Buffy Loves Lieverd
Actually, the discipline is a sanity-saving enterprise for any three-month house sitting stint in the small community of Crofton, a few kilometers northeast of Duncan on the island’s southern coast. At least once a day, usually in the afternoon, you don rain gear and off you go, walking or being walked by Buffy, the neighbourhood’s barky terrier “terrorist.” The spirited and mischievous Airedale belongs to newly retired residents Bruce and Gayle Marshall, formerly of St. Albert, Alberta, who, at the moment, happen to be on a three-month golf and beach stroll under Mexico’s almost non-stop sun.
The daily route takes you down to the picturesque sea walk, passing the camping and trailer park where the old copper smelter used to be and out onto the little spit of tide-prone gravel to the dock at the end. Somewhere on the spit you hope Buffy will accomplish her more serious business, so the high tide will wash it away and you won’t have to pick it up in a pocket plastic bag. Then it’s along the recently built and bank-hugging boardwalk to the gazebo and government marina, near the Salt Spring Island ferry dock, and up the hill along Joan Avenue toward the post office and Arnie’s Crofton Foods at the end. On the way you pass the under renovation 104-year-old Crofton Hotel, allegedly the oldest hotel on Vancouver Island. It is here that Buffy’s new boyfriend lives, with the building owner and master, Richard Smith.
The object of her attention is a beautiful, mostly-black German Shepherd by the name of Lieverd, which means “Honey” or “Sweetheart” in the Dutch language. Even though you have met Lieverd several times and know he is a gentle creature, his dark look does not suggest endearment. Each new encounter is an exercise in will, as you extend your gloved hand toward the black face and piercing eyes for a quick little pet.
Buffy couldn’t be happier, however, dancing and jumping around and generally flirting with the tough-looking pooch.
One day, you come in search of master and dog but they are not there. However, a block or so up the street you spy a big black head rising above another individual on a park bench in front of the combined coffee shop and book store. Drawing closer, you think it may be Lieverd sitting more than a head higher than his seat mate on the far end of the bench. But it is not Richard beside him. The other half is occupied by a hunched senior citizen who seems humiliated that he must share the bench with a dog.
Unaware, Richard is in the coffee shop yarning with friends. Somewhere nearby a biddy with nothing better to do has already called the authorities to report a big black dog sitting on a bench where, she thinks, only humans or cats should park.
Even though Buffy is straining the leash to say hello, you are still not sure it is Richard’s dog. So you ask the seat-sharing octogenarian, “Excuse me, is that Lieverd?”
The fellow pretends he does not hear you. He may be selectively deaf. Closer, and louder, you repeat the query. “Uh, excuse me! Is that Lieverd?!”
Disgruntled, and self-consciously glancing sideways to avoid looking at you, he mumbles: “I don’t know who he is.”