Emery (2005-2017) was an amazing guy. He was our great dog (Labrador Retriever), and he was also a founding member of McDougall Minerals. From specimens, mineral photography and website updates, through to packing and shipping, Emery was literally in the middle of it all, shaping the activities of each day.
If you knew him, I thought you might enjoy some fun photographs from over the years. And if you are one of my many mineral friends abroad who never met him and may have heard the occasional tale, I hope this will help you feel as though you did know him, by sharing some of his lifetime of laughs and happiness. He was smart and full of joyful energy, with a true sense of humour and a strong personality. I’ll let the photos do most of the talking.
Emery was as adorable as any puppy.
He also tipped his hand in puppyhood – mischief and games would be part of every day of his life.
Throughout his life, Emery bounded ahead of us on trails, and then came back to see what on Earth was taking us so long.
In this photo, a young Emery is back after having crossed and returned through a wide,
ice-cold glacial stream in the Rockies – he’s standing at the shore and wondering why we
have to take our hiking boots off to ford streams.
Emery lived much of his life based out of downtown Toronto, with trips to the woods many weekends, as often as we could (until we moved to live in the woods in 2013).
He enjoyed family and friends (both canine and human) in Toronto, but his true love was having fun in the woods and the lake. And I’ll get to a little of that in a moment. I thought I’d start by telling you a bit more about him, and about his work at McDougall Minerals.
Emery was easy to talk with, as he had a decent vocabulary (a little over 100 words and about 15 names of people and dogs). He was also quite easy to understand, because even though he was never vocal when he wanted to communicate things, one often knew what he was thinking. Here are a few examples:
“MY soccer ball!”
(That grip was strong…)
“Minerals are soooo boring. Let’s do something better. Like food.”
“Are we going to blow leaves together or not? What’s this nonsense about filling up with gas?”
“You’re morning coffee is so finished. Quit stalling. It’s walk time.”
“I love you Dad. Especially if you’re thinking about food.”
“Take me for a swim. Now!”
“What do you mean ‘give it back’? You come and get it!”
“Throw it again!”
“What are we having for dinner?”
“Kick the ball again! Again!”
And of course the regular “Feed Me”, each day… usually also an attempt to advance the eating hour. Sometimes by “thunking” the Kibble Ball on the floor (which, if you’ve never seen one, dispenses kibble as it rolls), and sometimes without it, but the facial expression was always the same and unmistakeable. Wherever I was, he’d come to find me and tell me…
“Dad, it’s time.”
“Dad, it’s time.”
If you’re skeptical that this expression was the same each time over the days and years, compare the next photo with the previous one…
“Dad, seriously. It’s time.”
Emery began his career at McDougall Minerals as the Director of IT. (I figured someone should do it, and wasn’t keen myself.)
As life would have it, that wasn’t his plan. In the office, he was my co-pilot, often in his chair right beside the desk, facing the window.
And he was perfectly content to snooze rather than work.
The IT Department was not going to be Emery’s problem. (Though he retained the title.) Instead, he founded the Afternoon Snooze Committee, and made a rather successful career of it.
Emery perfected snoozing. When he snoozed, it was really hard to resist joining him. He was the master – he always looked so comfortable and totally content.
Snoozing during construction
Summer evening hanging out on the screened porch together
Well, I really shouldn’t say he “always” looked comfortable. For example, this one below didn’t seem too brilliant. I had given him a pillow after we had picked up shipping boxes in Toronto, and were about to head back up the highway to Bancroft. He had almost the whole back seat of the Jeep, so I don’t know why this was his choice…
Fast asleep. (!)
It was never hard to tell when the Chairman of the Afternoon Snooze Committee was bored and wanted to do something more interesting. Often prefaced or accompanied by a purposeful sigh or a groan…
“Dad, we’ve really gotta talk about this whole mineral thing.”
[Several months later, same place, same look…] “COME ON. Let’s DO something. Not this.”
But he knew we had work to do, and he was pretty grateful to have me around after all those years of long hours away at the law firm. So he accompanied me everywhere, he happily supervised collecting trips, ruled World Headquarters, and made his own fun whenever it occurred to him.
