Sun, sand and a yurt

We are pretty big on camping (the tenting kind that is), but this year with a toddler and 7 month old in tow, we decided on a family GLAMPING trip! Vancouver Island has so many great options when it comes to finding a nice beach spot, and of course, we needed dog-friendly accommodations! We didn't have to look long before we found Seaview Game Farm. So we packed up the kids and dog and left Nanaimo for a yurt. 

 Sunrise from the yurt

Sunrise from the yurt

The yurt was nestled right on the beach, which was basically derserted, save for all the sea creatures. Perfect for toddler and adult exploring alike, with tons of little treasures to be found!

Much to my delight, the farm also had these little darling Scottish Highland Cattle. My absolute favourite! 

 Scottish Highland Cattle

Scottish Highland Cattle

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The farm features fresh local vegetables when in season, venison and grass fed beef. They also have goats, alpacas, llamas and a nice little playground for the kids. 

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All and all we had the most fantastic time here. If you are looking for a little local getaway (and love animals), I'd highly recommend the farm. You are also a stones throw away from Miracle Beach,  a meadery and a whisky distillery! 

So long to the yurt and summer, we will see you again next year. 

 Beary taking a siesta.

Beary taking a siesta.

Spring is in the air

I was born and raised in Victoria, B.C., and I can't think of anything more spring-like than a stroll in Beacon Hill Park to enjoy the beautiful flowers and cherry blossoms. 

 Cherry blossoms at  Beacon Hill Park

Cherry blossoms at Beacon Hill Park

The spring flowers were in full bloom, which was definitely a pick me up after the drab and snow filled winter we experienced this year. 

 Tulips at Beacon Hill Park

Tulips at Beacon Hill Park

I'm sure at this point in the blog you are wondering where are the animals?! Not to worry, it's coming. As a child, I spent many hours volunteering at the Beacon Hill Children's Farm. I wanted to become a veterinarian as long as I could remember, so I jumped on any opportunity to work with animals. It's fun to go back now with my kids. I get to see it all over again from their eyes. The goats are definitely the main attraction. The kids can brush and pet them to their little hearts content. 

 Mama goat with her kid

Mama goat with her kid

The peacocks were out proudly displaying their full plumage. Their calls are iconic and can be heard from afar. 

 Stunning male peacock displaying his feathers

Stunning male peacock displaying his feathers

Some of the animals, like the miniature horse Peanut Butter, have been at the farm since I was a kid! 

 MIniature horse Peanut Butter with her Miniature donkey friends

MIniature horse Peanut Butter with her Miniature donkey friends

Of course, no trip to Beacon Hill Park can be complete without stopping in at the Beacon Drive-In. Fries and soft serve ice cream...yes, please! 

So next time you find yourself in Victoria, make sure to put Beacon Hill Park on your list of places to visit. In truth, my 3 year old spent most of the time following the ducks around the ponds and somehow managed not to fall in!

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The Salmon Run

Growing up as a child, some of my fondest memories are of spending time in nature. Every year, my parents would take us to Goldstream Park for the annual salmon run. This year, we wanted my son to experience the fun and excitement of watching the salmon during the spawning run. We were happy to find the Nanaimo River Hatchery put on a wonderful event right here in Nanaimo.

The event acts as a fundraiser for the organization with admission by donation. They even had free coffee and fudge (sadly we did not discover this until the end...next year)!

 Salmon out in full force

Salmon out in full force

It was a bustling event with many families and kids heading out to learn all about salmon and their journey. They had a dissection station sure to amaze, delight and disgust the wee ones!

 Dissection table

Dissection table

There were tons of great activities for the kids including a fishing game, adopt a fish and release it back into the stream, fish painting, prints and more!

 Fishing hole

Fishing hole

 Adopt a fish!

Adopt a fish!

 Painting fish to make prints.

Painting fish to make prints.

So all in all, this was a fabulous event and I would highly recommend it to anyone who simply wants to learn more about the salmon spawn and protecting this incredible and vital part of our ecosystem. My favourite part? $5 salmon burgers! Amazing! I am already looking forward to next years event. 

My Adventure: Remote spay/neuter clinic

Earlier this spring, I was privileged to take part in a remote spay and neuter clinic with the Canadian Animal Assistance Team (CAAT). I have long wanted to partake in one of these amazing clinics, so when a project came up serving some of the communities in Clayoquot I jumped on it.

CAAT provides vaccination/deworming, and spay/neuter to remote communities that otherwise would not have access to veterinary care. In this case, the Coastal Animal Rescue & Education Network (CARE Network) worked with CAAT and First Nations communities to ensure as many animals could access the clinic as possible.

We headed out early on a Friday morning to Tofino and from there took a small boat (SEVERAL trips with all the people and equipment) over to Opitsaht. The Opitsaht community was our host for this event with the clinic being held in their community hall.

