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Chester (bis)

This is the second of three blog entries on Chester.
The first was #0112, Chester.

Chester in our garden

Despite its name, the Tibetan Terrier is not a Terrier. At the time it was brought out of Tibet by Europeans, all dogs of its approximate size were called terriers, but in fact it's not in the Terrier family in the modern sense. Rather, it's a herding dog, bred to herd sheep or goats. The trouble is, it sometimes tries to herd people.

We had a runner on Orchard Lane, who lived not far down on the road. And when he ran by, Chester would chase him, nipping at his heels. This was more than annoying, for although Chester certainly wasn't trying to bite, there was a risk that his teeth could actually scratch or draw blood. The runner complained to us about it, and we tried to keep Chester indoors at the times when he generally ran. But we did not do what we probably should have, and completely stopped allowing to Chester to run freely in the neighborhood.

Chester generally did return home each evening to spend the night indoors. But on occasion, the night arrived and he had not returned. We would sometimes go out in the car looking for him, calling his name, and we might find him or we might not. One evening when we did not, our phone rang at about 3 AM. It was a Mr. Howell, across the street and two doors down, informing us that Chester was sitting in the center of our dead-end street, howling loudly at the full moon. I apologized, threw on a coat, and went out into the cold to drag the dog home.

Although we had to arrange for Chester's care for some of our vacations, we took him with us whenever possible. This included a trip to the Canadian island province of Nova Scotia. In those days, it was very easy to travel to Canada. You didn't even need a passport or any other special form of identification. Well it was easy for people. Chester, on the other hand, needed more documentation than we did. He couldn't get into Canada without a health certificate.

We drove up to Bar Harbor, Maine and caught the Bluenose car ferry to Yarmouth. The Bluenose took 10 hours to make the trip overnight, after which it turned around in two hours to return during the day. Chester, who always seemed to prefer solid ground, was not particularly happy on the ferry, because of its rocking motion. But he did settle in to sleep for the night.

However, he was really unhappy in the morning, when he would usually go outside to pee. From Chester's point of view, there was no "outside" available. Even when he was outdoors on the boat, the planking under his feet made him think that he was inside, and of course he was housebroken. He wasn't about to go on what he considered to be a "floor".

And I didn't know how to encourage him. Someone has since suggested that I might have peed over the side myself, but since I was on a public ferry, that didn't seem like a very good idea at the time. Finally, though, he seemed to get the idea, and I guess he really had to go badly. That's when I discovered that I had been so concerned about urging him to pee, that I hadn't particularly worried about which side of the boat I was on. I'm an old sailor, and I should have known better. Never pee upwind.

Once in Nova Scotia, we spent two weeks camping, which Chester seemed to thoroughly enjoy. The picture below shows Chester sharing a lunch with Margie on one of our campsite picnic tables. You can click on the image to see a slightly larger version, and then use the "Back" button to return here.

Chester in Nova Scotia (click to enlarge)

The return trip was also interesting. While the day was bright and sunny, a hurricane had passed by to the South a day or two before. The result was really large swells from the Southeast, which rocked the ferry from side to side. The ferry company usually made a good deal of money from gambling conducted on board, once they were outside US and Canadian territorial waters. But on this trip, the rocking made gambling impossible. Cards slid off the gaming tables, and balls jumped out of the roulette wheels and skittered across the floor. The gambling had to be suspended.

An enormous number of the travelers were also seasick, and the interior salons soon reeked with the smell of vomit. We went out onto the deck to get away from the odor, along with a number of other stalwart passengers who like us were not sick.

On deck, we watched the horizon tilt rhythmically from side to side as the boat rocked. Chester was on a leash, and found himself unable to stand in one place. When the boat tilted towards the port side, Chester found himself on a slope, and walked in that direction downhill. Of course the boat then tilted in the opposite direction and Chester walked the other way. As long as he was on his feet, he kept going back and forth. We basically picked him up and held him on our laps to keep him from having to be always on the move.

Although this has nothing to do with Chester, I might mention that at one point I went down to our car to get some snacks to eat, some Jell-O if I recall. The cars were all packed tightly on the automobile deck down below. With my feet planted on the deck, I held on to some overhead supports to keep my footing on the rocking boat. This gave me a frame of reference fixed to that of the automobile deck, which looked like a densely packed parking garage. What was odd about it, however, was that the cars were all doing a dance. They were moving up and down rhythmically on their suspensions, from the point of view of someone whose reference was fixed to the boat. It was a very odd sight.

Our trip to Nova Scotia wasn't the only time Chester got upset on a boat. Margie and I took him out on a much smaller boat, a canoe, on the Sudbury and Assabet rivers. While we had a nice day in the great outdoors, Chester hated it. He didn't like the way the canoe rocked. Perhaps it reminded him of his experience on the ferry from Yarmouth.

At one point we paused briefly in mid-river to admire a large expanse of water lilies. The large lily pads almost entirely covered the surface of the water, and unfortunately, Chester took them for dry land. He leapt out of the canoe, and seemed very surprised to find himself suddenly swimming. He seemed disoriented, and swam away from the canoe, although he wasn't going very fast. We yelled at him to turn around, which he gradually did, coming back into reach. I then hauled him up into the canoe.

Of course, his long fur was completely drenched, and he dropped a few liters of water into the bottom of the canoe. He wasn't very happy, but then again neither were we.

Moving from the summer to the winter, I went cross country skiing with a neighbor, and we took Chester along. To get away from the dense brush alongside the Sudbury River, we skied out onto the River. It was iced over, and the ice was covered with freshly fallen snow. Although we knew that the ice might not be terribly thick, we could tell from the tufts of grass sticking through the ice and snow that we were in a shallow section of the edge of the river, so even if we should break through the ice, we would not find ourselves in very deep. Furthermore, the cross country skis distributed our weight, so we weren't very worried about falling through. And I didn't think I had to worry about Chester, because he wasn't very heavy.

I had miscalculated, however. Bounding ahead of us, Chester suddenly disappeared, apparently into some sort of hole. When I skied up to it, I found that it was an opening in the ice, apparently due to a large tuft of grass waving in the wind which had stirred the water and kept it from freezing at that point. The water appeared to have receded a bit below the ice, and Chester seemed much further down in the hole than I would have anticipated. Needless to say, I reached in and hauled him out.

As was the case when he had jumped into the Sudbury River from our canoe, he was soaking wet. But this time, it was not a sunny summer day. It was midwinter, and it was extremely cold. I was certain that with his warm fur insulation rendered useless by being saturated, Chester would very quickly start to suffer from the cold. I told my skiing companion that we needed to return home as quickly as possible.

But despite being soaking wet at a temperature of around -5C (23F), Chester seemed to be in no particular distress. He bounded along through the snow, and then stopped briefly to give one of those large wet-dog shakes, which caused water and icicles to fly off in all directions. He then resumed our trip back home, perfectly happy.

He really was a Tibetan Terrier. Our weather was probably nothing at all compared with what his breed tolerates in Tibet.

The third and final entry on Chester is #117, Chester (ter).

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#0115   *FAMILY2   *PEOPLE

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© 2012 Lawrence J. Krakauer   Click here to send me e-mail.
Originally posted January 26, 2012

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