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

Posts tagged ‘winter’

More New Neighbours

Every winter we see a temporary rise in the population here abouts. I’m not crazy about new neighbours, so I’m glad that they usually seem to stay out of my territory, building their huts on the hard water about two miles down the bay from us.

These neighbours are mostly male two-leggers. They spend most of their time in their huts, sometimes alone, sometimes together. Some of them have special panels on their huts that convert the sunlight to something called electricity. This allows them to do some light cooking and to watch sports on their noisy boxes.

They drink beer a lot, too, some of them. Sometimes, when they erect one of their huts in my territory, they leave cases of this beer stuff behind. I hate to see it go to waste, so I bring it back home and enjoy it while I monitor goings on from my watching rock. Until Elizabeth notices…. She doesn’t like me indulging in any way whatsoever. I don’t know why. I figure I burn enough calories chewing through the tin cans to get the good stuff inside… Perhaps its because it makes me burp a lot.

It seems that these hut two-leggers spend more time at their huts on weekends. We were coming home from work on Saturday when I noticed some activity in the village, so I asked Elizabeth if she would go back and take a picture so I could show you. The dwellings are very primitive as you can see. The one that sometimes goes up on my patrol route is actually a tent! That makes it much easier for me to access. It also means I can tell you about one of the other, very strange features I’ve noticed about these huts… They have holes in the floor! The two-leggers who live inside dangle strings that have hooks with tiny fish impaled on them (ouch!). The two-leggers sit for hours watching those holes. Then, when they notice any movement of the line, they quickly go to that hole and pull up the string. And what do you know? The tiny little fish has grown to monster size!

The fish-growing village down the bay from us. It is smaller this year than it usually is. We have been having a much warmer winter and the ice took a long time to get thick enough for cars and huts, so I think many of the fish-grower two-leggers went north this year. It apparently is colder further north...

The fish-growing village down the bay from us. It is smaller this year than it usually is. We have been having a much warmer winter and the hard water took a long time to get thick enough for growly beasts and huts, so I think many of the fish-grower two-leggers went north this year. It apparently is colder further north… Notice the hard water path made especially for growly beasts to travel on in the foreground.

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Elusive New Doggie Neighbours

So far this winter, it has been pretty quiet down our way. It was very warm until after New Year’s, so the wet splashy stuff didn’t harden and get thick enough until after the deep freeze hit, and then it was too cold for people to go out. It’s warming up a bit now, and I am once again being driven to frenzied barking by the howls and high-pitched whines of those stinky machines some two-leggers like to race on the river once it’s hard. I hate them.

But last week, when it was very cold out – so cold that even I had to cut my patrols short – we had visitors. Doggie visitors. Strange Doggie visitors.

When the temperatures plummet to -35 C in the wind, I don't stay outside long. Not even my built-in paw protection seems very efficient then!

When the temperatures plummet to -35 C in the wind, I don’t stay outside long. Not even my built-in paw protection seems very efficient then!

Elizabeth says that these were prime specimens of their species. In all the time she has lived through winters in this climate, she has never seen them like they were last week. We first saw them when we were on our ride into town. Elizabeth didn’t have her camera, so she couldn’t get a photo, but they were dazzling, running low to the ground in shimmering rainbow-coloured scarves. If she’d got out to take a photo, someone driving up to us might think Elizabeth had got tangled up with one of them. They were that close to us!

“What are they?” I asked.

“Stella,” she said, “those are Sun Dogs!”

They didn’t look anything like dogs.

Apparently, the First Nations people used to believe they were spirit-dogs who pulled the sun through the sky. Usually, at least when they appear in our part of the world, they seem high in the sky, one on either side of the sun. But sometimes, Elizabeth says, conditions may give rise to more than one, so it really does look a bit like a sled of sunshine coming directly toward you, pulled by a team in the fan formation. I guess. If you have a really good imagination.

Mush on, puppies!

Mush on, puppies!

Here's a picture of just one of them. You can sort of see the rainbow effect, and how it arcs around the sun. The other dog is directly opposite and equidistant from the sun, so they are perfectly matched.

