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When I set out to see if and when lab puppies might be available, I never dreamed it would happen so fast. I sent out inquiries Thanksgiving morning and had two responses that day! I was looking for a female dog that would be on the small side for Labrador retrievers. One respondent said they had two males that would be 70 to 75 pounds. Hmmm, not what I was looking for at all. Sky averages about 63 pounds and I was hoping for less than that. The next person had a twelve-week-old chocolate female that she thought would be about 55 pounds, full grown. Twelve weeks is not ideal. Most puppies go to their new homes at seven or eight weeks. The breeder had considered keeping her and changed her mind. When she sent a photo, I was smitten. So cute. We made the grueling 36 hour trip across two mountain passes and back to pick her up. As you might imagine, Sky is not always happy with her and sometimes has to tell her what’s what. On the other hand, puppy loves Sky and wants to do everything she does. I do expect them to be good friends as time goes by.

Her name is Willow. She is confidant and smart and affectionate.

Sky and I went to an agility event in Skagit County recently and we found ourselves with some extra daylight Sunday afternoon and Monday morning so we went bird watching. I have always wanted to see the huge flocks of Snow Geese that winter in the area and I was not disappointed! The images I made are lovely but they don’t fully convey the spectacle of 1000’s of white birds constantly shifting around the landscape. They feed in the rich agriculture fields (formerly the Skagit River estuary, now diked and drained) during the winter. Flocks lift off and fly around, seemingly at random, forming bigger and smaller flocks during the day. I highly recommend a trip to see these birds on their wintering ground. I was lucky to have nice weather. That’s not always the case. In addition to the geese, you can see a variety of raptors (I saw a Short-eared Owl and a Northern Harrier hunting at dusk), Trumpeter Swans and a wide array of water birds.

Birders keep lists. Some keep LOTS of lists – life lists, country lists, state lists, county lists, trip lists, yard lists, etc. I have a not well defined life list and if I ever lose my copy of Sibley, I will lose my life list. But I/we have a yard list. We have a big yard – fifteen acres and we count every kind of bird we see or hear from our ‘yard’. This week, on two morning dog walks, I saw and photographed American Tree Sparrows. They are not a rare bird but I have never seen one in our county, let alone our yard, before this week. They breed in the far north and winter across much of the US. I have seen them in thick shrubs and weedy areas in the winter, generally south of here. Two other birders have seen them in recent weeks here in the valley so maybe there are more of them here this year or maybe we are more observant.

Winter came early this year. We were lucky to get a hike the day before the snow happened. It was mostly gray and overcast but occasionally the sun gave us a little warmth and then there would be a snow flurry too.

These hills are now covered with one to two feet of snow and we need skis or snowshoes to get around.

Stella Luna Doodle Bounce

October 7, 2006 – November 9, 2022

Luna was the happiest, friendliest dog I’ve ever known. She never met a person or dog she did not want to get to know. Even those that seemed unfriendly towards her. She was also an independent thinker and sometimes would figure things out for herself. She always wanted to go for a car ride, even as she grew weaker and weaker in recent weeks. It was hard to get out the door and leave her behind. She loved a campout in the forest or at the beach. She loved to meet new people. She really loved a good party! She was always in the middle of it. She was a wonderful big sister to Sky. Luna was alert to the world around her. She rarely growled but if she did, it was time to pay attention. Cougars and bears would make her growl. Cats too. Sixteen years is a long time for a big dog but it’s never enough when we lose our animal family members.

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