Monday, June 30, 2008

A dog is not a chocolate bar

Here's a secret. The best way to get a dog is to volunteer at a shelter. Why? Because you get first pick from a vast assortment of dogs, purebreds and mutts, before they are even put up for adoption to the general public. You get to walk them, interact with them, see how they behave around you and around the other dogs, cats and people. You also learn to distinguish the nuances in their personalities so that when you finally meet the right dog for you, it'll probably not only be a good choice but it'll be the best choice you could possibly make.

Most people want a certain breed of dog because of some preconceived notions about the breed, but dogs, like people, can very often thwart their own stereotyping. You want a dog that is affectionate with everyone so you think lab but in the shelter the most affectionate dog I've ever come across has been a pit bull. The gentlest dog I've ever come across has been a border collie. The scariest dog I've ever come across has been a lab. Like anything, the more you get to know your subject, the better the decision you'll be able to make. It's a helluva lot better than seeing a puppy in a pet store window and going "ahhhh" and then impulse buying it on the spot as you're paying for the goldfish food.

Okay, so you don't have enough time to volunteer, you don't feel the need to do such intensive personality research and you have a specific list of breed, size and colour requirements that you're not willing to stray from. Unless it's a super exotic dog, like an Anglo-Francais de Petite Venerie or a Peruvian Hairless Dog or a triple-eyed dog from Mars named Pookie, the best thing to do is an on-line search for breed specific rescues. Pretty well every breed of dog has a rescue dedicated to it and chances are good that those rescues will be well stocked. Of course also try Humane Society, SPCA and local city pound websites which will allow you to sort by breed and size. A great clearing house for many rescues is the fabulous http://www.petfinder.com/ where literally hundreds of thousands of pets up for adoption are listed.

Once just the right dog has been googled and bookmarked, more research still needs to be done by you and by the rescue organization you may be trying to adopt from. That's the thing with a good rescue, they do their due diligence just like a good breeder - in fact maybe even better than most breeders. Often, the rescue will send someone to check out your home to make sure that you are who you say you are and that yes you do indeed have a 6 foot fence and that no you don't live in a no dogs allowed apartment building.

Now do your own research. Find out as much about the dog as possible from the person who is fostering the dog. Is it good around kids, other dogs, cats, plants, furniture, ham and cheese sandwiches left on the counter? Does it bark at old men in wheelchairs, at kids wearing baseball caps, thieves in the night? How much does it eat? What does it eat? What can't it eat? Is it housetrained? Is it trained at all? And whatever other concerns you may have. The foster parent is an excellent source of information but you have to ask the questions.

Of course, check out the dog yourself if at all possible before committing. Someone's idea of nice little doggie may not be in line with yours. Then again, they might be spot on. Anyway, better safe than sorry.

There will likely be some fees to help offset costs borne by the rescue, like neutering, spaying, vaccinations, food, etc. and if those fees, usually in the hundreds of dollars, are a turn-off then maybe you should rethink your ability to properly support a dog in your home because hundreds of dollars annually is likely what it's going to cost at a minimum to keep a dog happy and healthy - unless you're a vet who also just happens to run a butcher shop. Still, the costs charged by a rescue will probably be significantly lower than if you were to go to a breeder or pet store.

If you do the research and the planning, you won't get any nasty surprises but that's true with every bit of commerce.

So, to sum up, when you adopt from a rescue or shelter, you'll find a great friend, you'll save a bundle of cash and you'll also save a life - and that's important if you're looking for a dog as a long term companion and not just as a walking piece of fur that matches your furniture or this season's purse.

Adoption update for Mya


Mya was adopted on Friday June 27, one day after getting her makeover.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The nemesis

Ever wonder why there are so many unwanted dogs around? Is it because there are packs of stray dogs fornicating like there's no tomorrow and having feral puppies in the alleyways? Not quite. At least 67% of unwanted dogs are produced as a disposable byproduct from backyard breeders, the worst contributor to the overpopulation problem, followed by puppy mills with 20% (http://www.nopuppymillscanada.ca/byb.htm).

