Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The story of two boys and a dog

Billy's walking home with his old dog, Ash. Taylor, a kid from Billy's class, sees them, runs up and starts walking beside them.

Taylor: "Can he sit? Sit, sit, sit, sit ... sit, sit ... sit, sit, sit, sit ... sit, sit, sit."

Billy: "He can't hear you. He's deaf."

T: "What?"

B: "I said, he's deaf."

T: "What?"

B: "He's deaf."

T: "What?"

B: "Ugh, he's ..."

T: "Gotcha."

B: "Yeah. Ha, ha. That's so funny."

T: "Yeah but I still gotcha."

B: "Whatever."

T: "How can a dog be deaf?"

B: "I don't know. He's old."

T: "Did he used to be able to hear?"

B: "Yeah."

T: "And now he's deaf?"

B: "Yeah."

T: "Wow. So if I bark at him, he won't do anything?"

B: "No."

T: "Ruff, ruff, ruff ... ruff, ruff ... ruff, ruff, ruff ... ruff, ruff, ruff, ruff ... ruff, ruff."

B: "Hey stop that."

T: "How about if I howl at him. Will he do anything if I howl at him? Aaaaaooooooooooo, aaaaaoooooo, aaaaaaaaaaooooooooooo."

B: "Hey stop that. It's bugging him."

T: "Why's it bugging him? I thought you said he's deaf."

B: "Yeah well it's still bugging him."

T: "Well can he do anything? Can he fetch?"

Taylor picks up a stick and waves it in front of Ash's face and then throws it but Ash just turns his head and looks at the Billy.

T: "Go fetch. Go, go, go, go ... go fetch ... go, go, go ... go, go ... go, go, go."

B: "He can't hear you."

T: "Yeah, he's totally useless."

B: "No, he's not."

T: "Yeah, he's useless."

B: "No, he's not."

T: "Yeah, he is."

B: "No, you're useless."

T: "No, you are."

B: "You're a jerk."

T: "No, you are."

B: "Aw just shut up."

T: "No, you shut up."

B: "Whatever. You're a jerk."

T: "You're the jerkest."

B: "You're jerkier."

T: "I already said you're the jerkest. Can't be any jerkier than that, jerk."

B: "Whatever jerk face."

T: "Whatever jerk off."

B: "Hey don't call me that."

T: "Why not, jerk off."

B: "Because it's something bad."

T: "You don't even know what it means."

B: "Yeah, I do and stop calling me that."

T: "Sure thing jerk off. I'll stop calling you a jerk off any second now jerk off."

B: "Shut up."

T: "You gonna make me?"

Billy turns to Taylor. Taylor takes this as a challenge and gives Billy a shove on the shoulder.

T: "You gonna make me? What are you gonna do about it?" and Taylor gives Billy another shove on the shoulder. At this, the old dog suddenly perks up and a low grumble comes out of his throat. He bares his teeth just enough for Taylor to see.

T: "Hey, lookit your useless old dog just woke up."

B: "You better leave me alone."

T: "Why, cuz your useless dog's gonna attack me?"

The old dog continues his low grumble. Taylor looks at him, uncertain now.

"Loser," Taylor says but he steps back, turns around and walks away. "Shitty old dog's gonna get a heart attack."

Billy, still trembling a little, watches Taylor as he disappears around a corner.

"See, he's not useless," Billy says. "Come Ash, come. Come!"

Ash doesn't hear the words but he sees his master moving off and follows.

After Billy and Ash have walked five minutes and Billy is sure Taylor is not following them, he slows down to let Ash catch up. Ash's hobble is visibly worse and he's walking with his head hanging down low and he's panting.

"Come on, Ash," Billy says. "We're almost home."

But Ash takes another couple of steps and stops and just stands there. Billy walks back to Ash and looks at him and tears begin to well up in his eyes.

"Come on, Ash. Not too much further."

Ash doesn't hear Billy but knows anyway that Billy wants him to keep moving. Their home is so close now, he can smell it but he's too tired to move.

Billy bends over and half carries, half pushes Ash to the side of the road, onto the dried brown grass and helps him to lie down. Billy wraps his arms around Ash and he says, "You're the best dog in the world and I'll never leave you. I'll never leave you."

