Category Archives: pet sitting

Just point and click, right?

I am spending the weekend with multiple cameras in my hand since I am staying with two of my little buddies, Digger and Coco for a couple of days. I absolutely love these two. I have been walking them weekly for two years, so I have had lots of opportunities behind a camera with them. Although I’ve gotten a few photos that I love, I haven’t quite mastered Diggie.

Digger is an challenging photography subject because staying still isn’t in his vocabulary. He is in constant motion. He has more energy that any animal I can think of. One of his favorite things to do after you’ve thrown a toy and he’s fetched it, is to run straight at you and then veer off and run back and forth and back and forth, zooming past you as he’s good and ready to come back to you. Sure, other dogs do things like this, but not like him. He loves getting a toy in his mouth and then whipping his head around. Be careful if you’re near him though because he will hit you and hit you hard. He has bruised my shins and arms with a basketball (definitely bigger than his head…not a problem), a giant really hard stuffed fish, many rope toys, most recently the green loofa dog from the photo, the list continues. One time he shoved the smaller blue ball that’s in one of the shots underneath my legs on the stairs. No biggie right? I was wearing shorts and it was covered in dripping saliva. He’ll also hold onto a toy with the last breath in his little body. You can lift him off of the ground by his teeth, even swing him around and he WILL. NOT. LET. GO. So that sort of energy does not lend itself to sitting still for a photo. Even if he is sitting down, he’s STILL frantically chewing on a toy, which makes a still photo not so much. If dogs were candidates for Ritalin, he could certainly be the spokesdog.

In addition, he really dislikes the camera. It doesn’t matter which one I use (biggest one, big one, point and shoot, or blackberry), he knows what it is and acts accordingly. Lots of animals will turn their head away but they can usually be coaxed back. Not him. He’ll turn his head or even his body and that’s that. Last night he looked very cute sleeping, so I put the camera over him to snap a shot and before I even pressed the button, his eyes were WIDE OPEN. He just knows!

I adore the little maniac and I’m learning a lot from him. Part of the anxiety that comes with photography is missing the shot. With him, it happens almost every time. He’s teaching me to be craftier. To be faster. To take twenty shots because even if I missed the one I wanted, he might do it again, or something even better.

I have collected a couple of photos, actually all taken on my Blackberry, that I liked. I won’t actually know what I have on the D200 and D80 until I get home. Hopefully there will be some shots I really like. This picture of him was taken while scratching his head. He will calmly sit for scratches but the instant you stop, he’ll bolt. So, I pressed the button on the camera and kept scratching until the last second since the camera takes a bit, guessed when to remove my hand, and somehow I got the shot. Yes!

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Here’s an classic example of his response to cameras. I wanted to get a photo of him on the pillows so I took more than one to get it right. This is basically the photo I wanted:

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This is his response:

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Shh. Don’t tell him I took this:

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This last one is a video when I actually caught him on tape doing two of the things I absolutely love:

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Filed under dogs, humor, pet sitting, photography

A Montage

I had so many clients in the last couple of weeks (YAY!) that I got a bit overwhelmed with the rest of my world like blogging. So, here are a few things that happened during that time at Pippin and Clementine’s (and The Budgies, of course).

I sat with Clementine on my knee at the kitchen table while he groomed himself happily and I noticed that Pippin had finished his peanut butter on rawhide (favorite!) and was kind of sadly sitting by himself. As he gazed forlornly in the distance, I picked up Clem and went into the living room and sat down next to him and gave him belly rubs. He was in belly rub heaven! He rolled around in bliss while Clementine eyeballed him. Pip’s head was near my feet where Clem was too and Pippin started sniffing him. Clementine puffed up his feathers, opened his mouth in a hiss and tried to fend off the affront. Pippin was so happy with the belly rubs that he licked Clementine on the face!!! Clementine did NOT know what to do with himself. He puffed out more, stomped back and forth and tried to shake the spit off of his face. I was hysterical! I thought it was one of the funniest, greatest things I’d ever witnessed. And what was even more interesting was that instead of running up my legs and hopping up my arm and onto my shoulder to the utmost safety point, he remained at my feet. He continued to stomp back and forth and if Pippin moved to quickly or came to close, he’d go into his stance, but he remained there, watching and waiting for his next move.

