The adventuresome life of a Great Pyrenees/Newfoundland dog in Northwestern Ontario

Archive for the ‘On the Job’ Category

Post-Election Blues

The scribe told me about how the local newspaper was complaining that the local candidates were more interested in expounding upon party platforms than in addressing local issues. Homelessness was the issue that seemed to be of most concern, and rightly so. Often in the morning the Scribe and I greet people who are warming themselves in the sun on the neighbour’s back step after a cold night spent between the trash bin and the next-neighbour-down’s wall.

The election was yesterday and, the media are reporting, nothing has changed; Trudeau is back in with a minority that looks the same as his last. But this morning, we were met with a very different twist on our problem, for which, I think, the City found a rather odd solution. A hungry bear (we had a serious drought this year, limiting bear food supply in the wild) who had drifted into town in search of a handout decided to try the generosity of the Greek restaurant down at the end of the lane. They told it politely that they had no blueberries available, but the bear wouldn’t take no for an answer. The police were called in to deal with the matter, or so we’ve been told. The bear was tranquilized, but the drug takes time to take effect, and the bear, confused and with a pain in the backside in addition to its belly now, decided to move along.

Problem solved?

Well, not exactly. As it got sleepier, it began looking for a safe place. It trundled down the lane to the Greek restaurant next door, where it found a gap between their wall and ours. It is a frequent refuge for the local homeless, and the bear must have sensed it would be safe there. Or maybe it just got there and crashed.

Our new neighbour…

 

Tina, the restauranteur from next door came in to warn the Scribe not to let me out for a while. As you all know, I am bred to protect against bears, and I would definitely be eager to exercise my genetically programmed responsibility. I’m pretty sure I would just bark at it, though, at this stage in my career. I turned twelve late last month, and I have really slowed down. Semi-retired. I still do my patrols. But I do them at a dogged walk these days. I bark a lot along the way, just to let everyone I’m coming to get them. They flee in terror long before I catch up with the sound waves. One must adapt to whatever life throws at one, right?

Back to the bear. It’s kind of boring, anyway. It’s just lying there. Its rear paws are pressed against the restaurant’s kitchen window, its nose against the wall just under our bookshop window. Elizabeth just hopes it gets up before the snow falls and it is forced to make its winter den there!

When Tina asked if the bear would be moved while it was sleeping, the official told her it would probably wander off when it woke up. That would be about lunch time? We’re not sure, but I think it’s a good thing the restaurant has metal bars over its window! Oh, the temptation of that grilled chicken souvlaki! The smell of it coming through the kitchen exhaust might make that poor bear believe that it has died and arrived in ursine heaven, in the very bowl of Ursa Major!

Sweet dreams, Black Bear. We hope you find your way back to the woods when you come to again.

Is it time yet?

 

Nope.

Words on the Street

The other day a lady came into the shop. She seemed to know Elizabeth quite well, even though I had never seen her before (and I’ve been bookshop dog for a long time now). They greeted each other like long lost friends.

And it turns out that that is kind of what they were! Apparently, this new woman, who we’ll call Mathilda, used to work for Elizabeth a long time ago (at least several dog generations…), before she became a poet for hire. That’s right. And now that she has become a poet for hire, she has returned to the great Northwest from Savannah, Georgia.

Mathilda set up on our national holiday, July 1st. Some holiday. Everyone around here seemed to be working! Or shopping. Or sightseeing. But I digress….

Mathilda and Walter hard at work on a poem… for me!

Mathilda set up a little table in front of the shop, and whenever someone came walking down the sidewalk, she would start clacking away on Walter. Walter, Elizabeth informs me, is a pre-computer writing machine. Funny to see it being used to do something as cutting edge as busking poetry!

Writing poetry on the spur of the moment for hire is so cutting edge that most people don’t seem to get what Mathilda is doing. Things were pretty slow that first day. Mathilda sat with Walter and her stack of index cards waiting for requests. I felt a bit sorry for her, roasting under the afternoon sun, waiting, waiting.

