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

Posts tagged ‘adventures’

Bush Beat

Today, I thought I’d share something with you from my first year on the Campbell Estate. My run at that time was beside an older area of the forest, and there are lots of old, decaying logs on the forest floor – all covered with soft green piles of green stuff that feels really good under my paws. The Silly Flappers like to go there in the Spring, and sometimes the young ones start practicing in the falling leaf time, too!

I was a puppy when I first heard the boy Silly Flappers showing off to their girlfriends. They kept me up all night. It wasn’t just the ones close to me. The sound carries through the woods for a mile or more. Sometimes you aren’t really sure you’re hearing it – it’s more of a sense of the air kind of throbbing around you. Elizabeth found a really good clip online for me to share with those of you who don’t live in the Boreal Forest so you can hear what it sounds like. The two-leggers who recorded this must have been really close, ’cause you can hear the whoosh of the feathers in the recording, which makes the drumming sound softer. I’ve never heard that before. The drumming I’ve heard is always just the thump that gets faster and faster.

By the time I find a drumming Silly Flapper, he has already stopped. I can get much closer to them than other Silly Flappers before they flap furiously away on me. They’re very unsociable. Most flappers are, I guess. They don’t seem to like me much, anyway. Even the Long-necked Flappers who call me all the time don’t let me come close to say hello back.

Elizabeth says that the reason the Silly Flapper drummer boys are easier to get close to is because they’re so full of something called hormones, and they have so much energy invested in showing off that, even though they’re scared by me (!) they haven’t got the juice to switch into flee mode. She says people who have approached a male peacock (she showed me a tail feather of one that she has hanging on her wall – very pretty, and very long!) will understand. The boy peacock with a fanned tail has a very hard time fleeing an enemy!

Imagine a flapper thinking of me as an enemy! Absurd! But Elizabeth says that’s exactly how they see me…. Come to think of it, though, I did try once to make friends with a little swimming flapper once when I was little, too. It went limp and quit peeping at me. Elizabeth says the flappers don’t realise that I don’t mean to hurt them, and there are other dog-like animals in the forest who eat them if they catch them. So I guess I understand a bit now why they don’t like me much…. -:o(=

Anyway, Elizabeth wrote this one Spring morning after I first heard the Silly Flapper drummer boys from my run the night before:

Okay, I’ll admit that I’m a bit nuts about my dog. Most dog owners will understand.

I sing to her. I noticed my last dog really liked it, so I tried it with Stella, too – well actually, the habit just sort of carried over. I’ll take a tune I know and add lyrics just for Stella.

Yes, I’m afraid I might be a little … touched?

Last night I woke up to Stella’s barking. She barked for some time. I’ve never heard her bark at night before.

This morning, as we were eating breakfast (mom and I), Stella put her head on the leg of the table and fell asleep. She began to snore. She got up, followed me into the kitchen and, while I made my hot chocolate, she flopped onto the floor and looked with exhausted puppy eyes at me. I began to sing. Appalachian mountain man kind of droning tune:

Ho, little Stella
Snorin’ on the floor.
Listened to the ruffed grouse
drummin’ all night.
Barked at the ruffed grouse
all night long –
Woof, woof, woof.
Stupid ol’ bird.
Woof, woof, woof.
Wanna go to sleep.
Barkin’ at the ruffed grouse
and howlin’ at the moon
all night long –
Aaaah woooooh!
Woof, woof, Whoooooh!
All night long!
Now she’s snorin’ on the floor –
Snorin’ on the floor!

Hope you enjoy it as much as she did. She thumped her tail in time to the words.

Cheers! I think I’m going to have a nap, too!

Hmmph. You’d think she’d been up barking at them all night!



Less than a week left ’til my pal Siggy returns to his Island with his two-leggers! I can hardly wait.

I love the winter – the wind, the cold, the fluffy white stuff and water hard enough to run on. But there’s something I don’t like about winter. I get lonely. All my dog friends seem to disappear with the dropping of the leaves and the first fall of fluffy white stuff.

Last year when Siggy came home, I got so excited to hear his voice that I ran out across the hard water to visit him. His female two-legger, Karin, saw me coming. She called my name and told me to go home. I stopped because I was so surprised she knew my name, then I turned and went back to our point. I came home a bit sad because I thought Karin didn’t like me.

Elizabeth told me that Karin does like me, though, and that she told me to go home because she knew it was dangerous for me to be on the ice, or to visit other dogs and two-leggers without one of my two-leggers with me. I didn’t understand what the fuss was about. I thought Elizabeth was just trying to make me feel less rejected. So she told me a story to show me how much Siggy’s two-leggers really do like other dogs.

Cocoa Just Before her Adventure

Cocoa just before her Adventure

Elizabeth had a dog before me. Cocoa was a Chesapeake Bay Retriever who lived to be very old – 105 dog years old! It was because Elizabeth missed Cocoa so much that she got me.

Late in her life, Cocoa’s back legs got very sore and tired quickly, but she still loved to go for walks on Elizabeth’s trails and to cool off in the river.

One spring day, just after the water had become splashy once more, they went for a walk over to the point. Cocoa went down a rocky slope to get a drink and got stuck. Her legs wouldn’t work well enough to push her back up the rocks to Elizabeth. So, Elizabeth climbed down to help.

