A Melancholy Moment

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Finally on our local golf course last week!

Normally, 99.999% of the time, this is me. Not the wine glass- that’s maybe 25% of the time and as much as I wish golf was 100% that isn’t the case, either. But I’m normally smiling, laughing, joking around and happy.

(As I type that I’m trying desperately to do the math to make sure I don’t sound like a flaming alcoholic… should that be 20%? 15% Will my friends laugh and think I underestimated?)

Driving home along muddy gravel roads with 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom potholes in the rain to a husband-less house on Friday, however, I had a moment of melancholy.

I had a few tears.

It wasn’t a pity party by any stretch. It actually had to do with some sadness.

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a couple of weeks ago before the golf course opened

I had done a house call that morning where I helped friends say goodbye to their special canine companion. It was necessary, it was an act of kindness and it was done for all the right reasons. It was also beautiful and peaceful if such an event can be.

It was Time.

But after having done this recently with a few other special canines I realized I have been the veterinarian in this community long enough that I have known these animals their entire lives. And now I’m saying sad goodbyes to some of them.

I was the Easy Cheese lady back when we did 3 sets of the distemper combo and handed out puppy kits.

I spayed and neutered them.

They were participants in my puppy parties.

And they came to the Dog Days of Summer every year.

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UB and Loki at one of the Dog days of Summer

While not all of the recent patients of the Angel of Darkness were puppies when I met them, they were still my patients for several years. It just felt kind of heavy and it all hit me at one specific moment yesterday.

The rainy, dark skies and the cooler temperatures after being teased with sunshine and golf games recently probably didn’t help.

I did allow myself time to think about and process each of the friends I had to help over the Rainbow Bridge and I think veterinarians just simply need to do this from time to time. Sure, I have all sorts of fabulous coping mechanisms- I keep a journal; I share my feelings here and with clients; I play golf; I laugh a LOT; I joke around a LOT; I have ferrets who I talk to in a variety of accents; I don’t take myself seriously; I have a tremendously understanding husband; I write; I have the Aloha hot tub with tiki torches; I drink wine; yadda, yadda….

But veterinarians have enough to worry about in this career that we need to be able to let ourselves emote, from time to time, about stuff that’s just plain sad.

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Fabulous Babulous

It probably also doesn’t help that I found what I believe to be an oral tumor in sweet Bebe’s mouth the other day. She’s fine, though, eating & drinking & bitching at us for her morning Greenies and everything is normal but Dr.Mummy knows its not right.

And she’s lost some weight.

And her hair coat is a bit poor.

But Mummy-me isn’t going to change a thing until Babs gives us a reason to.

Like my clients’ pets did.

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Getting ready for the Furry Scurry a few years ago

The noble Bernese Mountain Dog began limping enough that her parents knew the recently diagnosed bone cancer in her forelimb was taking over.

She walked less and less and started to eat a bit less.

I had done her puppy vaccines and spayed her and fixed her umbilical hernia. She was a puppy party participant and kind of just watched the goofy Labradors and goldens flying around the clinic (although she eventually gave in and played a bit, too.)

She attended Dog Days of Summers and did the Furry Scurry and she hiked in the mountains of Montana and played with her sister and swam in clear rivers and creeks and eventually accepted the newest little sister and she ate like a queen and she lounged outside her house and she loved the heck out of her dad and her new  mom and she was on the greatest adventure ever until it was Time.

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Another Furry Scurry getting ready to go!

Then there was the adorable, 16 year old Yorkie who made it pretty clear to his parents that it was Time. I knew him since I moved here and he and his canine siblings lived a lovely life with their parents. I got to see pictures of him in the basket of the 4-wheeler looking like he was the happiest big dog in a little dog’s body ever. His entire small community knew him and he even got to help out at the bar his folks owned a lot of the time.

I know a lot of hearts were broken when I helped him across the bridge with his mom and dad right there, holding him, rubbing him. Like his mom said, “It isn’t about us anymore, its about him.” It was Time.

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My Nan and the Princess, Cleopatra at a Dog Days of Summer many moons ago

My friends and I had known Sprocket’s time was coming because he was ancient. Most working sled dogs live a great, active life but they rarely make it to 15 years of age but this noble old athlete did and he did it was grace and style. Maybe not with the greatest hair coat in the world but he aged beautifully until he didn’t.

