The school year was drawing to a close and everyone was excited about our imminent trip. On the last day of term, Hugh and I picked up Caroline from school and went shopping at Costco. Since we were renting halls to perform our shows, we also had to provide the concessions. We bought flats of pop and potato chips, vainly trying to impress on Caroline that this bonanza of junk food was for the patrons, not the family. Then we came home to stash the goods and make dinner. Later, we stuck decals on our posters and organized for the upcoming trip.

Heading for the Sunshine Coast
Heading for the Sunshine Coast

The next few days were a flurry of last-minute rehearsals and packing. Then, on the morning of July 9, we loaded the motorhome and set off for the Horseshoe Bay ferry. Max was excited about the trip, as were Caroline and Katie, since Marcella was along to help with the shows. The weather was glorious for the ferry crossing, though the girls were more interested in the gift shop and concessions than in the scenery. We disembarked at Langdale and set off for the drive up the Coast. Once we arrived at our Pender Harbour summer home, we parked the motorhome in front of the cottage, right below the front-room window. The girls and Max marked out their sleeping quarters: girls in the lower suite and Max on a cushy rug by the front-room window. By nightfall, we were all settled in comfortably.

Madeira Park cottage
Madeira Park cottage

We had five days before our first  show, so the girls took advantage of the time to make friends with local youngsters and enjoy the fun of the seaside. Unlike the girls, Max could not be turned loose. He was on red alert, with his wolf genes picking up every exciting new scent. It was like being towed by a tractor every time we set off for a walk. We did some more leash training with lots of reverses to remind him of his lessons.  After this review, he walked more sedately, but I could tell from what I called his ‘double ear pleats’ that he was on the lookout for action every step of the way. I became very used to watching my dog and being prepared to brace myself when the double ear pleats turned triple.

Guard Dog Off Duty

A couple of days into our stay, we had an extremely upsetting incident. We woke up in the morning to discover that our motorhome had been broken into during the night and all our concession fare had been stolen. Down went the profits yet again. The most galling thing was the fact that our feisty dog had proved useless as a watchdog. Max had been sleeping right by the window and had not even woken up, yet alone alerted us to the intruders. The constable who responded to the call thought it was hilarious when we told him about the show we were performing for the Lions’ Club. Everyone agreed that the title should be changed to Guard Dog Off Duty.

Witch Twitch
Babes in the Wood – The Sheriff, Witch Twitch and Jaws

So off we went to restock the concessions, this time loading them into the cottage until show day. All too soon, the marathon weekend arrived. We set up at St. Bart’s church in Gibsons on the Friday evening; then performed Babes in the Wood at 11:00am, 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm, after which we struck our theatre, drove to Pender Harbour and set up at the Music School. On Sunday, we performed the show four times at the music school: three times during the day and once at seven in the evening. Max slept in the motorhome while we performed the shows, and then enjoyed walks with various family members taking shifts between shows. After the final show, the exhausted kids headed back to the cottage and Hugh and I remained to take everything apart. Looking back, I’m amazed that we coped. From this point in time, I feel tired just reading the notes in my diary!

The first Elwoodettes theatre: King John in Babes in the Wood
The first Elwoodettes theatre: King John in Babes in the Wood

Once we got through the weekend, it was time to relax and enjoy the Coast again, though Hugh and I found ourselves dealing with AWOL teens as well as a dog with the same urge. Come the following weekend, we ended up one performer short for our shows in Sechelt which rather took the gloss off the event, although those of us who were there managed well through our gritted teeth. Once back at the cottage, having rounded up and suitably chastised the miscreant, Max, seeing us distracted, took the opportunity to slip out unobserved. So a second AWOL panic set in. Where was the dog?

Safely back on leash

We all raced outside to look for him, fanning out in different directions. I climbed the steep bank behind our cottage which led to an adjacent waterfront estate. As I clambered out onto a long drive that went all the way from the road down to the docks, I glanced toward the ocean and spied Max at the water’s edge. Given the day we had experienced, I was probably fuelled as explosively as a nuclear reactor. I filled my lungs and bellowed: “Max! Come!!!!” His head shot up and, like a rocket, he zoomed up from the water, raced along the drive, and skidded to a halt to a sit at my feet. As I clipped on his leash, a thought flashed into my head: So that’s what Gary Gibson meant when he said that a command had to sound like a command! As for Max, he padded demurely beside me all the way home and settled down for a nap on his rug by the window. Guard Dog Off Duty without a care in the world.

Episode Sixty-two: Guard Dog off Duty!