When I was a child my family was very fortunate as we were able to escape to my Grandparents cottage for many summers. As mentioned in this post https://dogstwentyfourseven.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/the-dog-gene, my love of dogs and my dog gene are a wonderful gift passed down from my Grandmother. She and I really clicked. We were both happiest with a swarm of wet dogs by our side, either in her cabin or sitting on a swinging bench chair taking in the view of the lake.
Over the years she had an assortment of dogs at the cottage. They were mostly standard poodles or the occasional rescue dog. Freddy, our Cocker Spaniel, went to live with my grandparents since he preferred the country lifestyle and his time on Stoney Lake over city living. He would often be found by my Grandfather’s long legs, tucked around his feet as he smoked his pipe.
Granny’s dogs would ride in her boats with her, either sitting in silence with her in a canoe, or in her wooden boat with a fast motor. Personally, I was at my happiest riding in the boat with her. The dogs would have their heads craned out to smell the wind streaming in their faces, or they would sleep under the bow on the many life jackets.
I thought she was the coolest senior sitting on the edge of the boat’s seats, with the wind blowing her long gray hair which was often slipped under a bright scarf for damage control. She would hit the waves with precision and could dock on a dime with years of experience under her belt.
I looked forward to visiting her friends as they, too, would release a dog to come down and greet us at their docks. Fond memories of mine include trying to tie up our boat when coming into a dock. At the same moment I attempted a fancy boat knot, a dog would leap out at us, pushing the boat farther away involuntarily!
We have always had Labradors and my hubby loves to fish. Every single lab we have owned insists on sitting right beside him while he does so, or wades into the lake to attempt to catch the fish being reeled in. At times, this can be very frustrating as he has to try to avoid getting the dog tangled in the line.
My first Labrador, named Ben, had quite the talent under water. He could literally hold his breath and dive deep down to bring up rocks from the lake’s bottom. The best part was seeing the bubble trail coming from him as he let air out going down!
He was also quite the hunter and would occasionally kill a water snake as dogs do by shaking its neck. As kids we would scream and run if we saw this happening near the dock. Year after year the mother water snake would have a nest by the water’s edge so there was never a shortage of “bobbing sticks” to look out for when swimming.
For a few years we enjoyed time at a friend’s cottage when our daughters were younger. Our Labrador, Abby, rolled in dead worms minutes before one car ride home. This memory is referenced in my post on dogs and their stink, https://dogstwentyfourseven.wordpress.com/2012/01/17/stinky.
While vacationing at our friend’s cottage, I was amazed to see their Golden Retriever, Cailley, get out of the lake using the swim ladder! It was a definite must see and made for a great photo opportunity. She would stand in the shallow water for hours patiently waiting for some minnows to swim in front of her. She really was transfixed in an almost hypnotic state. Cailley would then break the staring contest with the fish by plunging her face into the water to try to catch one. I never saw a successful attempt but was in awe by her willingness to try again over and over.
I heard from her owner that she even stood up to a bear at his cottage once, not backing down. This, from the most gentle and sweet retriever, was incredible to hear.
Usually once in a cottage season a stinky dead fish would make its way towards our cottage. This was always a worry as our Labradors would swim way out catching the scent before we did. Chocolate and Black Labradors are harder to see in the water by boats speeding by or coming in. We would wave our arms like air traffic controllers trying to point out the dog swimming and to try to get them to return to the mainland.
Cottages, especially those on islands, provide such freedom for a city dog. They can run and explore to their heart’s delight with the local wild life urging them on. The chipmunks are always great entertainment, and I have heard of the less fortunate having a run-in with a skunk or porcupine.
The lake smell usually intensifies on a dog’s coat over time. I often compare it to blue cheese in the way it can come on strong when in a small cabin or heading home in your car, always packed to the roof. I have heard of a collar called a Smoochy Poochy from quite a few dog contacts. These collars are perfect for swimming dogs, as they do not get stinky. They are Canadian made and come in lots of colours and with various buckle options. Check out this click to see them in action, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4u6bLhwlVU.
I cannot imagine being at a cottage without a dog. They love it as much as we do. Our Abby loves to sun on the rocks after hours of swimming. I think that the rocks, being warm, provide a therapeutic heating treatment, nicely warming her sore muscles. The fabulous view of the lake doesn’t hurt either!
Dogs add to the cottage experience with their adventures. We look forward to seeing this summer if our new dog, Ember, knows how to swim. We think she’ll be able to with her Labrador DNA!
As I write this I have so many wonderful images in my mind, for example our Labradors over the years leaping off the dock to retrieve a ball or stick or to join us swimming in the lake. I can feel the sudden burst of cold water as a dog shakes near me as I relax with family or friends. This sudden annoyance seconds later feels very refreshing on hot skin and I think to myself remember this moment in the mid-winter months ahead!
What are your memories of a dog at a cottage?
Dogstwentyfourseven has a Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/#!/dogstwentyfourseven. Interesting articles and links are posted every week. Please click on “Like” if you are enjoying my posts and page.
If you would like to receive my blog posts by email as soon as they are published, click on “Follow” on my main page. You will automatically receive them immediately after publication. Thank you for your support! Becky White