Call of the wild

Ben Cullen and Ruby (Photo by Chris Tiessen)

Ben Cullen and Ruby (Photo by Chris Tiessen)

With the help of his dog, Ruby, fourth-generation urban gardener Ben Cullen connects with nature in new ways

Unlike a water bottle, sunscreen or a hat, Ruby always seems to be sitting at the door wagging her tail before I head outdoors — impossible to forget or ignore.

When we’re out in nature, Ruby makes me fully aware. Before she joined our lives, a walk outdoors could be like any other: determined to get where I’m going, missing the scenery. Having started life as a scavenger, Ruby and her instincts slow me down. Together we can chase a scent or stop abruptly in our tracks, listening carefully for the sounds of wildlife I would otherwise miss or ignore.

Ruby has shown me how to experience the wild more like an animal — alert, and with all my senses. But when we zip the tent closed at night, she curls between the sleeping bags and is the first to fall asleep — at home with her humans among the whispers of Canadian wilderness.

This story originally appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of the Nature Conservancy of Canada Magazine. To learn more about how you can receive the magazine, click here.

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