Woo Hoo!

I have finally, actually managed to blog every single day of a month! I have been trying since November. Thanks for reading everyone. Your comments here or on Facebook keep me going.


Gemma Joy with one of her 'babies'
Gemma Joy with one of her 'babies'

We said goodbye to Gemma Joy yesterday. As many of you know we have been agonizing about how and when to make the decision to let her go. Her aggression had been escalating and we were finding it increasingly difficult to keep her away from Zoe. For some reason she had taken a severe dislike to Zoe and had attacked her on at least 2 or 3 other occasions. The only way we could move them from one part of the house to the other was to let one outside, move the other one, then let the first one back in the other part of the house. We had to keep 2 sets of gates between them. If Gemma was in the living room she had to be in the X-pen because she could climb the gate and did so even if someone was with her.

No one can be 100% vigilant 100% of the time. It is humanly impossible. They accidentally got together yesterday and Gemma attacked Zoe the second she saw her. I was able to break up the fight fairly quickly but not before there were injuries to Zoe and me. Thankfully Gemma did not get Zoe’s ear again. Zoe has 2 small wounds on her head in addition to being traumatized. If I had not been here Zoe would have likely been seriously injured at the least.

This was a very hard decision to make. We know Gemma has mammary cancer, lung cancer and brain cancer. She had been having complex-partial seizures for most of her waking hours the last couple of weeks. However, she looked great! She loved to cuddle and to launch herself at you from the floor. Because she looked good, the decision was complicated. What we realized yesterday is that Gemma was going to kill one of the smaller dogs due to her cancer. We could not let that happen.


We took her to the vet this afternoon and she was humanely euthanized. She was given a sedative first and she almost went with that medication. Once the drug was administered she was gone very quickly. It was quiet. It was peaceful. It was right. We know it was right, she was calm, surrounded by love and she went to sleep. She didn’t fight or struggle. Gemma Joy was ready.

Making these decisions is very complex. Dogs can’t talk to us and tell us they hurt or they are scared or anxious or that they just don’t want to do it anymore. I think Gemma loved her life with us as much as we loved her. Sadly our love and her desire could not fix her health problems brought on by over-breeding and not being spayed as a young dog.

I have to thank Yvette from Turtle Gardens, not only for rescuing Gemma but for her kind words yesterday. She had seen Gemmy recently and she knew that we were struggling with decision about when the right time would be for her to pass. Yvette’s words, filled with love and compassion, soothed our broken hearts. If I could change one thing about how this happened it would be that Zoe did not get attacked again. Zoe will heal and for that I am grateful. Watching her tonight as she is scared and anxious I can’t wait for it to be a couple of days from now when she will be back to her usual self.

She had the best fuzzy face!

We have lost 3 dogs in less than 6 months. We will be having a serious conversation about whether we can do this again. What is for sure is that it will not be any time soon. Our hearts are broken and we need to hear. The other canine members of our family need a break too. Bringing in new dogs all the time is really hard on all of them too. We have several seniors who need peace and quiet. We do too.

We love you Gemma. You are a very good dog. I hope you are at peace now.

Gemmie loved her belly rubs

Turtle Gardens Raffle Fundraiser

Turtle Gardens is an awesome organization in Northern BC. TG covers a huge area of northern BC and they are the only rescue. Approximately 250 dogs are adopted per year from Turtle Gardens. If you can help out with the raffle please see the information below. Thank you!

Hello everyone,

Didn’t Win the Grand Prize to Puerto Vallarta in 2008?Well you have another chance this summer.

Escapes.ca has generously donated a Fabulous 7 day Vacation to a Four-Star all inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta.
Thank you Chris and Tomoko for your generous support.

This vacation will be the exciting “GRAND” prize of our upcoming raffle.

We know we’ll be able to make this fundraiser a success – our goal is to beat the total of $15,000 we raised two years ago.

Jude and I are in the early stages of organizing this fundraiser.
We’ve started to accumulate some goodies already:

– $200 in Gas cards
– $100 in Starbuck cards
– $200 of Avon products
– $50 Canadian Tire card
– Kitty bag – treats, toys etc

This is just the beginning….

Are you able to donate a prize to the raffle? Keep in mind this is a province wide event. We would like to keep the prizes lightweight and easy to mail.  Are you able to approach any local businesses in your area for a donation?

