Email Symbiosis

This will be my ninth holiday season with my PH. It’s a bit wild to realize that. Back then, I never thought we would last. I never intended for us to, frankly. I had just finished university and was contemplating world domination, or running off to work on a cruise ship, or teaching English in Thailand. The world was supposed to be at my feet. That’s what I told myself at the time. I was free of responsibilities! It was time to buy a Eurail pass and find adventure. Somehow, I ended up sticking around, hanging out with friends and working out my quarter-century crisis by hauling banquet tables. Call it cowardice or laziness or – gag me – love, yet I didn’t leave. Thus, almost ten years later, after numerous life changes for the both of us, my PH and I are still together.

Huh.

As gobsmacking as this would have been to my twenty-two-year-old self, I have no regrets. Sure, I still haven’t been to Thailand, but  I get to live with my best friend and receive emails like this:

From: ***************
Subject: coming clean
To: “Kristine Tonks”

Just in case you hear any rumours, I thought I should tell you first.

I currently have a female in my office.

She is about 110 pounds, beautiful hair, affectionate and, well, naked.

 I love bernese mountain dogs. 🙂

From: Kristine Tonks
Subject: coming clean
To: ******

Awwwww! No fair! Who does she belong to?

It’s okay if you leave me for a Berner. I would understand. 😉

From: ***************
Date: Fri, Dec 13, 2013 at 12:38 PM
Subject: coming clean
To: “Kristine Tonks”

LOL.

It is my co-worker’s nephew’s dog. He couldn’t leave her home today so he had to bring her in. He left shortly after and has been gone all day. Sora is mine now, regardless of what my co-worker thinks.

From: Kristine Tonks
Subject: coming clean
To: ******

So jealous. I want a puppy in my office.

From: ***************
Subject: coming clean
To: “Kristine Tonks”

Damn I shouldn’t have said anything, he just came to get the dog.

Sigh.

From: Kristine Tonks
Subject: coming clean
To: ******

Why? Doesn’t he know true love when he sees it? So cold.

Did you get pictures to remember her by?

From: ***************
Subject: coming clean
To: “Kristine Tonks”

Sadly no.

I thought I had more time, I guess you never know…….

From: Kristine Tonks
Subject: coming clean
To: ******

Star-crossed lovers. A truly tragic tale. I hope you see her again one day.

We’ve grown together, my PH and I. I will never be a believer in love at first sight or any of that artificial hyper-romantic humbug. At the same time, it is hard not to wonder if some relationships are just meant to be.

Tuesday Time-out

One of my favourite times of winter is when the lakes freeze over. There is just no better way to walk the dog than to watch her rip over the vast empty space.

On bright sunny days, with the snow glittering over the tree branches, I don’t even notice the cold. Luckily, no one else is brave enough to face the temperatures, so we usually have the space to ourselves. Except for a few brave ice fishermen, the lake is ours.

This brief period just doesn`t last long enough. Before too long it will be February and the rain and slush will return. We have to get our ice running in while we can.

I don`t know if there is a camera in the whole that can accurately capture Shiva`s joy.

On days like these, who needs summer?

Tuesday Time-out

A nearby elementary school is covered in several cheerful murals, just perfect for the holiday countdown challenge. I saved the opportunity for a time Shiva and I could have fun with the photos. They wouldn’t look nearly as brilliant in the dark.

I gotta say, Shiva poses a lot better for the camera than ever before. After two and a half years of the evil black box stuck in her face, she has finally succumbed. Frankly, it’s probably just easier that way. The sooner we get the photo, the sooner she can go back to eating garbage. She knows I won’t give up until I get the shot I want.

I also see it as a great chance to work on tricks. Not just sit-stays but stand-stays, bow-stays, feet-in-the-air-stays… Shiva doesn’t always love holding her position for very long so I have to be fast. It depends on the amount of distraction in the environment. If there is a stinky McDonald’s wrapper nearby, I can only expect so much focus.

And of course, she is always generously rewarded for her efforts. No pet photographer – even a sad amateur with a point-and-shoot like me –  could get this dog to work without treats. Her services do not come cheap.

Regardless, I do think she enjoys the attention. As much as the camera may annoy her when she’d rather be chasing ducks, the walks we take when I bring it along feel a lot more connected. Instead of us just doing our own thing, the camera helps us interact. It also helps me appreciate our surroundings just a wee bit more. Each picture I take is like a little moment between us, a tiny memory we created together.

Tuesday Time-out

I realize it`s a bit sick and twisted, but around this time of year, I always find myself longing for snow. Maybe because it is so cold and dark, snow is the only way to add some light to my evening ventures with the puppy?

My best friend lives in Edmonton, Alberta and she usually gets winter long before we do in Nova Scotia. Last night she sent me a few photos of the view from her apartment and I couldn’t help but feel envious of the Christmas-y wonderland out her window. Perhaps it was just the city lights reflecting off the brilliant white, but the simple camera phone snapshots made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

I know I am probably alone in my wishes. If I remember right, last year I was longing for a snow day and sadly it never arrived. In fact, we didn’t get snow in the Halifax area until January. January! You may think this is lucky, but in truth, it makes me a little wistful.