She couldn’t carry Cocoa up the hill. Cocoa wasn’t as big as me, but she was still too big for carrying. But Elizabeth saw a series of rock steps just under the water which Cocoa could take to get to a grassy beach that would be easier for her to manage.

Cocoa didn’t want to go into the water.

Elizabeth tossed a pebble out to entice her. Not far.

But it was too far…. Cocoa’s back legs wouldn’t work in the cold water, and Elizabeth couldn’t reach her to pull her back to shore. And she’d be risking her own life to go into the water herself. She called for help, but no one could hear her. Cocoa’s thrashing front paws were taking her out into the current….

Elizabeth ran all the way home to get the canoe and help. She says she was terrified that Cocoa might give up, so she called to her all the way home as loudly as she could to keep her spirits up.

Like me, Cocoa loved walks along Elizabeth's trails

Like me, Cocoa loved walks along Elizabeth's trails

When she got to the two-legger house, she phoned a neighbour with a boat, but got an answering machine. She had yelled over to the island where Siggy lives and no one had heard her, but she tried phoning them anyway. Siggy’s other two-legger, Dan, answered and told her he’d get out to Cocoa right away.

Elizabeth ran back down to the river and hauled the canoe down the hill with her and into the water. Then she paddled like mad around the point. She thought she heard Dan’s boat while she paddled across our bay, but she couldn’t see or hear it when she got around the point. And she couldn’t see any sign of Cocoa in the water.

Heartbroken, she paddled on, hoping she could at least find her old pal’s body to take home. It was one of the worst moments in her life. She’d just killed her best friend.

She kept paddling.

Then she saw the boat, pulled up on the very beach she’d been trying to get Cocoa to wade to. Kay was calling from the other side of the point… and there was Cocoa, wobbling up the hill to find her!

Elizabeth pulled up to Dan’s boat and he told her, “I couldn’t find her at first. Then I saw her nose, just before it went under. She’d drifted almost all the way over to our island! I was able to grab her collar, but I couldn’t get her into the boat, so I held her head up and maneuvered her over to this beach.”

Dan realised that Elizabeth had just about killed herself running and paddling (she has a lot of trouble breathing sometimes – something called asthma), so he loaded everyone and the canoe into his boat and drove them all home. He even helped take the canoe back up the hill!

Cocoa recovered and lived until the fall of that year, thanks to Dan’s quick response. Elizabeth says he and Karin are the best kind of neighbours anyone could ask for.

That's a view of Siggy's Island just about the time he leaves.

That's a view of Siggy's Island just about the time he leaves.


Last week a cold snap set in, so Elizabeth and Kay let me sleep inside.

I have mixed feelings about this kind of situation. I enjoy being with my two-leggers. I really like being able to leap up onto Elizabeth’s bed and curling up to her. At the same time, I like being outside. I like my den of a house, and I really feel like I can do my guarding job better from there. I can see things better, hear them and smell them better. And if I can’t chase them away from the confines of my Run, intruders can hear me when I tell them where to go – just like I’m right on their tails – if we’re all outside at the same time. Wild critters just don’t give me the same respect when I’m inside and they’re out.

But there are nights when it’s so cold that my paw pads hurt and I let the two-leggers keep me inside with them.

The first night wasn’t too bad, except I was a bit embarrassed when I had to get Elizabeth up to take me outside to do my business at 3:30 a.m. It was -37C in the wind. I didn’t mind so much, but I think she found it a bit too cold.

The second night, news had got around that I was in with the two-leggers. Wouldn’t you know it but about midnight, I could hear someone out there taking advantage. Those rascals! I began to bark to let my two-leggers know someone was out there taking advantage of them.

“Stella! SHHHH!” says Elizabeth.

“GRRRRUFF! WOOF! GRRRRR…!” There’s somebody out there, you silly two-legger! Don’t tell me to be quiet! Let me out! Let me out and I’ll take care of them! “WOOF! WOOF!”

It’s frustrating. Elizabeth says she can feel the house vibrate when I growl and bark. That may be. But the world outside seems to know that even though I sound tough, there’s nothing more I can do from inside the two-legger house than make the air rumble.

Elizabeth called me into her room so she could make me quiet down. I know when I’m beaten. I curled up beside her and pretended to sleep. All the while, I could hear them out there, and a little growl would escape through the gap in my bottom front teeth from time to time as I listened helplessly.

At three o’clock, I just couldn’t take it anymore. “GRRRRRWUFF! WOOF! WOOF!”

“Stella,” my two-legger groaned, completely oblivious to what was going on outside, “SHUT UP! Please! I need to sleep!”

I realised then that sneaky deer can’t actually come in and get us inside the two-legger house. They may make a mess outside, but they can’t actually hurt us when we’re inside. I let it go. In the morning I’d have the last laugh at my two-leggers, I guessed. Would have loved to teach those sneaky deer a lesson, though…. And they were right there! Right there beside Elizabeth’s see-through wall hole! Can’t believe she doesn’t realise they’re there….

She let me out – finally – at 5:30 a.m. She says it was -33C without the windchill factored in. I admit it was brisk. I didn’t stay out long, but I investigated the situation outside carefully. I came in again at six.

By 7:30 it was light enough out that my two-leggers could see that I wasn’t just barking at the wind. While I was out again at 9:30, Elizabeth took some pictures, first through her window so you can see how close the sneaky deer came, and then through the garden fence, the supports of which are four feet apart, so you could see how big their scrapes really are! They did some more in the front yard, too. Cheeky beggars….

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