The Only Edmonton Dog Park

Edmonton has a lot of dog parks. Over forty, in fact. 4-0. Yet, if anyone was to ask me for a recommendation, there is only one answer.

Terwilliegar.

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Yes, it is located near a pretentious south-end gated community. Sure, the parking lot is tiny and you can never be sure there isn’t a chihuahua about to dodge under your wheels. It is still the best place in the whole city to give your dog a taste of freedom.

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With over 5 kilometres of walking trails, both open and forested, an extensive dog beach along the river, numerous ponds perfect for cooling off, and a giant well-maintained field designed for a killer game of fetch, there is no better. Even Shubie Park in Halifax, what I used to consider the Cadillac of dog parks, can’t beat Terwillegar.

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It’s the kind of place where it doesn’t matter if the other owners are ignorant jerks. It’s just so big! No one remains in one place for long so there is no fear of too many dogs getting annoyed with each other in too small of a space. At the first sign of trouble, it is easy to just move on and get back to the fun.

Do you see how far away the other people are?

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There are many other dog parks in this city. Some of them might even be worth checking out if you are in the area. But if you are looking for something to do on a weekend afternoon? Terwillegar is a guaranteed good time.

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Less Wordy Wednesday – Friends from another land

While on holiday sans Shiva last week I fulfilled one of my biggest dreams.

No, I didn’t go skydiving. This was even better.

Last week, I saw this cheerful face in person:

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I even got to scratch these downy ears.

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These adorable little bears from Kol’s Notes hardly require an introduction. They are only the most famous Canadian dogs since the Littlest Hobo. The was a moment, when the Kolchak himself licked my hand, that I contemplated never washing it again.

Jealous yet?

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Shiva should be. Now more than ever I realize how fast she would make friends with funny Koly. He is a dog after her own heart with superior begging skills. IN a way, I am relieved I couldn’t bring her along. She is bad enough as it is. Can you imagine being around this face all day?

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They are every bit as sweet as they sound on the blog, and even cuter in real life. No photo can do either Kolchak or Felix justice. I feel so lucky that I finally got to meet them in person. One doesn’t run into real canine celebrities very often. Though our visit was brief, I hope one day I will be able to count them among my small group of friends.

Less Wordy Wednesday – On Beauty

There is more beauty in nature than can ever be dreamt by a manicured lawn, to twist the words of Shakespeare. Before I moved to Canada’s most northern provincial capital, I took thinks like leaves for granted. Now I feel the urge to touch each one as I pass, grateful for their brief lives, knowing it won’t be long before we are parted. wpid-wp-1406773892099.jpeg I’ve always had an affinity toward country gardens. The type that grow almost but not quite feral. There is something appealing about the variety and madness one can find there. I wish I could dive right in. wpid-wp-1406774101903.jpeg   The idea of growing things sounds so noble. In reality it is dirty and painful. It takes many hours of sweaty labour before one can stand back and admire. I have little interest in pruning and am too forgetful to weed. Though I love the thought of having a garden in which I can loll and read, I can read anywhere. I will finish more books if I let the plants do as they will. wpid-wp-1406773877586.jpeg There is more beauty in nature than can ever be formed by my two hands. I do not pretend an artistic inclination. Why bother? The earth does a lovely job without my bungled help.

Less Wordy Wednesday – Miquelon Lake

We are trying to do more with our weekends than errands and re-watching episodes of Sherlock. Now that the temperatures are habitable, we have no excuse to keep the hibernation going. Hiking is an activity that eases our sedentary guilt yet doesn’t take us too far out of our comfort zones.

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Miquelon Lake Provincial Park was the perfect location for shaking out our winter bones. Less than an hour away, it is open all year round and contains several pet friendly trails of decent length.

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Though the signage was excellent the trails were not well maintained, which meant we were trudging through slick snow almost the whole way. What would be an easy walk under dry circumstances, turned into a trap for weak ankles.

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That didn’t stop us from having a good time. We ended up following some impressive deer tracks most of the way around the loop and Shiva had a good time filling her nose with the fresh scent.

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We intend on returning once the ice has fully melted, perhaps even turn it into an overnight camping trip. But then, there are so many new parks to explore this year, I am reluctant to tie myself down just yet.

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The only thing I know is, Shiva isn’t picky. Her disappointment at returning to the car was obvious. Poor little puppy. We’ll get back out there soon.

