Taking out the Trash

Dear Parks Staff,

I really hope you don’t have video surveillance in the park.  If you do, let me explain.

It’s not what it looked like, I swear.  I mean, yes, I did kick that garbage can.  Okay, I’ll admit, I kicked it three times.  I meant it for the best, though.  You saw my dog getting all interested in it, jumping up and basically just being all over that trash receptacle, right?  I couldn’t just let it go.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Why three times?  Well, the first time, I could have sworn I heard something, but that could just have been the hollow thud distorted by plastic.  The second, though, nada.  The third, I thought I heard something, only it was fainter, but the dog was still freaking out.

You work in Toronto.  You know what’s out there. R.O.U.S., we have them.  Full grown raccoons that outweigh my dog do exist.  They are the reason our trash-pickup compost bin is kept hung up on the wall with bungee cords holding the lid shut.  Possums – basically demonic characters from a Tim Burton movie sprung to life.

On a side note, We are really big fans of the gigantic new garbage cans the city implemented – 5 feet tall with a big heavy lid, we no longer need to bungee our bins shut, and the raccoons seem to get the idea that pulling the lid up enough to squeeze in would be a bad life choice.  I’m not so sure it was a good idea to modify the lids of the ones in parks to include a big permanent opening for easy waste disposal, though.

I think the book 1984 stuck with me in unusual ways, because I was torn between “some poor animal is TRAPPED in the garbage can” and “There’s a raccoon in there, and if I get too close, it’ll latch onto my head with its creepy little child-fingers and chew my face off.”

Which is why I tried poking the lid open with a stick, while holding my arm over my face like I was dracula.  It makes perfect sense – the raccoon latches on, but my arm is in the way and can push it off.  Science, that’s what that is.  Though the stick was less scientifically effective.  in order to get the lid high enough, I’d have been almost fully suspended over the bin, and in full danger of face-attack.

We retreated, temporarily, to discuss options.  With Gwynn tied up far from the bin of doom, I came around behind, and pulled the lid open, bracing myself for the explosion of bandit-faced doom.  So, yeah, nothing came out but an ominous hissing noise.

Part of me, at this point, was thinking “Oh thank god, it’s a cat!”, but the instinctive part of me was saying “Oh crap, it’s angry, run away!”  Don’t judge – you weren’t there.

Speaking of, Doodle suggested calling you guys, but I figured that at 7pm, in the rain, you and animal control would be indifferent to the plight of a garbage-can beast.  But you could thank us for doing your job.

We retreated – what might have appeared to an outside observer to be us conferring about how next to abuse the garbage can.  And waited, but nothing emerged.

Just to be clear, I wasn’t attacking the garbage-can beast, I was trying to give it an out.  But unfortunately I think the stick I threw (from a distance) into the garbage can probably just beaned him in the head.  It was meant to be a freedom stick, though, i swear.

We were still not entirely sure whether there was something in there.  Actual leaning over the garbage can was necessary.  Doodle and I pulled up our hoods, which might have appeared to be us trying to belatedly hide our identities, but was in the hope of reducing the things the beast would have to hold on to.  Dracula arm up, and prepared for face-attack, I leaned in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s too bad I didn’t have my phone, because there was the cutest little (cat-sized) raccoon in the nearly empty garbage bin.  Completely unable to get out.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd looking really really pissed off while non-stop hissing.  Reach my arm in?  HAH.

It’s at this point, I know, that any footage of our behaviour would have gotten a bit strange (like tentatively attacking a garbage can wasn’t strange enough, I know).  It’s just that we didn’t want it taking its wrath at having been soundblasted with garbage can kicks and then thwacked with a stick out on us.

So we pushed the can over on its side and ran away.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat?  We gave it enough time to theoretically get out and scramble up a tree, and then checked.  Unfortunately, by then, it was full dark, so we couldn’t be sure that there wasn’t anything in there.

In conclusion, dear park staff, while there are plenty of jerks who knock over your garbage cans for fun, that was not our intent.  We knocked it over for freedomAnd didn’t pick it up afterwards, also for freedom.

Yours truly,

Concerned citizens willing to fight and defeat dragons garbage cans in order to rescue fair maidens potentially giant beasts of the night.  Trashy freedom fighters.

