Dawgs About Town

It happens every year: the dog’s annual visit to the vet.  And let me just say that if I had any doubt as to the weirdness of my dogs, it is dashed to smithereens any time we get close to the vet’s.  My dogs love the vet.  And I do mean LOVE (as in all caps bold underline and italic) the vet.  Piper will wake out of a dead sleep whenever we get close and start whining up a storm as soon as we get into the parking lot.  All three of them will drag me into the office.  I cannot get the door open fast enough for them.  I have worked really hard to make it a positive place for them and have brought them to the vet for visits and treats and gotten them used to everyone there.  My thinking is that in the case of an emergency, I want to reduce the stress as much as possible to make a difficult situation a little less difficult.  Well apparently I did my job too well.  I’m lucky because all of the vets and staff at the clinic are amazing and I know my critters are in good hands.

We got into the office and everyone got weighed and saw the doctor and we collected our year’s supply of flea and tick control and heartworm meds and bloodwork and OH MY GAWD my credit card screamed as it tried to cling to the leather of my wallet.  Four digits; that’s all I will say about the bill.

As much fun as the vet is, I like to make our outings as fun as possible to keep the good vibes rolling so we went for a nice long hike in our local country preserve.  As we climbed out of the car, I noticed a lovely young black lab that was dragging it’s owner towards us.  It seemed friendly but when he led the dog one way, we went the other.  That would not be the last time that we would see that bouncing ball of energy or her not bad-looking owner.

Even with plenty of cars in the parking lot, we barely saw anyone else as we hiked trails that wound through tall grass and tall trees.  We were beginning to make our way back to the car when that same black lab came bounding around a corner, all floppy years and big feet.  At first she didn’t see us but her owner was more on the ball than the pup and she was back on leash as she kept straining towards Piper.  The owner told me that her best friend is a boxer and she just wanted to play.

Now let me just go off on a bit of a side note here: I’ve been single for a while and I’ve come to realize that it is because I am clueless when it comes to either possible interest or possible opportunities.  This being a prime example: had I been paying attention I would have said something along the lines of “Maybe she wants another boxer friend” which could have been chance to get to know the owner.  What do I do instead?  “Cool,” as we walk on by.  I was about 20 steps past when I literally groaned out loud with a full-on face palm.

I’m not going to say that I kept my eye out for that lab and Mr. Cutie.  I may have even lingered in the parking lot to make sure that the dogs were all strapped in.  For safety sake of course.  Eventually, once everyone was safely strapped in, we set out for our next fun stop of the day.

I have been chastised (jokingly I hope) several times at my local pet store for showing up without the pups so I just had to bring them in for a visit since we were passing by.  After they got their first set of treats from the staff, we went to the wall of toys.  They seemed interested in the “Chatterball” which is a ball that makes noise.  So of course, they got a Chatterball.  And more treats before we left the store.

I needed something to take a bit of the edge off after that vet bill so we went to Second Wedge Brewing Co.  I had been there before and knew that dogs were welcome.  We were greeted at the door by the resident brewery dog, another lab named Sadie.  I didn’t quite trust my pack to stay out from underfoot so they stayed on leash which seemed to bore Sadie.  And soon my pack was sprawled out on the floor around me.

IMG_0891

Outside the brewery

IMG_0892

The menu board

IMG_0896

The dogs wondering if they get some.

IMG_0897

A room with a view.

IMG_0904

The dogs with their new friend Sadie.  Jack doesn’t seem to care.

I tried a couple of the seasonal brews: Day Tripper and Smoked Wheat on Rye and fell in love with the Smoked Wheat.  A lovely smoky flavour running through lovely beer.  Soooooooooo good.  I could drink that for the rest of my life and be happy.  As I sipped away, the staff and other customers came to visit with the dogs who would sit up just to get their attention and then flop back over onto their sides.  Then I heard something that made my ears perk up: a food truck was coming by in a few hours.  I was torn.  Do I hang around in town for the truck or just go home.  And then I heard the menu: barbecue.  Problem solved.  Of course I was going to stay.

I collected the dogs and wandered down the main street with plenty of people stopping to pet the dogs or wave at us as they drove by.  We wound our way past people fishing in one of the town ponds then through main park and finally back to the brewery.

