Happy Humans, Happy Hound

It’s been a tough year for humankind. We dogs have been able to go about our lives as normal, sniffing each other’s butts and the like, but humans haven’t been able to hug their friends or otherwise be close to anyone outside their own home. When we go to the park, I can sniff noses (etcetera) with dogs I meet along the way, get a cuddle from humans we cross paths with, and nobody is put at risk. I don’t even have to wear a mask!

Greeting friends along the canal in Strathmore.

I see the toll it’s all taking on my peeps. They’re a sturdy pair and have shouldered the changes to life quite admirably, but now and then, it gets to them. For T it’s more because of the way people treat and talk to one another these days than any fear or consequence of the pandemic. For Nollind, it’s the recurring uncertainty of the coming sailing season, the many Glenmore Sailing Club programs he’s put in place, and the people eager to participate.

They think I don’t notice, going about my day—eating, napping, walking, sniffing—but I feel it when they’re unhappy or grumpy or discouraged. We dogs are a very sensitive species.

Here I am adding a little cheer by nearly stepping on T’s head.

I’ve taken it upon myself this past year to carry some of the burden, get them out of their funks and back into the world when necessary, cheer them up. I’m not young enough to scoot around in circles with my tail tucked anymore (those of you with young dogs will know what this looks like), but I do have other tools at my disposal, like telepathy.

Yup, you read that right, I use my powers of non-verbal communication to plant ideas in their heads, ideas they think are theirs. And I’m totally fine with not getting the credit. As long as they’re happy, I’m happy. Happy humans, happy hound, I like to say.

It goes something like this: I notice that T is not as enthusiastic about going outdoors (her favourite place), spending time with the horses, or is watching more TV than usual. Chico to the rescue! Without actually saying it, because I can’t speak, I suggest an outing, transferring the thought directly to her right neocortex. Next thing I know, plans are in the works for day camping, road tripping, or an outdoor get-together with friends. Pleased with my success, I take a nap.

Always paying attention to what’s happening with the humans.

In the past week, I’ve had to rescue the humans twice. My first solution was getting G, S & R an invite to the farm for a walk, bbq, and outdoor visit. I have to say, one of my better ideas. It’s tough to get T and Nollind to go anywhere on a weekend (too many people), especially a long weekend, so bringing the party to them was my solution. Clever canine, right?

We took a walk along the canal, which is something we do almost every day, but not with Ria entertaining the troops with her water antics or the wide-roaming conversation that happens when the four bi-peds hang out.

Me along the canal.
Ria along the canal

The walk was followed by some glorious time on the deck in the sun for the humans and some even more glorious bone-chewing time for us dogs. More food followed for everyone. A few beverages were imbibed. The new gas fire pit was put through its first paces. It felt like the “good old spring days” of 2019. The smiles said it all. Ria and I shared a little front-paw high five on her way out. Mission accomplished.

If you zoom in, you’ll see Ria’s “knowing” expression.

That was just last Saturday, Easter weekend. Normally I can coast for a week or two before I have to step in and rearrange their day-to-day, but I was called to action in just two days. It’s a busy time for dogs right now. This time it was some stuff that T read online that had her down in the dumps again in very short order. (I keep telling her to stay away from Facebook!) So, I suggested an outing, an excursion, a close-to-home road trip.

How it works is that I plant the general idea but then leave it up to the peeps to nail down the specifics. They have more knowledge of locations and conditions. I am the seed planter.

T needed some new boots for around the farm so we started off at Irvine’s Western Wear near Crossfield where she tried on multiple styles and sizes before finding her Goldilocks pair. From there we drove west to Water Valley, a completely new place to me, and visited William J. Bagnall Wilderness Park, a completely new place to all of us. (A quick shout out here to our neighbour—THANKS!—who posted about a recent hike and inspired the destination of Wednesday’s excursion.)

The stairs at Skunk Hollow—just two more flights to go!

Given its location in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, it wasn’t a big surprise we found some snow and ice still on the trail, but I managed to get the humans around the loop without incident. If I slip and fall, which has happened numerous times, no biggie, but they go down hard from farther up. It’s a scary thing to watch happen. Anyway, Skunk Hollow in the William J. Bagnall Wilderness Park. Great place. Can’t wait to go back in the green-grass, free-flowing river season.

