Breeders Need Not Apply

This post originally appeared in my other blog in spring of 2011, I am reposting it here because the message still applies!!

I had a Bell Canada tech in today to fix my phones. Not surprising, it happens. However, in the course of talking with him while he worked it came out that I’m a dog rescuer. (Because you know, every sane person who’s not into rescue has nine recue dogs wandering around their home.) When I mentioned looking for a home for our purebred Shih Tzu rescue Diva, his face lit up. Not because he liked ShihTzu’s or because he wanted to adopt, but because he thought he had solved a problem for me. He knew a breeder who would be happy to take Diva off our hands seeing as she was a purebred and all. That is when I informed him that Diva is fixed, and that under no circumstances would I consider adopting her out to a breeder even if she were not.

He seemed puzzled by this, saying , “but I can find her a home, and then she won’t be in your way anymore.” It was then that I informed him that NO dog or cat leaves my house unfixed, and breeders need not apply, because I never have nor will I ever allow a breeder to adopt one of my rescues. I do not condone Backyard breeding, and never will. I have spent far too much time over the past twenty five years cleaning up the messes that BYB’s leave behind in their quest to make a fast buck. Besides I took these dogs in to protect them and give them a better chance at life. That better chance does not include being forced to pop out puppies litter after litter, that would not be an acceptable life for any of them. As far as I am concerned it is not an acceptable life for any dog or cat.

As I said, my phone tech looked puzzled by this concept. So for those of you who are puzzled right along with him let me explain dog rescue in a manner in which you can understand.

Dogs come to me because they were strayed, abused or abandoned by their owners, or rescued in puppy mill raids. When they get here they are damaged by the trauma they have suffered at the hands of humans. They are shut down and trust no one, sometimes not even other dogs. In this state they are pretty much unadoptable. But you have heard me say before that there is no such thing as an unadoptable dog. I work hard, sometimes for months on end to rehabilitate them and teach them to live in the average home with the average family. I also assess the needs of the dog to determine what their perfect family dynamic would be. (i.e; can they live with other dogs, cats, children?) At no time do I ever look at a rescue purebred or otherwise and say “we need to find a breeder who will make you pop out puppies until you are too old to do so anymore.”

While all my dogs leave here fixed and incapable of breeding, it is especially important for any small breed purebreds that may come through our compound. People see these popular little dogs as money makers, and the only way to find perfect loving forever homes for them is to ensure they no longer have the ability to be bred. We who rescue dogs do not do so just to move them around from place to place, and we are not just looking for any home that will take them in, we are looking for the home that will treat them like the beloved pets they are. We are looking for the home that will give them the second chance at life they missed the first time around. Placing a purebred rescue with a breeder would be abusive to the dog, and I am in the business of stopping and preventing abuse, not giving it a helping hand.

It is not enough just to find a place for a dog, we must find the right place, the place that they will be well loved and cared for until the end of their natural life. We must find them a home full of dog people, who will bond with them and become family.

Until Next Time Remember



Samson Gets Neutered

It certainly was a crazy morning here at our house. One of our dogs was scheduled for surgery and had to be at the clinic at 8 a.m. He was not happy about it, and when an almost 100 lb. dog decides he is not happy about something it makes for an interesting tale.

15972601_1354060697989389_7832378187577335073_oIt all started last night when we had to crate him. Samson is one of the most food oriented dogs I have ever seen. Hold a dog biscuit in front of him for more than five seconds and you have a puddle of drool on the floor at his feet. So because he had to be NPO (nothing by mouth) before his surgery, we had to crate him, or he would have managed to eat something even if it was not really something edible. So we hauled the monster sized crate out of storage and set it up in the dog den next to Nakita’s crate. (The only dog I have crate trained in years is Nakita, and then only because she is related to Houdini.) We put Samson in the crate, but no sooner had we settled into bed to watch an evening movie, when the howling began. Samson it seems does not like small spaces, the crate is quite spacious even for a dog his size but he simply sees no reason why he should be confined. Well we could not have this dog howling all night long, what would the neighbors think? So we tried the bark collar (the ones that emit high pitched sound when a dog barks) but that did not stop him. Eventually we were forced to muzzle him or get up in the morning bleary eyed and sleepless. Finally all was quiet and we settled down to sleep. At 6 o’clock this morning an unholy whining could be heard from the dog den. It seems Samson had had enough of confinement and was voicing his displeasure, but since he was muzzled he could not bark so he set about whining as loudly as possible. Our furry alarm clock had spoken, it was time to start our day. Samson wanted out of that crate and he wanted that muzzle off! He got his one wish but we could not remove his muzzle or he would head straight for the food dish. So Samson wandered around pawing at the muzzle and bumping into everything in sight until it was time to leave for the clinic.