Monday, September 29, 2008

2 dogs

from Jelena Kostic in Serbia

Minnie is from the pound, taken last year:

Ophelia was living in front of some building, but she got in heat, and gathered a pack of males, and people wanted to call dog catchers and then some people brought her to the shelter. Now she is neutered:

Both are going to new homes in Austria.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunny smiles Sunday

It was a pretty busy Sunday at TAS today. Lots of people dropped by, test driving (walking) the dogs, adopting the dogs. Lots of new dogs arrived as well. Here's one of my favorite, a young Doberman cross.

He's still under observation for a few days, as are all new dogs, but I'm sure when he gets put into adoption, he'll be snatched up. Even as I was taking his picture, three passers by asked about him. Must have been his smile.

With the perfect weather, hanging out with the new dogs, talking to all the people looking for four legged housemates - it was a great way to spend a few hours on a Sunday afternoon.

I also heard that another puppy mill in Quebec was raided last Friday and 109 dogs were seized. It looks like there's a good chance we may be getting some of those Quebec dogs at TAS over the next couple of weeks to help them out with their rehoming. The breeding dogs I've seen come into TAS in the past have never been in good shape but they've always made excellent pets if they were able to recover from their previous abuse. Hopefully, we'll be able to find decent homes for some of these recently freed puppy mill dogs to help make up for their suffering a life of hardship for people that just have to buy puppies without caring about their origins.


from Jelena Kostic in Serbia

Skinny female left in the shelter yesterday.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

More arrivals

Recently, three dogs, Angela, Erin and Meda arrived at Toronto Pearson International from Serbia.


photo by Cathrine Lowther

Erin was attacked by another dog back in Serbia and got two of his legs broken. His owner didn't want him anymore after that so he was taken in by Jelena and eventually his hind leg had to be removed:

photo by Debra Edwards

Meda, a purebred Giant Schnauzer, was also dumped by his owner and nearly starved himself to death waiting for the guy's return:

photo by Cathrine Lowther

They were all going to be adopted out separately but along the way, Erin and Angela kind of fell in love, and luckily someone has decided to take the two of them home together:

photo by Debra Edwards

Meda is not so lucky. After his arrival, it was discovered that he's got some serious medical issues. He's being looked after now by his foster mom, and with his medical bills covered, he'll hopefully be up and healthy again soon.

Old woman

from Jelena Kostic in Serbia

This video is for me so sad. This old woman is not completely normal, but she is ok, not evil or a thief or something. She brought two dogs to us two months ago, saying she rents a house and the landlord will not stand her dogs anymore, and she takes them off the streets. Then she wanted to bring more here and I said we don't have place or houses for them, and she said she will find another solution then.

This morning as one lady was walking to the shelter, she heard dogs bark some 300 m from our shelter and went through the bushes to that piece of land with a ruined house, and saw 9 dogs chained with no houses. She told me about it and we went together and I knew that it was the old woman who brought them there.

Later I went again to feed them and the old woman was there. She brought plastic to put on branches to protect them from rain. Like it can.

She really loves them. She walked so far carrying them two at a time because she got kicked out of her place. I have no idea where she sleeps, maybe in that ruined house, but she says she has a place to sleep somewhere.

Unfortunately I can't send a video. It takes so long. I will send pictures.


We took all her dogs to the shelter, because it was raining a lot and I couldn’t stand the thought of them being in the rain. 7 bigger puppies, 5 small and 2 grown up females. The old woman comes to see them.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The story of the dogs of Salzburg

So this guy's in Salzburg, right, walking around in drizzle trying to find somewhere to eat on a Sunday night which is hard cuz most places are closed on Sundays for some reason like people suddenly don't have to eat on Sunday or something there. Anyway he's walking around from one end of the old market to the other and winds up on the far side of some church where there's a monastery hooked up to it. He notices a lot of people coming and going out of this one door of the monastery and they don't look like no monks to him so he decides to go check it out. The door opens up into this empty hallway which is spooky because just seconds ago he'd seen like half a dozen people come in through those same doors. He walks to the end of the hallway and there's a sign that says "Entrance Here" so, having nothing better to do, he goes in. There are some wooden statues of saints and stuff and then this sign that says something like, "Drinking beer doesn't interfere with your fasting" which is a quote from some ancient pope who maybe appreciated a good brew more than the good book but the guy's not too sure because his German ain't so good.

