The Addiction Grows

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From the tee on our local 15th hole, looking out towards the incredible fall colors of the trees and Norman!

It has been one year.

One year since we goofed around on a golf course with Lynn and Miki and broke 2 golf clubs and tore something in Alistair’s arm and we laughed and drank some bevvies and won the Most Honest Team award at the local pond hockey golf tournament.

The day our obsession with golf began.

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Alistair, having just made par

In that year we’ve practiced, we’ve learned, we’ve watched professionals and we’ve actually improved!

I’ve played in 3 golf tournaments and didn’t completely embarrass myself in any of them.

My team-mates have been wonderfully supportive and encouraging (addicts always hang around enablers, remember) and in the Missoula tournament I subbed in at the last minute we even used my drive much of the time in a ‘best-ball’ format.

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Little girl with her Glacier Ice Rink golf challenge team-mates and the bar-car drivers. Cheers!

Thanks Mitch, Tom and Brett for a fun day and thanks, Mike for not being able to attend.

And thanks, Tom, again for asking me to join in this year’s pond hockey golf tournament a week ago.

I played with Tom, his dad and his father-in-law… 2 guys in their 70s getting out, hitting balls, laughing and enjoying a great day together. We had some spectacular shots on the Marshmallow Drive hole and my drive at the mandatory Happy Gilmore Drive Hole made the local newspaper.

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Tom, nailing that marshmallow!

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Seeley Swan Pathfinder… glad they captioned this

We have created back-yard practice ranges in both Bismarck and Seeley Lake.

Alistair has large round hay bales stacked up with a tarp covering them. He drives into them or works on pitching over top of them.

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Fyfe’s Driving & Pitching Range

We both work on chipping into round black grain buckets and I can work on pitching across the back yard here in Montana.

Its been such a kick seeing little improvements as we play.

Like, not having to take a second drive once in 18 holes.

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BOOM!

Or not swinging-and-missing… I honestly haven’t done that in a couple of weeks now!

And we continue to laugh with each other and talk about the game and listen to Spirit of UB point out Subarus on the highway or hear Spirit of Loki say, in her gravelly voice, “Lets DO this thing!”

Ball finding is a highlight, even if we’re mavericks about it.

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What sign?

We’ve learned that the ultimate in ball-finding is after a tournament. I mean, its a no-brainer when you think about it but this is our first season and our faces light up as we discover these things, whipping the ball grabber out of my bag, almost skipping to the creeks. Even if we play crappy golf its still a win if we end up ahead on the ball count.

We’ve met a lot of new people and wave at each other when we recognize golf carts or golf styles. Or my outfits.

I love my golf wardrobe.

Even more so now that Victoria’s Secret makes a cute golf skort!

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My VS skort… need to get it in black as well…

We’ve enjoyed following the PGA, learning different styles of play and watching players hit their stride, like Rory McIlroy and Billy Horshel. Its so exciting right now with the Ryder Cup being one week away! Its in Scotland this year and the European team is strong.

They have the young Victor Dubuisson from France, who our ferret, Phillipa is in love with. Phillipa and Calypso are French and they constantly debate the play of Dubuisson and the Italian Molinari brothers with Luigi… our Italian ferret.

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Calypso and Luigi… talking Dubuisson vs Molinari

Phillipa loves Dubuisson’s red pants, his goatee and his accent. Personally, I think he’s an excellent player who would do well on the PGA alongside other Euro greats like McIlroy, Rose, Garcia and GMac.

I love loving this game.

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Loving the game, ready to tee off!

I’ve learned it is the perfect outlet for me when my head is full of a million other things. When Alistair is in Bismarck I prefer to play alone rather than with everyone who invites me along. It is, perhaps, the physical version of writing in my journal… a release.

It is coming in quite handy right now as I worry about our little Loki.

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Snoring in my lap as I write this blog

Loki woke up with what we call an Acute Eye a couple of mornings ago.

It wasn’t a typical red-eye or soreness. This was a hugely swollen globe with thickened, red eyelids, some drainage and, for the first time, pain.

She swiped and pawed at it as much as she could if I wasn’t holding her. Thankfully I had some meds for inflammation and eye ointment but I’m not 100% certain we are going to save this eye.

Not that she needs it, being mostly blind, but I do think she perceives light. I’d also just like to avoid surgery altogether in this slightly high-risk senior girl.

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Sleep-chewing on her friend, Porter’s toy this summer

The specialists are on board and I got stronger eye meds yesterday in Missoula. The swelling is gone, as is the discomfort. She and I will hit the road once more this year to Great Falls bright and early tomorrow morning to see about keeping the eye.

Which is why I will go outside soon to our gorgeous local golf course and I will hit balls.

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Managed a par on the par 4 10th hole even!

And maybe I’ll make par and maybe I’ll make birdie or maybe I’ll even swing-and-miss.

I don’t care. I want to clear my mind and make it open for tomorrow so I can be a stronger, better Step-Gammy for Loki.

Alistair is in Bismarck so I’ll play alone and hopefully nobody will invite me to play today.

Hopefully I will swing well.

Hopefully the Ryder Cup is as exciting as the ferrets and we are hoping.

Hopefully Loki will keep her eye.

And hopefully golf will continue to be a fun passion for Alistair and I. A torn medial meniscus couldn’t stop him swinging golf clubs this summer so I foresee a lot of golf in our futures.

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24 hours post-op for medial meniscus repair…

And a lot of practicing.

And learning.

And colorful skorts and gloves.

And laughing.

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Branching out, playing at the Ranch Club in Missoula

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Clearing our minds out at the Ranch Club

 

 

As Good As We Can, by Step Gammy

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When the snow disappears and the bright sun offers a bit more warmth as it hangs around the sky a little longer each day, we notice how our dogs adapt to the new season.

