Je t’aime, Phillipa. Je t’aime.

Standard
p1060560

Papa and Phillipa a couple of weeks ago

Last Monday didn’t go so well for me. I suppose it was worse for Phillipa because suddenly she couldn’t use her back legs very well.

Her rear limbs haven’t been working 100% for months now but even Sunday night she was scampering around, taking chewy treats from my fingers and trotting over to the water dish.

But Monday was a different story.

We were up & buzzing about getting ready for Alistair to hit the road to Bismarck a few days early so he could take care of a challenging fiberglass sliver embedded near a finger joint. While I have lidocaine and needles here the mere thought of blocking his hand with a 22 gauge tip was painful.

P1060498.JPG

Last month, bellying up to the bar (she liked the ice cubes).

It was a bit of a rushed morning and not really planned until his throbbing finger woke him up early so I wasn’t prepared to see Phillipa unable to go more than 3 steps without toppling over.

She also wouldn’t eat any chewy treats.

Not even the raisin ones. (There was always a “reason for raisin!”)

Nor would she lap the sticky, sweet-tasting calorie supplement off my finger but she did sip some water when I laid her in my lap.

P1060453

Back at the bowl earlier this summer.

She and Luigi spent much of the day cuddling in either their hammock or pirate ship but it looked like it was a challenge for her to navigate the tunnels and tubes of Quebec, their cage. She never vocalized at any time so by the time Alistair was in North Dakota I let her out on carpeted flooring to see if that would help.

It didn’t.

And it didn’t look like she was having fun anymore.

Alistair called from outside of Dickenson and he agreed it was Time. And he was so sad and sorry to not be with me to do what needed to be done.

002

Phillipa cuddling with Luigi back in June.

He had left that morning knowing he would never see her cute little body wrapped around Luigi again. He would never feel something at his toes before she would tease him with a little chomp. And he would never get to pretend to be so surprised to “find” her in our hallway closet, her private little place she went almost every single time she was out and was obviously done playing with the boys.

014

Peeking out from her Phillipa-cave in 2014

It never ceased to amaze us how she got underneath that door. The boys never could. Just Phillipa. She has the odd kibble she has hoarded along with a little fleece bed as well as our box of newspaper for the wood stove that she has torn up to make a little nest for herself. Its her private place where the big boys have never been able to get to. Not Jacques, Cousteau, Calypso or Luigi.

016

“Peeking boo! Please keep the boys out, Mama!”

Phillipa lived through the loss of 3 of her boyfriends over her 7 years as a Fyfe and came through it all with dignity despite some signs of depression. Which is why another ferret would be added. She always seemed to thrive in the company of her boys.

Ferrets are incredibly emotional creatures and they truly do mourn the loss of housemates. Like all species, there are differences but most owners who have bonded with their pets can tell from behaviors and facial expressions how their little ones are feeling.

Which is why I knew what I had to do Monday night, not quite one week ago.

005

Classic Phillipa.

Why I pre-medicated her and then let her cuddle up with Luigi for awhile as the drugs kicked in.

And then I sedated her but I’m pretty sure she didn’t even notice that. She gave in so quickly I felt as if her body was ready for some peace after such a fast-paced life.

And she laid, curled in my lap, blissfully unaware as my tears fell onto her body when I gave her the final injection.

And I kissed her one last time, which was more like 20 last times because you don’t want that kiss to actually be the last one.

A good life deserves a good death and even though I’m crying again I am honored to have been the one to give that to her.

001

Never did figure out how she got on top of the freezer a couple of years ago…

And Luigi is doing very well. He hasn’t stopped eating or wanting to play and I’m giving him a bit more attention when he’s loose in the house. Luigi and Alistair bonded when he was just a kit before he came to Montana and he’s always seemed to be just as or more content with human companionship.

That’s not to say he wasn’t sad when we lost Calypso in March or now with Phillipa. I just think he has Luigi coping mechanisms that allow for a more gentle transition to being an only ferret in the house.

002

Luigi, Calypso and Phillipa last year with Papa

He’s the Italian Stallion who has his Luigi song and he’s going to be fine.

And I’m going to be fine. Not right away but eventually. Even if I start tearing-up thinking about Phillipa in the bright red Octopus.

303

“This thing ate my head!”

Or in Papa’s housecoat.

phillipa

They aren’t called ‘pocket pets’ for nothing!

phillipa4

more housecoat shinanigans

I’m sorry to all of our friends who may feel some sadness, themselves, after having met our little Frenchwoman. The Fyfe Ferrets were terrific ambassadors for their quirky, spitfire of a species and they all have many fans.

But the sadness is great because the love has been great and I’m a richer woman for having had all of these spirits in my world.