**Update – I completely forgot to mention that the artwork is by my fabulously talented sister and comrade in arms, Doodle!**

Snow

My drive in to work today was terrible.  I mean, quadruple the length of time, three lanes down to two down to one down to what the hell is that guy doing, cars sliding into and out of my ‘lane’, holy cow gentle on the brakes, come-on-car-let’s-survive-this, gee I wish my windshield wipers were doing more than spreading the slush on my windshield, TERRIBLE.  At least I wasn’t stupid enough to get on the highway.

Toronto really doesn’t get much snow.  We’re in Canada, so you would think that we’d get a fair bit, but Lake-effects+location means that Toronto winters are grey, occasionally slushy, and gross.  So, despite the terribleness of my drive this morning, I am definitely not complaining.

We have snow.

The kind that drowns the city in soft white fluff, covers the mud, the dead grass and the neverending discarded Timmy’s cups.  It rounds the hard edges of buildings, makes every tree look like a confectioner’s dream, and muffles the noises of living.

When I was younger, I loved to bundle up in as many layers as possible to keep myself warm and sit in the snow.  Preferably the deep fluffy banks of it that let you sink in like a lazyboy sofa made specifically for me.

Now, with at least as many layers of warming clothing, I like to walk in it.  I love the crunch of snow under boot.  I love my morning walks when the snow is falling so heavily, the roads are untouched by tire tread, and the world is covered in a blanket of white.  Before people have had much chance to go out and shovel, layer the inevitable and hated coating of salt down, and start churning up dirt.

Gwynn likes to stick his whole head into piles of snow, shoving it in there as though the snow is the downy pile of fluffy white feathers it resembles.  On mornings like this, I can’t resist letting go.

IMG_20130208_062830

Gwynn treats snow like a reason to be on his best behaviour.  Any other morning, if I were to drop the leash in the neighbourhood, he’d be up on peoples’ porches, worming his way into their back yards, and generally causing a huge pain of himself.  With the snow thick on the sidewalk, he sticks close, dashing forward and back and rooting through the snow in search of smells.

Tonight, we’ll go out for an extra long walk through the snow-lit woods.  Even after dark, the snow glows, like it stores the sunlight for later use.

Magic.

Foreign Dogs

No.  Not an insulting term for people of a different nationality than me.  Just to be clear, I mean Canines.  Canines in Foreign lands.  Frankly, I think it’s an improvement on my working title of “Mexican Dogs”.

I was lucky enough to spend a week this winter in beautiful Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.  Gwynn also spent a week at the beach – just one in more northern climes.  He visited a friend of ours at her cottage while we were gone, a week straight of snow-frolicking and wrestling with her two dogs, and picking up a few bad habits along the way.

Feb2011 350

Dogless, I redirected my usual doggy time to observing everyone elses pooch.  I’m not sure why I was so surprised to see so many people walking their dogs down 5th street in the evening.  I know dogs aren’t limited to Canada, US and Europe.  I just tend to imagine them being far less pet, and far more work elsewhere.

I think most cultures have, to some extent, a sweet spot for our furry friends.  And the differences in their treatment of dogs is one of the things that stands out most to me about being in a strange country.

In France, dogs are permitted in restaurants and cafes, and generally most places. If someone had their dog very well trained – chances are, that dog wasn’t on-leash.  And I’m talking about Paris, not some very rural community where leash laws are kind of ignored.  Dogs there are welcomed into far more places than they are in Canada – but they also have higher expectations placed on them, in my opinion.  It’s very much a society of “You are welcome here, but you’d better behave yourself.”  Another big difference I noticed was in equipment – simply put, male dogs in France still have it.  A British woman I walk with on occasion was baffled at the North American predilection towards neutered males.  Her female dog is altered, but her male is fully equipped.

The downside I found when I was in France was an apparent lack of responsibility on the owners’ part for dealing with business.  You know… business.  Charming cobblestone streets, beautiful treelined paths – it’s PARIS, and P is definitely for Picturesque… but also for Poop.  Watch where you step.

