Friday, December 16, 2005


This year's tree!Eric and I put have a Christmas Tree every year. Every year, the tree goes in the front window. Every year it blocks Sandy's view of --- as Eric puts it --- passing menaces, such as cats, pick up trucks with dogs in the back, and men in hats. This year is no different.

This year's tree is up and available for viewing here.

You might even see Sandy gazing forlornly at something --- although she doesn't know quite what --- on the other side of the tree, out there in the world. She absolutely didn't know the UPS guy was at the door until he was at the door yesterday. Eric wants a Christmas tree every day of the year, now.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Podcast You've Been Waiting For

K9Cast with Tara and Walter! A podcast about dogs, dog training, rescue, shelters, adoption and more!

You've got to check this out. Great advice and stories about dogs and their owners. Tips for giving your dog a bath. How to give your dog a manicure using a Dremel.

You don't need an iPod. You do need a computer (you're using one now!), and internet connection (you're using one now!) and something that will play an audio file, like Windows Media Player or WinAmp or the dreaded iTunes.

Go there now!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Last Sunday the ninth AIDS Walk in Kelowna drew several hundred people and no dogs.

Well, actually there were several dogs, all well behaved. But dogs were not officially allowed to accompany their people on the walk. The organizers had signs up about not allowing dogs.

I was torn. I wanted to raise some money and walk, but I’m still angry at City Council for not resolving the issue of no dogs. The problem is that lots of these “charity walks,” as the Council refers to them, either begin, end, or pass through City Park or Waterfront Park, and no dogs are allowed there.

Before 2003, dogs raised money for the MS Walk, but that year the mean-spirited, small-minded people who run the city decided to enforce the by-laws. People complained to City Council, and supposedly, this was to be dealt with. But no one was made accountable for dealing with it, so here we are in the fall of 2005 with the same problem.

In the end, I decided to raise what money I could and walk. For every $100 in pledges to the AIDS Walk, I donated $10 of my own (not the pledged) money to the Okanagan Dog Owners Association.

It was a beautiful fall day, and a nice 3K walk. It would have been even better with a dog.

Friday, June 17, 2005

You Don't Need A Weatherman

This spring has been disappointing as far as the weather goes. It’s already well into June, and we’ve only had a little more than one week of hot weather. And that was in May. Since then, there's been one good day for a bike ride, and the rest of the time it’s been cold, raining, or cold and raining.

It’s a good thing I have a dog living with me, or I’d probably never get to go for a walk in the rain.

Today I got up at 6:45 and it was raining. I took the garbage out, took Sandy out to the end of the driveway for a pee, fixed myself the last of the Peet’s coffee, and sat down at the computer to start the day and wait for it to clear up. At 8:30, I was still at the computer and it had still not cleared up. Sandy sat down next to me and gave me the most reproachful look in the history of the world forever.

“Hey, Dog. It’s raining,” I pointed out.

“And?” she replied.

“And it’s cold, too.”

That was not a convincing argument. Sandy was the one wearing the fur coat.

Ten minutes later we’re outside for our walk, Sandy trying to go fast, and me stumbling along in shorts, shirt, flannel shirt over that, raincoat over that, sandals and Tilley hat. “It’s raining harder than ever, Sandy,” I complained.

She stopped. She turned. She sat. She looked at me. “You control the food. You control the door. You control the play dates. You control the walks. Are you telling me you DON’T control the weather?”

We pushed on.

“I kind of like walking in the rain, Dog.”

“Me too,” Sandy said, tail wagging.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Natural Wonders, On-Leash

There’s a new walking trail, and it’s near where we live. Next to the new recreation centre, the trail is about one km out --- and the same one km back. A road, a paved path and an unpaved path all run parallel to the tributary to Mission Creek.

Trail behind the Capital News Centre

Sandy and I walk there three or four times a week, even though it’s all supposed to be on-leash. I’m learning to lead; she’s learning to trust me to lead. There have been fewer “snarling ball of fury” episodes when we encounter other on-leash dogs.

Besides the dogs, we’ve seen a plenty of ducks, Canada geese, and a pair of herons. They are beautiful standing still, and magnificent in flight. They’re as tall as Sandy, with a wingspan that looks like an airplane. The red-winged blackbirds are out. There must have been a hundred of them today.

One day Sandy flushed a pheasant. It’s hard to say who was the most surprised of the three of us, but it was probably not the pheasant. Living in the grass next to the dog-walking path, you’d think it would realize dogs were going to flush it. But Sandy is no bird dog. She was shocked to see that guy take off right in front of her nose.

Today there were fish. Really big fish, at least two feet long, and thrashing. I don’t know what kind of fish they were. Maybe carp. Maybe even Kokanee; we get those in Mission Creek. Sandy was standing in the water by one bank, and there was a fish explosion on the other bank. She leapt straight up in the air, landed in the water again, and rushed up the bank.

Sandy, looking casual

Once safely on dry land she tried to look casual.

The Law Won

Thursday morning my dog Sandy scooted out the back door, ran through my yard, and ran through the yard next door. She came back when I called her. In the less-than-two-minutes she was running at large, she barked at some woman who happened to be walking by on the other side of the road.

Hours later, Bob-The-By-Law-Officer arrived. While he patted Sandy and offered her treats, he issued a “Friendly Written Warning” alleging that my dog is an AGGRESSIVE DOG.

A friendly written warning
Friendly Written Warning

Bob was friendly enough, but it didn’t seem a very friendly written warning.

