‘I used to say to my little puppy daughter, “do you want to go on a Big Adventure?” That little dog knew exactly what that meant, she knew we were off to the lake, and she could barely wait.’
When I first considered getting a dog I had to also consider the lifestyle my husband and I had. Considering a fur baby means you have to have the time, love and resources to give a little animal a good life. It also means that the pup has to suit your lifestyle, your energy levels must match, and you have to consider the activities you do in order to have a good fit with your pet. I had grown up with Labs, that is, Labrador Retrievers. Dependable, loving, a good family animal, and a dog that was suitable to our cabin life. My first Golden Lab, Kimmy, spent several years at the lake with us before he passed. My mom, had a series of Chocolate Labs in her lifetime, and so I knew the Lab was a breed suitable to my lake life. However, I felt I wanted now to get a dog that was smaller and easier to manage (I thought), and so I longed to find a dog that would suit my needs, and our family’s needs, and be good to go to the lake and do well there. One day my husband and I were boating with friends out on the ocean on the West Coast. I loved to do that, because being on a lake, has its special moments, but sometimes it is such an gift to go out into the ocean, and smell the fresh, salty air, and hit a beach on some local island for the day. Our friends have a nice sized ocean boat and it was such a delight to head out onto the ocean for a day cruise. We anchored off a popular West Coast Island where there is a very busy, well-loved beach. We motored into shore in the yacht’s dingy with all of our things for the day’s visit. The sandy shores and sand flats of this beach spread for miles, and when the tide is out people, including parents, children and dogs frolic, and play along the open areas of exposed beach. Many drier areas are suitable places for a spot to have a good family picnic, and so that was our plan on this day trip to the beach. I love this spot, and being a landlocked lake girl with a small speedboat may be my love, but it is a nice treat to get out on a leisurely yacht cruise and have a fabulous beach day. This beach was my very favourite for a day trip cruise as West Coast beaches go. This day there was a young couple nearby that had also arrived by boat, and they had this most adorable, energetic, little sandy ball of chocolate coloured fluff for a dog. It was wildly happy and bouncing everywhere, loving the water, and the sand and having a ball playing with its owners. At that moment I thought to myself, that is the kind of dog I want, it is perfectly suited to boating and water life. I asked the owners what breed it was and they said it was a Havanese, which is a Cuban water dog. The history goes that sailors gave these dogs to the royalty in Cuba. They are indeed, well suited to boating and being around water. My search then began. Unfortunately, my husband was less enthusiastic than myself about getting a dog at all, and so it was a slow search. The Havanese dog was not going to be a cheap date. At the time, I had a hard time finding one, never mind one that was within my budget at that time of our life. In the end, my doctor and his wife (she was a neighbour and personal friend), had two little dogs that were adorable and they suggested I get one from their breeder. They had, Yorkies, or as they are correctly called, Yorkshire Terriers, but the breeder also did Pekinese and something he crossed between the Yorkies and the Pekinese, a little dog referred to as a ‘Porkie’. (Later on, this cross was renamed a ‘Yorkanese’ because a ‘Porkie’ became the Common name for a Yorkshire Terrier-Poodle cross.) When the breeder produced the new batch of tiny adorable fur balls, a litter of the ‘Porkies’, I went to see them. One little quiet ball of black and caramel fur sat shivering and lonely and gazed at me. I held her in my arms and that was that.
My lake pup grew up going to the lake, and immediately got excited when I would ask her, “do you want to go on a Big Adventure?” That was my message to her that we were packing, leaving the city house, and would soon be off to go to the lake. She would wag her tail, and swing her back end, and pant, knowing that we would be soon going to the cabin. She loved it there.
We bought her own lifejacket, and had to upgrade the size at least once. Her little body turned out to be the kind that had short little legs, and although she was a happy little boater, she never was a strong swimmer. She always swam with that ‘deer in the headlights look’ in her eyes. She really only preferred to swim when she got too hot, and then she would either sit by the dock ladder, (waiting for me to pop her in to do a 5 second dip and pull her back out), or, she’d wander over to the little pond area, walk into the water on the rocks, and just simply lie down as we watched her long fur fan out in the water around her.
She was a delightful sailing companion, as you can see by her photo. She loved the wind in her face, ears blown back as she stood on the sling of the catamaran sail boat out on a sail with us. Her favourite boat activity though was a ride in the little yellow kayak, wherein her joy was nose down in the water to chew on the front rope attached to the boat. Even when the kayak was on the dock, she’d find that rope and chew. She was so funny to watch as she went about her task to annihilate that rope.
