All I was trying to do was sign up for a Canada/USA “duel”, just for fun. And contribute to the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Society along the way. The Dynamic Duel, Canada vs US, is a virtual 5k run or walk. I asked my daughter (D1) who is participating if I could do it. After all they might want to add some age to the mix. It turns out several other people’s mothers are doing it too. I’m in!!
Then drama, panic and virtual heart palpitations ensued.
I went to do my 5k walk at the off-leash park. I missed the walk with my husband and D2′s dog in the morning so I thought Aspen might like another walk. He never says no.
I got a text from D1 saying “don’t forget to turn on RunKeeper”.
We got to the park by the river and before I even got the car locked he was off. “Not tired! Not tired! Let’s go!” He was off in the snow mingling with a couple of friendly dogs and their lady. I set off to catch up. The trail goes all the way the the old River Bridge. I took the first few dozen steps wondering how far it actually was to the bridge where the off-leash trail ends. Then thought “Uh-oh! RunKeeper! I need to be able to show I did this!” I stopped to turn it on. The dog pack disappeared over the hill. I played catch up. Except I didn’t catch up.
Now I am not walking for Canada or any cause. No photos in this section! I’m in a panic. He isn’t my dog. Uh-oh! Uh-oh! Beyond where my husband usually turns back I still hadn’t seen the delinquent. Kept going. Eventually he has to come back to look for me. (I have treats.) The trail was good in places and slippery/icy in others. No rushing. I got all the way to the bridge. Another panic. What if he’d gone over the bridge? Where should I go now? Then I met the nice lady with the friendly dogs. She said Aspen had turned back a long while ago. How did he get by me? Well, he’ll be at the parking lot. He’ll wait for me, right? Uh-oh! What if he gets dognapped, or hit by a car or runs off? I am 15-20 minutes from where he undoubtedly is so I call my husband. Could he meet us at the parking lot in case Aspen was waiting there? He said sure, what is an afternoon nap compared to losing the grandpuppy? Just as I thought I’d better call D2 to tell her to expect a found-doggy call, my phone rang. It was D2. Someone had found him. She texted me the number; the rescuer said she’d wait at the parking lot until one of us got there. That was when I realized I had not been breathing. Breathing deeply I headed back to the parking lot. My husband was there. Aspen was there. The nice lady and her dogs were there. He came running over, wagging his tail and saying, “Where have you been?”. I took the delinquent dog home.
I looked at RunKeeper. It was at 3.2K. Uh-oh. I wasn’t finished and I still had errands to do in town. On the plus side I had remembered to pause RK and had not lost the whole thing. We have a nice trail in our area but I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and have a look at a different trail on my way to town. Just 1.8K to go. I parked by the boat ramp and walked along the river. I’d go .9k and then turn around and come back. I crossed a creek where brilliant green grass nestled among the snow and ice. The water rushing down to join the Bow sounded icy. The trail wound up through the woods. It was sunny and lovely with the aspens making shadows on the snow. Different Aspens. A lot less stressful. A little farther on I came upon a tunnel. It followed the creek and went under the road. The sound of the water echoing in the tunnel was wonderful. At that point I paused RK to take a couple of photos because the creek was magical and the ice crystals forming were so pretty in the sun.
I forgot to see how far I had gone so ended up going more than 5K but it’s win-win right? The dog is safe. (Thanks Anna for rescuing him.) I did my walk, saw beauty in the silver, singing creek and rewarded myself with a latté on the way home. And I have the evidence that I did it.
What can I say about Aspen? If he were mine I’d probably take him to work with me and spend more time with him than with most of my friends. But he’s not so I enjoy his company when I can. He’s my daughter Michelle’s dog. She wanted a dog. When she found him online, she absolutely had to get him. And she was right. She must have called half a dozen times to discuss it and then drove halfway across the province to pick him up.
He had been a rescue dog. The weekend we first met him we were in a hotel attending a family wedding in mid-December. He went from a foster home to a hotel to a flight from Calgary to Victoria with our other daughter and her husband, shedding all the way. Then he moved to our house until Michelle came at Christmas, flying when there was a pet blackout. He took it all in stride. Maybe the regular meals were such an improvement on his previous life that he decided to tolerate this eccentric family.
