The New Guy

I am posting this for posterity, so that when I look back at this past winter and don’t look back and wonder why I wrote nothing about the best thing that happened all year – the addition of Mr. TylerMan Badoo Melty-face to the Walterses family.

We weren’t looking for a second dog but my friend was fostering Tyler and she was worried no one would adopt him because he was a big male pit bull who drooled a lot, but who was also a super love in spite of having been used as a bait dog and tortured.

At 65 lbs, he was quite a bit smaller than Riley (who also drools a lot), so we figured that those were problems we could handle and decided to take a look. Within a few minutes, it was pretty clear we were getting another dog.

Riley is generally a pretty happy girl (except when she feels like I am in danger) but it’s been a while since we’d seen her that happy – rolling around in the grass with Tyler, sniffing each other’s butts, tug of war, finding sticks, and all the good dog stuff. She made the decision for us. There was a bit of a transition period into our home but now there’s no separating them. Best friends forever, for real.

Tyler loves EVERYONE except cats and squirrels (but he and Maceo are coming around). So much so that he climbs into our bamboo planter to try and go see the neighbours on their deck and cries on leash when he can’t go and say hi to people and other dogs.

He even loves going back to the surgery center where he had 2 operations and a bunch of physical therapy!

When we got him he was scrawny, had some ear infections, a skin rash from a wheat allergy, and a torn ligament in his knee which our vet told us would likely lead to a tear in the other one. And it did – only a few weeks later. So we spent the winter walking around the house and then around the block…and then repeating it with the other leg, all the while going to puppy PT (which I renamed PB after seeing how much peanut butter was involved in the physical therapy). Luckily I worked from home for most of it and when I was laid up with my injury, both dogs stuck very close by…like usually on top of me.

We got a larger couch when we moved into this house, which is great because there are now regularly 180 lbs of dog on it (not to mention the dog hair) and Tyler loves sleeping.

It’s not enough for him to be on the couch, he also has to gather all of the pillows together and then he wants a blanket or two added as well.

I mean, he really loves sleeping.

He also loves his toys.

…and I’m pretty sure he loves his new home too.

Far Rockaway (Oregon)

Rockaway Beach

Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made. ~Roger Caras

When we started this process of closing up our company and moving to Seattle, there were so many setbacks and so much starting and stopping that I said to Matt we either needed to get me a dog or I was going to take off and go travelling for a while. In many ways, I think I should have done that – made my way slowly down the spine of the Andes or across India because now that we have a dog (and jobs, and soon a house) those kinds of trips have become even harder to fathom. But we did get a dog and there aren’t many days that go by where I don’t think that she is the absolute best thing ever.

Riley

She is never very far away from me, both in terms of love and an innate need to protect me; she is always happy to see me whether I’ve been away for a weekend or just to take out the trash, she curls up on my feet when we’re at home, and we have been on so many adventures together. It’s gotten to the point where her joy is so infectious that I want to get up early and spend my Saturdays taking her hiking, or camping, or swimming, or just for ice cream, because I have so much fun by proxy.

Oregon Coast

So when we were deciding where we should go for a weekend away, I suggested we go to the Oregon Coast so that Riley could run around on the beach. Because the beaches in Oregon are massive and they are all dog friendly.

Rockaway Beach

We armed ourselves with audiobooks and crossword puzzles for the drive to Rockaway, and Riley entertained herself by sticking her head out the window and letting her jowls flap around like laundry on a line and soon enough we were pulling into one of the hundreds of bare-bones seaside motels that road-trippers, parents, motorcyclists, and dog-owners adore.

Riley

The rest of the day was spent running up and down the beach, inspecting the bottle-blue jellies strewn across the coastline, finding all the best sticks and drinking Sofia Coppola minis until the sun set and our dog was drunk on adventure. So much fun! I can’t wait to go back.

Rockaway Beach

Summertime Rolls

Chief

It has been a languid, lazy spring. The weather has been nice so I’ve been hanging out at the dog park, reading some dense books that I have always meant to get through and riding my bike a lot. But we have found a home in Seattle for July 1st – two weeks from now – and suddenly things are happening fast. Luckily we have handlers who are dealing with almost every detail for us so instead of freaking out, I am calmly just taking pictures down off the walls and unplugging appliances we’re not using. The movers are coming today to do an inventory and then they will come and pack everything up in 2 weeks and then we will have a few days of camping out with our animals and without our stuff and then we will be living in America.