Elizabeth came over to where I was lying. “Would you like a poem from Mathilda, Stella?”

I blinked, which is my way of telling her YES.

“What would you like her to write about?”

It wasn’t a question I could give my yes or no answer to, so I waited a minute for her to think.

“What about cookies?”

I just stared at her, which is my way of saying NO.

“What about rides?”

I stared back.

She got a wicked grin on her face and asked, “What about wood ticks?”

I blinked. A dog can only stare so long, you know. And Elizabeth ran outside.

I could hear the conversation through the window.

“Stella says, ‘Wood ticks.'”

Mathilda shifted uneasily in her chair. “There are wood ticks here? Downtown?”

“No. Stella says, wood ticks.”

Well, Mathilda is pretty quick on the uptake. You need to be when you are a typewriter poet for hire. “Oh, I get it. Oookaaay. Wood ticks it is!”

Elizabeth came back inside. I walked over to my treat bag and nudged it, then looked up at Elizabeth.

“That’s okay, Stella. I’ll give her some money. I don’t think she can use those.” She pulled out a five dollar bill and put it in her pocket. I could hear Walter rushing to write exactly what Mathilda told him to. In a few minutes, he was quiet again.

I went out to pay for my poem, but it wasn’t ready yet. I watched as Mathilda and Walter went back to work. Another couple of minutes, and Mathilda pulled the index card from Walter’s mouth, and she turned to me. “Shall I read it to you, Stella?”

She did.

I found my poem very amusing!

It was pretty good. And it made me laugh, too. Elizabeth was laughing, but she laughed at different places, which was odd, but then…

What do you think? Want to get one of your own? Contact us!

I decided I would share it with you folks, in hopes that you will drop by or send us a message asking for a poem. Mathilda is a story writer and is trying to earn some extra money writing these while she waits for her stories to go into books and then into bookshops like ours. It takes a long time for that to happen.

Elizabeth says that Walter can work on post cards, too, so if you are far away and can’t come to the shop, we can have them do up a poem on one of our post cards for you and pop it in the mail. Just add $3.00 to your donation to Mathilda to pay the postage and for the card! And Elizabeth says to be sure and email her with your address so she can  send it. Watch the the Walt & Mattie Shedule on the bookshop site so you know when Mathilda and Walter are here to take your orders in person.

Hope to see/hear from you soon!

Who put Walter Pigeon on a Hit List?

Thursday morning, after Elizabeth let me out of the car at the bookshop, I did my usual security check of the parking lot before heading in to greet customers. Usually this process just involves checking to see if Isabella the bulldog at the Greek restaurant next door left me any messages, and maybe leaving her a message to say I received and understood hers, but this was not the case on Thursday. On Thursday, I found a visitor who was desperately in need of help.

I was about to pick him up and bring him to Elizabeth, but she saw me heading into the corner and knew by the way I was striding that I’d seen something she needed to know about. She’s pretty smart, my scribe is [Scribal note: Thank you, Stella.]. When she saw me lean in to pick our visitor up, she said, “Leave it, Stella!” That means she thinks it’s something she needs to look after, or that it might not be safe for me. So, I backed up.

Elizabeth took me into the shop. Then she went up to the attics and pulled out an empty liquor box. She put a cloth bag in the bottom and ran back outside with it. I could hear her running around and talking to our visitor, who was a little bit frightened of her, I think. She caught the visitor and gently put him in the box. Then she closed the flaps, found some heavier cardboard and a brick to put on top. She left an air hole so the captive could breathe, and carried it all downstairs. Then she washed her hands.

I was very curious to know what was going on. I trust Elizabeth to do the right thing. But her behaviour was very curious. I couldn’t understand why she would put our guest in a closed box. Usually, they are welcome to just come in and walk around the shop!

