Things Which May Grow up to be Blogs

Day six of our winter house sit in Canada proved to be … interesting.  Skiing with our grandson, my mobile phone rings and it’s my wife, Louise.  She is 35 km away, visiting family with our car and had promised to ring upon arrival at the ski hill to pick us up.  I am reminded that sometimes things don’t go quite as planned.

“Don’t panic and try to stay calm.  You need to come to Leduc and meet me at the hospital … I might have broken my ankle”

Making a Case for Travel Insurance

House sitters, like the rest of the population, become sick or injured and it happens while house-sitting.  We were fortunate to have had a problem when at home, and in the grand scheme, a very little problem.  We’ve considered how things may have gone had our sit been in a place where we had no contacts.  A tip of the hat to all house sitters who’ve been laid out by illness or injury and made it – or are making it – through some tough days.  Louise?  Much improved and making fabulous progress.  Be advised, travel medical insurance is a great investment.

The Other Kids at the House Sit

Most of our house sits come with dogs.  We love working with them even though they can be a bit of extra work.  This sit had 3 dogs and they’re great.   The Sheepdogs are cool.  The large one, Opal, reminds me of the character The Dude from the movie The Big Lebowski.

When housesitting, walking the dog(s) presents a great opportunity to bribe – oops – train the dog(s).   I have a pocketful 0f treats to make me more interesting than whatever they are sniffing when we walk off leash – and with luck, this will help.  Or not.  Oh, and don’t forget the snowballs.  Sheepdogs have long hair growing in between the pads of their feet and along with their long hair coats, in winter you have to pluck the snowballs out of their feet after a walk.  It is quite the dance and the door so they don’t track the snow into the house.

The Three Cardinal Rules of House Sitting

If you don’t know, the first of the 3 cardinal rules of house sitting is:  don’t lose the animals.  Every morning this week has been cold, crisp and foggy.  The forest trees have been covered in a thick coat of frost and there is an overwhelming stillness.  With little wind, muted sounds and a mist, these are excellent off-leash dog walks.  The dog’s noses are very active and we surprise two deer in the forest who run.  I learn that these older dogs are darn quick.   Run.  Chase.  Hunt.  They have no chance of success, but for the dogs, it is primal instinct.  They love it.

My bribery and humble treats cannot compete with a live game chase and I am left to call their names while slowly walking to the house.  One of the dogs is kind enough to join me but the others are gone.  I am amazed as we all arrive home at roughly the same time but from different directions.  It’s nice when the animals cooperate with the first rule.

A New Canadian Olympic Winter Sport – Snow Shoveling

If you house sit anywhere in Canada during winter, you will shovel snow.  Less a sport and more labour, it is an imposed and sometimes grueling workout, especially when there’s lots of snow or it’s -25C and windy.  Oh, and don’t get me started on the ice.  It needs constant maintenance to ensure the snow is cleared and the ice is chopped away (so no one slips and falls and breaks their ankle).  If your New Years resolution is to improve your physical condition, a rural winter house sit in Canada should get things moving in the right direction.

And Now for Something Completely Different

“OMG! OMG!  Grandpa, there’s something in there!”  “What did you see?” I ask.  “Something big.  It’s in the forest right there!”

I’ve been hiking in Canadian forests for over 50 years and often have dogs with me.  If something was “right there” and 3 large dogs walk past with no response, there’s a strong chance this boy is trying to have me on.  Alas, wrong again.  The animal track is that of a Moose.  But where is it?  And how did the dogs not smell this?  Later that night, the dogs, again not barking stare silently through wire fence into the dark forest.  Curious, I shine the flashlight (torch) into the darkness and am shocked.  About 3 meters (10 feet) away is a very, very large moose.  I’ve never been this close to a wild moose.  She decides to spend a few days visiting us.  Tristin, the grandson, names her Becky.  He spends hours standing in the garden watching her eat trees and do Moose things.

Our Very Own Nature Show

There has been a lot of wildlife to see.  A Peregrine Falcon has twice flown close to the house.  A “round” of Robins numbering close to 50 perch in the trees surrounding the deck.  A beautiful owl watches the dogs and me from its perch in a tree.  Deer abound, often alone, but one morning almost 2 dozen walk through the property and the dogs – bless them – lose their collective minds.  Coyotes howl in the night, hawks circle looking for lunch, squirrels, bluejays, mice, rabbits, geese, ducks and one particularly amazing animal that may be a wolf-coyote cross.  A hybrid.  Completely calm.  An unnerving stare.  Wow, that’s a big puppy.

We make a lot of the winter weather and the challenges of house sitting in Canada during the dark season.  The truth is that if you can find a winter sit here, do so.  It’s fantastic.


Safe Travels

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