Dogs, Cats, Manitoba and Me

It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to have a dog. I always, always, always wanted a dog. Or any kind of pet, really…other than fish. However, this was always a problem, because my mom was allergic to the fur and hair on the fuzzy animals that I wanted. So really, it was always out of the question. This meant I had fish growing up. I loved my fish and all, but I always wanted more.

Circa September 2010. I had come back from a month long backpacking trip in South East Asia and the cutest orange cat I had seen prior to my trip was still on the Hamilton-Burlington SPCA website. I was going to get her. Enough is enough. That day, Trixie became Beatrix, and the rest was history. Of course, I was like, “it’d be so nice to get a dog”, but I was in a little one bedroom apartment and I really didn’t want to get a dog in such a small space, although many of my neighbours had dogs in their apartments. Beatrix was just the right fit at that time.

Beatrix

Fast forward to September 2011 and I’m moved into Brandon, Manitoba. It took so much hard work and a very lucky and unexpected connection to find a place that would even accept Beatrix. I found a great apartment, but I had to pay a ridiculous pet deposit, which I just didn’t understand – I didn’t even ever have to pay a damage deposit in Ontario, let alone a pet deposit! It was all just so new. I didn’t know why wonderful dogs and cats weren’t allowed in homes and apartments. But I quickly learned that Manitoba is one of the least pet-friendly places I have ever seen. I know I was lucky to find my apartment and have my cat.

I still longed for a dog, and I just wanted to spend more time with animals in general, so in August 2012, I started volunteering at the Brandon Humane Society. I think it might have been the best decision I’ve made since moving to Brandon. It has brought so much positive stuff into my life, that I just can’t complain. It’s brought me community, friends and care, and dogs and cats that I absolutely love. And it brought me Josie! But first…

At the end of September 2012, a year after I had moved to Brandon, my friend wondered if I would consider being her roommate. She wanted to get out from under her mom’s roof, but she had a dog, so we had to find a pet friendly place that would allow both cats and dogs. It was like magic, a pet-friendly house showed up on eBrandon and we went to the Open House soon after. And at the Open House, what do I learn? That my landlord volunteers at the Brandon Humane Society! Of course this house is pet-friendly. There were a lot of applicants for the house, and we thought it was a longshot, but my friend and I ended up getting the house and we couldn’t have been more excited!

Now a dog was a real possibility. I didn’t want to rush into anything, because it wasn’t a decision I was going to take lightly. No way! Plus, I wanted Beatrix and my roommate dog to get accustomed to the house and each other (which they are still working on, I will admit).¬†However, I was pretty sure I knew what dog I wanted from the Humane Society. It was a process of elimination in terms of who would be good with cats, and I also knew I wanted a black dog, since they are always the last to be adopted. Josie was it! So mid-January, I decided to take that girl home. It hasn’t been perfect. There have been tiffs between the dogs, and Josie is still a little timid of Beatrix. There is still so much for me to learn and for Josie to learn, but it’s working out amazingly well.

Josie

I never thought that my dream of having a dog to call my own would happen in Brandon, because of the lack of pet-friendlyness here. But I guess life is full of surprises, right?

Wintertime Fun

In the midst of the terrible cold in lovely Manitoba (and I mean it, it’s been gnarly lately), someone along the way decided that it would be a fabulous idea to have a winter festival to celebrate the different cultural communities that make up this place. And in the gnarly cold, this means lining up for stuff…outside. But hey, the cold creates character, right? In all seriousness, the¬†Lieutenant Governor’s Winter Festival is one heck of a party, even if it’s in the cold! For those who don’t know, the festival comprises of different pavilions all over the city from varying cultural groups in our area. There is food, music, entertainment and some history lessons!

I had wanted to go last year, as I was like “Oh my! Something to do in Brandon! In the winter!”; however, I unfortunately had no one to go with and didn’t feel like trekking out alone. So this winter, I was determined to go and I rounded up some people to trek out into the cold with!

The first pavilion we hit was El Salvador. It was probably the most tame and most family friendly that we went to. I wanted to make sure I could get some vegetarian food somewhere, so this was a good pavilion for that. I had a quesadilla, but not in the way we would think of one. It looked like a thin, flat pound cake. And ohhh it was so sweet! It had some cheese in the middle, but I think my favourite part of it was the bread part. So good! The music and dancing was fun, and it was nice seeing something that you really don’t see everyday. And really, who knows too much about El Salvador? I sure don’t! So it was good to learn and see something different.

Next up was the Irish pavilion, complete with Paddy’s Pub. I’m not going to lie, there were incredibly adorable old Irish men in their little green get-ups which I loved. The music was fantastic, as were the dancers. They were incredible! If I’ve researched correctly, it was mostly Irish stepdancing. I wish I had gotten a picture of all the dancers, but I wasn’t close enough to them to get one. The girls had on these incredibly bouncy, full on ringlet wigs and their costume dresses were intricate in traditional detail. They were just amazing!

After the Irish pavilion, we headed to the Scottish one! What can I say? I LOVE KILTS. So many kilts. And I also happen to know one of the big Scottish families in the area (accents still intact), who were all participating in different ways – serving food, selling tickets and announcing all the acts! Again, there was a great live band performing. But to be honest, I was in the back and I was distracted by all the kilts, so I wasn’t paying too much attention.

Finally, we hit up the German pavilion. The only one we had to wait in line for! Pretty good, eh? I had heard that the German pavilion was always one of the best at the Winter Festival, so I suppose it was fitting to check that one out last. We certainly stayed there the longest! It was quite the show with non-stop entertainment. Lots of tuba and trombone sounds and some fun dancing acts. Who knew the orchestra could make The Village People’s YMCA sound German? Now, I don’t know if it’s the Dutch in me, but I don’t know if I was fully prepared for the German’s boisterous event. Lots of “zigga zigga zigga oi oi oi’s!” Lots of dancing participation from the crowd. But hey, I guess that’s why it’s one of the most popular pavilions, right? You know you’ll end up having a good time, because it really is just a big party.

***On a side note, the chef’s name at the pavilion was Larry De Vries. Ever since I’ve moved here, people have always ask me if I’m related to Larry. No folks, I am not related to Larry. And now I just can’t stop thinking about Larry’s ancestry…is he half-Dutch, half-German? Is he actually more German than Dutch, but the name De Vries has just been passed down because that’s the way the cookie crumbled? So. Many. Questions.

All in the all, the night just got better and better. It’s great that Brandon has this festival, and I’ve only heard good things about it from people who attend. A friends of mine said “Why in the world do they have to have it in the winter? It’s so cold!”, but I think that’s the point. It’s nice to have something in the winter that gets us out and having fun. Winter can be so blah and keep us in, not wanting to do anything. The Winter Festival is a great way to break things up. I’m already looking forward to next years one and I’m going to make sure I go to some pavilions that I didn’t get the chance to go to this year!

P.S. I really did have pictures and even a little video, but they are deciding to not upload! Sorry!