Walking with a Dozen Irish Wolfhounds

This weekend we slipped away over the Misty Mountains to Mission, BC, for a 24 hour getaway. The whole purpose of our trip was to go walking with the BC branch of the Irish wolfhound club.


Before we left, the girls asked, “why are we going, when we don’t even have an Irish wolfhound yet?” (Not that they were complaining, they were super excited.)

Their father replied… “We went to Harambee and adoptive parent meetings before we ever had you!”


They thought that was hilarious comparison, but really, our visit was for the same reason. Before the girls came home, we learnt from any parents about hair, attachment-based parenting, and dealing with piercing questions. Irish wolfhounds are giants, and they have particular health and lifestyle concerns. We wanted to talk to other Irish wolfhound guardians, learn more about the breed, learn about raising them, health concerns, and tips and tricks.

So we drove down, spend the night in a hotel, and went for a 5 km walk with a dozen hounds and their people the next morning. It was very nice… We met lots of good people and got to chat about all things to do with the breed.







The dogs were as I expected, but even more gentle, lean, and gangly. I was struck by how long their legs were… But they weren’t quite as tall as I had remembered. No, I’m not having second thoughts. Rather, I was enamored by them! I think Jason, with all his hesitancy about a giant dog living in the house, was also impressed by their lovely dispositions. The girls thought they were awesome.


Maggie, our lovely old bird dog, did just fine. I couldn’t believe it she made it most of the walk, and what good condition she is in. If a dog came up behind her, with her being deaf and blind, it did start of her and she snarled once or twice. But generally speaking she seem to get along with the other dogs.


Of course, Laughlin, our cairn terrorist, was completely overwhelmed and snarled and snapped of every giant dog became his way. (Embarrassing!) But it’s a testament to the wolfhound breed that none of the big dogs so much as batted an eyelash, and I was once again convinced that this was the perfect dog for us. Laughlin is what they call in Jason’s herbal medicine studies “hot ,” and almost all Irish wolfhounds are “cool.” This means that Laughlin, a typical terrier, is always running on instinct and adrenaline; whereas, the wolfhounds are much gentler and have a relaxed temperament. It will be a good combination to balance him out.


This is a six month old puppy… Interestingly, Laughlin was perfectly fine with her. Somehow, even with the size, he knew it was a baby.


The girls did us proud, as they told stories and ask questions of all the people they walked with. I barely saw them over the 5 km, but afterwards, several people came up to me and told us what lovely girls we have. True! And they did us proud. Unlike our terrier.

It was a great learning experience, and we will likely go back once a year to compare notes and learn more as our puppy grows…


PS: these people are not running from the law, but I didn’t have a chance to ask permission to post their pictures. So you just got to see the dogs. 🙂

Me, my two besties and Michael Franti

It’s been three weeks since I went to Vancouver for a girls weekend with my two best friends… But that shows you what kind of busy I’ve had since!


I really needed a getaway… With starting the clinic, I hadn’t had a day off in months. So I asked Von and T to go to Vancouver for the weekend. As it turned out, Von was going anyway for some doctor training (she’s an MD) so T and I invaded her hotel room at the Fairmont. Sweet.

Oddly enough, Von, my best friend (since grade 4/5) and my best buddy in Kelowna T, had never met. Sure, they’ve heard a lot about each other, but hadn’t ever had the pleasure. I knew that they would get along well, and sure enough, they found common ground in teasing me, Asian cuisine, and raunchy jokes. 🙂

We wandered about the city, eating at delicious restaurants. We all share a passion for food and eating, so we take the restaurant selection pretty seriously. We had Japanese tapas, hand pulled noodles, and French seafood. YUMMers…

T and I also caught the exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery about China’s emperors. I honestly don’t know that much about Chinese history, but I found it fascinating, and we both thought we learned a lot from the exhibit.









This is not a goat… Donations supporting grassroots change in Africa

Have you ever bought a goat, chicken, or a medical kit from a charity’s gift catalog? I have… But I didn’t realize at the time the intricacies of goat purchasing. For many charities, the goat or chicken is simply a symbol of a donation amount, and in the fine print it reads that charity will use your dollars as they see fit. Other charities actually send out 300 goats one year, and 3000 the next, depending on what donors would like to spend their money on. In other words, goats are either inspirational pictures, or fluctuating, donor-driven programs.

At Vulnerable Children Society, the charity I co-founded and manage, we don’t have a gift catalog, and we don’t sell goats. Or chickens either.

solon homes stud

And this is why… Our programs are created by Ethiopian/Liberian organizations, to address the most pressing needs in those countries. The indigenous organizations, run by locals, create holistic programs to powerfully impact the lives of children and families. Our job as the fundraising partner is not to tell our African partners how many of anything they should have that year, or how to do their work. Our job is to connect you with them, so that children can be educated, families can be preserved, and communities can be transformed.

