Monthly Archives: August 2009

Are they really monsters?

americanpitbull1

A few days ago, a co-worker comes into my office and starts to shoot the breeze with me. The topic of dogs comes up which moves on to me mentioning volunteering with dogs, pitbulls in particular. His immediate response was:

“Oh pfft! Those dogs are terrible and attack people all the time”

To which I reply-probably too emphatically: “Pit bulls aren’t necessarily bad, it’s certain people who buy them and don’t socialize/train them/secure their yard properly and who abuse the dogs who are bad!”

He says that he reads all the reports of attacks and asserts that there is something “genetically” wrong with the breed. We continue to argue (Yah, I’m stubborn!) until he gets fed up and says “Well I gotta go. See you later”

I’m not big on having heated debates at work and am really not a fan of unnecessary conflict, but when the topic of pitbulls and animal welfare in general come up, I have to speak my mind. Now, I am not a certified dog expert, but there is one thing of which I am certain- If you neglect/abuse/bait an animal-any animal-dog or human-there is a strong chance that they will develop severely anti-social tendencies and hurt others. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happens with many pits, many of whom are also forced into dog fighting. Then when they escape and wreck havoc, they are euthanized and their breed banned. Why is it that the dogs are punished so severely and not the asshole owners? Why is it that (before the ban) any Joe Blow could buy a large and powerful dog like a pitbull?

Truthfully, not everyone can handle pits. They need a LOT of work, socializing and stimulation and yes there is a possibility of animal aggression. (Like with any other breed) Plus-Pits have high pain thresholds and are physically very powerful. My co-worker is right about one thing though-Originally, pits were bred for dog fighting which genetically might put some of their descendents at a higher risk for aggression, but they were also used as babysitters for children around this time. Their origins also pose another question:

How can we punish all pitbulls when they are something we created through inter-breeding? How is that fair to the animal? Rather than banning and killing them, shouldn’t we be trying to improve them?

Anyway, I should also mention that the happiest, most affectionate dogs I encountered while volunteering at the shelter were pitbulls. Their energy was infectuous, their smiles were heart warming and their kisses slobbery. Despite being abused by humans, these pits forgave and forgot and just wanted love and direction.  One of my favorite pits-Sharky-is a great example of the breed. He happily lives with a bunch of other animals in Texas.

Back to Reality

Well its back to reality-Life in Ottawa and our routines. I haven’t been loving having to get up at 6am and the daily two hour commute, but it has been good to be back with our zany animals and my cooking supplies. Fall is about to begin and I have already packed my calendar with social activities, new classes at the rec center and my brain is already buzzing with Fall-themed desserts.

But here are some things I’ve been pondering since returning to Ottawa almost three weeks ago:

-After sitting for FAR too long in a bus that was idling in rush hour traffic, why oh why doesn’t Ottawa have a train that goes from one end of the city to the other? Will the dream of rapid public transit ever become a reality here?

Brain%20Age

-Has anyone ever played Brain Age? If so, is it and the Nintendo DS worth buying? I’m trying to find new ways of distracting myself during these ass numbing commutes.

DuparcWomanKnitting

-Speaking of distracting myself on the bus-Is knitting something anyone can do if they try hard enough? I’m not great with textiles, but it seems like a very practical hobby.

-Anyone interested in a trek to the “Peace Garden” restaurant  sometime? I’d like to organize a little dinner outting there.

This Fall, I am also going to try out some new festivals/craft sales along with the usual ones and will bring my camera along. Having this blog has really inspired me to take photographic documentation of my latest excursions.

What are your plans for Fall?

Our Last days in Victoria

I was determined to make the most out of the last few days of our trip and thought why not start with doing something crazy? So we went to a place called “Wildplay” in Nanaimo. Wildplay is like a small amusement park for stoners, teenagers and thrill-seeking tourists. They offer activities like jumping off a bridge on a bungee cord, ziplining across a canyon and swinging on a giant swing. We (or I should say I, since hubby wanted no part in any of this crap) picked the zipline.

After signing the long waivers, we waited and waited while hubby paced and looked around nervously, until finally, our tanned ‘instructors’ came by, put us in harnesses and ran us through a practice run between two trees. All systems were a go. I tried to give off an air of fun exuberance but frankly I was scared-We were soon going to be hovering 150 feet in the air with very little water down below to break our fall, should something disastrous happen. But luckily it went well and it was pretty fun.

Ziplining-Nanaimo, BC.-Me

One thing I should mention about ziplining, however, is that you’re VERY susceptible to wind direction changes which turn you and make you face the wrong way on the line and you tend to get stuck. Yes stuck. I got stuck both times and was scared as hell and hubby got stuck right after some girl jumped off the bridge on the bungee cord. So he was stranded up in the air when he suddenly heard this bloodcurdling scream behind him, which fair to say, unnerved him just a “little” bit. LOL. Luckily, however, when you get stuck the instructors with their spiffy gloves (as partly show in the top right hand corner) come out to get you and drag you back onto a platform.

