After the run of Babes in the Woods, Marcella returned to town. Now it was Katie’s turn to have a friend stay at the cottage, and so her bubbly classmate, Jen Guggliemucci, came to join us for a couple of weeks. Jen wanted to help with the performance of Guard Dog on Duty at the Lion’s Club picnic, but there were two weeks before that gig, so the girls had lots of time for boating, swimming and holiday fun. However, Max was continuing to be restless. He was used to being set free on the trails in town, but it was difficult to find somewhere suitable on the Coast. One would think that the country would be better than the city for dog walking, but it was actually much more restrictive.
There were lots of trails if one headed up above the highway, but unlike the trails in town, these were not an option because they were full of deer, not to mention the occasional bear, elk or even cougar. There were also small farms, which meant livestock that sent tantalizing scents into the air. On Lasqueti Island, there were even signs indicating that dogs chasing sheep would be shot. Finally, Hugh and I decided that our best bet was to take Max to the two small islands in the mouth of the harbor and let him run there.
We packed a picnic and loaded everyone into the Optimist, though Hugh tied our smaller dinghy behind the bigger boat. Then we set off for the mouth of the harbor, anchored off the islands and went ashore using the dinghy with the outboard. The islands were intriguing for the girls, because there were derelict shacks and offshore shipwrecks. Once we unloaded our picnic, the girls went exploring and Hugh and I let Max trot after them. Since the islands were so small, we thought there was no chance of him getting into trouble. Famous last words. No sooner had Hugh opened the thermos and poured me a coffee than we heard a thundering noise, rather like the hooves of a charging horse. We looked up to see a large doe racing across the island, with Max, stubby legs flying, furiously trying to catch her.
The deer splashed into the ocean and began to swim out to sea and Max, undeterred, jumped into the water and began to swim after her. We thought he would give up and return after a few yards, but not Max. He kept going out into the bay, straight into the path of a large motor cruiser that was coming up the middle of the channel. Hugh leaped up, hopped into the outboard and set off after our delinquent dog, and finally, by looping around him and herding him like a steer in a cattle drive, managed to bring him back to shore. Sigh! So much for our peaceful picnic. Max was very happy with his exploit. However, his frazzled owners were not. From now on, the summer was going to be Guard Dog on Leash. No exceptions.
A week later, came the day of our gig at the Lion’s Club Park, and finally we managed to have a trouble-free day, other than a minor blip when a puppet hit the deck. However, once we’d reassured the girls that this was not an earth-shattering problem, all relaxed and had a good time. The festival was great fun, with a pancake breakfast and lots of activities for kids. We performed four shows, but between each performance, Hugh and I found a perfect trail to walk Max, albeit on his long line, while the girls played and socialized with the other young people. And as a bonanza, Max got to eat his fill of the leftover sausages from the pancake breakfast. Guard Dog off Duty was a little green in the gills from overindulgence, but he had done his tricks, reaped his rewards and was a very happy dog come end of the day.