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Bikes, bears and back country – Rossland, BC

By August 11, 2017 biking, dog stories, general, places, travel, wildlife stories

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Rossland, BC, nestled in the Monashee range in the West Kootenays, is the smallest incorporated city in Canada with a population of around 3,500.

In the 1990s it was like taking a step back in time – to an age when kids played outside until they were called in for dinner or bed — and almost no one locked their doors.

The city had grown up during a gold rush on Red Mountain in the 1890s, but the gold was long gone and now the sleepy town’s economy was based largely on the tourists that came for the world class skiing in the winter, and of course the mountain biking.

We had moved there in 1993 – so Max and Dolly got to grow up in an environment where they could walk by themselves to soccer or gymnastic classes — or even spend the day skiing with only their friends for company.

Rossland also had a long history as a centre for mountain biking – tracing back to the earliest Rubberhead bike festivals starting in the mid 1980s.  An extensive system of riding trails still extends from the outskirts of town giving easy access to the back country.  Even though we had moved to Rossland for the skiing, we made good use of those biking trails.

The other thing Rossland was famous for was its bears.

When I lived there, bears regularly walked through town, especially along the banks of Trail Creek that ran right behind our house.

Anyone who biked in the bush, routinely carried bells on their handlebars – or under the back of their bike seat – anywhere that would cause the bells to jingle as you rode along the trails.  Ringing bells to keep the bears away!

The theory was that the bears were no more interested in meeting up with bikers than the bikers were in meeting up with a bear.  The plan was for the bears to hear the bells so they could take off before the cyclist arrived.

I always had bells on my bike.  But it wasn’t always effective ….  as I found out one summer evening when my son Max and I decided to take a quick ride down the hill to Warfield after dinner.

We took the rail-grade trail because we could access it right behind our house.  It  followed the route of the old narrow-gauge railroad that ran from Trail Landing on the Columbia River, up to the gold mine on Red Mountain.  The tracks had long since been removed, and the rail bed now made a great biking and hiking trail.

Our golden retriever, Pinky, came along as well.  She loved to run with the bikes and would never miss a trip to the bush.  She was a great bike dog because she never chased other bikes or dogs – and she never got in the way of our bikes.  She was too busy enjoying herself running through the bush.

We had just started out and were just past the edge of town, when a small black dog appeared and started to chase the wheels of my bike.

He was running right beside my pedals but surprisingly he was not barking.  I was sure he was either going to get hurt himself – or make me fall – or maybe both.  So I was yelling and trying to get him to “go away” – when I realized I was looking down at two little, round, black ears that were sitting up high on top of his head.

I’d never seen a dog with ears like that.  The only thing I knew of with ears like that was a bear!!

He wasn’t much bigger than a ten-pin bowling ball with legs – and his head was almost the same size as his body.

And oh yes – he was definitely a bear!!  Just a little cub.

Now I was seriously trying to get him away from my bike – and I had no intention of stopping or even slowing down!!

I didn’t want to look over my shoulder — I was pretty sure that if baby-bear was chasing my bike then momma-bear was not too far away.  And probably not very happy with what was going on!

When I was yelling at the little bear to take off – I had also alerted Pinky to my problem and Pinky hated bears.

She hated them with a vengeance.  She would tree any bear that entered our yard.  I always thought it was because they would get into our garbage cans – and she thought she had first dibs on any garbage at our house.

And now she was racing straight down the hill towards the trail – and me.

She clearly planned to teach this little bear a lesson and of course she chose the shortest route to get to the bear – right in front of my bike.

I don’t know how I didn’t end up flying over the handle bars that night – but I managed to avoid the dog – and the bear – and I stayed on my bike.

The little guy took off down the field with Pinky in hot pursuit.  She was barking!

I didn’t look left and I didn’t look right and I certainly didn’t attempt to look behind me.  I just hollered at Max to  “keep pedalling –  as fast as you can!!”

I don’t know if he even knew what had happened — but he was always game to pedal full speed down hill.

I have been told that bears can run uphill faster than down.  And I know for sure that I can bike downhill much faster than up — so it was downhill all the way.  Non-stop to Warfield.

I never did lay eyes on momma-bear that night — but I know she was there somewhere.