A friend recently returned home from a two year contract teaching English in Vietnam.  She told me about how many street dogs and street cats there were.  We have wild cats – in fact, we have a wild cat problem in Toronto – but wild, roaming, dogs is outside my realm of experience.  She told me about how many of these animals found homes with the temporary immigrants who came for limited-time contracts in Vietnam.  While it is possible to bring your beloved Vietnamese pet home with you at the end of your time there, after vet bills and vaccines and all the hoops you have to jump through, it comes out to a very expensive second plane ticket home.  A common occurence there is for more newly-arrived friends to adopt departing friends’ animals, passing that creature on when it’s time for them to depart as well.  I’m frankly not sure if I could bear the idea of parting ways, but I find it sweet that people make such a point of finding their street-dog or street-cat a replacement caregiver before they leave.

I found Mexico to be a bit like Canada, and a bit like France, and a bit all its own.  All the male dogs I saw were fully equipped, and stores didn’t seem to have a problem with dogs coming into them with their owners.  The streets were spotless.  Maybe it’s because I was mostly in areas where lots of restauranteurs and shop owners were basically right out in the street, watching you , or maybe it’s simply that the dog owners of Mexico believe in not leaving a mess behind (after my own heart).  Whatever the reason, the streets I went down in Playa Del Carmen were cleaner than my own neighbourhood, when it came to dog business.  Possibly because most of the places I saw dogs in were quite busy, most people had their dogs on-leash.  Very different from Canada, nearly every dog I saw was a naturally short coated animal.  Makes sense, considering that, visiting in the middle of their winter, I experienced the warmest of Toronto’s summer conditions.

Afghan Hound With Short Hair
Even the Afghan hound I saw there had his hair cropped shorter than this, to deal with the heat

It’s when I travel that I wish Gwynn were more travel-sized.  I miss him immensely when I’m gone, and feel a bit of irrational jealousy of people just going about their usual day with their dogs at their sides.  I love it, though – seeing those commonalities between myself and the people whose country I’ve travelled to.  It really doesn’t matter where you go, you’ll always find someone out for a walk.

Plus ça change, plus c’est pareil.

Wordless Wednesday – Adventure

what a strange circle of rocks... must be some sort of teleportation device...
Off to explore this new dimension... I hope there's bacon
the rocks here are much bigger... and disappointingly not made of cheese
Great view, but not really different from home. Oh well... to the portal!

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?

Have you got the Time?

I forgot my phone at work.  I also forgot my watch, from when I took it off for a gym class.  I take my watch off for classes because A, I don’t want it to get sweaty and gross, and B, there’s a clock in the classroom, and I can read its reflection in the mirror while flailing along in some semblance of what the instructor is doing.

I check the time a lot.  Sometimes, I check the time immediately after having just checked the time, to confirm that the time I thought I read was, in fact, the time that it actually is.  I only just switched from a waterproof sports-proof indestructible watch (one that allowed me to leave it on through showers, swimming, hiking, and whatever else) to one that actually looks good.  It ticks.  It ticks so softly that I only ever notice it when I am lying in bed at night, my left arm tucked just so, up near my ear.  It’s a strangely soothing sound.

My dad got it years ago.  One of his coworkers used to go to New York on a regular basis, and this guy got it into his head that my dad wanted a knock-off watch.  My dad never wears a watch.  Instead, he asks someone who has a watch something like this: “It’s about 10 to 8, right?”

The person who has a watch glances at their watch, looks suspiciously at my dad, and replies, “Yes.”

Because he’s always right.  And he never wears a watch.

He has no idea where his coworker got the idea that he was desirous of a watch.  He just thanked him politely and stuck the Swiss Fake in a drawer until a few months ago when I was bemoaning the fact that I wanted an analog watch, but hadn’t found one I liked enough to buy yet.  Change the battery, set the time and date, and bam.  I sleep to the soothing tick-tick-tick of a watch whose face glows in the dark, just in case I wake up enough to want to know what time it is, but not enough to put my glasses on and read the time on the alarm-clock-radio I’ve had since I was 10.

What’s this all about?  Well, it sets the scene for last night, when I realized, after pulling Gwynn out of the car and while heading towards Sadie’s house, that I didn’t have the time.  I looked around, as though expecting to suddenly find myself in the kind of small town with a clock tower that you can see from practically anywhere in town.  The kind of clock tower that bongs on the hour and half-hour, so that even though I might not know the time, I would know roughly where, in time, I was.

