All of you who have fished at Quatsino Lodge over the past 11 years have met Tyee. Ty is a very important member of the Lodge family. But after knee surgery and (ahem) a slight weight problem, Tyee has decided to get an apprentice - someone to share the heavy lifting as it were.
This summer Tyee wrote letters to a number of vets however, he was starting to get concerned by the end of August as they had all returned his inquiries with letters saying they had not seen any suitable puppies. Fortunately, in September he received a response that a puppy was waiting for him and would be ready by mid-October. Tyee was really excited and when Finnegan came he was overjoyed. But then the next day when he got up the puppy was still there and that is when he realized ….. having an apprentice would be a full-time 24/7 experience.
It has taken about 6 weeks but we are all happy to report that the light at the end of the puppy tunnel is getting bigger. While it was touch and go for a while, Tyee has realized that minny Finny can actually listen and learn. So Tyee has put his paws to paper here to attempt to convey some of the most critical responsibilities and expectations of the Lodge Dog job to the pup.
“This is a very good job Finn. It gives you purpose as a dog and brings meaning to the mat at the door. Take these instructions seriously. There are many, many other dogs out there who would love to have this job. Ever hear the expression “you lucky dog”?
Well, at least you have a good fishy name Finnegan. It can be shortened to Finn, excellent fish reference just like my name and if they are annoyed with you it is pretty obvious because they will call you Finnegan in a really big voice. Always stop whatever you are doing and go find out what they want. That makes them stop yelling and often there is an ear scratch involved.
Before we get started with the guest side of the job you need know that every Lodge needs a dog with a big voice and a brave heart. There are bears, wolves and cougars out there and they will come in to the yard if you let them. But barking is your only weapon with cougars and wolves. DON’T GO NEAR THEM as they eat dogs. You especially. Bears are dumb. They are afraid of us dogs no matter how big they are and no matter how small we are but they have sharp claws so just bark a lot from a distance and make sure your people come to investigate.
Strangers will come into the yard as well and it is very important to bark and let your people know they are there and to make sure the strangers know you know. DO NOT GO NEAR THEM unless your people say it is OK. Barking a warning is being a guard and is a critical part of this job. But don’t bark just because, especially at night. That upsets people because they think there is a danger. They don’t understand just barking for fun.
"A lodge dog is a staffer with a specific set of jobs that no one else can do. So you have to be in good shape Finn. Every time a boat comes to the dock, we have to go see who it is. Sometimes the people inside the Lodge don’t notice the boat coming. That is when we have to let them know. This can be done by running past the kitchen window a few times with your ears up or just bark a few times and look to see if they notice. When they do, start trotting to the dock. Always wait politely for the boat. Wag and be very friendly because one of your jobs is being a greeter. NEVER JUMP UP. That is an automatic fail.
And now I will warn you about the pitfall of greeting the boats. Everyone has treats for you. DON’T TAKE THEM even if they smell good. You are a Lab. You don’t need much food to maintain your size.
So once the people have stepped onto the dock you go from person to person letting them pat you and talk to you. Make sure you visit everyone. Then you will notice that people will need to be shown how to find the lodge. If you see someone going up the ramp get up there and walk them the Lodge. Then report back to me. I will stay down at the dock and watch the coolers. This part of your job is called being a guide.
When the folks are finished fishing and have returned to the Lodge they may go up and down to the boats a lot. Or perhaps you can distract them by offering a stick or a ball. Fishing folks do to like to play with dogs and especially if you offer a toy. Just don’t play tug. It is a nasty vet visit if you lose a tooth. And vets have thermometers. Remember I said you have to be in good shape? Especially for this part of your job. You are also an entertainer Finn. When you grow up you might not be afraid of the water anymore (sigh - a lab who doesn’t swim?) and you might chase sticks or even swim with the seal.
"Of course you never go anywhere inside the lodge except the doorway. They think it is because we are well trained. Actually it is because the floor is very slippery for dog claws, think Bambi on ice. Better to let them think we know our place. And this is the place the food comes to.
Oh, one more thing about the door. Sometimes guests or staff are lonely for their own dogs. When this happens they will come to your mat and spend time with you. Sometimes they even get onto your mat with you. It is important to let them talk to you without nipping them or shredding their clothes and help them miss their own pet. In this job you are also a confidant.
We sleep inside at night at the door on the mat. Not in any of the staff rooms. Very important!
"Certain animals will come to the lodge. Most are welcome. NEVER CHASE DEER…never. And don’t chase the Mink. You can pretend but really stay far back. Fake the chase. That stinky minky has really nasty claws and fangs and she will win. Bears as I mentioned are dumb but till you are more skilled stay back. No one likes the Canada Geese on the lawn but they won’t come in while you are around. They are afraid of you already. The seal is a lot of fun. He doesn’t come often but when he does he swims along the beach to give me time get down there and then we swim. I never catch him but it is always fun. So as the entertainer, you may be called upon to swim with the seal one day. I will keep this job for the time being though. It is sooooo fun.
"Guests like to go for walks. But they are usually used to going for a walk with a dog. So you will be invited for many walks - sometimes 3 or 4 in a day. I simply can’t do that many walks anymore but you can do lots. You have to be ready at any time after the boats arrive. Your leash is at the door. Make sure you are polite about it. You will like this part of the job. This function is called being a good guest walker. It also makes the guests feel safer in the wilderness. And remember some guests are slower than you. Don’t force guests to walk at your speed. You pace yourself to their speed because it is their walk, not yours.
And sometimes, only occasionally and with only certain guests, you will be invited aboard to go fishing for an afternoon or a morning. I prefer to keep this job for myself but it will happen. Be polite. Do not jump onto laps without being invited. Be sure to lavish the guests who invited you with all sorts of attention. Be sure to listen for instructions from the Captain. Stay out of the way when the fish are being caught. Try to stay clean and dry if possible. You want to smell fresh, not fishy. This part of your job is called being a companion.
"In the fall you will be called upon to attend staff members who want to go into the woods foraging. Your primary focus of course is to warn them if there is anything in the woods that might be dangerous. I call this activity guardian dog but as a benefit it also provides excellent walk and sniffing opportunities.
You will find that we are part of the memories for many guests and staff if we do our job right. It is important to form as many friendships as we can with those who come to the Lodge. Many of them will look forward to seeing us for years and years. We are a big part of this team.
If I had to sum up the key traits of a good Lodge dog Finn, they would include bravery, gentleness, thoughtfulness, respect, fitness, patience, and being a good listener"
And with that Tyee settles into his dog mat for a good nap. By next spring Finn will be able to remember most of these instructions and by having them written out, Tyee will remember too. Both pups eagerly anticipate the spring fishing and guests and are looking forward to greeting and walking all summer.