He stayed with us for several months once when Michelle had accommodation that didn’t allow pets. We even had a fence built so he could be outside. We loved having him but soon it was time to take him back. We packed some snacks so that we could drive through without stopping. He helped himself. Apparently he quite liked my cranberry muffin and my husband’s butter tarts. I’m glad he didn’t drink the cappuccino. Michelle was living in Lake Louise at the time. When we got near Golden he started to yip and yelp and talk. He definitely knew where he was. He “talked” all the way through Field and the Yoho Valley, getting more excited the closer we got to his human. When we were ready to leave to come home he leapt into the back of her little station wagon, went as far in as he could go and hid. He wanted to stay with her.
When Aspen was sick in the airport on their way to visit us we knew she had the right guy in her life because he went to rescue her, sick dog, unmentionable mess and all. The night before their wedding Aspen disappeared from the campground at the adventure ranch where the event was held. All the next day through the wedding the bride agonized. It didn’t seem right to not mention him in an address from her family but I had to change what I said so we didn’t all cry. There was a mini tuxedo collar for him to wear and he had been going to sit with us. Everyone was concerned because there had been bears not far away so her brother and brother-in-law went into action and got the missing dog story on the local radio and out to the backcountry guides. Her number was on his collar and late that night a call came. The groom picked up the bride’s dog at midnight and all was well.
He leans really hard against you as if to say “I’m here!” He backs up against your knee and looks at you until you scratch his ears and neck. He has one absolutely endearing floppy ear. Lying with his head on your foot is his version of a cuddle. I’m pretty sure he can almost talk.
This summer I flew to the Rockies to stay with him for a weekend because Michelle and Jeff were going somewhere that didn’t work for Aspen. Maybe a little over the top but it was a small patch of serenity with a happy dog and my beloved mountains. He sheds all over your clothes (and your black luggage) but it doesn’t matter. He can shed on me anytime.
Finley is a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. He’s our grandpuppy. He is small for his type, more like the European ones and very, very, very cute. Yep, he is worth 3 verys. When he was a baby his muzzle was black. Now it isn’t and it shows all the dirt really, really well when we go to the beach or the park.
He is the most enthusiastic friend you could imagine. Even if it is 5 minutes since he last saw us he greets us as if we’d been away for years on an Antarctic expedition. He runs around in circles and then runs some more and if he isn’t acknowledged he barks. He is, of course, hoping for walks or treats but I think he’s genuinely excited to see his “family”. He has a rather delicate constitution (enough said) and is therefore not a fan of kennels. So he occasionally stays with us. When he is not hovering at the door waiting for his real family, he sticks really close and makes me feel really loved. Perhaps that’s what dogs are truly for. And he sleeps very near by at night, just in case someone tries to get me. Do you begin to understand why I am a dog person?
The other part of Finley’s greeting behaviour is that he bounces like Tigger. I am not sure why Wheatens can do that – maybe in their origins as Irish farm dogs they had to pounce on prey that was bigger than they were. But I swear he can bounce 3 feet in the air. He does it on demand too. “Jump, Finley” and up he goes. Luckily he has been taught “Down!” as well. So he is flat on the floor in an instant. (There might be treats.)
Finley’s other endearing characteristic is an inherent need to herd his people. If we’re walking he doesn’t like us to get too spread out. So it is quite stressful for him if there are five or six of us going for a walk. And don’t get between him and his small child. Generally he stays away from the small child, avoiding toddler harassment but when walking out in the world he likes to look out for his safety. He does not approve of small boys going on tall slides. He must think it is dangerous so he grumbles and tries to herd him down.
Taking Finley for walks means counting on an extra 10 or 15 minutes because people either need to stop and exclaim about his extreme cuteness or they are Wheaten people and they need to talk dogs. An exchange of Irish sounding names, a discussion of terrier behaviour, questions about relative bounciness.
He’ll always be small and we’ll probably still be calling him “puppy” when he’s 90 in dog years. He’s a keeper and another of the dogs that have enriched my life. Isn’t he very, very, very cute?