Tag Archives: dogs

Reflections on January 2015

Blah! Home with the flu. Well, maybe I need a day to veg and replenish my inner stores. I’ve been feeling drained mentally lately and now my body matches my mindset. You don’t suppose one followed the other’s lead? I wonder if I could have changed the outcome by changing my attitude before my body became ill? We’re in the last few days of January and though it started out blistering cold, Very Cold Day 2015

it quickly turned into a ridiculously warm month with several days above zero. Very strange indeed! Not Cold at All

I thought I’d look back on some of the fun from the month.


I got back to playing soccer in town where I scored a second goal. I find it awesome that I have scored two goals in soccer at age 42 but I never even got near the net with a ball between the ages of eight and 18 when I played full seasons. I’m quite pleased with my increased confidence and skills on the field. My parents, in true fashion, simply responded teasingly with, “What took you so long?” One can always count on family to keep it real …


We had the once a year girl’s night ski and dinner out. We seem only able to co-ordinate ourselves to do it once a year in winter for some reason. It’s good fun and nice to treat ourselves to a good meal. In the year since we last got together, four have had babies (two couldn’t make the evening because one had just delivered and the other’s baby was sick) and all of our lives have changed quite a bit so lot’s to catch up on.


I’ve been cross-country skiing on different trails each time I go out. I went out quite late one day after I’d seen a wolf through my living room window. I’m not afraid of wolves. They don’t stick around when humans show up but for some reason I freaked my freak that evening. I was skiing by myself. The conditions were perfect – no wind, crisp air, snow-coated trees and the sun was setting making the light that soft lovely palette of blues and mauves and aqua – and then I started imagining a wolf pack chasing me down in the snow to eat for dinner. I ended up sprinting the route and finishing the 6 Km in 32 minutes. I know it’s ridiculous but once the image of those wolves chasing me was in my head I was done for. In the end the ski still felt great. It felt great to work hard and use every muscle in my body and feel the cool rush of wind on my face.

Ice Ridge  (Ice ridge)


A truly satisfying ski that I did last week was completing the 20-kilometre trail I went on with some friends.

My good friend Naomi died in an avalanche in 2003, and every year I like to celebrate her adventurous spirit and love of the outdoors by doing something fun outside. I took the day off work and invited some friends that are on maternity leave and another pal who was on a day off to go along.

It was a blue-sky and no wind day. Again, the temperature was strangely warm and we set off to ski to Crean Lake. Two of us had never skied that far before and wanted to try the route so going with the other two was perfect because they ski it often. The baby slept the entire way and the wintry view of Crean Lake from the old warden cabin was worth the effort. A light snow the day before left everything pristine and I couldn’t even spot animal tracks on the lake.

I knew Naomi would have loved the outing. I had taken along a Fruit and Nut chocolate bar, her favourite, to share with the others. I usually like to smoke a wine-tipped cigar at the same time to complete the ritual but this year I needed every ounce of lung capacity to complete that ski so I’d left the cigars at home.


In January, I took the dogs on many long walks and we explored the park too. I saw four moose, one lynx, a fox, a wolf up close and personal through my living room window, and there are plenty of ravens, magpies, gray jays, wee black-capped chickadees, squirrels, elk and deer about. I didn’t see any otters but their trademark gallopping footprints between belly slides are all over the place.

Wolf Poop by Size 8.5 Boot 2015-01-11 (wolf scat)

IMG_20150118_130954  IMG_20150118_131005

I think the scariest yet funniest dog walk was when I had Charlie on the retractable leash, Piper and True each on one side of me attached to a waist belt and we were on the edge of town out near where people go down to the ice fishing shack on the lake. All three dogs came to a sudden stop and were sniffing the air and staring hard ahead. I tried to figure out what had them spooked. A car was parked at the roadside, probably for ice fishers, and I thought maybe it had a dog inside that they could smell but I couldn’t hear any movement. I was about to say something comforting and stepped forward to coax them onward when Charlie let out a low, rumbling, warning chuff, turned tail and started sprinting for his life.

