Saturday, April 28, 2012

Morning escapade and a timely reminder

Eddie and I were out for our morning walk, when I spotted two little dogs high-tailing it down one of Crofton's main streets.  No person in sight.  While we do get the occasional wandering dog in town, these two were clearly escapees judging by the speed they were travelling and their jerky movements as they tried to decide which way to head next.

The little grey fuzzball, very much like a slightly larger and heavier version of Petey, came right up to me and I quickly grabbed him. He was friendly, and Eddie liked him, so I threaded Eddie's leash through Fuzzball's collar.  He had no tags, just a not-very-tight, very worn cloth collar.  He was docile enough, however, that I figured a double loop of the leash and a tightening of the collar would suffice to keep him safe.

Dog number two, a young brindle minpin, was another story. He clearly wanted to be with Fuzzball but was very skittish and would not come near us.  I started walking towards home, Eddie and Fuzzball walking nicely side by side on the one leash.  Brindle Badboy did the twostep around us, always keeping just beyond my reach.

Though I was very conservative with my movements, many times he darted out across busy Queen Street, and twice just barely avoided being hit by cars.  After the second time, which scared him as much as it scared me and the driver, he took off back up the hill we had just descended.

I decided to follow, hoping he would lead me to his home and I could get Fuzzball back to his owner.  No such luck.  We walked and walked and walked and soon we were on the busiest street in town - the one road out to Duncan, our nearest 'big' (using the term loosely) city, Osborne Bay Road.

Worried for his safety, I sat on the curb with Eddie and Fuzzball, and after some hesitation, Brindle Badboy calmed down and came close enough for me to wrap an arm under his belly and lift him up.  He had no collar, he was wiggly, and he had very smooth slippery skin, and for a smallish dog he weighed a ton. This was not going to be easy.

I thought of taking Eddie's collar off  to use for Brindle Badboy, but was not willing to put Eddie in harm's way.  Eddie's offleash behaviour is pretty good now in the park or trail, but he still can't be trusted off leash around streets and cars. (In fact, we had a close call the other day when he hopped out of the car at my friend Liz's, and he panicked as he realized he didn't know where he was - ears, eyes, head and tail said he was all poised to bolt.  Thankfully, Liz grabbed his leash before he could dash off.  But it was a heart-stopping moment for sure.)  I didn't want to save a stranger's dogs only to have mine lost or run over. Plus the likelihood of getting a collar off one dog, resizing it and getting it on a scared dog in my arms without losing the other two dogs or my balance - well, it seemed pretty unlikely.

And so I started plodding my way home - Eddie and Fuzzbutt on one leash, fifteen pound Brindle Badboy in my arms.

And that's when it happened.  Eddie decided to have a dump.  On the sidewalk.  In front of someone's house.  With cars going by.

I am anal (pun intended) about cleaning up dog poop.  I am the Dog Poop Hag.  I rant and rage about people who don't pick up after their dogs, whether on the sidewalk, on trails, on the beach, or in a back lane.  If your dogs makes poop, you scoop.  Period.  And don't toss the filled baggies into nearby bushes and trees!  I have written newspaper columns and letters to the editor about it.  I have offered people baggies, I have bagged it myself and left it with a note on the offender's front step (when I saw my neighbour's dog doing it on my yard for the umpteenth time).  I become incensed at the sight of unclaimed dog poop.

And so I could not walk on, leaving Eddie's poop for others to step in.

You know what's coming, don't you?

As I squatted down to scoop the poop, two dogs on one leash and another in my arms, slippery, slidey, wiggly, skittish Brindle Boy saw his chance and with one great heave flew out of my arms.  Across the busy road.  Up the hill.  Headed for Mt. Richards.

I knew I couldn't catch him now, so I continued on home, planning to call the pound (no, I didn't have my cellphone with me - I should have.  Shoulda woulda coulda.  I'm just not a cellphone kinda gal.), crate Fuzzball, and head up there to look for the miscreant.

But just as we walked up my driveway, a car pulled in behind me.  The owner of the runaway dogs and his dad.  Dad lived in town, son was visiting from elsewhere.  Dogs were son's.  Dad had put dogs outside and then forgotten about them.  They escaped - for the second time in two days!

I reamed the dad out for letting visiting dogs out unattended.  I reamed the son out for not having collars and tags on his dogs and for not keeping his dogs on leash in unfamiliar areas.  (Readers know, of course, that I am not only a Dog Poop Hag but also a 'keep dogs safe' hag.  I have no patience with people who do not take every precaution to keep their dog safe in unfamiliar environments).

Last I saw of father, son and Fuzzball, they were speeding up the hill toward the top of Emily Street and access to Mount Richards.  I hope they find Brindle Badboy.  And I hope they keep their dogs safe.