Most people know what puppy mills are: disgusting places that make it into the news every so often when they get raided by animal welfare officers. The owners generally get a slap on the wrist fine and then open up another mill a few months later. Just google it if you want all the gory details and there are lots of gory details to be had. Every state, every province has puppy mills, Quebec apparently being the worst in Canada, supplying pet stores everywhere. They are such unwholesome and universally reviled business establishments that even Oprah dedicated a whole episode to the topic - sending in undercover journalists to check out and film the action.

But what about backyard breeders? Who're they? Well, he's the guy at work who lives on a farm and he's got a couple of nice dogs, kinda look like purebred shepherds or something like that, and he just wants to make a few bucks by selling a few puppies or they're the nice couple down the street with a couple of nice kids and they just want to educate the kids about birth and what better way than a live home demo or maybe it's the wacky entrepreneur living upstairs who wants to create the next designer dog sensation by crossing a poodle with a bull mastiff. Some of them may be well-intentioned, some may not but either way the result is more dogs in a world overcrowded with unwanted dogs. And you have to ask yourself, what happens to the puppies if that co-worker doesn't sell the whole litter? What happens to the ones that nice couple down the street can't find homes for? What happens when the entrepreneur upstairs discovers that no one really wants mastidoodles or poostiffs or whatever he decides to call them?

This is what happens. They end up at the pound and they'll probably be killed. Look at the stats (from yesterday Dead dogs). Unwanted dogs don't stand a good chance of making it out alive.

Or, the other possibility is that all the puppies are sold. That means that an equal number of dogs that could have been adopted from shelters are now destined for euthanasia. Plus it encourages the byb to try it again as soon as his bitch is ready.

Most people own byb dogs and the point here isn't to spread guilt, it's to spread conscientious decision making. The best way to get a dog is either through adoption or through a reputable breeder. More on that tomorrow.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dead dogs

Alright enough fun and games, here are some numbers.

Of the dogs that end up at a shelter (1000 shelters surveyed out of approximately 3500 in the US):

15% - 17% returned to owner
23% - 26% adopted
55% - 60% euthanized
2% - 4% other (I suspect this is another way of saying dead)

Stats are from: http://www.americanhumane.org/site/PageServer?pagename=nr_fact_sheets_animal_euthanasia and http://www.petpopulation.org/statsurvey.html from surveys done in 1997.

Ends up what all this means is that 3 to 4 million dogs are euthanized in shelters in the U.S. every year. What does this translate into for worldwide numbers? Who knows and, anyway, stats like these are meaningless. Who the hell understands what it means to have 3 to 4 million dogs put to death simply for existing? It's incomprehensible even for our lovely, giant human brains. And then the numbers get lost in all the statistical noise out there used to squeeze more guilt money out of you to help whatever cause is pulling at your heart strings (unless your heart is out of whack in which case there are charities for that as well). These numbers only tell you the obvious: that the situation is bad.

I try to ignore numbers like that. I try to concentrate on the task at hand, the dog that is in front of me. The majority of people involved in dog rescue feel the same way - at least the ones who last. If you wake up every morning thinking, "Oh I've got 3 million dogs to save today," you'd laugh at the sheer hopelessness of it all. You'd be incapacitated. And then you'd do nothing at all.

Platitudes are inane and don't really have any basis in reality but this adage is one I like because it makes sense to me: Saving one dog may not change the world but for that dog the world has changed.

Friday, June 27, 2008

10 very good reasons not to get puppies



1. They are harbingers of Satan's spawn.

2. They will chew off your pinky while you sleep and send it to the yakuza as an initiation fee to enter into the global criminal fraternity.

3. They will say, "Look, I'm gonna give you a taste. First time free. But next time, you will bring money."

4. They will dance dance dance all night long because they really are that crazy.

5. They will ride around on loud motorcycles wearing shiny leather, tassled vests with no pants on.

6. They will watch Ulimate Fighting on tv with the volume turned up really loud even though you told them you're trying to get a good night's sleep.