In all the years we lived in Rossland – it was the closest I ever got to a baby bear – and I didn’t even take the time to enjoy it!!

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My boy Bill !!!

By August 9, 2017 dog stories, general

Willy came to our house to live, in May of 2011. I had seen his picture in an ad on our internal web-site at work.  He was a scrawny little terrier-type dog — with very sad eyes.  The ad said that he was in need of a new home.  I hit Reply!

I was put in contact with the dog’s owner, a young girl (twenty something), who had gotten a puppy she could no longer keep.  She told me he was nine months old and that friends of hers were looking after him while she looked for a new home.  She wanted to interview potential new families and then decide who would get him.

I appreciated that she wanted to find the best home for her pet — but I didn’t feel that big an attachment to the photo of her dog and we weren’t interested in entering into a competition. I wished her well but said we were no longer  interested.

Our two old dogs had gone to cancer a few years before and we had been dog-sitting periodically to fill the void – but we knew that we needed another dog to join our family – and one that needed to be rescued, just felt right.

The following Sunday morning the girl called again.  This time she was desperate – the friends who had been looking after the dog had dumped him at the pound without even telling her or letting her know there was a problem.

She said this was his third time at the pound and he was now classed as incorrigible.  If someone didn’t take him today he was going to be put down.  She had nowhere to keep him and asked if I still wanted him.  I knew that she was trying hard not to cry.

Three strikes? I had never even heard of that for dogs.  I told Kerry and he just grabbed the truck keys and said, “let’s go”.

When we met her in the parking lot at the pound, we told her we were not committing to keeping him at this point – but we would save him — and make sure he went to a good home.  And we assured her that he would not end up back there again.   She said that was good enough – but that she would find the good home — and then she went in to spring her dog!

She showed up about 20 minutes later with a copper-coloured bundle of energy in her arms. She and the dog sat on a bench on the other side of the parking lot with her back us – while she said goodbye.

He was amazing – just full of energy –  like a trout on the end of a line – twisting and turning and jumping and kissing. Kissing her face – and her ears – and her mouth.  He never stopped moving and wriggling and kissing.  It went on for a long time.

When he settled down a bit – she brought him over to our truck.  I felt so sad for her.  She said his name was Bear and that he was nine months old.  He obviously loved her a lot.

We drove her to the C-train and the kisses continued for the whole drive.  She told us she would look for a new home right away.  She thanked us and then she walked away.  She never looked back.  She didn’t even know where we lived.

I felt so sad.

The poor little guy didn’t even have a collar so we stopped and bought him one on the way home.  It was the nicest one I could find – copper coloured – just like his fur.  The leather was rolled and top stitched.  I thought that wherever he went next, at least he would be well dressed.

It was still early when we got home.  We fed him some kibbles and I took pictures of him with my phone.

He looked sad … he seemed to be trying to tell me something … just some sad story. Or maybe he was asking why we didn’t want to keep him?

He did not respond to the name Bear … not at all … not even a flicker.

Then the girl called again to say she had already found him a new home.  I took down the contact information and told Kerry someone wanted the dog – a woman who had a dog that needed company in its old age.

I told him I couldn’t make the call because I was pretty sure that I would cry.  So, he took the number and went to do the deed.

He came back a few minutes later and said … “I am not giving that dog to her … we are keeping him.”

Now I really thought I might cry — but from relief  this time.

Kerry is the one who looks after our dogs.  He walks them three times a day and trains them to go off-leash and takes them with him everywhere.  He works from home — so he and the dogs are constant companions. I had not wanted to saddle him with a dog that I had chosen, but I was so happy to hear that he couldn’t part with him either.

Kerry said he was worried that the little guy wouldn’t get enough exercise and that such an energetic puppy wasn’t a good choice as companion for an old dog — and that we should just keep him – because he was exactly the dog we were looking for.  I agreed.

We took him to the off-leash puppy park and he just went crazy.  He ran around like mad and visited all the other dogs … and peed on everything … and he just wore himself out …. then he came home with us and crashed to sleep … just like a little kid. And he was never a problem.  He just wanted to run.  So we made sure he got plenty of time to run every day.

We called him Willy.  I think he is the dog we have ever owned and we have had a bunch of great dogs … that we loved like crazy!!  But Willy has his own special aura and everyone who meets him just loves him.

And he changed before our eyes.  When we got him he was a short-haired terrier type and then he turned into a dog that grew hair everywhere … on top of his head … behind his ears …on the top of his paws … down the outside of his hind legs … everywhere.

He now looks like a miniature golden retriever.  But he is just a mutt.  A mutt that might have met a bad end if that young girl hadn’t made sure that her puppy found a good home.

When he first came to live with us he was scared of young men, I don’t like to think why.  But our son Max and his friends all spoiled Willy with chewy toys and games of fetch and catch and now he goes crazy when Max comes to visit – like his big brother has come home.  But Willy still runs and hides – in a closet  -or behind a couch if there is any loud noise in the house.  And he still has bad dreams.

We never heard from the young girl again.  And now Willy greets me with a thousand kisses.  He has so much love to give.

We are so happy we got that call that Sunday morning and that Willy became part of our family so he could join us to go looking for Dogs Behind Fences!

Did I mention that this all happened on Mother’s Day?

 

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I’m “On Hold” with my cell phone provider — right now …

By August 6, 2017 general, thoughts to ponder

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It is 9:11 a.m. and I am “on hold” with my cell phone provider …. It just drives me crazy that it is so difficult to contact any service-provider – by phone.  Now, I can’t even connect with my cell phone service-provider – by phone.

It is not that I don’t want to use their website to solve my problem.  The problem I am trying to resolve – (one of them) – is that I can’t get onto my on-line account.

I am on the endless circuit …  you know the one …  press “1 ” if you want to pay your bill  …  press “2” if you want to order a new phone ….. then at the end of each level they remind me how much easier it would be if only I would go on-line !!!

Finally I am at …. “Due to high call volume there will be a long wait – but we are anxious to help you” ….

I have been listening to their music for over 10 minutes now.  Add that to the 20 minutes I spent trying to get on-line – change my password – link my account  – and then get told that my account is linked to another email address – one that I cannot access …. Aggghhhh!!!!

Success at last … I am now talking to a polite young man who wants to help me.  I explain that I do have an actual problem with the data consumption but my first and biggest problem is that I can’t access my account on-line.

I have called them about this problem before but they are never able to solve my problem.  The account was originally linked to a work email that I no longer have access to.  If I could just get into my account – I could change the email address.  Do I hear Catch-22, anybody?

But good news!! Today he tells me this is not a big problem – it can be easily fixed.  Then suddenly I hear,  …. “Hello?  Hello? … Can you hear me?

I keep saying, … “Yes, I can hear you” …..  “I can hear you loud and clear” …  but all I hear back is, “Hello?  Hello? … Can you hear me?

I can’t believe it.  Now that now that I have finally connected with someone who thinks he can solve my problem — I am going to get disconnected and have to start all over. “Hello?  … Hello? …

This has now gone on for  so long I almost disconnect the line myself  … but then we have a break though – he is there!!!! I can hear him – and he can hear me.

We are ready to do business.

And more amazing yet  — he actually solves my problem and I can access my account.  Now I can monitor things like data usage.

Now to the mystery of why our 20 gigabites of data — that is normally sufficient for 5 people for a month — has been gobbled up in eight days.

He identifies the phone that is sucking up all the data and tells me it is all being used in the middle of the night.  That seems weird … I can’t imagine why he is running data on his phone in the middle of the night but I will get it stopped.

Now I have to figure out how to get more data for the rest of the month.  Our cell phone provided sends a message to the main line when data usage is running low.  It gives the opportunity to get more data for the month for a very cheap rate.

It is my husband, Kerry, who gets that message – the least technically savvy person on the family plan.

But he either doesn’t see the text … or can’t read it … or doesn’t recognize the number and just ignores it.  And our provider will NOT change the main line to be my phone – or anyone else’s – only Kerry can get the message.

Anyone else on the plan would frantically respond  – saying – YES –  YES  – give us lots more data for cheap.  Oh well, anther problem for another day.

Now that we have gone over our plan – the only solution is to increase the plan on a monthly basis.  So that is what I had to do.

Now I just have to make sure the gobbling phone is corrected and remember to change back to the lower plan when the month is over.

That means ….. agghhhh ….. another phone call to change the plan.