And so, as we head into spring and summer visiting and travelling, this not-so-gentle-reminder:  If you are travelling with your dogs, KEEP THEM SAFE.  If you have people visiting with dogs, KEEP THEM SAFE.  We may hear wonderful stories of legendary dogs travelling 3000 miles cross country to find their vacationing owners or to find their way home, but the reality is that many lost dogs in unfamiliar environments end up one way and one way only:  DEAD.  Don't let it be yours.  This is a public service announcement. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Leading Friends Astray

Yesterday, I invited my friend Margaret to join Eddie and I on one of our little hikes. ( Margaret will be staying at my place looking after the critters next week while I attend my late sister's Celebration of Life, and this was a good opportunity for her to reconnect with the hyper little monster my sweet sheltie boy).

Margaret had not been on any of the hikes in  Crofton and left it up to me to pick one.  The tide was in, so I ruled out Osborne Bay Park and chose Crofton Lake, a short but enjoyable hike I've done many times with many friends.  It is normally about a twenty minute hike up to the lake, a bit of time taking in the beauty and serenity at the lake, and fifteen minutes for the return trip.  Let's say an hour's outing altogether.

Except when I lead my friends astray.

Back in the summer of 2009, when I first moved to Crofton, I had gone up to the lake with some friends and we had done a circular route - up the 20 minute trail, but back down through the trees and along an old logging road  around Richards Mountain which gave us panoramic ocean views and eventually brought us back out at the parking lot.  I hadn't done that route since, but figured - what the heck, it can't be that hard to find.


Somewhere along the way, I zigged when I should have zagged.  There were many secondary trails through the trees, and on one we found some cairns marking the trail so we decided to stick to that one - if we came out in Duncan, or Chemainus, or Maple Bay, we could always use my cellphone to call for a friend to give us a ride back to our car.

We walked.  And we walked.  And we walked.  I was somewhat anxious about not knowing where I was going so the camera stayed in my pocket most of the time.  But if I had taken more pictures you would have seen more of this

Trail on Richards Mountain

and more of this

More trail on Richards Mountain

and a bit of this

Oregon grape in bloom

and even some of this

Little camouflaged lizard in mud

And some of  a tired Eddie and a tired friend.  I won't mention that said friend also slipped in the mud at one rather awkward point in the trail and ended up covered from head to toe with mucky mucky mud.  No, I won't mention that.

Tired Eddie on the trail

We did eventually come out at a logging road, though at the time I had no idea which one.  Instinct told us to head right, which would take us down the mountain.  But my instinct hadn't been working very well so far that morning, so we turned left.  It was the right choice - just fifty meters or so up the road  we came to an intersection we recognized - the old logging road and a wide dirt trail - the dirt trail that in about ten minutes would get us back to our car.

We declared the hike a big success, despite taking two and a half hours and netting us one very muddy set of clothing, several aching joints, and a very tired dog.  Next time, no matter how short the hike is supposed to be, I shall carry more water (I gave my bottle to Eddie), granola bars (I forgot to replace them after my last hike), and my walking stick.  I did have my cell phone so we weren't in any great danger of being lost.

My friend proved her weight in gold - she kept assuring me we weren't lost, we were on an adventure. No, not lost, just exploring.  Not at all lost, just having a nice long walk.  Thank goodness for friends like that.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Caption, please!

My chuckle for the day:  I saw this cat just behind a shed when I was walking Sadie around the block.   He hissed at us when we stopped to take his photo, but didn't budge.  I invite your captions!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Blogger woes

Blogger (the site that hosts this blog) has apparently made significant changes to its platform and I can no longer access my 'dashboard' or do anything other than post new blogs.  So if you commented on the new post below, it will be published when/if Blogger straightens out this mess.  For now, I can't do anything but read your comments in my email box.
Why can't they leave well enough alone!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Things are settling down again - at least until the landscape guys begin the drainage and trenching of the back yard, possibly as early as next week.  Sadie has stabilized again, Petey seems nearly over his bronchitis or whatever it was and so far is doing okay on the prednisone, and Eddie and I are getting in lots of walks and hikes. The house is a disaster, and the front garden bed isn't done yet, and the rains have just started again, but 'this too shall pass'.

And so, until I get around to writing a real post, here are a few of my favourite pictures from the past couple of weeks' walks:

First from a walk around Chemainus Lake, a nice 2.5 km offleash trail:

Turkey tail fungus -
a very apt name!

Decaying stumps nurture new growth.
The roots of the new tree are almost spooky!

Modern day petroglyph -
appeared in this rockface around 2005.

And what do we see here?

Next, from a walk at Swallowfield, with Eddie, Gail and her dog Sadie:

Happy Eddie strolling on the estuary
A river runs to the sea
Sadie B enjoys a swim!
Sadie B poses fora photo
And another one of Happy Eddie

And then back to Eves Park, (which I posted about very recently when Liz and I took the dogs there), this time with my Elder College group:

The trilliums are now at their peak.