Cleopatra gets to dig her holes.

Casey gets to eat the grass (and immediately hack it back up).

UB gets to chase deer and butterflies.

Harry starts blowing his thick coat like only a Husky can.

And Loki.

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Well, Loki gets some freedom back.

My step-grand-dog is blind because of hypermature cataracts in both eyes.

With the brighter days, though, Loki looks more and more confidant. I think she can see shapes and shadows because of how she moves outside, seeming to enjoy sniffing things and visiting with the other dogs more.

She even boldly goes on little running bursts, (which means I usually go on little running bursts behind her.)

She came to live with us a few years ago when her Mum, Whitney, realized she couldn’t spend enough time with her little love-bug of a Boston Terrier in Vancouver.

Loki has stayed with us many times over the years, pretty much growing up with Casey when they were youngsters so it was a natural fit for all of us.

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Her Mum visits as much as she can and Loki lives the life of a full-fledged spoiled Fyfe dog.

We took her to a veterinary ophthalmologist to see about cataract surgery because she wasn’t completely blind when she first moved in.

Alistair (Gampy, as Loki calls him) and Loki hit the road and spent the night before their appointment in a hotel by the university in Spokane. He took her for a walk before bed where she decided to bark and growl at a rambling schizophrenic who was walking towards them. Luckily, Alistair got them out of there in a hurry. All they needed was for the guy to think Jesus was yelling at him through Loki.

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The ophthalmologists didn’t want to touch her eyes. Loki isn’t a good surgical candidate with narrow filtration angles, “floaters” in both eyes and a high risk of developing glaucoma.

What vision she had back then has gradually disappeared and the silver in her eyes has gradually taken over.

And yet her quality of life is terrific.

She has her seeing-eye-dog, UB, who is very attentive to her needs (especially when she wants to cuddle.)

She has her memory, which is amazing when you watch her navigate furniture, sometimes within a few centimeters.

She has the cats, who she bonks into with a fair amount of regularity. (I kind of think she does that on purpose, though…  cheeky little thing.) They see her coming and generally get out of her way now instead of swatting at her with each ‘bonk’.

She has us; we use words to help guide her, like “step”, “no”, and “damnit, Loki, where are you?”

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When the sky is bright and the ground is dry, Loki likes to go on ‘walkabout’.

I don’t like ‘walkabout’. Especially if she’s heading for the stallion pen. Or the creek. Or the driveway. Or the pasture when the grass is tall.

She was out on walkabout when Gampy forgot about her a couple of summers ago when he was driving back and forth getting hay bales from a nearby farm. He called me at work and I will admit to having a little sob session as I mopped my clinic floors.

I worried she would fall in the creek. I worried a big eagle would get her. I worried she would be injured and hurting and scared and shivering and that I wouldn’t see her again.

Somehow, this muscular little 13-pound snorty, bossy, piddles-in-the-house-when-she-doesn’t-want-to-go-out-in-the-snow dog has burrowed her way deep into my heart.

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I honestly can not imagine life without her.

Who would bark at the coffee bean grinder or the hand-held vacuum if she was gone? Who would squeeze up against me under the covers at night, snoring her little heart out? Who would chuck her empty food dish around the kitchen when she’s hungry?

Who would take care of gimpy, crampy, grumpy Gampy if he breaks himself into pieces again?

Somehow that sunny afternoon two summers ago, Alistair found her, way off in one of our pastures. She was soaking wet and she coughed for days.

Boston Terriers are tough little farts.

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Loki’s harelip and attitude have given her a personality and  unmistakable voice on the Fyfe Farm. It has changed through the years, too. Initially she ‘spoke’ like Billy Bob Thornton in that movie, Sling Blade with a classic “mmm-hmmmm”.

When she came to live with us that was hard on our vocal cords so it has become a gravelly, attitude-laden, sassy voice that changes words to suit her needs.

Like “chiddy pats” and “bull chit”. Or “Joo Bee” and “Dimadil”.

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A relative house-sat for us one time and said, ‘we don’t do anything with that one… she’s sick’.

That was his take on Loki’s blindness.

Granted, we don’t hike up to the falls at Holland Lake with her anymore and she can’t chase balls competitively with Casey but she has a wonderful quality of life.

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I’ve had clients ask me to euthanize pets because they were going or were already blind. Why do we humans put such tremendous value on vision? I love to see as much as the next person but I wouldn’t say my life was over if I went blind.

Or I lost a limb. Or my hearing.

It never ceases to amaze me what people will consider as the end-point for wanting to care for their animals.

Which is why we have shared our home with so many animals over the years- I won’t euthanize healthy pets.

Being blind doesn’t mean Loki isn’t healthy. Larger health concerns are the occasional ‘reverse sneeze’ episode she breaks into now and then, her luxating patella and a knob of bone where some dimwit did a crappy job of removing a dew claw when she was a pup.

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Meds for arthritis, illness, kidney disease, laryngeal paralysis, fights with bobcats, or heartworm prevention; carts and physical therapy when a pelvis broke and rear legs didn’t work; special care when tumors develop; special care and hand-feeding when a ferret ripped an eyeball out; special food for senior cats, dental health and bad allergies; and never moving the furniture around because they’re blind… we’ll make sure everyone gets what they need.

And they give us their unconditional love in return. Joyful leaps and barks and wagging tails when we come home. Head butts and purrs from the kitties when we pet them. Whistles and tweets from the guinea pigs as I walk past their bathroom. Cuddles and games of ‘chase’ from the ferrets when we play.

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As good as we can for as long as we can.

That’s my promise.

We’ll even provide a seeing-eye dog.

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