Tag Archives: local events

The Dog Park

old road going into dog parkWent to the dog park yesterday with the boys. It was a mauzy day, light rain and cool. I figured nobody would be there, and I was right. It was beautiful.

Charlie and Leo trotted along, happy to sniff at stuff. Another dog and his person joined us. Dogs sniffed each other, then went back to whatever else they were sniffing. A young dog came careening around the path to the meadow, ran around like a whirlwind trying to get the others to play. No luck with these three, so tore off up the hill looking for somebody more fun. I hope more dogs came, willing to play with him.

steps in path from meadow in dog parkWe went up the steep hill, muddy and slippery. But I could make it up fast enough to keep an eye on the dogs, thanks to the steps that Albert built into the slope. Back up at the top, I looked around. I felt proud of our little dog park.

Just two years ago, it wasn’t like this. Oh, it was just as pretty. But it wasn’t fenced, there were no picnic tables or bag dispensers or garbage containers. No steps, no trails cleared through the hillside. It was a wooded ravine with a meadow by the creek. Not many people went there. Now, it’s often very crowded with people and dogs. I wonder what the deer and neighbourhood cats who had it all to themselves for so long think about it. But sometimes, like yesterday, it’s the same as when I first went there with a dog years ago. Except now I don’t have to remember my own poop bags.

The STDOA did this – got a fenced dog park in our city. I was one of the founders of the group, and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. I no longer go to the ravine very often. My dogs are too anti-social for large group activities. But I love seeing social dogs chase each other and wrestle, having so much fun. Pups on their first visit, intimidated at first then realizing they can act as wild as they want and tumbling around with other dogs. It’s lovely to watch.

sign for dog park meeting Oct 16 2 pmBut the steps and bag dispensers didn’t get there by themselves. Volunteers built the steps and keep the park clean of litter and dog poop. The STDOA raises money for poop bags and dispensers and for building and maintenance materials. The STDOA needs your input and participation. Money and energy – that’s what’s needed to keep the Lions Club Dog Park running and get another one in a different part of town.

In Memory of Forte, Dog Park Dog

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Oct. 13, 2011. For Forte, one of the original STDOA and dog park dogs. Forte passed away this week at a good old age, surrounded by his family.

forte-may-2016
Forte waking from a nap, May 2016

An All Breed Canine Rescue dog, Forte was at first fearful and mistrustful due to abuse he had suffered. But he lucked into the best home he could have asked for. His people lucked into the best dog too. Forte became a foster dad in turn to many more pups and adult dogs who joined his household as ABCR fosters. He will be missed.

Pawlooza Dog Party

Pawlooza happens this coming Saturday, August 20th from 10 to 6, at Steve Plunkett’s Fleetwood Farm on Elviage Road, near Westdel Bourne in west poster 2011 pawlooza dog partyLondon. It is a huge dog party organized by ARF Ontario (Animal Rescue Foundation) in London.  Admission for the day, including parking, is $10 per vehicle. Hundreds of vendors of dog stuff are there, along with specialty groups like dog sports, specific breed clubs and rescue groups.

Each group keeps the money it raises through sales and donations, and the overall funds raised go to ARF and LEADS, a special needs employment and training programme.  You’ll see vendors from all over the province.  There’s lots of food for both you and your dog.  There are demonstrations of dog talent like agility and obedience.

Your dog can go swimming or compete in dock diving in the small lake on the property. But if, like us, you have non-swimming dogs, you can find a spot along the bank and watch Labs fling themselves off the dock into the water time after time.London Free Press photo by Sue Reeves, dog swimming

Just the property itself is enough to make you want to go.  The grounds are incredibly beautiful.  Booths are lined up in several rows, so you can shop to your heart’s content.  Then you can wander in the landscaped grounds and woods.

If you are thinking about getting a dog, there will be lots of dogs there with their rescue groups.  You can talk with knowledgeable people about the characteristics of different kinds of dogs, and you can see pretty much every breed of dog walking around the grounds.  You can even find out exactly what kinds of dogs created your mutt with a DNA test.  If you want to get inside your dog’s head (and who doesn’t), you can visit the dog psychic’s booth.

Indiana-billboards-2016-ISARIts date is a deliberate choice.  Since 1992, the 20th of August has been International Homeless Animals Day. The International Society of Animal Rights picked that date to focus attention on animals in need of help and a home.

So mark the calendar and have a great doggy day. Your dogs of course are welcome – it is a dog party after all. But if you want to go without a dog, you’ll still have a great time.

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog Aug. 12, 2011. Date, time and cost is from Pawlooza website for 2016.

Santa Dogs

Santa Claus parade Poodle waiting to startThe Christmas season, for me, officially begins with the Santa Claus parade. But you have to start feeling festive a bit earlier if you’re going to be in the parade. The St. Thomas Dog Owners Association decided to enter a “float” of dogs in the 2010 St. Thomas Santa Claus Parade. Leo and Charlie were ready with bells on.