Elder college group gazes at Mt. Sicker
and Mt. Brenton from the west bluffs in the park

And can you figure out what this is?
A sign nearby asked us not to disturb it. 

That's all for now - time to walk Eddie, feed Sadie, cuddle Petey and head to bed.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

One Photo

Salmonberry flower - or maybe thimbleberry.  I forget.

From the Elder College walk around Chemainus Lake this week.  It's all I have the energy to post tonight.  It has been an exhausting few days.  The new roof is on, but Eddie was so beside himself at all the noise and kerfuffle that I had to sedate him.  Sadie has had two collapses this week - one a possible seizure in the middle of the night, and one not long after eating - so the prednisone is no longer doing its job.  She is currently lying in the hallway barking at the shadows.  Petey has developed what the vet believes to be bronchitis, and coughed for fifteen hours straight last night and this morning, and has just started up again.  Unfortunately, we have to take him off his metacam for several days before administering the meds he needs for the bronchitis, so he is also whining and being a big suck. Kinda like me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A bit of this, a bit of that while waiting, waiting, waiting

(A long ramble of life around here while I wait for late delivery people to show up with materials for my new roof.  I hate waiting. Poor Eddie wants his morning walk.)


I missed the Elder College hike last week (they went to Kinsol Trestle, which I described in an earlier blog post here), as Sadie was not stable enough to leave. But on Thursday, Gail and I took her Sadie and my Eddie up to Crofton Lake. It was a great day for being outdoors, and we met several other people with their dogs on a trail where I seldom see anyone. Judging from these photos, I'd say Sadie B and Eddie had lots of fun:

Sadie B runs up the bank with a ball
Off Leash Eddie trots happily along the lake trail
Other Dog Stuff

Eddie is a smart little boy and VERY food motivated. I have been using a treat ball for him for some time

Eddie and his treat ball

as well as a clamshell, and recently added a tug-a-jug to his food dispenser toys as the others were just too easy. He figured out that one in about 30 seconds flat.

Gail loaned me a Nina Ottosson canine memory puzzle - a canine version of Go Fish with treats attached! The dog watches you hide a treat under one of the nine bones, then must remember which one it was and touch that bone with his paw (or nose). Too easy for Eddie - he got it in a second. I put treats under all the bones, then as he pawed one I gave him the treat and replaced the bone. He touched ONLY the bones with a treat underneath, and never once pawed at a bone where the treat was no longer there. What a smart boy!
Eddie knows just which puzzle piece hides a treat!

After a couple of peaks and valleys, Sadie seems to be doing okay with the help of Flagyl. I've started moving her back to her regular diet, even though she still has somewhat colourful, soft poop. If it doesn't return to normal this week, we'll consider more tests - though with palliative dogs one always has to ask the question "how might the results of this test change our protocol?". Clearly, Sadie is not a candidate for surgery, and she is already on the drugs she needs for her insulinoma, so will knowing whether the liver and pancreas is deteriorating even more change anything in the way she is being treated? If not, is the money better spent/saved for other more critical vet care? This is always the challenge in caring for senior or special needs dogs - the drive to have as MUCH information as possible sometimes blinds us to what will actually be USEFUL information. Fortunately, the vet I deal with most for Sadie understands this and we will weigh the pros and cons of putting her through more tests (even blood tests stress her out). For now, we just treat the symptoms.

Ah'll just snooze on the couch, thank you.
Mah mama made me a box so I can still get up here.

Petey was chilly the other morning so I put his warm jacket on and covered him with a little blanket and he settled down for a snooze on one of the dogbeds. A little while later I looked down the hall, and there I saw this:

Silly Petey, trailing his blanket from his shoulders as he waddled down the hall to find me.

Garden stuff:

The crushed gravel is now all shovelled into its rightful place alongside the carport - no more putting passengers at risk of a broken ankle due to an 8" drop off onto large round rocks!. And hopefully no more blackberries and other weeds trying to wrap themselves around my car.

New and improved side of carport - two yards of crushed gravel
and a sore back later.

I'm working on the front garden bed - the one that was all weeds last year - trying to salvage a few plants in there, planting lavendar and rosemary which should do well in this hot, dry side of the house, and using some 6" rock and smaller beach stone as cover and hardscaping.  Only 25 more feet and a half yard of large stones to go.

A small section of the new bed
(and why didn't I see that dandelion before I took the picture?)

And other stuff:

I have drainage guys developing a plan for the back yard so we can reduce the muck and eventually landscape,  and I have roofers coming to put a new roof on the house on Thursday (which is why  I am sitting around waiting...waiting...waiting for the materials to be delivered today).  I have firmed up a contract with a kitchen design/reno company - a complete gut and re-build (that should be fun!) that will likely begin around end of June. I have hikes, dogsitting, a trip to the Okanagon for my sister's Celebration of Life, and several other things scheduled for the next couple of months. And of course the usual book club and writing group and newspaper column and dog care stuff.  Oh, and Petey will be having his eyes removed as soon as I can figure out a date that will work to get him to Victoria and back. Life is busy. Too busy. I think I am a wee bit overcommitted.  Oops.

