Tag Archives: tourism

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.

I’ll Have Another

Barbaro-findagrave-17738583-J-Griffith
Barbaro 2003-2007

This was first posted on my St. Thomas Dog Blog, May 10, 2012. This Saturday, May 7th, 2016, it’s Derby Day again. It feels different this year – it’s the first anniversary of the beginning of American Pharoah’s successful run for the Triple Crown. It’s also the 10th anniversary of Barbaro’s Kentucky Derby win. Sadly, he was injured in the Preakness and he died Jan. 29th 2007. 

coffee mug from Kentucky Derby MuseumThe 1st Saturday in May, this is the mug I pour my first cup of coffee into.  Last Saturday, the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby, I’ll Have Another came from the middle of the pack and passed the frontrunner. At 15-1 odds and in the 19th position, he wasn’t considered a serious contender.

His jockey, Mario Gutierrez, raced at Hastings Raceway in Vancouver, or as the announcer put it, “the small-time circuit up in Canada.”  It was Gutierrez’ first Derby ride.  The owner of I’ll Have Another, J. Paul Reddam, is originally from Windsor, Ont.  As a university student, he got interested in racing by hanging around Windsor Raceway.  Two racing lives honoured in the winner’s circle of the most I'll Have Another at finish line 2012 Kentucky Derbyprestigious race in North America, both nurtured on Canadian tracks.

Tracks that, at least in Ontario, face closure.  Premier McGuinty’s government decided that the long-standing profit-sharing agreement between tracks and the OLG would not be renewed.  Until now, OLG and the track shared the profits, with OLG getting the lion’s share.  Still, the 10% that the tracks get is crucial to their economic survival.  Slot machines and rooms that house them cost far less to maintain than do barns, tracks and horses.

Another side of tracks: history and tourism

All racetracks, including Churchill Downs, rely on slot machines and other forms of gambling for income.  When we toured Churchill Downs, our guide said the only day of the year on which the track 1907 Postcard of bookies at Woodbine Racetrack Torontoactually makes money from racing is Derby Day.

But the pride, prestige and history of Churchill Downs is in the racetrack and barns.  It is a tourism draw, with tours, gift shops and a museum.  Restaurants, motels and stores in Louisville also benefit from the dollars that come with these tourists who come to Horse Mecca and buy a commemorative mug.  Do non-gamblers make a special trip to tour a casino, other than in Las Vegas?

A racetrack is a huge operation, employing many in track and horse maintenance.  Also the breeders and trainers who spend years refining bloodlines and preparing juveniles for the track.  The stars are the horses and they are expensive to maintain.

Amazon link for Northern Dancer Legend and Legacy
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Meanwhile in Ontario, racehorses are being sent for slaughter.  If the tracks don’t have the slot machines, they likely will close. There will be nowhere to race horses so breeders are getting out of the business.  That means getting rid of living horses.  It is said that newborn foals are being killed before they stand up – that way insurance will cover their “loss”.  Many of those thoroughbred foals and their mothers and fathers have the blood of the great Canadian Northern Dancer in their veins.

Thoroughbred and harness racing are part of our national history.  If Harness racing at Western Fair track London Ontario ca 1934profit sharing with slot machines keeps tracks alive, that also keeps alive our horses and our presence in the sport of kings.  McGuinty’s tinkering with what worked just fine for long before he became premier is now costing the lives of horses and livelihoods of horse people. (*see 2 comments below)

Rodeo Kings

From St. Thomas Dog Blog July 8, 2011. Sadly in this year’s Stampede, 2 horses died in chuckwagon race crashes.

William & Kate open 2011 Stampede Parade (ctv pic)William and Kate opened the Calgary Stampede and attended the parade. William even took part in a chuckwagon race. I’d wondered what they’d do. Before their visit, there was a furor about their endorsement-by-attendance at what some call an event about animal abuse.

But wait, doesn’t Vancouver Humane Society have abandoned and abused animals in its own city? Doesn’t it receive calls about horse starvation within its jurisdiction? Isn’t there factory farming in the Lower Mainland?

And the UK’s RSPCA and League Against Cruel Sports? Isn’t there abuse and neglect within the UK? What’s happening with fox hunting? That can pretty hard on horses let alone the fox, if there’s Horses in Old National steeplechasestill hunting of live foxes. And polo. Show jumping, eventing, steeplechasing, hurdling: all involve horses as active partners under the control of a human.

The protestors made a lot about the UK having banned rodeo in 1934 and that it was William’s “great-great-grandfather George V who signed [it] into law.” Funny, I had no idea rodeo was part of British culture and history. Not like Canada and the US where the activities that comprise rodeo have been part of the national landscape since the beginning.

Stampede and all horse sports

Prince Philip 2005 driving competition Lowther wikicommonsBut there are horse sports that William, his father and brother, his aunt Anne, his cousin Zara, grandfather and other members of both sides of his family actively participate in. Polo, show jumping, eventing and driving. His paternal grandmother and late great-grandmother have huge stables of Thoroughbreds and have long been active in “The Sport of Kings.” How many horses are killed yearly in Thoroughbred racing alone?

In Los Angeles, where William and Kate headed after Calgary, he is participating in a polo match. Not one peep about animal abuse in anything I read about that. Why weren’t the Vancouver and UK animal rights people all over that one?

I do not want to fuel activism against polo. It is a beautiful sport. But, like any sport involving animals, it has a lot of Prince William playing polo (commons.wikimedia.org)room for abuse in treatment of horses and in training methods. Read Jilly Cooper’s Polo. She explains the game and the training. There are good trainers and players, and bad. There are selfish, egotistical, win-at-all-costs brutes who take out their frustrations on their horse partner. Some training methods rely on infliction of pain to “teach” the horse. There can be individual and systemic abuse of half the polo team. The description of the training by the world-champion level Argentines is so horrific that I flinched at the mere word Argentina long after finishing the book. And that’s just the world of polo.

Look into the spikes and sticks used by some show jumper trainers to get a horse’s feet lifted high. I’m not sure that the flank strap used to cause bucking by rodeo broncs is worse than many tools used by horse trainers unwilling to practice patience.

Priorities for animal activists

Windsor_2009_Limelight-detail-don-carey-kersti-nebelsiek-wikicommonsShould we ban show jumping and polo? No. But abuse should not be permitted in those sports any more than it should be permitted in rodeo or any sport or event that involves animals. Also maybe UK and Canadian animal rights people ought to clean up their own backyards first. Feeding and fixing ‘stray’ cats, stopping the supply of puppies on Kijiji: that’ll keep you busy right there.

Jilly Cooper’s Rutshire Chronicles are sequential so start at the beginning, with Riders.They are wonderful books, with horrible people and lovely animals and some nice people. Here’s a link for all Jilly Cooper books on Amazon.

 

Tourist Board TV

Last night I watched the first episode of Arctic Air, CBC’s new series Arctic Air banner cbc website - tourism tvset in Yellowknife and surrounding lands.  Tonight Republic of Doyle, set in St. John’s, returns for its 3rd season.

Major sponsors of both shows are their respective provincial tourism departments.  I Newfoundland and Labrador plane at Arctic Air hangardon’t know if that is the reason why there’s a plane with the Newfoundland and Labrador logo at the Arctic Air hangar.  It might also be in recognition of the fact that there is a disproportionate number of Newfoundlanders employed in the North West Territories, both in government and private industry.  Either way, it was a nice touch.

Arctic Air struck me as kind of ‘North of 60 does Dallas’.  There’s the bad exploration DC-3 flying over waterguy, from away.  There’s the conflicted hero, from ‘here’ but been away.  There are the crusty, savvy locals.  There’s the nice pretty girl and the not-so-nice pretty girl.  There are locals (Dene and white) and come-from-aways, so we will always have someone who needs northern cultures and terrain explained and those who can do so.

DC-3 engine and wingAnd we have the terrain and the DC-3s – both starring ‘characters’ of the show.  As trainee pilot Dev said, these planes fought the Nazis.  And Dev himself, played by Stephen Lobo, is an absolute treat.

I want to like Arctic Air.  Early in last night’s episode, I wasn’t sure.  I’d seen these characters and dramatic conflicts before.  But, by the end, I wanted to see how Dev makes out as a pilot.  The rest of it, I can kinda predict.

Republic of Doyle banner cbcTonight, we get Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism’s offering – the Doyles back in the sleuthing business in old sinjohns.  It’s another show where you can see its television history.  It’s been compared to the Rockford Files, aptly, but as homage rather than copycat.

Weather: Tourism ideal vs. actual

They do argumentative father and son well.  And they place it in the glorious backdrop of St. John’s.  I’ve wondered how much leeway they have to build into their shooting schedule to get all those sunny days.  I can imagine cast and crew being woken up at dawn, after weeks off – “looks like a fine day, byes, let’s get at her!”

St. John's streetI lived in St. John’s a long time.  I know summer fog and drizzle.  I know early spring when you’re ready to gnaw your own leg off to get out of fog and snow and rain.  But you are trapped.  Even if you had all the money in the world, planes aren’t flying, ferries aren’t sailing:  the weather is too bad.  We don’t see that weather on Republic of Doyle.  And it is beautiful and awe-inspiring in its own right – once you stop trying to gnaw your foot off and look at it and feel it.  But I forget that weather while watching RoD.  I remember glorious days with sunshine reflecting off brightly painted old buildings, just like on the tv.

Island Dogs

Island Petwear sign, Gateway Village PEIOn our recent trip to PEI, we stopped to get our bearings in Gateway Village at Borden-Carleton, just off the bridge.  Walking around, saw a pet store with an open sign. That’s all the dogs and I needed.  In we went to Island Petwear.

Proprietor Margaret Wedge and her assistant were unpacking.  They Leo wearing PEI tartan scarfhad just returned from a dog show in Charlottetown.  But they were happy to show us around their store and make a fuss over the dogs.

If you’re in the market for some winter clothes for your pooch, you’d love Island Petwear.  If you live nearby, you can do one-stop Christmas shopping for all the dogs on your list.   Coats, beds, leashes, toys and food.  If you’re not close, visit their Facebook page.

Red leather dog coatLeo and Charlie had a great time, sniffing around, looking at the toys and asking for treats.  Then I started trying clothes on them.  Leo, at least, enjoyed it and I’d have loved to buy this beautiful red leather and faux-fur number for him. But we were traveling light and he didn’t actually need a new coat. Charlie did, so he got a reversible flannel hand-made wrap-around jacket.

reversible dog coatLovely dog coats, made by Margaret with beautiful craftsmanship and design.  And if you want your dog to show support for the ‘underdog’, there are Toronto Maple Leaf sweaters (and other teams too).

If I lived in PEI, I’d be a regular at Island Petwear.  Nice store, products and people – what more could you ask for.  Our stop made a Margaret Wedge, prop. Island Petwearfun beginning for a very pet-friendly vacation in PEI. Absolutely no problem at any motel about the dogs staying.  And lots of coastline and woods for long walks and runs.  The dogs had a great time, and so did we.

 

El perro de la playa

In the morning, when Helen opened her cabaña door, the dog was standing beside it.  She was surprised.  She’d seen him on the beach but never around the cabaña.  He moved away when she came out, but not far, and he didn’t back off when she said “hello doggie”.  She walked on, heading for the indoor café across from the beach where she could get café con leche.  She needed air-conditioning and white tablecloths to help her think about being on holiday alone, with her limited Spanish.

In the restaurant she dawdled, pouring the hot coffee and hot milk from their small covered pots into her cup only a bit at a time to keep the liquids hot as long as possible.  She ordered more and a sweet roll.  It had been easy, with Robin as translator, protector and all things male and acclimated.  But Robin had gone to San José the previous afternoon.  He had work to do, and she’d meet him in four day’s time.  Before he’d left, the thought of being here alone was exciting.  She knew more Spanish than she had last year when they were here.  She knew the beach and the sea, she knew the café vendors that spoke English.  She knew the trails and picnic spots in the parque nacionale that bordered the public beach.  It was the best place to test her Español sea legs.  It was still scary though, knowing there was no Robin to provide backup.

Even accustomed as they were to turistas soaking up the cooled air of their restaurant, the waiters began pointedly glancing in her direction.  They were replacing tablecloths, setting up for lunch, wanting to clear her table.  She finished her coffee and took a deep breath as she went outside, to the heat and the linguistic challenges waiting beyond the anglicized environment of the café.

Close to the door but far enough away from anyone taking exception to his presence sat the dog.  When he saw Helen, he stood up and gave one wave of his long tail.  “Hello again, what are you doing here?”  He didn’t move away, but she didn’t want to push her luck by going near him so she walked back toward the beach.  The dog followed a couple of paces behind.

From his belly up, he looked like a perfect German Shepherd in head and ears, colouring and body shape.  It was only his legs that made you wonder about the other part of his parentage:  short little Corgi legs.  He’d hung around her and Robin the past couple days, but wouldn’t come near.  They had put bits of food down for him.  He wouldn’t go near it until they stepped back.  There were many stray dogs on the beach, some quite ferocious looking.  Most came to the beach only at dusk, foraging for food people had dropped.  This one hung around in the day too and looked like he should be someone’s pet.  No, un perro de la playa – a beach dog – they were told.  He likes the tourists, they feed him.  Helen started ensuring she had a bit of leftover from any meal.  This morning, when it seemed he was changing the terms of their relationship, she’d forgot to save any of her sweet bun.

