Pets have always been an essential part of Peter Heebink’s life.
Peter had been grieving his last dog, Oliver, and was not sure how he would replace his beloved companion. Then, one day, he needed some basil, so he grabbed $50 and jumped into his car to visit the Fireweed Community Market.
“What did I see (at the market) but the three cutest little puppies, in a pen, 8 weeks old!” Peter recounts delightedly.
Grizzly Valley Farms was selling pups and it couldn’t have been a better deal.
“I was in the ‘market’ because I had lost my dog. And I had grieved long enough and I needed a replacement. So I bought him for $50, which was what I had to buy the herb basil. That was the price coincidentally. What a bargain for that dog! And of course I just had to name him Basil. It made total sense.”
Peter instantly loved the look of his new pup. He was told that Basil is a mixture of 4 things: Belgium shepherd, border collie, bear dog and terrier mix. “But to me, he looks like a fox,” Peter says with fondness.
“Basil’s just so easy and quite mellow. He often gets swarmed by kids and just lies back and takes it all in. He’s never tied up; he’s a free-range and free-spirited dog.”
Indeed, Basil enjoys his freedom riding sidekick on Peter’s many backcountry adventures; most recently a paddling trip from Ben-My-Chree. And if Basil isn’t along, then he’s waiting eagerly at home, right next to a pile of detailed instructions for his dog sitter. Peter tells me, “People always ask why I don’t put a pack on him or why I don’t get him to pull a sled. And it’s because I just spoil him too much. You know, I couldn’t do it. I know he’d give me that look like ‘what the heck’. It’s too late for him to become a working dog. I just want to see him running free.”
Peter definitely likes to spoil his canine friends. Upon meeting at his home for the first time, I was immediately struck by how everything was organized for a dogs’ pleasure.
I say dogs, in plural, because he not only loves his own K-9, but Peter also opens his heart, and quite literally his house, to other dogs in his rural neighbourhood of North M’Clintock. Both Nellie and Daisy live a few properties away, but they trot over to spend hours on end at Peter’s.
Sometimes they arrive in the middle of the night, but they are welcome at any hour. Peter has designated dog couches and he’s proudly installed a dog door so they can all come and go, and lounge about, as they please. When the pack isn’t indoors, they are sprawled on his dock, his houseboat, his lawn or anywhere within Peter’s immediate vicinity. They don’t want to stray too far and miss the chance to go along on a bike ride, hike, ski or skate. Peter takes them out several times each day.
I asked if his past girlfriends have been accepting of his ultra dog-friendly home. Peter chuckled and responded, “When we break up, I think it’s harder for them to leave Basil than me.”
“I’ve lost too many dogs,” Peter says more seriously when we discuss their too-short-for-our-liking lifespan.
“I want Basil to outlive me, so I don’t have to deal with the grief,” he half jokes. “But I have to have dogs in my life. I just crave them.”