state of Queensland, Penny and Ted (often referred to as Ped and Tenny by me), are quite cricket mad (in a good way...!).  Penny took her time to acquaint me with some of the esoteric (or so it seemed to me) aspects of the game, and answered my naive questions.  Their son participated in Cricket Australia's Indigenous XI tour last year.  He and several friends went on a journey of discovery as they tried to piece together what it must have been like for those first sporting tourists one hundred and forty years earlier, and have produced several films and slide shows that they have posted on YouTube.

I'm having moments of discovery this summer, even though I'm supposedly trapped in my home city and not far from work any given week.   Much of my discovery circles around the experiences of Canada's indigenous population in the last 100 years, residential schools, reconciliation, oral stories.  To see the young men of this century tracing the journey of a group of indigenous players is another moment of transcendence -- current technology provides the eyes through which to journey into the past.

The game is still complicated to me.  It's not complicated to someone who has been part of the sport since they could walk, who continue to strive for excellence no matter the century.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Jim Wagner

Many many moons ago, Tom and I drove to New Mexico for a summer holiday.  Little red truck.  Through South Dakota, west to Wyoming.  Stayed in a motel worthy of the Bates motel in Psycho.  Scared ourselves by walking around a tall, abandoned old school building, marveling at how blank its windows appeared in the dusk of the old coal mining town in Wyoming.  And then how frightening it appeared.  Hustled back to the comforts of the motel, and an old bed that sagged down in the middle.  Onwards to Colorado and down to New Mexico where we discovered the beauty of Taos and Santa Fe.  One of the better moments in Taos came with a visit to the Parks Gallery, where we discovered the wonderful and quirky work of Jim Wagner.

At the time, I treated myself to a Jim Wagner silver pin -- a pregnant angel.  Tom, for his 50th, received a print of Jim's depiction of an old adobe church.  Jim Wagner continues to impress me with his works... a new show is being exhibited at the Parks Gallery

Crop Duster

Cliffside Kiva

Our journey continued back through Colorado -- over Independence Pass, on to Snow Mass and the gorgeously expensive town of Aspen, back up to South and North Dakota, and then our amazement at how green Manitoba looked after the dry western states.  We'd like to repeat the journey some day ... for now we have to content ourselves by lusting after Jim's gorgeous works!