She crossed the road to the beach and walked the length of it, the dog closing the distance until he was at her heel.  She turned to him and put her hand out.  After a minute, he sniffed her palm.  “So, we’re friends?”  He licked her hand.  She ruffled his large pointed ears.  “Hola, perrito, mi amigo.”  He wagged his tail.

They walked on, side by side.  She bought a pop and sat at a picnic table to study her language book.  The dog lay beside her under the table.  A boy came to clear tables.  He saw the dog.  He said to Helen in English, “The dog bothers you?” and jumped to shoo him away.  The dog didn’t move, just sat up alongside Helen’s leg.  “No, no, he’s fine.  He’s with me.”  The boy looked amused and went back to the stall.  Helen saw him talking to his boss.  A while later, he came back with a paper plate of meat scraps and plantain chips.  “Here, he like this.”

Everywhere she went that day, the dog went with her.  Some of the beach concessionaires smiled to see them, some asked if he was annoying her.  None seemed surprised that he’d attached himself to her.

Helen had dinner at the thatched-roofed restaurant beside her cabaña.  She ordered a full meal, so she’d have mucho leftovers for Perro who lay under her table.  Clearly, he’d defined his job – to protect her.  She was learning hers – to provide for him while he was in her employ.  They went back to Helen’s cabaña, with the leftovers.   Perro waited outside but came in when he saw Helen putting the plate on the floor.  Perro had his dinner and slept on the floor at the end of Helen’s bed.  Next morning they went to an outdoor beach café for breakfast.  Perro lay under Helen’s table and nothing was said about his presence by the proprietor or the boy waiting tables.

Helen wanted to swim.  She had her bathing suit on under her sundress and contact lenses in.  She had a towel, a novel and sunscreen in a tote bag.   She hoped it was safe to leave it on the beach.  She and Robin had, but it’s different when you’re alone.  Different for you and perhaps for thieves.  But she had no choice if she wanted to swim.   She preferred to not wear contacts in the water.  In surf like this, big Pacific rollers, a near-sighted person is challenged.  Contacts can be torn out, glasses can be ripped off.  The options are wade sighted in the shallows or go blind into the surf.  Helen usually chose blind but this time decided good sight was better, to see what Perro would do and if her bag was left alone.  She hoped he would prove useful as a guard dog.  It was a faint hope; Perro was surely on closer terms with the local thieves than with her.  If she stayed close to shore, she could have a brief swim and keep an eye on her gear.  She headed to the water, and Perro came right behind her.

On_the_beach_wet_dog-wikicommons-crop
Not Perro. I had no camera with me. But evocative of him.(Wikicommons)

The main beach is silky sand with rolling waves pounding ashore. There were no surfers that day, but the surf was worthy of their efforts.  Helen had learned to body surf on these breakers, first time she and Robin were here.   She strode into the sea, Perro following.  So much for him protecting her bag.  She had to battle the waves just to walk out far enough to swim.  She didn’t think Perro would keep following, but he did.  He was soon in over his depth.  Helen returned to him, trying to get him to go ashore.  She wanted to swim, and Perro wanted to keep her near him.   She went out farther and farther, figuring the waves would force him to give up.  He kept swimming, waves pounding in his face and then over his head.   Helen looked back, astounded to see his head bob up from the surf, battling to get to her.  His face, when it wasn’t submerged by waves, was frantic.  He was in over his head and, in his mind, so therefore was she.  He couldn’t let her be that far away.

Helen let the waves carry her back, he swam out.  When they met, Helen coming inland, Perro going seaward, he climbed up the front of her, exhausted.  She held him and let them both be driven back to shore.  Helen decided to try again; maybe Perro would realise it was best to leave her to her watery fate.  No, he swam out again, and again they floated in, gripped together.  Third time, Helen stayed closer to shore.  Perro stayed at the water’s edge, with eyes on her.  If she crossed his designated depth line, he was in the water, to save her.  If she didn’t, he stayed on the beach.  When he felt sure that she would stay nearby, he took up sentry duty beside her bag.  She was free to have a leisurely swim as long as she stayed close enough to not worry Perro.

After her Perro-permitted swim, Helen trotted up to where he stood guard.  They lay down on the towel and sunned their bellies and their backs.  Helen read and Perro dreamed with moving paws and whiffling noises.  Was he chasing rabbits or swimming in his dreams?

