Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The earthquake and Tsunami in Asia

I feel compelled to write something down about what is happening over in Asia right now. It's like I can feel in my bones that more than 100,000 people have died all at once and the people who are left living over there are walking around in complete confusion and degradation and inconsolable grief. What has happened over there is a disaster of biblical proportions that no one has seen since the dark ages and the black plague - and this is just the beginning days of it.

They're saying it's going to cost billions of dollars to rebuild what was there before - but who's going to rebuild it? Half the population is dead. The charts and graphs that people are drawing up for the news shows right now are exactly the same types that you see on Nova and the Nature of Things as worst case scenarios of what happened at the end of the ice age - or when the Dead Sea was formed. This is a once in a millenia catastrophe that we have just witnessed on December 26th, 2004.

Every person on this planet will - and should - be affected by it. The collective consciousness should be feeling the sorrow of all the bloated bodies that haven't decomposed yet and are still waiting to be properly disposed of. It is so sad that the catastrophe is so huge and the people are so poor over there that the bodies are receiving no dignity whatsoever.

During the dismantling of the Trade Centre Towers whenever a body, or a piece of a body was found - the whole demolition process was shut down so that they could go in and remove the effects properly and with dignity.

So I think it behooves us as sentient beings all around the world to practice whatever faith we follow and direct it towards the 10's of 1,000's of nameless and faceless sentient beings who's souls have left their bodies in the last few days in a very untimely and painful fashion - with no loved ones around them, and no one to grieve over their grave site or say prayers over their bodies.

That too is a tragedy of biblical proportions I think. I'm just completely blown away by the whole thing from beginning to end. The world is never going to be the same again.

Feel free to crosspost.

Monday, December 27, 2004

We're having a huge snowstorm right now!

It's supposed to be the biggest snow storm since White Juan - although I'm sure it's nothing compared to the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami and aftermath happening over in Asia with 10's of thousands killed, but it's currently 1:50pm and Charlie and Leonard still have refused to go outside even for a pee. At least everyone else went out on the deck for a pee at 8am this morning. I don't know how they can hold it in.

 Posted by Hello

This is my backyard Posted by Hello

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Daisy the Mountain Goat

Daisy was starved in her previous life. She was completely emaciated when I got her to the point of her spine sticking out of her back - so she's always hungry and will do anything to get food. Tonight I caught her up on the kitchen counter eating the cat's food. It's the first time I've caught her doing THAT! One would think that something that's twice the height of the dog would be a safe height to put the cat food at. But here's the pictures to prove it. I was pretty impressed with her nonetheless and gave her the cat food she was hankering after. It is Christmas after all.

Caught in the ACT!!! Posted by Hello

Preparing to jump down in desolation and defeat... Posted by Hello

What - is it CHRISTMAS or something? Posted by Hello

Pictures of everyone on Christmas eve...

I went around and took pictures of everyone tonight - no one was overly impressed to be a model tonight - but there was liver coming out of the dehydrator - so they all pretty much put up with it...

3 black and tans a wassaling on Christmas eve.... Posted by Hello

Christmas eve has to have a lamb too Posted by Hello

And then there's the 3 wise cats - with tummies full of wet food - and an especially happy Whisky who's probably also had a couple mice tonight~ Posted by Hello

Mrs Dingle and Jada however aren't feeling very Christmasy - even though the Xmas tree is on top of their cage! Posted by Hello

And finally Leonard says - my only wish on this Christmas eve is - do NOT bring any more dogs home tomorrow oon Christmas day like you did last year!! Posted by Hello

A Christmas Story

It’s not a new story, of course. Alone at Christmas is way too common in many places. In this “land of plenty,” companionship is often the hardest currency to find. Common, though, does not equal chosen, and Miriam ached for company.

She recalled former Seasons when so many people crowded her small house that they set up card tables in the living room for the children. Her children, their friends, some children whose names she wasn’t even sure of. Though her house had not been the largest, family and friends without family in town had chosen her holiday table for the Christmas dinner, bearing gifts and accepting her small, usually homemade offerings, with gratitude. How many years she had cooked, decorated, welcomed, taken pleasure in those celebrations.