It is now 10:57 a.m.  Just about two full hours start to finish.  How do people deal with this if they cannot simply sit on the phone for two hours?

Oh yeah – the data was being consumed by some App that would kick in, in the middle of the night.  The culprit just deleted that App.  Hopefully problem solved.

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A Close Encounter with Princess Diana

By August 2, 2017 general, People

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Everywhere you look these days – the media is filled with Princess Diana stories — so hard to believe that it’s the twentieth anniversary of her death.

I remember that day well!  My daughter, Dolly, was 8 at the time.  Her friend Annabelle had slept over the night before and when I got downstairs in the morning, I found the two girls watching what seemed to be a news program on TV.  Well that seemed strange.  I asked the girls what they were watching and they immediately made eye-contact with each other and a funny look passed between them – –  weird vibe going on there.

Then Dolly said to me — “It’s Princess Diana, Mom.  We think she might be dead.”  What ???

I found myself sitting on the couch – eyes glued to the TV screen.  I sat there all day – just watching.  I couldn’t believe it.  Such a powerful life force – struck down – so young – so vibrant – too soon.

Everyone in my family knew that I had a thing about Princess Diana.  Nothing could make me pick up a magazine faster than if Di’s face was on the cover.  In fact, as I went up to bed at the end of the day, I noticed a magazine I had left on the stairs.  It was the most recent issue of Vanity Fair – possibly even the September issue – you know how early those things come out.  And there she was looking up at me from the cover.  And now she was gone.  She would never see September.

I had fallen for Diana right from the start – even before the wedding.  But I was one that could not understand why she wanted to marry him – Charles.  She seemed so sweet and natural and innocent.  No – I did not stay up to watch the wedding — and I was not one of those that just loved the dress —  In fact, I hated the dress.

But I did love everything else about Diana.  I am not ordinarily one of those celebrity worshippers – but there was something different about Diana – I really felt connected to her.  I thought she was the best thing that had ever happened to the Royals.  And I loved her hats!

So it was truly amazing in May of 1986, when I was 8 months pregnant, that I had a close encounter with that magic.

It was really hot that day – and I was hugely pregnant.  I carried that baby high – and all out front.  Most days I felt like a ship in full sail.  It had been hot in Vancouver all that spring and I was growing out of clothes that I could wear to work.

A friend had loaned me her wedding dress.  I know – that always gets a laugh — but she and her husband had gotten married in Europe when he was working overseas and her family did not hold a wedding reception for them until after they returned to Canada.  By that time she was VERY pregnant.  Hence a very expensive, very beautiful, colourful, flowing, maternity-wedding dress.  It was so amazing that I had picked that dress to wear on that fateful day.

My husband and I worked right at Granville and Hastings in Vancouver.  We would park in a lower level of the brand-new Canada Place, down on the water front, and walk from there up the hill to the office.

As I got bigger and bigger that spring and my feet got more and more swollen – my climb up the hill got slower and slower.  At this stage in my pregnancy – Kerry and I would split up after parking.  He would hike up the ramp and head on to work  – leaving me to make my own slow way.   I would take the elevators from the lower parking level to the main lobby of the Pan Pacific Hotel.  Then I could walk straight out the lobby doors at ground level — from there I had only one hill to climb up to Hastings Street.

On this particular day — I rode the elevator, as usual, up to the main lobby level, but when the elevator doors opened I found myself facing a huge crowd of women.  They were all dressed up in their finest clothes and lots of them were wearing fancy hats and some of them held bouquets of flowers!

And they were all staring at me.

They were restrained by a thick gold rope barrier that followed the red carpet that led straight from my feet to the front door of the hotel.

To say I was in shock would be an understatement.  I looked at the red carpet and I looked at the crowd and I tried to figure out how I could possible get myself out of this situation.

Get myself, somehow, over that gold cord and get into the crowd and away from all the eyes that were staring at me.

But at this stage in my pregnancy — there was no way I could climb over anything — and anyway – there was simply no more room behind the gold rope.  The women were elbow to elbow in that lobby – no room for anyone else!

I looked down the length of the red carpet and saw a ‘Mountie’ — in his full red uniform — complete with hat – standing at the end.  You know – a Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  You certainly don’t see that every day in downtown Vancouver.