Sprocket was one of their competitive dogs who loved what he did. A Siberian Husky who I respected as both an athlete and a good dog, he started having trouble with his back legs recently. He would rally and we would stop checking to see if I was going to be in town and a few more weeks would pass.

Until the morning when the dog who had run his heart out and played with his yard mates and really liked his injectable anesthesia when he needed it and was one of the alligator bacteria patients years ago let his folks know they needed to come up to the farm for one final visit with Dr.Fyfe.

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Good times with good friends at a Dog Days of Summer

And Friday morning we laid the final dog of a litter of pups I was particularly close to to rest.

The beautiful litter of Great Dane puppies was in trouble from the start when their mom died within days of their birth. We knew it was a challenge to get enough groceries into such a rapid-growing breed but several members of the community were up to the task. It was daunting at best because without much immunity from not having their mom’s milk they couldn’t be exposed to many people so it was a small group who fed, cleaned, rested, and fed the puppies again. Most of the folks who were part of the feeding team became owners of these huge puppies and all but one stayed within our community.

My rep with Royal Canin happily consulted her team of nutritionists and those pups thrived on canned Recovery and wow, what a gorgeous group of dogs they turned into.

On April 22nd, 2009, my surgeon friend from Great Falls came by and he helped me spay and gastropexy the three females, which I had never done before. The three giants laid in a blanketed assembly line as they recovered and it was a pretty special day.

Until the curse of being a Great Dane took over and we lost the father and all of the other siblings over the years.

Generally they aren’t a long-lived breed but Bella made it to 10 years. Until Friday morning, when it was Time.

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Dog Show winners in the “Working Dog” class at one of our later Dog Days

Each and every family I cried with are friends. I’ve had coffees, lunch and supper dates and I’ve supported their buisnesses and I think most of them have read my books.

I counselled them about when to spay, what brand of foods to eat and I dispensed dewormers and did house calls and I sutured them up or took sutures out and I watched relationships grow and flourish even if there was some testing along the way and I shared the beginning, middle and now end of some beautiful lives with special people and their beloved companions and I know how very hard it was to make the decisions they made and I respect all of them for it while knowing how hard their hearts hurt.

Sometimes the making of the decision and acknowledging that it is Time is the hardest part of all. Or maybe its when I ask if my friends are ready… because they will truly never, ever be ready.

I am privileged to get to share the amazing human-animal bond that makes us choose to get another puppy and raise them and love them and care for and guide them through their magical lives as they become perfect middle-aged best friends until they gradually become beloved senior citizens.

My own heart gets wrung out every time we have had to make the decision to send our furry friends on their final adventure.

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Pretty little Bebe Fyfe

I hope I get to have more time to spend with Babs before its Time. Heck, Cleopatra, our Springer is at least 15 and is having her own set of issues. I’m trying not to think about it but I may have to face what Sitka, Danny, Sprocket and Bella’s parents all had to face just recently sooner rather than later.

And I’ll be okay.

Just like all of my friends will.

And every single other pet parent out there who has to face facts when you start making a list of all of the last things you’ll be doing with your buddy.

There are those coping mechanisms.

There is that magnificent hubby and many great friends.

And there is the knowledge that when the sadness is so great it means the love was that great as well.

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Local Coping Mechanism just opened the back 9 last week.

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One of the Furry Scurry’s along the highway in town!

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3 new Coping Mechanisms screwing around in Papa’s clean jeans.

 

Lilacs, Learnings, the Ladies League and Loki

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Odd title, I know. It doesn’t really make sense unless you are inside my house or on the front lawn right now. My entire world is coated in the sweet, delicate, feminine scent of lilacs.

 

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Our front yard

I love these pretty plants and how their scent completely fills up our house from the east side kitchen to our west side bedroom. The driveway smells lovely. The barn cat, Jockey, who lies in these bushes during the afternoon, smells fantastic. And good old Sport, our Siamese, brings in a bit of the pretty smell when he goes on his early evening survey of the grounds (when Jockey is in the barn, of course.)