Then Ben, her husband of 30+ years, had died unexpectedly; heart disease ran in his family. One son fought bravely across the ocean. The other lived with his family as far away as he could live and still be in the same country. Lovingly, Miriam had mailed the packages to her sons in their faraway places, to the granddaughter she seldom saw, to the daughter-in-law who always invited her to visit. But travel cost dearly. And though Ben had left her his retirement and social security, because she had stayed home to raise children all those years, and it cost so much to live in her town now, she counted pennies carefully. Besides, flying now frightened her.

Maybe, though, she should have gone….here she was, alone at Christmas.

Carefully, Miriam cleaned up the breakfast dishes then walked to the living room where her small tree rested on the covered card table in the corner. She turned to Christmas music on the radio and slowly opened the presents sent from her sons, dropped off by her friends, now at their own family Christmas celebrations. Books she would enjoy, a beautiful bracelet from overseas, a lovely blue sweater (daughter-in-law influence there, no doubt), sweet- scented lotion--signs of love. Yes, Miriam smiled, she was loved, so much more than many people had.

Alone at Christmas.

“I will not,” she stated aloud, “feel sorry for myself.”

And so she gathered up the meager supply of used wrapping paper, saving the bows, and walked carefully out the back door to the trash can at the side of the house.

And saw the dog.

Well, she thought it was a dog.

Matted coat, burrs embedded in what looked to be a plumed tail if freed from its knots. Beneath the distressing coat, the dog’s ribs stood out in relief. A pink tongue hung out of the dog’s mouth, panting gently. Miriam figured the dog must be nervous; it was too cold outside for him--her?--to be hot.

Then she saw the dog’s eyes.

Dark brown, clear, sad. Why seemed to be the question the dog asked. Why what, Miriam wanted to ask. She didn’t, of course. She stood still, holding her used Christmas paper, and studied the dog.

The dog’s dignified demeanor affected her heart in some strange way. Surprisingly, she wasn’t afraid. It had been years since her family had owned a dog, and common sense dictated caution. But, dirt and neglect aside, this one looked harmless, no curled lips, no tenseness in the dog’s stance. Mainly, just that question in those deep eyes.

“Hi, pup,” Miriam whispered.

And the dog--bedraggled, obviously hungry, obviously neglected, probably with good reason to mistrust people--wagged that sad tail. Miriam could almost swear a small smile split the dog’s face.

Carefully, she threw away her paper. Then, ignoring her the voices of her children she heard in her head (“Don’t touch it! Call Animal Control--or the police!”), she slowly walked towards the dog and held out her hand. A black and tan muzzle moved towards her then sniffed her hand and then moved forward until that dirty head was under her hand, eyes rolled upwards, blatantly asking for a rub.

Which Miriam gently gave.

Why, she wondered, am I crying?

After a few minutes of petting the dog, Miriam turned back to her house. The dog (a female, Miriam had determined) followed.

“Oh, pup,” Miriam gently whispered to her, “I don’t know. It’s probably not a good idea to let you in. What if you have some disease? What if you have fleas? Well, it’s a little cold for fleas. You really are REALLY dirty! Where did you come from? Is someone looking for you? Probably not. Are you a problem to someone, then? Well, not anymore, I guess. What happened to you, huh?”

The dog cocked her head and listened, her face wearing an intelligent expression. If I could talk, she seemed to be saying, oh the stories I could tell you!

They continued this in this manner all the way up the steps and into Miriam’s small, neat kitchen.

“Stay here, Pup,” Miriam told the dog. Surprisingly, the dog waited for her as she walked to her linen closet and got towels and wash cloths. She wasn’t sure exactly what she intended to do with them, but it seemed like a good idea. She also picked up a spare brush and comb she kept for unexpected company (doesn’t everyone?) and found her “everyday” scissors--the ones not used for sewing--and made her way back to the kitchen. The dog stood where she had been left, obviously watching the door for Miriam’s return. What now? she seemed to ask.

“Hungry?” Miriam asked?