According to Bob, the woman had come back to the house to get the house number, and was “surprised” to see Sandy at the front window. So the dog was inside --- not running at large --- in the front window, and so was Eric. I was working outside, pressure washing the deck. There is no way she could not have seen this. But rather than speak to me or to Eric, she made a note of the house number --- where the dog was not running at large --- and phoned Dog Control.

I know I am a newcomer, having lived here just under nine years. But this is my question: Have the people here ALWAYS been whiny babies, running off to tell mommy or daddy when someone breaks a rule? Or is this something recent? Because where I grew up we were taught that grownups work things out in a civilized fashion, and only when that becomes impossible do we bring in “The Authorities.” Or invade.

Friday night on the local news a woman at “The Mayor’s Environmental Expo” made a presentation to schoolchildren about five noxious weeds that cause problems in the Okanagan. She had posters, brochures, what looked like bookmarks, and who-knows-what-all-else to aid in identifying the weeds. “Now there is a program,” she explained. “If you see these weeds in your neighbour’s yard, REPRORT THEM to the Regional District.”

Don’t approach the neighbo(u)r? Don’t ask to have a quiet word? Don’t slip a poster or a bookmark under the door in the dead of night and run away? Heck no. REPORT THEM. You could win a $50.00 gift certificate at --- wait for it --- a local garden centre. So now, we have given schoolchildren the job of reporting their neighbo(u)rs to “The Authorities.” It’s peculiar, but I have an almost overpowering urge to listen to the Original Broadway Cast album of “Cabaret.”

Hey, look. Was it my fault that my dog took off running? You bet. She knows better, and she is never allowed out on her own. Am I sorry this woman, whoever she is, was frightened by my dog? Absolutely. It’s just too bad she didn’t ring the doorbell or get my attention while I was working on the deck. The deck that she had to have passed by to see Sandy in the front window, not running at large. I would have heard her out. I would have apologized. But the fact is, I don’t know who she is because she chose the coward’s way out, and it turns out that the recipients of “friendly written warnings” are not entitled to know who made the allegations.

But we can certainly narrow it down, because Sandy usually only barks at sanctimonious jerks and the FedEx delivery guy. I intend to sit on the deck at least part of every day and see who gets barked at.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Bird's Nest

There’s a bird nest in the lights over the garage. Sometimes there’s a bird in it.

I noticed the nest one afternoon when I came home and got out of the car. It got bigger over the next couple of days, but I never saw the bird.

Bird's Nest

Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that there would be a bird in it at some point. That point was last night.

About 11:30, just before bed, I put Sandy on her long lead and opened the garage door so she could have a pee. The nest apparently has covered part of the motion sensor, because the light didn’t come on when the door opened, and usually it does.

Sandy trotted out, broke the beam, and the light came on. The bird woke up!! The bird swooped down on Sandy, Sandy took off running, pulling me along behind her. The bird headed for the next door neighbor’s tree, where it proceeded to give us the dickens for waking it up. Sandy got herself set up under the neighbor’s tree and proceeded to bark at the bird. The bird swooped again. Repeatedly.

Up and down the street, lights came on. Doors opened and closed. Dogs began to bark. I’m out there in my driveway, illuminated from behind by the garage light, swatting at an angry, diving bird, and trying to shush an excited, barking dog. After what seemed like a lot longer than would be absolutely necessary, doors opened and closed again and lights went off. Dogs kept barking though. It was all very exciting.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Time for Sandy’s “Annual Wellness Exam.” She is so well that it took three of us --- Linda, the vet, Diane, the vet assistant and me to hold her still so Linda could cut Sandy’s toenails. “It was a lot easier when she was unconscious,” said Linda.

My parents went to Italy and sent Sandy a postcard from Pompeii. It’s a picture of the floor in The Tragic Poet’s House. It shows a dog on a chain and says “Cave Canem”. They signed the card “The Grand People.”

There’s a new walking trail not far from where we live. It’s two trails, mostly side by side. One is paved and the other is dirt and gravel. That one is closer to the water. The trails are about 1 km long. I saw them being constructed and landscaped, and waited for the “No Dogs Allowed” signs to go up. I was surprised when dog poop bag dispensers went up instead. Yes, the dogs are supposed to be on leash. But so far this is the only place where Eric and I can walk with Sandy.

So far it’s just been me and Sandy, though. Spring is on the way, but it’s been rainy, cold, and windy, and not great for pushing a wheelchair a couple of miles, so Eric’s stayed home. Sandy and I walked the trail yesterday. We had a pretty good time despite the fact that I wouldn’t let her go for a swim or even roll in anything. Afterwards I went to work out and Sandy was going to stay in the car and have a nap unless there was something to bark at.

The woman at the fitness place saw Sandy’s nose pressed against the car’s back window and told me to bring Sandy in; she could stay while I worked out. Once Sandy got over the dog in the big mirror along the back wall, everything was good. I don’t know what she thought I was doing. (This is just a circuit place, not a real gym.) I told her it was like dog agility but for people. Now I think she wants to try dog agility.

I know Spring is on the way because Sandy is really, really shedding. I brushed her the other day outside on the deck. We left the dog hair for birds to build nests. Now it’s like dog tv out there: Sandy watches as they pick up some hair and continue construction.

There is a product called Pet Therapy Instant Clean, which is a spray-on/wipe-off shampoo-in-a-mist for use between baths. It works pretty well on Sandy because she will let me spray this stuff on her in the first place. She won’t let me give her a real bath. As soon as she sees the cotton balls and the dog shampoo, she curls up in her crate and tries to look clean. But she has no problem with this stuff even though the directions contain this line: …Allow animal to stand for 3 to 5 minutes… There’s some solid advice.