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.