Parents-Guardians - Food Preparation2

We are transparent about our fundraising: you know that when you donate to Vulnerable Children Society, we send the funds to the program you have designated your dollars to help. And if that program is fully funded, or for some reason needs to be discontinued, we roll the dollars into our general program fund. Lastly, we publish our financial statements on our website, so that you can see, to the dollar, exactly how much money each program received.

For your holiday gifts this year, please consider donating to Vulnerable Children Society. We have three programs that need your help… Home tutoring and Ebola disease prevention in Liberia, afterschool tutoring at our Love and Hope Centre in Ethiopia, and retraining for teens who have worked in the sex trade in Ethiopia. Even stocking stuffer amounts are highly appreciated! and go along way to do good work in these countries.

Hope for Children in Ethiopia, Vulnerable Children Society

We won’t send you a picture of a goat, but if you donate and then send us an email, we will send you back a personalized card with a picture of the children you are actually helping, and information about the program. Your loved ones will love learning about the positive impact of your donation.

Many thanks! And warmest holiday wishes from all of us in Canada, Ethiopia, and Liberia.

Arnica Rowan, President
Vulnerable Children Society

Baby pictures!

Here in the Rowan household the only hotter topic than the Elf on the Shelf is the imminent coming of our Irish Wolfhound puppy.

I mean, this is BIG NEWS people! Worthy of classroom show and tell, discussion with the cashier at the store, and constant surveillance for new pictures. Speaking of which… The pictures you all have been waiting for…


(Collective AWWWW….)

One of those little tikes is going to be our pup! There were four girls and ofour boys born in the litter to mom Glory and dad Torrin.


Right now, they are living in Northern Alberta, growing under the watchful eyes of their mom and the breeder. They are 4 1/2 weeks old! But will be ten weeks when we arrive to pick out our little guy at the end of January. There are two breeders ahead of us, so we will get the third pick of the four boys.

A few more pictures of the parents, so you can imagine what they may look like, grown… They are lovely, aren’t they?




My mom and I have a little road trip planned for that last week in January. We will zip over and spend a night in Calgary, go up to pick up the pup, spend another night in Calgary, and then come home. I think I’ll take Laughlin with us, to get him used to the puppy right away.

The pup will be bigger than Laughlin, though, even at that age. Likely he will be about 30 lbs (Laughlin is about 18lb.) so he’ll be slightly lighter than Maggie, but a tad taller.

Any, stay tuned for more pictures as they grow. Such cutesters!!

A new baby is coming the end of January!

We are adding to our family again…. Although not in the way you might think.

As our friends, family, and loyal readers know, we’ve been in the adoption process for four years now. Four years, four countries, a lot of emotional ups and downs, and still, no babies for me to snuggle. (I still snuggle the eight year olds, but they are far from babies now.)

I have a lot of love in my heart, and every couple of years, I have this overwhelming urge to have a new baby, of the human or non-human kind. My biological clock? Who knows… But every couple of years, it comes knocking.

My first baby was Hamish, who I will always cherish as my best friend and best dog ever. Really, Hamish was my first baby… He went everywhere with me, and my life centred around him. When he was two, I wanted a friend for him, and along came our cocker spaniel Maggie. Honestly, I would have had a human babe by then, but I was going through a mucky divorce, so that was out of the questions. A couple of years later came the cats, Vega and Haatim, in two batches, and then, after Hamish passed, our little cairn terrier Laughlin. I loved having puppies and kitties to snuggle, and to watch over. There is just this mothering instinct in me.

And then my human babies… Sugar and Spice. I love those little girls! My best babes of all, even if we got them when they were three. But now they are on the edge of puberty, and no longer toddlers-in-arms.

I need another baby, people. And this adoption thing is not panning out any time soon.

So, I am happy to announce, that I am getting a PUPPY!

And not just any puppy. Ever since I was in my early twenties, I’ve wanted an Irish Wolfhound.


If this breed isn’t ringing a bell for you, they are the tallest dog breed, and are shaped like an oversized, very scruffy greyhound.


Ok, so let’s answer some questions.
Yes, I know they are huge.


Yes, I know that they have a shorter lifespan than smaller breeds (average 8 years old.)

What you may not know is that they are called the “gentle giant” breed. I’ve always wanted an Irish Wolfhound,a new let me tell you why…


They are amazingly gentle and great with kids. They’re quiet, intelligent personalities are legendary. Even though they do need to roam about and have a good run, Irish Wolfhounds are actually are lower energy dogs, and love more lounging on their bed or by the hearth. They are easily trainable (not like my darling cairn terrier) and are rarely aggressive with other dogs. You rarely have to bathe them and a combing is all they need for grooming. And, they are huge, and scruffy, and have lovely beards. Every dog should have a beard, don’t you think? Laughlin has a beard, and Maggie does too, when she hasn’t been to the groomers lately… 🙂

I’ve sent a deposit into a breeder for a puppy in Alberta… The pups were born November 13th, and they are so so cute! Like oversized black and brindle hamsters, squawking and wrestling about. If she accepts my deposit and all goes well, I’ll go and pick the pup up at the end of January.

So excited!!