CHARLIE turned tail and ran for his life!!! Charlie is the dog I rely on to be steadfast and calm under all circumstances and he turned tail and RAN FOR HIS LIFE!!!!!

Well, that was it. The girls followed suit letting loose with warning barks and sprinted off like a starter pistol had sounded. Roles reversed. It was now I attached to them by extendable leash and waist belt so with no choice, I turned and hauled off after them. Charlie with his short little legs has to run with all four paws turned outward. It’s really cute to watch when you’re not terrified about what’s behind you. Piper with her runway model’s legs and True with youth to her advantage, it was all I could do to keep up to them. Every once in a while we all dared to glance back over a shoulder to see if we were being pursued.

When I realized we were not being hotly pursued by an apex predator (wolf, cougar or chainsaw wielding mass murderer) I started laughing. Sometimes I wish I could see myself from another perspective when things like that happen. I’m sure it looked hilarious.

In the end, I’ll always trust in and believe Charlie. He has a good instinct about the world around him. He didn’t survive six years chained up in a front yard up north at the mercy of every wild critter and stray dog pack that happened by for no reason. Maybe that lone wolf we keep seeing around town was in the trees beyond the car and I just couldn’t see it.

An "Usie"

Loads of other good stuff has happened during this first month of 2015 – dinner with neighbours, evening with a newer friend, phone calls with long-time friends and opportunities beginning to surface at work. I should probably reflect once a month like this throughout the entire year. I bet it would be a great way to remind myself of all that I am grateful for and how full my life is with people and experiences that enrich my days. And perhaps if I do that, I won’t get run down and sick as often either.

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Posted by on January 27, 2015 in PonderQs


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Sometimes what makes this place so special can make it feel a bit creepy.

Today after work I had to make my way between four large bull elk that had stretched out across the road. The rut is well over but they’re still a bit sketchy to maneuver around.

Then, walking the two big dogs about 20 mins later, I learned that the coyotes had killed a deer on the next street up and growled at the neighbour and his dogs. Totally normal for them to protect their food source but now we have coyotes running around the houses between the woods and their feast site.

I walked the two then put them back in the house and hooked up the husky to take her for a faster jog / walk. We had to get by two deer, the elk and then about halfway through the walk I noticed her sniffing towards the shadows in the trees. By this time the sun had set. I focused in and saw that what could have passed as a stump in the snow or a large rock was actually a fox who then proceeded to follow us. I know they’re fluffy but it was about her exact size and I would think more highly skilled in a street fight. I’m sure it was just curious and not aggressive, but with no one around, I didn’t feel like waiting to find out.

I started a swift jog to get ahead of it and as we turned up our street the coyotes started their yelp-screeching which made the dog run even faster. They haven’t stopped all evening. Every time I let the dogs into the yard the coyotes are filling the air with that high-pitched vocalizing that creeps me out and the dogs too. They can’t relax enough to pee. Hopefully it calms down before bedtime so they can go!

Ahhhhh nature … I love you most of the time.

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Posted by on December 2, 2014 in PonderQs


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Birthday cake or steak?

Dogs Birthday Party 2014

OH you know it! It’s the annual dogs birthday party at my house. The only difference this year was that I had a room mate who participated in the silliness. In fact she put off moving out just so she could take part.

Birthday Present 2014

See! She brought a present!!

I know that Piper the Great Dane was born on October 30, 2008, because her mamma and litter mates were rescued by the BC SPCA the day after they were born. They ended up in a stellar foster home on the Sunshine Coast until ready for adoption.

Piper in bed Piper and SophiePickme2


Maybe because it’s the day before Halloween, I find that easy to remember but I always forget all the other pets’ “birth” days.