Samson does not like to ride in the car, so we have to get a running start and trick him into jumping into the back of the wagon. This morning thank goodness he did not make putting him in the car an issue. With the rest of the dogs settled in the house and Samson in the car we set off for the clinic. We use a high volume low cost Spay and Neuter clinic to sterilize our rescues, and they have some very strict criteria for how things are run. You must arrive with your pet on the dot of eight, no later, and leave your pet in the car while you do the paperwork. I have already mentioned that Samson does not like the car, so leaving him alone in a vehicle is out of the question if you want to come back to an intact car. My husband took an hour off work and came with me so he could walk Samson around the parking lot while I did the paperwork. A good plan in theory…in execution not so much!

I went into the clinic to get the paperwork started. As I got to the door a clinic employee was giving an orientation talk so we were all waiting to hear what she had to say. A woman standing beside me had broken the rules and was holding her cat in her arms. That is when Samson escaped as my husband was taking him out of the car. He began running around the parking lot looking for “MOM.” Spotting me he made a beeline for me, and the woman next to me panicked thinking he was going after her cat. I managed to grab him by the collar just as he discovered the cat. Samson contained (my husband took him for a walk) I proceeded to finish the paperwork, we took Samson in, and we will pick him up at 5 this evening groggy, sore, but incapable of breeding! In a society where there are so many unwanted pets in shelters, is it not MY responsibility to ensure that my pet does not add to the problem? I feel that it is, and so all my pets are spayed or neutered or scheduled to be so soon.

If your pet is not spayed or neutered please have them spayed or neutered. If cost is an issue check into low cost spay and neuter clinics that may operate in your area. It is important not only to control the pet population, but spaying and neutering are healthier for your pet and could prolong their life. If there is something you can do for your pet to ensure they live a longer healthier life, don’t you want to do it?

Until Next Time Remember



RESCUED: Through the eyes of a six pound poodle.

Hello Everydoggie!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy name is Pebbles. I am five years old. I am a wait seven pound (I gained a whole pound since I got here! Can you believe it? Time to sign up for doggie pilates!) anyway, I am a little white Toy Poodle. I was born in the home of a BYB* who did not believe in taking his dogs to the dogtor! He cropped my tail with a round stretchy thing my human Mom says is called a rubber band. He wrapped the rubber band around my tail so tight it made it fall right off! Can you believe it?!?! I was very scared of the man. One day a human lady came and took me home with her. I was afraid to go and leave my brothers and sisters. What would happen to them? Oh my goodness! What was going to happen to me?

I tried to hide behind the lady when the man got mad at me, but the lady wasn’t always there to hide behind. Sometimes the man kicked me when she wasn’t there. It hurt and I would run and hide behind the couch where the man couldn’t see me. I would stay there until the lady came back but I was a very scared little doggie. I used to shake all the time. One day the lady went away, and I hid behind the couch for a very long time. When the lady came back she brought a girl puppy of her own with her. Things were good then because the lady stayed at home all the time and the man stopped kicking me. Soon the lady brought home another puppy, this time a boy. Everything was fine again, for a while, then the boy puppy grew up and he started to kick me! He even kicked me down the stairs. The lady tried to make him stop, but he kept kicking me. He was a bad puppy who didn’t listen to his mother.

I was a very sad doggie because I always hurt and no one loved me. Then one day a lady I had never seen before came to my lady’s house. She didn’t look at me or make a fuss and scare me the way people usually do. I ran up to her and jumped on her leg. “Hello Pebbles” she said, but she didn’t touch me. This was interesting, I pawed at her leg. She ignored me! My lady went into the house and came out again with my bed and my bowl in a bag. She gave the bag to the new lady. The new lady took it and then my lady handed her my leash. What was this? The new lady bent down and clipped my leash to my little pink collar. “Are you ready to go home Pebbles?” she asked me. I wasn’t afraid.  For the first time in my life, I left that backyard. I wasn’t scared of the world on the other side of the fence anymore, it was where the new lady had come from. I trusted the new lady who is now my foster Mom.