Anyway, the guy hears a crowd around the next corner so he follows the noise and it turns out the he's walked into a beerhall run by the monastery. They've been brewing there since, well for a long time, like for centuries by the looks of things, the guy thinks, and there's like three huge rooms full of people drinking the local brew, smoking and eating and generally having a good time, damn their health.

Along one of the hallways joining the drinking rooms are a bunch of stalls selling stuff to eat. One's selling dumplings, one's selling baked goods, one's selling chicken and salads. There's one selling plates of thinly sliced radish and the guy's got no idea what that's all about but people are buying loads of it and eating it so he figures someone must know what they're doing.

Then there's a whole bunch of stalls selling pork in all its different varieties. There's pork sausages, pork neck, pork in perogies, pork burgers, pork sandwiches. He's looking around at everyone trying to figure out how they're all buying the stuff because it's none too obvious. He finally figures out that the prices they're showing on all the boards are for 100 grams of whatever, like 100 grams of sausage costs 1.10 Euro for example. Alright, not too difficult. The guy looks around at a bunch of the different stalls and finds something that looks okay so he walks up to it.

The counter is surrounded by about a dozen people, mostly big, robust men, trying to get their orders filled. This is the first time since the guy's arrived in Austria that there's been no semblance of order in a line-up. It's just a bunch of big drunks and semi-drunks crushing to get to the front of the line. And since The guy's not drunk, nor has he got a lot of weight to throw around, he doesn't stand a chance. Everytime he gets close to one of the attendants behind the counter, another half dozen drunks surge ahead of him and shout their orders out in German which in no way can the guy compete with because he doesn't even know what it is he wants let alone what it's called. His intention was to get close enough to the glass counter to point to his order. Well, he can point as much as he wants but no one's watching.

The guy tries ordering at four different stalls and gets the same thing happening to him each time. He's getting a little bummed out. All that food so near and yet so ...

And then he walks by this one counter and there's no one in front of it. It's got a vast assortment of pork in all its glory: roasted, schnizeled, sausaged, grilled, smoked, and a bunch more he's never even seen before. Behind the counter is a dark haired woman with soft features and emerald green eyes which are looking right at him. He smiles at her but she doesn't smile back. She just keeps staring. At first he think she's young, like in her twenties, but then as he walks closer to her counter, he's not so sure anymore. Suddenly, he thinks she could be fifty. He thinks that's weird but maybe it's the light or something. It's not that suddenly he notices a bunch of wrinkles in her face he hadn't noticed before but it's like her face just doesn't look young anymore. It's not as soft. Everything is sharper. The nose is pointier, the lips more chiseled. Even her hair looks like it's moulded or something.

Anyway, he pulls his eyes away from the staring contest with her and looks back down at the display counter to figure out what he wants and quickly too before the crowds clue in and catch up with him although he's also actually starting to wonder why there's no one else there at that stall but doesn't want to question it and just counts himself lucky that he's not going to go hungry tonight.

He sees this one piece of roast pork with a bone sticking out of it and decides to go for that. It's a huge piece of meat so he's thinking that like at all the other stalls, he'll ask for a certain weight and she'll cut off a slice for him. He points to the piece he wants and he says 100 grams which isn't a lot but now he's officially weirded out that no one else is at this stall so he's thinking that maybe everyone else knows something he doesn't and that the stuff here looks better than it tastes so he better not order too much of it just in case.

The woman picks up the hunk of meat and looks at the guy to make sure it's the right hunk and she says "One?" and the guy nods his head and say "Yes, 100 grams". Then she drops it onto the chopping block and starts chopping and very soon the guy realizes that when the woman said "One" she meant one piece as in that one whole piece of pork and now it's too late to stop her.

She scrapes the final piece of flesh off the bone then drops the whole pile, bone and all, on top of a large sheet of butcher paper and wraps it all up and hands it over to the guy. It feels like at least 2 kilos of meat which is about twenty times what he wanted. Even though the guy was hungry, the thought of trying to eat all that pork, suddenly makes his appetite waver.

