Monday, May 31, 2010


Please pray for Oliver. He had an incident with a new pet sitter this weekend, and is critically ill. I will write more later.

Friday, May 28, 2010

If you live on the island.....

You won't want to miss this weekend's HUGE garage sale at the Cowichan and District (Duncan) SPCA, at 7550 Bell McKinnon Rd. Saturday's hours are 8:30 - 3:00, and Sunday is 9:00 - approximately 3:00.

This is a major fundraising event put on by volunteers. Last year's sale netted over $12,000 and we fully expect to top that this year. Everything is sorted, priced, clean, and organized. Imagine: three 10x20, two 12x20, and ten 10x10 market tents full, plus two 10x10 dog pen rooms plus a 10x30 foot trailer all full of great things that you can't live without, plus tons of garden stuff and furniture as well. We have books, kitchen stuff, furniture, toys and games, sports, tools, garden, collectibles, jewellry, purses and shoes, miscellaneous. Regular clothing is $3 for all you can fit in a bag! Some fine quality clothing individually priced. All this and Bob's Famous Burgers, too.

Come early, stay late .....bring money (though I understand we are able to accept debit and credit cards too).

And don't forget to say hi to me - I'll be one of the people wearing a safety vest and pointing my camera at everyone. Oh....and with sore feet and bags under my eyes.

I hope to see you there!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A vote for the future

The Cowichan Valley SPCA, where I volunteer, is one of 24 finalists in the Sun FM (89.7 FM) radio SuperGive contest. The winner of this contest will receive $25,000 of free media advertising, and the station will raise another $25,000 in pledges for the winning charity. Please vote by going to the radio's website (click here)- you will need to scroll down the list of finalists until you find BC SPCA and click on that entry to cast your vote.

Why vote for us? Well, a few days ago I wrote and recorded at the station a little blurb in answer to that question. If you listen to Sun FM (89.7) this week, you will hear these words:

Last year the Cowichan Valley SPCA took in over 600 unwanted, neglected and abused animals. We want to reduce those numbers by reaching out to youth – the next generation of pet owners.

We dream of a place where young people of all cultures can learn about animals – the Cowichan Valley’s first Humane Education Centre. We are currently restoring a trailer for this purpose, but there is much to be done to make this a safe and creative space for children and animals. Developing outdoor space for the animals is also part of our dream.

The SPCA believes teaching children to treat all animals with compassion, respect and responsibility will lead to a better society. Children who abuse animals are five times more likely to abuse people too. Children who are taught kindness to animals also become more considerate in their dealings with others. As Bradley Miller once wrote “Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar.”

A vote for the Cowichan Valley SPCA is a vote for the animals, a vote for the kids, and a vote for our future.

Please vote for us today.

One crazy week down, and another begins

It has been a crazy week - crazy busy. The Cowichan (Duncan) SPCA where I volunteer is gearing up for its HUGE annual garage sale which is next Saturday and Sunday, from 8:30 - 3:00. We hope to exceed last year's total of over $12,000 (yes, you read that correctly: $12,000 from one garage sale!). I'm part of a small team of people who for the past couple of months has been sorting and pricing donations in preparation for the big weekend. Now we are down to the final stretch, and the forty-some volunteers who will help with the set up, sales, and clean up will be coming on board this week as we erect tents and tarps, set up tables, and begin to haul the hundreds of boxes and other items back out from the trailer where we have been storing them. Kudos to Gail B. who coordinates it all. If you live anywhere on the island, this is one garage sale you won't want to miss!

But the work involved has also kept me away from the search for Luger. Karen's family is concentrating on the logging area and the residential section below, where three seperate sightings of a large black dog have been reported over the past three weeks. I can only be with them in spirit at the moment, but oohhhh my heart is out there with them.

And then there is Chinook. Chinook is a three year old dog at the SPCA, who has a serious non-infectious illness and became very anemic and lethargic last Sunday. Rather than leave him unattended at the shelter, he came home with me for two nights. He is a very sweet dog, though he decided he wanted me to himself and warned my critters off whenever they approached us! It was actually quite comical, and fairly easily managed with baby gates and one-on-one attention all round. Just look at this face!:

Chinook is now back at the SPCA, where he has taken up residence in the kitchen there while his new meds begin to take effect.