After leaving the park, we decided to visit a wild bird sanctuary that was on the way back to Victoria. I have a slight fear of large birds, but they are beautiful and I thought it could be fun. We saw cuties like this guy, named Elton:

Bird sanctuary-Owl

and this handsome devil..

Bird sanctuary-Demo-Closeup.

..and this huge bald eagle

Bird sanctuary-Bald Eagle3

We also saw some Laughing Kookaburras named Boomer and Roo:

Bird sanctuary-Kookaberras                       “Hee hee!”                              

Some of the birds there were unfortunate victims of flying into telephone wires. They were found electrocuted and missing hair, but were rehabilitated thanks to the people at this centre.

The next day after doing some shopping we boarded a water taxi..

Victoria-Water taxi

..and headed off for tea at Point Ellice House, which is one of the oldest houses in the region and a former socializing venue of Victoria’s upper crust.

Victoria-Ellice House-Afternoon tea

Hmmm..tea, cake and scones…

Victoria-Ellice House-Food It always comes back to food with me doesn’t it? 😉

We also toured inside the old house and saw how rich people liked to decorate back in the day. They seemed to have had a fondness for cluttered shelves and busy wallpaper:

Victoria-Ellice House-Kitchen

as well as for headless mannequins:

Victoria-Ellice House-Bedroom

and creepy photos of little girls holding dolls:

Victoria-Ellice House-Doll pic

Personally, I liked this room, it was chock full of gorgeous stuff:

Victoria-Ellice House2

So that’s it folks, Point Ellice was our last activity in Victoria and we left for Ottawa the next day. (August 7) It was a great vacation and badly needed but we needed to get back to reality and our furbabies. (Plus, I was running out of money. The province dubbed “Bring.Cash” was rapidly draining my financial safety net)

We were sad to leave, but looking forward to new adventures back home. 🙂

Cool Things of Note in Victoria, BC

August 4-7, 2009

We packed a lot of activities for our last week in B.C. But first, I’m going to mention some of the things we saw and experienced during our last week that were completely random and unexpected. During my last post, I forgot to mention the amazing restaurant we visited after whale watching. It’s called “The Pink Bicycle” and their veggie burgers are the best I have ever eaten! (Better than White Spot or The Works) They have three different kinds-three!-and we sampled the black bean and portabella burgers. SO freakin’ good!:

Pink Bicyle restaurant-Food

The fries and sauce were delicious too and they had some cool wall art:

Pink Bicycle restaurant

If you’re ever in Victoria, go to this restaurant. You won’t regret it! After eating, we also shopped around a bit and I spotted some interesting stuff along the way and of course snapped photos.

Victoria-Lingerie store

We also saw this lingerie/sex shop. Do you remember Rainbow Brite?Well now you can dress up like her AND turn on your signficant other! Woo! Who doesn’t find 80s toons or programming “sexy” honestly? (Note-I didn’t find any Teddy Ruxpin or Polkaroo costumes. Shucks! LOL)

We also spotted this guy on the boardwalk. Hubby dropped some change into his pot and he changed his pose to say thanks!

Victoria-Harbour tourist area

On our way home,  we also saw this sign and I loved it!

Victoria-Attack penguin sign

It says “Beware of Attack Penguin” and I must have them-The penguin and the sign! LOL. After touristing around all day, we also drank bubble tea from the best place there-Panacea.

Victoria-Bubble tea

Vancouver and Victoria have a very large Asian population and that equals lots of bubble tea, sushi and Chinese restaurants. Which is awesome! At Panacea, they mix up different flavours, creating some tasty combinations. I thought you needed “special” equipment to make the stuff, but all you really need is a blender and tapioca pearls. (Plus, some other commonly found ingredients) Since I love the stuff WAY too much, I’ve decided to try and make my own at some point.

Well that’s it for this post, I’ll leave you with one more picture that I took of the moon from our B&B balcony. We got upgraded at no extra cost for the nice room and I could have spent all night on that balcony meditating and looking at stars.

B&B-Night

Just one more post and that will be it for our trip in B.C.! 🙂

Next couple days-Bug Zoo and Whale Watching

August 4-5, 2009

On Tuesday, we decided to do some browsing around Victoria and went to a Bug Zoo. I have a love/nervous relationship with bugs-Their fascinating and have been around for millions of years, but many of them also scare the living shit out of me. But I like testing my own limits and fears, so we went and looked at all the creepy crawlies, like the cockroach being shown here:

Bugzoo1Of course, not all of them are freaky and some are considered quite beautiful, like these butterflies. The bottom butterfly is beyond gorgeous 

Beautiful butterfliesHere is a tarantula. Tarantulas (unless their poisonous and/or very aggressive) don’t bother me as much as smaller spiders. It sounds weird but when I was working at a zoo similar to this one years back, I actually liked holding the Pink Toes and Chileans, they’re very docile and the pads on their feet are so delicate. I didn’t hold this guy during our stint in this zoo in Victoria though.

TarantulaBut I did hold this friendly little guy, I don’t remember what species he is, I was more excited to be holding him before all the little kids got to. Heheh.

