Published by

I was eating a sandwich by the car when Tessi became agitated. I looked down to see her butt end sticking out from under the bumper. She was trying to squirm in underneath. I squatted down to investigate and discovered a furry tail hanging from the undercarriage. I didn’t know what type of creature the tail belonged to; however, I encouraged Tessi to insist upon its retreat. I didn’t need stowaways of any sort, even a cute gopher, as it turned out to be. Off-leash at the Big Tepee As we made our way to Medicine Hat, I decided to take a break at the World’s Tallest Tepee. Heavy rain had discouraged a stop on the way to Calgary. Our return to the area featured pleasant conditions under a fluffy-clouded sky. From the Trans-Canada Highway, I easily spotted the huge structure and happened to glimpse dogs playing at the bottom of the hill it sits on. Near the provided parking lot, I noticed a sign beside a multi-use path stating the area as off-leash. I was surprised considering it’s a tourist stop, but I wasn’t going to object. Tessi would be delighted to run free since she had to be leashed most of the previous week during outings in grizzly bear country. Exploring the Badlands She darted back and forth, pushing her nose through the dry, scorched-looking grass. While she reveled in the hunt for unseen creatures, I reveled in photographing the surrounding badlands’ features. Before following the paved path down a steep incline, I veered onto a worn footpath leading to a peak jutting out over the bordering scarp. As Tessi tagged along, she soon detected fellow canines below—the ones I had seen from the road. I sensed her temptation to head down to greet them. I think her fear of heights kept her back—that and me warning her to stay put. Her four legs might have handled the descent; nevertheless, I didn’t want to chance it. As we returned to the paved path, something leathery looking caught my eye. I was intrigued to spot a small cactus—something I’d never see growing naturally on our landscape at home. At the bottom of the hill, the dogs excitedly ran over to us and enjoyed a brief sniffing as their owners caught up and they all moved on. We—I mean I—then struggled back to the top. Tessi ran ahead, glancing back at times to make sure I was coming. Before going to grab my sandwich from the cooler in the car, I wandered over to the tepee. Artistic storyboards displaying various aspects of native life are incorporated in the 20 story towering structure. While I looked around, Tessi sat and waited; the vacant concrete floor offered nothing to inspire exploration. As I finished my perusal, other people and their dogs started arriving. Local Wildlife “What an awesome off-leash area,” I commented to a woman, who had parked beside me. As we watched her two shih tzus head out for a run, she agreed. “But watch out for rattlesnakes,” she warned me. Huh? She continued to say she’s never seen them there herself, adding that their den is miles away. I wonder if enough dogs come and go to discourage their presence. She had also mentioned cougars, but my mind was too busy contemplating snake issues to ask her for details about this other potential danger. Fortunately, we only had to contend with the gopher. Tessi chased it off. The woman commented that the creatures are very annoying, no better than rats. Before returning to the highway, I banged the car a few times just in case any others had climbed aboard. As far as I could tell, Tessi and I we’re on our own again. For More Info

 (c) Cheryl Smyth, 2013


Comments Off on OFF-LEASH MEDICINE (Medicine Hat)