I didn’t know it when I left the yard, but my new foster Mom has lots of dogs just like me! There is even a little boy dog named Hercules who looks just like me, he’s a toy poodle too! Diva, she’s my best friend. We run and play together all the time, she’s something called a Shih Tzu. They come from China you know, Mom calls Diva her little foreign boarder. Foster Mom calls me Princess, and she took me to something called a furdresser for a doggie makeover (we even did blogs with before and after photo spreads and everything!)

.I have my own bed right beside foster Mom’s big bed and I get brushed every day. Me and all the other little dogs have breakfast with my foster Mom every morning. The big dogs have their breakfast in the other room. I don’t know why they can’t eat with us but foster Mom says it is important to have rules at meal time. I think it is just because foster Mom thinks that some days the big dogs are so hungry they might eat us tiny guys by mistake!

We go outside lots during the day and run around in the big yard and play. Sometimes I stay on the porch with foster Mom and watch the other dogs run and run. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I am not afraid anymore! My foster Mom loves me and she will take good care of me until I find the right furever home!


Pebbles with me (her foster Mom) and Hercules our puppy mill rescue in 2010

I am Pebbles. I am a good dog, and I have been given a second chance!

*BYB(back yard breeder; a person who owns dogs to breed them for profit. These people generally do not care about the animal just the money it’s offspring can make them.)

Until Next Time Remember



Traveling with Dogs: The Camping Trip from Hell; We Don’t Want to Go Home!

(Cont’d from last post)

Have you ever woken up in the morning and just felt instinctively that something was wrong? My first clue to trouble was waking up with a dog paw in my face. The dogs had been crated the night before in the corner of the tent trailer, but here I was my eyes just opening, and either I was seeing things or the dogs were loose in the trailer! I sat up rubbed my eyes and looked around. My mind was pre-occupied with thoughts of packing to head for home. I swung my feet onto the floor and stood up, right in the middle of a pile of corn flakes and what looked like the remains of a package of hot dog buns. My husky/lab cross Gabrielle was sitting on the floor a couple of feet from the mess trying to look innocent while the wolfhound cross lay on the bed shamelessly  chewing on the remains of the cereal box. (It was the wolfhounds paw I’d found stuck in my face as I woke)

“Oh this trip just gets better and better!” I thought as I woke up the girls and had them take the dogs outside the tent trailer and hook them up to the tie-outs, while I set about cleaning up the mess they had made of our breakfast supplies. “Guess I didn’t latch their crate doors properly.” I thought to myself while sweeping up cornflakes mixed with bits of hot dog bun and plastic bag. It wasn’t until I went to make coffee that I realized one of the dogs had chewed a hole in the eco friendly reusable coffee filter. “Fantastic!” now not only did I have a mess to clean up, but I am apparently going to do it without coffee! “What next?” I thought.

The answer to that question came as I stepped out of the tent trailer and was practically flattened by my friend’s six year old son as he came running around the corner of the tent trailer screaming “Daddy forgot how to stand up!” You remember my friend right? Last night at the campfire his dog had dislocated his knee, but big Mister Man firefighter that he was he had insisted he didn’t need to go to the hospital. So anyway what his son was trying to tell me was that his Dad couldn’t walk. Great! Somebody shoot me now!

Just to recap I have awoken to find our breakfast foods and breads mangled beyond recognition by escapee dogs, and now my friend can’t extricate himself from his sleeping bag due to the injury to his knee the night before, I have four dogs to walk, four kids to magically provide breakfast for and I am out in the middle of the woods. Don’t ya just LOVE camping?

Now about this time I decide that IS it, we are packing up and heading home, but what I really want to do is curl up into a ball and pretend none of this is my responsibility. Unfortunately being the only able bodied adult left in our camping party I now am faced with the task of repacking the car and tent trailer on my own and getting us home. But first I had to pack up. The kids of course were no help in this endeavor, they followed me around as I broke down camp yelling “we don’t wanna go home!” But I had had enough I was determined we were going home! All I had to do was break down camp and get us packed up.

Have you ever completely unfolded a tourist map? You know, the kind they used to give away at gas stations when we were kids (okay when some of us were kids, the rest of you look it up GPS wasn’t available back then.) the kind that once you unfold them you can never seem to fold them back up again as neatly as they came? Well repacking our things was kind of like trying to fold one of those maps back up the right way. Nothing seems to work right and things look a little lumpy. But somehow I managed to get it together, only problem now was I hadn’t a clue how to hook the tent trailer back up to the trailer hitch (I was a city girl what can I say?) My friend couldn’t do it because he couldn’t stand up, so I was going to have to go in search of assistance. So with 120lb. yellow lab Nelly in the lead I set off to find a park ranger who could help us. We finally found one and brought him back to our camp. He helped us hook up the trailer and made sure everything was secure.