Me and bugAnd just for fun, I took a picture of this “roach house”. I don’t see a TV in there though, poor roaches, no “Maury” for you! 😉

Cockroach house

The next day, we went whale watching and to put it as succintly as possible, it was freezing and a bit of a panic when the whales finally emerged but it was awesome!  These majestic beasts are so beautiful up close!

Whale watching-Victoria-Whales together

Whale watching-Victoria8Here is the closest picture I took before my damn camera ran out of memory and I sat and grumbled “damn camera!” while quickly trying to delete old photos. Those whales come right up to the boat to check you out.

Whale watching-Victoria-Closeup of whale

I asked our tour guide and local marine biologist on how to help the whales and she said the usual-We need to cut down on pollution, whale hunting and garbage, but we also need to stop buying farmed salmon. Why? Because farmed salmon breeds sea mites which attack baby  salmon when they pass under the farming areas, thus killing them and reducing their numbers. Which provides less food for the whales. Also, just FYI-farmed salmon is grey and has to be dyed with chemicals pink. That in itself should make you question where you buy this fish.

The Gardens

We decided on Monday to visit two major gardens-The Butterfly Gardens and the Buchart Gardens. After a short pleasant drive, we found the large green house where a cornocopia of butterflies, plants, flowers and more exotic birds were held. It was humid, but so beautiful in there and more moderately priced at $12/person.

Butterfly gardens13

Here are some of the flowers that thrived, there were so many it was hard to pick what to photograph.

Butterfly gardens2

They also had some ponds and waterfalls with beautiful koi fish.

Butterfly gardens-Koi fish

Here is a rarely seen Owl butterfly, named for the “eyes” on its wings:

Butterfly gardens-Owl butterflyHere is a black butterfly, one of many:

Butterfly gardens12…and a cute orange and black guy perching on a leaf. There were literally hundreds of butterflies in there and it was so cool to seem them flutter around and drink dew.

Butterfly gardens14

Next up was the Buchart Gardens which was conveniently situated just down the road. Like the Vancouver Aquarium, it was a bit more of a tourist trap and hence had inflated prices and hordes of tourists.

Buchart Gardens-EntranceIt was nice there though..

Buchart Gardens9..with lots of beautiful flowers. Now why can’t I grow beauties like these at home?

Buchart Gardens10

Buchart Gardens-Animal statuesWe walked down a forest path and found these animals made out of hedges or something. Aren’t they cute?

Buchart Gardens-Fish fountainI thought I got the perfect shot of this fish fountain, until I got home and spotted the yutz in the white shirt standing to the right, messing up my picture. Well, like I said, its a tourist trap so its hard to expect photos with no other people in them.

Buchart Gardens-Spanish pond

More cool greenery and water. After finishing up here, hubby and I drove around Victoria looking for a place to eat lunch. It was BC Day so most stores and restaurants were closed, but luckily we found one Vietnamese place that was open and had great noodles and coconut water. It was probably a good thing that nothing was open, because by then we were pretty tired and wanted to relax in the B&B. Tomorrow is another day…

The Wedding and Leaving for the Island

We spent Friday night apart-Hubby was at the groom’s bachelor party, while I was invited to get my nails done with the bride and her bridesmaids.  On Saturday morning, I got my hair done and split a taxi with some Aussie friends of the groom’s who were staying at the same hotel as us. We were all dolled up and on our way to the wedding, which was held at Simon Fraser University. Our cab driver was a charismatic fellow who handed me his card and told me he ran a “talk show” ala Frasier out of his cab. He primarily helped couples with relationship issues.  He said he’s “seen it all” in all his years of driving and has met lots of couples. Most cabbies I know just drive, they don’t moonlight as a therapist, but whatever. Anyway, the wedding was beautiful and while I can’t share pictures of the bride or groom with you guys, but here is a picture of the view from the back porch:

View from Fraser University

We were both exhausted as the night wore on and I called the same cab driver to take us home. Unfortunately some very rude woman picked up and gave me another number to call, which I phoned but she picked up again and gave me another number, thus giving me the runaround.  So, cab driver/talk show host-Please don’t give people a card and tell them to call later that night unless you actually plan on picking them up. That or fire your receptionist.

Luckily, however, a couple gave us a ride back to our hotel room and they spent most of the ride arguing. Ahh, marriage! This what our newlyweds get to look forward to: Someone to argue with and annoy for the rest of your life! LOL. I kid, marriage is great! Hubby-There is no one else I love to bug more than you! *kiss* 😉

The next day, we ate one more delicious breakfast at White Spot and bid our hotel adieu to depart for Victoria. That day was stressful and hot, but when we arrived at our B&B, we were warmly welcomed by the lovely Austrian woman who ran the place. We were also a bit relieved to be out of the hussle and bussle of Vancouver and into a smaller town that was distinctly Victorian and very charming.

Victoria harbourHere is a shot of Victoria’s Legislature building. Beautiful!

Victoria Legislature

And here is a nod to B.C’s many Aboriginal tribes with some totems:

Victoria-Totems

It was time for some relaxing and indulging exclusively on what we wanted to do. Which turned out to be visiting gardens and bug zoos, whale watching, shopping and one other exciting activity that scared hubby half to death! Stay tuned for more posts on our adventure in B.C!