She placed her supplies on the table and opened the refrigerator. Leftover chicken might work. She got down a bowl from the cabinet (the everyday dishes, of course) and carefully took the meat off the bones. (She had heard chicken bones were not good for dogs). Probably shouldn’t give the dog too much at first. No telling what kind of inner critters the poor thing had. When she placed the bowl on the floor, the dog gently ate every bite, then licked the bowl and looked up at Miriam. “No more now,” Miriam told her. “Thirsty?”

So, of course, Miriam returned to the cabinet for a bowl, then stopped. “It’s Christmas,” she remembered. And she turned toward the china cabinet in the corner where the “good” china lived, unused for months, if not years, and got down the beautiful serving bowl with roses on the bottom. She filled it with water from the tap and placed it where the food had been. The dog drank…..and drank…..and drank. She then looked up at Miriam and waved that deplorable tail. Thanks.

Miriam got another bowl, one of the mixing bowls that came with her Kitchen Aid mixer years ago, filled it with water, and placed it on the floor along with the supplies she had earlier gathered. The dog sniffed it, but didn’t drink any more. “Good,” said Miriam.

Though they creaked, Miriam’s joints still worked, and she slowly sat beside the dog, who fell beside her, placing her head in Miriam’s lap. For a moment, Miriam just rubbed that stately head, looking into those unfathomable eyes. How long since this dog had eaten and had fresh water? She took a wash cloth and dipped it in the large bowl, then gently began washing the dog’s head. Slowly, slowly the layers of dirt began to come off. The tan color, she found, was meant to be white--a blaze that split the dog’s black face. She checked the coat and removed the burrs she could, cutting out the ones she couldn’t. Then she took her human brush and began to gently brush out the dog’s coat. The dog’s body would have to wait for a wash. Right now, Miriam just wanted to get out the worst of the mats.

It took a long time. The dog’s eyes grew heavy, then closed, opening briefly when Miriam inadvertently pulled too hard at a knot, closing again.

“Probably been awhile since you slept well, huh?” Miriam whispered. Though the dog’s eyes remained closed, the pitiful tail whop-whopped on the floor.

And Miriam’s heart was gone. “I don’t know much about dogs,” she confessed softly. Whop-whop. Smiling, Miriam answered the tail, “I guess I can learn.”

By the time she stopped the grooming, Miriam wondered if she could call a crane to get her up off the floor. She managed, though, and the dog woke, lifted her head, and watched.

Now what?

“Now outside with you again,” Miriam said. “Potty break!” Miriam hesitated, hearing the tone in her voice she had used with her sons when they were small. Heaven help her, was she talking to the dog in that silly way people seemed to in the park? The people she had laughed at?

Outside the dog carefully walked down the stairs, made her way to a bush, squatted, and never took her eyes off Miriam. Then she walked slowly back towards the stairs. Can I come back up? those eyes appeared to ask. Is this too good to be true?

Miriam opened the door, and the dog bounded--really, there is no other word for it--up those stairs and into the warm kitchen again.

Glancing at the clock, Miriam realized it had been over two hours since she had first seen this dog. How long had it been since she had lost herself in time that way?

Looking again at the dog, she smiled. “So,” she said, “what is your name to be?”

The dog seemed to know something. Oh, she didn’t know Christmas, of course. But, she seemed to sense that this woman was now her person---her job, so to speak. She sat in front of Miriam, gazing adoringly up, those bottomless eyes now shining with happiness. After a moment, she turned and began to explore, leaving the kitchen for the first time, almost as if to say, what’s the rest of my new home like?, then stopped as she saw the tree. Lifting a paw, she stretched her neck out towards the tree, then carefully walked towards the table where the tree stood.

Miriam tried to see the tree through the dog’s eyes. This year, though determined to have a tree, she had wanted simple. The small tree wore white lights, small red and gold bows, and “holographic” (whatever that meant) tinsel. It was pretty, she thought, and simple. At the top of the tree rested the white-light star she had used for years on her trees--large ones, small ones, medium ones. It wasn’t one of those inexpensive stars from the drugstore. This one had come from a special Christmas store in town, now long out of business. The lights made a star that looked like the star above the manger in Christmas paintings and on expensive Christmas cards. The simple decorations let the star truly shine and be the most impressive part of the tree.

