Mom, Dad, Francis and I had moved into the Nova Scotia home of artist and writer, Tomi Ungerer, and his wife, Yvonne, to care for their property and animals while they spent a few months in Switzerland. We stayed there from January to April. We referred to the location as “down on the island.” Surrounded by beaches, the road to the island was inaccessible during unusually high tides and stormy weather. An old Land Rover ferried us in and out.


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Stranded on an island at the height of a storm. How romantic! Not my idea of romantic. Sounds like the plot of a “dark and stormy night”  book or movie — not the kind that I enjoy. Mysteries, dramas and thrillers are not my cup of tea, largely because of my overactive imagination. Little did I know that a real life mystery was about to unfold for me.

The story goes like this: Our Church youth group had organized a sledding and tobogganning event at nearby Ginger Hill. I wanted to go, but I did not want to walk across the beach alone in the dark. I was afraid the bogeyman would get me. Dad suggested that I take Sasha, the giant Newfoundland dog, with me for safety.

That seemed doable and I prepared to leave the house. The moment we stepped off the doorstep, Sasha started to growl. The growling got louder as the dog was sniffed all around. That was it for me; I chickened out and tore back inside, as white as a ghost. I spilled my scary story and was reassured the dog probably smelled our cat.

Sasha and I left a second time with the same result. On our third attempt, Sasha tore down the bank to the frozen pond and returned  with the villain. Was it an axe murderer, escaped convict or serial killer?


Nope, it was my cute little brother who thought it was funny to scare me, the girl afraid of her own shadow. GRRRR. Should I laugh, cry, run away from home, throw a tantrum or refuse to speak to him for the rest of my life? After all, everyone else thought it downright hilarious.

I persevered and the fourth attempt was successful. Sasha escorted me to Ginger Hill and waited patiently  until I was ready to return to the island.

I forgave my little brother long ago and we love each other to the moon and back. Francis doesn’t tease me any more, but we sure do belly laugh about the crazy things that seemed so funny all those years ago.

Is there a moral to the story?


Yep. Always trust a growling dog.


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