Elizabeth picked up the phone and made a call to our friend the Lil the Egg Lady. It turns out that Lil the Egg Lady also operates a wildlife rehabilitation centre (Sooo. That’s why she smells so interesting…) “Hi, Lil! It’s Elizabeth. I’m calling because Stella found an injured pigeon in our parking lot. I don’t know what’s wrong with it; it can still run around, and it seems pretty alert, but it’s got a lot of drying blood on it, I think. It was really tacky when I picked it up.”

Lil explained that several pigeons had come in from our that seemed to be poisoned. She thought maybe the tackiness was drying pigeon vomit. Eeeeuw. I went and got a drink of water. I’d had the pigeon in my mouth. I could have told Elizabeth it wasn’t blood that was making the flapper tacky. But she hadn’t asked me. Still, I hadn’t thought it was… you know. Yech!

After the call, The Scribe told me Lil the Egg Lady was coming to get the pigeon soon. It would stay quiet in the box, thinking it was night. If it was injured, then it was safer there than in the parking lot or lane. Big Croaking Black Flappers live there, too, and they like to eat pigeons. Walter (Elizabeth’s idea to call him that) was fortunate that I found him.

Well, Lil the Egg Lady came and took Walter to rehab. The day went on as usual. Later in the afternoon, Elizabeth got in touch with Lil and asked her how Walter was doing. Was he badly hurt? Was he going to be all right? The answer was shocking.

“He has no injuries. He fell victim to the sticky traps people have been setting out for pigeons. Seems poison wasn’t working well enough for them. Stella almost had a permanent pigeon mustache. Even goo gone isn’t cutting it. Poor wee thing.”

Elizabeth responded, “Oh, no! What harm are they doing that people need to do them such cruelty! I wonder who is doing this…. Are you able to help Walter at all? Does the stickiness wear off over time if you can give him a home ’til then? I’ll gladly give you a donation to help look after him if you can. Or does he need to be euthanized? Please let me know whatever, Lil. And if you could take a picture of him, for me, I will put my head together with Stella and we’ll write about this. Thank you.”

“I took some photos and hope to also add to my blog.

“Several stores took wasp and bird sticky traps off the market after the photo of several chickadees stuck to one hit the net. But they still have them in Kenora stores. I tried Goo Gone, dish soap and rubbing and only moved it around. In desperate measures, I coated it with very fine sand to keep him from sticking to things and so he didn’t preen pure goo. His beak was glued shut from preening. I will keep him/it as I love my pidgies. Hopefully he will start a molt and get new ones, but have to figure out how to get a molt started.”

Poor Walter! He would have died a gruesome death if I hadn’t found him when I did. He could have starved or died of thirst or been attacked by a cat or Raven… How could two-leggers do such a horrible thing! Like Elizabeth, I fail to see how these gentle Rock Doves could possibly bother anyone. They live on the downtown rooftops, minding their own business. They frequently fly over a couple of blocks to hang out at their diner along the railway tracks, where they eat grain that has spilled out of the grain cars. They’re pretty friendly chaps, and they make a lovely sort of purring coo noise that travels down the chimneys in the wintertime (they congregate around the chimney openings to get warm in the winter).

Lil said we could share her pictures with you. If you’d like to follow Walter’s progress, she will probably keep us all informed on her blog, Iggy’s Wildlife Revisited. You’ll also learn about other adventures she has helping animals there. Anyway, here’s what Walter looked like while she was examining him:

You can see how Walter’s feathers are stuck together so he can’t fly anymore.

His backside is a real mess, And look at his feet! Poor Walter…

Oh, dear… It looks like I left some of my wool on him.

I feel confident that Lil the Egg Lady will look after him well. We’ll be keeping tabs on his progress when she visits us at the shop, too. And if I catch the two-legger who’s laying traps like this in our neighbourhood, GRRRRR… I might not be able to keep myself from biting him/her! If you know who it is, PLEASE! tell them to STOP!

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