Now it was time to put the kids and the dogs back in the car and get going. This time I separated my 8 year daughter from my friend’s six year old son. The last thing I needed while trying to drive was kids fighting in the back seat. I was nervous enough already, (did I mention I had never driven anything with a trailer attached to it before?) this was going to be a long drive! One by one we got the dogs in the car, but just as we got everybody situated the three year old yelled from the back “I gotta go pee pee!” Of course! I should have been expecting this, after all I was traveling with a bunch of kids and dogs, someone was bound to have to go to the bathroom at the worst possible time, it was inevitable.

One by one we took the dogs back out of the car until we could get to the three year old. We had already settled my friend in the front passenger seat and with his injury he was no help in controlling the dogs. Miraculously the 17 year old had the presence of mind to store the tie outs where she could get to them in a hurry so we staked them into the ground and hooked the dogs up to them to wait for the three year old to return from the bathroom with his 17 year old sister.

Potty break over we packed up the dogs again and headed for home. The return trip was much the same as the trip out with choruses of “your stepping on me!” “stop pulling my hair” and “why does this dog have to sit on me?” ringing through the air. By this time I was exhausted and running out of patience, and I needed to stop for gas.

Of course stopping for gas meant letting the dogs out to go for a walk, but my friend was in no shape to walk them anywhere therefore we would have to come up with another solution. It was decided that once the 17 year old had taken the younger children to the washroom she would come back and help me with the dogs. Now this might have worked in theory if we weren’t traveling with a three year old who thought he had all the answers. The three year old saw no reason why dogs and people couldn’t just all get out of the van and go potty together, so he opened the side door of the van and let himself and the dogs out. Chaos ensued!

Dogs took off running in four different directions, the 17 year old and I took off after two of them, my friend was yelling for his sons to get back in the car and wait, and that is when the three year old peed his pants and burst into tears.

I had managed to capture and wrangle Nelly the 120 lb. lab back towards the van and attach a tie out to her collar. The 17 year old had captured the smiling wolfhound cross and was getting her hooked up to another tie out. I was just clipping the third tie out line to old blind Bucky when we heard screaming as my husky/lab cross ran by dragging my eight year old daughter behind her. My daughter refused to let go of the dog’s collar and was still being pulled across the grass of the picnic area. “Let go!” we shouted as we ran to help.

Finally last dog recaptured, and put back in the van I now had to find dry clothes for the three year old and clean clothes to replace the ones my daughter was wearing before her picnic area drag race. The clothes of course were somewhere in the badly packed tent trailer. We would have to half unpack just to find clothes for the kids, so we set about doing just that.

Five minutes later as I am standing triumphantly beside the van holding a change of clothes for both kids, I am approached by an OPP officer who says “Ma’am? Excuse me Ma’am but you can’t camp here.” he nods towards the piles of camping stuff surrounding the trailer, “you’ll have to pack that up and move on, there’s a campground just north of here, I could call ahead and see if they have a spot for you?”

That cop must have thought the lot of us had just escaped the insane asylum because all we could do was stand there and laugh hysterically. Once I managed to calm down I explained to him that while it may look like we are about to set up camp we were really just trying to get home after a disastrous camping trip. He helped us pack the trailer back up (a little less lumpy than it was when I did it) and we were on our way headed for home.

What we didn’t realize until a little while later was that in all the commotion of our stop we had forgotten to get gas, not a good thing to forget when you are out on the highway with miles between gas stations! About a mile from the next gas station the engine began to sputter, and finally died, we were out of gas on the side of the highway!

The 17 year old and I decided we would take the gas gan and walk to the gas station, but we were worried about leaving the younger kids on the side of the road with an adult who couldn’t walk due to injury. We knew the three year old was headstrong and would do whatever he felt like doing unless someone physically stopped him from doing it (not my kid don’t blame me) so it was decided that the 17 year old would stay behind to keep an eye on the kids, while my 8 year old daughter and I walked the mile to the gas station with the gas can.