And I’ve got my own coping mechanisms which include red wine, hot tubs and crying my eyes out and writing about the pain to let it out so it doesn’t build up inside of me and cuddling up with the dogs who seem a bit more clingy because they know I’m a bit more needy and loving up the kitties and talking with Alistair and scratching the horses. I’ve got my bling and my golf swing, too.

Here’s to losing your shoes when you come to visit us! I am fairly certain Luigi will keep up the tradition.

I can only imagine the hijinx going on across that Rainbow Bridge right now…

phillipa3

Post shower a couple of years ago.

triple trouble!

An armful of ferrets… one of the only pics where all 4 are looking at the camera!

062

Back in the day when we first brought our big albino boy, Cousteau home. 2013, I believe.

P1060506

Just a few weeks ago.

(Phillipa’s final bling-video prior to our August launch of La Vie en Rose and Petits Bijoux…. c’est magnifique. xo

What’s Up, Docs?

Standard
002

Luigi and Phillipa helped me make a fun little bling-video

If you ask me what’s new or going on or how we’re doing these days I might pause for a few seconds before I answer.

I’m just trying to remember where I am.

After Alistair’s surgery to remove hardware from his pelvis on May 6th we returned to Montana to begin his slow recovery.

006

Short hikes out back… found some back-up body parts for Alistair!

Somehow I managed to keep his activity to a minimum and the healing process has gone well. The main thing is that the pain from the migrating pins is gone so the surgery was a success! The recovery phase now is the soft tissue healing.

007

Cleopatra had other ideas for the spare parts.

But we still had to get back to Bismarck to tend to our horse herd and our garden so we loaded up the 3 dogs and hit the road for the 11 hour drive yet again.

We abandoned the cages and brought the “Magic Blanket” instead and the dogs travelled beautifully, even if Miss Cleo was a little bit dramatic about the whole thing.

011

Drama Queen

Highway 200 is a sparsely-populated trek across the plains. We often encounter enormous farm machinery or equipment being hauled on equally ginormous rigs and we don’t see many other travelers.

Which is probably why you can still have a bona-fide cattle drive taking up the road!

004

No joke! Cattle Drive!

The moo-ing and occasional “yip” from the cowboys (riding ATVs, not horses) was old school Montana but hey, when you have to move the herd several miles down the road what else are you going to do?

 

We finally got by them (moo!) and made it back to our own herd in sunny North Dakota.

054

Our beautiful bunch a couple of summers ago.

Its where we had a nest full of new neighbors and a slightly peeved Mother!

014

This year’s nest built right on top of last year’s.

The nest appeared last summer and a new one was built on top this year. Its location is cleverly tucked away from the winds that blow constantly but not so clever in that its immediately outside of our front door.

The adult robin continued to bring worms up and we tried to make an effort to use the side door through the garage when we could.

025

Closer view of the new kids on the block.

The babies grew and grew and the day after I took this photo they were out of the nest, flying around on their own. They hovered near the area but we never saw them in the nest again and another cycle of nature has been completed.

Bismarck is also where we got our garden up & running.

Its a large garden that Alistair has tweaked over the years. This was the first year I was there to help get everything in the ground.

015

Grow, my pretties, grow.

5 types of potatoes, 8 different tomato plants, 8 each of cauliflower, spinach and broccoli, red and yellow onions, herbsherbsherbs, pumpkin, cucumbers, squash varieties and 3 types of corn.

YUM!

The only thing now is hoping that the North Dakota winds don’t destroy things like they did after the first planting last year.

016

Hang in there, Troops!

Our farm is also where we had to take care of a few equine-related things.

Vaccinations. Deworming.

Combing out tangled manes and tails and moving pastures.

And saying goodbye.

We laid Brutus and Raven to rest on the same day and even though we both knew it had to be done it still hit me harder than I thought it would.

337

Brutus in March this year.

Brutus, a bay Paint gelding we raised had injured himself years ago at a trainer’s and could never be ridden. His labored mobility had become difficult to watch and with a new worsening respiratory condition this spring we laid him to rest on the farm he was born on.

012

Last June, Brutus is in the very center.

And then there was Raven.

A Fyfe Farm staple and Boss Mare for almost as long as I have known Alistair.

We bought her as a yearling in 1995 at a reduced price because of a hoof injury she had sustained that made her an un-rideable well-bred American Paint Horse broodmare.

033

Raven and baby Shilo just a day or two old.

She produced some gentle, gorgeous, personality-laden foals over the years and was an exceptional Mama.

Raven never minded us being right in with her and the foals and each one has been fun and relatively easy to work with.

031

Shilo goofing around with Alistair with Raven right there.

032

Shilo, a little bit older, still enjoying being played with.