 Beautiful community of Opitsaht

Beautiful community of Opitsaht

The team flowed so well, it was as if we had all been working together for years. Everyone pitched in, and before we knew it an entire clinic (including surgery/prep, intake, vaccine/exam station, recovery and education area) was set up!

 Kennels set and up ready to go for intake!

Kennels set and up ready to go for intake!

After a busy night of set up a good night sleep was in order, but not before checking out the wild cow population on the island! 

 Wild cow munching on eel grass

Wild cow munching on eel grass

 Enjoying the beautiful beaches of Meares Island

Enjoying the beautiful beaches of Meares Island

The next day, we were up early and began the clinic! We saw many members of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations who were so happy and thankful to receive this care for their pets. Many owners stayed with their pets often chatting side by side while we were performing surgery on their animals, and assisting during the recovery!

 Cat spay with a veterinary student looking on

Cat spay with a veterinary student looking on

 Getting a heart rate on this beautiful boy before his neuter surgery

Getting a heart rate on this beautiful boy before his neuter surgery

 Stunning mama cat with her kittens. She was spayed and quickly reunited with her little fuzzy bundles

Stunning mama cat with her kittens. She was spayed and quickly reunited with her little fuzzy bundles

The clinic was held over Saturday and Sunday, and included trips into neighbouring communities to vaccinate, and bring as many animals to the clinic as possible. All in all 27 surgeries and 55 vaccinations/dewormings were completed! 

I can't wait to do my next CAAT project. They are one of the most amazing organizations I have ever come across and the work they are doing in simply incredible! 

 See you again soon!

See you again soon!

A few of my favourite things: Cows, cheese and wine

Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and MooBerry Winery is possibly one of my favourite places to visit on Vancouver Island. With toddler in tow, we headed up for a morning of fun. It's always nice to take off my "veterinarian's hat" for a few minutes and just enjoy being around animals. 

I've always felt that knowing where one's food actually comes from is so important. I buy local if I can and try to support small businesses. The dairy industry has taken some big hits recently and criticism for animal abuse. Little Qualicum Cheeseworks is a SPCA certified farm. So what does that mean exactly? Well, they have to meet some pretty high standards as well as pass on-site inspections. 

Check out the BC SPCA's website for a list of SPCA certified farms.

 Look for SPCA certified signs!

Look for SPCA certified signs!

Something pretty special recently happened at the farm. They installed a state of the art robotic milking machine! Robotic milking machines have been around for a while, but you don't see them very often on small scale operations. So what the heck is a robotic milking machine?! Well to put it simply, it allows the cows to milk themselves when they feel full! Many also have the technology to monitor the cows of mastitis (infection of the mammary gland). All of which equal improved animal welfare.

 Is it my turn yet?!

Is it my turn yet?!

 Giant brush in case the girls have an itch they need scratched!

Giant brush in case the girls have an itch they need scratched!

You can really get up close and personal with these girls. They are some happy cows! It's been shown through numerous published scientific studies that happy cows produce more milk. Seems like a win win to me.

 Happy cows!

Happy cows!

Now we certainly can't forget about the cheese. At Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, they produce the cheese on site. You can also sample any of the cheeses before you buy. Be warned though, you may want to buy them all!

 Making cheese.

Making cheese.

 Glorious, copious amounts of cheese!

Glorious, copious amounts of cheese!

Now for the wine connoisseurs out there, don't forget to check out their fruit wines. Apple is my absolute favourite in the summer months. The neat thing is, their flavours change with each batch they make, so they are different all the time. Construction is currently underway for an outdoor patio for their new cafe! (I literally cannot wait)!

Next time you are in the Qualicum area stop by and check out the farm. See what happy cows look like, and use it as a fabulous learning experience for your kids!

*Haven Veterinary Services provides small animal mobile veterinary services in Nanaimo, Lantzville, Nanoose and Ladysmith.*  

Dog Friendly Ucluelet

When the weather on Vancouver Island gets a little rainy and gloomy, I can't think of anywhere better to be than snuggled up in a cabin in Tofino or Ucluelet. 

This year, we decided as a family Christmas present, we would spend a few days in Ucluelet. Being a pet mom, the first order of business was to find a dog friendly rental. Thankfully, Ucluelet is very dog friendly!

We decided to stay at Terrace Beach Resort in a cabin right on the beach. Check out the view!

Twist made herself right at home, which was not only allowed, but encouraged. Blankets, towels, dishes and treats were all provided!

 Does this mean I get to go on the furniture at home now?!

Does this mean I get to go on the furniture at home now?!

We lucked out with some wonderful weather, so the beach was the place to be! Twist's nose was either to the ground or up in the air taking in all the glorious smells. The wee man laughed as he ran from the incoming waves or took a spill. I was blessed to grow up on Vancouver Island and going to the beach has always been a staple in my life.

 Let's play ball!

Let's play ball!

 A boy and his dog.

A boy and his dog.

We explored the Wild Pacific Trail to Amphitrite Point Lighthouse. 

