Goldarnit, dogs are good. They’re so good and pure and kind that – as my friend Emma said today – they kind of make my stomach hurt. Just like everyone on the internet these days, I have a dog-cycle that whirls from I Need a Dog to I Can’t Have a Dog to Desperate Sadness and then whirls back to the beginning again.
Cats and horses and goats are all nice, too, but let’s be real – dogs are where it’s at. They’re earnest in their fluffiness and so trusting in their goofiness that you just can’t help but adore them. If you have the right dog in your life, you know they’re listening when you chatter to them about this and that (as you know you do) and you get the sense that they actually kind of care. They know just the right time to rest a fluffy snout on your knee or come galloping over with their tongues hanging out to plant their muddy paws all over you as if to say it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.
In any event, my only dog-access these days comes courtesy of Dani’s parents, who wisely replaced her with a golden retriever puppy the second she left for university five years ago. Max the Dog comes with all of the typical golden retriever qualities – he’s sweet and doofy and he loves water almost as much as he loves people. This weekend, we scooped Max up from the Marshalls in Winfield and brought him to Spion Kopje, a popular hiking spot for Lake Country residents.
Spion Kopje (correctly pronounced spee-on kop, but largely known locally as simply spine cop) is named after the site of a bloody and pointless battle that took place in South Africa during the Boer War – somewhere in the era of 1900, and just what you want to think about while hiking on a bright Saturday. Rumour has it Lake Country’s Spion Kopje was named by Leslie Caesar, an early-ish settler of the area and veteran of the Boer War. As a side note – Leslie’s brother Northcote wrote a long narrative poem about his life, including lots of fascinating details about early European settlement in the Okanagan (the Kelowna stuff, including details about Ogopogo, starts at page 25).
I digress – Max and Dani and I headed up the west side of Spion Kopje, following the ‘orange’ path. The paths are marked extraordinarily well, and it’s easy to get where you want to go. Lots of puddles marked the way, which meant Max flopped belly-down in each of them to just make sure he got as muddy and wet as he possibly could. When not engaged in muckiness, he sprinted gleefully out ahead of us and up and down the hills. I always get the sense that dogs are trying to be impressive – they just want you to think they’re cool, sporty dogs. “Remember how I’m like, descended from wolves? I totally am. Anyways, do you have any treats? Am I a good boy?!!?”
The basics of hiking with dogs – and stuff you really do know anyways, if you’re lucky enough to have a pup:
- Carry bags to scoop their poop. Just do it.
- Keep a leash with you, even in off-leash areas. You know your dog, and you know if you need to keep them on a leash. Just be aware that there might be people who are afraid of dogs, or other dogs (even ON leash) who might not be thrilled about a golden retriever rocketing towards them at the speed of light.
- Bring water for your dog, even on a cool day – ripping up and down the hillsides gets tiring for a floofy pup and a drink of water is always nice.
- Make sure you’re in a dog-friendly park or area – respect the rules of the park and if you’re not allowed to have your dog off-leash, don’t.
Anyways, here’s what you’re all here for, no? Max pictures: