The Secret Island of Saints

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There is a secret island full of St Bernards off the west coast of Canada.

First you have to get to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Then you have to get to the docks at French Creek to catch the little ferry (no cars) that takes an hour to cross to mysterious Lasqueti Island. Tikki then picks you up at the dock in a beater truck that runs on Jacob's homebrewed bio-diesel. Then it's off to the end of the island on a logging road that climbs hills and drives through a swamp to arrive at the Lasquite kennels of Tikki Smith. There you will be greeted enthusiastically by her pack of over 40 St Bernards who run free in a five-acre woods of giant rain forest trees. And you will never forget it.

For those fanciers who can't imagine living without their air conditioning and hair dryers, the thought of living off the grid with so many dogs is mind blowing. But for Tikki, who grew up in these woods, it's no big deal. They make their own power and rig up their own water system to pipe water from a storage tank to the dogs. They bring in tons of food by barge and charge their computers and cell phones by solar power. The Internet allows Tikki to place her dogs with fanciers around the world. Most of the time, she ferries the pups over to the airport on Vancouver Island and off they go.

Since only a few hundred people make their home on the island fulltime, there is no vet or doctor. When Tikki had her second son last fall, she delivered him at home assisted only by her two-year-old boy Niall who proudly announced "Baby here!" and fetched some blankets. The father, Jacob, had gone into the docks to get some supplies and missed the whole thing!

Talk about old school!

Tikki got her first St Bernard from Benbaron when she was only sixteen. She now has one of the most successful breeding programs in the world. Well done Tikki!