What’s interesting this year is that the backyard lilacs bloomed a month ago. Normally they burst onto the scene first but not usually a full month ahead of the front yard.

We had a fairly wet and cool spring, though, so perhaps that’s the reason. Whatever it is, I just breathed in the amazing scent through the open window to my right.

 

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One of the cool, damp days this spring leading to a very green yard

The “learnings” the title of this blog are referring to are the cooking class I’m enrolled in, a bit of golf and Bebe’s health.

I finished my final exam last night (49/50) (araaaagh! I got one wrong!!!) and am tasking myself with a challenging but amazing-sounding pasta dish this evening. I’ve made many different pasta recipes over the years but none have required as much planning as this Pasta Boscaiola does. But I’m pumped!

The pasta sauce has prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh thyme so its going to be an interesting, flavorful cream sauce if I don’t screw it up. If I can figure out how to go “live” on some social media platform maybe I will. I’ll probably get my ‘mise on place’ in place and go from there.

 

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My first go at Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (garlic and oil)

I was tasked with making Spaghetti Aglio e Olio the other night and I rocked it. It helped learning how to choose better quality store-bought dry pasta (go for pale, rough-textured pasta) which holds onto sauces better. This particular sauce was basically garlic, red chili flakes, olive oil and fresh basil. And it was yummy!

It boosted my confidence and I feel ready to try this Boscaiolo recipe tonight. I’ll let you know how it goes.

As for me learning about my own golf game, I’ve learned that I can achieve goals I’ve set with a bit of hard work.

 

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Me and SpongeBob-ball on the par 5 9th hole!

I had the goal last summer of making par on the four par 5’s on our local course. I made the 13th hole but that was it.

But this summer something has clicked for both Alistair and me. In his case, probably having that final, annoying, restrictive pin removed from deep within his pelvis likely helped but we both are actually playing golf like, well, golfers.

And with some cool length to my drives (when they work) thanks to my Hideki Matsuyama-inspired swing, I conquered the par 5 18th a couple of weeks ago and the 9th just last week! (Ball-for-the-wall video at the end of this blog for your enjoyment… make sure your volume is on!)

 

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Hiding from the impending storm in the cart barn after making par on the par 5 18th a couple of weeks ago! Pardon the freaky eyes, it was dark in there and I was pumped.

I’m learning each time I’m out there and even though I still make a lot of crappy shots I know I’m capable of big, fun things.

And what about Bebe’s health? I guess I don’t know. Which is what I’m learning, or trying to learn.

Bebe, herself is a bit of a conundrum in that she lived in the shadows of 7 other cats for most of her life until we lost sweet old Boomer over a year ago. Babs got along with everyone and shared the cat beds with Oscar, Boomer, and Cooper but once it became  just her and Sport in the house, she became a brand new cat.

A Domesticated Indoor Cat, as she says.

 

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Fabulous Babulous during Couch Time last night

Bebe now vocalizes regularly, joins me on the Magic Blanket for Couch Time at night, cuddles up with UB from time to time and has a real, present personality within the house.

So it was noticeable 2 days ago when she didn’t demand her 3 or 4 Greenies pieces first thing in the morning. And I could tell she hadn’t eaten any kibble through the night and she didn’t eat her canned food that evening. Yesterday wasn’t much different although I always saw her drinking water and she continued to join me on the couch at night.

 

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On the couch with Mummy last night

She definitely seemed a bit weak these past couple of days and Doctor Mummy wasn’t liking this very much.

I couldn’t find anything on physical exam, which is a challenge with this particular Domesticated Indoor Cat. Despite being a real presence in our world, Bebe has never liked being held. All 4 limbs stiffly jut out the instant you pick her up so handling her for palpation is tricky.

But there she was this morning asking for and then gobbling up 6 Greenies pieces and she ran towards me when I put fresh kibble into their food dish. She’s using the litter box and appears a bit brighter today so hopefully the antibiotics I started her on 2 days ago are working on whatever needed working on.

 

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Resting in one of her usual afternoon spots just now

Regarding the Ladies League, I’m learning that I actually fit in. The local women, many of whom have been my veterinary clients since 2007, have asked me to come out and play with them since we took golf up a couple of years ago. I’ve always resisted, fearing I would embarrass my competitive self or that I would slow them all down.

