James in his Jeep Getting Java-SureFyre Farms


As a writer I like to have as many unique experiences as I can so that when I’m working on a project, I can draw from a vast pool of ideas. A new member to my Dungeons and Dragons group mentioned that she lives on a farm, SureFyre Farms, and teaches equestrian horse riding, and so I thought it would be fun to take a lesson.


The road from Vancouver to Squamish is a beautiful one, and SureFyre Farms is actually just past Squamish. While the drive took some time to get there, the day was mostly sunny and quite warm.

I took my time getting there and just enjoyed the scenery. In fact, I made mental note of several places that I’ll return to this summer to spend a day. That area of BC is ripe with gorgeous landscapes, mountain views, and wildlife galore.


When I arrived at the farm, I was greeted by Gabrielle who was my instructor for the day. (And, just in case you wonder how I did, I was told that when I get it right I do so 100%–but when I get it wrong, I get it wrong 100%, too. Funny enough, that’s what my tae kwon do instructor also used to tell me!)

The farm is a picturesque landscape of ten acres and bustling with activity. They have borders who are there riding and caring for their horses, and everyone was friendly and cheerful.


Garbriel introduced me to Ghost, a very calm horse that she broke herself. She is a very knowledgeable and patient instructor and, considering this was my first time riding in probably seven years, Gabriel made me feel at ease.


The day was fun and the hour lesson went by fast. If you’re ever looking for a place to learn equestrian horse riding I recommend SureFyre Farms as a place to check out.

Be careful on your way out, however, as you may (as I did) see moose crossing the road.

New Home

It’s been almost two months since I’ve been in my new home. Conan and I have settled in quite nicely, and I think we’ve explored most of the area. Thankfully, I’m walking distance to an Internet cafe, an inkjet refill store, a baker, a butcher (but no candlestick maker – unless you include the knickknack shop, which has lots of candles).

That’s all fine and dandy, but what about Conan? Yes, we are walking distance (though when your legs are three inches long it’s a pretty long trek) to a pet supply shop and a dog groomer. So today, Conan and I visited Something to Bark About so Conan could get a haircut. He was getting scraggy and dirty, so it was definitely time. His after shot is probably one of my favourites of him:

Launch of Diane Haynes’ GAIA WILD!

I’d like to take a moment to tell everyone about Diane Haynes’ new book that’s coming out! I’ve been to her launches before, and they are spectacularly fun.

Launch of GAIA WILD!
Today at 3:27pm

Diane Haynes and Whitecap Books Ltd. invite you and a guest to the launch of
GAIA WILD the third book in Jane Ray’s Wildlife Rescue Series!

When: Tuesday, October 28th
Where: The Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, Studio 103 (click here for directions — parking is free)
Doors: 7 pm
Presentations: 7:30 pm by Diane Haynes and special guest Rob Laidlaw (Zoocheck Canada , one of the organizations that helped rescue Tina the elephant in 2003)

Read a sneak preview of GAIA WILD!

RSVP Required by October 23
Reply to janeraybooks (at) gmail.com with your name + number of guests.

Teachers: Students are welcome so long as they RSVP to janeraybooks(at)gmail.com and are accompanied by an adult.

We look forward to seeing you there!


This is a special thanks to author kc dyer, who gave conan a very special toy. It’s a plush skunk minus the stuffing, but with two easy-to-use squeakers!

As you can see, Conan is loving his new toy!

Conan is Okay

After a long, extensive discussion with another vet, I have decided not to go ahead with surgery on Conan.

This is a hard decision to make, as it puts faith into the diagnosis of the opinion that I would rather hear. My reasons were simple: this vet took the time to hear my concerns, and he explained them in a way that I could fully understand what is happening to my dog. Unfortunately, the reason for the lumps are from a cause that is incurable: old age.