For dinner Helen and Perro walked to a fancy restaurant about a half kilometer up the road.  She told him he deserved it.  The waiter said no dogs.  She wasn’t asking to take him in the dining room, Helen said, she just wanted an outside table for “myself and my dog”.  English in a haughty tone got them a lovely patio table and a delicious doggy-bag.

Next day Perro and Helen use their agreed-upon system for swimming.  Helen stays near shore and Perro guards her stuff.  She wears no contacts or glasses.  She’s promised Perro she won’t go out over her head, but she can still duck inside the waves, surf with them and let them roll over her head.   Perro sits spine rigid beside her pack.  A man walks past, too close for Perro’s liking.  He snarls until the man passes, and resumes his watch over her.   Helen comes out of the water.  Perro keeps his position until she reaches him, then wags himself silly in delight that she’s back safe and sound.

She asks him what they should do for dinner.  Being a beggar dog, he knows to keep his own counsel and let the donor decide.  She decides well – a thatched hut bar up the beach.  The owner knows Helen.  He tried to talk her and Robin into operating the bar in winter so he and his wife could go to San José or maybe to San Francisco.  There’s a cat, the bar mouser, and a parrot.  Helen lets the parrot sit on her head where it squawks at Perro.  No one else makes a fuss about Perro’s presence; he is a welcome guest.  He just has to put up with that insufferable parrot, and the cat staring at him with malevolent eyes.  Pay-off is big time!  A big plate of fresh shrimp.

Next morning, Helen packed a small bag with water and biscuits for them both.   They walked across the wide swath of public beach and entered the jungle, heading to the parque nacionale.  Helen had been in the park before; she knew there was a small, protected beach.  Without surf, it would be nice for Perro.  Perro also knew the park, and the park rangers, and he lagged behind as they neared the entrance.  He knew he wasn’t welcome.

Helen strode to the park gates.  She too knew dogs weren’t allowed. The guard saw him, and said quite a bit, the only words Helen could pick out being “prohibidos los perros”.  Helen said “El es mi perro, él viene conmigo.”  The guard said in English, “No dog in park, get away.”  To make sure his point was clear, he raised his rifle and aimed it at Perro.

Helen jumped in front of it screaming, “put that gun down right now.  Are you a lunatic?”  “No dog in el parque.  Stray dogs get shot.  You not want that, get away.”   “You’ll have to shoot me first and think how that will look on international tv.”  She carried on in that vein, despite knowing no cameras were anywhere around.  Perro snapped ferociously, from behind Helen.  Using both Spanish and English, the guard told Helen he had the right to arrest her, and shoot the dog.  Helen said “no tienes jack shit.  Si you touch este perro, yo kill you myself. Y yo soy una norteamericana, una canadiense.   You want to defend yourself against headlines – ‘el guard en shootout con una canadiense y perro de la beach’?”  The guard put down his rifle.  “We know this dog – un parásito, always begging.  This one time, go in.”  Helen didn’t know, but hoped, that her impassioned defense, fracturing two languages, helped Perro win the day.  And his action!  He too confronted the guard and he knew, better than she, the risk he was taking.  They walked fast as soon as they got in the park.  Get some distance, in case the guard changes his mind.

They passed the first beach, one with large waves but not as large as those that hit the public beach.  Some people were way out, riding the waves.  Families with small children were on the beach or in shallow water where ebbing waves washing over the children gave them a thrill without endangering them.  Ten minutes more walking brought them to a small beach tucked in a cove.  A couple of people were at the far end.  Quiet beach and quiet water, just as Helen remembered it from a day there with Robin.  Helen and Perro waded in.  Helen swam and floated, Perro dogpaddled alongside her and sometimes rested in her arms.  They swam, sunned and swam again.  They left just before twilight and walked across the public beach in darkness.

Supper at her cabaña restaurant, steak.  Not what Helen would usually order, but she’d be leaving the next day and Perro needed a good meal.   How could she take him with her, give him a home?  But she and Robin are going on to Nicaragua – part of this working holiday.  Borders, planes, hotels, vets, vaccinations, not enough time.  There is no way she can take Perro, and should she even try?  She tells herself she’s not the first turista Perro has made feel at home here, and there will be more.

The morning bus arrives.  Helen boards and so does Perro.  She tries to explain to him and the driver while she puts him off the bus.  The driver puts the bus in gear and again finds he has an extra passenger, a very determined dog.  All Helen can hope, as she pushes the dog off the bus the final time, is that another turista comes soon for him.  Maybe one who will take him home.  She stumbles to the back of the bus, tears streaming, and looks back.  He sits at the bus stop, watching the bus as it snakes its way out of town.