Finally, with Alistair in Bismarck last week, I joined the group on Wednesday. I liked it so much I joined again on Friday.

And I am happy to report that I do fit in. To quote one of the women as she introduced me to a lady I hadn’t met, “Tanya can drive the shit out of a golf ball.”

So this has opened up an entirely new chapter to our golf experience and maybe Alistair and I will try Couples League down the road, too.

 

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Random golf photo from last month

Things are a bit different when you’re playing exclusively with women. For starters, we talk about our golf outfits a lot. Generally, the men don’t ask what brand my duds are and I haven’t shared how comfy a certain outfit is or how much give a particular skort has when swinging before.

And Girlfriend Golf is very cheerful and congratulatory, particularly when I manage to hit the shit out of the ball on a drive.

And then we all gather in the clubhouse and visit and talk about upcoming visits to the doc for someone’s hip and how one gal would rather be euthanized than go through rotator-cuff surgery again and how I can actually help with that (not the surgery, the other thing) and that maybe this is why the gals invited me to join them in the first place because I’m 10 to 20 years younger than most of them and I have the tools and the skill set and almost everyone has grandchildren and its so hot where most of these women live during the winter that the planes can’t lift off from the airports and gosh, they all miss me and my clinic but they totally understand the situation and one lady was worried because she hadn’t done her hair that morning and so-and-so has dinner guests and she was making “better than sex” cake and I’m taking a cool online cooking course!

 

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From this a couple of years ago to the Ladies League!

And finally, in reference to Loki in the title of this blog, our little friend is home again only, sadly, its a boxed version of our adorable companion.

I made it to Missoula last week and managed to hold my shit together when Alex handed me the two little boxes that contain her ashes. Whitney wants some of her very special friend so someday when we get back to Kauai or she gets back to the mainland we will share Loki with her once again.

And the other box will remain with us, firmly ensconced in Fyfe Life once more.

It seemed fitting that she go back to the living room to enjoy Couch Time again.

 

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Loki Fyfe

So this is how the summer of 2017 is beginning around the farm and on the golf courses. I’ll keep you posted on how I do during the league and what new recipes I’m trying and how they turn out.

I’m still slinging the bling and if you’re interested I’m doing my annual fundraiser this month for our local pet shelter, Paws Up Safe Home. I’ve done this for 3 years now and I give all of my 40% commissions earned this month to the shelter so every dollar really helps. And every necklace and bracelet is 25% off so its a win-win for everyone (head over to http://www.chloeandisabel.com/boutique/tanyafyfe if you’d like to treat yourself and feel great about it.)

 

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Awesome arm-party one of the guests did at a fun pop-up yesterday!

And of course I’ll share Bebe’s tale because the blog is an outlet for me to share my thoughts, fears, hopes and feelings and most of you are pet lovers and I know you’ll be thinking about her.

So thanks for letting me share and for coming along on my journey. Now get out there and enjoy some summertime and don’t forget to check out the video below…

 

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My favorite golf partner needs to get home soon!

 

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Cleopatra doing some learning and exploring herself the other day

 

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Baby Bebe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Curious Case of Bebe Fyfe

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Fabulous Babulous…. sunbeaming again.

Most folks who visit the Fyfe Farm haven’t met Bebe, our mysterious feline companion. If she hears that doorbell ring or a voice in the house she disappears like magic and we won’t see her for at least 2 hours.

If the house guests are spending the night I won’t see her until its time for soft food when the guest room door is closed before bed. I don’t know where she re-appears from. Sometimes the garage, sometimes the boat, sometimes from behind the washing machine.

She’s been that way ever since Whitney and her friend brought her and her littermate, Cartman home in Bismarck. I had only told the kids about the litter of kittens down the road so they would slow down with their driving. Not because we needed 2 more cats.

 

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Bebe as a kitten

When Babs and Cartman joined us that brought our indoor collection of cats to 8, which is totally ridiculous and I think it might be partly why she is as shy as she is.

When you’re the youngest sibling in a household of older, well established sibs you probably don’t need to communicate much. Or interact, other than for basic necessities like eating & using the litter box.

