Monday, August 23, 2010

Camping with Dogs

On the mid-August weekend, some agility friends, my sister and brother-in-law and I went camping with our dogs. We went to Sharbot Lake Provincial Park which is located about 2 hours from Ottawa. There were eight humans and 10 dogs. When the first group of us arrived Friday, it was a beautiful sunny day but not too hot. The weather the rest of the weekend wasn't perfect. It was cloudy and windy on Saturday but at least it didn't rain. On Saturday night we had a very noisy thunderstorm but luckily we got very little rain and were able to have a hot breakfast and pack up before the rain started on Sunday. So really, it was good weather to be camping with dogs!!

We had decided to reserve most all of the campsites on dead-end road so that we would have privacy in our area. That meant almost all of us had our own campsite and we also had a group site where we had our evening bonfires. I think next time we won't get as many sites, as most sites even if they said they were only for one tent would probably fit two.

This was Beckett's first camping trip and he handled it like a pro, even getting tangled in the picnic table many, many times a day so his Momma wouldn't get bored. Both he and Tucker slept well, even during the thunderstorm and even with squirrels in our campsite. Dogs running through the site after squirrels was another story and did cause quite a commotion.

Beckett didn't mind when I put him chest deep in water but he showed no inclination to go swimming even when the other dogs were splashing around retrieving toys. I'm thinking I should buy him a life jacket and see if that changes his opinion of water.

Tucker, an old hand at camping, enjoyed laying around the campsite and mooching food from us at the picnic table. But because of his age and hyperlipidism we didn't go for any long hikes, just short walks in the camp ground.

It was the first time that I had really been camping in years but now that I know that it's possible to get campsites in some of the parks around here on short notice, I will likely do a few more weekend camping trips next year. If we're not doing agility that is!!

I took a couple video clips of the other dogs swimming and I've attached the video here. The other dogs all seemed to be having so much fun in the water. It's my only regret about Shelties is that they don't enjoy swimming; my second Sheltie, Gryffon loved to play in water but not swimming.

Can't wait for next year's outing but maybe not at Sharbot Lake, the proximity of the highway made it noisy at night. Overall though, it was a great weekend of relaxation with the pups and friends.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

On the Rocks

Last week, I took the dogs, with me to visit my parents. No, we did not go to Newfoundland, which is also known as "The Rock" but to Moncton, New Brunswick.

But while I was there, I visited "Hopewell Rocks" on the Bay of Fundy with Tucker and Beckett. It's the site of some of the largest tides in the world. It's in the running to be one of the new 7 natural wonders of the world, the only other site in North America in the running is the Grand Canyon. Hopewell Rocks is very dog friendly, they are allowed on the trails and down on the ocean floor, the only places that they are not allowed is in the buildings (but I did take them into the pit toilets, didn't think anyone would mind that). I took the trail down to the stairs to the Flower Pots but there also is a shuttle. Not sure if the dogs are allowed on the shuttle although when I paid for my admission, they asked me if I wanted shuttle tickets and obviously they had seen the dogs. You do have to sign saying that you have read their dog policy and leashes can be no more than 6 ft long.

I planned our trip to arrive just after low tide; which was on the day we went at 8:45 in the morning. You can walk on the ocean floor some 3 hours before low tide and up to 3 hours afterwards. At high tide, you can take a kayak tour around these flower pots as they are called.

Tucker did really well on our little excursion. It was quite a long walk for him. The trail down to the stairs is about 900 meters and then there are the stairs which are open metal stairs with the last two flights of stairs having metal grate steps. I thought the dogs would have a hard time going up but it was actually going down where they needed a bit of coaxing since they could see the ground below, I think they were a bit nervous.

We spent about an hour exploring and then headed back up the stairs. At the top, we sat on the deck of the viewing platform to give Tucker a little break, one that both Beckett and I enjoyed too. Tucker was really tired out by the time we got back up to the top, he headed for some bushes and plunked himself down.

I also took Beckett to Cape Jourimain. It's a nature and intepretive centre just where the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island starts in New Brunswick. My sister Karen, her two daughters Alyssa and Kayla and a friend Megan came over on the shuttle from the Island and, after a picnic lunch, we spent the day exploring the beach.

When Beckett found a dead crab on the beach, I think he thought it was alive from the way he snuck up on it so tentatively. He also ran into the ocean chasing the little waves. He ran right in and when the water got a little deep he got a bit of a surprise having his feet lifted off the bottom. He stood there for a few seconds and then took a few paddles to get back where he could walk again. His first swimming lesson!

The rest of the week at home was spent visiting with my Mum and Dad. My Mum lives in a Nursing Home and all the residents are very happy to see the dogs. I even did a little agility demo for my Mum and some of the residents and the activity director asked if we would do one next year that all the residents could see. Maybe by then Beckett will be doing weaves!!

It was a good week at home.