I thought about stepping back into the elevator and riding back down to the parking level — but the Mountie was signaling to me frantically – “Hurry” he was saying and beckoning – with his hand.  “Hurry – they are coming”.

I was still in some kind of a trance and very embarrassed to have everyone staring at me.  I could hear voices in the crowd saying – “who do you suppose she is?”

And like I said — I was HUGELY pregnant  — (but wearing a beautiful diaphanous summer dress!!)

The Mountie by this time was really frantic.  He continued to urge me down the red carpet.  For some reason I was very reluctant to step on that red carpet — but the Mountie was signalling that it was OK.

So I walked towards him and believe me – it was not a fast walk – once again- hugely pregnant – swollen feet – shuffling really – in my pretty leather flip flops.  I hadn’t been able to get my feet into any of my shoes for quite a while now.

And the Mountie kept hissing — “Hurry – hurry – they are coming!!!!”.

When I got next to him, he just pulled me in beside him and told me to “Stand there.”  As I looked back down the red carpet — where I had just walked moments before – the elevator doors opened — and there stood Charles and Diana.

I couldn’t believe my eyes.  She was even more charismatic and beautiful in person than I could ever have imagined.

And she was heading my way !!!!!

Then they walked down the red carpet (my red carpet) – right past the Mountie and then right in front of me.  I mean literally inches in front of me.  They both looked at me and smiled – Charles nodded his head and maybe he thought – “I wonder who she is?  And why is she with that Mountie?” 

Then they were gone out the door — and as I found out later – on their way to attend the opening ceremonies for Expo 86.  What an incredible stroke of luck for me.  I couldn’t have timed that better if I had known.

The only bad part in my mind, was the fact that Charles was walking on my side of the red carpet.  So I was closer to him than to her. (But still — only inches away from Diana !!!!)

After they were gone, I headed on up the hill to work.  When I got there – everyone was so relieved – they had been ready to send out a search party for me.  When they asked what had kept me so long I just told them I had stopped to see Chuck and Di!!!!

I am still wondering about the poor security guy who had neglected to post someone in the parking levels of the hotel or to shut off access to that route.  I guess things were a little more relaxed in those days — and anyway it was just an embarrassed pregnant woman who crashed the party!

We miss you Diana.

 

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Have you ever bought something from an on-line hawker?

By July 27, 2017 general, thoughts to ponder

I like to shop on-line.  Yeah …. Amazon loves me ….!  I like to buy things on-line because I don’t have to go to a store and they deliver the product to my door.  If I’m looking for something that would be too heavy to carry out to my car — I just go on-line.  Hello new lawn mower / chest freezer / exercise bike.  It’s so easy.

But every once in a while, I find myself lured into one of those … “but just wait!!!!” …  kind of sites.

I recently found myself  watching a video of a guy hinting about some very interesting information he could tell me about a health issue I was researching.  It was one of those videos that just goes on and on and has no option to fast-forward to the punch line.   Any good sales person knows that you should STOP as soon as you get – “YES“.

Well this guy would have gotten my – “YES” – very early but I had to keep listening waiting to find out how to buy – and then when the “BUY NOW” button finally showed up — I could still hear him yapping away on the previous page while I was trying to actually buying the product.

So I bought a book – at a pretty reasonable price (under $50.00) and it would be delivered to my via email so no waiting. And he had convinced me that I really wanted this information.  So everything is good – right?

The minute I made my purchase – other offers started popping up – one after another.  They were for similar products about other health issues — only now they were available at this time only and each one now cost hundreds of dollars.

Now that they had my credit card information I felt like I had to read through all the fine print and then state clearly – ‘No Thanks …. I don’t want your great offer‘.  I had to do that about a half a dozen times before it all ended and I could finalize my purchase.

Meanwhile the original video was still running and that guy was still trying to encourage me to BUY.  There has to be something wrong with a system that does not stop when you get the sale!

I clicked x to close down the site and immediately a menu popped up asking if I really wanted to leave this page.  I assured them that I did want to exit — and immediately another message popped up.

It read:  OK – OK, you can have it for $35.00!!!!” 

I did a big double take — shook my head and thought, “whaaaat?”  You mean if I had just held off a bit …. this amazing offer …. not available in any store …. would not have disappeared, but would  have been about ten dollars cheaper??????

