We had a few days off between Christmas and New Year’s and wanted to get away. I looked at various options and then the inevitable question came up, “What about the dogs?” meaning who is going to take care of them? It wasn’t the best time of year to be seeking out a favour and for those who know Tigs and Holly well, let’s just say their reputations don’t endear them as houseguests.
So, we went from saying ‘Where should we go?’ to ‘Where should we go with the dogs?’ And I set about finding a suitable place.
You see, the problem with dog-friendly is that sometimes it isn’t ‘truly’ dog-friendly. It’s dog-tolerant or it’s ‘yes you can bring your dog but they must be carried through the lobby’ (seriously?! Carry him AND my purse, my laptop and my luggage?). Or, yes you can bring your dog but he can’t be left alone in the room, or if he is left in your room he has to be crated and we need a number where we can reach you if he is barking, and so on and so forth. Then there are the added costs, $30 per dog per night. Really? With two dogs for two nights the price really adds up.
Then I remembered a place that I had seen advertised at a pet expo a few years back. I did some digging found the website and made a call to the Cougar’s Crag Bed and Breakfast located in Metchosin, BC.
A few things set this place apart from the others, namely there was no extra fee for the dogs and it had great reviews on Trip Advisor. It is advertised as a bed and breakfast and the reviews talk about the fantastic food, but my immediate thought was ‘how can we enjoy a leisurely breakfast while the dogs are going berserk in the room, destroying the place?’ So, I gave them a call. I spoke to the proprietor Steve, he assured me that in all his years in business (8 I think), he’d never had any damage done by his canine guests. I decided not to tell him about the time we stayed in a hotel in Victoria and Tigger had singled paw-edly stripped the paint off the door and ripped up the carpet. Instead, I explained that my dogs are a bit um, neurotic and wouldn’t do well if left alone in the room. His response, ‘so bring them to breakfast with you then’. BOOKED!
And off we went for our two night respite after Christmas. We caught the 1pm ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, and arrived at Cougar’s Crag on the dot of 4pm. To say it’s ‘remote’ is a bit of an understatement, and thank God for gps. The driveway is a very narrow, very steep road that winds and weaves its way up the hill. We came upon a small barn and pen on our way up that houses the resident goats (they almost look like sheep with their long hair which is used to make hiking socks) and their keepers, a pair of rare Italian maremma dogs. A short distance further and we were at our destination.
Steve greeted us and showed us to our unit. I was pleased to hear dogs barking in the room next door. We were advised that their owners were out but due home soon. As an owner of one very barky (Holly) dog, I was relieved to know that barking was okay. I breathed a sigh of relief and actually felt like I might relax and maybe this was a truly dog-friendly place after all.
Our unit was very nice, all wood beams, big windows, views of trees and mountains and no other homes within barking distance. We had a loft bedroom with a skylight. Our only concern was that the tv was very small, and the couch rather firm. Both dogs entertained themselves by running up and down the stairs. There was a large dog bed nestled under the stairs that both dogs took turns napping on, and there were two large dog dishes that I filled with their kibble and some water to help them get settled.
The unit had a small kitchen with fridge and microwave, and a gas fireplace which heated the place in an instant. We also had a kettle, toaster, and utensils. We went for a short walk down the hill to visit the goats and their minders came back, booked breakfast for the next morning and settled in for the evening.
Both dogs slept well, often times when we’ve stayed in hotels with them there are lots of ‘hallway’ noises which set them off into a barking frenzy at all hours of the night which is then followed by our shouting frenzy trying to get them to be quiet! We had none of that at Cougar’s Crag.
We were up and organized for breakfast at nine. Both dogs happily accompanied us to the main house/lodge for the meal. Tigger sat at my feet pleading for bacon, while Holly skipped around checking out the place. The meal was delicious, tea was hot, and best of all was that I wasn’t worried about the dogs.
The weather was overcast, in true west coast fashion, as we set out on our day’s excursion. We decided to drive up the west coast (there’s a theme here) to the town of Port Renfrew. It’s approximately an hour’s drive if you don’t stop but having the dogs with us and an entirely free day allowed us the liberty to take as many breaks as we wanted.
Our first stop was a place called French Beach. We got out, had a little walk, visited with some horses, and stopped for photos. Then the photo shoot came to an abrupt end when a wave crashed against the shore and terrified poor Tigs! He scrambled off the log, and raced back towards the truck, tail straight, ears down, he was not happy.
Back in the truck, we carried on. Our next stop was the town of Jordan River. Known for its surfing. Yes, surfing, in Canada in December. We stopped to watch for a bit, seems to me that surfing is a sport of patience and more patience and being cold.
Onward to Port Renfrew we went. We blinked and missed it and suddenly we were at the parking lot for a place called Botanical Beach. I’d heard about it before but never really knew where it was. We couldn’t see anything from the parking lot but the sign indicated that in 2 short kms we could be at the ocean. Off we went, in the pouring rain, carrying purse and camera (there were signs warning about leaving valuables in the car). The trek down was nice, being that it was downhill and in a heavily rain-forested area, we managed to keep relatively dry. The dogs were having a great time, Holly running free off leash up and down the trail, and Tigs close by my side sniffing every stump and shrub as we went along.
The walk in its entirety was about 90minutes long with all our stops and photo taking. The beaches were breathtaking and there was not another soul in sight. If you ever make it up to this area this is a MUST see. Waves crashing on the shore, untouched beaches, and amazing trees and foliage. Fortunately we didn’t encounter any wildlife, although signs did indicate that we were in an area frequented by bears and possibly cougars.
We meandered our way back to the truck, uphill, somewhat drenched by this point, but happy that we had seen this beautiful beach area. It felt like the ultimate west coast day. Back in the truck we headed back to Cougar’s Crag, stopping enroute to see the surfers again.
Back at our suite, we turned on the fireplace, dried out our stuff and had a bite to eat. Dogs resting contentedly after a fun filled day exploring.
The next morning, we had a quick walk around, took some more photos, had another glorious breakfast (homemade gingerbread pancakes, truly amazing, with fresh whipped cream and syrup), and packed up for the journey home.
Thank you Cougar’s Crag, we had a great time!