7. Shit, I can't think of any more reasons.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hair today, gone tomorrow

WTF?

Before I started doing this volunteer thing at Toronto Animal Services, I was never really into puny dogs. Don't get me wrong. I didn't dislike them. I just wouldn't have chosen one as a long term companion. They were too akin to tea cozies or purse adornments for me. I thought their DNA was barely a step above that of my childhood teddy bear - a teddy bear which, I might add, eventually lost a close fight with my first dog and was thus eviscerated - and justifiably so, as it was a weak, unambitious teddy and hardly put up a fight.

However, things have changed. One thing I've discovered over the past couple of years, is that all dogs, while they may not be created equal, can be equally endearing. Those little ones, the bouncy fluff balls, may not have the strength to help with any heavy lifting around the house but they sure are cute enough to pluck your heartstrings and make you want to wub their wittle tummies (another thing I've discovered is that I've also become less manly).

Mya was an owner surrender. When I first saw her in her kennel, I couldn't tell her head end from her ass end and had a hard time trying to figure out what to put the collar around. My first attempt resulted in a loop around her waist. My second managed to snare a front leg. Mya wasn't happy with all this fussing so she started to struggle a bit which didn't help. It was like wrestling with a squirmy wig. When I finally did get the collar on right and we started walking, it looked like I was pulling along one of those lumpy flesh balls covered in hair that people occassionally give birth to. You know what I'm talking about right? Those lumpy flesh, hair baby things? I didn't just make that up did I? - because if I did, that's kind of sick and I'll need to get stronger meds.

Anyway, it was a warm day and once Mya started panting, visually it made a bit more sense and it also became obvious that despite the funny 'do, Mya was not having a good time. First of all, she could barely see. She kept bumping into stationary objects: fire hydrants, car tires, garbage cans. This semi blindness combined with the fact that she had just been dumped by her shit-fer-a-heart owner and was in a strange new environment made for some skittishness whenever I reached down to pat her. She was hot and uncomfortable and stopped and shook herself several times on the walk, trying to unsuccessfully relieve herself of some discomfort on her skin. She was also quite sensitive about some of her mattes, pulling away if I touched the wrong clump of hair. Maybe all this discomfort explained why she didn't stop once to sniff anything at all during the whole time she was outside.

Mya liked people, though. You could tell. She wanted to be patted and picked up but the pain from the out of control matting made her reticent about approaching strangers too closely and it was this little thing, this push and pull of emotions, this trying to be friendly but being afraid of being friendly that made her "complicated" but in a way that made me empathize and not turn away.

As opposed to whenever someone tells me about someone they know being "complicated" and all I want to do is thwap both of them in the face with a wet sponge.

When we finished our short walk and I got Mya back at the shelter and told them how the walk went, they decided to get Mya to the groomers asap.

Later, I heard that the grooming experience did not go well but Mya survived it (and I think the groomer did too but that hasn't been confirmed). Freshly shorn of hair with a few razor burns to show off as battle scars, Mya was a brand new dog. Her shag was gone but you could see her big brown eyes and that more than made up for it.

And now she was lovely in looks and personality both. She was no longer holding back. She was all kisses and butt wags.

Mya, destined for someone's lap to snooze the afternoons away.

Update: adopted on Friday June 27, 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

High park

Front page Toronto news the past couple of days has been the story about someone who intentionally poured anti-freeze into a public drinking trough for dogs in an off-leash area of High Park called Dog Hill thereby poisoning several dogs, two of which have now died.

One theory, offered up by the police, is that this is a result of an unresolved conflict between dog walkers who want more freedom for their pets and those who want the dogs reigned in because dogs are felt to be a disturbance to other park users, wildlife areas, etc. - the implication being that, though a bit extreme, maybe the poisoning of a few dogs was a justifiable attempt, in some people's minds, to stop the rampaging monsters.

Whether or not this theory pans out, it does bring up once again, the nagging anti-dog squirmishes that have been going on now for years in this city.

What neither side brings up is that stopping dogs from trampling undergrowth or getting in the way of joggers isn't going to solve the real problem which is a lack of natural spaces in our city. It's like trying to stop the spread of AIDS by telling people not to sneeze. If they want to do something meaningful to protect and renaturalize, in this case, High Park, they should do something truly brave like ban or at least reduce the number of cars, roads and parking lots in the park. The harm done by a few dogs running through the grass is miniscule compared to the wave of destruction wreaked by paved asphalt surfaces, by the spew that comes out of tailpipes, by the noise of engines.

The reason why High Park, or any inner city park, is so precious is because we have destroyed everything natural around it. Every road, every shopping mall, every residential neighbourhood, basically every square meter of this city is only possible through the killing of innumerable animals and plants that once populated this land. Imagine all the abundance of life that once existed here that is now covered by concrete, asphalt and plastic. All that life, from the smallest annoying "weeds" to the grandest animals, all dead and gone because we just had to have every last one of our shopping malls, and roads to get to the malls and larger houses to store everything in.

If the problem of lack of green space is to be solved then the true cause of the problem must be addressed.

People are the guilty party. They shouldn't be blaming dogs. That's just stupid.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Gender studies

A conversation I had with one of the volunteers at Toronto Animal Services:

Me: Why do you think there are so many women who volunteer here and so few guys?

Her: Is this a pick up line?

Me: No, does it seem like a pick up line?

Her: Well, if it is, it's pretty lame.

Me: If it is, it is pretty lame.

Her: It's not exciting enough.

Me: Really, it's not a pick up line.

Her: No, I'm answering your question.

Me: Oh, right.

Her: Guys would rather do something more exciting, like, I don't know, go on marches, push over mail boxes, riot, you know, stuff like that.

Me: Sure.

Her: I used to know this guy, well actually he was my ex so I knew him pretty well, but he'd go on these marches and get all worked up about it. It was like he was going to a battle. He was like Mel Gibson in Braveheart.

Me: Wow. Did you love him for that?

Her: He thought he was like Mel Gibson. I thought he was more like Joe Pesci.

Me: That's quite the discrepancy.

Her: Yes, we often disagreed on the details.

Almost everyone I've met who does dog rescue is a woman. Other than James at TAS, usually the only time I see a guy get involved with a rescue is when he's getting rid of his dog.

This is weirdly lobsided because I know it's not that guys don't care about dogs. At the dog park I go to regularly, the majority of people who bring their dogs are guys. Maybe it's because the park I go to is in a brrr scary part of town but as a rough guess I'd say the ratio is 2:1 men to women. In the dog rescue world, though, it seems like the ratio is 99:1 women to men. Now I'm not complaining about that, of course. I get more than enough spraying testosterone every day at work. But, having grown up in a time when equality of the sexes was encouraged and even expected, it seems so blatantly stereotypical in the dog rescue world that women are the compassionate ones whereas the men are what? I'm not sure. They're just not around.

So, here's my theory. Women care about dogs in general whereas guys mostly only care about a particular dog - their own. Perhaps women see dogs more as companions and obviously the more companions the better. The man views the dog as something he owns so that if it's his then he needs to take care of it, keep it shiny, show it off but if it's not his then taking care of it is none of his business.

Yeah, maybe I'm screwed up but shizz like this keeps me up nights.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Profile: Fred and Ginger


A woman reports two strange dogs playing together in her backyard and requests animal control officers come by and pick them up.

The two dogs seem very attached to one another so back at Toronto Animal Services they are given the names Fred and Ginger and kept in the same kennel. Fred is the small, quiet and submissive Jack Russel while Ginger is the big, goofy and high energy German shepherd.

Fred is constantly getting stepped on by Ginger as she bounces around but he doesn't seem to mind. He follows her everywhere, letting her be the big sister. In the play room, they take turns climbing up on their visitors, giving kisses and paws, playfully fighting for attention. Usually, Fred and Ginger are taken for their walks together but sometimes, maybe with one of the less experienced volunteer walkers, they are taken separately, one after the other. Then, Fred whines until Ginger returns and Ginger barks until Fred returns.