So I had a little chuckle and hit the “Yes – I really do want to leave this page” button.  Only to receive another message saying:  Alright – alright … you got us – we will let you have it for $25.00″ !!!

Now I am not just saying “Whaaaaattttt” !!!!!  I am actually adding a “T” and an “F” to the end of that “W”.

(Is it permissible to say WTF in a blog? — whatever — you guys all get the point by this time.)

So if I just had just been a tougher customer, I could have gotten the same product for about half the price.

But my question remains — Why would you make that offer to someone who had already paid ??????

I think they need to work on their web-site.

For me the comic-relief was worth the extra Twenty bucks I paid.  I am still laughing about it two days later.

And – incidentally –  it is two days later and I still haven’t read any of the information I purchased.  It is all saved on my desktop, waiting for some day when I again have an inclination to read about that health issue.

Cheerio!

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How I lowered my blood pressure – and was able to cut my medication by half !!!

By July 25, 2017 general, non-traditional medicine

High Blood Pressure — Hypertension — no matter what you call this silent killer, it still seems to be a bit of a mystery to everyone — even the medical professionals have not been able to explain its sudden onset.

Throughout my life, my blood pressure was completely predictable.  It was always 124/72 give or take a number in either direction; when I was a teenager – in my twenties, and even when I was 8 months pregnant with my first child.

Then suddenly – one day – about nine years ago, my blood pressure reading suddenly skyrocketed. It was so high that I was urged to go straight to my doctor for treatment — or risk hospitalization, or even a stroke.

Coincidentally, I had been on a program for several months that required me to have my blood pressure monitored three times a week.  The record showed a continuous history of normal readings – with no problems.  So it was a real shock to suddenly find myself having to take daily medication for the first time in my life.

As a baby-boomer, I had been quite proud of the fact that I was one of the few in my age group that was not on some kind of medication for some age-related illness.

Although I can’t remember exactly how high my blood pressure was that day, I do remember that both sides were in the triple digits.  Not quite enough to be hospitalized – but very serious.

The medication only managed to keep my blood pressure within the moderate to severe stages of hypertension.  I considered a reading of 160/89 as not too bad a day.

Even when my doctor doubled the dose of medication I was taking, my readings only came down to high 150s/high 80s.

In January, when I went to get my prescription renewed, you can imagine my amazement when my doctor told me that my reading was 118/68 !!!!

I had to get her to repeat the numbers.  I was simply stunned and thought that I had heard her incorrectly.

That’s pretty good” she said.   She never did ask if I had any idea what might have caused this change — or even questioned the reading on her machine — instead she just renewed my prescription and sent me on my way.

I  left her office in shock and went straight home to test my pressure with my own blood pressure cuff and found the same amazing reading.  I continued to monitor my pressure over the next couple of days and the readings stayed in the same range — always in the normal or even optimal level.

No, I had not suddenly dropped a lot of weight and no I had not taken up a new healthy activity and yes I was under a great deal of stress and no I had not suddenly reversed my age by 20 years.

The only change in my life was that I started being treated by an acupuncturist, Susan Harvey, over the previous six weeks.  She had treated me three times prior to the day of my amazing news at the doctor’s office.

When I relayed this information to Susan at my next appointment she was not surprised at all.  She talked about blockages in my systems and how my chi was now moving more freely, and a bunch of other stuff that I didn’t totally understand and don’t actually remember.

That was in February 2017.  It is now July 2017. I have continued to monitor and record my blood pressure on a regular basis.  The results have remained in the normal range.

After discussions with my doctor, I have now reduced my medication by half and I continue to monitor my readings at home on a daily basis.

I plan to continue with the acupuncture treatments and hope to cut the prescription in half again if things remain good — with the ultimate goal to get off medication altogether.

Medical doctors are often very suspicious of alternative, non-traditional types of medicine — but this is not the first time that I have found great success by following a different path.

I was surprised to find that my doctor did not dismiss the idea that the acupuncture might be improving my blood pressure — she agreed that something had caused the improvement and she encouraged me to continue going for acupuncture treatments.

I will keep you up to date on any new information about this story.