I went on a walk anyways.  We walked to the middle entrance of the creek valley, and headed north, to the furthest entrance.  The dogs raced around the field like it was the most exciting place.  I threw the ball a few times for them and lost myself in the complete happiness of two dogs running.  We headed back to the middle entrance, and I pulled back my coat to look at my wrist.  Oh.  Right.

Well, the sky isn’t all that dark yet, and it is still winter, so that probably means… something.  Too bad I have about as much of an internal clock as I do an internal compass.

It was light enough that I could go down to the south entrance through the woods without finding myself in absolute darkness.  It was a beautiful evening – the creek valley is protected from the wind, no one was about, and the dogs were staying out of the stinky creek, but still having a great time sniffling and snuffling through the underbrush.

By the time I reached the south entrance, the moon was high and bright in the sky, a narrow crescent not quite at the first quarter, so sharply defined that you could see the shadows and texture of the moonscape.  I seriously considered heading back through the park to the middle entrance, just to keep the walk going a bit longer.  The waspish hum of three cyclists as they dart past me, ninja-like in the darkness dissuaded me.  The path ended near the highway, so chances were good that I would see (or not see) them again on their way back down.  Someone needs to give them the memo about having a light and having a bell, and how it’s the law, but I’d rather not have it emphasized by a bike-dog collision.

It was getting a bit colder, anyways, though, so I headed home.

The whole walk took a bit longer than two hours.  If I’d known the time, chances are I’d have gone back up the way I came in.

There might just be something to the whole ‘living in the moment’ thing.

Wouldn’t That be Grand?

They’re robots.  They have to be – there isn’t anything else that could explain this.  Once, maybe I could buy it, but twice, now?  I suspect they might be roaming the streets of my neighbourhood every morning!

They remind me of the little orphans in Madeline, walking two by two down the road.  But with a dog, unnaturally early in the morning, and not dressed in adorable little blue capes.  From what I can tell, the entire family (and possibly friends of the family as well) come out to walk this dog.  At least 7 people for this one dog, speed-walking through the predawn streets.  I can barely get someone in my family to join me on a leisurely stroll midafternoon, when the weather is nice, and not too warm or too cold for perfect comfort.  These people have their teenage-and-younger-daughters (possibly even friends-of-daughters as well, since a lot of them seem to be matching in age) joining them on a walk at holy-cow-why-does-6am-exist o’clock, the temperature hovering around zero degrees C.  They aren’t even doing some half-assed up-the-street-and-back-again walk – this morning I only ran into them once, but the last time our schedules synced, I ran into them on my way out, and on my way home, and they didn’t look at all like they were on their way home at that point.

Seriously, though – teenagers!  And they even seem willing/cheerful about participating in the predawn dog walk.

We Will Walk The Dog

If they aren’t robots, I’m still pretty sure there must be some kind of mind control involved.  Maybe they’re the Borg.

I want to be them.  Y’know, when I have my own theoretical future family.  The idea of my entire family turning out for a morning walk every day is laughable and ridiculous.  But, in theoretical-future-land, where I possibly have a significant other, and possibly kids… it just seems like such a bonding kind of activity, everyone going on the morning dog walk.

I meet so many people when I walk Gwynn, usually they are alone with their dogs.  On a regular basis, I hear something along the lines of, “Well, the kids really wanted him as soon as they saw him.”, and “It’s my son’s dog”

And then I think – Why isn’t junior out walking the dog at 6am in the rain, then?  Or that gorgeous summer day when I ran into you – why wasn’t Junior out with you then?  I’ve never even seen Junior, but he/she considers the dog to be his/hers?

It seems like most kids who beg and plead for a dog leave it 100% to be raised, trained, fed, and cared for by their parents.  I’m not talking about really really young kids.  If you got your 4-year-old a dog, you should already have expected that you’d be Fido’s primary caregiver.  But if you cave to your 14 year olds (or even 10-year-old’s, really) pleading for a dog, shouldn’t you give some of the responsibility to them as well?  Even if it isn’t the morning walk, what about the walk that they could take Fido on while you are getting other things done?

He might feed the dog, but it'll only be what the dog cleans off his face after mealtime, and what he drops on the dog's head during meal time.

I had friends when I was about 10 who got the dog they’d been begging for.  They even bought him with money they saved up.  For a while (ie, when he was small and adorable), they were captivated by him.  Time passed.  Once in a very long while, they would walk him (usually as a way of showing off the fact that they had a dog), but Ziggy was primarily cared for by the parents.