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Less Wordy Wednesday: Savouring the Light

I don’t know about where you are but here winter has been taking its time getting the heck out. April looks very much like January. But I am so desperate for spring, even with the ground still crusted with ice, I am soaking up the signs of the greener season where I can find them. Mostly in the light.

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I never would have been able to take the above photo a month ago. It was far too dark. Even though the creek bed remains icily still, there is hope.

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Just look at that grass! Real grass! Sure and it’s brown but we can see it! From this part of the world, that is something to celebrate.

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It is so bright, people are letting their dogs remain outside just a wee bit later. Which means I could snap this picture of our friendly neighbourhood pit bull. And I mean that sincerely. This beautiful girl was all butt wiggles and play bows when we walked by. If Shiva hadn’t been with me, I probably would have knelt to say hello.

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Yes, these trees will look much fresher when they have a new spring wardrobe. Yet, I still smiled at the way they blanketed this yard. In the dark days of early March. I never even noticed them.

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It may not appear so to those who live in southern climates, but in this part of the world, it is clear things are improving. When there is light, there is anticipation. Before too long, there will be leaves and pretty petals to photograph. I believe!

What do you see as a sign of spring?

Less Wordy Wednesday: Shiva’s First Edmontonian Friend

Our neighbourhood is in an older part of Edmonton, just across the river from downtown but far enough away that it has more of a quaint aura. It is filled with late 19th century homes and small, local businesses that house artists, documentary film-makers, pretentious restaurants that are only open three days a week, organic food shops selling everything from local coffee to high quality pet food, and – of all things – image consultants. We are also lucky enough to have a small veterinary office less than five blocks down the road, right next to an artisanal bakery and a diner that advertises five-dollar breakfasts.

Until last week, I never noticed the cat that lives inside the vet clinic. I don’t know how I missed him as he sleeps in the window of the office right by the sidewalk. But now that I have found him, I can’t resist an opportunity to pass the clinic to say hello.

Neither can Shiva.

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When we first saw him lounging on top of his comfy furniture, I made her sit away from the window for fear she would scare him off. However, being a kitty who lives in a pet hospital, he seems to be accustomed to dogs and instead of darting away, he leapt down to the door in order to greet her.

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I was stunned by how intrigued he was by her and how calm Shiva was in return. I never would have let her get so close if there hadn’t been a door in the way but I have a feeling even without the partition they could be good friends.

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Shiva has always adored cats. Unfortunately, she comes on too strong and most of them despise her in return. I am so glad she has found a quasi feline companion. Even if their affection must be tempered by glass.

Less Wordy Wednesday – All Tongue

It may be March for the rest of the world but in Edmonton Winter has stuck in its tent pegs and is refusing to leave. Lest it give even the appearance of moving, the unfriendly season has sent us one of the coldest weeks we’ve had this year so far. It has been so frozen, my eyeballs had frostbite.

Alas, there is nothing for it but to march on. And I mean this in the literal sense. The walks Shiva and I have embarked upon lately felt much more like patrols than our favoured leisurely adventures. We are soldiers, out there to get a job done and nothing more.

The only problem with this, other than numb thighs and brittle eyelashes, is that the Sheevs still needs to be tamed. Even if it is minus ridiculous outside, her brain demands entertainment and her body craves exhaustion. Unfortunately, this also happens to be my least creative and most unmotivated time of year. The span of weeks from February to April often see me weeping into my pillow and begging for mercy. If not for Shiva’s frenzied drive for the tug toy, I don’t know how we’d make it through with our sanity intact.

As it is, I am only just attached to reality by a wayward shoelace.

Okay, that’s not true. There is something else other than my footwear – which, frankly, doesn’t even have laces – enabling me to keep my brain from cracking. The more Shiva tugs, the more relaxed she gets, and the more relaxed she gets, the more she looks like this:

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Stinkin’ cute.

Shiva only rarely keeps her mouth open. I can tell she isn’t a fan of the feeling by how often she tries to correct herself when she pants. It feels strange to her, like she is leaving herself vulnerable. So when she is too tired from a frenetic game of tug to care? It is adorable. She looks like a completely different dog.

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Sometimes, a little more manic than others, but this expression always makes me smile. Dogs, they remind us what is important in life. It sure as heck isn’t the weather.

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What a goof. How did I ever live without her?

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