Creature of Habit

They say that dogs are creatures of habit.  They want – need – that solid schedule that they chart on their internal clock.  This is the time to eat.  This is the time we got for walks.  Now.  Seriously, don’t mess with my routine.

There are some that suggest that people start to take after their dogs.

Appearance-wise, I would like to think I’m missing that particular sharing of attributes.  Habits are hard to break, though, which is why this weekend, the question I asked with most regularity was, “Anyone want to go for a walk?”

This weekend we headed out to Ottawa.  Without the dog.

The first time (apart from when he got fixed) that Gwynn was entirely separated from all persons in our family.  He stayed at the house, along with my good friend who has spent enough time at our house that you’d think Gwynn would stop barking at the door when she comes by.

walks without the dog mean... more pictures of random pretty houses... that happen to be in the exact opposite direction from where you were planning on walking. Clearly Gwynn has the sense of direction

It was… weird.  I woke up at the crack of dawn, jackknifed upright with a twinge in my back from the discomfort of having slept on a pull-out-couch mattress, hazily gathering my thoughts before gathering the clothes to meet public decency requirements, and remember.  Right.  Go back to sleep.  Or at least lie down on that godforsaken monstrosity until a more appropriate hour.

Would it be inappropriate to text home a gentle reminder about poop bags?

I held off texting until noon that first full day, barely.  Is everything ok?  Is the dog alive?  Are you alive?  Was he ok being left when you went to that Passover dinner?  Does he miss me?

Apparently paranoia is contagious, because my pet-sitter extraordinaire spent the second half of her dinner festivities anxiously checking the clock, and fretting.  Had Gwynn gone pee in his last trip outside?  What if he had to do his business?  What if he was dead?  What IF?!

a sign I saw in the ByWard market

We went for an early lunch at the Elgin Street Diner.  It was featured on You Gotta Eat Here, a Canadian food tv equivalent to Diners Drive-ins and Dives, so we were very excited to try their poutine.  It was glorious – so were the home-made baked beans (I split the Blue Plate Breakfast with my mum… and we had food leftover).  One thing I strongly recommend you do differently than us if you do go – don’t order a whole poutine for yourself.  My dad barely made it through half of his, and we didn’t eat again until after 8pm, and then it was just appetizers.  So – share your poutine, or accept the fact that when you’re done, it will likely look like you hadn’t started yet.

the ceiling. Seriously, when you're at this museum, remember to take the time to look up, throughout the exhibits.

After that, we went to the Museum of Civilization in Hull.  I can’t even express how much I highly recommend this museum.  We felt a bit like interlopers in the Childrens’ museum (a whole entertaining section of the museum), a surreal and hands-on series of rooms full of excitedly shrieking kids and their parents.  The rest of the exhibits are amazing, informative without being dull, and presented fantastically.  People with Children – your kids would enjoy the entirety of the museum, from the History of Canada exhibit (complete with giant boat, faux-outhouse, and a ‘guess that fur’ exhibit), to the Native American exhibits, complete with full warrior armour, shaman outfit, and replica of a dig site.  People without Children – you will enjoy this museum!

mop? dog? doesn't matter - it's happy to see you!

We arrived on Friday afternoon.  I dragged Doodle on a long pre-dinner walk.  Saturday, I got my fill of walking through a museum, and Sunday, we walked the By Ward market.  I got my fill of puppy there when I met the most delightfully adorable Puli dog and his owner who was kind enough to not be too alarmed when I just about ran her down on the street.  Pulis on google-images are hilarious and adorable.  On the street, they’re adorable, though given time, I’m sure he’d have been more hilarious than simply “I’m a mop”.  I dragged Doodle out for an early morning walk on Monday before we left, and hardly got home after the long drive before my most enthusiastic walking partner and I were headed out.

It was nice to have a bit more freedom to do indoor type things in Ottawa this time around.  Gwynn survived his four days without family, and so did my pet-sitter.  Overall, though, I think I prefer a vacation with the dog.

How do you deal with the change of schedule in vacations without dogs?  Do you embrace it?  Or is it time for a walk?

Lost in Ottawa

I walked a LOT while I was in Ottawa visiting Doodle.  I also failed at consistently finding my way back to the hotel or Doodle’s residence without phone-assistance.  How on earth did I ever survive without a phone with a map on it?  A map that will identify where I am, and how to get back to where I want to be?!

One morning, I did three quarters of a circle around my hotel before finally making my way back.  Another afternoon, I found myself wandering up a dark enclosed staircase (with Gwynn), unsure of whether I was about to find myself inside a building (most likely a ‘no dogs zone’).  Instead, I found myself in a lovely park overlooking the canal and the parliament buildings.

I don't think Gwynn really appreciated the view as much as I did

An Ode to Quinte

My previous post mentioned that we went to visit Doodle in Ottawa over the Thanksgiving weekend.  We decided to skip the muss and fuss and hustle and bustle of a big turkey day dinner and getting Doodle from Ottawa to home by herself… and back again.  Instead, we experienced the hustle and bustle and muss and fuss of transporting four adults, one large dog, and a van-full of stuff for Doodle’s slightly barren residence room on a 6+ hour drive to Ottawa.