An icy patch on the trail.

After Skunk Hollow, we ventured through the community of Water Valley and north, to the Water Valley Campground. It’s closed for camping until May but the day use area was open for a picnic beside the river. As I watched T sipping her peppermint tea and looking up at the evergreens swaying in the breeze, I knew my plan had succeeded, another seed had sprouted and borne fruit.

I was content to call it a win and head home at that point but there was another stop and another walk in our day, this one at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park between Cochrane and Calgary. If a little nature could bring the cheer back to my peeps, a little more might get them through the next bump on the Covid road. Count me in!

Tiger Lily Trail at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park.

Yesterday I was exhausted. T had to come downstairs and get me out of bed for breakfast in the morning. What?! But it was worth every sore muscle brought on by what felt like hundreds of stairs at Skunk Hollow and a near ninety-degree hill climb at Glenbow Ranch. I am such a trooper.

The big hill at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park.

All is quiet on the home front for now, peeps content, but I’m ready to jump back into action when duty next calls.

Mutt on the Move

Last Fur-iday, I was going to write about my camping adventure in the Columbia Valley, but then, there we were, on the road again. I am one mobile mutt! If I were a suitcase, I’d be covered in stickers!

Always going somewhere these days.

So now I have two trips to cover in one blog, but I’ll try to be concise.

First up, our trip to the Columbia Valley with the new trailer, Simon. Simon, you might be wondering? Yes, Simon, short for Simple Simon, who is almost half the length of Sid, three feet lower, and has zero slides to Sid’s three. Simple. And able to fit pretty much anywhere we might want to go. Small sites and overhanging branches will no longer keep us out! But, not to worry, Sid is still parked in the yard, awaiting our next desert snowbird adventure.

Simon at Redstreak (me on the right).

So anyway, after picking up Simon from the used RV lot, we were off to Redstreak Campground in Kootenay National Park. What a place! I could happily live there. Paths running every direction, deer at every turn, and great nearby places to explore. Dog, and human, heaven. And it was warm and dry in contrast to the wet, cold weather on our side of the Rockies.

One of the many resident Kootenay Park critters.

To make things even better, on day two, G and S arrived with their dog, my buddy, Ria. I’m a little old for Ria’s level of energy, but she and I have some great “follow our noses” adventures and both enjoy a good lounge around camp.

Camp time version 1.
Camp time version 2.

We stayed four days at Redstreak, reluctantly heading home on Tuesday around noon. Sigh… But we did get in one last picnic along the Kootenay River (see banner image). On Friday morning, just as I was settling in to write about our camping adventure, T starts packing a suitcase. Oh oh, I thought, she’s flying away on me. But nope, the suitcase went in the trunk of the car right next to my bed, my food, a book bag, and a guitar. Road trip for two!

On the road with T.

We spent two days getting here to Charlie Lake in the North Peace area of British Columbia, with walk stops at Sylvan and Sturgeon Lakes and an overnight at a dog-friendly hotel in Whitecourt along the way. It’s different travelling without a trailer but hotel time is kind of fun. The front desk staff like to pass out biscuits, some of the guests enjoy giving me a cuddle, and there was room for my mat right up there with T on the king-sized bed.

Trying out the swing in the hotel courtyard.

Lake time has been very relaxing, as it should be. The weather was terrific for the first four days and I do love to sunbathe with the sound of water lapping on the shore.

Deck time at Charlie Lake.

I was also included in a mom-and-sisters road trip to Williston Lake for driftwood collecting and Hudson’s Hope for a picnic lunch. The past couple of days, it’s been breezy, cool, and a little damp but it hasn’t stopped us from our daily walks at one of Charlie Lake‘s two provincial parks.

The big beach at Williston Lake.

Sylvan, Sturgeon, Williston, and Charlie — the four-lake tour! Then again, maybe I can get T to stop at a couple of new ones on the trip home. I’ll check the map.

A dip in Charlie Lake.