I try to be fair

Today I was in Bosleys, buying Tierce some shampoo, when a girl brought in a puppy.  The puppy looked like a German Shepherd mix.  He was alert and curious, but when he trotted forward to explore the store, it was apparent that something was wrong.  The puppy’s right front leg was the worst; the leg sloped straight down from the shoulder as it should, but suddenly veered inward and then out, like someone had kicked Mr. Puppy’s front legs out from under him and they had healed crooked.  His tail was gray, scaly and dead two inches from the tip.

I asked where he came from and the lady with the girl said, “The rez.”  We all nodded our heads.  In Nanaimo, when someone says “from the rez”, we pretty much don’t have to ask why a dog looks unhealthy.  Dogs from the reservation generally come with a whole host of problems stemming from neglect and sometimes outright abuse.  She said that a friend of hers was jogging through the reservation when she saw a group of teenagers dragging the puppy with a shoelace.  She stopped them and demanded the puppy, which they gave up with a cheery, “Here you go!”

I try to be fair.  I’m not fool enough to think that race or culture invariably means that people are going to abuse their animals.  There are plenty of people from all cultures who are absolute shits towards their dogs.  However, when I see the condition of animals rescued from the reserve, I want to scream, “WHAT THE FUCK?!  WHY DO YOU HAVE ANIMALS IF YOU CAN’T OR WON’T TAKE CARE OF THEM?!”  I mean, we have the Internet, we have veterinarians.  The reservation is not in butt-fuck nowhere; it’s about 5-10 minutes from Petroglyph Veterinary.

Okay, so I’m probably speaking from Caucasian lower-class privilege.  No, I don’t intimately understand the many factors that contribute to the abuse and neglect of dogs on reservations.  I’m sure there are plenty of reasons: different culture, lack of education, lack of resources, etc.  I know all about having to decide whether you’re going to eat or if you’re going to take your dog to the vet.  I still cannot comprehend this kind of attitude.  Maybe someone can explain it to me.

There is some hope for Mr. Puppy.  If his health problems aren’t too serious, the family who brought him in will adopt him.  He is alert and friendly.  He seems unaffected by his joint issues and eagerly attacked a biscuit offered by the Bosleys staff.  It could come off all right for him.

But as for the rest of the dogs still on the reservations, I can only quote a lady who had worked in them rescuing dogs for years:  “They are big on the totem of the Wolf and the Bear, but what about the Dog and the Cat?”

Reserve Dog Liberation – blog about dogs on First Nations reserves

BC SPCA First Nations Spay/Neuter Study 2003

Big Heart Rescue Society – Working to promote S/N and vaccination in remote First Nations Reserves in BC

Parks & Rec Come Through!

All the benches are showing tightly placed planks and a new coat of paint!  Thanks, Nanaimo Parks & Rec!

Dear Richard and Jeff,

Tierce and I visited the dog park today and found that the benches had been fixed and are even sporting a new coat of paint!  I am very impressed with the celerity with which you addressed my concerns about the benches.  By the way, Tierce is fully recovered from his accident. Thank you both again.

Julie MacTire


Wow great photo and thank you emailing us back.

It is a great help to us when we know of issues and users of facilities let us know plus ideas on how to make things better. Many times we just don’t know something has happened or that something is a problem so thank you for letting us know in a constructive and positive way. Our Parks crews take great pride in our facilities and if they know something act very fast.

What a great day to be out in the parks!


Hurrah for squeaky wheels!

All benches should have planks too close for a little paw or leg to slide through.

Hurrah!  Remember this post?  I sent a letter to the Parks and Rec Department of Nanaimo about it.  (Richard Harding is the director of Parks, Recreation and Culture and my new best friend)

Dear Mr. Harding,

My name is Julie MacTire and I got your email address from the City of Nanaimo website.  I am writing to you about an incident that happened last Sunday (January 31) at the Nanaimo dog park.  My small dog jumped up on one of the park benches that happened to have widely spaced planks and his right hind leg slipped through when he tried to jump down and got caught.  This has caused a severe muscle strain, perhaps some tearing in the affected leg that is taking him some time to get over.