Speaking of the SPCA, on Tuesday we received a phonecall that we are among the finalists in a local radio contest, in the running for a prize of $25,000 of free media time and another $25,000 to be raised by the station in pledges. But they wanted us to write a one-minute commercial about our project, and to be at the station Thursday to record it. So....writer Jean opens her trap and offers to write under pressure...and opens it again to offer to do the on-air recording. We got it done, and I am going to do a seperate blog post about it a wee bit later today - because now we need the public's vote! Stay tuned!

On the home front, I have given up on the idea of getting a vegetable garden in this year, but did buy four tomato plants which are now thriving. I am also creating a flower-filled sanctuary on my patio with many pots of bright colour flowers, hanging baskets, solar-lit dragonflies, and a water fountain. The centre of it all, of course, is that gorgeous Tuscany-like bistro table I bought last year. When I finally finish the area, I'll post pictures.

And amid all this busy-ness were many, many moments of nature's beauty: a black bear running across the road right in front of my car; a cormorant catching a large fish and consuming it just yards from where I stood; countless deer and fawns that I see every single day on front lawns, beside roads, in parks; rabbits and squirrels and birds of every colour; the many dogwood trees dressed in flowers of cream or pink; and, of course, the dizzying array of spring and summer flowers with which nature gifts us each year. Time to start carrying my camera everywhere again!

Today, I shall walk the dogs, spend a few hours at the SPCA, work on the patio garden, and try to gear up for another busy week ahead. And maybe, just maybe, I'll find some time to take some photos.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

One still lost, but two more found

So far we have not found Luger, but in our search today we found two other dogs! They were travelling together - a sweet little pointer-cross girl who was so skinny her ribs stood out in stark relief and she looked like an underfed whippet; and her sidekick, a very scared Aussie-sheltie cross. He was also very thin under his long fur. Both had collars but none had tags. As I drove them to the shelter, the little pointer wiggled up to the space between my front seats and lay her chin on my knee, looking at me imploringly the whole time. And by the time I reached the shelter, the scared little boy dog had crept forward from the back of my van and was softly licking my elbow.

There were no lost posters about them. They have not been reported to the SPCA or Animal Control - at least, not the ones around here. There are no lost postings in the local papers. They've either travelled a long way or have owners who don't care about them. Both are safe and warm in the shelter tonight.

These two, however, were further south than the sighting, and they were much, much smaller than a shepherd, so it was not a case of mistaken identity. While hiking some trails near Panorama Ridge, I ran into the man who had phoned in the report. He had been clearing ground for roadbeds to the northwest when the shepherd darted out across the rough pathway right in front of his machine. It was a shepherd for sure, though he thought its fur a bit lighter than the photos of Luger. But nearly four weeks of malnourishment and trauma can cause hair/fur to turn white and so it could have been Luger. The search continues.


Or whatever it is you do to send positive energy......A logger in Copper Canyon has sighted a black shepherd (he could not see the legs well enough to count them but said it was definitely a black shepherd). He was in an area closed off for logging, but the loggers have kindly taken Karen in there and will pick her up on their way back out this afternoon. It is in the area directly above Chemainus Lake (which would be the area between the logging road where he was lost and Panorama Ridge where we had a sighting once before).

Those of us who don't have access to the logging area can be checking out Chemainus Lake Park, the trail from the south end of Panorama Ridge, and any other accessible places in the general locale.

Please, please, please let this be him.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Just a Dog

The reaction of people to the search for Luger has been interesting, to say the least. There have been friends who have only helped minimally, and strangers who have helped phenomenally. There have been those who show compassion and understanding, and those who shrug and pass it off as if Luger were no more than a lost cellphone.

And so when this short essay appeared in my email the other day, an essay I had seen many times, it resonated with me as never before. A search of the internet credits authorship to Richard Biby of Broken Arrow, OK. :
Just a Dog

From time to time people tell me, "Lighten up, it's just a dog," or, "That's a lot of money for just a dog." They don't understand the distance traveled, the time spent or the costs involved for "just a dog."

