Friends and Strangers and Where I Fit

Straight-haired Tanya has made a few recent appearances again! (Thanks, Tiffany2!)

My head and my heart have been called to action several times over the past couple of weeks as my careers are once again colliding at a fast pace. I can not complain- the highs are super high right now in my book and real estate worlds and its pretty fun.

Even my veterinary world continues to be fun when I get to play in Deer Lodge with my new gang but there have been a few heavies that were centered around a 5-day period. And the heavies weren’t Fyfe heavies. Not yet, anyhow. Dr. Me and Mummy Me need to have a talk about little Bebe, our dwindling 18 year old kitty and I kind of thought it might be today but she scarfed down the plethora of Greenies she demanded from me this morning and I’m just not up for it. Of course I would if she was suffering but its more that I’m not convinced she is loving life right now.


I went back to working the floor at our local real estate office this month and right off the bat I got a listing. Its not out there yet but its going to kick ass when we go live next month.

I’m just saying…

I had listed a cool log home in Seeley Lake when I wrote my last blog 2 weeks ago but then more friends from my veterinary world asked me to list their UBER cool off-grid house and it is being shown this afternoon already.

And its not as off-grid as some places- this one is only 10 minutes from the highway. Sure, you have to maintain about 2 miles of road but if you get yourself a reliable buddy like Big Red its not a big deal. The 14+ acre property borders US forest service on 2 sides (meaning you have the freaking forest to yourself!) and the house has some pretty outstanding views.

Pretty. Outstanding. Views. (From the deck)

It was a gorgeous day and I followed my friends up to this incredible property and I found myself repeating over & over again how I could totally live there. 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, jacuzzi tub, pool table, nice bar…. all it needs is a hot tub for Fyfe Life but that’s easy enough to do.

I enjoy working with my clients (especially on days like the listing appointment day!) and taking pictures of the properties. Granted, the land itself shows better without snow on the ground but those snow-capped peaks of the Swan Range… breathtaking!

Front of the house with that incredible Swan range again.

I’m only sad because I don’t envision this particular listing hanging around for very long so I won’t get to show it too often. This is a good thing for my sellers, though and right now we are all excited to have a listing or 2 because the inventory in Western Montana is extremely low.

People call the office wanting 20 to 40 acres, a stream or lake, level building site or a log home already on the place and even IF they have the coin for something like that we just don’t have the listings! I don’t even have anything shitty to sell right now. I mean, usually there are a couple of fixer-uppers at bottom prices but even those don’t exist.

Without homes to sell we are moving more raw land listings than I’ve seen since I started this career 3 years ago. On my floor day yesterday a fun couple came in trying to find listings in town so I was able to give them a map and answer some questions and send them on their way. They were thrilled to see our ‘Open’ sign shining brightly in our window.

Morning supplies for me yesterday- Sparkle Pens, latte and magazines. Note the empty racks on the wall….

They came back and actually sat down and we got visiting about their needs and, lo & behold, we actually have a new subdivision in town that fits the bill. We got more maps and sheets printed off and away they went to check out ‘Alpine Trails’ just on the north end of Seeley Lake.

When they got back they were excited to have me write up an offer for them and I’m happy to say as of this morning we are under contract! (Granted, my boss is the listing agent and he had to counter with the correct address of the lot because my head is full right now and you’ll understand more as you keep reading but boss-man is very kind and it was a quick fix and I’m hoping he was smiling when he saw my goof… ’cause, you know, addresses are sort of important in real estate… ) (Hey, I had the correct legal description so I wasn’t completely off-base…)

Me on the floor yesterday morning. Who knew I’d have another transaction by the end of the day?

So, yeah, the highs are high in my real estate career.

And my book career, too!

I’ve submitted my recent book, The Runaways of Missing Lake, for a couple of awards contests and it won one a month after being published and now it just won a Book Excellence Award for Young Adult Fiction, too!

I’m pretty stoked! This award comes with stickers (of course it does) but also some marketing info and tools that I have yet to take advantage of other than downloading this baby:

(They had banners and social media-specific JPGs and things to download, too. So I did!)