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I’d like to point out that yes, that is bird poop on my leg. One thing you get used to when working with birds is that they poop on you all the time. Ah, the hazards of working with these awesome little avian creatures.

Next up, one of the budgies is yellow and is one of the newer pair. The first pair was bonded and the second were just acquired at the same time. While his (or her) counterpart has adapted to the other two and fit right in with the bickering, the all yellow one tends to be a loner. I’ll often find him in Clementine’s cage during the day, hanging out and eating his food. I’ve never really seen him on top of the cage with the others, although I have had the unfortunate experience of trying to get him back in the cage once. He’s just as hard to get ahold of as the rest of them. So, again, I was sitting at the kitchen table while Clementine groomed himself on my knee. He likes to hop down from the table and take up residence, while he’s not busy flinging things off of the table, another favorite past time.

I looked over at the cages and it was nap time. Yes, they do nap and it’s really funny to watch them fall asleep because they do the same thing that a child does with the eyes open and slowly shut and OPEN and slowly shut and open and slowly shut and closed. Clementine falls asleep on me sometimes and I find it to be an outstanding experience that he trusts me enough to do it and super cute to watch up close. But back to yellow budgie. So he’s asleep and he’s upright, like most birds are, and he’s got budgies on all sides (one of whom is outside of the cage right across from him on a perch but is awake), and I notice that his two feet are gripped on the cage and that he’s not leaning up against anything and is practically hanging backwards, meaning that his body is heading toward prone, and he’s ASLEEP! I grab my camera and get closer and while his body doesn’t move from the position, he’s awake due to the click of the camera. So, here’s a few shots of him, the first closer to sleep, the second definitely not, and please keep in mind that he’s not touching the perch that you see behind him. Birds. Weirdos.

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A bit more on the budgies:

As I’ve mentioned, I have a somewhat tormented relationship with The Budgies. Last week, while Clementine showed continuous support with his unparalleled affection, I watched the budgies as I often do. They’d spent the evening alternating between pleasant chirps and flat out screams. They ran around and around the top of the cage disagreeing over who knows what. At one point, one of them sat in the snack plate, beat it’s wings and squawked at the one who’d pissed it off. Food and feathers flung themselves in the air and they continued their persistent struggle. Sometimes they just full on chased each other around yelling.Very complex little creatures.

It was time to leave and three out of four budgies were still bickering on top of the cage. Were I my client, I would have just grabbed them up in my hand and plopped them back in their cage. I am not she. I have gone as far as to seek out a step ladder to gain access to their level. It doesn’t help. Once I reach a hand in their direction, they dart off. Another attempt leads the budgie to deftly shoot down the side of the cage and then over out of the reach. No matter what angle I attempt, they are masters at knowing the best way to allude me. And all of it is accompanied by shouts of defiance. They’re like little protesters at a rally, shaking their fists at my giant hand, growing hoarse yelling slogans about oppression. And they are spectacular at it, winning every time. So, gone are the days where I flail around on my hands and knees trying to coax a rogue lost one out from below the giant wardrobe that acts as a pantry. I am done going back and forth and back and forth and BACK AND FORTH attempting to grab one. Now I just repeat the mantra and remember that they have a permanent door open on their cage and that even though there is a sheet blocking it at night, they know where their food is and happily the two shall meet.

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Filed under budgies, clementine, dogs, humor, pet sitting, photography

Let me out right NOW!

Tonight, when I put Clemmy in his cage for the night, he did something I’ve never seen him do. He started pacing the bottom of his cage at top speed. Usually when I close the cage, he sits on one of the upper perches and pouts. Not tonight! I tried to capture him on film, but he has an uncanny way of knowing that I’m taking a photo or filming him. When I photograph him with my giant camera with its giant lens, it takes him a while to settle into it being in his face. In the blackberry video, he slowed down version and after I stopped, he sped right back up, but this still shows what he was doing. Oh, and that’s not Clementine making all that racket in the video, it’s the budgies.Those crazy birds are loud Loud LOUD!