While she always had that misshapen rear hoof it never bothered her over the years. She really had a great life for a horse.

Never had a saddle on her.

Always top quality hay and big pastures to run around.

She had the herd’s respect.

And three of her foals stayed on the farm and became part of the herd.

034

The ladies & their foals, they were the Magnificent Seven that spring. (Raven in the center with Shilo).

Last September we noticed a forelimb lameness that suddenly appeared. It didn’t go away. In fact, it got worse. During my trips back to Bismarck it became clear that she was struggling to get around and was dropping her weight and not shedding out well. One of the easiest keepers of the herd was starting to look tough.

093

Shilo and Raven last June, clearly thriving.

So it was Time.

Raven sedated calmly near the rest of the herd before Alistair slowly led her to the area where we had buried Brutus just a couple of hours beforehand and she let me rub her a little before I gave her an intra-venous boat load of tranquilizers and she got stoned and wobbly and kept eating the rich, thick grass in front of her and then I injected the pink solution and I kissed her one last time.

And I choked up walking away as Alistair climbed up into the tractor again that day.

029

Raven and Frankie, who grew to be the tallest horse on the farm.

The herd dynamic definitely changed that day. When we did vaccinations and deworming of the remaining 13, having to separate them in small groups, they all seemed more anxious and worked up to be apart from each other.

They whinnied, they nickered, they kicked up and ran around.

And now 2 are coming back to Montana this week with Alistair and UB because its time to get the pasture here gobbled up and hopefully it will be time for some riding.

022

Most of the remaining herd.

And Alistair is healing, having good days and great days and Loki and Cleo are so tight with me its becoming difficult to walk around the house and I think that’s enough driving and uncertainty for awhile and I’m not sad because of what we had to do, I’m just sad because everyone and everything keeps getting older and I’m sad they are gone even though its the circle of life and everything has a cycle and I know that our second year of Attrition hasn’t been any easier than the first but I also know that’s how it goes and I’ll be damned if I bottle it up and develop Compassion Fatigue.

021

Mother Nature wants us to have apples this year.

And there are so many wonderful things going on that make me want to smile right now. Happy Hubby. Garden. Loki (sleeping on my foot right now). Rain. Springtime.

While things occur that make me feel sad I’m still very happy, even if I have to pause when you ask how things are going. My head and heart have been kind of full lately.

Its what it is.

Its what’s up.

008

UB, Cleo & I at our favorite rest stop along highway 200.

009

Our blind little wonder heading out on her own trek at the rest stop.

036

Many moons ago with Raven & Shilo (Katie in the background).

030

Big Frankie and his mom.

The BEST Path Ever!

Standard
009

Aloha tootsies!

I’ve travelled several paths already this year and it is only just the end of April.

The paths are sometimes real and sometimes metaphorical and yet they are all a means of sauntering along on my journey.

We sauntered our asses over to Hawaii’s Big Island again a couple of weeks ago for a fabulous little journey in the warm sunshine.

032

A beautiful view!

The sky was bright blue, the ocean was navy, the clouds were fluffy, and the golf courses were awesome!

Our hotel room was a bit fancy but we didn’t complain.

045

Lounging in our yukatas in the living room area…

We somehow landed this one-bedroom, ocean-view, corner suite on “cyber Monday”… a day that is uniquely American and geared to online consumers.

005

One of our 3 lanais this last trip… we fell asleep every single night under the stars and waving palms listening to the ocean and the monorail below… talk about loving our Aloha!

Generally, we aren’t much for that type of thing but the rates last fall for the Hilton Waikoloa were 50% off! And then we found a conference for Alistair at a resort ‘down the road’…. I mean, we HAD to book, right?

021

Many paths throughout the grounds at the Hilton Waikoloa!

I loved exploring the resort and the area around me when Alistair was off at the Hapuna Prince for his morning conferences.

019

Pathways leading me around the resort

Its amazing to think that one week ago we were waking up all excited to play golf at a non-resort, more local golf course over by Kailua-Kona called Makalei.

063

Every hole at Makalei was uphill or downhill…. a fun, friendly course we highly recommend!

074

Getting ready to wrap up the round with our new friend, David, from AZ taking the picture at Makalei

Its amazing because here I am today, back in Montana, on a dramatically different farm than the one we left.

For starters, the weather is a bit different this morning.

002

Our stallion, Dash, not overly thrilled about the weather situation…

It wasn’t all that cold before we left for Hawaii. Our local golf course had re-opened and we had played a couple of times.

019

My step-daughter, Whitney and I before we left… we introduced golf and Norman to Whitney… a new journey for her, perhaps. (Note: no snow on the ground and no jackets on our bodies!)