And I shared this to social media and Facebook’s post is still blowing up. Its exciting and its fun and I cherish the support from all of my friends and family around the world who are on this little adventure with me. I mean, its weird announcing these things because I sometimes feel like I’m bragging and I am not a boastful person by nature but like my friend, Tessa wrote, “if you don’t how else are we going to know what amazing accomplishments you’re making.”

Plus I am proud of my books and the work I put into them. When I began writing after first closing my clinic in 2013 I honestly had no clue if I could finish writing a book. Alistair, Lynn, Dona and Gary were the only people who knew and they were sworn to secrecy in case the final project sucked.

So, again, more waves of happiness that carry me high into the air and keep a smile on my face.

From back in February at Clark Fork Veterinary clinic

But Dr. Tanya Fyfe had some emotional lows these past 2 weeks that had nothing to do with being in Deer Lodge. I haven’t worked there since the 16th and I’m not due back until the 31st, which, maybe was all by design so that I could be in the right places at the right times for a few good people.

One neighbor actually reached out when I was in Deer Lodge for assistance… Angel of Darkness type of stuff for their senior rabbit. We set it up for the next day when I would be back in Seeley Lake.

It was a beautiful, warm afternoon, too, so we were able to sedate the little bun (whose hindlimbs had stopped working the day prior) on the tailgate of my pickup and my friend and I shared a bit of a breakdown because she told me, as I had expected, that the little bun was one of the last tangible, real things that belonged to her son.

The son whose gun accidentally went off a few years ago and ended his life.

It was a sunny, poignant Wednesday and eventually we did chuckle a bit because she told me that his “asshole cat is still around.”

Picture of 20 year old Sport who is helping me write (and keep my shit together right now.)

A few days later another neighbor up here called to check scheduling/organizing/planning because it was suddenly Time for their 10 year old Bernese Mountain Dog to transition as well.

As before, the timing couldn’t have worked out better.

So on the Sunday, while the young adult son who was this dog’s Human since they both were just young pups and his fiancé crouched in the snow together as the Angel of Darkness gave her injections and cried alongside every family member there.

I told his mom that if I stopped doing “this” (pointing to the tears streaming down my cheeks), then I would have to stop doing “this” (gesticulating towards the young couple and their dear, special companion who had crossed the Rainbow Bridge.) I have to be able to let the sadness out because it has a danger of building up inside every veterinarian who does these appointments. For friends. And strangers.

Believe me when I tell you I’m not all smiles at the moment.

And then… (yes, there IS a then…) the very next day I was required to assist a senior miniature Dachshund whose dad and I hadn’t met but we had talked on the phone for the 2 weeks prior planning for when it would be Time. Turned out that Monday was Time.

It was another nice day for a drive to his little cabin by the mighty Blackfoot River and he and 2 of his best friends were there and they told me about the adventures, road trips and hikes the little dog had been on. He had lived a life most of us would envy and it was peaceful and lovely even if it was the hardest thing that man probably ever had to do in his life when he let me give my final injection.

One of his friends burst into, ‘Amazing Grace’ and I’m still torn by how hauntingly beautiful it was even though it ripped me up inside even more. Who knew watching 3 complete strangers weep over the loss of 20 pounds of cute dog would make the former sparkly figure skater from Canada who never owned a single pet until she was in her 20s weep alongside these kind souls who all laid together cradling their canine buddy’s body in front of his favorite wood stove?

Angel of Darkness

But those days and those moments are not about me.

They are about having the knowledge, skill set, and the privilege to allow families to pick and choose the time and place where a spirit can have their last moments surrounded by those we choose to have around us. How amazing when we can do it in their own homes or yards!

Amazing Grace.


So while those past moments were not about me, Dr. Me and Mummy Me might have to be chatting soon but I’m not going there by myself today.

Ike in Bismarck. In MY chair.

Ike and Alistair will be back next weekend.

And I have Deer Lodge with my friends and likely a bunch of strangers on Wednesday to look forward to.

And my books are rocking amongst friends and strangers.

And I have real estate happenings happening that are great- especially when I get to help out my friends and also help out strangers!

And I’m happy it was me who was able to assist friends and strangers in giving their beloved, special friends one final act of kindness and compassion.

