Camping with Humans

It seems an odd thing humans do. They leave behind a perfectly good house with food and beds and a fully functioning bathroom to go and stay in a much smaller, less comfortable accommodation with more limited amenities. They call it camping.


Just a short stroll from our campsite, where Boulton Creek meets Lower Kananaskis Lake.


When travelling you have to stay somewhere so I get it when we spend weeks far from home and stay in Sid, the trailer.  But when we “camp”, we’re only two hours from home. We could enjoy a day in the mountains and still sleep in our own beds. However, last weekend, there we were, camping.


Inspecting the roof of “Piper“, G & S’s new home away from home (or maybe just standing on a picnic table and drinking?)


Did I enjoy it? Well, sure, after I got through the unfortunate incident on the way out. I’m not usually a car-sick kind of guy but the combination of happy traveller drugs, Orijen kibble, and a bite of Teresa’s muffin just did not want to stay down. I tried to warn them, but it seems my “I’m going to vomit” retching sounds a lot like my “I have a heart murmur” retching.

But anyway, aside from camping not entirely making sense, what’s not to like about being outdoors all day and going for walks in new places. These are things I can wrap my canine head around. And, due to my senior status, my inclination to behave (in human terms), and an abhorrence for being tied, I was left free in the campsite whenever I was outdoors. Chico, on the other hand, with his inclination to run out to meet anyone and everyone walking by, chase squirrels, and indulge in other such shenanigans, was always attached to the picnic table with a cable. Maybe one day, I told him, trying not to sound too smug.


Chico was freed from the cable when he stayed in his chair.


We camped at a place called Lower Lake Campground in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park which is part of Kananaskis Country in the Rocky Mountains. Here I discovered the marvels of a pine forest and the enormous dog bed it creates. The prairie grass is nice but doesn’t have the pillow-top mattress feel of a forest floor with its many layers of detritus. Heaven. I used my manmade bed under the trailer at first but, once I discovered the giant mountain-made dog bed all around me, there was no going back. If only I could have brought some of it home to line my nests.


Enjoying my pillow-top mattress.


So what does weekend camping entail? Well, when camping with friends G and S, a lot of human laughter, particularly when wearing Viking attire. Viking attire, you’re probably asking? And rightly so. It had something to do with a Monty Python skit and a Spam appetizer (spametizer) cooking contest. Humans entertain themselves in the strangest fashions. They were particularly tickled by Chico’s costume. (He … not so much.) On the plus side, despite Spam being the butt of many jokes and lending its name to unwanted email, we dogs found it quite tasty and were treated to leftovers for breakfast on Saturday morning.


Chico in his Viking attire (me exiting right, heading under the trailer to hide).


Other camping activities included campfire sitting or, in my case, lying nearby in the trees, and walking, my personal favourite. On Saturday we walked to the Boulton Creek Trading Post and had ice cream. Lucky for me, ours came packed solidly into the bottom of a cup so Chico wasn’t able to pull the Hoover trick he can manage with a Dairy Queen cone.

On Sunday we took a longer walk, to a neighbouring campsite called Mount Sarrail. The best parts of this trail were the snowbanks spaced at convenient time-to-cool-off intervals and an area where the resident grizzly bears had been rooting along the trail. I’d never smelled bears before. There was no sign of the bears on Sunday, but G and S had spotted them by the lake early on Saturday morning.


Heading back to camp on Saturday afternoon.

For us, it was a short Sid trip, maybe the shortest yet. I would have been quite happy to stay a few more days, lying in the shade of the pines, breathing in that cool, mountain air. And I think the humans would have been on board with that idea had they not needed to get back to their jobs and such. On parting, at the sani-dump station on Sunday afternoon, I heard the comment, “The season’s young. We’ll do it again.” I guess I’m a camping convert because, I sure hope so.


End of the day in Kananaskis Country.





On the Road Again

This Fur-iday you find us on the road to a weekend camping adventure. We were supposed to head out on Tuesday but a big storm came rampaging through Alberta, complete with special weather statements and warnings from Environment Canada, and we decided it was best not to be camped in the middle of it. Good thing too because the winds were just two kilometres per hour shy of hurricane strength out here on the farm and there was some broken tree cleanup required on Thursday.



Luckily, Sid came out the other side of the storm unscathed so we are off to the mountains today! We’ll tell you all about it next Fur-iday.

Have a great weekend!

Tribute to a Russian Princess

When they first adopted her, or she them, T and Nollind called her Natalya because she reminded them of a Russian princess with her big ruff of white fur. I knew her as Nat, or Natters, since that’s what she was always called. Story has it that Nat chose Nollind, as opposed to the other way around. T and Nollind were at the Street Cat Rescue (now MEOW Foundation) to adopt a cat. Nollind was kneeling to pet one of the many cats up for adoption, and Nat jumped up on his back. Sounds like something she’d do. Such a ham for attention.


She always had a thing for Nollind.

Nat didn’t like me for the longest time. She’d hiss whenever I got too close, growl if I even looked in the direction of her food, and even swat at me sometimes. She and Logan were great friends so I knew it wasn’t just my dogness, it was something more personal.


Buddies and pals.

I’d like to think I won her over, but I think it was more that Logan took to herding her in recent years, becoming quite territorial. Nat would try to get up on the bed where Logan was lying and he’d lunge at her, sometimes snapping. He was often reprimanded, but it didn’t stop him. If he didn’t want her somewhere, she wasn’t going. With Logan behaving less friendly toward her, I guess Nat thought it wise to befriend the other canine in the house. Me. In his defense, it’s possible Logan’s snappiness grew out of years of blocked doorways, waiting in line at the water bowl, having his food dish claimed, and otherwise being run by cats.


The order of things in the early days.


Thirsty dog waiting for a drink.

Nat died in March on St. Patrick’s Day, two weeks before we came home from the desert. Since Chelsey died on Remembrance Day, I guess Nat thought that a human holiday was a good day to go, more memorable. Or maybe she wasn’t Russian but Irish?

We buried her in the yard by the caragana this past Monday. She’d been in the big freezer downstairs since she died. Sounded weird to me at first, but the ground was frozen when she died, we weren’t home, and there was no food in that freezer anyway. But then it was kind of creepy when we got home, knowing she was in there, hearing the freezer’s hum and being reminded of its contents.


Keeping his distance—not a fan of funerals.

The ground’s been thawed for weeks now, but I think T and Nollind were having some difficulty with the idea of opening the freezer and extracting a frozen cat. Couldn’t blame them really. It wasn’t so bad in the end, she was protected by a big plastic bag and looked like she was sleeping all swaddled in her towel. Her fur was cold but just as silky as ever.


Saying goodbye.

She’s buried next to King and Chelsey, the other two cats who came from the city with T and Nollind in 2003. Poor King. Eternity between the two arch enemies. But, maybe beyond the Rainbow Bridge Nat and Chelsey are friends and walk together in harmony … ya, right.


The resting place of Chelsey, King, and Nat.

Although now I never need to find another bed because she’s got mine, or wait to pass through a doorway because she’s sitting there, or share the attention with the softest feline you ever laid a hand (or nose) on, I’ll miss her. RIP Natalya. You will live forever in our hearts.05-chico-natalya-withchico-1