I know that kids aren’t really able/ready to take full responsibility for an animal.  But I really think the Borg family has the right idea, regardless of ‘whose dog’ it is.  The parents might still have to get up early every morning to walk the dog, but their kids are also getting a good idea of how much work goes into caring for a dog, well beyond those beautiful summer afternoon walks.

Thoughts, opinions?

I Can’t Complain

I really, really want to complain about the cold.  SO. MUCH.  It was -12 Celsius (10 F… according to google) on Saturday, and windy, and holy cow, it was cold!

But it’s -27 Celsius (-17 F)(NOT factoring in wind-chill) in Calgary today, so really, I believe the phrase that applies to me is ‘buck up, sissy-girl’.

The other reason that it isn’t reasonable for me to complain is this – half-way through January, and this is the first time it got this cold?  I am spoiled in winter weather this year, and I should shut up before Murphy catches up with me.  This time last year, I was a month and a half into a royally unpleasant season of icy winds and freezing rain – a world of sloppy slushy, gloomy grey standard Toronto Winter.  Last week was the first time they salted the sidewalks (they being ‘everyone other than my one crazy neighbour who just layers down the salt so heavily all winter that I walk on her lawn to avoid the gravel-like dog-foot-doom she creates’).  This winter, apparently the road salt industry (in Ontario, at any rate) is having serious issues – they aren’t selling enough salt, and the people being paid to salt the roads – they aren’t getting paid to salt the roads.

first snow in the GTA that lasted more than the evening-on-which-it-fell. Prior to this, they were salting the roads 'just because', like that time that they thought it might rain, and then might, after that, get very cold, and create ice... but it didn't.

There’s a whole industry that is going into decline.

But HOLY COW, it was COLD out!

random pillars in the park north of the Brickworks. I didn't take any pictures (not wanting to look overly creepy, or have my fingers fall off from the cold), but there are a LOT of really pretty houses along the ridge overlooking this particular creek valley. Nothing like admiring the backyards of the rich and... well... rich.

I think the real problem was that it went from +10 C down to -12 C in the course of hours.  Friday evening, it was chilly – like, around freezing ‘chilly’ – Saturday morning, it was bitter.  Also, going for a three hour walk that went down through the trails by the brickworks, and then back up Yonge street to St. Clair (where I parked my car)… that might not have been the wisest choice.  Not to mention that this walk started at 4pm, with only a brief pause in a doggy boutique (to defrost) on the way back.

part of the brickworks - a very cool bit of Toronto History

Plus side – Gwynn loves it.  This kind of weather is the reason I am letting his coat grow out until spring.  He is completely insulated, and completely ecstatic at any opportunity to roll around in the cold white stuff, even when it’s a windy 12 below, and my face is so cold that my words slur from the numbing effect the wind has on my lips and jaw muscles.  He bounced along beside me, beard crispy with icicles, while I wished I hadn’t let my face freeze into a smiling position.  My teeth hurt from the cold.

brickworks again. I really didn't take many pictures, mainly due to the cold crushing my desire to do anything requiring fingers out-of-mitt

The other plus side is that my reason for driving across Toronto to go for a walk was to join a good friend I don’t see nearly often enough for a walk in the woods.  She is my only friend in the GTA whose idea for ‘what should we do?’ would be (in the winter) ‘go for a long walk’, instead of ‘go to a movie/restaurant/bar’, and I am so grateful for that.  Much as I like movies/food/alcohol, I really think I spend an unhealthy amount of time watching TV, I prefer cooking and trying new recipes, and I really don’t drink all that much (not to mention the ‘past my bedtime’ factor of going to bars or clubs).

the Toronto Skyline

I really can’t complain about the weather, especially now that the temperature is back up to +4 Celsius.  Though, now that it’s warm out, I want to complain about the fact that all the snow is melting into sodden heaps of mush.

Gone for a Walk

In honor of Koly and Kelly’s K9 Kamp, the name of my blog, and the fact that this is something I do A LOT of, today’s post is about going for a walk.  It seems strange that I haven’t written more about this, but really, when you go on at least two walks a day, it becomes something mundane and not blogworthy.