And whether its a stranger reading my book or buying land or I’m helping strangers with that sad, sad event, in these careers we really all become friends in the end.


Maybe there is something more that connects my varied career paths after all.

Game room from behind the bar in my new off-grid listing at 5074 Beaver Creek, Condon!!!!
View from behind the bar!
Ike trying his best to sit still in Bismarck
Most of the Alistair & Ike shots from ND are blurry but they still make me smile
Thanks, Linda N for the picture of her collection that she (my friend) shared with her friends.

Hims is a Very Good Boy

Ike Fyfe, surveying his new kingdom

Remember that thing we did a week and a half ago?

The whole bringing-a-new-dog-into-the-house-again thing?

Turns out its going well. Ike hasn’t eaten a cat or a ferret (he doesn’t get to play with the ferrets but he sure is curious) and despite two indoor piddles on tiled floor we still love him.

His worst crime is when he stands on either of Alistair’s Covid toes which remain swollen, tender and red and are finally being recognized by the CDC as a ‘long hauler’ symptom. But Ike doesn’t know that (although he does sniff those particular toes from time to time.)

“Hims just wants to say hi to the little creature, Mum!”

Once his new dad took his E-collar off he’s never needed it back on. He hasn’t once tried to lick or scratch at the staples and everyone is just happier without him slamming into things/us or tearing the collar apart.

Learning new routines and trying to placate stressed-out senior cats wasn’t my only occupation last week. I also took a big new listing on a super cool log home here in town and I’m hoping to grab another equally cool one this coming week. All with 2 trips to Deer Lodge to be a veterinarian one day and to start getting vaccinated for Covid19 yesterday!

SUPES excited right after the vaccine!

Our clinic owner asked who wanted to get the vaccine ball rolling and they set it up for yesterday at a grocery store pharmacy. Sure, it meant another 3 hours on the road and a day away from Alistair but we both were totally pumped that veterinarians and their teams are now able to do this.

Because this is science. And this is part of the solution. Wearing my mask and social distancing are also parts of the solution so lets keep on keeping on with those things, too!

I stayed at home a ton last year. For me. For you. For your grandma. For your kid who has asthma. For your dad who is battling cancer. And even though I’m one dose in on the Moderna vaccine schedule I’m still going to stay home when I can and avoid large gatherings if possible while wearing a mask and standing away from you.

CFVC team members getting their dose yesterday! Go, team!!!!!

And I didn’t miss out on one more day with the hubs because we got discussing my upcoming week (Deer Lodge clinic, checking out the potential new listing, celebrating a new real estate office’s opening in Hamilton and a floor day at the office,) and the fact he was going back to ND today to cover this week for a colleague anyhow and we decided that life would be easier on everyone if he took Ike with him to Bismarck a day early.

Our outdoor kennel in Bismarck is all concrete so we don’t have to worry about Ike eating rocks when Alistair is at work and this will also give our aging cats a little break from the monster who (very rarely)barked at them.

(I’m not stupid. I know Ike and Alistair are enjoying their little ‘bromance’ right now, too.)

“Hims is going on an adventure with Dad!”

The boys headed east in Big Silver a couple of hours before I took off in Tabtha for Deer Lodge on a beautiful blue-sky morning yesterday and Alistair kept me updated with pictures texted from various spots along the long road.

And I updated my friends from the vet clinic as we were waiting out our mandatory 15 minutes post-vaccine because they all cared for Ike when he yelped and whined at them for 3 days after his surgery.

This was outside of Sims, Mt. “Hims just went through Sims! Hims is so FUNNY!”

Ike did very well on his leash and didn’t tear apart the truck if Alistair had to use a rest area himself. Ike travelled like a seasoned pro (maybe he drove around with his former folks a lot?) and never whined or barked. Thankfully he didn’t puke, either, because car sickness in pets can be a very real thing.

(If your dog gets car sick, talk to your vet. There is a great drug called Cerenia created just for this!)

Before or after Jordan, MT

Eventually they made it to our ND home and Ike got to explore a little before they came inside to call Mummy to let me know everything was great.

And apparently Ike woke Alistair up at the crack of dawn for piddles and poops this morning.

