Hail Storm Hideout

Some of our recent thunderstorms in Calgary reminded me of a walk I had about a year ago where we weren't as lucky as we have been with the weather this year.

It was in the afternoon, and I really needed to pee. That is where this story starts. Me needing to pee. Classic.

I was near Carburn Park in the SW (on the east side of the river, just a few minutes of walking to get to the Sue Higgins dog park) and was trying to figure out where I could stop for a pee - I had already driven past the Tim Hortons (super easy bathroom stop if you ever need one!) so I felt a little desperate. It had been raining lightly most of the day I believe, I just remember pulling into the parking lot at Carburn Park, the rain stopping and there being a beautiful sign reading "Restroom". It was like a scene from the Holy Grail, the skies clearing and a haloed restroom sign revealing itself in front of me.

After I used the bathroom, I loaded out the dogs and started on our walk. I'm pretty sure we walked along the pathway around the little lake before we made our way across the bridge to Sue Higgins. If you frequent the southland dog park and haven't checked out the paths on the other side of the river, I would highly recommend it! Really nice area.

I could see the storm clouds coming in the distance as we were walking, but I just assumed it would be more rain. And there was next to no one in the park so I really wanted to take advantage of having the park mostly to ourselves to really work with the pack.

Unfortunately, I was a little too focused on the pack, and not as focused on the weather (sure learned my lesson!), because soon enough, we were getting poured on with thunder in the air. And then it started hailing.

I need to insert a quick story from my childhood here to show my last encounter with a hail storm. Also how far my mental calmness has come!

When I was around 10 years old, I went for a hike with my family (dad, dad's girlfriend at the time, sister) and my uncle's family (him, and his girlfriend's children). Pretty soon the weather started looking a little sketchy, so my dad and his girlfriend decided to take a different path back to the campground. The rest of us stuck with my crazy uncle to brave the storm. Soon enough we were lost (pretty much how it goes), it was pouring rain with plenty of very close lightning and thunder. And then it was hailing. I thought we were going to die. Oh, we also didn't have any food and limited water supply. Imagine little ol' 10 year-old me completely freaking out in a horrible storm in the middle of nowhere. Not pleasant.

Eventually, the storm passed and we found our way bushwhacking through the trees back to the highway. The funny part is that when the storm had passed and we finally found our way back to the highway, we were kilometres away from where my uncle was convinced we were. My dad had been driving that stretch of the highway looking for us. In retrospect, I'm very thankful that we even made it out before nightfall.

So back to this walk last year. We are in Sue Higgins dog park (at least I wasn't lost!), there are trees for shelter but that's it, it has been pouring rain and now it has just started hailing. My first course of action was to find a big enough tree for everyone to find cover (not too hard in that park - the section near the river) and wait there for the storm to pass (everyone was back on-leash at this point for safety). While we waited safety under the tree, the hail size got quite big, and I was really wondering how long we would have to be waiting. I decided that once there was a break in the hail, we would run for it. To the next tree, or ideally across the river and to the covered sitting area, or even better back to the car.

Eventually, there was a break in the weather and we RAN. We made it to the covered sitting area across the river to get a quick breather. There were a couple of other people and their dogs also taking shelter in the same area. That break in the hail had actually marked the end of the hail (but not the rain), so once I had a few moments to catch my breath, we walked back to the car in the pouring rain.

A very exciting 5 or 10 min that seemed to last much longer. So much for a lucky potty break.

The moral of this story is to keep your eyes on the storm clouds! But also, it occurs to me that all the patience training that I do with the pack, as well as practicing different walking and running paces with the dogs while maintaining loose leashes is what allowed us to a) hide under a big tree and maintain calm and b) run to better shelter without mayhem.

Until next time,

Holly, Duke and Jax