My question to this vet was simple: “Do I get my dog surgery every time I feel a little lump? Is this something that my dog, as he gets even older, is going to survive?” He shook his head and said no. Putting a dog through surgery is a final resort, and these lumps are not in a position that should send off any alarm bells. While they have grown larger since the last vet visit, they have not done so in a way that is indicative of cancer. They have reacted as fat cells.

I considered getting him a needle biopsy, but this vet said the same as the last. That the needle biopsies are only 50% accurate, and a negative result doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It would just be a lot of discomfort for Conan, for something that can be diagnosed without it.

So, I have opted out of the surgery. Hopefully, I have made the right choice that is best for the boy.

Chest Lumps

About a month ago I took Conan to the vet because I felt a little lump in his chest. He also had one on his side, but neither lump was large enough that a sample could be taken. Over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed these lumps growing and, probably due to my own experience with cancer, I grew concerned.

The vet could no longer say that it was nothing. It is definitely worth investigating, although it could wind up just being fat cells. Not only that, but there are three lumps that need removal. Actually, there were three options: a needle biopsy where, while Conan is awake, they freeze the area, hold him down, and remove a piece of the area with a needle. #2: They biopsy the area while he is under by taking a portion out – meaning a second operation if it turns out to be cancer. #3: Complete removal of the lumps – the only 100% guarantee since, if it is cancer, it is a form that doesn’t spread to muscles or bones.

In discussions with the vet, there was the question all pet owners hate to ask: What is this going to cost? I’m thankful that I live in a country where I don’t have to put a monetary value on my health, but, of course, dogs don’t have that luxury. (Yes, there is pet insurance, but if you put that $50+ a month away into a bank savings account, you’ll have a small fortune saved by the time you need it.) As I waited for the doctor to tell me the estimate, I tried to come up with a dollar figure that I wouldn’t pay or borrow to ensure that I would have my companion by my side for at least another ten years. My mind went blank.

I chose the third option, to have the lumps completely removed. Thankfully, it was an estimate that fits in with my budget. It will mean tightening things up over the next few months, and not taking as many weeks off this summer as I’d hoped to do. (Though I will be able to spend a week at home with him while he recovers.) It means not taking my Alaskan cruise, and it means not buying the new couch I was hoping for. But these are sacrifices I’m willing to make for the health and comfort and companionship of my little buddy.

His operation is a week and a half away. I’ll keep you all informed of his progress.

Pets Need Homes

Living in Vancouver and being a pet owner is tough. Landlords all over the city have a blanket “no pet policy,” citing reasons from “animals are too loud” to “animals damage apartments.”

Even my own home is now “no pets allowed.” When I first moved here, it allowed dogs and cats. Most of us had small dogs, and we knew each other from walks and our dogs playing in the courtyard. 

The building was friendly, and it attracted a nice quality of tenant.

Now my dog is “grandfathered” into my lease as new tenants are not allowed pets. The neighbours I knew are all gone, and no one knows anyone in the building. Correction. No one knows everyone, but everyone knows me. Why? Because when I’m walking my dog, people feel comfortable to say hello and start a conversation.

The fact is, anyone with a pet that destroys an apartment will be a nightmare tenant even without the pet. If they don’t have a dog that barks at 2 a.m. unchecked, they’ll have a stereo blasting at 2 a.m. If they don’t have a cat that urinates on the hardwood floors, they’ll have a party where guests … I think you get the idea.

This law is doing only one thing. It’s punishing law abiding, responsible citizens. Actually, it’s doing two things. It’s also crowding the SPCA with animals from people who had to make that ultimate choice: live in a home without the pet, or on the street with it.

On paper, the landlords sound as though they have an iron clad case. In practice, however, their case falls apart. Several years ago Toronto adopted a law that forbade landlords from discriminating against tenants with pets. At first there was the typical outcry, but eventually landlords discovered there was zero increase in problems due to allowing pets.

If you live in Vancouver and want to make sure pets always have a homes the online petition.