He pays the woman and walks away with the package of meat and he realizes it's going to be a pain trying to carry all this meat back to the hotel like this wrapped up just in a piece of paper so he decides to ask the woman for a plastic bag or something but when he turns around, the woman behind the counter is gone and a closed sign has been put up on the display case. He figures he'll just have to carry it as is.

As the guy reaches the exit, he suddenly get a whiff of the food he bought. It's strange he hadn't noticed it earlier probably because it was mixed in with all the other scents wafting around among all the food stalls but now that it's on its own, well, it smells pretty damn good and suddenly his appetite is back. Now he's thinking he'll just save what he can't finish tonight for tomorrow's lunch. There's no fridge in his hotel room but it's cold enough outside so he can just wrap up the leftovers and hang it off the railing outside his room window.

He thinks about his room back at the hotel. He's traveling alone so it's all his. It's not the greatest room in the world but it came with the vacation package and, well, it'll do. It's clean enough. There's a tv, a desk, a phone, a single bed, towels, shower, the usual. It's enough and it'll do.

It's still raining outside and he realizes he's going to have to do something about the wrapping situation. He doesn't want the butcher paper around the meat getting wet and disintegrating so he tries to stuff the whole thing into his jacket pocket. It's kind of like stuffing a sleeping bag into a case that seems impossibly small and he's hoping he's not getting too much meat juice smeared onto his jacket's pocket liner. The jacket's got big pockets, though, so he actually manages to get most of the package in there with only about a third of it sticking out. The smell is starting to make him very hungry.

The guy passes a grocery store and decides to go in and buy something to drink. He tries the door but it's not budging so he like starts looking around to see if the store is actually open and as he's looking, he sees a dog about half a block away staring at him. It's a small white terrier and it's sitting there probably dutifully waiting for its owner to come back out from making whatever purchase the person's making. Even then, he's thinking that it's a bit strange because most places in Austria let you bring in your dog but then he thinks that maybe it's because it's raining and the dog is wet so that's why it didn't get taken in.

Anyway, so he tries the door again and this time it opens no problemo. The store must be just about to close, though, cuz it's rather dark inside and the guy's the only customer. He picks up a bottle of some flavoured fizzy water and on the way back to the cashier he passes the cheese section and on impulse buys a piece of Swiss cheese. He's not sure why. It's not like he doesn't have enough to eat already. He figures why not for the variety. Anyway, he tells himself that cheese'll keep if he doesn't finish it all tonight. Then he also buys a bag of carrots and some cookies. Can't have a proper meal without veg and dessert, he's suddenly thinking.

The guy pays for the stuff and leaves the store and just as he steps outside he turns around again to try and get back in because he suddenly remembers to see if he can get a spare plastic bag to put the pork into so that it's not hanging out of his pocket. He tries the door but this time he can't get it open. He looks around through the window and it all looks dark inside. He tries the door again but it won't budge. Doesn't matter, he figures. He's just heading straight back to his hotel now anyway. He's sure the paper wrapping around the pork will be fine.

He takes a step and almost trips over the friggin' white terrier. Well, actually, he does trip over the dog but manages a recovery. He like looks around to see if anyone's noticed but the only other people on the street are too busy covering themselves up from the rain to have been paying much attention. He looks down at the little beast that almost made him splat into a wet puddle on the sidewalk. It's looking back up at him and then when it sees it's got his attention, it sits. The guy looks around. There's no owner in sight. Very strange.

Now Austria's not a place where there are lots of stray dogs running around. The guy was actually talking to a hotel owner a few days earlier who had two dogs of her own. She was telling him that she got one of her dogs, a now two year old German Shepherd cross, from a shelter. It had been given up by it's last owner because it was deaf. The guy had asked her what she meant by a shelter, like a city dog pound or something? She didn't understand what he meant by a dog pound and when he explained it to her, about dog catchers and stuff, she said they didn't have those in Austria which he thought was kind of strange. Like what country doesn't have dog pounds and dog catchers? He asked her what happens to stray dogs and she said that they are returned to their owners and looked at him like it was a stupid question or something.

