Monday, June 29, 2009

Humpy Bear in Repose

Humpy Bear is one of Ira's oldest and most 'intimate' friends. Humpy Bear is half teddy bear and half golf club cover. Ira's legless lover was rescued from a charity golf tournament. The two of them can often be found canoodling below deck, sometimes merely cuddling whereas other times their activity is more vigorous. Here the two lovebirds are pictured enjoying some quiet time.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dog Ferry

Yesterday we took two boats over to Ward's Island and anchored next to each other. The wind was strong enough that the logistics of tying the boats together made it unadvisable. Luckily we had a small dinghy to ferry our beer swilling passengers back and forth. The dogs came on my run. Chili is a local Cairn Terrier rescued from the mean streets of Los Angeles. If you take Chili fishing, she stands on the stern of the boat, barking when you throw the lines out; some kind of fish whispering. Or rather, fish shouting.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Canine Stormageddon

The dogs are looking at me like I can do something about this heat. Lying on their sides panting, lifting their heads now and then to shoot me sidelong glances. And when I don't respond, they plop their heads back down with a passive aggressive sigh. The dogs barely take my word for basic stuff like it's not a good idea to taunt swans or growl at rabid Mastiffs, so it's beyond me why they think I might be able to control the weather. But along came the storm, a huge thundering downpour that soaked everything from top to bottom. Just before the storm broke, Ira ran up from the cabin to bark at a fellow who dared to stop and chat while I was sitting in the cockpit. I was just instructing Ira to shut the hell up when "CRACK", thunder and lightening hit all at once. The Yorkie was abruptly startled off his perch and ran back down into the cabin with his stubby tail between his legs. And here they are waiting out the storm, water dripping into the pot between them, like there's nowhere else to sit but right under the leaky hatch.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Yorkie Sun Deck

During the recent heat wave, we started swimming right in the marina to cool down. Our neighbour has a tugboat with a big old swim ladder, perfect for our purposes, as long as you don't mind swimming in diesel, goose shit and the other mysterious toxins of Lake Ontario. Said neighbour's generator is housed under a teak table which also serves as Ira's sundeck. The Yorkie can be seen relaxing, post swim. Clearly, it's a dog's life.

Sadie Poses for Playbitch Magazine

Sadie has recently been asked to pose for Playbitch magazine for obvious reasons. Her ample udders are a fertility marker, a testament to her fecundity.

Friday, June 19, 2009

CFDs or, Canine Flotation Devices

So much for shopping local. Lifejackets at the Beaches Bark and Fitz were about $80 each. For the same price I could get one of those small fancy inflatable lifejackets for myself. The human lifejackets onboard the boat are a collection of hand-me-downs and rag-tag spare parts, but they all do the job. I was not paying $160 for two dog lifejackets, so it was time to risk certain bullet wounds, get in the car and head deep into Scarlem to Petsmart. Ira and Sadie looked like two tasty little snacks in a store crowded with Rotweillers and Pit Bulls. Having secured our personal canine flotation devices for $20 each, we got the hell out of dodge, but not before a biker with a Bull Mastiff asked me on a date...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dog walks Self

Despite a strict marina leash policy, Indy the neighbour dog prefers to walk herself up and down the dock. Indeed, there are a number of local dogs who have taken to walking themselves, Sadie included. Lately she has been known to bolt to the main office while offleash, about 1/2 a kilometre away, to a secret bowl of cat food hidden under a deck. She returns of her own accord eventually, presumably sated by a salty bowl of Whiskas. And I wonder why she gets the 'runs'.

Trailers and Tiki Lights

Mobility has its challenges with two dogs and a bike. At first I tried to affix two baskets to the bike to shuttle the pack around: a small basket on the front for our experienced traveller Ira and a sturdier milk crate on the back of the bike for our more svelte sidekick Sadie. I was quite pleased with the results, but Sadie was not. I loaded the dogs into their respective baskets for a trial run. Sadie jumped out of the milk crate on the first run, landing on grass. We were not so lucky on the second run. You see, Sadie has quite a fear of sticks, be they brooms, branches or hockey sticks. The mind boggles at her unknown past, but it doesn't bear thinking about. Everything seemed to be going well on the second run, just a little more practice... I could not have predicted the neighbour kid appearing out of nowhere, chasing us wildly down the driveway while brandishing two tall Tiki stick lamps. Sadie catapulted out of the milk crate this time and landed hard on the cement driveway. The boyfriend said, "THAT'S IT! I cannot watch this any longer". Off he went to Canadian Tire to purchase a bike trailer. And I had to agree that the world is unpredictable and full of sticks. One never knows when and where they might appear, so the bike trailer is a considerably safer and contained mode of dog transport.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

George the Surly Swan

George the Swan frequently patrols the marina, instilling fear into the hearts of geese, ducks and sometimes kayakers. He's been known to chase all three with a vengeance. Rumour has it that George's nest is on the west side of the docks and while his mate is sitting on her eggs, George wanders around scavenging for food and other entertainment. He appears most frequently during dinner time, when the scent of barbeque is heavy in the air. He usually paddles around lazily with one leg, the other tucked up under his wing. In boat terms, the slang for having one engine is 'single screw'. Two engines is called 'twin screw'. When George is paddling around more aggressively with two legs, perhaps in a hurry to hiss at a dog dockside, we say, "Old George is twin screw today'.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Driving Miss Sadie

