Saltspring was lovely. There were fields with hedgerows that had the nostalgic charm of the English countryside. There were trails where Max could go for a run with Bobo and Sally, and he proved remarkably gentlemanly realizing that his new friends were elderly ladies and not up to roaring about the way he liked to. There was also a bay where the dogs could swim. There was a pub where the girls could sit in the garden with Max while we adults went onto the deck for drinks. There was a lovely coffee shop in Ganges that we could walk to for our morning caffeine fix. And wherever we went, it was pretty and picturesque.
Josie was still in Vancouver, so Dennis was our host for the first part of the holiday. He seemed to quite enjoy having us there, particularly as we were cooking full English breakfasts which we would share. Dennis would help himself to bacon with a big grin and a warning ‘not to tell Josie’. Dennis was a helpful guide, filling us in on what there was to see around the town and cheerfully driving us to various locations if there was something we needed. Max liked his new host, especially as he came complete with dogs, so everyone was happy.
One day, though, Max was not a happy dog. We had walked the girls to the video store, then headed round to the bakery. Outside the store, a pickup truck was parked, and in the back was a twin Max. When we walked over for a closer look, the owner informed us it was a female Samoyed cross, and on closer inspection we could see it was smaller and fluffier than our sturdy mutt. But for poor Max, it was love at first sight. The Samoyed hung over the gate while Max stood up on his hind legs. The Samoyed showered him with kisses, whereupon Max went down into bow position and made growly come-and-play noises. He just couldn’t understand that she wasn’t allowed to jump down and become part of his entourage, and he was terribly sad when we had to leave. Poor fellow, he sulked for the rest of the afternoon.
Between the dog walks, coffee stops and fishing excursions, the latter, of course, for Hugh, we spent quite a bit of time exploring the island. A drive up to the appropriately named Mount Maxwell took us to a magnificent viewpoint where we could see out over the island. One day, we drove around to Fulford where we passed two pretty country churches and an equally pretty inn. Afterwards, we went out to Ruckle Park and walked along the coast and through the sheep farms. This, however, proved problematic. Max was leaping with excitement at all the animal smells and we had to keep him leashed the entire time. Our wannabe sheep dog didn’t understand that the goal of herding sheep wasn’t to end up with mutton. This was one occasion where Max’s wolf genes surged to the fore.
Another day of exploring resulted in a boat trip to Montague Harbour on Galiano. We moored at the marine park and walked all the way around the point. Here Max did have a nice run, and even managed to behave among all the sightseers and hikers. He swam off the rocks and thoroughly enjoyed himself. Then he hopped back in the Optimist, and nose to the wind, voyaged back to base with a big smile of contentment on his wolf-like mask.
He was less impressed, though, on the day we went for a trail ride. Max had finally figured out that horses were bigger than he was, and he sulked and growled in the car while Hugh dropped me and the girls at the ranch. The girls were thrilled to find we were to ride a horse family that spanned three generations, but Max was quite relieved to find that his master shared his wary attitude toward horses and did not intend to stay. So Max spent his afternoon, tagging along while Hugh did errands. Of course, he was probably hoping to meet his pretty Samoyed again, but sadly, she never reappeared. So much for Dog’s Life, Deluxe. This was the Dog’s Life in the conventional sense. But then, the wily old fellow had Brandy at home, so what could he expect from a holiday romance.