The bond between Fred and Ginger is strong and so Toronto Animal Services tries to adopt them out together. They are listed together on the TAS dog adoption website for several weeks. Many people visit Fred and Ginger. One couple thinks about taking Fred and giving Ginger to a neighbour. Another talks about bringing both to her parents who live on a farm. There are these moments when you hold your breathe and think it might all work out.

In the end, no one is willing to take on the responsibility of two new dogs and after several weeks with no suitors for the pair, Fred is adopted out separate from Ginger. Ginger spends a sad week alone in her kennel before she too finds a new home.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Jelena's shelter

photo by Jelena Kostic

Jelena Kostic looks after 400 abandoned dogs in Nis, Serbia. I don't even know what to say about that. I've got no reference for that kind of monumental hard work. I sit at a desk for most of the day and type on a keyboard and move a mouse around. The extent of my personal responsibilities amounts to maintaining the lifestyles of Rocky and Stella in the way to which they have become accustomed.

400 dogs. Where do you even start with that? Where do you keep them? How do you feed them? How do you clean up after them? What about the sick? What about shelter?

photo by Jelena Kostic

What about neighbours? How do you convince people in a dog fearing town that you're not a pariah? That the dogs deserve some charity, some throw away scraps of food and blankets.

photo by Jelena Kostic

And what about your own sanity? How do you dedicate your life to this, faced with endless days of hopelessness punctuated by only brief moments of success? How do you continue to do this when you know that all you need to do is turn your back, walk away and the multitude of pleasures of our plastic world will be there to embrace you.

There are 400 dogs barking and the difference between her and me is that I would ask, "How can you deal with that?" and she would ask, "How can you not?"


video by Dejan (Deki) Vukicevic

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Relay

One of the more difficult aspects of dog rescue is getting the dog from where it is to where it should be. Often the journey is split up into several sections with the dog being passed from volunteer to volunteer as it is transported across the country or countries.

Take the Serbian dogs which arrived last Monday for example. They started out at Jelena's shelter in Nis. They were brought to the airport by a taxi driver friend where they were met by Cathrine, an overseas Canadian coming home for a visit. She brought them on board her Lufthansa flight as cargo. Upon her arrival in Toronto, she was met by Elizabeth, Janet and Michelle at the airport. Janet, on behalf of Happy Tails Dog Rescue, would be fostering Koko the scruffy little brown dog while Michelle, who usually does cat rescue, would transport Pinky (named for the pink spot on her nose) to Toronto Animal Services where she would be temporarily housed in one of the spare kennels.

After some exchange of paperwork, Janet departed with Koko and Elizabeth left with Pinky to find Michelle's car and then onwards to TAS.

At TAS, James gave Pinky a quick once over health check and then fed her some food which she gobbled up. Luckily for Pinky, Michelle had taken a liking to her and decided to foster her herself. So, after a few words of advice from James, Pinky was taken home by Michelle where she will spend the next few days or weeks until a permanent home is found for her.



Friday, June 20, 2008

The adventures of puppies sleeping



Well, what did you expect? Dancing?

They're in their third week. Not very ambitious.

They might do well as paperweights except who uses paper anymore? On set, for the medium to far shots, you could use them as guinea pig stand-ins. They're also pretty good insta-poop dispensers - just rub their bellies a bit. But really, they're not good for much else. Although, people say that you only have to stare at them long enough and your heartache goes away and you'll live a thousand happy years.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mid journey

video

video by Bonnie Hall

RT Spinner (aka Willie Wonka), the dog in the poster from yesterday's post, is now in lab rescue in Toronto and he is obviously having a great time showing off his mad fighting skillz. Look at how he quickly and with little effort puts the bigger dog into a submission hold. The bigger dog, Bak, is a Serbian rescue but despite his tough East European training, is no match for the agility of Spinner's ground technique. Spinner's signature move is his falling to the right fake out (hence his initials RT for Right Turn) which causes his opponents to momentarily drop their guard - just long enough for Spinner to pounce. The falling to the right move actually came about after his head injury but he's learned to use it to its full advantage.

