It was great to be back in the Cariboo. After the noise and confusion of the Okanagan campsites, we finally enjoyed a peaceful night where the only sound was the loon on the lake. The next morning, the temperature was lovely and cool. We rustled up a camp breakfast—scrambled eggs and Prem—although the youngsters were not impressed with the bacon substitute. We explained that this was what people ate during WWII, but it didn’t make them like it any better. After breakfast, we took Max to Treasure Island, and the rest of the day passed with walks, swimming and lazing by the campfire.
The rest of the holiday was a lovely combination of hiking, swimming, games and boating. There was a games room with pool and ping-pong tables, which the youngsters really enjoyed. There were also pedalos, which were an interesting novelty, and some of the other boaters introduced our crew to tubing. Max was in clover too. There were two islands where he could run free, and fields where he could walk on his long line. Caroline and Andre became so proficient with our boat that they were able to take him for trips to the island by themselves. What a happy dog he was. No sooner would he be back on shore after a hike with me and Hugh than he was whistled back into the boat and taken for a ride with the kids.
On one occasion, however, his trip to Treasure Island did not turn out well. On a previous walk, the treasure he’d unearthed had been a deer bone. He was so attached to this, that he’d carried it round the island and hidden it when it had been time to return to camp. Sure enough, the next time we went back to the island, he retrieved his bone from his secret cache and paraded round the island with it locked in his jaws. When we reached the rocks where he liked to swim, Hugh threw wood for him as usual, but he was so reluctant to part with his bone that he swam out with it in his mouth. Then he let go of it to grab the wood, but of course, the bone sank to the bottom of the lake. Poor Max was desolate. He spent the next five minutes swimming in circles with a tragic look on his face, trying to find his bone. He finally wearied and came back to shore, but he was a most disconsolate dog for the rest of his walk.
Predictably, when Max was out of sorts, his behaviour deteriorated. The next time Caroline and Andre took him to the island, they came back and reported that he’d been bad. He’d growled at two other people who were daring to walk on HIS island. Then he’d run off to chase ducks and refused to come when he was called. Poor Caroline and Andre finally returned to the boat, dreading coming back to tell us that they’d lost the dog, but when they reached the cove where the boat was pulled up on the shingle, there was Max sitting in the stern, waiting for them to return and looking at them as if to say, “So what happened to you guys?” They were not impressed. Needless to say, it was leash and timeout when he returned to camp.
Max continued to enjoy his holiday. He loved the long rambles across the fields. He stole logs from the campfire cache and spent hours shredding them. He found a deer skull on Treasure Island to replace the lost bone, and this one he managed not to lose. We took him exploring by the beaver dam at the end of the lake, which he though a great adventure, except when he fell into the reed-lined channel and had a hard time splashing his way out.
He enjoyed the fun when two young boys in a canoe cast us as natives with a wild animal in their imaginary adventure, and Hugh obliged by bombing them with an old soccer ball and a grenade-sized plastic toy that had been washed ashore. Max also liked the evenings in the games room, where he could watch us play ping pong and try to catch the balls if they went astray.
I enjoyed the outdoor activities, when we could fit them in between feeding four constantly hungry teens and pre-teens, but I also liked the leisurely afternoons when I could read at our campsite. However, I did use some of the time to review a script that I had written. This was a manuscript developed from my “To Catch an Actress” story. At that time, getting it finished was a challenge, let alone getting it produced. I had no idea that, renamed as Casting for Murder, it would later become so popular with community theatre groups that it would have productions in several different Canadian provinces.
Finally, sadly, it was time to strike camp and go home. Andre packed up his pup tent and the Piglettes took down the Pigloo. Everything was loaded into the camper, Max being the last of all to come aboard. Then it was back to the Lower Mainland, road work, traffic tie ups and a long slog along the highway until we reached home. Once again, I thought how nice to be a dog. While the rest of us, exhausted as we were, toted in our gear and reorganized the home front, Max hopped out, wagged his tail to see his familiar garden, and promptly found a comfortable spot to curl up and have a sleep. A dog’s life—the deluxe version!