We arrived at the gas station gas can in hand and the proprietor (an old man in his 70s) took one look at us and called for his wife to bring us water. “What are you girls doing walking around in the middle of nowhere?” he asked. We told him our story, and he said “well now! Let’s fill up your gas can and get you back on the road!” The old man filled up our gas can and two more besides. (for which I paid him) Then he said to me “it seems like you girls have had enough trouble for one day, climb up in the truck and I will drive you back to your car.”

When we got back to the car everyone including the dogs were sleeping. We poured the gas from the gas cans into the tank and the engine roared to life. We were off again! Except for a quick stop at the old man’s gas station to fill the tank we drove straight through and got home by supper time.

I am not afraid to tell you it was the absolute LAST time I ever took that many dogs camping!  Conclusion: Camping and Dogs Don’t mix!!!

Until Next Remember,



Traveling with Dogs: The Camping Trip from Hell; Campfire Dogs

(Cont’d from last post)

When we left off we were getting ready for the evenings campfire. We had done the dinner thing, cooking chicken over an open fire and eating like we hadn’t seen food in a month of Sundays. You know how hungry you get while camping, you feel as if you could eat everything in sight. Anyway, dinner done and the dishes cleared and washed, we set out to make s’mores by the campfire. We tied up the dogs two on either side of the fire taking special care to ensure that they could not reach the flames. “There” we thought, “finally five minutes of peace to enjoy our campfire.” Oh how deluded we were!

We set up camp chairs for the kids and broke out the marshmallows for toasting. The campsite was quiet save for the sound of crickets and bull-frogs, and the muted voices of the other campers in discussion at their own fire sides. Suddenly off in the distance we heard the lone howl of a wolf. Our campsite suddenly came alive with the sound of four dogs howling in answer. The rest of the campsites suddenly came alive with the sounds of other campers shouting “shut those damned dogs up!” Oh no! We were on park Ranger radar yet again!

We finally managed to quiet the dogs down. My friend’s big yellow lab had been the ring leader in the howl at the moon escapade so he took her off her tie-out put her on a leash and brought her fireside to sit at his feet. This way he could control her by correcting any bad behaviour immediately. A good theory, but put into practice it definitely did not go as planned. The seventeen year old and I put the younger children to bed, and returned to the fire. Our bottoms were barely in our seats when a racoon ran through our campsites. Once again the dogs began to bark enthusiastically straining at their ties to go after it. The dog sitting at my friends feet decided to give chase. She darted sideways and in doing so dislocated my friend’s knee. He hit the ground and dropped the leash. Campers all around were yelling at us to keep the dogs quiet, my friend was rolling around on the ground yelling “I lost my leg! I lost my leg!” From inside the tent trailer I heard the sound of my daughter bursting into tears. She had heard my friend scream “I lost my leg!” and thought that his leg was actually missing. I scrambled around the campsite muzzling dogs to keep them quiet. After picking my friend up off the ground and returning him to his chair, I went into the tent trailer to calm my daughter down. She did not stop crying until I brought her to the campfire so she could see that my friend still had both legs attached.

After helping my friend to his tent and ensuring the fire would not flare up during the night, stowing the dogs in the van, and cleaning up the remains of the s’mores ingredients, I finally climbed into my sleeping bag exhausted and sore, and vowed that I was going to cut this camping trip short and head home in the morning. I could not take one more disaster. I fell asleep thinking camping with dogs was a very bad idea, and promising myself I would end the trip early. I underestimated the ability of children to make one feel guilty about a decision they don’t agree with, but that is another story. Suffice it to say I fell asleep confident that I was leaving for home in the morning.

What happened the next morning will be revealed in the next chapter:

Traveling with Dogs: The Camping Trip from Hell; We Don’t Want to go Home!

Traveling With Dogs: The Camping Trip from Hell; Dogs and Beaches Don’t Mix

(Continued from last post) 

With all dogs now safely contained in the van, we could finally sit down to breakfast, which of course by this time had gone stone cold. We ate it anyway having built up quite an appetite during the morning’s excitement. With breakfast finished and the camp site tidy, the kids run off to change into bathing suits and grab towels and beach toys. I am gathering together a picnic lunch and packing the cooler, my friend is busy unhitching the tent trailer from the van for the drive to the beach. Neither one of us remembers to pick up the dog dishes which still contain a few scraps of kibble, and place them in the tent trailer. Everything seems to be going smoothly and I begin to think that we may actually get through the day without any more excitement. I couldn’t be more wrong!