However, the first week’s challenge in K9 Kamp is to walk a minimum of 60 minutes.  Gwynn and I were totally game.  I’ve been warned that this is the easy/warmup/practically-not-a-challenge challenge, but the fact remains – walking, I can do.

Gwynn hasn’t even missed out on swimming and dog-park time, since the nearest dog park is about a 20 minute walk away, and the nearest water I’m willing to let him go into is about the same.

I’ll admit, not all these pictures are from the same walk, or the same season… but they give a general idea of what a walk, for Gwynn and I, is all about.  I’m just not good at bringing out my camera or phone on walks.

For the challenge week, we made it out every day for at least 60 minutes.  I tried to increase my walking speed, but, to be honest, I have no idea if it actually increased all that much.  I tend to enjoy watching the scenery, and tend to slow down when I’m not thinking ‘walk faster than usual, walk faster than usual’.  We walked with Sadie for a lot of the walks, which certainly helped ensure that Gwynn got an extra bit of running.

So, without further ado:  A walkthrough of a typical walk!

Proper footwear is key.

given the choice, I’d be barefoot… this is the next-best-thing, though soon I’ll have to put them away for the colder weather.
given the choice, he’d be barefoot… and he is, most of the time. But the snow packs in between his pads and hurts him. He’s willing to tolerate the doggy boots, though I regularly have to go searching in the snow for that lost boot after a romp. I'd have shown a pic of him outside, using them, but the only time you can really see the boots in the deep snow is when I'm holding one in my hand after it's fallen off. Anyone else who's used dog boots, please recommend a better brand to me! I am very disappointed in the muttlucks. I shouldn't have had to add snaps and repair frayed edges in the first month of ownership.

We usually start off in the neighbourhood.

before I started walking Gwynn, I had no idea just how many people in my area own dogs. And walking with a dog is like an invitation to talk. Talk to people working in the front yard, talking to people who are walking the opposite direction, people who are walking in the same direction, people across the street, people in cars at stop signs. Everyone. And that’s not even counting all the people who are with their own dogs.

We like to go into the creek valley…

... though we have to be careful of coyotes, especially recently. This pic is from just after we got Gwynn's hair cut! he's so tiny!

To the dog park…

well... this shot isn't exactly the dog park... but certainly a field that they love to run around in!

To the beach…

especially now that Gwynn has learned to swim and loves to swim. He's such a scrawny fellow under all that fluff! This is a pic from just before his haircut, so fluffy!

Gwynn’s favourite walks are the ones that Sadie comes on.

They’re Sadie’s favourite, too, I think!

Check out Kol’s Notes and Peggy’s Pet Place for a recap of how other people did on the first week of the Kamp challenge!

Why I’d pick Narnia

Easter weekend… a series of bizarre, ridiculous, irritating and improbable situations all rolled up into three days, because my office is too… something… to give me Monday off from work.  I could have used today to recover from the weekend’s series of events (some of which were unfortunate, but most of which were just eye-roll and deep-sigh worthy), and possibly catch up on sleep.

When I was younger, I thought we were going to Narnia to visit my grandmother.  I know different now, but can completely understand where the mistake was made.  Feel free to post a guess as to where we actually went… a hint – South-western Ontario, zero wardrobe-travel, sounds like Narnia, and very few trees.  When I was younger, it was a considerably more magical place, with ride-on lawnmowers, rocking horses, an orange hobbit house and a seemingly never-ending supply of home-made cookies and strawberry rhubarb pie. 

So, we travelled to Narnia, three-ring circus in tow, packed to the gills for two days worth of visiting friends and family in that area.  We visited my grandmother, reunited with our Hogswatch buddies and their adorable tuxedo-clad kittens, visited my aunt and uncle, along with their three-ring-circus, out at their farm house, and went to a surprising stag and doe.

Gwynn isn’t the greatest at car rides.  He hates them with a passion, and has a tendency to vomit juuuuust before he gets out of the car when we get somewhere.  With a few of these entirely un-fun trips under my belt, I went to talk to the vet about this.  They recommended… gravol.  And it works very well.  I’m not going to give you the amount that they recommended as a maximum dosage for Gwynn, mostly because you should talk to your own vet about it before you try this yourself.  However, it works, and I don’t need to get a particular pet-brand.  And Gwynn eats anything covered in peanut butter.  I make him do a trick or obedience thing before I give him his pill, to make him think he’s getting rewarded, rather than drugged.

