Thursday, April 28, 2005

Report From the Road Trip

Husband, Buttercup, Husbands friend, Leonard, Craig Posted by Hello

Well, what a debacle. It poured rain as soon as I hit New Brunswick and it didn't stop until I arrived back in Northern New Brunswick a week later. God did not want us to have a good time. The vacation was awful on so many levels that it's going to take me weeks to recover. I'm lucky to have come back alive. Where should I start? It's normally a 22 hour drive from Halifax to Ontario and it took me 48 hours with the dogs. I had already planned on sleeping in the car instead of trying to find hotels with 4 dogs so that was okay - but I hadn't really planned on everything in the car getting WET because of it raining and us getting in and out of the car for pee breaks every few hours so that was gross.

I was very happy though that I didn't get lost ONCE on the way up - I have NO sense of direction - I get lost going to Dartmouth - so I was very proud of the fact that I was able to navigate my way with no problems at all. I wasn't so lucky on the way home however. I got lost 3 times just getting out of Toronto and then took a wrong turn at Riviere de Loupe and didn't notice until I was about 1/2 hour past Rimouski - so that added about 4 hours to my ride home. That sucked. Especially since as I was pulling into Moncton to get gas at 140 kms an hour onto the off ramp I put the brakes on and felt a "pop" and then nothing - no brakes. I had busted a brake line - so we're all lucky to be alive literally. Somehow I was able to stop the car from 140 kms an hour to nothing without crashing it and pull into the gas station. I called a tow truck and there started an adventure that ended with me meeting a British couple at the Moncton airport after I was unable to rent a car or find a hotel room in Moncton because of the dogs because the garage wouldn't look at my car that night (I had taken it to the garage at 8:45pm) - they were at the airport to buy plane tickets for later in the week and they saw me standing there absolutely stranded with all these dogs crying and a puppy howling (I'll get to the puppy in a second!) and they just picked me up and took complete care of me! They took Charlie, Daisy and the puppy to a kennel that they take their yorkie to - Wagging Tail Inn and then took me and Buttercup to their house for the night. It was the best B&B I've ever been to! haha! They were super! It was the best part of my vacation - and the most relaxing - so the potentially worst thing turned out to the best best part! Isn't it neat how things happen like that?

Only in Atlantic Canada could you find people at an airport who would actually be the people they make themselves out to be and be actually genuinely nice people. It was awesome. I hope their kindness is repaid back to them 10 fold somehow.

The next day my car was fixed - my kind benefactors drove me to pick up Daisy, the puppy and Charlie back to the garage and we were on our way back home. And that was the end of the vacation so I could get home and recuperate.

But back to the Ontario bit. My main goal had been to drive up and deliver Leonard to her Dad which I did and that went really well - Leonard recognized him and was overjoyed to see him. I did a bit of shopping and had just about the worst migraine of my life - I probably threw up about 30 times. It was awful.

Then I went to supper with my sister, her husband and my beloved 81 year old uncle who I had just spent the afternoon with and taken some amazing pictures of. He breeds blue tick coonhounds and I love him dearly. I've only seen him a few times in my life and I know I've lost out immensely by not being around him. The couple times I have seen him have meant more than anyone can know. At supper I had my digital camera out and was proudly showing the pictures I had taken of my uncle that afternoon of him and his dogs because they were so beautiful and how I was going to treasure them forever and my brother-in-law started fooling with my camera and then he looked at me and said that he had just deleted all the pictures on my camera.

I was devastated. More than that, I was crushed. Absolutely. I couldn't believe it. I take a lot of pictures of everything because I need them in order to remember things. I had a brain injury a couple years ago and since then I have memory problems. I take pictures to help my memory. Without those pictures of that afternoon with my uncle - then that time is now gone for me. It is impossible to articulate how you can feel about having an entire period of your life erased - unintentially - but erased nonetheless. The thing about taking pictures yourself is that when you take the picture the person you're taking the picture of is looking at YOU. That can't be replaced.

Oh well, one good thing about my memory problem is that I also can't hold on to bad feelings, so the vacations over, my memory's are gone, but so are the bad feelings. It's like it's all never happened. It's good for some things anyway!

Are you wondering about the puppy that was crying in the airport? I went up with 4 dogs to Ontario and came back with 5! I got a call while I was up there that 2 eight week old pit bull puppies needed to get from Belleville Ontario to their new homes in Fredericton and Windsor Nova Scotia so from some crazy reason I said yes. Oy! I'd forgotten what puppies were like! That was an adventure all in itself. But they both went to their new homes and they both arrived healthy and happy so it worked out. All pit bulls born after a certain date have to get out of Ontario before the end of August or be killed - so they definitely had to get out. Their new owners definitely saved their lives because they would've definitely died in Ontario. Stupid province.

Okay - now on to the dog parks in Ontario. It's kind of interesting. We only got to a few in Toronto and it was raining like hell when we went to High Park and it was deserted and I can understand why - whatever they put down on the trails in High Park is absolutely disgusting when it's wet. It sticks to you like the worst dirt/mud imaginable. Oh it was gross. So I can understand why no one would want to go there when it's raining. I absolutely did NOT like High Park - there were VEHICLES driving through it! It seemed like every trail we went on had a road at the top of the hill - and the dogs were always a little ahead of me - so they were always in danger of being hit by a car because I didn't know where we were at any given moment. That scared the crap out of me. Maybe if I knew the trail system it wouldn't be so bad. It seemed to be a combination of Point Pleasant Park with Seaview Park thrown in the middle - but I never did find "Dog Hill". Which was one of my main goals in going to Toronto - to go to the fabled "Dog Hill" - but I didn't find it. The rain and the mud and the CARS in the park got the better of me. Point Pleasant Park does not have any vehicles except for the park cops and the workers. I was scared shitless by that actually.