There are many other details that need to happen in between all of that and of course a looooooong list of stuff to do after we have arrived but that doesn’t matter…soon all of the waiting and dragging out the process of the past year will be at least mostly over. The career will still be dragged out until the end of summer because once I get my visa I will still need to get employment authorization – a process that takes 3 months. I really wish I had known that detail when we started this process, but it seems that there are still many more days ahead of riding my bike and reading and hanging out at the dog park. Or alternately, I may run away to Japan for a couple of weeks. We’ll see.

Chief

In the meantime, there are people to see in Vancouver, things to do and especially places to eat. I finally climbed the Stawamus Chief, something that has been on my “must do” list every summer since I moved back to Vancouver in 1999. How embarrassing, but also what a great hike. I’m sorry I waited so long to do it.

Heirloom

In a similar vein, I have also been eating at a ton of “new” restaurants this past month in an attempt to try them before we move. Almost none of these are actually new restaurants, but rather places that I’ve been meaning to check out over the years. A couple of these I have been roller coasters of emotions – delight and astonishment (something that hasn’t happened in a while with me and food) at how good they are, and then utter despair that I didn’t go earlier. Via Tevere, Hog Shack Cook House, Laksa King and Octopus’ Garden in particular. 

Kilby

Between my food blog and my constant quest to check out new and interesting things, I think I am a pretty good ambassador for Vancouver. I go to art galleries fairly regularly and am at the Museum of Anthropology and the Vancouver Aquarium pretty frequently but as part of my volunteer work at the Museum of Vancouver, I got to take part in the Vancouver Tourism Challenge last month.

Aquarium

I went to so many places! Of course, I went back to all of my favourites but Matt and Riley and I also took a trip up to Hell’s Gate Air Tram and I went to all of the gardens (Van Dusan and Nitobe are gorgeous) and up to the Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre.  I made a point of going to everything I hadn’t already been to (except for the BC Sports Hall of Fame which I just cannot get excited about) and I also tried to ride my bike to as many places as possible, so that kept me busy.

Aquarium

It’s a great program and I learned a lot. As well, it has primed me for checking out all of the Seattle galleries, museums and such. I already have been to many of them (and actually have already applied to volunteer at SAM) and I’m looking forward to exploring a new city.  

Victoria

Somehow we managed to sneak in a trip to Victoria too.

Victoria

Although I’ve been on the island a lot in the last couple of years, I haven’t been able to make it into Victoria proper. I have fond memories of Victoria from going to university there and I really wanted to go and check some things out, see some people,  and do some diving on the Breakwater. Rushed and moved around as it was (originally we had planned to go on Easter) we didn’t end up doing much other than eating and drinking and walking around, but that suited us just fine.

Riley

Riley had a great time too. 🙂

Riley

What I’m reading and listening to:

The God of Frolic (and Naps)

Riley

The last two months have been an exercise in decision-making, with so many options brought out to help decide so many things. It’s tiring! And while it’s hella exciting, it’s also pretty unsettling not knowing what your life is going to look like from one week to the next. With all of the uncertainty and change, I needed something constant – and so we got a dog.

All the dog books will tell you that when your life is in chaos is the last point that you should consider adding a dog to it, but it seemed like a little routine and a lot of love wouldn’t be the worst thing right now. Plus, I’ve got lots of free time for training now that we’ve closed our company.

Riley

So we picked up Miss Riley on our way back from Seattle. She’s an American bulldog, which means that she gets mistaken for a pit bull or a Boxer puppy about 80% of the time, and has paws so big that she trips over them fairly regularly. She was 10 lbs when we got her at 8 weeks but she’s been growing steadily and won’t stop until she’s somewhere between 90 and 110 lbs. That’s a lot of dog!

Riley

Having a dog has been good in all of the predictable ways; being around something so pure and full of love, getting up early, going for lots of walks and spending time outside, taking lots of naps… and I maintain that even though many days we’re wall-eyed with fatigue and have gone through many, many paper towels. With all the walking and hanging out in parks I’ve had plenty of time to spend thinking about what I want to do next for a project or career (although I’ve not decided yet) but not much else. I always thought that I wasn’t any good at just hanging out but dogs are experts and Riley is already teaching me that being close to home and slowing things waaaaay down has been alright. It is impossible to plan one’s day around a puppy and that has been good for me too. I’m looking forward to going on longer hikes and being able to put her in the crate for longer periods of time so that I can go diving or out for dinner but I feel the calm settling in.

Riley

And slowly, decisions are being made and things are becoming less certain. We’ve decided to wait until next June to move to Seattle because it makes applying for a different visa possible, but it opens up some new options; whether to move houses or stay in Gastown, where and when I will work or go to school, etc… but we have a dog now.