Based on when True lost her milk teeth and her impish personality, I gave April Fools Day as her birthday on vet charts. She’s 3. Charlie, I have no idea about but he joined my family in the month of June five years ago and his previous owner knew how old he was because he’s the same age as her daughter. He is 11. Life is very busy for me in spring and summer so I never remember to celebrate their little lives but things are usually quieter in autumn and soooooooooo

PARTY FOR THE PETS!!!! happens each year on Piper’s birthday.

I had no candle this year to stick in the meat so I created a 6 out of steak.

Piper is six 2014

I know it’s ridiculous to have a dog birthday party but I suppose I do it to mark the joy that my pets bring into my life. Why not celebrate that? Piper is a stellar, happy-go-lucky dog who brings unlimited joy into my life and a lot of love and on really cold winter nights she’s the only pet who’ll get UNDER the covers with me and stay there (happily) until I am warmed up.

Piper's Birthday 2014-10-30

And now that’s she’s a mature dog with pride, I don’t make her wear the party hat.

Piper's First Birthday 004



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Posted by on November 1, 2014 in PonderQs


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My New Year’s Day Arctic Mojo

“-30 C feels like -34 C” was what the Weather Network read on my phone app around noon. Warm weather! What a delight! I geared up, leashed True to a 20-foot-line anchored to my waist and headed out with her and my new snowshoes to Waskesiu Lake.

We walked along the shore about 15 feet out onto the lake for about an hour and though I was completely encrusted in ice around my hood/toque/scarf and eyelashes, it was gorgeous sunny and I was plenty warm enough.True was givin ‘er and having fun too. We both really needed that long walk.

Came home, threw some of my clothes in the dryer and got Charlie and Piper ready to go on a shorter dual leash system. I took them for a loop around the town site but we weren’t working quite hard enough for it to be as fun so we ended up jogging half of it and then we were all happy and warm again.

This is Canada. We are an arctic nation. It’s been an unusually rough start to winter this year beginning with the giant snowfall in early November that set winter in but, I think I’m finally adapting to these continuously frigid temperatures. I end up feeling some strange form of pride when I get outside and am able to really enjoy myself despite the cold. I no longer want to move to B.C. I declared that during a rock bottom moment of weakness earlier this week. I’ve got my winter mojo back and nothing’s stopping me.

Yesterday, I spontaneously figured out how to slide head first on my back down the @6-foot-high mountain of snow I built for the dogs to play on. At one point, I’d thrown a disc across the yard for the girls to fetch and as they came sprinting back towards me on the hill, I suddenly found that I’d hurled myself, with little thought, backwards down the mountain. They came flying up over the edge then leaped and we all landed in a heap at the bottom. It was hilarious. So I did it a few more times. I was wearing a slippery jacket which made all the difference.

Viva l’hiver!!!!!

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Posted by on January 2, 2014 in PonderQs


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Canoeing with Canines

The last two nights I have taken different dogs out for a canoe ride. Being their first canoe rides, I chose not to take a camera along just in case things went poorly. You’ll have to take my word for it as I recount my two very different experiences.

Last night … light wind, lovely sun but not overly hot as we’ve had windy, cool weather the last few days. I decided to take Charlie for the test run. I wasn’t even sure the canoe I wanted to borrow would be at the lake and was ready for disappointment.


It was there – YAY – but the mosquitoes were ferocious. I had sprayed Deet on my legs and sport-sandaled feet and pulled a hoody up over my head. I got the boat in the water and my stuff in it before I took Charlie down from the car.

It took a bit of convincing to get him to hop in and he was a bit nervous but mostly excited as I shoved the canoe away and into the boggy creek full of vegetation and pond lilies. The mosquitoes followed us for quite a while so I worked up a sweat before they left us behind and we got into some more open water where the breeze was.

At that point I took the hoody off (always a life jacket on though!) and gosh I love the feeling of the sun and wind on my skin. There’s just something about summer air and bare skin that go together. Not in a too-short of skirt and spike heels attract the wrong sort of attention kind of way. Just that bush baby, we were all born nude for a reason kind of way.

Charlie is a steady dog. He quickly accepted that this was a decent adventure and settled in, ears perked up and watching the shoreline the whole time.

When we started out the sunlight was still afternoon harsh but two hours later when we reluctantly pulled back into shore it was that soft golden colour of evening that makes the surroundings so memorable.

I paddled Charlie down the creek and into Shady Lake following the left shore. It was all marsh grasses until we reached nearly the end of the lake before I found a sand and rocky area to pull up. I let him out of the canoe to swim for a few minutes before we carried on and this is where it gets stellar.

[Oh God. Hang on. I need to scratch the mosquito bite on the inside of my right ear. I’ll explain that in a moment. Oooooooooooo feels so good to itch]

As I circled the far shore with Charlie and then paddled back up the channel to the put-in, here’s the wildlife we saw.

First a fish jumped. Then the mergansers swam by. Next, a pelican soared around our heads. That was followed by two loons singing and rising up out of the water dancing chest to chest for several minutes which was mesmerizing. After that we spotted a buck with velvety antlers in the long marsh grass. Soon after that a pair of beavers swam just out in front of the canoe and then one slapped its tail spraying us with water. I had to grab Charlie to keep him in the boat for that. Not more than a couple of minutes later and an elk cow with calf jumped up from the grassy shoreline though I’d have never seen them if they hadn’t because they were so well hidden. They wandered a few feet away then turned to watch us drift by. Cue the hawk diving over our heads followed by more fish jumping. Then I noticed black pointy ears in the marsh grass on shore and let us drift closer. It was a red fox munching on something I couldn’t see. When we got too close for its comfort it stepped back with a giant fish in its mouth, stared at us a few seconds and then sidled off into the woods. Bring on another pair of beavers- another tail slap. Wrap up the paddle with a deer drinking at the water’s edge while Charlie and I shared some crackers and an apple.

Quite simply, it was perfection. In addition to the gorgeous everything around me and the awesome dog with me, I always feel more confident and capable and whole when I’m paddling. Every time I get back into a canoe and take that first stroke, it feels like I’ve had a missing limb reattached.

I thanked God, Buddha, Allah, Shiva and any other gods and goddesses who were listening for the amazing evening. It was very hard to leave but the mosquito swarm was waiting upon our return so there was no gazing back at the water and longing for more time. We sprinted and dove madly back into the car.

Today I wondered if it would be possible to replicate such a spectacular evening and tried to decide which dog would be best able to handle the adventure with as much grace as Charlie. In the end I decided I could deal with Piper’s timidity better than True’s exuberance. The Nervous Nelly vs the Wild Child.


It was an even better night. We’d had a hot day and the wind had completely died off. First, I went down to see if the canoe was there and put it in the water. As I grabbed hold of the gunwale and rolled it upright, I was hit face first by a solid mass of mosquitoes that flew up out of the inside of it. At first I actually thought they were fish flies as I’ve NEVER seen mosquitoes that thick before. Not EVER and I’ve seen way too many mosquitoes in my life. I kind of went into denial because I wanted to paddle so badly.

I ran back to the car for Piper and she followed me down. BOOM! Swarmed! She was terrified of the canoe and was actually whimpering and back peddling as I tried to convince her to jump in. I had to keep puffing out to keep the bugs off my mouth and take little gasps of air in. They were up my nose and in my ears and behind my sunglass lenses and fighting to get into my mouth. They were landing en masse on my bare forehead. I looked down at one point and couldn’t see black hair on Piper’s leg anymore because they had coated her so effectively. It was disgusting.

Piper was scared and unhappy. I was trying not to panic because of the swarm and be patient with her. It was a losing battle. Twice I got her into the canoe and she immediately jumped out, once pushing the canoe away from shore and getting hung up on the gunwale with her back legs in the canoe and her front paws flailing in deep water. I thought about paddling away with her stuck like that and seeing if I could haul her back into the hull once we were out from shore but then I had a reality check and realized it probably hurt and she could drown so I freed her. I was going to give up but then I was instantly angry and thought:

NO! We’re canoeing damn-it! Cesar Millan would not think it was cool if I give up and let Piper’s fears win. I picked this battle knowing how bad the bugs are so no complaining. I need to follow through!

