I hope I never lose my sense of wonder. If that makes me naive, then so be it.

Monday, 26 January 2009

service and learning

Last Thursday was a new kind of field trip for our family.

I had read a book given to me by a friend, Bent Hope. It's written by a guy who works with the homeless in Toronto, each chapter a story of his interaction with the people he works with. Some are poignant, some heart-rending, all eye-opening. Simple things he said made me think about how blessed we are to have a roof over our heads, a meal when we want it, safety, a loving family. It's something we have hoped to instill in our children, and when our church was looking for donations for a meal organized by Ottawa Innercity Ministries, we saw a chance to help out.

So, taking the food donated by our church, futsaldreamer and I headed downtown with my three girls. We helped set up the tables, then served the men and women who arrived for the meal. I was wondering how the girls would respond, how the event would unfold. They would be seeing and talking to people we don't really encounter out here in the rural areas, people young and old, and not necessarily the 'pretty' people of society.

They loved it.

All three cheerfully served food, chatted with people, then looked for more ways to help the meal to go well and make sure that everyone they encountered had a good time. A and M were at one point circling the tables with plates of food searching for someone who might have finished and be wanting seconds, like circling sharks (but much cuter and more helpful). After the meal M was helping to hand out socks, gloves and blankets.

It was heartwarming as their mom to watch them cross barriers I have rarely crossed myself. It was a good learning experience for all of us. We came home with a newfound appreciation for our own little drafty house, and plans to help at the next dinner.

Now if I could only get that same cheerful service when I ask for them to clean their rooms ...

Saturday, 10 January 2009

it's done

She was restless the last two days, or was it just me? She seemed tired and quiet but just kept dragging herself from place to place like she couldn't get comfortable.

D took her to the vet today and it was over very quickly and peacefully. When he got home she looked like she was sleeping.

We buried her in a little spot down by the creek. The sun was shining, the water quietly flowing in the parts of the creek not frozen. R & M preferred to stay at the house, while A wanted to come for the burial. Peaceful. Final.

After we got back I moved all the furniture in the dining room to wash the floor, something it's needed for a while and something I needed to keep busy.

I'm surprised at how hard this is hitting me. I knew it would be hard but not like this. Before she went I felt like a traitor every time I looked at her; now it's just sort of empty and I cry more than I expected I would.

She's not lying on her spot on the rug. Part of me keeps expecting to see her there.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

it's time

A hard decision was made on Sunday night, but one that we saw coming. Not that that made it easy.

Tasha, our faithful German shepherd of 13 1/2 years, will make her final trip to the vet on Saturday. When we brought home the fuzzy, wiggly puppy in 1995 we had no idea what an important part of our lives she would be. From giving D a major case of the hives with her puppy fur to being the most amazing playmate for R, A, and M and being our live-insecurity system, it's been a great time with her. She has set the bar for all dogs coming after her very, very high.

But over the last year or so we noticed some changes. Her hearing weakened, her back legs weren't working so well. No apparent pain and she was still eager to play and try to keep up with Sam. Over the past few months the 'not so well' of her back legs became nil and she's had to move around by dragging herself. After some weeks of carrying her outside to 'do her business' (which didn't always happen in time!) we noticed that the dragging was leading to cuts on her legs and hip. D and I looked at each other and we both knew it was time. She'll be buried here at the farm, a decision the girls took part in and heartily agreed to. Thankfully the soil's not too frozen.

Having her in the house always made me feel a little bit safer, as her welcome to people approaching the door pretty much sounded like she was going into full attack dog mode. Despite that, she's never snapped at anyone. Ever. Even as she's gotten older she's never turned into a grumpy dog.
When kids pulled her tail, or fell on her, or grabbed handfuls of her fur to use her as a living walker, she stood still and looked at us with a patient-though-martyred look on her face. Seeing our 2-year-old reach into that huge mouth full of teeth to take a tennis ball caused more that one visitor to gasp, but the girls always knew they could trust her.
So long, old girl.