The Bowen Island Recycling Depot (BIRD) has an unusual tenant. No one knows where she came from or quite how old she is. But visitors may catch a glimpse of scruffy black fur as Peanut roams around dumpsters and woods.
If Peanut had “people,” Dave and Louise McIntosh would be it. The long-time recycling centre leaders were the ones who found her, scrounging for food in a dumpster, about eight years ago.
There was a tarp covering the dumpster and, attracted by the smell of food, Peanut had apparently walked onto the tarp just far enough to fall in.
“That was the first time we realised we had a dog,” says Louise.
While Peanut was wearing a collar, there was no name or contact information to be found, and after asking around and posting notices, it became clear to Dave and Louise that Peanut was abandoned.
“She was extremely feral and hadn’t had people contact in months,” says Louise.
They called in the animal society and the vet to see how best to handle their surprise guest. The vet said they could try and socialize her, but no one could get near the timid canine.
Instead of trying to relocate Peanut, Dave, the then president of BIRD, adopted her.
But it wasn’t your average dog-human relationship. Peanut had a small bin in the woods she used as a den, among other hidey holes around the facility, would wander as she liked and Dave would feed her every night.
The two soon bonded.
“She knew the sound of the engine of his truck,” says Louise.
But even Dave wasn’t allowed to touch Peanut. He was able to grab her and take off the collar, because he was worried it was constricting her neck. But that was the extent of Peanut’s human contact.
Dave looked after Peanut from afar, consulting the vet when she looked peaky, but otherwise respecting the dog’s quite large bubble, which extends beyond humans.
“She’s not very social with other dogs,” says Louise.
“She tends to run away.”
But there’s one guy who’s made it into Peanut’s personal space. Another local furry fella, Toby, is the only dog Peanut’s ever warmed to in her tenure at BIRD. She’ll come bounding out when he visits. Recycling centre staff call him Peanut’s boyfriend.
Though she’s found a home at BIRD, Peanut’s life there hasn’t been entirely stable. In 2015 Dave suffered a stroke and he no longer frequents the depot. Care of the resident pup has passed to the recycling centre staff, who now look after snacks, meals and medicine.
Greying hair and a stiff posture betray Peanut’s age, and she’s now on glucosamine for her joints.
“She’s probably doing better than some of us,” chuckles Louise.
Still a character, Peanut greets every meal with a delighted little dance, bouncing around her food.
“[Peanut] does appreciate us, and she definitely entertains. For all we give her, she definitely gives back that sense of fun and frigility,” said Louise.
Louise notes that every winter they’re concerned that the dog won’t survive, but spring comes and Peanut’s still there.
“She gives you hope,” she says.
There are warm places Peanut can stay when it gets really cold, and Knick Knack Nook and BIRD staff try to make sure she’s safe when that happens.
“She’s loved and she knows it,” says BIRD’s Sean Delaney.
If anyone wants to donate food to Peanut, there’s a small donation station for soft dog food at BIRD.