One last heave ho and in she went and I jumped in and pinned her between my thighs and shoved us away with the paddle.  I could feel the bugs biting and had to muster mind over matter and trust that they would leave us behind like the night before if I could paddle us out far enough. I took a few strokes blindly through the swarm and as they thinned, reached down and started to smear them bloody off of Pipers legs and face. It was awful. The dog and I were covered in smelly marsh muck to boot and soaking wet from her earlier panicked boat exits.

But as the bugs thinned and the canoe became rhythmic on the water, I felt her relax a smidge and soon I noticed she was sniffing the air and looking over the edge, not in an I’M SO OUTTA HERE panic but in a curious manner. Then we spied two bucks along the shoreline so I let the canoe drift along about 20 feet out.

Well, this was so cool for her. She sat right up, ears forward and was alert and eager. I had to keep quietly telling her to stay which she barely did. Then the bigger of the two bucks started pawing the mud and the tail went up and his body rigid and then he let loose with a sound I’ve never heard a deer make. It was a giant, audible, forced exhale. It kind of throat honked at the end but it was that blast of air that was so impressive. He did it twice and then kind of turned and hopped aggressively towards us in the water a couple of times and still pawing at the edge. He huffed once more and then ran off. A beaver then slapped its tail and Piper was nearly done for. The excitement was too much. I had to grab her and hold tight and then paddle to the far side of the lake. It took her a while to settle down again and she never totally did. She really wanted to swim after that buck. I’ve read that Great Danes were used to hunt large game historically. Maybe her instincts were kicking in.

Pretty Piper

I decided not to press my luck by going all the way into Shady lake and out for too long. I knew I needed to take her to the Waskesiu Lake by car where there was a proper shoreline so we could both get the marsh mud off of us so I headed back after maybe 45 mins. She exited the canoe like a model with her long legs and with the confidence of a lioness. Hard to believe it was the same dog!

Then we ran like stink for the car. I tossed her in and ran back to pull the canoe up on shore and flip it over. I think we had about 200 mosquitoes in the car with us all the way to the swimming spot. It felt sooooooooo good on the bites to stand in the cold lake water. And now we’re home.

So, it wasn’t as good as my paddle last night but it was worth it and I’m glad I persevered and got Piper in the canoe. I knew she’d love it if I could just get her out on the water.

And now I have to do some mental preparation before taking True. I need to do some mindful meditation ahead of time to get my patience on and then I need to discover my funny bone when I actually get her out there because I can already foresee that it will be a rodeo event all its own trying to keep her in the canoe. She’s going to freak out with how much fun it is and she’ll want to be in the water more than she’ll want to be in the canoe until she’s in the water and then she’ll want to be back in the canoe before she decides she’d rather be back in the water again oh my god. And of course I’ll indulge her to a point because really, dogs live for the moment and I do get a kick out of providing them with experiences that speak to their natures.

There will be no snacks for that trip and no gear. I’ll be wearing my bathing suit and be ready to self-rescue in deep water. I have a couple of days to mentally prepare before I’ll have time to take her and maybe just maybe JUST maybe please God and Buddha and Allah and Shiva and all other gods and goddesses that are listening, please burn off some of the mosquitoes with some sunshine and heat between now and then. PLEASE!

In the meantime, that isn’t acne on my forehead. They’re mosquito bites. Honestly! Look inside my right ear. You’ll see them there too. ARG!!!

Calamine, Calamine, Calamine lotion. Ain’t got no Calamine lotion. Itchy,itchy, scratchy, scratchy oooooo I got one on my backy. Get that fly with the fly swatter get ‘im!

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Posted by on July 18, 2013 in PonderQs


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