The dog slowly made her way to the tree, then methodically sniffed each branch she could reach, pausing at the bows, studying each one.

“Never seen a tree before?” asked Miriam.

The dog looked around and wagged her tail, which was still not perfect, but, after Miriam’s careful grooming, showing the promise of luxurious feathers that would, no doubt, brush objects off of tables in the days to come.

The dog then lowered her head and went under the tree table, circled twice, and collapsed into a heap, asleep as soon as she hit the carpet. Miriam went to “her” chair, a wingback with a convenient footrest at hand, and watched the dog sleep. Her eyes wandered up the tree, then back to the dog sleeping under it.

Under the tree.

Where Christmas presents belong.

“Welcome home, Star,” she whispered.


This story hit me (thank-you to the person who wanted to remain unnamed who sent it to me the other day!) - there was one line in particular that hit me - the line "she seemed to sense that this woman was now her person---her job, so to speak." That line hit me like a ton of bricks. Because it's so true. That's why the dogs are here - it's their job to give me love, and it's my job to let them give it to me. And it's also my job to do all the other stuff that goes along with having a dog but that's not the point of this post.

The idea of this post is the concept of that we don't actually own our dogs - we are our dogs employment/job - their reason for living. We are the centre of their universe. When you put it that way how could you ever give them up because you had to move or had a baby or suddenly developed an allergy?

Just imagine the great adventures Miriam and Star are going to have together. The impossible to articulate feeling that you get when you look into your dogs eyes and you've scratched their favourite spot in the way they like so that they've fallen asleep in deep contentment - with the knowledge that they've endured years of a hellish life before they came to your house. What a great gift Miriam's been given, and Star lucked out too that she found someone willing to employ her. It could almost make you believe in Santa Claus...

Sunday, December 19, 2004

A Really Neat Idea for Us Christmas Grinches!

Last night I was putting away the dishes when the door bell rang and the dogs went crazy like they usually do and when I opened it there was a lady standing there with a box and I said - "I don't want to buy anything, sorry!" - and the lady said really uncomfortably - "I'm not selling anything - this is a Christmas present from the Morris family" - and the dogs kept barking and going crazy and we both decided that maybe she should just leave it on the front porch rather than her giving it directly to me. I think she was pretty relieved not to have to hand it directly to me!

In hindsight it's funny because it was the owner of the company who was delivering the gift to me - probably on her way home after a hugely successful day and here I am saying "I don't want to buy anything" like she's a door to door wreath salesperson who's trying to eke out a few extra dollars before Christmas when in fact she's got a really successful company! And it's successful because it's such a neat idea!

It's a little potted Christmas tree that comes with the decorations that you can keep until the spring and then plant outdoors! Is that neat or what? And it's great for people like me who don't particularly want to put up a tree for whatever reason, or for people in offices or hospital or nursing homes, or wherever - and it even comes with little lights and decorations. There was an article in yesterday's Chronicle Herald that I've pasted below and she also has a website at

Here's some pictures of my tree which I put on top of the rat's cage - I'll post a picture AFTER the cats discover it!

Here's the box it came in - it's shaped like a chimney! Posted by Hello

Here's what was in the box Posted by Hello

And here's the final product - isn't it neat! Posted by Hello

And here's the article from the newspaper:

Saturday, December 18, 2004 The Halifax Herald Limited


Small N.S. firm has big U.S. customers

By BRUCE ERSKINE / Business Reporter

Donald Trump and Yoko Ono have something Nova Scotian in common.

Both have bought miniature Nova Scotia Christmas trees from Halifax-based Czarbro Inc..

Czarbro owner Gena Arthur opened the business in 2000 after trying to figure out how to avoid throwing out Christmas trees after the holidays.

"People used to laugh at me," she said in an interview Thursday. "I used to feel bad about throwing out an eight- or nine-foot (2 1/2- to 3 1/2-metre) tree."