Anyway, whether or not Austria actually does or doesn't have dog pounds, he doesn't know but he gathered from that conversation that there weren't a lot of stray dogs around. Austrians treat their dogs like family so why would there be any strays?

Well, it looks like he must have found the only stray in all of Austria or it's found him. He doesn't know what to do. He says to the dog, "Well, I can't take you back to the hotel," and he starts walking away but it follows him so he stops again and turns around, and as soon as he does that, the little dog sits down again and this time wags his tail in a puddle. Then it does that thing that a dog will do when it wants something which is that inching forward on its butt then sitting again like it's trying to put an exclamation mark on the fact that it's sitting. And the guy asks, "What?" but now it's obvious. The little dog smells the roast pork.

The guy knows it's the worst thing he can do. He knows it'll only bring regret later but what would someone have him do with a hungry, stray little white terrier wagging its tail at him in the cold rain? So, he takes out a piece of pork, which he has too much of anyway, and gives it to the dog. It takes the piece gently out of his hand and then with what seems like impossible speed for a little fella, gulps it down.

"Okay, well that's it," the guy says, which is of course untrue and they both know it. It's too late. The dog, with its tail happily splashing through a puddle and a grin so wide it's cartoonish, isn't going anywhere the guy isn't going.

Now, if the guy were thinking straight, he would just walk back to his hotel and walk through the front doors and shut the dog outside and pretend to have no knowledge of where it came from, which he didn't, if anyone asked. But instead, he starts looking around for some cover from the rain because he's thinking that if he's going to be sharing his meal with this dog, he doesn't want to get soaked doing it.

They end up under the awning of some store that sells, and he can't believe this, painted eggs. There are hundreds of painted eggs in the display window and looking into the store, he sees hundreds, if not thousands more. And these aren't your garden variety eggs painted by spazzy four year olds either. These are like little masterpieces each and every one. The dog looks at the eggs too but doesn't get it, especially since they're all just eggshells, and it scoots forward on its butt again to get the guy's attention back.

The guy gives the dog a couple more pieces of pork and then he has a few pieces himself and then some more for the dog and some more for himself and it's pretty good but maybe a little dry so he eventually cracks open the bottle of fizzy water and has some and then sees the bag of carrots and so he pulls a carrot out and starts eating it. The dog looks at him and sits and wags its tail again so the guy hands over the rest of the carrot and the dog happily crunches on it and finishes it off. The guy pulls out another carrot for himself and gives the dog its own carrot as well.

They share some of the cheese next, which both the guy and dog agree is excellent, and then the cookies which have some pretty good marzipan frosting on them. The guy's getting full by this point and there's still loads of food left of course so he offers some more to the dog but it seems full too and starts lapping water from a puddle. Then it barks at him and takes off and the guy's like a little disappointed but also relieved. He once had to run away from a lost baby duckling that had bonded with him and he can tell you that committing that kind of betrayal is life scarring. He didn't want to have to go through that again with this little terrier. It was nice sharing his supper with the dog, though. Yeah, that was okay.

The walk to his hotel would take about another half hour or so. The rain's falling harder now. The clouds are so thick, it's like the sun's already gone down even though sunset wouldn't be for at least another couple of hours. But now that he's full, he doesn't really feel like rushing back to the hotel room. Like what's he going to do back there anyway other than watch tv which is mostly crappy American programming dubbed into German. So, he decides to take the longer, more scenic way back which is along the Salzach River.

When he gets to the river's edge, he stops to watch a tourist ferry boat doing donuts in the river to Mozart being played over its loudspeakers. The tourists inside are laughing and clapping and suddenly the rain doesn't seem so bad anymore. Well, like, it is bad, like he's still getting soaked and everything but it doesn't seem so bad, he thinks.

The guy finishes watching the boat do its water donuts and he takes a step to leave and almost trip over the Terrier again - only this time it's not the white Terrier, it's a black one. The white one is beside it along with two other dogs, a Lab and a Malamute. The white Terrier barks at him and sits and then the other three dogs sit as well.

The guy's, like, stunned. Then he says, "What is going on here?" He looks around to see if anyone else is seeing what he's seeing but same as earlier, everyone is too busy trying to keep dry. And no sign of anyone looking for their dogs.

