July 22, 2012

City Dogs in the Country

They wouldn't fool anyone. Shiny, sleek, pampered, riding in the truck on a foam padding that is covered in a few layers of furry blanket. It doesn't matter how muddy the truck gets (or how broken the windshield: blasted wind, rain and trailer-trucks), one look at those dogs and you know they're from the city.

If you need a more obvious giveaway though, all you have to do is get them near horses. The dogs and I spent Saturday night with my mother at her cousin's cabin about three hours northwest of Calgary. As we pulled onto the barely-there track that leads to the cabin, we stopped so that my mom could unlock and open the gate. I opened the windows so the dogs could get a good snout full of country air. Cue the horses. Two of them trot over to the barbed-wire fence and the dogs immediately sound the alarm. There was absolutely no shutting them up - it was worse than having a motorcyclist tailing me (that used to send them over the edge, until we waited three hours at a standstill in a ferry lineup with a motorcycle right behind us). So I get out, and figure I'll demonstrate how harmless the horses are. Snuffle, snuffle, pat, pat, pat...and the dogs are now howling and rocking the truck. As if they think I'm going to be eaten alive. The horses, are, to their credit, staring in amazement rather than galloping for home.

Once past the gate, another obstacle awaited. Because having your windshield crunched just is not enough. This tree was laying across the road. (Dog added for perspective). It was a big tree. We could have walked on to the cabin, found some axes, walked all the way back, hacked it up... nah, we just lifted up and moved it off to the side. Eat your spinach boys and girls.

Kittens are also vile beasties that must be snuffed out of existence. See the kitty?

No? That's because it's long gone. On one of our walks, the dogs were bounding around when I noticed a grey and white kitten hunkered down in the grass, trying its best to be invisible. I don't blame it. And in retrospect I should have ignored it, but who can resist the mewling of a little baby kitten? Not I. So...I bend over to pet it and Rory and Gotham pick that moment to come and investigate. Neither one of them has even seen a cat since they left their breeder's house as pups. Now the kitten is petrified - it's the only explanation I have for why it didn't run - and Rory gives it a little poke. I move Rory off and Gotham decides that a bigger poke and a pounce are in order. NOW the kitten begins to hiss and put up a fight and all three of them are off into the bush. F&*#!  Now imagine if you will: two small saplings, just wide enough for a dog at full tilt to barrel through, or, wait, no, not really quite wide enough...I don't know which dog it was because they were pretty far by then, but one of them has a pretty good bounceback.

All the bad things vanquished, the remaining walks were typically Ridgeback. As was the time spent drying out and warming up in front of the wood stove. Unless they were listening to the crazy rooster from the neighbouring property, just one more thing that rankled Gotham.

Bounding through wet, waist-high grass. My shoes are still soaked.

Gotham in an unusually unrefined leap.

Rory...just waiting for Gotham to reappear. Because when he does: LOOK OUT!

Those last two shots? A little Blair Witch Project flair, no? Not particularly good shots, but you get an idea of the breakneck speed at which they'll chase each other around the bush. It was crazy.

Sunday morning dawned bright and with the promise of warmth. It also dawned with me very very sleepy. The country is a quiet place at night. Except the howling, hooting, barking, tweeting and all manner of other animal noises. This didn't bother Rory at all. But Gotham? He kept me up all night just because I knew he wasn't sleeping. Every time I'd click the flashlight on, Gotham would be laying beside my bed, with his head up and aimed to the window, ears on full alert and eyes wide open. He was barely able to keep them open. They'd start closing and he would jerk himself awake again. Pitiful. If he could talk, he would probably tell me that three weekends of adventure in a row is too much for his delicate countenance. Mine too.