Some of my proudest moments have come about with "just a dog." Many hours have passed and my only company was "just a dog," but I did not once feel slighted. Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by "just a dog," and, in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of "just a dog" gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it's "just a dog," then you will probably understand phrases like "just a friend," "just a sunrise," or "just a promise." "Just a dog" brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. "Just a dog" brings out the compassion and patience that makes me a better person.

Because of "just a dog" I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me, and folks like me, it's not "just a dog" but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past and the pure joy of the moment.

"Just a dog" brings out what's good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day. I hope that someday they can understand that it's not "just a dog" but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being "just a human."

So the next time you hear the phrase "just a dog" just smile....because they "just don't understand."

Richard A. Biby

Today, I feel caught between a rock and a hardplace. As much as I want to be out there searching every single day, putting up posters far and wide just in case someone who sees the posters also sees Luger, I also have some other commitments that now demand my attention – not the least of which is my commitment to my own family of critters.

And so, while I continue to replace posters whenever I have the chance and to watch for Luger wherever I go, while I will continue to check out likely spots when I have a few hours to spare, I have had to lessen my daily involvement in searching. And while I will continue to update the blog should there be any news to report on the search for Luger, it is also time to return to more diverse topics.

In doing so, I am acutely aware that Luger’s absence is unbearable for Karen and Norm, and that they will never stop searching for him as long as he is missing.

Luger is not “Just a Dog”. Luger is family.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Honeysuckle: "Devoted Love"

The search for Luger continues. We still believe he is out there. Karen checks back up the canyon daily. Locally, we are still acting on the tip we received earlier this week, putting up more posters, expanding the area, searching the parks. We live in a beautiful province, but its downside is that there are vast uninhabited, heavily treeed areas where a dog could hide or wander. We can always use more people to put up or refresh posters, hike through parks and powerline clearings, expand the search area.

We are an hour from Victoria, 45 minutes from Nanaimo, an hour and a quarter from Parksville/Qualicum Beach. It's a nice day for a drive......

Luger is never far from my thoughts, and I thought of him yesterday morning on my walk with Oliver and Charley as we paused to admire and photograph the honeysuckle along the seawalk. Honeysuckle is the flower of "devotion", and I hope the devotion of Karen to Luger and of Luger to Karen will soon see them reunited.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


A woman emailed to say she is sure it was him - ran across Osborne Bay Rd, on the Duncan Side of Maple Mountain Park, when she was on her way home last night.
THIS IS A VERY HOPEFUL SIGN - he is in familiar territory and getting very close to home. He has hiked around these areas many times.

WE NEED VOLUNTEERS NOW to hike (and poster) the trails on Maple Mtn, the Escarpment to Duncan, the powerlines to Duncan, the Crofton Lake trails, and all areas between Maple Mtn on the east, Crofton on the north, Herd Rd on the south, and Hwy 1 on the west (and especially the escarpment/Richards Rd area!).

If anyone here knows where I live, I have left some posters in my mail box and at the SPCA (which is also in the general area of his travels).

Sunday, May 9, 2010

While Mothers Wait

It is Mother's Day. And I know that Karen wanted nothing more than to open the door this Mother's Day morning and see Luger standing at the gate, tail wagging and tongue hanging out of his laughing mouth, saying “Hi mom I’m home”. Nothing more than to get that phone call that says “I found your dog”.
Nothing more than to bury her face in his fur and let tears of relief rain down upon him.

But it wasn't to be. He is still out there, somewhere. We have combed the area where he was lost many times, people in harnesses and ropes have lowered themselves over the cliffs, binoculars have been used to view the canyon from the other side, her other dogs have been taken in, one at a time, to sniff for him or to draw him out. We have had tips of three legged shepherds being seen in Skutz Falls to the south, and near Nanaimo Lakes to the north, and of black dogs skulking behind mailboxes and zipping away. We have put up over a thousand posters, and are replacing and refreshing many for the second and third time. We have sat silently under bridges and along creeks, checked abandoned barns, driven countless roads and walked or ridden numerous trails. We have heard from five animal communicators, each with slightly different information, none precise enough to lead us to him.