As a result, I’ve become concerned about those benches that have widely spaced planks.  While we discourage our dogs from jumping up on these seats, it happens sometimes before the owner can warn the dog away.  Also, there are a number of parents with small children who keep their children on the seats to avoid an accidental collision with rambunctious dogs and I fear they could be at risk of an accident as well.

I am wondering if you can give me any information as to what I should do to put forth a petition to the City to have the benches replaced or covered by material that prevents small legs from getting stuck.  I would also be interested in taking an active role in fundraising for the modification to the dog park benches if that is a feasible option.


Julie MacTire

I got this reply early this morning:

Thank you Julie for your email and sorry to hear about your dog.

I have copied your email to Jeff Ritchie who is Senior Manager of Parks who will get in touch with you.

I am sure we can work something out to modify the benches.

Thanks Julie.


Then, just now, I recieved this from Mr. Ritchie, another new best friend:

Julie, thanks for pointing this out to us. I hope your pooch is recovering. We will replace the boards on these benches with wider planks so as to prevent this happening again. Thanks for your e-mail.

Wow!  I was expecting… I don’t know, a long time between emails… an argument… certainly not a prompt response that promised immediate attention.  I don’t want to carol the City of Nanaimo’s praises too loudly until the benches are actually fixed, but if their maintenance department is anything like their standard for communication, I think this issue will be resolved very quickly.

I wrote back to each gentleman, thanking them for their timely response to my email and attention to the matter.

So far, this is a great example of the things that can be done if you bring the attention of the powers-that-be to issues in your local dog park with a polite letter.

Thank you Julie for your email and sorry to hear about your dog.

I have copied your email to Jeff Ritchie who is Senior Manager of Parks who will get in touch with you.

I am sure we can work something out to modify the benches.

Thanks Julie.


Beware park benches!

We had a disturbing incident today at the dog park.  Tierce loves jumping up on the benches and until an hour ago, I didn’t have a problem with this.

Unfortunately, this time, he jumped up and got his leg stuck between the slats.  This picture isn’t a great example because this bench has slats close together, but some of the benches have slats further apart.

I was watching Tierce play halfway across the field, but didn’t see when he leaped up onto the bench.  I and everyone else heard him, though, when he jumped down and  his right hind leg fell through the slats.

For a horrible moment, I was running towards him, screaming, “TIERCE!  TIERCE!  TIERCE!  TIERCE!”  Like all Shibas can, when the need arises, he screamed like a piercing train whistle and about five people ran to save him.

I must say now that I’m very proud of my little boy, because despite having his leg wrenched, he did not bite or try to bite anyone who picked him up or held him or fed him treats (as one gentlemen did – Tierce gobbled down the treat and went back to screaming).  He was a very good boy.

I called Mischa to drive us home, because I didn’t want to carry Tierce all the way there, nor did I want to make him walk/hop home.  Once he got home, he was able to weight bear, so we’re not rushing him to the vet right away, but he’s not going running or for long walks for a few weeks.  He’s sleeping on the couch right now, a very demoralized Shiba.

I’d like to approach the City about having the benches covered at my own expense, but I’m not sure if this will be allowed.  Perhaps a letter?  I’m not sure; I’ll have to look into it some more.  Tierce shouldn’t necessarily have been on the benches, but he’s not the only dog that jumps up there and perhaps this will keep things a little safer.






Coombs is an awesome little place between Parksville and Port Alberni.  It has become something of a tourist attraction, especially the Old Country Market.  There are a lot of little shops there and it’s jam-packed in the summer.  Despite the tourist traps that some of the stores definitely are, I love it there.

During this morning, the temperatures got up to about 30 Celsius.  That’s 86 Farenheit.  Whatever scale you go by, it equals not leaving the dog in the car, so my boyfriend and I took turns visiting the Market.  When I returned from shopping, Mischa had an interesting story to tell me.

Apparently a Korean guy came up to him and was very excited about Tierce.  Unfortunately he didn’t speak a lot of English, so the conversation went something like this.

“Ah!  Jindo-ka!”

“No, Shiba inu.”

