Thursday, June 23, 2011

Playing Favourites

You shouldn’t have your favourites when it comes to your family. But I do. Four-legged, long-eared family that is … definite equality amongst the two-legged ones.
In my asinus relationships, Ransom is a stand out. But shhhh … don’t tell my other sweet and gentle friends – I love them too. I just have a particular connection to my big guy.

I first met him when he was two years old when I stopped into a big donkey farm about 5 hours from here. I was a tiny bit obsessed with donkeys back then, sort of like I am now but even more intense. I wasn’t shopping for a donkey – I already had two who were providing me with my fix of my little Disney-like babes. I just wanted to LOOK.

As I walked through the field, this big honkin’ guy kept following me. Whenever I stopped, he’d come up and put his head on my shoulder. He was lovely, but he was BIG. We just had miniature donkeys, which were particularly good with the kids and for the fact that we only had an acre of land.

But, we were just in the process of moving to a real farm, with a real barn and real pastures. That opened a whole new world of possibility for me.

I couldn’t get Ransom out of my head. Two week after we moved to the farm, we made the trip to bring him home, and of course had to bring along a friend of the same size for him.

That was 23 years ago in July which makes my gentle, handsome Ransom twenty five years old. Such a grand and beautiful creature.

His wife, Erin, passed away a number of years ago. She was sick for quite awhile and dear old Ransom laid in the field beside her, sometime with his head resting on her. After she was gone, he mourned for her for almost two years. He stood alone, hung his head, ate very little and wouldn’t ‘talk’ to me. He was depressed – it was the saddest thing to see.

He still doesn’t hang out with the other donkeys much. It’s curious how they keep apart – you’d think being the same species would matter more than size, but there definitely has always been a separation. I hate that he’s alone a lot of the time. I also hate that the little mini-jack rules over him and chases him into the barn just to prove his superiority. He’s such an ass. He should leave my friend alone.  My friend with the big doeful-soulful eyes. My friend with long, soft, pet-able ears. My dear and loyal friend who keeps the secret that he indeed is my most favourite, but knows full well that he is.
When I was out working in the yard today, I let Ransom out to hang around with me. He loves it and so do I. He follows me around, comes up for ear rubs, then heads off to enjoy his freedom, then comes back to find me. He wanders into Brian’s shop and just generally makes himself at home, savouring his freedom and feeling pretty proud of himself. It takes people aback when they drive in and see a mega-ass roaming around like a dog. I don’t think they get it. They think that animals should be corralled. And animals should. Friends shouldn’t.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hard on the Heart

My friend is fading away. How hard that is on the heart.
Our sweet and beautiful Abby is growing old before our eyes. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised about that as she will be fourteen years old this fall, but right up to the beginning of this year she has been a puppy.

She never got the old face like some dogs …no white whiskers and milky eyes for her. No lethargy and laziness. She was ever enthusiastic with her greetings … always with a little skip and a wag. She woke us up in the morning by bumping around the perimeter of our bed, which felt more like an elephant was trying to shake us awake. When she wanted attention, she would come up and hook my leg with one of her paws or bump me with her whole body. When we went outside together, even at thirteen years old, she would have such exuberance – so pleased that there was an adventure awaiting somewhere.

She’s been stone deaf for a year, so our dancing days have been over for awhile. She particularly loved accordion music & when I’d have a Newfoundland CD on, she would come up & hit my feet with her paws and we’d dance together. I’ll never forget the time we had a NL party here & had ‘Mummers’ arrive. There were five or six of us, dressed up so people didn’t know who we were. When we entered the kitchen and the CD went on, Abby instantly picked me out of the group, hit my feet and started dancing. She could be sound asleep and hear a bicycle coming a quarter mile away and be up on her feet to check it out long before it arrived. The deafness hasn’t affected her much though and we forget about that and talk to her like she can hear.
It’s been shocking how the weight has dropped off her. She’s been a big dog – never fat but substantial for an Airedale. She’s lost half her body mass since January and we work at finding things that she will eat. She’s done with dog food. I’ve tried every kind and every brand. I tricked her for awhile by topping it with grated cheese or melted butter or vanilla ice cream; she’s not falling for that anymore. It must bother her stomach. She’ll eat eggs and cheese and ice cream and the occasional bite of something else but precious little.

She still goes with me from room to room and lays at the doorway when I go up to my studio. She still made the trip to the cabin with me and laid on the porch, but she walked back on the bridge rather than galloping through the water like she always has. Last night, she didn’t come out to greet the car when I drove in. It was strange to walk to the house alone. And she didn’t come upstairs with me when I went to bed. She stood at the bottom of the step, looked up at me and thought about it. Then she turned and went back to the kitchen. She always waits until I get up to come down and walks every step beside me. Lately she’s been slow and walk every step beside her, in case she were to get weak or dizzy. It was sad this morning, when her bed was empty and I walked down the stairs alone … shades of days to come.

She has slowed down substantially but she does not seem to be in pain or discomfort, just frail. She’s serious now rather than playful. A dozen times a day she comes and stands beside me, puts her head in my lap and looks at me with those beautiful big brown eyes. We both know her days with us our numbered, and yes indeed – that is hard on the heart.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Honestly & truly. Today is the very first day in 2011 that is MINE. I have no agenda, no appointments, no events that I am either organizing or attending. I am not working at a Real Job. I have commitments at all.

I don’t know what to do with myself. Of course, I could and should clean my house. But I’m NOT.

I’m going treat it like New Year’s Day and spend some time thinking about what I am going to do with this next little chunk of time. It’s been an even crazier than usual year for me, with squeezing a Real Job into my already too full life. That already is a little bit of a blur and hardly seems like it really did happen.

Every single day has been filled to the top and beyond, but somehow I feel like a big chunk has been missing. I am anxious to resume the things that I have let slip. Getting back to this blog is one of them. And my Daily Muse.

I’m feeling particularly excited today. The sun is shining and the day is MINE!