And here’s a snapshot of Clem acting as little helper. When I arrived at the house, he was hiding on the ground and while I got Pippin’s dinner ready, he hopped on my foot, climbed up my leg, and settled on my dog waste bag dispenser and holder. I took three shots before I got one of his face. He’d look up at me while I was taking the shot and then turn his head away at the last second. What a (super cute) diva!

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Filed under clementine, humor, pet sitting, photography, videos

Birds are kinda my thing…

and yet, I had absolutely no idea a year ago.

When I walked into a new client’s house to meet her family’s collection of pets, along with two dogs and a snake (a new one for me), there were two bird cages. One had a couple of budgies in it (a small colorful semi-wild bird) and the other had a cockatiel named Clementine. The snake was pretty self-sufficient in the sense that all I had to do was give him fresh water, my client or one of her sons would handle feeding him before she left, so no big deal. But I was completely intimidated by the birds. What if one of them flew out of the window? What if I squashed one trying to grab it to get it back in the cage, something my new client did with amazing ease. Just grabs one up in her hand and puts it away. I promise you, the dances I do with the (now FOUR) budgies are comical and frustrating and they are about as big of fans of me as I am of them. Usually when I walk in the room, they start shouting in terror. Come to think of it though, that’s how they talk to each other as well. Always bickering. LOUDLY. As my client kindly put it after getting a note from me that said, “The budgies are out due to non-compliance on their part.”, “Don’t worry. They’ll get in. Or they’ll sleep on top of the cage. Whatever.” And then she decided that she wanted my note laminated. She’s a very laid back woman and I am a HUGE fan of hers.

But then there was little Clementine. Oh my darling. I had absolutely no idea that birds could be affectionate. I remember my aunt once telling me a story about the small birds she’d grown up with and how incredible they were and thinking, really? Now I understand this deep obsession. Clementine loves to sit on my shoulder and cluck in my ear and peck really lightly at me, giving little birdy kisses. He’ll sit on my finger and put his head down. This indicates that he’d like to be pet, please. Yes, pet. He moves his head all around your hand and shows you that he is in bliss. Another top habit of his is that when he hears you come into the house, he starts shouting at you and keeps it up until he sees you. He hops around in anticipation that you are going to hold him. If you go into another room and leave him, if the shouting doesn’t bring you in, he’ll fly into see you. And instead of flying all the way over to you, he’ll land on the ground and RUN the rest of the way!!! This is one of the greatest things I have EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE!!! And then he hops on your legs and climbs up you. I cannot emphasize how surreal and awesome this is! So, Clementine has become the ambassador for birds with personalities for me.

Now, Clementine is very delicate. When he asks me to pet him, sometimes I get nervous that I might hurt him. When you pet the back of his neck and move the feathers around, they go really deep and I think his neck is very very small. I never hold him fully in my hand. I always let him climb on and off, sometimes with prodding as he always wants to stay on and never wants to go back in his cage.

We haven’t seen each other in a number of months and I came singing into the room on Friday night and he was quietly sitting in his cage. I leaned down and put my head close and said hello and he ran over to me and practically tried to squeeze his head through the bars. And he danced around and around. The next morning, when I had time to take him out, he was on my shoulder in a matter of seconds and when he first reached my head, he placed his forehead firmly against mine and just sat there for a minute. A bit later, I was on the ground giving Pippin, the now solo dog (r.i.p. Maddy-Love, I miss swimming with you), giant hugs. So while Pippin was licking my face with my arms wrapped around him, Clemmy was so excited to be around me that his face was 3 inches from Pippin’s and he didn’t even hiss at him! Today, he took a jaunt around the kitchen floor and when he was finished, he climbed up my leg, back to his perch. When I was leaving, I put him on the door of his cage and usually he’ll grumpily stay there as I leave. When I reached the kitchen door to close it, I realized that he was flying full speed at my face and he was about to become the cartoon wherein he smacks into the door, feathers fly around and stars circle his head. Catching him right before it, I promised him I’d be back soon. And although he’s pretty persistent and often threatens to do just that, he’s never actually attempted it. Major attachment on both sides.