What I thought was REALLY neat about Toronto though was the idea of their vibrant park community. The idea that all the little parks throughout all the neighbourhoods having all the regular dogs in the area going to the parks in their local boroughs there everyday.

In Halifax people who exercise their dogs regularly tend to go to the 2 offical "off leash" park - Point Pleasant Park and Seaview Park - every day. They travel great distances in order to exercise their dogs at these parks. It seems like in Toronto that people utitlize the green spaces in their own neighbourhoods and take ownership of those spaces - which is thought was REALLY neat.

In my ex-husbands neighbourhood for instance the park even has a huge website. It's called "Friends of Dufferins Grove Park" and they have a section of the website just dedicated to the dogs.

I think that is a super neat idea! Imagine if all the green spaces of Halifax were actually used! We have lots of little parks that get no use at all. All they do is collect garbage that's blown in from the streets around them. But imagine if they did actually get used by dog owners in the area as unofficial off-leash play areas and were taken care of by those owners. Sort of "squatted on" by them. What if we built up our own "vibrant community" there?

They aren't ball fields or play areas - they are sort of grey areas in the city by-laws. It's an idea to ponder.......

Oh yeah - the picture above was grabbed from the view finder of the video camera that I took - we didn't get to be bad ANYWHERE because of the rain. Now THAT sucked!


  1. Anonymous4:18 PM

    "Only in Atlantic Canada could you find people at an airport who would actually be the people they make themselves out to be and be actually genuinely nice people."

    I stopped reading there to make this comment.

    As you may know this past fortnight has been *very* hard for me due to a rescue issue, and on the weekend we saw a New Brunswick tourism ad on TV and my bf said "I recognize two places we've been!" and I started crying and whined "I was HAPPY there" in this totally cartoon-like voice - if it wasn't so pathetic it would have been hilarious - and it still was.


  2. Those people at the airport were amazing.
    Cars are a headache!
    I'm glad your saftly back home to Nova Scotia.
    Ontario is a crowded stressful place to live.
    Thank you for taking the pit bulls out east.
    Soon I will have to go out muzzels shopping for my poor sweet Katie.
    bye moe

  3. Anonymous8:40 PM


    Sorry to hear about the bad weather while you were here. Toronto has about 20 off-leash parks. (Yes, many "naughty" dog owners do use the 1,000 or so Toronto parks for off-leash fun, as well.)

    By the way you described it, I think you may have been walking your dogs off-leash in the leashed area of High Park. While there is one road that crosses one of the off-leash trails, I belive it isn't open to vehicular traffic at either of its points of origin. (I've never seen a vehicle on it in all my years, at least.) On that same trail, one comes to another road that may have vehicular traffic but, again, I've never seen a motorized vehicle on it.

    Both are at the bottoms of steep hills, so there is no way to miss them. Even though I don't need to, I often use them as a "redirecting" exercise. (...As though they really did have traffic on them.) While my dog is happily trotting along, meeting other dogs, sighting tasty squirrels, and smelling scent markers, when I near the paved roads, I call her to heel; cross the pavement; stop and wait for a sit; then give her a release command, and continue on the off-leash trail.

    It's important for dog owners to do these kinds of exercises, to ensure they truly have control over their dogs, even with other desirable distractions around.

    "Dog hill" is the centre of the off-leash trail system at High Park. It's a large, relatively flat, open area that slopes down towards the off-leash trails on either side. The trail system is pretty well marked, letting you know if you're leaving the off-leash area.

    I park my car in the parking area next to Dog Hill; then I see who's there (and if anyone wants to go for a run right away), then venture off on the trails (hopefully for a few runs with dogs we encounter), then sweep back around to Dog Hill (for another run or two) before leaving.

    You're right, it can get VERY mucky at High Park. However, I was just there yesterday and, despite several recent days of rain, it was dry as a bone.

    The other parks I frequent are Sunnybrook (large open grass field, and a wooded trail alongside a stream); Sherwood Park (pretty much a hilly figure eight of wooded trails) (the interesting thing about Sherwood is that it is green space donated to the city with the expressed condition that it remain open to off-leash dogs - Hurrah! Gotta love that benefactor!!); Riverdale Park (just a big open field that is taken over by tobogganing children whenever it snows); and sometimes the Beaches (Lake Ontario is polluted, so it's a little unsettling to let one's dog swim in the water...but at least there is a stretch of beach open to off-leash dogs).

    Outside the city I choose a private off-leash dog area just off the Oak Ridges Moraine, in Aurora. The scoop on that one is, it's a 90 acre property owned by an old man who loves dogs and has welcomed dog owners to run their dogs off-leash on his property. It's great! (The Oak Ridges Moraine is an on-leash series of trails.) The sad part is the man's sons are, apparently, going to sell off the property. It's prime development area there, so the land is worth a great deal.

    There are several other off-leash areas I frequent. I go to an off-leash park just about every day, and I prefer not to go to the same one, two days in a row.

    Sherwood and the Aurora land demonstrate that we still need compassionate individuals who'll protect the right of responsible dog owners to properly socialize their dogs off-leash. (A dog can not be truly properly socialized entirely on-leash.)

    Now that summer's here, I, of course, get to spend a great deal of time at my cottage (which just so happens to be a leash [and collar!]-free zone) (No worries, it is an island.) Other than our few trips into the nearby little town, my dog rarely hears the "heel" command all summer. No wonder she's a bit rusty every fall! (wink)

    - Marjorie