“What. YOU unwrapped them, Dad. Did you think I was going to pass on the chance to play in the plastic?”
[If you’re wondering, that blue collar was after a small medical procedure – nothing that would preclude fun.]
And often, he was just happy to be part of the team.
Supervising the website minerals while at the helm of the Afternoon Snooze Committee.
“That empty 3″ flat bottom is over here Dad, if you’re looking for it.”
Of course, we spent a lot of time together in the photo studio. Emery was always a close companion in there – and often a good laugh. He very often settled in exactly the wrong places. I’d come back into the room and…
I stand left of centre to shoot, with my right eye at the viewfinder… Hmmn.
Lying against the tripod was very common… also less than ideal.
As you might imagine, in later life, when sometimes he had to wear the cone, it all seemed even more precarious…
But to his credit, he never knocked anything over – not minerals, or camera equipment. It just looked like it was going to happen. I guess maybe he knew what he was doing. (I also kept a pretty close eye on him.)
As you might expect, Emery found the photo studio boring. He would occasionally groan or sigh pointedly to get my attention. Of course, he got lots of floor time from me that way.
Bored and falling asleep in the photo studio.
At other times, he was not so subtle.
“Dad, it’s time.”
I often responded with two of his least favourite words: “Too Early.”
But Emery was nothing if not persistent in his pursuit of food.
[“Thunk” sound of the Kibble Ball] “Forget it Dad. It is SO time. No excuses.”
And of course Emery came on every specimen shipping run to Bancroft. His usual perch was beside me on the rest between the seats.
“All right Dad, let’s go.”
He also liked to hang out the window, which I let did let him do on the slower back roads (in non-winter months).
First open car window ride in the spring
We’d often combine our shipping runs with other errands in Bancroft, and he was happiest with the regular ritual of stopping at the grocery store and sharing bananas afterward.
“Dad I love you when you buy us bananas.”
Above all else, Emery made a greater contribution to each day in the life of McDougall Minerals – he founded our Joy of Life Department. As you might expect, there was no such department in my previous life at the law firm, so I didn’t realize we needed one. Emery sorted me out on the subject. It was a bit of an adjustment for me, taking regular breaks to have fun. Whether it was morning coffee on the dock, or taking breaks to go walking in the woods, late afternoon swimming together, or playing in the snow, Emery actively sought the fun in every day and he made sure I had that fun with him.
Morning coffee on the dock – his favourite place of all
A stop on one of our regular woods walks
We often swam together, the game being that I’d throw the squeaky out into the water and we’d race each other from the dock to see who could get it first.
Favourite purple squeaky
Emery loved to be towelled down. Sitting with the towel on like this was not common,
but he sure was content this time.
And he adored our woods, in every season, every day.
Bounding out of a cold spring pond and up a steep hill.
Smiling in the summer grass
Happy on a fall walk
Presiding over an early-winter sunset
Speaking of winter, snow made Emery happy. Which is just as well, because we sure get lots of it up here.
Sleeping by one of the snowbanks near the house, winter 2016-17
He loved to lie out in the snow, in any weather – it didn’t matter. He was truly a snow dog all of his life.
This kinda looks cold to me, but he was at home in the snow. He’d spend hours out there in it.
Lying out in a heavy snowstorm, howling to all of the woods that these woods were his.
(He was territorial that way, primarily only in winter. Who knows why…)
He shared in all our winter activities…
Running between us as we snowshoe on the lake
Snowbeard and his ball
His face was often snowy
And we played together for hours in the snow
Emery loved to just lounge in the snow.
Clambering up onto a snow pile
Snow-lounging so happily in the spring sun
As the spring progressed, he’d lie on his favourite snow piles as they receded, until they were all gone.
“I don’t care if it’s melting. It’s still here, and I’m still perched on it.”
And there was one snow activity that was his most joyful. Every winter day, Emery gleefully rolled in the snow and made snow angels.
Snow angels in powder snow
Still rolling in the snow as it melts in April
Well, of course I could go on forever. I’ll just finish with a few happy photos.