Back to Noelle, my new feathered friend, when I got a call from her parents and they mentioned that they have a racing pigeon, I got really excited. A different kind of bird! And what a bird she is! She’s white with beautiful reddish spots. And she’s SOLID. Whereas Clementine is delicate, she is hefty. Where I stick one finger out for Clem to “step up”, I have to stick my hand out flat for Noelle. And where his pecks are not felt at all, she can pull off skin. She certainly has moments where I will attempt the “step up” (Step up is the phrase that Clem’s family uses to get him to “step up” onto their fingers.”), and she’ll start pecking at my hand and I’ve learned to abandon ship for the moment. She’s less confident about being on a hand. Clementine was hand raised at a pet shop so they spent a great deal of time socializing him and acclimating him to being held. While Noelle would have had physical contact with her racer, it might have been just business. (FYI, the reason they know that she used to race is that they found her in their garage and she was tagged.) So sometimes when she’s on my hand, she shakes like crazy. And where Clem is all about the head pets, he’ll bite you (his version, of course) if you pet him on the back. I’m working on petting more and more of his back and have been told by my client that I can get farther than they have been able to when she watched me one time. With Noelle, I can actually pick her up by her body and she doesn’t mind back pets at all. One thing I discovered in my first set of visits to the house was that if we sat out in the living room on the couch, when she got spooked and flew around the room that if I held my hand high in the air, that she’d land on me again. She will climb all over me a lot like Clementine will do. We’ve been having less interaction with Mai-Tai around which is bumming me out but I am thrilled that she is actually is out so it’s hard to get frustrated about it.

Both birds have strong personalities, but with Noelle’s size, she’s capable of bringing more to the table. Clem can talk the talk all he wants but when it comes down to it, he’s about 4 inches long not including his tail feathers. And he only has a couple of them. The other morning, when I was putting Noelle back in her cage, she decided that she was in fact, not going back in. So, she spread out her wings and made herself too big to fit through the substantial cage door. Then she’d jump back on me, then run down my back and stay just out of reach of my hands. Smart lady! We repeated this for about five minutes and she’d alternate between puffing herself out, pecking at me, and dodging me. I thought it was hilarious.

Her coup d’etat was when I cleaned her cage. I was so proud of myself because I used all sorts of folding techniques that would make the newspapers a more unified front. I came up with a cleaning schedule that would include the day of my client’s return so that they would see just what a power house I am in terms of organizational pet area cleaning. I was completely ready for my title of “awesome”. I went into the other room and had my encounter with Mai-Tai and returned twenty minutes later to put Noelle back in her cage. Twenty minutes later!

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Are you KIDDING me???

And there she was, in all her beauty on the top of the cage, going, “Yeah, I did it. What are YOU going to do about it?”
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Oh well. Cleaning dreams shattered. Now I just have to figure out a way of having Noelle in the room without Mai-Tai running for cover at the sound of her wings. I’m up for a good challenge though.

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Filed under budgies, clementine, pet sitting, photography, racing pigeon

A Day to Remember

I have wonderful new clients who have a racing pigeon (add that to the list!) and a very timid rescue cat. As I always do with all new clients, I go to the house and meet the babies. Although I have lots to say about Noelle, the gorgeous pigeon, I’m saving her for her own blog post tomorrow. Mai-tai, the cat, was behind the couch when I was shown around and given the run-down on the two munchkins. I couldn’t even see what she looked like but was told she’s a beautiful Maine Coone and that although she’s quite affectionate with her mom and dad, she feels safe behind the couch and gets spooked easily. And when it comes to strangers and even regular visitors, she is Extremely Shy. Puffing out my feathers, I talked with pride about the shy cats that thread their tails through my legs and the standoffish dogs that come running to me when I meet them. I visited the two little ones for four days and while I built a solid relationship with Noelle who climbs onto my hand willingly and rides around on my shoulder, Mai-tai remained behind the couch.