The guy tries to walk past the white Terrier.

"I don't know what you think you're doing but it's not going to work," he say to it. "There's no way I've got enough food to feed your friends, especially the two bigger guys." Then he adds, "I'm sorry."

Unfortunately, it seems the dogs don't understand English. They follow him and the next thing he knows, he's pulling pieces of roast pork out of his pocket and feeding them. "I guess I'll be getting something else for tomorrow's lunch," he's thinking.

The Malamute is the gentlest of the bunch, even gentler than the little white Terrier. The guy had a Malamute once and this one reminded him a bit of her but this one's eyes were a bright blue - that unexpectedly bright blue that some Huskies get almost like they're wearing coloured contacts. The Lab, as is typical of so many Labs, doesn't just wag its tail, it wags its whole hind end whenever the guy passes over a piece of meat to it. The black Terrier is a little smaller than the white one and not to be pushed around by its two larger companions, always makes sure it's front and center and if it thinks the guy's not noticing it, barks him a reminder. As for the original whiter Terrier, it's just looking on and occasionally its ears perk up and it turns it head as if it's hearing something in the distance.

Then same as earlier, they move onto the carrots then the cheese then the cookies. When the dogs have had enough, they each turn away one by one and drink some water from puddles near by. The guy feels his jacket pocket, expecting it to be empty by now but there's still a chunk left. Must be the bone, he thinks. There's still carrots, cheese and cookies left as well. Actually, the bag doesn't feel much lighter than when he first bought the stuff. His arm must be getting tired, he thinks. It's been a friggin' long day.

The white Terrier barks and suddenly the dogs turn around and run off. Back to their owner's house where they'll pretend to be hungry and get their regular dinner, the guy's thinking. Dogs are such scammers.

Several bridges span the Salzach to connect the old part of Salzburg with the new - not that the new part is that new, but relatively speaking it is kinda newer. Despite the rain, there are still a lot of people crossing back and forth over those bridges. They're all tourists, just like the guy, all waving around wet maps and guide books and taking photos of themselves against the ancient skyline. The guy wonders what the real citizens of Salzburg must think about being perpetually overrun with tourists. He decides he'll ask one if he ever comes across one.

For some reason, it doesn't surprise the guy much when he turns around and sees about two dozen dogs following him. Well, like, of course it surprises him, but not as much as it would have, say, if he hadn't already been followed by a bunch of dogs earlier. This time, though, people are definitely noticing. At least he thinks they're noticing. He can see them looking in his direction. Some are even pointing. None of them, though, step forward to help out, let alone claim the dogs. What's up with that? thinks the guy.

The little white Terrier is there and the guy says to it, "This is all your fault, you know. I never should have fed you in the first place," but it just barks back at him as if to say, "Well it's too late now." And it is too late now. There's nothing for him to do but empty what's left in his pocket and distribute the stuff in the grocery bag. The guy's hoping the dogs don't start a fight over the few scraps he's got left but as he reaches into his jacket pocket, he discovers that there's more left than he thought. He tears off pieces of meat and throws them out to the dogs who catch the morsels before they land on the ground. He pulls out carrots and break them into pieces and throws them out to the crowd and does the same with the cheese and cookies and it seems that even as he walks and tosses the food out to the dogs, more dogs are joining the pack with the hungrier ones moving in closer to the guy while the ones who have eaten move out to bring back more of their friends.

Pretty soon there must be at least a couple of hundred dogs milling around, following the guy as he make his way back to the hotel. The dogs are really well behaved. They're in a pedestrian only part of town so there are no cars to worry about and the dogs stay out of people's way. People are gawking, though, or they're gawking at him, he's not sure which and occasionally some little kid will point at the dogs and make some unintelligible happy garbling noises and his parent will pick him up, apparently out of the teeming masses of wagging tails and sloppy tongues.

A block away from the hotel, the guy stops. The rain has slowed to a sprinkle but some clouds still obscure the sun.

"This is the end of the road," he says to all the dogs but especially the little white Terrier. "No more freebies. You all need to just go home now." But every dog is sitting. Not a dog budges.