The marina is very close to downtown Toronto, but sits at least a couple of kilometres off any sort of beaten path, on a private road. At night, the drive is dark, bumpy and strangely eerie. If you hail a cab from the nearest streetcar stop to get to the marina, it's quite necessary to reassure the cabbie that you have no intention of luring him down the dark winding road into a trap to be robbed and beaten. I've had good luck in this respect, but a large biker friend of mine who lives aboard usually only makes it about halfway to the marina before he is unceremoniously kicked out of the car. The cabbies get spooked. I had the good fortune to meet Fekadu on one such dark night, a warm and engaging fellow from Somalia. He is now our regular driver, going where other cabbies fear to tread, to and from the marina. Sadie is quite enamoured of our Fekadu. She is pictured here, gently reassuring everyone that nothing dangerous lies ahead.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Ira's Porthole

Ira likes to set up a window-based 'control tower' wherever he lives in order to keep an eye on the outside world. He has claimed a small porthole on the side of the boat from where he can see the main dock and every person or dog or bird who happens to pass by. This morning, my neighbours were launching a little dinghy from the main dock into our basin. I ran over to see if they needed a hand. Their big old happy-go-lucky dog 'Buddy' was running around too, clearly excited that his dog-sized boat was launching. I'm over on the main dock, about 100 feet away from Ira, but I'm right in his line of vision through the porthole... And ringing throughout the marina is the shrill bark of the Yorkie, unimpressed with proceedings. But Ira doesn't bother to come out on deck or try to follow me and bark in person at the goings-on. He just remains onboard, barking away madly from the convenience of his porthole, aka, the control tower. Why venture out when you have your own porthole?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Everything is Harder on a Boat - A Typical Morning

You wake up and your foot is jammed into the corner with the mini tv, your shoulder is lodged achingly between a rock and a hard place. You wade your way out of the blankets, pillows and duvets to turn the heat off. Gawd it's hot in here. Then you come out onto deck under the canopy to discover what real heat is. Summer arrived overnight like a submarine under the radar. The dogs stink; there is dust and hair everywhere. It's time to bathe the dogs. You go back inside the boat and it's freezing. What just happened? Regardless you can tell it's going to be hot as Hades today so you decide whether to keep the boat locked down to keep the cool in or open 'er up and let the heat and breeze out. Today's probably not a good day to boil an egg for breakfast with all this humidity already in the air. And don't boil anything late at night or you'll just be locked inside with the humidity which could turn to damp if it gets cold. So you wait until 9am, knowing the student worker bees clean the main washrooms at 10pm. That gives you an hour when no one's around to sneak past the authoritative "NO PETS ALLOWED" sign and get the dogs washed in the handicapped bathroom. You pray no one handicapped needs a shower. After coralling the dogs one by one under the apparently terrifying showerhead, you sneak back out when the coast is clear. Then you bring the wet dogs back to the boat and tie them to the dock to dry off in the sun. Taking advantage of having no beasts underfoot, you start cleaning. The fridge door falls off its hinges for no apparent reason. You bang your chin on the counter leaving a nice bruise. And you continue cleaning, finding crunchy dead spiders everywhere from the Spider Ban you sprayed all over last night. Don't forget the piles of gnats - collateral damage of the spray. But you vacuum, windex, and get it all done. Time to feed the dogs, eat your breakfast, wash the dishes in cold water from a hand pump in the 10 inch by 10 inch sink. And then it's time to shower yourself. Gather everything you'll need and head over to the main washroom. Put your hair in rollers cause it's pointing in every direction. Pluck stray hairs from the unruly garden you call your eyebrows. Scare the student worker bee who comes into the ladies' to find you wearing only rollers, rubber boots and underwear. Jump in the handicap shower and pray again that no one handicapped presently needs a shower. After you're all clean, eat lunch. Walk the dogs before work. One of them rolls in something dead and smells like hell again. Oh well. The boyfriend brings you lunch and catches you reading during your 10 minutes of free time and says, "Wow, the life of Riley". Eat lunch. Get the dogs settled, close the boat down and head off to work. And then you can't find your sunglasses. Oh, there they are, in the frying pan.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Attack of the Blackbird

We had an attack of Blackbird at 7am this morning while I was getting ready to leave for work. I was in the cabin downstairs and Sadie was upstairs in the cockpit area which is enclosed by canvas and plastic windows. I heard a hullabaloo that sounded distinctly like last night's wine glasses smashing around. I came busting up, yelling at Sadie, 'What the hell is going on here'... Then I see Sadie has gone feral, cornering a blackbird who had the back luck of getting trapped inside the canvas area. The bird is flapping around and shitting everywhere in a digestive demonstration of its terror. Sadie's already got it covered but Ira rushes up out of bed to get in on the action. Forget two birds with one stone, we're gonna kill one bird with two dogs. Ira is indistinguishable from a rabid Ewok, hair flying, teeth gnashing. I can already foresee a big cleaning job with just the shit alone, but blood too? I have shit on my clothes and in my hair by now. I manage to throw the dogs downstairs and whoosh the bird outside... I had no time to make breakfast after the incident and subsequent cleanup. So there's a blackbird out there who owes me $8 for a soy latte and an eggy breakfast sandwich from Starbucks. Such is life in the great outdoors.