TESSI AND THE “BIG CANOE” (Tessi Rides the Ferries, Part 2)

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Continued from Part 1 – Tessi and the Pelee Islander Two months after our ride on the Pelee Islander, I was pleased to have Tessi hang out with me on the deck of a ferry once again. We rode the M.S. Chi-Cheemaun (meaning “big canoe” in the Ojibwa language) from the Bruce Peninsula to Manitoulin Island, when we travelled to Alberta. It was easier to make the hour and a half crossing than drive a full day east and north of Georgian Bay. Finding Warmth  On this larger ship, which can carry over 600 passengers and almost 150 vehicles, the range where dogs are allowed is limited; we had to remain outside for the journey. I expected an attack of brisk air on the open water since it was early June and we were a bit farther north, so I wore my pajama bottoms under my pants and layered up the top—shirt, sweatshirt and jacket. I had considered bringing my winter coat, but didn’t want its bulk taking up precious car space for the trip. After parking on the car deck, we climbed a tight squeeze up the narrow, crowded stairs while looking for the dog-friendly deck. Signs let you know where pooches are and are not permitted. Underway As the ferry pulled out of dock, I contemplated Big Tub Lighthouse in the distance, where it stands in its unending duty to warn of its rocky surroundings. I found it strange to see the structure so small and far away, like my fond memory of it. We’ve explored those rocks a few times over the years—once while in the glow of a stunning sunrise. Soon, the ferry turned away from the shoreline to head to open water. We hung out on our own for a bit as we passed small green islands bulging out of the azure water—so blue, I’d forgotten how blue it is. The almost total absence of clouds offered a rich blue sky, too. I was forced to search for the sun again as the ship had turned away from it, as well, and the chill was creeping into my body. With my padded dressings, I was warm enough as long as I stayed in the heat giver’s precious rays. More New Friends In my search for warmth, we passed a family a few times. Their two dogs erupted with excitement whenever they caught sight of Tessi. I kept apologizing for disturbing them. We ended up sitting with them though, since it was the only place the sun’s rays touched down. Julia, the mom, welcomed our company—I think she was grateful for the human kind since by then, her husband, Wilson, and two kids had taken refuge inside. Eventually, Olivia and Cooper—both Boston terrier/miniature blue blood bulldog mixes—calmed down. Far from their Ohio farm, the family stays on the island for a month or so every summer at the cabin Julia’s great-grandfather had built. She told me about its remoteness and the adventures they have because of it. Every so often lost hikers show up. Julia and Wilson have had to call in helicopters to transport their unexpected visitors back to civilization. The Need to Pee Shortly after we settled in beside Julia and her pets, an old guy and his dog appeared. He was frustrated because he couldn’t find a bathroom for himself he could take his canine pal, Judy, into. Knowing that kind of predicament, I volunteered to watch her for him. She barked almost continually in response to her abandonment—petting her would offer brief spells of silence. Her human companion seemed to be gone a long time. Finally he returned, which quieted Judy right away. They hovered nearby, but stayed closer to the rope partitioning off a “Crew Only” area. I noticed he let her wander back and forth under the rope. That kind of inconsideration could be added to the list of reasons why canines tend to be banned from public places. As we started seeing the rugged shore we would be pulling in at, they left. I then spotted a puddle of pee on the “Crew Only” side. I hoped no one thought it came from one of our group. Then I realized incidents like this could easily prompt the company to enact a no-pets-allowed policy. Annoyance accompanied me as we headed back to the car. Why didn’t the guy ask an official, at least, for something to clean the mess up with? Some people just don’t understand or care that having our dogs with us in such places is a privilege and not to be taken lightly. I soon left that irritation behind, along with the resplendent Georgian Bay and the rest of the Great Lakes system, where we have enjoyed the pet-friendly status on two of the ferries plying its waters. For More Info

 (c) Cheryl Smyth, 2014


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