There are people under coffeeshop awnings or standing in open store fronts buying fruit or baked goods. The people on the street are scurrying by with umbrellas open or jackets pulled over their heads, trying to keep dry even though they're wet already. They're all staring at the guy as they pass him by and he says to them, "Hey look, I don't know where these dogs came from. They're not mine, okay? They just followed me here and now I don't know what to do with them. They won't go away. See this is what happens when you don't have dog catchers." But he's explaining in English and no one seems to understand what he's saying. A couple of people just shake their heads and go back to eating their schnitzel.

The guy looks at the little white Terrier and gives it a "What?" expression. The Terrier looks back. They hold each others stares for a minute or an hour, the guy doesn't know how long but then the Terrier barks and with the bark, all the dogs get up and start to run off and they're like as if a wind had suddenly picked up, knocking over people's almost empty plastic cups and blowing away napkins and loose hats. Awnings buck and strain and leaves are blown off trees and umbrellas are turned inside out. A few people gasp as they are caught off guard by the unexpected movement. And it seems that the wind builds even more, washing over the centuries old buildings and then climbing higher, over the tree covered hills and mountains nearby and eventually it reaches up to the sky and blows the final few strands of clouds away so that now, just before the end of day, the sun shines once again. The guy looks around him and all the dogs have gone.

The guy finally arrives back at the hotel entrance. He reaches for the door and the door automatically slides open for him. He thinks about his small room upstairs with the lumpy single bed and the hard wooden chair and the desk with the small tv on it with two of its knobs missing showing those American shows dubbed into German. He thinks about the soundproof window with the bars on the outside. He thinks about the bathroom with the small sink and the one already half used up bar of cheap hotel soap and the old toothbrush with bristles so bent as to be practically useless. He thinks about the silent telephone beside the bed.

The guy steps back from the door and turns around. Maybe someone had slipped him some drugs or maybe he's got a brain tumour or maybe these are ghosts or maybe these are real but he looks around and there are so many dogs, dogs of all kinds, dogs of all sizes and colours, hundreds of dogs, maybe thousands of dogs or maybe more, filling up the streets as far as he can see. Some are barking, most are just wagging their tails. They are all looking on expectantly.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hedgehog puppy

from Jelena Kostic in Serbia

Someone had found 10 of them and as he was the smallest I brought him home. He looks like a hedgehog to me. They were found next to the road.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Idiot proofing test

This is such a common occurrence, it's ridiculous: idiot adopts a puppy because it's cute then neglects to spend any time training it and then returns it once he realizes that puppies actually grow up into dogs.

I once had a gym teacher in high school who did that for his kids. Every Christmas he'd get them a kitten and then just before the next Christmas, he'd "get rid of it" - whatever that meant - and get his kids a new kitten. What a turd. His kids are probably psychopaths now. I'm so sick of these selfish morons. There should be a registry for morons and their moronic excuses for dumping pets to prevent those morons from ever procreating more morons because it's doubtful they'll treat their moron-bred kids any better.

A good first step would be to create an idiot proofing test to prevent them from adopting puppies (or kittens). The test could go something like this:

1. What does your puppy eventually become?
a. A dog.
b. A head of cabbage.
c. Your mommy.
d. The president of the United States.

2. What should do once you get your puppy home?
a. Set up a comfortable area for it to sleep and eat.
b. Make it wash your dishes and do your laundry.
c. Celebrate by drinking a case of beer, eating the week old birthday cake you stole from your kid's friend's party and sticking the pup in the garage.
d. Hand the pup over to your kids with ADD because you've run out of Ritalin.

3. Is it a good idea to train your puppy?
a. Yes, absolutely.
b. No, training's a total time waster.
c. Maybe, but only if your can get your 400 pound lard ass off the yellow stained futon sofa.
d. You can't because your brain is only partially formed and you barely know how to shit in a toilet by yourself.

4. What's one of the most important things about training?
a. Consistency.
b. Punishment.
c. Whuh?
d. Yerp?

5. What's the best way to housebreak your puppy?
a. There are many methods but the important thing is to be patient and not punish the puppy for accidents.
b. Kick it
c. If the pup poops in the house, rub its nose in the poop then take the poop and rub it all over the pup while screaming at it. Then go wash your hands. Then go wash the pup. Then go wash all the furniture.
d. Why bother? You piss and crap in your own pants all the time. Nothing wrong with that.

