33. Construction

Dear Boomer,

            The weather gets warmer.  The Pup has his bicycle out -- still with the training wheels on.[1]  Maybe this summer your pup will get a bicycle as well, so you’ll learn there are certain advantages, and one disadvantage.

            One advantage is that we spend more time in Windsor Park.  The Pup wants to practice riding his bike several times a day.  This means taking a few runs along the pathways before gravitating toward the swings and the play structures.  Taken all together, it adds up to more quantity of Windsor Park moments. 

            And it improves the quality of Windsor Park moments as well.  When the Pup’s cycling around the river path, Alpha leaves me to sniff around at my leisure.  When we get to the swings, there’s lots of opportunities for ball tossing -- and lots of other humanoids who, I know, want nothing more than to throw a ball for an eager doggie.

            So lots of advantages.  But the disadvantage is a certain shortness of temper in Alpha when he tries to herd the Pup, his bicycle, and me across Riverdale Avenue to get to the park.

            It’s bad enough most years.  This year, Alpha is testier than usual – and the traffic is enough to give even a dog of fortitude and ambition pause to reconsider whether it’s worth trying to cross Riverdale Avenue.

            What’s gotten into this crazy world?  The stream of traffic is unrelenting.  The humanoids seem very grumpy indeed.  The only things that cheers them up is to see one of those cars with the flashing lights chase another car down the street.[2]

            Our friend Jacob the German Shepherd tells me that he and his Fem-Alpha were almost hit the other day while they crossed the street.  It didn’t seem to matter that they were at the cross walk and there was a stop sign.  A car ploughed through nonetheless, passing the car that had stopped for the pedestrians, and nearly clipped the pedestrians as it rushed by.  I’m hearing more of these stories in the afternoon romps in the Park.

            Bank Street has become transformed in recent weeks as well.  Lots of new smells.  Lots of big holes where the humanoids try to bury these huge blue bones.  You gotta hand it to humanoids: when they decide to bury a bone, they don’t go for half measures.[3]

            I’m able to keep a close eye on the developments on Bank Street because Alpha brings me along when he meets with the neighbours to complain about what is happening on Riverdale.  These meetings take place nearly every day, which is a good thing for a dog who wants to go out into the world and be seen.

            Alpha and the neighbours meet at different coffee shops.  I’m becoming quite a connoisseur of which ones I like best.  Some let you sit and wait at the front door.  Others don’t.  Some give you overhead protection against April showers; at others, you sit and look miserable as your fur grows more wet.  At some, you end up tied to trees and can sniff the tidings of doggies who have been there before you; at others, you’re tied to a parking meter with no scent but the dust of street construction.[4]

            So when I hear Alpha talking with the neighbours about how they want these streets to look when the construction is all finished, I’m all for it.[5]  I think we should submit our wish list as well.  A fire hydrant on every corner.  More trees so that the concrete will be cooler in the summer, and there’ll be enough squirrels to keep us entertained.  Grassy strips between the sidewalks and the curbs, so that when we piddle, it soaks into the earth and doesn’t run across the sidewalk.  And how about doggie-treat dispensers at every cross-walk?[6]

            “Take back control of our neighbourhood streets,” I keep hearing Alpha say.  I couldn’t agree more.  Let the motto be: “This neighbourhood is going to the dogs!”

                                                           Watching the cars and the world go by,


[1] “The Pup” would have been six years old that April – and not long for training wheels.

[2] Calista McCaffrey, “A Dog’s Eye View; Zoscha and the world of Old Ottawa South,” Carleton University Review, Summer, 2009, notes that Ottawa traffic police sometimes wait at the corner of Riverdale and Cameron to catch motorists who run the stop signs

[3] In her unpublished Master’s thesis, A Dog’s Eye View, Zoscha and Windsor, (Carleton University, 2010), Monica Tardif reveals that Bank Street was under construction during spring and summer of 2003.  She concludes that the “huge blue bones” were, in fact, water pipes.

[4] Tardif, op. cit., lists the possible Bank Street coffee shops referred to at that time as the Second Cup at Sunnyside, Starbucks at Hopewell, and Tim Horton’s near Riverdale.  At the time of her thesis she observed that dogs continued to wait patiently outside Starbucks.

[5] More recent construction on Bank Street in the Glebe underscore the importance of these community advisory committees in helping redesign the streetscapes as part of the City’s projects to replace aging sewage and waterline infrastructure.

[6] Zoscha wrote this article before doggie boutique stores such as “Wag” and “Global Pet Foods” opened on Bank Street.  No doubt she would have approved.