Ah, but the flowers are blooming,

Blossoms against a blue spring sky
Wee daisies cover the ground
Yellow skunk cabbage adds cheer to swamp

The eagles are calling,
Eagle on tree along seawalk

Spye, the pigeon who began showing up daily (now twice daily) a couple of months ago is in love - or at least bringing a friend to dinner:

Spye and friend dine on birdseed

The campers are arriving

Crowded RV park along Crofton shoreline
(Shudder!  Not my idea of camping - but good for the local economy!)

The kayakers are cruisin'

Kayakers pass a barge from the pulpmill

And the sunrises are spectacular:

Easter morning sunrise from my backyard

Life is good.

(And I hear a big truck pulling into the driveway - talk about good timing!)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Eves Park

Reflections in pond, Eves Park

It is less than a ten minute drive away, and I’ve passed it at least a hundred times on my way to the SPCA. I once followed the sign along the lane a few hundred metres, but wasn’t sure where I was going or where I should park so abandoned the impromptu stop. I’d heard it was hilly, not dog friendly, and I didn’t know anyone who went there often.

And so it has taken me almost three years to get around to exploring one of the Cowichan Valley’s best kept secrets: Eves Park. It is a 45 acre, Class C Provincial Park (meaning it was donated to the province but is managed by a volunteer board and receives no government funding), gifted to BC in 1961 by Janet Goodall. Last Friday, my friend and co-writer Liz and I took our dogs Sasha and Eddie for a walk in the park, seeking fodder for Crofton Corner, our column in the Chemainus Courier.

Liz and Sasha check out the Park Information Board

And no, there isn’t supposed to be an apostrophe in ‘Eves’. The park was named in memory of the donor’s father, the Rev. James Eaves. According to T.W. Paterson, author of “A Place Called Cowichan” (Firgrove Publishing, 2005), by the time anyone realized the province had misspelled the name, “all the expensive signage had been done, so Ms. Goodall graciously told them to go ahead with Eves.”

Technically, the park is in the community of Westholme in the District of North Cowichan, not in Crofton. It is on the western slope of Mount Richards – on the flip side from Crofton Lake, the trail to which starts at the end of my road. Unfortunately, one can’t get to Eves Park from Crofton Lake without trespassing on private land.

At one time, however, there was a railway line which connected the two – part of a system bringing copper from Sicker Mountain to the west, across Mount Richards, and down to the smelter in Crofton – a smelter once located right across from my house, but long since gone.

Red and black line shows where the railway used to go

An information board provides history and photos of the early years in this area

Liz, Sasha and Eddie check out a small section of track,
left as a symbolic reminder of the park's history.

Today, the park boasts a nature house, well marked trails, information boards and picnic facilities, and yet it has remained true to its rustic nature, a protected wilderness environment of old growth forest, moss-covered stony bluffs, and natural waterways.

A gentle reminder of earth's biodiversity

Eddie on a mossy bluff
Liz checks out the old growth forest
View from the west bluff.  In the distance is the
Trans Canada Hwy, against the backdrop of
Mt. Sicker.

This huge old broadleaf maple tree, one of the few deciduous trees
in the park, may look dead now, but the sign tells us its
branches will have a half acre of leaf surface come summer. 
 The day we visited, spring flowers were just starting to pop out everywhere, wee toadstools covered the ground, eagles and ravens soared overhead, and several trees showed signs of bear or cougar activity.


Indian Plum
Toadstools on a mossy bluff
Fawn Lily

More toadstools - I think - or are they mushrooms?

Liz and Sasha look skyward at the sound of a raven calling.

Signs explain the claw marks on trees
Inside of a bear tree
Recent bear or cougar activity
On-leash dogs are permitted in the park. I confess we let ours off leash a couple of times when the moss covered rocks and steeper sections of wet duff-covered trails threatened to send us head over teakettle unless we dropped the leashes and used our hands and poles to keep from falling. We also met a neighbour of the park walking his dog Zena off leash. Zena stole my heart – a lovely and lumpy old dog complete with happy grin, waggles, wrinkles, and all.

Eddie meets Zena
A lovely old face

There were more bluffs and a cave we've yet to explore.  I loved the park, and will go back often. And it was made all the more pleasurable by watching Eddie conquer one of his biggest fears – stairs. Without hesitation, he bunny-hopped all the way up this long steep winding stairway. I was so surprised, I didn’t even get a picture of him climbing his Mount Everest.

Eddie's Mount Everest

Sasha shows us how it's done.
The End.