We had one brief encounter where she tried to run for the bedroom, realized the door was closed and was stuck sitting behind the dining room table because I was between her and the couches. Hoping that this forced introduction would kick start our impending friendship, I sat across from her on the other side of the chairs. As time passed, and I discussed random topics with her, she went from solid stares to squeezing her eyes closed, a sign that she trusted me enough to let down her guard a bit. I thought, “Yes! This is the turning point.” I got up to go into the kitchen and get her food and she bolted back behind the couch. I didn’t see her again during that sitting gig.

Sigh.

This time around, while still hopeful, I’ve been trying to be realistic. She just might think I’m too much, too loud, too forward. I’ll just look wistfully at the couch and continue saying cheery things in her general direction.

During my morning visit today, I cleaned Noelle’s cage and we had one of our usual fun visits. Then I puttered around the kitchen getting food and water for Mai-tai, chatting the entire time. As I left the kitchen, I heard the bell on her collar. Stopping suddenly, I cautiously crept forward. And surprise! She was sitting under the side table between the couches. I expected her to bolt back to her hideaway when she saw me, but she stayed where she was. Unsure of how to proceed, I lowered myself to the floor and put the wet food about four feet in front of me and chatted quietly to her.

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She sat for a long time looking at me and then slowly got up and started meowing while inching forward. I discovered that she has one of those meows that hardly comes out, more of a pantomime. I LOVE meows like that! She crept forward, stopped at the food, as I expected her to, but to my utter shock and delight she kept walking. Her furry body was millimeters away and she head butted my hand! My mouth was a giant “oh”. And then the petting! She let me pet her!! After a bit, she walked back to the food and ate quite comfortably.

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After a time, she grew bored of the food and brought her beautiful fuzziness back to me. More rounds of love served!

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Blurry Cat Love

Alternating between eating and woozles, sometimes she’d take a break and just stand in front of me and knead the floor with joy. She’d purred like crazy the moment her head touched my hand! I even got glimpses of her gorgeous belly, she was that comfortable. Flopping down, rolling around, thunderous purring. What a happy cat!!!

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Belly ripe for smooshing!

When I went back into the bedroom to put Noelle back in her cage, Mai-tai’d retreated by the time I’d come back out. Only for a second, though, and then it was kitty love time all over again. Great day!!!

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Filed under cats, pet sitting, racing pigeon

Can I Come Inside, Please?

I’m FWEEZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Oh, I SEE you in there!!!

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SEWIOUSLY?????????????????????

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I am SO not impressed!!!

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Fine! I’ll just stand here until you’re ready to be an adult and open the door. Humphhhhh.

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Cats Dancing? Definitely.

I had the pleasure of spending a bit of time over the weekend with two of my beautiful friends Molly and Abby. Adopted from Paws as bitty sister kittens a couple of years ago, it was obvious to me when I met them at age one that they came from feral beginnings. It can be tough when one gets feral kittens without knowing that they are. My clients have been great troopers in loving them and respecting their boundaries and giving them a great home. The girls have bonded closer with them than they will with anyone else but I like the challenge in working with shy cats that have the feral edge.

There is a difference between regular shy cats and ferals that have been domesticated. While Molly is willing for you to pet her when she wants you to, Abby is very quick with a hiss and an exit. Their instinct is to hang back and watch. Pick either up? I don’t THINK so! And I am lucky if Abby even lets me touch her on the head. Belly rubs ever? Nope.

This is how I usually see Abby’s face as she peers over the couch at me:

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Ms. Molly is less standoffish but still tends to keep her distance most of the time.