Right Turn Spinner will be taking a short break from the fight circuit to get some equipment removed and then he'll be back in fine form for sure.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Boys will be boys

Visualize the boys. What they are wearing. Their weight. Their height. Hair colour. Are their faces well-rounded, well-fed or gaunt and malnourished? Do they have big hands or bony hands? How dirty are they? What about the time of day? Describe the location. How big is the rock. How are the knots tied. Are they good strong knots or just barely holding on against the struggling? And their homes. Big or small? City or town? A farm maybe. What their parents are like. What their teachers are like. Good students or underachievers? Do they stand out? Are they mundane? Are they typical? How often have they done this before? How often will they do this again? Is it fun? Think about the expressions on their faces and the taste in their mouths. Is it fun?

I could do all this for you, write a few lines of imagined dialogue or something but then I might take it too far or not far enough. So you can do it for yourselves and take it as far as you need.

Think about what the boys are saying to each other as they are hammering.

But, whatever you do, don't think about what the dog is going through. If you think about the dog too much, you might lose it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Play dammit!

I got Rocky a year ago when he was 8 years old after his previous owner left him at the pound.

I discovered after I brought him home that Rocky had apparently not been properly socialized with other dogs. At least that's the doggie psychoanalytical reason. He may also just have been a lunkhead.

One social grace he lacked was that he had no idea what it was to play. Whenever Stella tried to play with him, he would either freeze or he would take it as aggression and bark and run away. It probably didn't help that Stella's idea of play was to smack him on the back of his head with her paw or whack him with a big stick.

Now Stella's not the most subtle nor brightest girl around but she is persistent and over the course of the year, has finally succeeded in teaching Rocky how to play, at least on her terms. This morning they played for a good 15 minutes which compared to past play sessions was like a marathon.



You can see how when Stella first tried to get Rocky to play tug with the stick, he was still a little uncertain and mouthed her throat a couple of times like he was about to vampire bite her but then he clued in and the tug of war began.

After they finished, Stella celebrated her hard work and achievement with Rocky's social development by taking a break to eat the stick. Like I said, she's not the brightest girl.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Arrivals

Pinky surveys her new surroundings. She is fresh off a Lufthansa flight from Serbia via Frankfurt. I wonder what the scents tell her. Does Canada smell different?

Oaza shelter in Avala, Serbia - photo by Cathrine Lowther

What's the point, someone asks (as I've asked myself), of rescuing dogs all the way from Serbia when there are dogs much closer who are in need of saving? No one answers that because there is no good 15 second answer. The answer is too esoteric. I mean, why save dogs period? Is it a great weakness or a great strength to care about those outside of one's immediate circle? Should we only help those who are in easy reach? Should we only help those who can perhaps one day help us back? Lattlay Fottfoy, as an infamous British gangster says. Look after those that look after you. Fuck off those that fuck off you.

Oaza shelter in Avala, Serbia - photo by Ivana Paunovic

The way to kill a dog in Serbia seems to be a matter driven mostly by expediency. Shinters (government employed dog catchers) drive around looking for strays, capture them, place them in cages for two or three days with no food or water. When no one shows up to claim them, the dogs are injected with a suffocation poison. If the poison is unavailable, the dogs are clubbed to death. Or, maybe a pitchfork is used if a club isn't available. If there's a spare rope around, the shinters can always hang the dogs. Sometimes they can't be bothered to actually kill the dog personally - it can get messy, I suppose - so the dogs are dumped into a hole and buried. Or, they are put into sacs and dropped into the back of a garbage truck and crushed.