There was a lot of interest in the gas cards.
We would love to have a $500 gas giveaway.

Donation receipts for income tax purposes can be provided.

If you would like to Print out a Donations Request letter,
Click HERE

If you do not have a printer, please send us an email at tgraffle@gmail.com and Iwe’ll be more than happy to supply some copies.

Remember, any amount, small or large will be greatly appreciated.

Donations will be accepted until May 1st.

Let’s help Yvette and the dogs of Turtle Gardens.
We can do this with everyone’s support.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Cynda and Jude

PS  Please please forward this email to your friends and co-workers!  Thanks so much.


What I Learned

I promise this is the last driving theme blog for a while anyway! Having watched 2 seasons of Canada’s Worst Driver I thought I would talk about the things I learned.

1. I am recognizing when I am distracted when I am driving. I am trying to minimize the distractions in my car. I am trying to do the things I need to do, like changing the track, until it is safe to do so. I never texted or emailed in my car so that was never an issue. I have a hands-free bluetooth setup and I only need press a button. If anything I am way more aware now.

2. I am trying to slow down. I am a speeder. I am not outrageous but I am a good 10% over the limit all the time. On the back way (our shortcut to the Pitt River Bridge) I am very bad. The speed limits on those roads are 50 and 60 km/h yet I routinely go between 70 and 90. If I ever get caught it is going to be a whopping ticket! I am also aware of the fact that should I have to avoid something I could be in trouble.

3. Hands on the wheel – sometimes I would drive with one hand. I am trying to keep both hands on the wheel at 3 and 9 as they recommend. This is hard for me because I was taught to have them at 10 and 2. I can’t seem to turn the way they recommend. I still turn hand over hand.

4. I am trying hard not to freak out at other drivers’ bonehead maneuvers. I have been known to swear up a storm while driving I had already stopped that behaviour quite some time ago and that decision has been confirmed.

5. The one thing they talk about constantly is to look where you want to go. I really got to put that into practice today when I was on the Port Mann bridge in the pouring, driving rain. Driving in conditions like that freak me out. Today, however,  was able to look where I wanted to go and I was much calmer.

Overall I have to say that I learned things about driving that I had not really thought about. I think the best bit of driving advice I ever got was from Dad. He said to always drive 5 cars – the one in front of you, the one behind you, the ones on either side and your own. My addition to that is to always think of the most boneheaded thing someone can do in a situation and you will not often be disappointed.

Shopping Cart Hockey

In keeping with the Canada’s Best Driver theme, I have to blog about the ‘shopping cart hockey’ challenge. To play this rip-off of our national pass time*, a shopping cart is placed in front of a vehicle (in this case a minivan) and the driver has to ‘stick handle’ the shopping cart at a sufficient enough speed that when you put the brakes on (at a predetermined white line) the shopping cart has enough speed to travel through the goal (provided you aimed well).

Apparently this is harder than it sounds and you really cannot appreciate how difficult it is without seeing it. Shopping carts do not go in a straight line. We have all had experience driving a shopping cart around a store – it is not always easy. Needless to say most of Canada’s Worst Driver candidates could not score a goal in shopping cart hockey if their lives depended on it.

Personally, I thought shopping cart hockey looked like fun and I would love to give it a try sometime. I am not sure I could actually score as I usually have shitty aim. Several of the challenges looked quite interesting. It would be great if someone made these kind of closed-course runs for people possible. It would be great to challenge drivers and help them learn new skills.

*For some people anyway.

Canada’s Worst Driver

I have downloaded two seasons of Canada’s Worst Driver. The premise is that people nominate other people who have horrible driving habits. The ‘drivers’* are then put through a series of challenges testing everything from parking to merging to driving in a straight line. There is a group of experts including a race-car driving psychologist, a driving instructor and an OPP officer. Each week they pick one of the ‘worst’ drivers to graduate based on their performances.

All of the drivers have atrocious habits. One grandmother runs through stop signs, speeds constantly and drinks alcohol but only on her way to bingo! An 18-year old young man has learned from his father that driving scared will keep him safe. When he is going down a road he gets scared and steers rapidly, from side-to-side making the truck look like it is wobbly.

