Category Archives: dogs

Morning trip to Jack Darling Park

At a certain point in his development, young George simply considered anything that moved to be an object of his doggy lust. This was a good indication it was time for his neuter surgery, which we had done in early August.

Yesterday we took the Newfs to the local dog park in Sam Smith Park to see how he would do with other dogs now.  He interacted very well with all the dogs there, so we’ve reinstated his dog-park privileges.

Our local leash free park is what you might call a minimalist park. The City did the least they possibly could do and still call it a leash-free park. In fact it started out without even a fence – just a sign. As dog parks go, this one is pretty sad. It has a fence now and a couple benches, but that’s it. There is no variety of terrain. In wet weather it gets very mucky. There is no lighting and although it is a stone’s throw from a water filtration plant, there is no water available. The location is part of a north-south wind-corridor between the water filtration plant and Humber College. In the winter, the north winds have nothing to block them on their way to freeze brave dog walkers.

For these reasons, the Sam Smith dog park gets fewer users than most. A lot of visitors to the broader park area have complained about dog-owners letting their pets run loose in the rest of the park, rather than in the dog park.  There are even new signs up in the park encouraging dog-owners to leash their pets and I’ve heard the City has sent by-law enforcement people out to Sam Smith recently to fine the miscreant pet-owners. Although I don’t expect it will ever happen, I’d like to see the dog park in Sam Smith relocated to the area on the east side of what is known as “the spit”, which forms the harbour for the yacht club. I think a better area for the dogs in a more suitable area of the park would attract a lot more dog lovers.

When we want to run our dogs, we like to take them west to Mississauga, to Jack Darling Park. Like the park at Sam Smith, this one is on the property of a filtration plant.

IMG_2178However, the dog area is fully integrated on the filtration plant grounds. There is a great variety of terrain, loads of space, fields, sandy areas, treed areas, brush and hills. There is even drinking water available.IMG_2175

The sandy area is where many dogs go to play. They like goofing about in the sand, chasing and wrestling. IMG_2184Other areas are more isolated if you want to run your dogs away from the crowd. IMG_2179I’m very impressed by what I can only call inspired design at Jack Darling Park. Somebody along the way thought it was a good idea to imagine up a dog park that was more than a patch of muck and grass with a fence around it – and they did it up right.

IMG_2186We like to do a circuit or two of the park, checking out all the different terrain, stopping for some playtime in the sand pit.

The dogs just love to go to Jack Darling. They get a car ride – they love car rides – and they get to goof around in an area with lots of variety and plenty of other dogs to play with.

I’m hoping the candidates for City Council in the upcoming Municipal race read this. Here’s my challenge – make a great leash-free area in Sam Smith Park.  Who’s up for this challenge? I’m not interested in hearing why this can’t be done, but if you can imagine it, and you think you can pull it off, I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments of this blog.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to drive out to Mississauga when we want a top-rate dog-park experience.

Dogs, hedgehogs and lobsters

George hadn’t had a good run since his neuter surgery and he has really needed one, so I loaded the dogs along with my mushroom basket into the car and headed for a forest not too far from the city. George and Memphis know this spot well, and they love it because there is lots of forest to romp around in.

These days Memphis sticks fairly close to me in the forest. George on the other hand needed to run so he barrelled through the woods out of sight and a moment later came bounding back toward me from a different direction. With his size and weight he’s like a locomotive running through the forest. Ten minutes of this and he settled right down, and while I wandered about looking for mushrooms, they sniffed about, rolled, explored, happily goofing about among the trees.

This particular spot is reliable – that is to say I almost always find some edible mushrooms there, but on the other hand I don’t usually find large quantities of mushrooms, just enough for a dinner or two.

My first find consisted of a few hedgehog buttons, and one strangely deformed hedgehog mushrooms. This mushroom was trying to grow out from under a log, and the cap didn’t develop properly. The teeth appeared to be on the top of the cap. For someone with no experience I can imagine this would be confusing. The pictures in the field guides don’t look like this.IMG_2092

In fact a photo in a field guide shows how the specimen could look, or did look under particular conditions. In the forest, you see all kinds of mushrooms that just don’t quite look like they’re supposed to. Always be careful with your identification and if you aren’t sure, don’t eat the mushroom.

Most of the mushrooms I found today were lobster mushrooms – Hypomyces lactifluorum. There has been quite a bit of interest in some earlier posts I made talking about how to prepare these mushrooms, so I’m going to touch on it again. Lobsters are often found partially under the forest duff. They sometimes look dirty and other times they get partially eaten by forest critters .

The first thing I do is wash a lobster mushroom as best I can under running water. I’ve often thought that a toothbrush would be handy for cleaning them but I never use on. Once the mushrooms is as clean as I can get it, I cut off any obviously unappetizing parts.IMG_2098Then I cut the mushrooms into roughly eighth inch slices. My basic rule for lobster mushrooms is that I keep anything that is white or red and cut away anything brown or unappetizing.IMG_2100

The lobsters I found today were not great – they had a lot of waste. Still, along with the hedgehogs I have plenty of wild mushrooms to add to the chili I’m making this afternoon.IMG_2102