After realizing she couldn't sell large trees with transplantable root balls, she came up with the idea of producing mini-trees.

The potted trees, developed with help from the Natural Resources Department and grown by Nova Scotia nurseries, average just under a metre tall, including pot.

"The problem with little trees is they only have a few branches," she said. "We developed a technology to grow full, more conical shaped trees."

The $29.99 transplantable trees come in a box resembling a chimney. They include a garland, lights, handmade glass ornaments, angel topper, tree skirt and bows. "We sell 2,000 to 10,000 annually," Ms. Arthur said.

This year's trees are select blue spruce. Last year she used balsam fir and Alberta dwarf spruce and next year plans to sell balsam fir again. The mini-trees are sold around the world.

"We have exported to Japan, Greenland, Iceland, Europe and the United States," said Ms. Arthur, adding the trees are popular with seniors and other people who can't or don't want to handle a large Christmas tree.

Ms. Arthur has sold the trees in retail outlets like Sobeys and Zellers in the past, but is selling them online ( and toll free (1-866-646-4873) this year.

"We plan to distribute them nationally with a retail chain next year."

The New York connection came about in 2000 when she had excess inventory to sell.

"We took them to a tree stand at Wall Street and Broadway. They were selling so fast we couldn't keep up."

She said she hestitated about returning to New York in 2001, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but was gratified by the response she received.

"It was quite an eye-opening trip," she said, recalling how people bought the trees as Ground Zero memorials to those who died in the World Trade Center attacks.

She said a Donald Trump assistant bought a tree for the flamboyant entrepreneur-TV star, and later came back to buy 20 more for his staff.

"One of our representatives sold one for Yoko Ono," she said, adding that the trees, which can be kept for years and grow to full size with proper care, are being sold in the Big Apple by a New York tree marketer this year.

"The trees are really filling a niche market and hopefully putting a smile on people's faces."

The rat's cage and Jada

I've come to discover that rats are just like mice - they can get through really small openings, they can squeeze their bodies through just about anything if they've got the initiative. With Mrs Dingle I could leave the cage door open all day and she'd merrily just stay in her cage and run around moving her peanuts from one end to the other end - come and look to see where I was, poke her head out to see what's going on, go chew on something, take a nap, have a sip of water, take a crap, etc, etc.

Jada's a completely different rat. She needs to be free - she's never gotten tamed. I've yet to hold her or have her on my shoulder or anything like that Recently she's been spending more time OUT of the cage than in it - and most of it's been under one of the bookcases in the room that I have their cage in - she's been having an excellent adventure chewing the carpets, some fabric, and pooping all over the place and driving the dogs insane. Daisy especially wouldn't come out of the room when we were home. She'd made it her mission in life to find out what that little black and white thing that was moving very quickly between the bottom of things in that room was because she was quite sure it smelled like food! So it was just a matter of time before Jada ended up as dinner.

It's so funny that even today the cats stll have taken no notice of the rats. I can't believe it. They even spend time in that room and they just don't care. The dogs are always in there when I'm in there because cage cleaning mean Cheerios!

Anyway - here's some pictures of my new and improved cage - it took me most of the weekend to do it and my hands are super sore from winding the wires to put the chicken wire on. If she can get through this I give up!

Pre Fort-Knox cage Posted by Hello

Fort Knox (I hope!) Posted by Hello

Jada saying - "there must some way out of here though?" Posted by Hello

"Mommy - you've taken all my FUN away!" Posted by Hello

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

It's gotten bloody cold

Snow pant central Posted by Hello

I do not like the cold. So the snow pants, heavy duty coat, boots, head gear, and extra sweaters have come out of storage for the rest of the winter for our nightly jaunts to Seaview. Buttercup has a bag that I bring for her that's lined with arctic fleece but she prefers to just go inside the coat like in this picture. I think it also makes her feel secure. I got those Snowpants - Columbia snowpants! - for $20 at Value Village - which is a dog friendly store to boot! (at least the Bayer's lake store is, I've never tried the Dartmouth one - which I should try because that's a good one too.