I look up and see my friends six year old heading for the van. Before I can say “wait for us” he throws open the sliding side door and all four dogs burst from the back of the van. We are camping in Algonquin park in Ontario’s north, and there are some very strict rules about keeping your dog on a leash at all times, and here we have four dogs running around the campground sans leash! We of course drop everything and give chase. If you are old enough to remember the Keystone Kops then you can well visualize the chase. People at campsites around us are just getting ready for their day. Some are having breakfast others are relaxing with coffee, some like us, are getting ready for a beach trip. Off to my left I spot the wolf hound cross Brindle as she runs through a campsite snatching a piece of bacon out of a child’s hand on her way through. I make a grab for her and end up with a fistful of fur flat on my back on the ground. Off to my right my friend is wrestling with his 120lb. yellow lab Nelly and trying to get her under control and back into the van. His seventeen year old daughter has a hold of my dog Gabrielle, and has managed to put her back in the van without releasing the 120lb. lab. I finally get a hold of and wrangle Brindle to the front door of the van and manage to get her in and slam the door shut before the others can escape. My eight year old daughter has managed to get a hold of blind lab Bucky, and now asks me to put him in the van so she doesn’t let the others out again by accident. The dogs are finally back where they should be, but now we are faced with the task of putting four kids in a van full of dogs who want out.

We decide that the 17 year old should get in through one of the front doors and block the dogs from getting into the front seat. We then let the other children in one at a time and the seventeen year old helps to get them seated. Miraculously this works without incident, and we are off to the beach. “Okay” I think to myself, “maybe this won’t be so bad after all.” We park the van and before I can turn around and say “okay, everyone sit tight until we get the dogs out and tied up,” the three year old, excited about playing on the beach throws open the door and suddenly the quiet peaceful beach front is invaded by off leash dogs who head straight for the water! And we are off again chasing down dogs. The second chase goes much the same as the first, us leaping to catch dogs who just manage to escape our reach as we land face down in the sand. The seventeen year old has had the presence of mind to secure the tie downs into the ground so we can secure the dogs once we finally get a hold of them. One by one we manage to catch and tie up the dogs, by the time this is accomplished we are hot and tired and out of energy, and it is all we can do to flop on the beach on our towels and try to catch our breath.
The rest of the day at the beach passes without incident, and we manage to pack up the van just before dinner to head back to the camp site. Remember those dog dishes we forgot to pick up before we left? They have attracted a flock of birds, and as we pull into our campsite upon our return from the beach all we can see is birds. They are everywhere! They are perched on the top of the tent and tent trailer, they fill the trees surrounding our campsite, and cover the ground. It is at about this time I fervently start wishing the van had no windows, the dogs have spotted the birds, and they are going crazy in the back of the van. We now have to find a way to get the kids and ourselves out of the van without the dogs escaping so we can chase the birds out of the campsite. We manage to do so, and one by one take the dogs out of the van and crate them. It is now time to prepare dinner, which we also manage to do without incident. After dinner we will have a campfire and the kids will roast marshmallows, standard camping stuff right? Ah, but remember, this is us and four dogs in Algonquin park, we are at the end of our second day, and we have already proven Murphy’s law more than once. There is nothing “standard” about this camping trip. To find out what happens next check back tomorrow for the next chapter:

Traveling with Dogs: The Camping Trip from Hell; Campfire Dogs

Travelling With Dogs: The Camping Trip from Hell; The Trip to the Campsite & Setting Up Camp

The following is a reposting of the first in an ongoing series of posts originally written in “The Barrie Dog Blog” a blog I authored in 2010.

N.B: It became clear to me as I was writing this story that the entire story would take far too long to read in one blog posting, therefore the story is being broken down into chapters. As you are reading this one I am writing the next so check back tomorrow for the next chapter. 

Years ago when I was still a single Mom and only had one dog, a friend (who was also a single parent) and I decided to combine finances and take our kids on a week long summer camping trip. We made our reservations, packed our bags, fixed up his van and hooked up the tent trailer. We then loaded his two sons and one daughter and my daughter into the van. All that was left was to load in the dogs. Now I already mentioned that this was way back when I only had one dog, so you are probably thinking okay so no big deal, a couple of dogs and you’re on your way. If that were the case this would not have been the camping trip from hell.