IMG_0909

Beside Elgin Pond on Youth Fishing Day.

The truck was parked out front but was still making final preparations so I decided to have one more beer.  I popped into the brewery and was shocked at how many people were in there, a huge difference from a short while ago.  There was another dog that was wandering around in there and he was not on a leash.  I was a little concerned with the dominant body language he was showing so I kept the dogs outside.  The patio is amazing and we were the only ones sitting outside.  OK I was sitting as the dogs were passed out on the ground around me.  Soon I saw people walking near the food truck so I drained my beer and went out to the truck.

IMG_0912

We had the patio all to ourselves.

We were still early and stood staring at the menu, trying not to look too pathetic as we waited alone outside the truck.  Soon others joined us and then the panel of Laura’s Casual Kitchen lifted to expose the interior and we saw the people frantically working inside.

IMG_0917

Laura’s Casual Kitchen truck.

IMG_0920

Patiently waiting.

In no time, I found myself the proud holder of a plate of smoked ribs, potato and egg salad, and a cornbread muffin.  I parked myself on a nearby concrete footing that happened to have a piece of metal sticking up that was a convenient leash holder.  Let’s just say the ribs did not last long and the potato/egg salad was really good.  I usually put eggs in my potato salad so it was nice to see it somewhere else.  I wasn’t fond of the cornbread and found it really dry.  The butter that accompanied it was so hard that it was torn apart to fall down my shirt.  All things considered though, it was a fantastic meal.  The dogs were more than happy to take care of all the crumbs that fell and they had a few samples of the ribs.  I had to ignore Leo’s attempts at Jedi mind tricks to hand over a rib.

IMG_0923

Potato/egg salad, smoked ribs, and a cornbread muffin.

I loaded, practically lifting, the dogs into the car (with some Smoked Wheat and Day Tripper to enjoy at home) and soon we were back home.  The dogs were so worn out that I had to bribe them out of the car.  They slid out, had a drink, and flopped in their usual sleeping spots: Piper sprawled on the couch, Jack on his mound of blankets, and Leo in his chair in my craft room.  Soon the sound of snoring echoed around me.

A Short Trip to Somewhere

I found myself with some time off and the first hint of a gorgeous day a few days ago so I figured “Let’s go somewhere.”  With my newly acquired Parks Canada Discovery Pass burning a hole in my pocket (OK it was pinned to my cork board but that doesn’t sound as good) it was an easy decision to make.  And as there are only five national parks in Ontario and a very limited amount of time, it was narrowed down to Georgian Bay Islands National Park.  So I loaded the dogs in the car, punched in the park name, and followed the directions from my pushy telephone.

I wasn’t really paying attention as I blindly followed the voice in the phone.  I was somewhat familiar with the route since we were headed towards Midland and as we continued north, I saw some ominous clouds ahead of us that had me worried we might have to cancel our trip.  But after a few turns, I was back facing the sunshine.

I turned down the last road and eagerly fixed my pass to the rearview mirror as I drove towards where I thought must be the gate.  Nope…no gate.  An administration building with a ton of vehicles but no gate.  Weird.  I brought the dogs out of the car and headed towards the first thing that looked like a trail.  There were no markings, no maps, but oh wait: there’s a sign that indicates the park border.  OK so at least I’m on national lands.

We went traipsing along the narrow but well-trodden trail.  I stopped at the edge of a river to let the dogs have a drink and of course they can’t just drink from the shore.  Oh no.  They have to wade in chest deep and drink that way.  All of them.  Great.  Wet dogs.  In fact, Piper wanted to go for a full-on swim and kept trying to wade deeper.  Leo dropped into the dirt as soon as he got out of the water and I cringed with every wiggle that sent more dirt into his drenched coat.  Jack, well Jack’s got that thick pug coat that holds water like a sponge so I had the pleasure of repeated shakes.  After they had sorted themselves out, back on the trail we went.

IMG_0836

The river.

IMG_0815

Can’t you just drink from the shore like normal dogs?

IMG_0816

Oh not you too Leo.

IMG_0837

Piper decided to strike a pose by herself.

IMG_0838

I’m always getting butt shots.