Over the years she slowly packed on some weight and she just did her own thing.

She, like every other female Fyfe adored our big boy, Oscar, who was basically the king of the cats.

 

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Cooper, Boomer and Bebe snuggled in with Oscar

It wasn’t unusual to find any combination of the girls with him in one of the cat beds scattered throughout the house.

This went on for years.

Until we lost Oscar.

That was the beginning of the change in feline dynamics around here because Mulder was suddenly in charge. Until we lost him, too.

 

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You can imagine the dynamics when there are this many of you! And you can’t even see Sport and Cooper!

And everything changed as Attrition continued until, as of February, we had a house with 2 indoor cats and Babs is one of them.

Which is when we got to meet the real Bebe Fyfe.

Our quiet, not-so-little fan of sunbeams and soft food has become a Domesticated Indoor Cat.

 

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Shy, young Bebe many years ago

She meows at me to remind me that our morning routine has changed.

On top of letting the dogs out, feeding the dogs, cleaning the litter box, feeding Loki, getting Rimadyl for Loki, changing the water in the water dish, getting water to Luigi, and giving treats to Luigi as I clean his cage, I now have to give 3 Greenies treats to a somewhat demanding grey & white Domesticated Indoor Cat.

I mean, she’s cute about it but when did this all start? I didn’t even know she could meow!

Bebe now comes down to our bedroom on sleep-in mornings if we’re lazily watching Netflix while sipping our Kona coffee and joins us.

On. The. Bed.

 

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“What?”

And she purrs and cuddles and interacts as if she’s been a normal cat all of her life.

She’s also lost some weight, probably due to being more active around the house and outside as well. She’s much smaller than she was in the photo above, which was taken just after we lost Boomer in February.

Boomer and Bebe always cuddled in the cat beds but there must have been something about her that kept our strange little Bebe quiet all those years.

Bebe’s sole pastime for years (aside from sunbeaming) was staring at our freezers in the garage. When I had my clinic that’s where I would sadly bring home patients we’d lost who were going in for cremation. Bebe would make the strangest chirping sounds and tip her head from side to side while staring at the freezer. We just figured she was communicating with the spirits and we’ve been fine with that.

 

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“You don’t want me to exercise, do you?”

I don’t see her staring at the freezer much any more.

Maybe she was communicating with the spirits who were likely a bit confused about their situation. I know that every paw of every pet that I have held while they transitioned with their families by their side was ready to lay down and have a good, long nap. They may not have put that thought together but I have only ever said goodbye when it was necessary.

Never out of convenience.

I used to think that was an endearing quality that Bebe had and really, she did it with such regularity it was almost a bit freakish.

But it doesn’t happen now & that’s not because our freezer is empty. Mouse, Boomer, Calypso & Phillipa sadly are beneath Alistair’s treasured huckleberries right now. I think Bebe just knows that they understand where they are and their spirits are still right at home.

 

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Bebe & Sport waiting for Mummy to open the kitchen door a few days ago.

And her own spirit is blossoming as she grows into the Domesticated Indoor Cat that she is becoming.

And we like her chirping and meowing and visiting us throughout the house. I like seeing her and Loki sleeping closer and closer together on the bed. I love the feel of her clawless paws as she kneads my lap when she explores the land of lap-sitting. I like feeding her bits of bacon on sleep-in mornings although I suspect we won’t ever get to the Kiss Piece stage of domestication.

Its fun watching her explore our house- the living room with the warm wood stove and the snoring Boston Terrier snoozing in front of it; our bedroom with all of its windows and the big TV she likes to stare at; the computer room where I do all of my creating and Loki sleeps on my feet like she is now; and the outdoor world where she has even brought a couple of mice up that big old plank.

And I love sharing Fabulous Babulous with all of you!

 

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Just another day in a cat bed with Cooper & Oscar and Boomer wondering where she was going to fit.

 

Jacques and Bebe 2010

“Pleased to meet you, Jacques. I’m Bebe. Don’t chase me, okay?”

 

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The ultimate Sunbeamer.

 

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Just now, refusing to look at the camera. Oh, Bebe!