Once upon a time.

20 05 2014

About 15 years ago, a sweet little soul strolled into our lives and claimed his spot in my parent’s heart and home, and ultimately in our little extended family’s collective hearts.

His name eventually became Charlie. My dad had brought him home one day after finding him wandering all alone: a cute rough-haired fully-grown Jack Russell with dark golden blonde markings along white fur. Little patches of rough fur sprouting every which way, like wayward wizard whiskers. His dark eyes took it all in as he strolled, self-assured and confident in his stocky way as if he owned the place. He brought smiles to my Dad’s face and tenderness to my Mom’s. He just fit. Instantly.

Our family dog had died a couple years before then, and I had just began my own family with the birth of our son Nicholas. Ultimately, my parents both concurred that the real test of keeping this fully grown dog was his behavior around our young son. They had found Charlie’s owner, who was willing to give him a new home with my parents and the only caveat was this pooch’s behavior around the baby.

Charlie (who was previously named Harley) and Nick were introduced to each other. I’d like to tell you it was love at first sight, to recount every minor detail in their first meeting, this wee terrier and my own wee terror. But I can’t and you know why? It’s because Charlie was already a part of our family. In some strange foggy haze, it was like he had always been there. There was a sweet indulgent gentleness from this dog, despite excited baby antics and hair-grabbing fingers. It looked like Charlie was a keeper. Nary a growl from him when he was irritated; rather, he chose to vacate the premises if the baby (and the three more that followed) got out of hand.

He was the endless boundless bullet of speed. If you dared to throw that ball, well, buddy, be ready to throw it all day long. He’d push a frisbee along the ground with his nose, warranting wonders of how on earth he had any skin left there. Garter snakes met their Maker via Charlies’ vicious attacks. He once buried an earwig-infested bone deep within my sister’s newly born son’s bassinet. You can only¬† imagine the new mother’s rage at discovering that particular treat. He despised baths and would disappear when Mom would take a towel out of the closet, inspiring curiosity that maybe he could actually read minds. You could hold him like a baby and he would eagerly kiss your cheeks with typical canine love. He was kind and gentle, his antics inspired guffaws, he adored quad rides in his own custom-made seat, he was the boss of the two dogs that eventually came along in my own and my sister’s families, he played with the kids, he chased anything he could, he gave all of his love freely every chance he got and in turn he was loved fully and completely like any Good Doggy should.

Today he left his little worn out 16 year old body behind in a peaceful way, wrapped in love by the two people who cared for him the most. He leaves behind a legacy of sweetness and charming flagrant cockiness. He will always be loved and always be missed.

There is no sweeter and pure love than that of a dog. And boy, did Charlie ever deliver.

We love you Charlie. You were a mighty good dog.






3 05 2014

I stood by the open patio door tonight, the fresh air rushing past my face during a brief reprieve from this rain. Wine glass in hand, I watched the antics of my four male Rufous hummingbirds who returned today with a testosterone-fueled vengeance.

One by one, they took turns tussling over the best spot at the feeder which was only filled this morning after one male circled the empty birdseed feeder, giving me the side eye. I know they return to the same spot every year. I believe I know this little guy from last year. His brazen demeanor demanded I hastily fill the feeder, so I do so with glee. These birds are nature’s entertainment.

These four males dance around; with their dashing bronze backs and ruby throats flashing in the remnants of the day’s rays that are breaking through the bluish black clouds waiting to deliver more spring showers. Their eternal cynically suspicious expressions verify their intent. To guard the feeder from any others with furrowed brow and manly intent.

They fly up, so that they are a mere distant dot in the sky and dive-bomb whoever dares come near their nectar. Precarious and daring, they whizz by in alarming speeds, gifting me irrational fears of death by hummingbird impalement to the eyeball. The call is a “chu-chu-chu-chu”, fading as they rise up and away. Dusk brings the daredevils a ballsy attitude, not unlike a few beers shared among young men.

They buzz and whir, and fly off to lie in wait for an unsuspecting member of the gang to dare to drink. I can’t quite figure out the hierachy here. One of them is the biggest but at this point early in the season, I suspect it might not be indicative of the ultimate winner. Sometimes the smallest can be the feistiest.

The females are absent right now. I like to imagine them in tiny nests dabbled about in the trees by my house. These lesser-coloured but equally scrappy mama hummingbirds settled on eggs the size of a two-year-old’s thumbnail. I’ll see these mothers in a couple weeks, as they take turns guarding the feeder and their tiny babies.

I can sit for hours and watch. Birds have this hold on me. Their story is eeked out to me in the weeks to come, the warmer days, the long dusky summer nights. They will buzz and circle and demand more sugar water. They dance, tails pushed down, zee-ing back and forth in show. I’m nothing more than a post, an object or a threat, unless of course, the feeder is empty. They live their live in zest and fervour, passionate and whole-hearted.

To feed and love, and raise babies; they defend their right to dance and fight, these feathered miniature warriors.