Here’s a picture of just one of them. You can sort of see the rainbow effect, and how it arcs around the sun. The other dog is directly opposite and equidistant from the sun, so they are perfectly matched.

It’s like an ice rainbow that’s only partly there, Elizabeth explained. The sun’s light is refracted through ice crystals in the air.

Whatever. I like the traditional explanation better.

The next time we saw them, Elizabeth was at home, and she grabbed Kay’s point and shoot so we could show you. We have trees in the way, so the dog on the left is obscured a bit, but you’ll get the idea. This time, the dogs were so bright that they looked like mini suns on either side of the real sun. The rainbow is hard to make out because they are so bright.

I kind of like them. And as they charge through the sky with their cargo, they don’t even sound a whisper.

Social Networking on ‘The Estate’

It’s been a busy week here on the Campbell Estate.

With Winter just around the corner, the two-leggers have been thinking about getting prepared for colder weather. Jeff the Tree Man was here a few weeks ago, if you remember, and he left several piles of wood for winter burning. But it wasn’t enough to keep the two-legger house warm all winter. So, something had to be done!

Our old supply lines have dried up. Jeff the Tree Man knows a lady who is in the firewood business. He gave Kay the lady’s number and she said she could sell us some wood. She came with her truck, her helper/husband, the firewood, and a surprise!

Lori the Firewood Lady also brought her Scottie, Maddie! I asked her if she wanted to go for a tour of the Estate while she waited for the two-leggers to conduct their affairs...

Lori the Firewood Lady also brought her Scottie, Maddie! I asked her if she wanted to go for a tour of the Estate while she waited for the two-leggers to conduct their affairs…

We had a great time for a while, then Maddie got a bit grouchy and decided to go off on her own.

I got worried when she started heading for the river.

I got worried when she started heading for the river.

Although Maddie sort of looks like a miniature Newfoundland Dog, I hadn’t asked her if she could swim. The river is still very high, and she’s so small! I decided I’d better at least keep an eye on her, since I didn’t really seem to be able to keep up with her. Well, I could’ve if I had to… I think….

See. I told you so. I headed her off at the pass and sterred her back up the hill to where the two-leggers were working and chatting.

See. I told you so. I headed her off at the pass and steered her back up the hill to where the two-leggers were working and chatting.

That run seemed to tucker little Maddie out though. She decided it was time to have a rest.

I don’t know what I said to her. It would have been fun to spend more time with another dog, but she was really quite aloof.

There was no way I could settle down with her here for a chat.

There was no way I could settle down with her here for a chat.

Lori the Firewood Lady’s assistant was very kind. He stored all of the dry wood in our woodshed for us while the women talked. Then they left. They took Maddie with them.

A few days later, a bear walked through the yard just before Elizabeth came to let me out of my kennel for my a.m. b.m. and run. I was so focused on my mission that I missed another less conspicuous but far more unusual visitor. Fortunately, Elizabeth had her camera handy. She took pictures so I could see. I asked her if she’d show you, too.

Good morning!

Good morning!

This Blue-spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale) was just heading home after a busy night's hunting.

This Blue-spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale) was just heading home after a busy night’s hunting.

He's only about 6 cm (just over two inches) long. Although Elizabeth has seen him several times now, I haven't met him (or her, we're not actually sure...).

He’s only about 6 cm (just over two inches) long. Although Elizabeth has seen him several times now, I haven’t met him (or her, we’re not actually sure…).

I’d sort of like to meet this fellow. Apparently, if this little amphibian feels threatened, he will raise his tail up and emit a foul-smelling scent. That’s not so unusual. Skunks do that all the time! What is really strange is that Blue-spotted Salamanders will let their tail fall off, too! I guess if they are in a hurry, they don’t want to carry all that extra weight around… BOL!

Our neighbour René came by while Elizabeth and I were working at the bookshop on Saturday. He spent the whole day helping Kay get Jeff the Tree Man’s woodpiles stashed away. I noticed he left his trailer and the log splitter out, so I think he might be coming back again. Maybe he’ll do a log splitting demo for next week’s blog! I’ll ask him…   ~:oP=

 

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