She generally did not roam around the lake property alone, and we had to keep her under our watchful eye. Firstly, she was ‘eagle-bait’ and there were many eagles in my lake hood. Secondly, she was a tiny escape-artist and would delight in sneaking away from us if we turned our backs for a second. If the next door neighbours were in residence we would catch her over there cheerfully having a visit with them. However, she would often head out into the back forest, and this was one little dog, who, when on a mission, had no intention of listening and coming when she was called. I finally, put a little cat bell on her, so when she escaped we could hear it ring and be able find her a bit easier. When it was a regular lake day with birds chirping, winds blowing and waves crashing she was hard to locate, however much I would have like to put a cow bell on her, we can all see she was a tiny little dog of only 11 pounds or so, and so cat bell attached to her collar it was.
We only had one real scare with her at the lake when she escaped one afternoon. She headed out to the rock point and wandered out on the log breakwater. Who knew she would be a log roller? In all seriousness, she did that a couple of times, but this one time she fell in, and there was no way she could pull herself back up on top of the slippery logs out of the water. She would have drowned if we had not been right there. And so, for this little fur baby, we had a gate on the top deck of the cabin, and the rule was to Always Keep the Gate Closed’, because that little escapee would bolt whenever she could. When we were on the dock, we would block off the ramp with a chair so she would stay with us and not leave the dock. When I went to the outhouse on that last visit late at night I would often joke that I was out there with the wild animals and ‘bait on a string’. That is what I called her when I had her on the leash out at night, which I always had to do. She would wait patiently outside the outhouse still attached to her leash, or be in the outhouse with me waiting, and then she’d have last pee of the day on the path back. She was just one of those dogs who had a mind of her own, and not a very obedient walk-right-next-to-your-owner-off-leash kind of dog. Another favourite thing to do at the lake was to chew sticks, she just loved to chew sticks, and would often find bits of wood along the shoreline that had drifted up to shore. She would chew and chew and chew until nothing was left. She wasn’t much of a retriever, and we would try and throw a stick, but then after one retrieve, she would just lie down with the stick and start chewing. There was no way she would bring it back to me, period. She was an independent little soul. She also loved to wander the rock point and weave through the grasses. She would nudge her way through and often reminded me of a snake winding through the tall silky grasses. (Not that we had snakes in ours, just saying). I have so many pictures of her doing that.
She loved to sun on the upper deck and the docks, and she was off-leash on those places, and she loved it. Her fur, (which had started out black and caramel like a Yorkie, was now completely strawberry blond, and long like the Pekinese). She loved to lie on the dock and roast in the sun. She had such long silky hair and a little bow on the top of her head, which often got tangled up at the cabin. I had to brush her every day to keep her long silky hair untangled. The biggest fear were the ticks, and she had a nasty one once. I kept her on the canine medications that fought flees, ticks and other bugs, and they worked, except for that one time, but that is another story for another day. Let’s just say, it is extremely important to protect your pet when it is tick season, and against flees and other things. I would check her often and had the proper tools to deal with a tick if she got another. I also am a Girl Guide kind of woman, and after my mother’s dogs got skunked one time, I have always kept some skunk scent removal shampoo in my dog’s supply cabinet. It is a good idea to have all the necessary things for your pet, including allergy med’s (my girl was sensitive to bee stings), at your cabin. After all both humans and pets are not directly near to immediate medical attention. Park of lake life is just being prepared, and so I was prepared for my little canine daughter as well.
My mom was her biggest fan, even though she was a Labrador Retriever girl, and gave me a wind flag for my lake that looked like my puppy. We have enjoyed it for many years hanging on the front of the cabin.
I should also mention, that we took our little puppy boater out with us on a cruise with our friends in their boat, and went to that same ocean beach with all the sand I mentioned before. I can truly say that I think my little sandy, wet furball had more fun there that day than she ever had anywhere else in the world. It was the fact that she ran free and wild on the sandy flats and splashed through the puddles, clearly in her glory, and all covered in sand. Although she was not a Havanese like that little dog we first saw there, my little girl was every inch of fur a wild and free happy puppy playing in the water and sand!
I am sorry to say my little lake puppy daughter is no longer with us, she passed a few years ago at the age of fourteen and a half. I really miss her, and I will admit she brought so much life to our lake days with her little independent spirit. I decoupaged a rock with her picture on it, the same picture you see here on the sailboat. I have left that rock at the lake by my Wise Old Man of the Forest tree. It is my memorial site.
I will be forever grateful for that little dog, as she was the best little puppy daughter, and perfect little lake companion. Having a spot on the lake is so incredibly conducive to having a dog. The lake and forest and return to Nature is healthy for everyone, pets and humans alike. I was truly blessed to have spent time at my beautiful lake with my sweet little puppy daughter for so many years.