They cleaned out the dog kennel and Alistair picked up the plethora of golf balls he’d been chipping and pitching into the snow this winter at Fyfe’s Backyard Driving Range because who knows what Ike would do with golf balls!

(“Hims isn’t going to eat golf balls, Mummy!”)

“Nice digs but Hims prefers the inside of the house.”

Alistair even left Ike in the kennel today when he went into town for groceries. When he came home, our New New Neighbor’s wife (they are NOTHING like New Neighbor for those of you who have followed the blog) came over because she thought a dog might be caught somewhere thanks to all of the yelping and crying that was happening at our house.

“What? Hims was worried Dad had left forever!”

We assured her that Ike was fine albeit a tad melodramatic when left alone. NNN’s wife is a very sweet person who offered to come over and walk Ike if he was screaming bloody blue murder again when Alistair has to work. They recently lost their senior canine best friend so maybe there will be some healing involved. You’d think that would be “full circle” enough for this blog, which often touches on how things tend to fall into place the way they should but she also mentioned the white and orange cat they’ve been feeding in their barn.


Whitey in Bismarck, 2019 (through the front door)

Alistair has fed Whitey, the stray, for years but over the past couple of months he hasn’t been a daily regular. We had talked about it and both hoped, of course, that he had found a new benefactor but we also worried he’d been injured or worse. Even if neither of us has ever been able to touch the little guy there is a loving familiarity to our relationship and, hey, he did leave a dead rat for Alistair one time on the driveway!

So there’s some happy-squishy-good-feeling-karma-like-yumminess-and-sunshine for your hearts.

And our hearts.

And NNN’s wife’s heart.

“Hims is happy. This is Hims’ chair now.”

And Ike’s heart because that’s where this latest adventure and frolic through Fyfe Life began a week and a half ago and so many of you have told me how Ike’s story and near-euthanasia-experience touched you and made you smile.

Or maybe it made you cry a little.

I still get little tears from time to time.

Like when I was watching Big Silver drive down the slushy driveway yesterday morning even though I don’t tear up as much when Alistair leaves because its been 14 years that we’ve been doing this but sometimes the goodbye is just a bit more difficult for me knowing I’ll be alone up here rambling around our big house with a trio of kitties and a trio of trouble for 3 weeks instead of 2 and even though I’ll be busy driving and vetting and real estate-ing and even though the Players Cup has been more than interesting today and even though the wine bar is full and Stanley Tucci is exploring Italy for me tonight there are times out in the middle of nowhere in the last house on a long road next to the large forest I do admit to feeling a teensy bit sad.

Off they went!

Those moments don’t last long, though.

I can usually find something funny or ironic about any given situation I create for myself and before long I’m laughing at something the ferrets are doing or while watching Jockey seriously try to wipe out our fish tank populations. And soon after that Alistair will text me another Ike picture or someone will text me about a listing or I’ll look outside and see how very, very lucky I am to live where I live.

And to share it with the equine, feline and weasel companions as well as anyone who takes the time to read these blogs.

I hope Alistair and Ike continue enjoying their great adventure in Bismarck and I hope I can make it to my hair appointment on the 24th without taking a jiffy marker to my greys and I hope my friends have great success at their new office in Hamilton!

(Hopefully NN isn’t still reading my blogs like he did many years ago before they moved and left our farm equipment to us…)

“Hims is curious about the giant hot water bath!”
Somewhere by Lewistown, I believe
“Hims is a very good boy!!!!”
SO happy!!!
Remember that log home I just listed? The deck is fabulous!
My boys in ND!

Love, Again (or, How Ike Became a Fyfe)

Mummy and Ike

I know most of you will be saying, “Told you so,” when I tell you that we caved and that the Fyfes once again are proud canine pet parents.

A lot of you probably wondered why it took so long but we lost Loki, UB and Cleo in short fashion after the 3 of them followed me around for a couple of years together and Cleo’s farewell in December of 2019 left a pretty big hole that we weren’t sure we were ever going to try to fill.