We had a member’s van for carrying dogs and people and borrowed a beautiful brand new 2011 Ram truck from Elgin Chrysler.  We Charlie in truck, looking at the crowdsdecorated both with lights and tinsel.  My contribution to the decorating was figuring out how to tie a lighted reindeer to the rear view mirror of the Ram so he shone out from the windshield.

So, off to the parade mustering ground at the Timken’s parking lot.  A horse trailer and tiny ponies standing beside it getting tacked up by small girls.  Two larger ponies were waiting to be harnessed to a beautiful white open carriage.  Nearby a pipe band warmed up. Leo leaped from the car. Party time!

Leo and STDOA van in Santa Claus parade lineupAfter two years with Leo, it still amazes me how fully he has embraced human activities.  He didn’t grow up from puppyhood around parades and sidewalks.  A puppy mill ‘production’ dog, he knew nothing about interacting in human society.  But he’s a fast learner, and he knows that noise, music and big concentrations of people means there’s likely to be dropped food on the ground!

Parade Ground

Floats were massed four wide on First Ave.  I had no idea where STDOA might be.  So we walked up to Talbot, looking for dogs. The parade marshals, Steve Peters, Joe Preston and Heather Jackson-Chapman, told me where exactly STDOA was.  How they knew in that sea of floats and bands is beyond me!

Santa's Elves in parade line upMusic blaring, technical difficulties getting sorted out, elves putting on their outfits.  It was glorious – like being in the back lot at the circus.  STDOA people and dogs were just where the marshals had told me.  The dogs were checking each other out – their antlers, Santa coats, elf hats, bells and lighted collars.

Then the floats started moving.  As we rounded the corner at First and Talbot, kids were lined 6 or 8 rows deep.  A big roar came from them, “dogs, dogs” as we came into sight.  All the way along Talbot Street, it was the same.  “Look at the dogs.  Dogs, dogs!”  We weren’t dogs in Santa Claus parade on Talbot Streetdoing anything other than walking along the street.

I had a pocketful of smelly treats.  I knew Leo would be vacuuming the street for candy and dropped food, so wanted to have something to keep his attention.  It worked – he pranced around me trying to get his nose in my pocket and hands.  He looked like he was dancing.  He’d sit, give a paw, do all the tricks he could think of to make me give him a treat.  So I made the most of it, and he looked like a performing poodle.  He was performing all right, begging for food.  He’d visit people along the parade route, in reality checking to see if they had any food he could scarf, but he’d waggle his tail and let them pet him.

Santa Claus and Santa Dogs

He and Charlie pranced and danced all the way to Elgin Street. They watched the people and listened to the oohs and aahs. I’m sure they Reindeer-Dobe-photo-Dorothy-Stewartthought all those people had come out just to see them. And, in a way, they had. They’d come to see dogs, people, ponies and vehicles in a magical situation.  Everybody dressed up, everybody smiling.  Everybody waiting to see Santa, of course.  He’s the main event.  But in a parade, every ‘act’ is a main event.  This year, my first of ever being in a parade, I found out that’s true for participants as well as spectators.

Originally posted on my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Dec. 1, 2010, The 2015 St. Thomas parade was on Nov. 21st. If you’re near Sussex or Hampton NB, both towns’ parades are this Saturday, Dec. 5th.

 

Spot the Fire Muster dog

Spot the Fire Muster Dog at STDOA booth photo D StewartI decided to do a little creative grooming for the Fire Muster.  White Poodle plus Fire Muster Dog Show equals Dalmatian Look-alike contender!  So I checked with my groomer, a Poodle grooming specialist, a hair dresser, a pharmacist and online creative grooming sites.  The consensus was anything temporary, without bleach and safe for children’s hair would be ok.  There are specially formulated vegetable dyes for dogs available, but not at any supplier near me.  Food colouring and Kool-Aid is also ok, but I wanted black colouring so needed something else.

I got a temporary dye spray bomb designed for kids and fancy dress costuming.  I cut different sized circles in a small piece of boxboard and sprayed Leo’s hair.  I didn’t spray his legs, near his eyes or under his belly – avoided sensitive areas and anywhere he could easily lick.  I figured better safe than sorry. Kids aren’t likely to lick their dyed heads, so “safe for children” isn’t exactly the same as “safe for dogs”.

Charlie, Leo & Magic in line for dog show photo D StewartI found out the dye is indeed temporary and, even when dry, easily smudges when touched.  So I had to keep retouching him after people patted him, and finally learned to say “you’ll get dye on your hands if you touch the black spots”.

At the registration table for the dog show we’re told there’s no category for Dalmatian look-alike this year.  Years spent watching dogs in black-spotted t-shirts and Border Collies wearing firemen’s hats walking away with that special prize!  Leo and I had no exhibition trick worked out, no Plan B.  I knew we didn’t have a chance at “Cutest Dog” when I saw the Chihuahua in the little ballerina dress and silver booties.   The Chihuahua did win, as did a beautiful German Shepherd as “Older Dog” and a gorgeous little Dalmatian in the “Puppy” category.  A Shepherd-Husky won “Best Trick” and a little Papillion won “Best Overall”.  We won only a lot of attention and oohs and ahhs.  Leo was perfectly happy with that.  Charlie went in au naturel, hoping for “Cutest Dog”.  But even he can’t compete with a I'm gonna wash that 'Dal' right outa my hair photo D StewartChihuahua in a tutu.