Have you ever had that moment of epiphany?  The moment you look upon something, and think, “OH!  Now, I get
it… that is how it’s supposed to be.”  That’s what this was like.

On the drive, we stopped at the most extraordinary place.  A dog park… whose design and construction had been done with the enjoyment of both dogs and dog owners in mind.  It might seem strange to you that I find this shocking.  But, you see, Toronto’s dog parks are not made with enjoyment in mind.  They are made, against fierce opposition, in the least desirable parts of parks, using the fewest resources possible, and, from what I can tell, designed by people who aren’t really sure why dog owners want such places to begin with.  Local dog owners aren’t given the opportunity to give suggestions, and the suggestions they do give are generally ignored.  “Be grateful we even let you have dogs in public green-spaces” seems to be the motto.

We stopped at the Quinte Dog Park in Belleville, Ontario.  It is three fully fenced in acres of wooded parkland.  In low areas where the ground would otherwise be muddy, woodchip has been put down.  On higher ground, it is grassy or covered in pine-needles, depending on what kinds of trees are nearby.  It is big enough that the dogs pounding the ground don’t tear it up nearly as much as they do in smaller dog-areas.  There are benches scattered throughout the park, as well as fire hydrants – a feature I find hilarious.  Did I mention that there are trees in the park?  Trees = shade and protection from the elements.  For dogs, trees = squirrel-homes and the potential to chase squirrels… not to mention all the sniffing opportunities.

The park is located on the Four Seasons Road, in Belleville, Ontario. You should visit! You should donate! There are a number of fast food type places on the way, too - we stopped to pick up food on the way, and my family ate at a pic-nic table outside the fence while Gwynn and I frolicked amongst the trees.

The Quinte Dog Park has garbage cans spaced out along the fence line.  It also has boxes full of unused poop-baggies beside each garbage can.  I used my own doggie bags, because I had them with me – but making dog-bags available is brilliant.  People can no longer use the excuse of ‘I forgot my bags’ or ‘I ran out of bags’ to ignore their pooch’s mess.  And, while I can’t say I walked everywhere, I can say, I didn’t see any dog-poop on the ground.


It has a small bus-shelter type thing near the fence.  A simple shelter, donated by a construction company in the community, that gives people a place to stand if it starts raining, or just to get a bit of protection from the wind.

hilarious firehydrants!

It has a water cistern with a gravity spigot at the bottom, donated by another local company.  No installing expensive plumbing, just a simple tank that probably gets topped up every week or two by the company that donated it.

it hardly looks like a dog park!

It has a board with tennis rackets and a chuck-it hooked on to it.  Items I’m assuming were donated, for the sole purpose of a bit more intense game of fetch.

I think one of the main differences between this amazing dog park and the parks I find in Toronto is that the dog-owning community is allowed – even encouraged – to help maintain the park.  There is a donation box, and a dog park Association that finds contributors and helps maintain the park itself.  It was so clearly designed by dog  owners, for dog owners.  It has sponsors to help in the maintenance, instead of relying solely on city money.  It is purposely built and maintained, rather than being a side-note like so many GTA dog parks are.

I realise that I’m sounding very harsh on the parks in Toronto.  Some of them are quite good (Cherry Beach and High Park, to name a few).  The ones in my area (all new/newer construction) are… functional… “At least there is a dog-park” is about all I can say about them.  The grass lasts for about a month out of the year, leaving it muddy and unpleasant the rest of the time, and there isn’t a stick of protection between you and the north pole during the winter.  No shade in the summer, either.

Seeing the Quinte Dog Park confirmed – Toronto could do so much better.  Hopefully the City will take the challenge.

Staying the Same

We went to Ottawa to visit Doodle this weekend. It’s official that I might have changed a lot since my first year in university… but I haven’t changed much at all.

On the first day of my first year at University, moving into Essex Hall in London, Ontario:

Mom(looking out the window of the room I would call home for a school year):  Oh look, you’ve got a Subway right across the road!  That’s nice.

Me: What?  London has a Subway?  Seriously?!

London is a pretty small city.  I’m from Toronto.  When I heard subway, I was thinking this:

What my mom was seeing was this:

… Delicious Sandwiches, yes.  Trains connecting to other Subway shops… No.

Six years later, getting settled in the hotel room in Ottawa before heading over to see Doodle at her residence:

Mom (looking out the window of the roasting-hot room we would be in for the next two nights):  Oh, that’s the Metro Doodle’s been using.

Me: What?  Ottawa has a Metro?  Seriously?!

I’m from Toronto.  When I heard Metro, I was thinking this:

My mom was seeing this:

… Oh how things change… oh how they stay the same.

I am a Frog… Do I Inspire You?