Little Loki is missing her Mummy a lot and was a bit unsettled yesterday.

That could also do with the main reason our farm is so different now- Casey finally succumbed to his laryngeal paralysis while we were gone.

441

Casey & Dad a couple of years ago riding in Steve, our Ranger

Casey.

Jumpy, eager, goofy, happy, silly, clumsy, fun-loving Casey.

The dog who was always there is gone and the hole left behind is tremendous.

346

On one of many, many hikes on one of many, many paths

We had all hiked together before we left and Casey’s breathing had been labored so we did a much-modified, shortened hike. I had explained to Whitney that his disease was a matter of ‘when’… not ‘if’ and that we had already surpassed expectations by over a year.

Alistair and Whitney were adamant that we keep things as they were- that I wasn’t to step in and end things before we left.

Before he had a few more bumps with UB.

Or cuddles with Cleo.

Or sniffs with Loki.

005

UB, Casey & Loki goofing around a couple of months ago

And I was and I am completely fine with that.

Because each day really is a gift and nobody knew that better than Casey.

The physical embodiments of the words, “Oh, BOY!” lived each minute as the BEST one ever, regardless of what came his way.

002

Casey & Mummy, probably 12 years ago

As a puppy he never looked back when his former humans shattered his rear limbs with some blunt object. He became a ward of my vet school and joined our family for the rest of his own journey.

023

Young Casey Fyfe! Oh, BOY!

He took every opportunity to cuddle and enjoy each companion he could, human or otherwise and there was always such joy in his eyes.

013

Young (and bright-eyed) Loki with one of her BFF’s, Casey back in Bismarck about a dozen years ago. xo

His clumsiness seems more endearing to me now as I look through my rear-view mirror back down the paths we traveled.

At the time, though, I’m sure a few naughty words flew when he would slam into me.

Or when he knocked Alistair over post-knee surgery into a puddle on the driveway. I can only imagine what was being said as Alistair struggled to get his crutches while Casey was leaping all over and on top of him.

160

Casey & Dad hiking this winter

Casey lived and loved at full throttle.

If you were in his way (as my brother’s boys discovered) you would be slammed into and then licked and loved as you laid on the ground.

His wiggly ass and wagging tail knocked Cleo into the hot tub one time.

That was the BEST dunking of Cleo!

011

All 4 of the outside gang this winter

Something changed for Casey when we unexpectedly lost Harry in January.

He was still eager, keen, bright and goofy but he didn’t go for his kibble with the same gusto… and his runs through the pastures seemed more like he was looking for someone.

209570_10150153564810528_6398845_o

This is the BEST time on the couch, Mummy!

I believe he has found Harry again and the 2 of them are on a different journey of their own now.

We laid our big boys to rest with pink roses along with Cousteau, Mae Mae, Oscar, Cadbury, Marmalade and Mulder on a cloudy morning with patches of blue peeking through and a breeze strong enough to keep me from keeping my Memorial candle lit.

Typical.

165

Oh, BOY! This is the BEST photo opportunity ever, Dad!

And I miss Casey like I never thought possible and Cleo has moved primarily inside and she’s eager to cuddle and take over the bed and all of the animals are sorting this out and I still look for Mulder and long to hear Harry’s “Woo Woo’s” and I think I hear the guinea pigs whistling at me and I’m crying again but trying to be that strong, independent woman I think I am when clearly I’m not and our hikes out back are SO different now because although its the same path I have hiked for years, its a completely different journey.

Caseyagility

Oh, BOY! My first agility trials with my DAD!!!!

And we will all be okay.

Little things make me smile or laugh- like seeing my golf club head covers at the Mauna Lani resort 2 days after Casey had laid down in the grass with Whitney and Cleo on a sunny afternoon for the last time.

055

Who knew Muldie and Casey would join Jinxie in the spirit world when I got these late last summer?

The fact we were an ocean away maybe even helped because of the Aloha surrounding us.

008

View from the big lanai

We played golf and raised our glasses to one of the BEST dogs ever to join our rag-tag band of merry misfits.

012

I had just made par on the par 3 hole below. People had been watching from this lava and had cheered me on. Seemed like a good time & place to celebrate 🙂

And I continue on my journey and I’m hoping that’s enough loss for awhile and that I can retain some of that Aloha ’cause it really is something special.

034

Post hula lesson at the Hilton Waikoloa!

And I am okay with the hurt because it means the love was real.

And I still think I am the luckiest girl in the world to have known some amazing spirits.

Mahalo, Casey. That was the BEST of times! xo

024

golf ball hunting in lava fields

028

Ocean-side golf!

001

Their last hike together. “That was the BEST hike ever, Dad!” April 13, 2015