Young Cleopatra many years ago

Its not as if either of us said, “Hey, I miss having a dog around,” or we were cruising animal shelter websites looking for a dog. None of the 5 dogs we had were purchases- Casey and Harry came from vet school, Cleo and UB were both strays and Loki moved in with us when her mom’s living situation changed.

The new-dog-in-our-life story happening now is a different version of a dog finding us through veterinary channels and its just one of those things about being a vet.

With a very good husband.

During the decision making process…

“Ike” had an emergency appointment at Clark Fork Veterinary Clinic in Deer Lodge where I work a few days each month when I was working last Wednesday. He saw Dr.Sami as a repeat offender for swallowing rocks that are too big to pass through his GI tract. He was already a bit febrile and hadn’t eaten in a few days and was definitely not feeling well.

You would think that after having crazy Casey in our lives for so long that the thought of an almost 2-year-old black lab at the farm would be frightening but I found myself engaged in the conversations between Sami and her technician, Cody. In fact, the whole clinic was involved because that’s how it goes down at a clinic where communication is a huge part of why we are such a great team.

The problem: Ike’s parents (an older couple) were still paying off the bill from the last rock-removal surgery from a few months ago. The thought of paying out close to 2 grand (its very real, people… emergencies are expensive) again when there was a good chance he’d eat another rock because whatever their situation is, it didn’t get changed the first time… well, it was bleak. They thought about it and talked with family for a couple of heartbreaking hours but eventually, tearfully, they made the painful decision to euthanize Ike.

Meeting Ike

Let me back up a bit to earlier that day when I first showed up at the clinic after a beautiful sunrise morning cruise through the snow-capped mountains of western Montana.

When I first looked through my appointments I saw that I had one euthanasia scheduled for 2pm.

For a Boston Terrier cross.

My mind immediately went to sweet UB whose lungs were surprisingly full of cancer at his sweet young age a few years ago. UB was supposed to still be here with us now and I texted hubby back in ND what was in store for the Angel of Darkness. I could read it in his own words how sad he felt for me.

When my awesome technician, Jaycee and I sedated that kind soul that afternoon I laid with him and told him not to worry because UB would be waiting for him to show him around. I made sure my tears didn’t fall onto his face but they did stream down my cheeks and I think that’s the first time I let the staff there see my vulnerabilities. (Not that I’ve held anything in… I just hadn’t been in that position since starting there.)

UB Fyfe. Photo by Merielle Kazakoff (MMK Photography)

So, perhaps I was a bit emotionally charged to hear about Ike and his parent’s awful dillema.

I mean, I get it.

Dogs who eat rocks repeatedly make for extremely expensive pets and its not like the surgery is an easy one! There is great risk involved and there are all sorts of things that can go wrong and lets not forget about the after-care.

So the clinic was abuzz with the news and Sami and her veterinary technician were holding off as long as they could while a few of us texted whoever we could as quickly as we could.

I texted Alistair, who was at home after working all morning.

“Do we want a young black lab?”

UB and Loki Fyfe at the Dog Days of Summer a long time ago!

Everyone else had run out of options so I was acutely aware that everyone in the clinic was whispering, “She’s texting with Alistair, we don’t know yet.” I watched the drug lock-box get opened and dosages for the sedative being punched out on the computer. I wondered how crazy I was to even think of paying for another surgery on a repeat offender and if Alistair would agree to that assessment of my mental health.

Minutes passed and everyone was wrapping up the end of the day and I couldn’t take it anymore so I called our Bismarck home and Alistair answered. After a bit of explaining he said, “Well, of course. I mean, we have to do something, right?”

Awesome Dr.Sami and CVT Cody

And so… getting close to 6pm I helped Cody pre-medicate Ike and as I drove into Deer Lodge to get them Subway sandwiches (it was the least I could do for them staying extra late to operate on our dog) they started to prep the young black lab for his second surgery. (I asked Sami to put a zipper in him when she closed but she declined. Something about liability…)

Yay, Team!

I stayed as long as I could knowing there was nothing I could do other than crack jokes and tell stories but I wanted them to be focused so I hit the road back to Seeley Lake knowing Sami would text me that night with updates.

Surgery went very well. Nothing had ruptured and rocks were removed. (Testicles were also removed as per our request/rule… you know, ‘Donate your reproductive organs at the door and get along’… that rule for moving onto Fyfe’s Farm for Wayward Pets and Unwed Mothers.)