Then we exited onto a paved path.  I turned to look behind me, thinking that I had missed more trail as I was enjoying the sun.  Noooooooooo there was nothing else.  Huh a ten minute walk and I find myself on a paved trail behind some houses.  I knew that there were some small parks but this was a bit much; or not.  Oh well, we continued on.  There was a placard for the Trans-Canada Trail so obviously we had somewhere to go.  It was a nice view out over the water and we walked by some really creepy structure that I think was part of the shipping industry from a bygone era.  All I can say is that I would not have been surprised to see a clown peeking out a window, especially since I had just seen the preview for the movie “It”.

Everyone was super friendly and if I didn’t immediately acknowledge someone, like when I was stooping and scooping, they made sure to say “Hi” as they went past.  There’s no better way to meet people than when you’re trying to tie a bag full of poop.

The paved path quickly heated up and the dogs stopped pulling to sniff everything which is the universal signal for “I wanna go back”.  So we turned around and went back through the park.  Thinking the park had to be bigger, we took a few more trails but we still made it back to the parking lot in zero time.  I felt a little silly for having brought my big camera pack complete with tripod and hiking poles.  Bit of overkill with that.  So I left the big pack behind and brought only my camera as we wandered around a picnic area next to the parking lot.  There were some old stone foundations and I just could not resist stopping for a few pics.  Of course it would have been nice if I had brought my tripod for a group selfie but a wadded up jacket and nearby piece of stone will do almost as good a job.  Having said that, there are plenty for a blooper reel.IMG_0839

Feeling a tad bit peckish, we drove into Midland proper.  I had only been to Midland once before for last year’s Butter Tart Festival so I wanted to stroll the town without being run over.  It’s a very pretty little town with an outstanding coffee shop called “Grounded Coffee Co.”  I ordered my usual americano with a splash of cream and bit of sugar and got a blueberry scone because…well I wanted one.  I sat at the table outside the cafe on the sidewalk and entertained passersby as I shared itty bitty bites of scone with the dogs.  Some people would stop and get some dog lovin’.  There was one gentleman who slowly walked by with a cane and appeared as though he had had a stroke or something similar and the dogs were just so gentle, it made me so proud of them.  Especially Piper since she is a master of the full-body lean.

IMG_0824

You look like you need help with that.

After I had refuelled, we continued to walk to the shore where there is a nice waterfront area.  And then, I saw it.  Always looking for landmarks to pose the dogs I could not pass up the opportunity to get them in front of a giant metal goose.  Nor could I miss the seagull sitting on the head of the goose.  How cool.  Although I was distracted (and maybe a little over caffeinated) when I saw a man sitting by the lake with a red toque and red and white sweater.  Holy crap I found Waldo!!!!  It must have been quite a sight for the people sitting in their cars (I don’t know why) as I tried to pose the dogs, get a photo of the seagull, and covertly get a photo of Waldo.  I managed to get two of the three.  By this point, the dogs were bored of my shenanigans and soon sprawled out on the lawn while I snapped happily away.

IMG_0846

A seagull on a goose’s head! How awesome.

IMG_0847

The dogs are decidedly unimpressed.

Once I was done with photos, and Waldo had left, we sat on the end of one of the piers just to enjoy the sunshine and each others company.  After a bit, we walked back to the car, stopping for one more picture next to a boat.  Dark clouds were hanging low over the water and the wind was starting to blow so we hustled the rest of the way.

IMG_0849

Leo’s trying to figure out how to get the water far below. Piper doesn’t care.

IMG_0850

Jack is content to just chill.

IMG_0851

“Oh come on. Another pic?!”

I was giving the dogs some water before loading them in the car when I heard the first rumble of thunder.  I looked up and saw that the sky had gone from dark clouds to having a green tinge to it.  Uh oh.  When ever there are green skies you know there’s a real storm brewing and no sooner had I started the car, then the first drops fell.  Soon the rain was pouring down and my poor little car was getting pelted by hail and the wind blew us side to side.  Fortunately, the worst of it ended quickly and most of the drive was uneventful if too rainy for any side trips.

Oh and the park that I was in?  It wasn’t Georgian Bay Islands Park.  I’m not quite sure where I was.  I’m thinking it’s just a small chunk of land for their administration office and where they park their cars.  So it looks like we’re going to have to go back.  Only maybe this time with no hail.  But I’m not saying I won’t look for Waldo again.