by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
I’ve just come back home from a 3-day, dog-sitting retreat to White Rock. It was a great mini-vacation and exactly what I needed after a long (for west coast standards) winter. I really needed a change of scene and dog-sitting for Topaz, the high-energy Weimaraner, did the trick.
I took the ferry to the mainland on Tuesday afternoon. But earlier that day at 7am, as I was driving past a park in Sidney, a little bunny rabbit raced across the road about 2 car-lengths ahead of me. All I saw was a cotton tail and I slowed down immediately. Then I saw a big dog, who was off-leash, behind him. The dog didn’t actually cross the street but I could tell that he really, really, really wanted to go. He was looking at the bunny and then looking at his “mother” and then looking at the bunny and was debating about going on the road. His mother, of course, was throwing commands left and right telling him to stay, and somehow he obeyed her. But it was touch and go there for a minute. As I drove past, she just knodded and waved to me in thanks for being a cautious driver. I was thinking to myself, “Is this some sort of foreshadowing of the next 3 days with Topaz?”
As it turned out, Topaz was a lot of fun and did not pull any shenanigans like that, thank goodness.
I arrived in White Rock around 3:30. I stopped at a wine store because I wanted to try a wine that would work well with the theme of my trip. My sister-in-law is originally from Chile and she was the one who invited me to dog-sit for Topaz while she and my brother and their kids and her side of the family went to Whistler. When I buy wine, I like to get a story. I told the wine merchant that I like Merlots and am on a budget and he wisely recommended Eco Balance Carmenere from Chile. On the label it says, “E — Enjoy life to the fullest, C — Care for the world around you, O — Open and share with family and friends.” The wine was delicious and exactly to my taste (with a little bit of spice) and I highly recommend it.
Topaz is so funny when he sleeps. He’s a big dog (s0mewhere around 80 pounds) and takes up a lot of territory. I like watching him arrange his blankets and pillows just so. And once he finally gets comfortable and falls asleep, he starts dreaming. Have you ever seen a Weimaraner run all out in his sleep? It’s fun to watch but hard to sleep next to.
The next morning I fed Topaz and then waited a couple of hours for his breakfast to settle before I took him for a walk. We went to Sunnyside Acres, a lovely forest nearby. He knew exactly where we were going and got more animated the closer we got to the park. And then he got mad at me for missing the turn off. When I finally parked the van, he pushed me out the door and couldn’t wait to get going.
I haven’t walked a dog in years and was a little nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. Topaz lead the way down the forest path while I jogged behind. I was glad he knew his way around the “Chickadee Loop” because it looked all green to me. He probably travelled 5 times the distance that I did from all of his side trips. He’d dart up ahead and then sniff something and then I’d catch up and then he’d come up from behind me and race ahead again. Occasionally, we’d see some other people and they all said how handsome he is. And nobody could pronounce, Weimaraner, by the way.
After about an hour, we managed to find our way back to the parking lot. I was so happy Topaz came when I called him every time I asked. He also let me put him on a leash when we were close to the road. He’s not a big fan of the leash and tries to grab it and effectively walks himself, (which is amusing but counterproductive). Once we were able to run a few feet, we made a great team and I give running with a race dog a big thumbs up! Topaz is so strong and fast and he pulled me along the path which made me fun faster than normal and I could feel the rhythm of our pace.
When we got back home after our first walk, I was feeling pretty tired. I took a shower and then headed to the Semiahmoo Mall to buy some groceries and some lunch. I walked by the Alive Health Food store on my way to the food court and had a nice chat with Shannon who gave me some free samples of Emergen-C, a Vitamin C drink. I love it when I find exactly what I need before I know I need it. I think the Vitamin C gave me the boost I needed for the rest of the day. And for lunch, I had a smoked salmon roll that was made fresh just for me. I felt so healthy.
Aside from walking Topaz, I spent the rest of my retreat researching ingredients for the home spa skin care book I’m writing. Sometimes it’s hard for us writers to find the space to write and I thoroughly appreciated the quiet time during my retreat.
And then on my way home to Victoria, I unexpectedly bumped into an old friend on the ferry. We had a great talk and I think both of us were happy to re-connect. It was one of those fluky “meant to be” moments in life which are always fun. So all in all my 3-day, dog-sitting retreat was a great success and I’m so happy I did it.
My 1st piece of advice
My advice to anybody who wants to get in better shape — ADOPT A WEIMARANER! If I took Topaz out for an hour run every day, come rain or shine, I’d be in the best shape of my life.
My 2nd piece of advice
If you desperately need a vacation, but are on a budget, offer to dog sit for a family with a nice puppy. Dog-sitting retreats have many built-in rewards. Not only will you get off the couch, you’ll feel better after doing a kindness for another living being.
My 3rd piece of advice
If you ever get the chance, take a walk with a dog through a forest on a sunny spring morning after a rain storm. It’s a positively invigorating and magnificent experience.