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Dogs behind fences

By July 22, 2017 dog stories, general

The first time I laid eyes on Pye – she looked a little bit like Cinderella before the Fairy Godmothers performed their magic – if Cinderella had been a dog, that is.  Then – just to keep things interesting – throw in a touch of Liz Taylor – partly for the black hair but mostly because her name was spelled out in rhinestones on her collar.  Yes – she was a ratty little girl in diamonds.It was the fall of 2009.

We had been mourning the loss of the two dogs that had grown up with our kids.  Both had gone to cancer – one in 2006 and the other in 2007, one age 13 and one only 12 … and both of them, way too soon.

Kerry felt disloyal to even think about getting another dog – but he was really missing his old girls – and really missing his dog walks every day.  He felt like a bit of a fraud – or a stalker – if he went to the dog park with no dog so it sounded like a great idea when offered to dog-sit for a friend of a friend over the Labour Day long weekend.

Our two old dogs had been a beautiful female golden retriever and her HUGE, black, half-Husky puppy.  Yeah — two big dogs. So you can imagine my surprise when I arrived home to find a messy little pile of black fur sitting on my kitchen floor.  This was Pye.

She was the rattiest little thing – some kind of black spaniel but really small.  She had a very flat nose, buck teeth and huge expressive eyes (her best feature) …. along with extremely bad breath.  Her hair was long and ragged everywhere — both ears were a different length – and she was covered in giant mats.

Worst of all was the hair on her feet. It was at least three inches long and wispy.  It grew out over her toes like some weird middle-eastern slipper. She really did look like something the Grinch would have owned.  The poor little thing could hardly walk.  I thought it was the long hair hanging off her toes that was making her trip but when I picked her up I found that her toe nails were so long a couple of them had curled right up under her feet. No wonder the poor little thing could hardly walk — and no wonder she was so chubby!

I knew I had to do something to help this poor little ragamuffin.  But we only had her for the weekend and we didn’t even know the owner. Who could have let this sweet little girl get into such bad shape?  The first thing we did was trim up her nails.  That was a two-man job and difficult to do because the nails were so long and we didn’t want to cause her any pain.

Then I combed/cut all of the mats out from around her ears and her bib and her tail. I wanted to trim the long hair around her ears so it would be the same length on each side, but Kerry thought we shouldn’t send her home looking like a completely different dog.  I restrained my self and just trimmed some of the length off the hair on her toes.  Enough so that she didn’t trip over them any more.

Then Kerry and Pye set off for his favorite dog spot – down by the Bow River.  We don’t think Pye had ever been off-leash before but she really enjoyed it – and she was so well behaved.  She was not very brave about other dogs so she stuck really close to Kerry.  She really was the sweetest most lovable little girl.  We kind of fell in love with her right away.

But it was when we took her to the off-leash paths in our neighborhood that she discovered the true joy in her life — dogs behind fences.

The off-leash paths run through a ravine area at the back of the houses – the yards are all fenced and many of the yards contain dogs.  Dogs that couldn’t get at Pye no matter how fiercely she barked at them.  She just loved that.  She could be a noisy, aggressive, beast as long as the other dogs were safely contained behind their fences.

We baby-sat Pye often over the next few years and her favorite outing was always to go see ‘dogs behind fences’.  That was until one day when she suffered a ‘near-miss’.

There was a yard that contained two dachshunds — they just loved to bark ferociously at every person or canine who walked by.  The fence that hid them was about six feet tall and was made of close spaced boards that you could not see through.

Kerry had always called the two dogs – Hans and Franz – until one day their owner (an older German lady) informed him that they were in fact — Dieter and Otto.

On the day of the ‘near miss’ –Pye was thoroughly enjoying herself barking madly at the fence – with her nose about 1/4 inch from the boards — when suddenly a pointy little dachshund nose stabbed completely through a knot hole in the wood – right in front of Pye’s face.

I don’t know if it was Dieter or Otto?  But which ever one it was – it almost gave Pye a heart attack.  I swear I saw her gasp and clutch her chest with her paws.  (Did I mention how hard I was laughing?)

So now a new phrase had entered our family lexicon – dogs behind fences.  It refers to something wonderful and fun – but something that could have unintended – possibly hazardous – consequences.

I hope you enjoyed Pye’s story.  If you stick around you will hear more about Pye and all our other canine friends.

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