Later, Leo got his spots washed out.  Charlie watched, relieved that he was passed over for bath time.

 

First posted on my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Sept. 7, 2010.

Fire Muster

The Fire Muster is this coming weekend – Labour Day Saturday and Jack and judges, Fire Muster dog showSunday – in Pinafore Park, St. Thomas.  A chance to see fire fighters, fire trucks old and new, classic cars, and dogs.  There are always lots of dogs at the Fire Muster.  On Sunday afternoon, there’s a dog show.  It started as a Dalmatian show, and there are still special prizes for Best Dalmatian and Best Dalmatian ‘wannabe’.  Dogs wear costumes, do tricks or just walk across the stage.  The first time our late dog Jack I won!entered, he won Best in Show.  I don’t know who was proudest, us or him. Later, he happily rooted around in his prize hamper from Hartz.

From then on, every time we were at Pinafore, he wanted to walk across the bandshell stage. Strut across it, reliving his moment of glory.  I’d sing “here she comes, Miss America”, and he’d look out over the cheering audience that only he could see. The year they tore the old bandshell down he was crestfallen.  I took him to the new one at the back of the park, and he walked across it.  But you could see it wasn’t the same for him.

He lining up for the showentered the dog show every year, never won again, but always enjoyed it.  As soon as he’d see dogs heading for the registration table and lining up, he wanted to join them. He liked going to Pinafore Park any time of the year, but he would get especially excited when he’d see the ladies on the boot toll at the gate.  He knew it was Fire Muster time.

For several years, my husband and I worked at the souvenir t-shirt booth.  Jack loved being there, meeting and greeting dogs and people.  One year, though, he Jack the muscle dogwasn’t really happy.  We’d made him his own tshirt.  He didn’t like walking around like a canine advertisement but, in his black “muscle shirt”, he brought a lot of attention to the booth.

The new dogs, Leo and Charlie, were at last year’s Fire Muster for the first time.  They both entered the dog show.  Didn’t win, but they didn’t care.  They were happy with their participation gift treats.

First published Aug. 31, 2010 on my St. Thomas Dog Blog

 

Pawlooza: Rescue me!

Pawlooza last Saturday in London Ont was great.  So many people and dogs!  Other pug having a rest at STDOA booth on rescue rowthan a bit of a walk-around, I hardly saw anything of it other than our St. Thomas Dog Owners booth in Rescue Row.  But the world comes by one’s booth, I found.

We didn’t take Leo and Charlie.  Charlie likes a party, but gets bored and cranky quickly.  Leo gets very enthusiastic at parties!  While I felt a bit ‘odd man out’ without dogs, I found our booth provided a haven for dogs who wanted a little quiet time.

Next to us was the Chinese Crested Rescue.  They had several of these dogs with hairless bodies and long plumes on head and tail.  I Chinese Crested from Crest Care rescueoverheard them telling stories of their dogs to people flipping through photo albums.  Horrific stories.  One dog was left in the house, locked in, after the people moved away.  Fortunately, someone suspected that she was in there, and she was saved.

Why, I thought, would someone leave a dog like that?  Any dog, but one of these?  These aren’t dogs you see notices tacked up for, saying “free puppies.”  You have to go to a lot of trouble and expense to get one.  So why would you then just walk away?

A magnificent black Standard Poodle across the aisle.  A St. John’s Ambulance therapy dog now, he’d been taken from what sounds like an unbalanced hoarder.  The man who rescued him had been looking for a Giant Schnauzer.  He’d had them for years, but this Poodles at Pawloozatime he wound up with a giant Poodle.

He said Giant Schnauzers end up in rescue care because people get them as puppies and then are surprised at how big they get, how much care their coats take and don’t want to be bothered.  How can that happen?  Doesn’t the “Giant” in their name give you the tip off that this is going to be a big dog?  They too are expensive pups.  He said it’s easy to pay $4000 for one.  You would lay out money like that and not realize that it’s going to be a big dog and that rough beautiful coat requires a lot of brushing and clipping?

I passed by Friendly Giants Rescue on my one tour.  A St. Bernard was lolling around, hoping for a home I guess.  Sure, there are legitimate, even heartbreaking, stories of why someone has to give up their dog.  But so many of them?

Do people get them as status symbols?  Be the first on your block to have a hairless dog.  Then you realize there is upkeep and expense particular to that breed and it’s too much bother?  Or you saw the movie Beethoven and thought how much fun it would be having him living with you? And you forgot you’re already cramped in your tiny apartment?

Yorkies trying on coats at STDOA boothI am so glad the rescue people are around, both for specific breeds and just for regular old dogs.  Without them, I don’t know what would happen to these poor creatures.  A woman at Boston Terrier Rescue told me a lady had made an 8-hour drive to Pawlooza, just to look for a dog at their booth.  I hope she found one.