An update was asked for in the comments from this post here, and will, of course, be provided…

This morning I woke up feeling… tired.  SO tired.  SO tired that I stumbled across my room, turned off my alarm, and reset it for 6 minutes later, and ACUTALLY fell asleep in that time.  Like, dead-asleep.  Asleep enough that I was shocked out of my slumber by the noise of the alarm, and kind of confused about where I was, and why I had set my alarm for 5:03 am.  Satan’s hour.

Sore?  Actually, not really.  My legs and hiney felt only the slightest bit like I’d been doing exercise in the recent past – a feeling that could equally as easily been described as “I was hiking for an hour or two yesterday”, instead of “I tortured my body two days ago in the morning, and then went on a bike ride in the evening, I am a moron”

… just now, I caught myself staring deep into the screen of my computer, entirely absorbed by the desktop image (I have two screens…this document is open on the other screen) of my dog in his muddy, long haired glory.  I’m not sure how much time had passed since I last typed, but I think it might have been in the five-minute range.  The tiredness hasn’t gone away yet. I think I’ll be tucked away in bed tonight by 9 at the latest.

Since yesterday’s post/update: I didn’t do anything specifically for physical activity yesterday.  I went for a two-ish hour walk with Gwynn and Sadie.  Kind of a big deal, since it’s officially the first walk I’ve done solo in a really long time.  Doodle is up at her new job, working at a Provincial Park on their maintenance crew – my walk buddy has vacated the city for the summer.  And she’ll be back for less than a week at the end of the summer before heading off to Ottawa for University.  Proud/jealous/happy for
her/sad for me/overall sappy and sentimental… my emotional turmoil about this whole Doodle-growing-up is more like a pogo-stick I can’t get off than like a roller-coaster.

Sadie and Gwynn were shockingly well-behaved, walked them both like a champ.  We found a good place on the lakeshore to wade, and I joined them, in an attempt to lure them out to actual-swimming.  As a reward for this, I got punched in the bum by Gwynn’s giant soggy paws, narrowly avoiding being pushed face-first into the water I only wanted to go into up to my knees.  To comfort me, Sadie jumped up to get a hug, smacking her soggy paws against my chest.  Classy Gal that I am, it didn’t prevent me from going to the dog-park after we finished wading in the gorgeously clear water, wet bum and boob-paw-prints and all.

Off to obedience class, where Gwynn was relatively well behaved, and I didn’t get home for dinner and prepping for Wednesday until about 9:30 pm.  Make lunch, trim dog’s
nails, clean dog’s ears (yes, stupid to do both in one sitting… but I was already a bit brain-dead from tiredness), pack gym stuff, and barely make it to bed (or so it felt) before my alarm was going off.

We got to Cross-fit in good time, only to discover that the doors were locked.  Apparently, without updating it anywhere, they had changed the opening time from 5:30 to 5:45, just for the summer.  This didn’t improve my already zombie-like mood, standing outside in the chilly air at 5:40 in the morning, while the instructors arrive EXACTLY on (new, unknown) time.

Crossfit Summary:

Front squat/deadlift combination thing (there are no adequate words in my repertoire… this ‘title’ is derived from what a weight-lifting friend replied when I gave her a detailed explanation of what I had done)+ elbow-to-knee + squats –>21, then 18, then 15, then 12, then 9, then 6, then 3… of each.  I die.

My elbow to knee is more like hanging from a pull-up bar and trying to curl into fetal position.  My knees and elbows don’t even do a hover-near-each-other type kiss, not even a nod-in-passing.  I probably looked like a frog hanging from a tree branch in a motivational poster – “Hang in there!”

21 minutes later (well, according to the generous instructor, 20:59) I finished the exercises, palms bright red and bruised from the hanging-fetal-crunch, legs wobbly from the massive number of squats I’d had to do.

How do I feel now:
TIRED.  Like a zombie.  But not with the urge to eat people.  Maybe chocolate-people (does Nestle make those?  I feel like it’d be a good way to vent frustrations, being able to actually ‘bite someone’s head off’… like a delicious voodoo-doll of frustration venting)… or people standing between me and a soft bed in a quiet room (and the purpose of that would more be to maim them and get them out of my way… not the actual eating of them…)

While I predict a return of the oh-so-sexy cowboy-walk, my foggy brain doesn’t give two hoots about a future past sleeping.

Will I ride my bike tonight in hopes of helping fight off the cowboy walk?  Hells NO.  I am le tired.

Next crossfit – Monday… at which point I will show up a minute or two past 5:45, so that I can just go into the building, no delays.  Hopefully that will prevent me from being as grumpy as this morning’s 15 minute delay made me.

A Reminder – Mark from The Idiot Speaketh and Pedaleth is doing a fundraising bike-ride to help the people of Minot tomorrow!  He is asking for people to donate to the
Red Cross chapter that covers this severely flooded region.  Go check out his blog and make sure to stop by to cheer him on tomorrow!