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Now there IS one thing that gets these girls going. There is a toy out there called the Cat Dancer. I saw one at Paws and thought it was a used up old toy that was headed for the garbage. I was told by my friend there that cats go nuts over it but I was skeptical. It’s a wire with a piece of cardboard on one side and four pieces on the other. You hold onto the one and the four go wild on the other side. My induction was at their condo. Not sure what to do with these shy girls, I went into their box of toys and treats. I saw a never used Cat Dancer and decided that it was the day to delve into it. So, the three of us were introduced to something new and awesome. These shy girls, Abby in particular, went NUTS!! Little Miss Won’t Let Me Touch Her was all over me, jumping all around and actually making contact with my lap! It was an all around freak out session.

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Look how close Abby is to me!!

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So what’s nice about visiting these two now is that although they’ll spend part of the time being “shy guy” and Abby will hiss at me a lot, the moment the dancer comes out it is Game On.

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Great BIG Hugs

There’s nothing quite like having a giant pit bull entrench his beautiful self in your lap and roll around like a maniac of love.

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That’s my friend Cappy and I could hug him all day long.

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A Rare Day Off!

With random vacations occurring for college students and new babies in people’s lives, I’ve had the pleasure of a little down time over the last month. Today has been one of those days. The pet sitting business is kind of odd in the sense that I am technically on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week. So while I might have a week filled with Monday through Friday midday walks, lots of people go away on the weekends, so most Saturdays and Sundays have something going on. I’ve found that I might have one weekend a month completely free of work. And I try to be as flexible as I possibly can, so when someone contacts me on a Thursday announcing last minute weekend plans and a request for pet care, I’ll be there, even if it’s on that one weekend that I finally had free. But any excuse to hang out with my little buddies works for me.

I love animals for so many different reasons. And I love any animal that crosses my path. Were someone to record my walks, they would find them filled with greetings and conversations. I say hello (or shout across the street) to dogs and cats. I learn dogs’ names when their owners shout at them to stop barking and then call them by it when I see them (this drives one guy CRAZY when I do it. Oh well! His beautiful golden retriever is dog aggressive and when I say his name, he relaxes.) I chatter with the birds in the trees. I comment on the amount of nuts stuffed in a squirrel’s mouth and ask her about them. And don’t get me started on chipmunks. I am fully obsessed with chipmunks! Were a buffalo to meander by, I’d be right there with a wave asking him how his day was going.

Like many people, I also enjoy admiring trees and plants on my walks and visits. I wanted to end this post with a discovery I probably never would have seen had the storm not raged as hard as it did. On one of my drives to the dogs this weekend, amidst the whipping wind and rain, I witnessed a giant tree ripping out of the sidewalk. Its trunk was drooping with the weight and devastation of its new reality. By the time I returned home, it was a defeated arc. Its branches touched the pavement, feeling it with its long green fingers, for the first and last time. I felt my heart breaking as I passed through its arch of doom and gloom.

The next day was sunny and bright and all that was left was a lonely stump jutting out of the sidewalk attached to a broken piece of concrete. The rest of its trunk and lush leaves had been carted away.

Yesterday, I passed the stump. Glancing at it, I gasped, “It has a heart!” I returned home to grab my camera and went back, excited to see if I was correct. Sure enough, right in the middle of the remaining trunk was a beautiful heart. Although I am guessing that the hole is indicative of a problem, it is certainly a unique symbol for the tree to possess. It stood proud and tall for all this time, quietly carving out its treasure year after year. Although I am sad that a frantic storm exposed it, I feel just a little bit changed for having been lucky enough to share its secret.

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Filed under dogs, nature, pet sitting, photography

Sunny Days!

Finally! A beautiful day! We went to the same beach as last time and explored the other side this time. Lots of swimming and wrestling and running around ensued. I even snuck along one of the nikons on this trip.

“It’s my favorite place to be!!!” Chance always sits down in the water and it looks funny every time. This photo fails to capture exactly how silly and cute he looks, but at least it gives you an idea of how happy he is.

Done for the moment, he propels himself out of the water.

Ginger is much daintier and likes to dip just her legs and belly in. Here they are investigating the scene:

Time for a brief ruff and tumble:

Walking in their pack of two, the best buds trundle on down the beach.

Time to go home. “Don’t mind us! We’ll take the wet way!”

Can’t wait till next time with these fantastic beauties.

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