We've been going to Seaview really late at night when no one else is there because I was finding that having 5 exhuberant dogs arriving en masse was really freaking people out. So if someone wants to arrive while we're there that's THEIR problem - but to arrive while other people are trying to have their own good time was starting to wear on me. At least until I can build up my fighting energy anyway. I'm currently a little short on cajones.

Sniffing for liver... Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 2, 2004

Do you want to save a dog from getting shot in the head?

Did you know that in parts of Nova Scotia the way that dogs get euthanized (killed) at animal control facilities is by being shot in the head with 22 calibre rifles? That that is the actual protocol? That the animal control constables are supposedly "specially trained" to shoot the animals in a way as to kill them instantly? But what if the dog flinches? How often does that happen? How many times does it take more than one shot? And what does that do to the animal control officer over time? How hard must their heart become? One can only imagine.

Annapolis County (among others) uses this method to kill their dogs who happen to end up in their pound - and it just came before their town council to try and have a veterinarian euthanize the animals by lethal injection instead and it was over-ruled! Does nobody in Annapolis County like animals? What I find most amazing is that Annapolis Royal was just named "the World's most livable small community" - certainly they didn't take companion animals into consideration when they were making their choices! I am personally disgusted by the whole county currently. Completely and utteruly disgusted.

The only person I have one ounce of compassion for is the animal control officer - Ron Sabean - who has to do the dirty work of the county and has to look in the eyes of the discarded and unwanted dogs of all the people before he loads up his gun and shoots the dogs in the head and kills them.

The reason I'm writing this post is because I just found out that the animal control facility has a website that lists the dogs available for adoption with pictures of the dogs there. So if you're looking for a new canine life companion and thinking that you might want to make a difference in the life of one dog - these would be the dogs who would most appreciate it I think. These dogs didn't end up in this pound through any fault of their own, and they don't deserve to die an inhumane death because some bureaucrat doesn't feel like paying an extra $10 per dog to euthanize them humanely. So please think about taking a drive up to Annapolis County and seeing the dogs up there - I hear that it's a lovely drive, and the towns and villages up there are quite scenic. I'm sure Mr. Sabean would love to adopt these animals out to good homes rather than have to apply his only other current option...

Their website is:

Here's a picture that they have listed as one of the dogs available - she looks beautiful! (especially without a bullet hole)

One of the dogs currently at the Annapolis County shelter - she's only 35-40 pounds and she's around 1 year old - a shepherd mix Posted by Hello

All the rescued dogs, cats, and rats in my house who would be dead now thank you - Charlie, Daisy, Mrs Dingle, Jada, Gizmo, Whisky, Liam - but not Buttercup - since she's small and beautiful anybody would have adopted her - but especially Philip thanks you because he especially should be dead now.

Update - December 31, 2004: Good news! There is some humanity in Annapolis County...

from the Chronicle Herald:

Animal euthanasia policy changed

By IAN FAIRCLOUGH / Valley Bureau

ANNAPOLIS ROYAL - Annapolis County council has changed its animal euthanasia policy after receiving complaints from the public about the old practice of shooting unclaimed animals at the pound.

Council voted unanimously last week to switch from shooting to lethal injection, with the remains to be incinerated afterward rather than buried, Warden Peter Newton said.

The time an animal will be held at the pound was also increased from three to five days.

The issue came up at a committee of the whole meeting last month after public complaints about the old practice.

Mr. Newton said that since that time no animals have been put down, and county staff have been helping find homes for impounded animals.

Unclaimed animals are placed in foster homes or adopted out by the Companion Animal Protection Society of Annapolis County, a group formed after euthanasia became an issue in the past couple of months.

"It's a very active group of citizens that has mobilized to create the foster program," Mr. Newton said Thursday.

Photos and descriptions of available animals are being posted on the municipality's website at

The warden said the county's animal control officer still has clearance to shoot animals in extreme cases, such as when a vicious animal is deemed an immediate saftey threat.

He said the decision to cremate the dogs was an environmental one.

"Because they're going to be filled up with barbiturates, we just felt it was better to have them cremated than have whatever is put into them leak out into the soil sometime."