Sunday, September 25, 2011

Farewell to my Beloved Sophie

Right before I was scheduled to leave for the Midwest Birding Symposium a week and a half ago, I had to have my beloved dog Sophie euthanized. Her health has been failing for many months, and she had stopped eating the previous week. I tried to tempt her with delicious canned dog food, but even that held no appeal for her. She had a difficult night on Tuesday (the 13th) and neither of us got much sleep and I knew on Wednesday morning that it was finally time to make that dreaded phone call to my vet. My trip was going to be 5 days and I didn't want Mr. Johnson to have to deal with that all by himself while I was gone. We have a wonderful vet and she had taken care of Sophie for her entire life, so I was thankful she was able to come out that very day. We were able to hold Sophie in our arms and comfort her as she passed peacefully.

Sophie was "my" dog from day one -- I picked her out and bought her and we were very attached to one another. I loved her with all my heart and miss her very desperately. We had almost 14 years with her and lots of memories -- good and some not so good -- as any pet owner would probably agree. In this post, I want to share some of my favorite memories of Sophie with you.

When Sophie arrived, Mr. Johnson wasn't happy! He didn't think we needed another dog, but I thought differently and brought her home without Mr. Johnson's approval. Sophie soon won him over with her cuteness!
Sophie loved Daisy from the start and wanted to be with her all the time.

Daisy, on the other hand, wasn't totally thrilled with her new and extremely pesty "little sister."

Penny was not quite a year old when Sophie came to live with us. Since Penny had only ever had Daisy as her "dog sister" she thought she was a dog anyway and Sophie and Penny were always great friends. Penny is also missing Sophie very much now.

Sophie loved sleeping on the bed -- no matter who she had to share it with!

Sophie also loved beer! Mr. Johnson trained her to drink from the bottle and she really excelled at that.

Sophie was an excellent retriever and loved playing with her frisbees -- no matter what the weather. Sophie was never trained as a hunting dog, but on one hunting trip when she got to go along with us and Daisy, she surprised all of us by finding and retrieving a pheasant!

In addition to people walking their dogs past our house and staying home by herself, Sophie had some other dislikes, including possums,
stray cats in the backyard (she got that from me!),

starlings (she got that from me too!),
and chipmunks.

Sophie always loved snoozing -- usually it was in a sunny spot in the living room.

But she would also burrow under the covers in bed if we forgot to make it in the morning.

Since she was always cold with her short fur, she would readily submit to wearing the sweater I knitted for her on cold winter days.

Because Sophie's health had been failing for a couple years, we tried to take her along with us whenever we went on our birding trips. She got to explore the Sax-Zim Bog in northern Minnesota.

And she came along to Crex Meadows in Wisconsin when we went to see Sandhill Cranes.

The weather was hot when we visited Blue Mounds State Park, so she just hung out in the shade with Mr. Johnson.

Sophie's special treat was a cheeseburger from McDonald's dollar menu. She even ate the pickle!

Earlier this year I found a cushy dog bed to put on the floor for Sophie since she wasn't able to jump up on the couch or bed anymore. She loved that bed so much I ended up buying her 2 more for other rooms in the house. I like to think they made her last days much more comfortable.

Sophie Belinda Johnson
10/23/97 - 9/14/11

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Midwest Birding Symposium

Well, here we are at the final day of the Midwest Birding Symposium and I'm finally doing my first blog post (I guess I'm not the multi-tasker I thought I was!) We're heading out for more birding this morning, but I wanted to show you a few random images showing you why this Symposium is so wonderful.

Birding the Boardwalk of Magee Marsh with Kenn Kaufman!

Setting the Guinness World Record for the 801 people in one place doing an owl call!

Meeting many blogging friends for the first time!

Life Birds! (this is a black-throated green warbler)

Meeting celebrities of the birding world!

(Lynne with Alvaro Jaramillo)

Chet Baker ON. MY. LAP!!!

And of course, the indescribable and always entertaining Susan!

Lack of time, my little netbook display and slow internet capabilities are not up to the task of creating good blog posts, but when I get home next week, I'll share all the photos and stories of this festival so YOU can start planning to attend the next one in 2013!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Life Saved

I got back from my walk this afternoon to find a juvenile Cedar Waxwing just sitting on the downstairs patio -- the apparent victim of a collision with this dining room window.Believe it or not, despite what the birds are seeing on this window, there are surprisingly few window strikes here and those that have occurred are almost never fatal. I think the fact that the tree is so close to the window helps to keep the birds from hitting at full speed.

Anyway, as soon as I saw this little bird, I put the butterfly net over him to make sure I could rescue him. He didn't resist the net at all and I was easily able to scoop him up and give him a quick physical examination which revealed no obvious trauma or broken bones. His loud squawks indicated he was pretty aware of his situation, so I was confident that he wasn't injured seriously.

I admitted him to St. Alegria for a short convalescent period.
After about 10 minutes in the warm, dark and safe confines of St. Alegria, juvenile Cedar Waxwing was ready to be released.

After opening my hand, this youngster quickly winged his way to the top of the nearest evergreen tree. There are plenty of Cedar Waxwings hanging around the backyard this time of year, so hopefully he'll be reunited with his family soon. And just maybe, he learned a valuable lesson about staying away from my dining room window!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Downy Finds a New Treat

Hello! What do we have here?

Is this actually something to eat? Why haven't I noticed it before?

Well, this isn't going to be easy getting a meal here, is it?

I'll just have to try and turn a little bit more, but there sure isn't much to perch on!
Jeez, this is really challenging! It sure looks a lot easier when the nuthatches are doing it!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Trip to the State Fair

Last Monday, we visited "The Great Minnesota Get-Together" aka the Minnesota State Fair.

We admired some knitting. I was awed by these mittens -- appeared to be about 25 stitches to the inch! I couldn't even begin to imagine how long it took this person to knit these!

We also admired some award-winning wood carvings -- I especially loved this adorable little fox.
We ate some delicious fair food -- these are the Australian batter-fried potatoes with ranch and cheese sauce!
We took a ride on the Sky Glider.
And saw some interesting looking fish at the DNR fish pond.

We watched a sheep-herding competition at the Coliseum.

And admired the alpacas.

We saw lots of baby animals -- twin baby lambs (1 day old)

Cute goat kid (2 days old and totally rambunctious!)

Baby Piglet (1 day old)

We saw this cow in labor at The Miracle of Birth Center in the morning

and her handsome little calf lying next to her later in the afternoon (born at 1:30 pm)

We saw some super-sized horses

and some regular-sized horses

We had an excellent adventure at the Minnesota State Fair. As with all other visits, one day just isn't enough to see everything. I took lots more photos and if you'd like to check out the entire photo album, you can click on this link to visit the album on my Facebook page.