It really makes me wonder how these people get their licenses. These people hit cars, cyclists, and pedestrians. Many of these drivers have had numerous accidents and driving mishaps. It makes me wonder if there should be mandatory driver re-training after a certain number of accidents and/or moving violations. Some of these drivers are just downright scared to drive. One woman cries every time she gets behind the wheel!

The good thing about this show is that it exposes bad driving habits. Many of us who have been driving for a long time do begin to have some bad habits. This show is great at teaching us all some things we may have forgotten or never learned – which is a great thing. The bottom line with Canada’s Worst Drivers is that they should be taken off the road – no questions asked.

*I use the term ‘driver’ loosely.

Things I do for my Dogs – The Tippy Edition*

The First in a Series
I have had dogs for many years probably going on twenty now. Faced with dog issues over the years, I have been forced to become quite a creative problem solver. If you are squeamish, easily nauseated or bothered by bodily functions this is not the post for you to read!

It all began with my first dog Tippy. She was a Maltese/Shihtzu cross. Tippy was an extremely high-strung dog. She barked at anything. She spun like crazy when she saw me or someone else she loved. I loved that little dog fiercely. She saw me through many emotional times. We were inseparable. She went to work with me and she was my faithful every where I went. She went to graduate school with me, travelling across Canada to Kingston, ON.

Tippy had a major issue in life – she mostly refused to drink water because somehow she would aspirate it and spend several hours reverse sneezing. So Tippy ate ice, lots of ice. She would come running and spinning whenever she heard the ice tray crack. I could not leave a glass with ice in it unattended as she would knock it over to get the ice. I would have little wet spots on my carpet wherever I lived.

Tippy would also get little dog butt. Basically if the hair gets too long they get a ‘cling-on’ and if not caught quickly enough it can get pretty gross. I learned pretty quickly to not add water! In these cases, scissors are your friend. It is important to cut all the hair (and everything else) off. I have no idea how many times I cleaned that dogs’s butt over the ten years I had her.

Then there the KONG. Tippy liked to play non-stop. She played with the huge blue and white kong. She would get it and I would have to play tug of war with her to get it back. Lots of times she would end up off her feet growling all the way. She would play non-stop! She also liked to sit on my chest. When I sat on the couch she would jump on the back and then descend and sit on my chest. This was a bit of a problem because she was a bit of an alpha dog. I often joke that I wrote my master’s thesis while playing kong with Tippy and when we were not playing she was sitting on my chest.

Tip had many nicknames. One that really stuck was ‘Tippy the Tiny Terrorist.’ She was a bit aggressive towards other dogs and she ruled the house. If I had her today, things would be very different as I know a lot more now. Once other dogs accepted that Tippy was alpha dog it was all good. She did enjoy playing with them. One in particular stands out – Shilo. Shilo was a large likely Belgian Shepherd cross and Tippy loved to play with her. Her favourite thing to do with Shilo was to grab her tail and hang on. She would end up swallowing a lot of long black hairs that I would then have to pull out of the other end. I really loved my dog!

Tippy was very important to me. I will forever be grateful to my friend Gale who entrusted her care to me. Tippy was the centre of my world for her entire life. She saw me through so many life challenges and transitions. She passed away in November of 2000. Tippy, you were a very good dog and I miss you.

*A little note about the origins of this series – I was sitting with Zoe and I was draining about the 5th boil/abscess on her back. It occurred to me that I do some gross things for my dogs. Be assured that I love them dearly. I know that I get way more from them than I give. I think this will be fun!

Article of Faith

An elderly Sikh man had his beard cut off by a nurse in a care facility. The family states that he was so upset by having his beard shorn that he stopped eating and died. The Fraser Health Authority has apologized for the incident and promises that there will be cultural education.

In my opinion, the Fraser Health Authority is acting in a ‘Canadian’ way. Words about understanding different religious and cultural issues are in the forefront. Contrast this reaction with the proposed legislation in Quebec that I blogged about yesterday. I wonder what is at the root of this different reaction.