On Friday morning, I also took him on a nice long walk before everyone else was awake, so that he could be tired before getting into the van.  We walked through our quiet and peaceful neighbourhood, past friendly dogs and unfriendly dogs.  We walked through the wide-open area of the park, past ducks and goose-poop and soccer nets, a parking lot, and under the enormously tall willow trees scattered throughout.  We walked over the bridge, under more willows, and into the woods.  We meandered through the dirt trails in the wood, passing through the fencing that had been cut in a perfect door size, and into the old Munitions lands, where we meandered through the rustling brown grasses.  We passed through the fence again, arriving back on the park-side, through to more extensive dirt trails.  These trails have been made by the many many people who walk through here – the pounding of footsteps and dog paws has made these trails.  They are so well-used that I would never in a million years have expected what came next.  Gwynn ran ahead of me – less than 10 feet away, and within the time it took for me to blink, was standing stock-still, eyes wide and trying to tuck his tail between his legs.  He was standing perfectly still, looking at me in a way that screamed “HELP!”, and shaking with readiness to start a frenzied escape attempt. 

Barbed wire was coiled around him, tight enough that he couldn’t have run or rolled his way out of it, wound around him enough times that it started threaded back between his hind legs and hooked on to his tail, then wound its way twice around his torso, and then again around his neck.  The end dangled threateningly near his soft droopy ear. 

When Gwynn got his leg stuck in a twist of wire from a plant pyramid in our back yard, he made such a shrill and awful noise – continuous ear-piercing shrieks of terror and pain – that I was terrified that I’d find his tendons severed.  Had I not been nearby in the yard, I feel certain that he would have chewed his way out, come hell or high water.  This time, he was completely silent, only his sharp panting telling me how anxious he was.  This silence was the only thing that allowed me to stay calm and order him not to move, while I patiently and carefully worked the barbed wire out away from his tail, away from the sensitive and thin skin between his legs.  I pulled it out of the thick fur around his torso, untangled it from his heavy ruff, and carefully pulled the loop away from his neck.  I was pretty lucky that he’s such a furry dog, because he didn’t get a single scratch – the wire couldn’t slash at him through his fur as long as he didn’t move, though I did pull a fair bit out with the wire.  I’m also lucky that he’s such a calm and trusting dog, because I know of plenty that would have been frenetic, shaking and rolling and getting all cut-up before you could have caught them to unwrap them from the wire. 

So… mysteriously, barbed wire falls off the nearest portion of fence (about 20 feet away), which isn’t missing any sections of barbed wire.  It rolls past trees and shrubs, over a section of path, through some more shrubs, and comes to rest entirely hidden, and perfectly arranged for a dog to run through.  I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but I’d say there’s some shady business happening in all this!

I didn’t see the wire at all before it was wrapped around him.  It had almost no rust on it, and was quite a ways away from the fence (which has barbed wire at the top of it).  There isn’t a chance in hell that this wire had been sitting there for very long, and no chance that it could have been something that just fell accidentally off the fence nearby.  This is a portion of trail that I walk on regularly.  I know it so well, I could probably walk it blind-folded, but I pay attention to the forest around me because I don’t want Gwynn to get a hold of garbage, or dead things. 

We have coyotes and foxes in that park, and I’m quite sure that Gwynn wouldn’t have been able to get it off by himself.  While I hate to say it, it’s lucky that it was a dog that ran through the wire, because dogs have people to rescue them.  A coyote would have ripped himself to shreds trying to get free, and maybe would have survived.  And a short haired dog would have gotten pretty cut-up even without struggling. 

I walked home, through a park that was just empty enough to make me uncomfortable, through a neighbourhood I couldn’t recognize as my own, and past other people walking their dogs, dog’s leash in one hand, coiled roll of barbed wire held aloft in the other, and felt like I was walking through a strange and dangerous place.  The only times I stopped to talk were to explain the barbed wire, and pass on the warning that a walk in the park isn’t as safe as it ought to be.

We loaded everything up in the van, and took our three ring circus on the road.  I wished like hell that we were going to Narnia for real, because the White Witch isn’t nearly as cruel and sadistic as some human beings.