Oaza shelter in Avala, Serbia - photo by Ivana Paunovic

The next time someone ask why I bother with Serbian rescue dogs, I might say something like:

"Well, it's amazing how many interesting people you meet and it does a world of good for cross cultural cooperation. We can really provide some leadership and funding and help kick start their own domestic, better equipped animal shelter system. And blah, blah, blah ..."

But the real answer is because I feel like it.

Oaza shelter in Avala, Serbia - photo by Cathrine Lowther

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Originality

This morning, as I was walking Stella, my Great Dane, to the park, someone stopped and pointed and said:

"Hey, you got a saddle for that yet? Har, har, har."

Dane owners get that a lot, probably even more than actual horse owners. Here are some other great lines:

"Is that a dog or a horse? Ha, ha, ha."

"You ever ride that thing? Heh, heh, heh."

"How much for a pony ride? Huyuck, huyuck, huyuck."

And then it kind of repeats itself.

"Where's the saddle? Snort, snort, snort."

"Nice horse you got there. Teehee, teehee, teehee."

"Can my kid get a ride on that? Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck."

So, let's see. I hear that about once a week and Stella's been with me about 5 and half years so that's 5.5 * 52 = 286 times now.

I got Stella when she was 6 months old. Elizabeth told me that there was a great dane pup being housed at a kennel by a woman who was in hiding from her husband. Apparently, this happens a lot: an abused woman finds herself in a situation where she can hardly look after herself let alone any dependent pets (Safe Pet and other organizations can help out). I was dogless at the time and had no intentions of getting a dog but, what the hell, a quick peek at a Great Dane pup wasn't going to hurt.

Later, at the kennel, there she was: six months old and already 85 pounds. All gangly legs, long neck and big ears.

"Hey, she looks just like a horse!" I said. "I'll have to get a saddle for her."

And that, folks, is how you get suckered in.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Fresh out of the oven: 3 loaves of fur

A female husky was brought into Toronto Animal Services a couple of weeks ago and while she was being readied for her spay, it was discovered she was preggers. Three days later, three wee ones pop out. This is them at a week plus a bit.



Near the end of the above clip, you can see one of the still sightless pups gets a little confused and tries to suckle on the kneecap of one of its siblings. This is all well and cute until J. tells me that sometimes an overly exuberant and hungry puppy will accidently mistake a bro's peeper for a mom's nipple. A bad move indeed, the result of which is an unpleasant rash on the recipient of said attentions, not to mention the fact that this act is very contrary to family values and just mentioning it will probably land me in the rifle sites of puppy lovers everywhere.

This aberrant behaviour may lead the gentle reader to think that these furballs are indeed living in a den of iniquity. Truth is, they're not doing too badly at the moment but it would be a whole lot nicer if they didn't have to spend their formative next few weeks isolated in a kennel. J. is looking for a foster parent to look after the lot of them until they are weened at around eight weeks. The pups need to be exposed to different environments and different people if they're to be well-adjusted members of dog/people society.

Otherwise, they might just all grow up to be a bunch of ill-socialized, incestuous cocksuckers.

No thanks, I gave at the office

When I tell people I do volunteer work with rescue dogs, they often say something like,

"Cool, you mean like St. Bernards that go dig up people popsicles buried in avalanches?"
"No, I mean like dogs which have been rescued."
"From avalanches?"
"No, not usually."
"Why not?"
"What?"
"Huh?"

Eventually, I get across I'm talking about abandoned dogs who are looking for new homes. After this light bulb clicks on, there's one of 3 reactions:

a. a verbal "That's nice," accompanied by a mental "but really, who the fuck cares?"

b. disappointment like it's dinner and you're expecting the delivery guy with the fully loaded thirty six ingredient mega pizza but instead it's some kid selling expired chocolate bars from a dirty white plastic bag while his mother waits at the sidewalk itching for a smoke.

c. a mutually agreeable but ultimately unfulfilling discussion about the sins inflicted by man upon beast and what can be done about all that anyway.

If that's all there was, that would be too bad but occasionally, there's a fourth reaction:

d. I'd like to help.

And that's the one that makes it all worthwhile.