“No, no, no!  Jindo-ka!  Korea!”

“No, man, this is a Shiba inu.  Japan!”


And the man wanders away, probably convinced that we had picked up a Jindo from a shelter somewhere that had it listed as a “husky mix”.

Dog show extravaganza!

Tierce and I went to the Tyee Kennel Club Dog Show on Saturday to meet up with Marg, his breeder and Susan, his “grandbreeder”.  They were very happy to see him, but we did come to the conclusion that it would be best overall to have him neutered, not only to prevent puppies, but to cut down on the aggression as he gets older.  I’m deferring to their opinions, as with several decades apiece with dogs and Shibas, they ought to know!  So on Monday, we’ll make an appointment and little Tierce will go to get his balls chopped off.

I’ve mentioned that I’ve had reservations about neutering, but I am not as opposed to neutering Tierce now that he’s over 2 and has his full growth.  Things like weight gain and suchlike can be addressed with a good exercise and nutrition program.

While I was at the show, I bought Tierce a new toy! It’s a hollow plastic egg that is too big for him to bite and he’ll chase that thing around all day.

I couldn’t find anything about the company who makes this product.  Here’s the only information that came with it:


There is a product here that looks pretty damn similar with a cute video of zoo animals playing with them, so it’s quite possible that it’s a knock-off of that.  It would be too bad, because I love products that are made in Canada.

And a little Shiba shall lead them

My boyfriend and I have a problem when we head down to Victoria.  We have so many friends we want to catch up with, it’s really hard to get time to see them all.  Last Saturday, we explored a unique solution to this dilemma:


Despite creating a Facebook event less than 48 hours before we were due to let Tierce strut his stuff on Dallas Road, which, in addition to being stunningly beautiful, is also one of the city’s off-lead dog areas.  Despite Tierce’s recent contretemps with other male dogs, he behaved himself beautifully around the many dogs who came up to say hello.

A number of the gang down on Fonyo Beach, just off of the Dallas Road walkway

Photo by Byron Lundstrom

It was an unqualified social success; about twenty people showed up!  I was so happy, because we haven’t had a lot of opportunities to see some of them.  We ended up at the Beacon Drive-in where we had a terrific time chowing down on hamburgers, fries and soft-serve ice cream.

So, if you visit places with your Shiba and want a way to catch up with them all, try announcing an official ShibaWalk and see who shows up.  This is also a great way to get together with friends on a daily or weekly basis.

Things I will remember for next time:

  • I will have a defined starting point, turning-back point (if applicable) and end point
  • I will state a time that we are getting together at a local eatery and whether or not dogs are allowed there (extra points, of course, for outdoor venues, but you can’t have everything in February)

Just in case…

If any of you are involved or have a working knowledge of the SCA, Tierce’s “other blog” might be amusing for you:  Tierce for Baron

It started when the latest attempt to get the local Shires together into a Barony flared to life. Shires are smaller SCA groups and Baronies are larger and have more pomp and circumstance.  For an introduction to the SCA, go here.

I am quite hopeful that it will work out and, in the interests of keeping things light, started a campaign (just in fun!) for Tierce to be Baron.  Everyone seems to be having fun with it, so we’re going to continue until we get a Baron and Baroness!

License Your Dog or We’ll Send You to Collections

The other day, I got a letter from City Hall.  It was about Tierce’s license, but it wasn’t a polite reminder.  No, it was a threat to send my account to collections.  Apparently, since I haven’t purchased a license yet, they think that this will be an effective method of making me trot my ass to City Hall and merrily pay the fee.

Now, I believe in licensing and everything that my municipality does to improve and maintain the dog poop bag dispensers, the dog park and the animal shelter.  I appreciate and support what they do to aid dog owners.  If the letter had been a polite reminder that it was time to renew, I would have eventually headed over and ponied up the $25.

But I do not support threatening dog owners in order to force them to pay licensing fees, especially when they are good enough to alert City Hall to the fact that they have a dog in the first place.  I think it’s stupid and offensive.  So, tomorrow, I’m definitely going to go to City Hall.

I’m going to tell them that the dog’s dead.