It is a vast and beautiful area of mountains and rivers and trees and trails, and it is both heartbreaking and frustrating to even attempt to cover every inch of it.

Tonight, two friends and I attended a concert of Men of the Deeps, a group of retired and working miners from Cape Breton who entertained us with their songs and stories of working the mines. There was pathos in their words, for so much of mining history is about the uncertainty and fear of disasters that comes hand in hand with working miles under the earth and sea. And I found myself thinking, over and over again, of the similarities between a mother waiting for a miner to return to the surface and a mother waiting for a lost family member, canine or human, to come back home.

To the mothers of Canada's miners, may your sons and daughters always return home safely.

And to my friend Karen, may Luger also come back from the deeps.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Nothing but hope and faith

It is day twelve of the search. While the pessimist might say there has been no progress, the optimist hangs onto hope and faith and points to the many positive aspects of the search. We have been contacting all sorts of outdoor groups in the area - from the hang gliders who launch from the top of the mountain between the canyon and Karen's home, to the hiking groups whose members not only do collective hikes but also head to the outdoors in their spare time, to the guys and gals on their quads who love this area for its many, many trails.

We have over 1000 posters up, with new ones going up every day and old ones or lost ones being replaced. Prominant ads in the local papers, not in the "classifieds" but right up there with the news stories and sales ads. Forestry has give Karen one of those much-coveted-but-no-longer-available-to-the-public forestry maps of the area. There is rarely a person we speak with who hasn't seen a sign, read the paper, or heard by word of mouth of Luger's absence. The area where he went missing has been searched over and over and over again, with no sign of him, no further reports of whining, no turkey vultures or eagles circling, nothing to suggest he is still there - though of course Karen checks back every single day as many lost dogs return to the place where they went missing.

There was snow up the canyon Tuesday night, just enough to leave a light slush by early morning, but today is sunny and beautiful. Hopefully, it will draw out the hikers and ATVers and will encourage loggers and other workers to take a few minutes to listen and look. The area is so vast....yesterday Sadie and I went to an area on the other side of the canyon (between Copper Canyon and Skutz Falls) which used to be a provincial park, then a regional park, and now just an abandoned park - but with tons of trails and obvious signs that campers, hikers, ATVers and partiers still use it regularly. It is a whole 'nother area to search and plaster with posters.

I have other commitments the next two days during the limited time I can leave my own senior crew, but will be back on the job Saturday if he has not been found by then. And, of course, I will be doing whatever I can do from home via email and phone.

My own senior crew have been a bit shortchanged for attention this week, but Oliver and Charley still get their morning walk (and Belle when she wants one), and Sadie loves to travel in the car with me and have walk-abouts as I put up posters, so they are by no means neglected.

Again, I ask for your prayers for Luger, and please, please forward the information on to anyone you know who lives between Duncan and Nanaimo or who may be visiting this area.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

And still nothing to report

Searchers yesterday were unable to hear any whining, due to high winds which obscured all other sounds. New 'possible sighting' reports continue to come in from communities north and south of the canyon - with all the posters up, there are many, many eyes on the lookout for Luger. And I appreciate so much the offers that have come in via this blog to help with searching and/or retrieval, as well as the many prayers/positive thoughts that are being sent our way.

Obviously, I have not been taking photos or doing other activities this past week. For those waiting for new posts and pics, I will say I have discovered MANY new and beautiful places to take my dogs once this nightmare is over. For now, however, I am focussing on posting signs on trails rather than photographing them. Please bear with me.

If you can offer assistance, we still need to get posters up in some areas north to Ladysmith and south to Cowichan Commons in Duncan. We can provide posters and streets to cover. We can also use bodies to search the canyon - preferably fit, agile bodies as the terrain is brutal. Experienced hikers and climbers and searchers will be greeted with open arms. Click on the "email me" link at the side of this blog to contact me for further information.

For those unable to help, I am a firm believer in the power of collective positive thought. Please spend a few minutes today envisioning Luger being found, feeling how joyous Karen will be.

And please send calming vibes to a very exhausted and emotionally overwhelmed dog mama who just wants her beautiful, sweet Luger back home where he belongs. Karen, hang in there - many, many people are here to help in whatever way they can.