 Amphitrite Point Lighthouse

Amphitrite Point Lighthouse

 Locks of Love on the Wild Pacific Trail

Locks of Love on the Wild Pacific Trail

Of course, no trip to Tofino or Ucluelet is complete without my favourite halibut fish tacos from Wildside Grill in Tofino. 

 Seriously, the best fish tacos in the world!

Seriously, the best fish tacos in the world!

I'm still dreaming of this little gem of a resort we found in Ucluelet. Until next time!

Let's talk dog park etiquette!

I’ve frequented off leash dog parks for years. Many veterinarians come to curse the dreaded offleash park. My dog Twist isn’t good offleash, she enjoys chasing deer and treeing squirrels a bit too much, so a good fenced in offleash park is just the ticket to let her run free.

Over the years, I’ve seen many a bite wound and unhappy pet owner after a romp in the local dog park.

It got me thinking about offleash dog park etiquette. What can we do to make the experience more enjoyable for us and our furry companions?

   
  
 
  
    
  
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                                                                                Twist at full speed at  Wardropper Park  in Nanaimo

                                                                            Twist at full speed at Wardropper Park in Nanaimo

Here are my top 10 tips for having a good time at the dog park:

#1 It’s an “offleash” park. Do not walk your dog on a leash when other dogs are offleash. It almost guarantees an unhappy encounter with other dogs.

#2 Pick up after your dog. Most offleash dog parks provide doggy do do bags and appropriate receptacles. No one wants to scrape excrement off their shoes when they get home.


#3 Don’t bring your unvaccinated 8 week old puppy to the dog park for “socialization”. Just don’t.

#4 Leave the toys at home. Imagine a daycare with 10 toddlers and one toy. Need I say more?

#5 Follow the rules. Dog parks generally post a list of rules that they would like everyone to adhere too. They’re simple and there for a reason (for example, don’t bring your unspayed female dog that is in heat).

#6 If your dog isn’t “dog friendly”, an offleash park probably isn’t an appropriate place to go. Stick to on leash trails where you have better control over your furry friend.

#7 If your dog starts being a “jerk”, correct them.

#8 Keep your dogs’ vaccines, deworming and flea control up to date. Dog parks are like cess pools for those things!

                   One of these days I will scoop up some of this mud and have a look under the microscope...I'll be sure to post what I find!

                  One of these days I will scoop up some of this mud and have a look under the microscope...I'll be sure to post what I find!

#9 If your dog does get into a squabble with another dog, remain calm, avoid getting in between the dogs if you can (throw water on them if you have some handy or pull them apart by their back legs) and seek prompt veterinary attention (puncture wounds are always the “tip of the iceberg”).

#10 Have fun! Get off your cellphone and enjoy your dog. :)

                                                                                  Bathtime! Avec stylish aprons at  Dog N Suds

                                                                                 Bathtime! Avec stylish aprons at Dog N Suds

                                                                                                  Are we done yet mom?!

                                                                                                 Are we done yet mom?!

Goats and fungi and forests oh my!

One of the things I love about living on Central Vancouver Island is that there is always a myriad of little adventures to be had.

Fall and winter is one of my favourite times to visit Coombs Country Market. With most of the tourists gone for the season it allows for a slower pace to browse and enjoy. A visit to the market is never complete without checking out the goats that make up the famous “goats on the roof”. The wee man found the goats especially interesting this visit.

After Coombs we headed off to the Heritage Forest in Qualicum. This wheelchair accessible trail through the forest is great for fido and strollers (not that wee man actually sat in his stroller)!

The forest was particularly tranquil that day and there was lots of exploring to be had!

Fungi seem to be in full “bloom” this time of year and I got to thinking about my days working emergency when we would often receive calls about possible mushroom ingestion and concerns about toxicity.

Most mushrooms are not toxic to animals, but some are deadly. The hardest part is identifying the fungi (well for me anyways)! The most common toxicities are due to mushrooms in the genus Amanita (which cause 95% of all human mushroom fatalities). Signs of toxicity can take as little as 30 minutes to occur or up to days depending on the type of shroom ingested. Initial signs could include gastrointestinal (vomiting and diarrhea) or neurological (disorientation, falling over and tremors) and can rapidly progress to seizures and death if not treated promptly.

If your pet has ingested a mushroom, what should you do? If there are any left, collect a mushroom and place it in a paper bag and refrigerate until it can be identified (usually by a mycologist or fungi expert). Seek IMMEDIATE veterinary attention. Veterinarians can safely administer an emetic (drug to induce vomiting). This is best done within 30 minutes of ingestion. Keep in mind, when using an emetic usually only 60% of the stomach contents are brought up.  Your veterinarian may recommend supportive care (intravenous fluids, activated charcoal) and close monitoring of bloodwork to monitor blood glucose, liver and kidney values.

So enjoy your forest walks and hikes, but be aware that there are some mushrooms that are best left growing out of old tree stumps!