My friend had three dogs, and they were not small ones! So what we were standing there realizing as we were looking at this van full of children was, “where the heck are we going to put all these dogs?” Packed into the tent trailer were a few crates for night sleeping containment of the dogs, and an 18 kg. bag of dog food, as well as dishes and toys and chew bones and the  like for four dogs. We couldn’t afford to kennel these dogs, and we couldn’t get to their things to leave them with friends without totally unpacking the tent trailer. They had to come with us, so into the van they went.

We set off on the two hour drive to the campground we had booked. We hadn’t gone a country mile when from the back seat we heard the three year old scream and begin to cry. I looked back (my friend was driving) into the back seat to see 120lb. Yellow lab Nelly Standing on the three year olds lap. The little boy was screaming and crying as his 17 year old sister attempted to get the dog back onto the floor. At the same  time from the third row seat where my eight year old daughter and my friends six year old son were sitting I heard “Ow! Let go of my ponytail!” ,”you pinched me first!”  “Oh this is going to be a great trip!” was my sarcastic thought.

About an hour into the trip we were thinking we needed a refreshment and bathroom break for everyone, dogs included. Somewhere in the back a dog (probably mine) vomited on the floor, this made the decision and we pulled into the next rest stop we came to. 

It was decided I would take the younger children into the washrooms, and my friend and his 17 year old daughter would walk the dogs. Off I went, and dealing with children who needed to go to the bathroom, had no problems. When I returned with children and refreshments in hand, I was confronted by a scene that made me think “Wonderful! I’ve been dropped into a bad G-rated camping comedy!”

My friend, always the ego-maniac (he was a fire-fighter who thought he could handle anything) had decided to attempt to walk all three of his dogs at the same time! Now these were country dogs who had never been leash trained, and I think I previously mentioned that one weighed 120lbs. What I haven’t told you is that another was a 100lb. blind lab, and the third was a young wolf-hound cross who had no real training. The site that confronted me when I came out of the building was of my friend being dragged across the parking lot on his back as three dogs went their own way. I helped his daughter put my dog back in the van with the kids, and we set out to corral the other three and rescue my battered and bruised friend. We hadn’t even made it to the campsite and I was already pulling out the first aid kit! The second half of the trip went pretty much the same, but we finally reached the campsite.

Plans were for myself and the two girls to bunk down in the tent trailer with two of the dogs. He, and the boys would sleep in the tent with the other two.  This would have been fine in theory, had it not been for the good old Algonquin weather gods who saw fit to flood or campsite with a storm in the middle of that first night. About two in the morning we awakened by a pounding on the trailer door. We opened it to find three very wet humans and two soaking wet dogs. Seems the tent they had all been sleeping in now had six inches of water floating in the bottom of it and was unusable for at least the rest of the night. We packed everyone into the tent trailer dogs included and slept the rest of the night feeling much as a sardine must feel once packed in its can.

The rest of the night was peaceful despite the crowding. The next morning dawned bright and sunny. We got up got the kids dressed, and started to prepare breakfast. The dogs had to be walked as Algonquin park has some very strict leash laws. The four children decided to walk the four dogs. Great in theory, not so good in practice. My 60lb. 8 year old daughter decided for some reason we will never know, that she was going to walk the biggest dog we had brought with us. Nelly the 120lb. yellow lab. This would also have been fine in theory were it not for the fact that just as my daughter was passing the river that ran close to our campsite, Nelly saw a squirrel..

When a 120lb. dog decides it wants to chase a squirrel there is no way they are just going to let it go. When a 60lb. child is the one walking that dog you just know the results are going to be disastrous. The squirrel saw the dog at about the same time the dog decided she wanted squirrel for breakfast. The squirrel took off running in the direction of the river, Nelly hot on her heals with my poor daughter hanging on to the leash for dear life and being dragged behind. Right into the river they went, me running along behind screaming at my daughter to let go of the leash, which she finally did. My friends 17 year old daughter took my daughter back to the campsite to get her dry clothing and bandage a few small cuts and scrapes. I set off in search of the dog who was still chasing the squirrel leash trailing behind her. I finally caught up to the dog when she treed the squirrel and was able to wrestle her back to the campsite and put her in the van with the other dogs for the ride to the beach. It was the morning of the first full day and already I had silently vowed to never go camping with this many dogs again! Ever! Six more days to go and I was already wondering what else could possibly happen. I had no time to think about that now, we had promised the kids a beach trip and it was time to go.

To be continued…Next Segment – Travelling with Dogs: The Camping Trip From Hell; Dogs & Beaches Don’t Mix!