Border Collie vs. the Wildlife of Burnaby, British Columbia

What. A. WEEK!

We’re staying in a renovated sunroom in Burnaby, British Columbia. Burnaby is what you call a suburb of Vancouver. The AirBnb is pretty and well-lit, but it’s been excruciatingly hot since coming to Burnaby. Kayla and I have been doing a lot of early morning runs and late night – which takes me to the height of this week.

(In case you forgot, I saw another vet while we were in Issaquah who cleared me to start training for running again. I feel amazing, especially with the supplements that I’ve been getting. About a month into training, I’m back up to running 12 miles! I feel like a pup).

A Run to Remember

Last Wednesday, Kayla put on my canicross harness and stuffed poop bags, a water bottle, and citronella spray into her hip belt. It was just starting to cool off around 8 pm. We headed out, trotting towards Deer Lake.

It felt so darn good – the wind in my fur, the scents flowing over me. Pine, deer, a faint hint of curry. The world is so delicious!

Kayla let me jump in the lake a few times as we snaked our way around.

I caught a whiff of something odd – ancient and scary. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something long and ribbonlike uncoiling, slithering away. A snake! Kayla saw it a moment before I did and asked me to sit. I did, staring at it intently. It was just a garter snake – but it was thrilling.

We waited a moment, and then Kayla told me to get going. I put the snake out of my mind and turned to my run.

Real Adventure Awaits

Tongue lolling and spirits high, I padded on with Kayla in tow. I zoned out a bit, slowing to trot next to Kayla rather than pulling ahead. Running became meditative.

Right as we hit the four-mile mark, we turned out of the park and towards the highway. A four-lane highway roared to our left and a wall of thick blackberry brambles towered to our left.

Suddenly, Kayla stopped dead. She told me to “carwash,” so I stuck my head between her legs and looked up, waiting for a treat. Her breathing was a bit tight, oddly shallow given our pace. She gathered up all the slack in my leash and started praising me as we almost ran backward.

True to my training, I stated right with her. Her voice was so cheery, but her eyes were locked ahead of us instead of on me. This was weird. We don’t usually practice training while we’re running!

Then I saw it – a hulking black thing, between the sidewalk and the blackberries. It had swung its huge head towards us. As we backed away, it took a few steps in our direction. It lifted its head, its mouth slightly open. Sniffing.

We rounded a corner, and the bear slipped out of sight.

I looked up at Kayla, then dove after a stick that lay between our feet. Sticks always make me feel better when I’m stressed. I chomped it a few times, squinting my eyes and wagging hard. I couldn’t tell if Kayla was mad, but I wanted to let her know that I’m not a threat.

She sighed deeply, smiled at me, and asked me to drop it. Then she gave me our cue for turning around “This way,” and urged me onwards.

We trotted away from the bear. She sighed again, and I shook off, releasing all the tension in my spine.

The rest of the run was sunny, hot, benign. I flopped down and rolled on the carpet when we got home, reveling in the joy of exercise.

Wildlife of Burnaby Won’t Leave Us Alone

The next night, I woke with a start. I charged towards the door in a flurry of barking. Kayla groaned and came to see what was going on. She didn’t see anything and told me it was all ok. I sighed and flopped down at the base of the bed again. Andrew slept through the whole thing.

Just an hour or so later, I heard Kayla calling my name. She stood by the door in her Melanzana dress, looking simultaneously alarmed and bleary-eyed. She kept telling me to “Get it,” so I laid down and waited for a toy to appear.

I wagged my tail slightly, looking up at her. She rolled her eyes and pointed at a patch of carpet. I shoved my nose into it, inhaling deeply. It stunk of garbage, tinged with musk. I couldn’t lift my nose again, fascinated with the rich, fresh, scent.

Kayla jumped, looking towards the door. She once again told me to “Get it.”

Again, I laid down and waited for her to produce a toy. She grabbed my harness and put it on, then opened the door. I heard a rapid scurrying of claws, caught a glimpse of a ringed tail – and a waft of that same strong stench. I paused, then Kayla told me to “Get it.”

The chase was on.

I surged forward after it, with Kayla’s urging. The raccoon scampered up the nearest tree, pausing just out of what would be Andrew’s reach. I stood on my hind legs, barking and whining. Kayla praised and encouraged me. It was very strange, but I enjoyed it.

Usually, she doesn’t like when I chase things. I guess it’s different if they invade our home in the middle of the night?

Satisfied that I’d spooked the raccoon, Kayla called me off. I followed her and went back to sniffing the spot on the carpet where it had stood.

Kayla slid closed the screenless window. It must have come in through there, searching for table scraps.

We crawled back into bed. Andrew slept on.

In Other News

Aside from all the wildlife, our time in British Columbia has been delightful. We went climbing in Squamish – check out this video of Kayla on a rock climb!

I love being a crag dog. I slept and got my butt scratched while they climbed.

We also went blackberry picking in a local park. I discovered how delicious they are and started eating them right off the vine. Yum!


Kayla and Andrew have been going on a lot of dates without me, too. That’s fine I guess. I’m just happy that I get to go running so much. Aren’t my humans cute?

I think I’ll keep them.

Author: Barley The Dog

Barley is a four year old border collie who absolutely loves fetch. His zest for life keeps Kayla and Andrew on their toes. He’s also really, really, ridiculously good looking.

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