Second Anniversary of Alma

Two years ago today, the Husband and I made our road trip south of the border to Montana to adopt a dog from the Montana Companion Animal Network.

After months of looking at Pet Finder and local ads for adoptable dogs – and a lot of patience – we gave Alma her ‘forever home’.

Alma and Moses in her first month at home

Alma and Moses in her first month at home

Alma & Moses

Alma & Moses

A couple of water dogs

A couple of water dogs

The forever home comes with Canadian winters, but she doesn't seem to mind.

The forever home comes with Canadian winters, but she doesn’t seem to mind.

Fun with friends

Fun with friends

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Don’t let anyone tell you pure-bred dogs don’t also need adopting.

Alma's favourite sleep spot - the en suite

Alma’s favourite sleep spot – the en suite

IMG_5228Happy second ‘Gotcha Day’, Alma!

Black & White Sunday 13: Glenbow Ranch

I’ve shared photos from walks at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park several times on the Soapbox (like here, here, and here, for example).  It’s definitely one of my favourite places to walk the dogs because it’s massive, close to our end of the city, a very interesting historic site, and picturesque with lots of variety for photo ops.

So without further adieu…

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Moses

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Moses

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Alma

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Moses

Check out everyone else’s photos and the blog hop hosts here and here.

BandW

Wordless Wednesday 23: Checkmate

As you may remember from our ultimate Canadian Pilgrimage this summer, Medicine Hat, Alberta is home of the world’s largest teepee.

Moses & Alma

Moses & Alma

But what you may not know: they also boast a giant chess set.

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I kind of doubt it’s the world’s largest, but you never know.

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To see the rest of Wordless Wednesday, click here.

Monday Mischief 16: Two Tails in Two Cities

Okay, so I might be stretching for the Dickens reference.

Like a lot of Calgarians, the Husband has a job that takes him north for various periods of time. This time, to keep him company, he decided to take Alma with him. Because that’s the great thing about having two dogs – we can share!

Alma on a road trip. Get it? Road trip!

Alma on a road trip. Get it? Road trip!

They’ve been away for almost a week, leaving Moses and I here at home with the cats.

Alma & Husband

Alma & Husband

So while Alma is off galavanting northern Alberta, Moses is hanging out with me – where the weather has been warmer and drier.

Neighbourhood walk with Moses

Neighbourhood walk with Moses

The arrangement isn’t so bad, really. Separating Moses and Alma allows us to give the dogs some one-on-one time, which probably isn’t as frequent as it should be under normal circumstances.

Moses

Moses

I don’t know that there’s any particular mischief – beyond the Husband and I competing in fall photographs – to report, but the Newfs how have the province covered, should there be any.

Monday Mischief

This post is part of the Mischief Monday blog hop – to see what everyone else has been up to, click herehere, or here.

Wordless Wednesday 22: Back to the Breakwater

Why yes, I sure am getting a lot of mileage out of the photos from our trip to the west cost.

Alma

Alma

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Alma making friends.

Alma making friends.

Moses was pretty tired, so he sat out the trip to the breakwater in Victoria.

To see the rest of Wordless Wednesday, click here.

Wordless Wednesday 21: Field, BC

A little more local than as of late; these photos were taken in Field, BC (about 2 hours from Calgary).

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I was just going to post one photo, but I couldn’t decide on a favourite. Which one would you have picked?

To see the rest of Wordless Wednesday, click here.

Big Dog Discrimination

If you go back through the annals of the Soapbox, in my first month of blogging (a few years ago, now) I wrote In Defence of Big Dogs, a wordy rant lamenting sized-based dog discrimination.

Well our recent trip to the west coast reignited some of that fury.

We had the pleasure of our vehicle breaking down during our trip, finding ourselves stranded while it was repaired and in need of a last-minute hotel room for ourselves and the Newfs.

Calls to about 8 different places were required because it’s tough to find a place that’s (a) pet-friendly, (b) no, ACTUALLY pet-friendly, and (c) has pet-friendly rooms available.

As it turns out, “pet-friendly” is a subjective term. A lot of hotels will tout pet-friendliness until you test that notion with Moses, a 180lb Newfoundland. Even a lot of those pet-friendly travel websites and directories require some digging through the fine print.

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No room at the inn? But his name is Moses… not… you know…

The biggest obstacles were the seemingly arbitrary size limits. “Pet friendly up to 50 pounds.” “Pet friendly up to 25 pounds.” I actually called one hotel and the lady on the phone cheerfully advised me that “of course” they were pet friendly… up to 15 pounds.

15 pounds! [Insert spit-take here.]

There are perfectly healthy cats that weigh more than that! I politely told the woman that a 15 pound limit isn’t actually very friendly at all and we’d continue to look elsewhere.

After a while, and half a dozen calls, I started to feel desperate. I actually found myself thinking, I wonder if we could pass Alma off as 80 pounds? And then just sneak Moses in a back exit, in some elaborate and clumsy Three’s Company-style ruse? If anyone asks, it’s just one dog, and their eyes must be playing tricks on them.

But I think we all know I’m not up to that. I once rode transit home without paying for fare – it was the first of the month and I’d forgotten to buy my monthly pass – and while the bad-ass feeling was exhilerating, once I realized what I’d done, I spent the rest of the ride eyeing my fellow passengers, it being clear they could all tell I was a dirty thief. The guilt (more like fear of being caught, but close enough) ate me up.

We ended up at the Marriott, which, while not necessarily the most cost-effective option, was certainly the most accommodating and I would highly recommend them and stay there again. Their pet fee was reasonable, the room was nice, and the staff was friendly and all big fans of Moses and Alma. We actually felt welcome there rather than a burden.

Moses and Alma in the hotel, waiting for the elevator

Moses and Alma at the Marriott, waiting for the elevator

And this is the thing I don’t get: how do smaller dogs seem to always get a pass? And where do we get one?

There are some days I’m tempted to take Moses and Alma though service or therapy dog training just so they can go anywhere, unencumbered.

I mean, I would understand – even welcome – requirements such as “pet friendly for all Canine Good Neighbours.” That way the business is ensured each dog has some basic training and socialization. After all, aren’t property damage and noise disturbances the biggest concerns?

Sure, I guess it makes sense to a certain extent. Smaller dogs have smaller bladders and smaller mouths, so if some sort of accident or destruction is going to happen, it will be lessened with a smaller dog. I get that. But that reasoning seems to assumes all dogs are destruction machines and the hotel is just hedging bets based on size.

And I don’t want this to be misconstrued as hinting that all small breed dogs are little hellians and are somehow getting undeserved privileges, despite my own previous confessions on bias. But it would just make sense to acknowledge that well-behaved dogs and poorly-behaved dogs come in all sizes, because it really comes down to what kind of owner the dog has.

Who knows – maybe some hotels start with an all-encompassing pet-friendly policy, and slowly whittle it down following bad experiences. Or maybe some hotels are easing into it, starting small and expanding the policy as good experiences come. But that’s the problem – anecdotal stories don’t necessarily represent whole populations.

Just because someone has a certain experience doesn't mean it speaks to overall trends or facts.

Just because one person has a certain experience doesn’t mean it speaks to overall trends or facts. [Photo: nestler.com]

But the rules of logic fail many, and those of us travelling with our dogs or taking them out in public – those conscious and conscientious thinkers of us, anyway – are usually hyper aware of this and try to mitigate it. We keep the dogs leashed, we clean up after them, and we keep them under control – because who wants to be the one who ruins it for everyone else?

And because pet owners are improving and evolving as a courteous and educated population, pet-friendly should also grow be just that. Friendly. Welcoming to all.  If you don’t want to allow dogs at all, fine. But once a hotel is willing to open its doors to the 35% of Canadian households that have dogs, size shouldn’t be a randomly-chosen limiting factor.

Sure, there are bad owners who don’t train or socialize or leash their pets (of any size) and who will ruin fun privileges for the rest of us – that will always be the case. But these owners come in all types and so do their dogs. And I like to think they’re part of a shrinking minority.

It’s not objective or accurate to say all dogs of any particular size or breed are particularly well or poorly behaved, so those size restrictions on “pet-friendliness” are mostly ridiculous and irrational, in my opinion.

Besides, Moses and Alma are our travel companions whenever possible, and our money is just as green (and blue, and purple… this is Canada, after all) as everyone else’s.

Moses and Alma at the famed Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC.

Moses and Alma at the famed Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC.

And ranting about things I don’t like or disagree with is exactly what this Soapbox is for.

Black & White Sunday 11: Victoria

More photos from our trip to Victoria, BC.

British Columbia Parliament Buildings

British Columbia Parliament Buildings

Moses

Moses

Moses & Alma

Moses & Alma

Alma

Alma

Alma & Moses

Alma & Moses

Alma

Alma

Check out everyone else’s photos and the blog hop hosts here and here.

BandW

Wordless Wednesday 20: Goldstream Provincial Park, BC

This Sunday I shared some pictures from our recent road trip west to Vancouver Island, BC, and our afternoon hike in Goldstream Provincial Park.

And without (m)any further words, here are some more photos from our short hike in the park.

Gotta love those west coast forests.

Gotta love those west coast forests.

Alma and the water fall

Alma and the waterfall

Moses & Alma

Moses & Alma

Apparently they call this Niagara Falls. Don't get me wrong... it's nice... but...

Apparently they call this Niagara Falls. Don’t get me wrong… it’s nice… but…

Alma

Alma

So patriotic.

So patriotic.

Moses

Moses

Hiking Newfs

Hiking Newfs

Soggy Newfs

Soggy Newfs

To see the rest of Wordless Wednesday, click here.

Monday Mischief 14: Oceanfront Park

As I mentioned yesterday, the Husband and I recently packed up the dogs and headed west to Vancouver Island.

One of many great parts about the vacation was being able to take the dogs to one of the nicest off leash parks – with a couple kilometres of beach in Victoria, BC.

To be honest, there was a lot of fun to be had, but not a lot of mischief! One of the impressive things about the park was how clean it was and how well behaved all the dogs seemed to be each time we went.  Moses and Alma had a blast!

No hesitation from Alma.

No hesitation from Alma.

Moses

Moses

For Alma, it was her first visit to the ocean (Moses’ second).

Moses and Alma

Moses

Moses

A couple of soggy Newfs

A couple of soggy Newfs

Driftwood

Alma

Alma

Moses fetches.

Moses fetches.

Alma along the park pathway

Alma along the park pathway

This post is part of the Mischief Monday blog hop – to see what everyone else has been up to, click herehere, or here.

Monday Mischief