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Healthy Minds Healthy College

When life gets ruff, there is always my dogs

March 1, 2016

I have become a dog person – which is surprising to some of my family members – but now I cannot imagine my life without a dog or two around.

My first dog came into my life in 1999; a three year old Bichon Frisé named Rufus. He was the perfect dog to start a journey of dog ownership. My husband and I had moved to a northern BC community and I began the process of finding employment. Rufus saved my sanity during my hunt for employment. Rufus needed to be walked, so this forced me to get outside instead of staying in the house all day. Fresh air and a good walk kept me mentally healthy. There was nothing like walking a cute, fluffy white dog to start a neighbourly conversation.

Rufus came on all our adventures with us: Cross country skiing, mountain biking, hiking and camping. He was known to sit in a backpack while we were biking around town. He visited numerous job sites with my husband. The contractors in town all knew him. He travelled with us each time we moved to another province adjusting to each move easier than I. Rufus provided us with so much joy and he lived to be 14. An old dog in dog years.

Our house was empty without a dog around, so I was on the hunt for another dog to enrich our lives.

We went from small dog to large dog. We decided on a Golden Retriever. We picked Sheena up in July 2011. This was our first time as puppy owners. Sheena made puppy ownership a breeze. She was so easy to train. But we didn’t realize that a big head and big paws meant a big dog!! Sheena is a 75 pound female golden retriever.   We discovered very early that she does not enjoy Winnipeg summers. She is a cold weather dog; -350C and Sheena is curled up outside in the snow. She loves chasing the deer and rabbits. She loves to exercise and also loves to chill while at home.

Puppyhood with Sheena was such a breeze that we decided to get another Golden Retriever. Sierra DID NOT make puppyhood a breeze. I kept asking the vet what was wrong and she gently told me that there was nothing wrong and that Sierra was a very healthy, normal puppy! Our two Goldens have the same mother but you would not guess it. Sierra is the exact opposite of Sheena in every way!!! I spent the first 18 months alternating between threatening to give her up and maybe keeping her. Today, Sierra is three years old and I wouldn’t trade her for the world. She is such a wonderful dog. Although she is full of energy and doesn’t stop from the minute she wakes up until she goes to bed, she is the cuddliest dog I have ever met.

Dog Park





SIERRA (on the left) Sheena (on the right)

At first, Sheena was not impressed with the new addition to the family but enjoys Sierra’s company now. Sierra absolutely LOVES her big sister. She spends hours trying to get Sheena to play with her and if that doesn’t work, she finds something to take from the garage, through the doggie door into the back yard. Sierra does not enjoy being separated from her sister. She walks around looking for Sheena and won’t settle down until Sheena is around. We couldn’t even run with them separately; once, my husband was running with Sheena and I was lagging behind with Sierra and, well, forget that – that wasn’t going to fly. Sheena sat down and no amount of pulling was going to get her moving – my husband had to run with both dogs.

The dogs absolutely love the swimming pool/lake/river. We had to put a gate around the pool to keep Sierra out. As a puppy, she decided to jump in while the summer cover was on the pool.

Dogs on Deck

SHEENA (on the left) SIERRA (on the right)

Dog ownership enriches your life in ways I am not eloquent to express but I would be remiss if I did not mention that dog ownership is not for everyone; dog ownership is work and they cost money. But if you are ready to accept the work you will find the benefits of dog ownership far out-weigh any work. Dog ownership ties very deeply and personally to my sense of wellness and mental well-being.

Ready for dog ownership? Consider adopting a dog from many of the dog rescue organizations in the city. I have provided a link to three: