The transition from dog-phobic to dog-lover

Abbey and SkierBob at Lake Louise in 1998

Life got a lot better and more fun when I changed my attitude towards dogs. 

Abbey and Finnegan. Dec 31, 1999 at the Smith-Dorrien trails

I was bitten by a dog when I was a young child and I can still see the scars from the puncture marks on my wrist. From that time forward I was somewhat scared, but mostly I just tried to ignore dogs and hope they didn’t brush up against me. 

I was already in my forties when fate intervened. My new girlfriend had a cocker spaniel who I tried to ignore but Finnegan must have awakened something inside me. I suggested that we take him for walks, and we did, but my feelings for this little creature were still reserved. 


A couple years later Sandie’s mom got a springer spaniel puppy. I disliked the way Abbey jumped on me when I showed up at the door. When we took her for a walk, all she wanted to do was pull at the leash. 

I suggested to mom that I take Abbey to dog obedience and teach her some manners. 

Hiking to Ribbon Falls

That was a life-changing experience for me. I bonded with Abbey in a way that I didn’t know was possible. She was willing and eager to learn, and I enjoyed the entire exercise. I had her walking off-leash at my side, and when I showed up at the door, she sat until I gave her the signal. Funny thing, by this time, I wanted her to jump up and greet me. 

When Sandie and I started skiing in 1997, the dogs came along most of the time and made the whole outing more enjoyable. 

When I go to West Bragg Creek, the skiing is great but the best thing for me is meeting all the dogs. I’ve met hundreds of dogs over the years at WBC and have never had a bad encounter. It makes the day at West Bragg a lot more pleasant and fun when you are a dog-lover. 

In the top photo, Abbey and I had just finished skiing at Lake Louise. My first-ever time there. We stopped at the lake and had our lunch when a number of Japanese tourists came by and wanted to take our picture. After they finished snapping photos, I handed my camera to one of them and they took this picture which I now treasure. 


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  1. We cannot come close to the happiness so evident our dogs experience skiing with us

  2. Life is so much better when you love dogs!! We have a Wheaten and a Golden (both high energy breeds) and nothing makes me happier than to see them flat out exhausted after a long distance ski. I have had dogs all my life and the only drawback to having a dog is, of course, losing them. Wonderful to read a “pawsitive” story on dogs and skiing.

  3. That is such a great story! Thanks for sharing! My husband and I rediscovered skiing this season. And it was my 9 year olds first time on skis. We started out for a couple of times at WBC and the pups on the trail kept us happy, even on the days we struggled. Last weekend my daughter decided she wanted to try to ski 20k, so we headed to the great divide. And the dog sled teams zipped back and forth all day. We didn’t notice any chance of tiring out on my daughter’s end. But those pups sure gave us great joy to see how happy they were! Thanks for sharing! And can’t wait to see more pups on the trail!

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