And Ike recovered in the clinic for a few days and I got lots of updates and apparently Ike yipped loudly or whimpered unless he was outside of the crate sitting next to someone and he drove them all nuts because its kind of a shrill bark that I could hear over the phone but he needed to be crated with the IV in his forearm and the staples in his abdomen but you explain that to a young lab and I am sure the staff rolled their eyes but everyone was still happy because we didn’t have to do the deed to this little guy and he was coming to a great new home and that kind of thing is huge at a close-knit veterinary clinic in a profession where we continue to die by suicide at alarming rates and they all knew that Ike would stop shouting at them on Saturday when his new parents would come and get him and take him home.

Meeting his new dad yesterday morning at the clinic.

I rode in the back of our big silver Ram with Ike and he slept most of the way with just a couple of little whimpers. He is, of course, still on pain meds and antibiotics and small feedings several times a day of a canned prescription food that is gentle on the GI tract.

And he is fitting in just fine despite a few hiccups last night trying to figure out how or where he could sleep with that E-collar on. He fits in a bunch of our crates just fine but the collar makes it difficult for him to move. He spent last night in my surgical kennel down in the barn with D’embe and Professor Higgins but we’ll keep him in with us most likely tonight.

You see, his dad got up at 6 am and took him out and removed the E-collar and kept him on a leash until we realized Ike wasn’t leaving our sides.

Welcome home, Ike Fyfe!

To say Ike has bonded with us is a bit of an understatement. He is laying next to me right now and when Alistair left to go to the dump a little while ago he whimpered and just stared at the door before resigning himself to a no-Alistair situation and coming to sit next to me as I type.

Happening now.

He hasn’t chased the cats despite not having been around cats in his life. He seems curious about them and Jockey is the only one who hissed at him a couple of times. Even then, Jockey is on the couch behind me right now so Ike can’t be all that bad.

We have walked outside a couple of times up and down the slushy driveway and Ike sticks close by to either of us. He hasn’t once made any move towards his staples and with his collar off he is able to do so many more things. Make no bones about it, though- if he is not in our eyesight the collar is back on. Veterinarians mean it when we say the E-collar is integral to the success of the surgery and the life of your pet!

This was the first E-collar last night. Glad I thought ahead to bring a second one home!

Ike isn’t easy on those plastic collars and the collars or cones are hard on our shins and our furniture but we will still put the second one back on when we go out to the hot tub. And Ike is still restricted in his activity so that his GI tract and abdomen can heal properly, too. Even though the new collar took a beating through the night in a steel crate.

Oh, dear.

I think I was in the right place at the right time for both the Fyfe household and clearly for young Ike. I have felt that way when we’ve made the choice to bring a new companion into our world for one reason or another over all these years. I had called Alistair back in 2004 with a similar situation Harry was facing and we were able to change the scheduled euthanasia to a neuter and within hours a groggy husky was en route back to his new home in a charcoal Ram with his new Mummy.

And maybe Ike will go back and forth with Alistair when he travels to Bismarck. Both of our outdoor kennels are concrete so there will be no rock-eating when we are at work. The rest of the time he will be under our watchful eyes.

Looking ahead!

And maybe… just maybe… Spirit of UB had a hand in everything that went down on Wednesday because of everything that went down on Wednesday. Maybe Spirit of Casey thought we needed another crack at a black lab who is already better trained than he ever was, even though we never faulted Casey for his faults. Maybe they all figured the Fyfe Farm wasn’t right without a dog. I don’t know.

Right now we are learning a new routine with a new soul in the family. The Fyfe Bee Gees are having a sleepover party with Ivan, Fallon and Joel & Jeanette so we can focus on making sure Ike fits in and we can give him the time he needs to recover from his surgery. We are thankful to them and Dr.Sami and Cody for staying late to save Ike’s life and to the staff at CFVC for enduring the shrill barking.

So far, so good.

You know I’ll keep you all posted. xo

Chillaxin, helping me make breakfast this morning.
Welcome home, little buddy!
Ike and Alistair this afternoon.