I think the fact that it is a woman in Quebec and men in BC is a salient point. It would seem that people accept the religious expression of men more readily than the same expression by women. If a man makes a decision to be a conservative Sikh and not cut any bodily hair his decision is respected at face value. Women wearing the niqab or the burka are not respected in the same manner. It is assumed that these women did not come to this decision on their own as there is a belief that no woman would want to cover themselves in that way. Many feminists believe that these women are being forced into these garments. While that may be the case for some reasons we still must respect the beliefs of women.

As It Happens had an update tonight on the story last night. They interviewed a niqab wearing woman who, in spite of her religious beliefs has an earned a degree. She had plans to go back to school but now she was not sure. She described what happens when someone needed to confirm her identity. If it was not possible to have a woman do it, she had no problem allowing a man to confirm her identity. She further indicated that other women would behave similarly. She mad an interesting point comparing the Quebec government to oppressive regimes that deny women access to education. Denial of education is what will happen, in the province of Quebec, if this legislation is passed.

“Mine is ok but yours is not”

The title seems to capture the attitude of the government of Quebec when it comes to religious symbols. I was listening to “As it Happens” on the radio today. They were covering a recent introduction of legislation regarding the display of religious symbols in government offices, hospitals and schools. The niqāb and burka, were the items mentioned. Referencing the secular nature of Quebec, the legislation singles out religious paraphernalia that covers the face. As the conversation with a female Quebec politician (I presume) went on to discuss other religious items like crucifixes for example which would be deemed acceptable. Clearly a double-standard exists.

This legislative change (if it passes) will only affect women as it is women who wear the niqāb and the burkqa. I have no desire to get into the debate about how a woman comes to wear either garment. Discussing whether it is religious or a woman’s choice is not a salient point to this issue. The bottom line is some women wear these garments because they believe they are required to do so. Yes, it may be more cultural than a religious requirement but it does not really matter because the women wearing these garments believe they must. It is similar to the belief held by Sikhs with regard to their hair – both on their heads and their faces.

The legislation will require women either services givers or those receiving services, in a government office, hospital or school cannot have her face covered. The government believes it has the right to force these women (which, as of last year, numbered 10) to uncover. Citing concerns around identification and service quality, the Quebec government believes it has grounds to force this change on women.

When the conversation moved to discuss other religious symbols like, say, a crucifix, it was deemed an acceptable symbol because it had history in Quebec. Clearly this is complete hypocrisy. If a crucifix is ok on a nun working in a hospital, she can keep it on while at the same time forcing her pregnant burqa-wearing patient to remove her head covering even though her god dictates that she must wear something to cover her face and hair because that is only for her husband to see.

As the discussion went on they discussed the roots of this legislation. It would seem that Quebec fancies itself to be in the same league as France, who as a republic, believes it has the right to impose similar legislation. However, Quebec is not a sovereign nation and while it may be a ‘nation inside a nation’ it does not give it the right to deviate so far from Canadian norms of cultural acceptance in a multicultural milieu. Quite frankly, this legislation defies all that is Canadian. A three or four hundred years of Catholic history does not give it precedence over other religions. Following Quebec’s logic the only religious items displayed should be First Nations.

Once all the arguments have been made and legislation passed, the only people who are going to suffer are the women. If devoutly religious women are forced to uncover their faces in a culturally insensitive government office they are just not going to go there. This means they may forego social assistance applications if they are poor or single parents. Medical care may be delayed until it is too late and forget pre-natal care. What happens with children? How are these women to get medical care for their children?

This legislation is oppressive. Canada welcomes immigrants under the assumption that we are an open and pluralistic society. We cannot open our doors to the world and then impose our values on them when they get here. Instead of legislating these women into silence, we must find a way to accommodate them within our system while respecting their religious beliefs. Creative ways can be found to make this happen. To do this we must have the collective courage of our convictions. As a Canadian, I am disgusted.

I win!

I purchased Dreamweaver and Fireworks from Adobe. I then installed it on my 3 personal computers. I opened up Dreamweaver on my Mac Mini today and I got a message saying that I could only put the software on 2 computers. I was completely annoyed by this given that I had paid over $600 for this software and I need it on all computers.

I called Adobe and told them my problem. I seemed to be talking to an agent who explained it over and over again only differently. Finally, I told her that I wanted to talk to a supervisor and that I would go elsewhere when I needed to purchase design software. After repeatedly telling me that I could only install it on 2 computers she suddenly said she could change it. Needless to say I was pleased.