I miss the days of my childhood when snow was exciting, more than just another chore. I miss building snow-people and tobogganing and skating on a frozen pond. As an adult, I rarely make time for such activities. If it wasn’t for Shiva, I probably wouldn’t get out in it at all.

Shiva knows how to make the most of everything. This year I intend to do the same.

If we ever get any snow, that is.

Tuesday Time-out

One of my favourite days of my recent vacation, was the day we went to the beach. It’s crazy, right? Who goes to the beach in November? In Nova Scotia it’s the off-season that attracts dog-lovers the most. During the warmer summer months, with the sunbathers taking over the sand, the ocean is off-limits to dogs. Once the kids are back in school and the tourists are long gone, that’s when the puppies get to come out to play. In the winter months, the beach is one of the most fun places to take a dog. With aqua-phobic Shiva there is no danger of her being swept out in the powerful waves.

Surprisingly, we weren’t the only ones there that afternoon. Nova Scotia has quite the growing surfing population these days. The water is freezing cold, but that doesn’t seem to stop the die-hards. Canadian surfers are a hardy lot. Our little Eastern Shore seems to be making a name for itself in the world of the sport.

This particular beach is called “Silver Sands”. Unfortunately, the sand was difficult to find. Shiva had a difficult time navigating over the rocks. Well, difficult for her. They slowed her down half a kilometre an hour. I wonder if we could set up an agility course on the stones?

It probably wouldn’t be safe. It’s too bad. It would give me a slight chance of keeping up with her!

It was lovely to have nowhere in particular to be. We could just take our time, relax, and breathe in the salty air. Of course, our dog had other ideas. “Relax” isn’t really part of her vocabulary.

The original reason we went to this beach was to check out the Moose statue that is positioned on top of the cliff. It was sculpted by the same artist who created the Shediac Lobster in New Brunswick and Jumbo the Elephant in Ontario. Naturally, my curse prevented me from actually seeing the animal.

It’s a good thing the beach itself turned out to be such an amazing attraction.

Tuesday Time-out

Like everything else she does, Shiva scarfs her meals at Mach 10. Lucikly, we don’t tend to give her that much kibble at once. Since we usually use her food for training treats and in her daily Kong, she only eats about half the right amount at a time. When it comes to bloat prevention, one can never go too far. In the past, many of you have recommended various tricks to encourage Shiva to take her time while eating. Last week we received a gift from my practically mother-in-law in the mail: the Dogit Go Slow Anti-Gulping Dog Dish. Naturally, I had to test it out immediately.

Silly me, I actually wondered if Shiva would be put off by the new shape and size. It’s like I haven’t spent the last two and a half years with the food obsessed maniac, or something. Duh.

Of course she didn’t care. We could probably feed her out of a fountain shooting water in her face and blaring sirens in her ear and she wouldn’t notice.

The question is, did it slow her down?

I’ll let you be the judge.

Tuesday Time-out

This Sunday my PH and I decided to take a drive to admire the fall colours. For the very first time in ages we left Shiva behind with a stuffed and frozen Kong. I know she doesn’t much get the point of oohing and aahing over pretty leaves and I have no doubt she was happier in the house with her yummy snack.

Yeah, it's red. So what?

Leaving the poor dog behind also enabled us to check out the Provincial Wildlife Park in Shubenacadie. Given our love of animals I can’t believe it took us over three years to get there. Upon entering the park, this lovely gal greeted us with a coy smile and a glance toward the deer treat machine.

That’s right, I said deer treat machine. For the cost of a quarter we actually got to feed this sweetheart – with our bare hands! She was even kind enough to let us stroke her rough, but warm, neck.

Most of the animals at the park came from other zoological facilities in North America where they were born in captivity. Hence why the deer was so friendly. Many seemed to feel very comfortable around people and came to the front of their enclosures to say hello. A few were also received from members of the public who kept wildlife as pets. As they could never be released to the wild, they are sent to the park for rehabilitation and care.

While I understand the temptation as many of the animals were incredibly cute, I don’t get why anyone would attempt to raise a wild animal as a domestic companion. Even if one is able to bond with the animal, what happens if that animal’s caregiver dies? What if the animal got out and hurt neighbourhood pets? It’s just to much of a risk. Not to mention, illegal.

That being said, I could have tucked this guy into my pocket very easily.

Or given this handsome fellow one giant hug. Wouldn’t he make a wonderful pillow?

My PH was disappointed, however, when we weren’t able to find the moose in the deep grass of the enclosure. Silly boy, he actually thinks they exist. Clearly I have yet to convince him moose are part of Canada’s largest zoological conspiracy. (Although, I hear some Americans have gotten in on the act.) In all my years on the planet, I have yet to see one of these mythological creatures. But I have seen a lot of signs.

I guess that’s what they are supposed to look like. You know, if they were real.

The biggest hit of the day was the Arctic Fox. I didn’t know these adorable fuzzballs sometimes find themselves in Nova Scotia after drifting down on an errant ice flow. It would be so cool to see one in the wild!

They were just so playful! Like little puppies with very sharp teeth. They distracted me so much, I almost forgot about the silly dog I had waiting for me at home. The foxes (is that the correct pluralization?) definitely made up for the “no dogs allowed” rule. I loved them so much, I couldn’t resist taking a video to share with you all. Get ready to melt into a puddle!