6. Should you bring your puppy to a vet for a general check up?
a. Yes.
b. Naah. You get all my medical info off the internet.
c. Are they covered by OHIP?
d. If your pup gets sick, you're just going to drop it off by the side of the road.

7. Should you allow your pup to remain unaltered and eventually participate in uncontrolled breeding?
a. No.
b. Fuck yeah. Your puppy's going to be a gangsta stud.
c. Why not? You do.
d. Breeding and selling puppies is the best money maker you know of next to e-mail scams and participating in paid pharmaceutical testing.

8. What should you do if your puppy nips your hand while playing?
a. Start by pulling your hand away, stopping play and ignoring the puppy.
b. Kick it.
c. Kick it harder.
d. Return it for a better puppy and if anyone at the shelter gives you a hard time it's because they're animal loving, baby killing, anti-gun, environmentalist, commie, homo, al Quaida terrorist jerks.

If the person being tested checks off anything other than "a" in any of the above questions then the person's an idiot and can't have a puppy or a dog or a cat or a goldfish or any animal or anything that requires a modicum of intelligence to care for it.

Pot kitten

from Jelena Kostic in Serbia

Rescue kitten in the pot in the shelter ...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Social workers

Charlie and Copper are a couple of young male dogs presently residing at Toronto Animal Services. They're both happy, friendly, eager and untrained.

This is Charlie's second time through TAS. The first time, he came in as a puppy and someone took him home, never bothered to spend any time training him and has just recently brought him back.

He's a handsome guy and super affectionate. His ex-owner brought him back complaining that he's too wild. Too wild my ass. Other than being untrained, Charlie is great.

Copper is a beautiful red Doberman. He was found as a stray in Montreal and transferred to TAS because there were a couple of empty kennels here.

He had a previous injury to his left eye and it had, well, burst because it was left untreated so it was decided at TAS to have the eye removed. The operation was a couple of days ago and you'd think he'd be a bit distressed at having an eyeball cut out and his eyelid sewn shut like a horror movie extra but apparently not. He's optimistic and playful and acts as though nothing bad at all had happened. Dogs are so dumb and happy and if you can't love that, what can you love?

Both these dogs, along with a couple of others, will be spending the next month participating in a program which helps kids develop training skills. If they're lucky, they might even get adopted out during the process. If not, we'll be seeing them back here come November.

2 Puppies

Jelena Kostic is doing some amazing rescue work in Serbia and she's sending along a lot of e-mail updates so I thought I'd start sharing some of those with you on a more regular basis. All photos and writing are from Jelena unless otherwise stated.

Two puppies left near the shelter on the road - lucky not to have been ran over by a car as they were so hungry and ran after every car they saw.

They had a competition to see who could eat faster. They are very smart and thankful to get home. I just hope they don't catch distemper.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Common ground

Panorama taken from castle ruins near Altaussee area

It wasn't a big culture shock going to Austria. Sure they eat schnitzel and strudel whereas we eat hamburgers and apple pie; their buses run on time whereas ours just run; and they've got gorgeous old palaces and churches decorating their cities and we've got the Gardiner and more ugly condos littering our waterfront but all in all it didn't give me that "Holy crap, is this real?" sensation that I sometimes get traveling to other places. One thing that certainly felt quite familiar was the prevalence of dog ownership.

The Austrians love their dogs, dare I say this, maybe even more than we do. At least on the surface, it appears that dogs are more accepted as a part of their society there, welcomed in many, if not most, restaurants, hotels and stores. I met a lot of vactioners who were traveling with their dogs and they never had difficulty finding accomodations or taking their dogs with them where ever they went. In certain situations which might make a dog nervous because of an unfamiliar environment, such as riding up a swaying cable car, the facility provided muzzles which they would request be put on the dog, as opposed to just disallowing dogs completely.

Platform for mountain side rail. Note the muzzles available for use.

I didn't see any overly primped up dogs dressed up in mini-Chanel suits and carried around in Louis Vuitton doggie purses but I did meet a lot of dogs that were treated as part of the family. It wasn't about getting a place at the dinner table. It was about getting a proper place in one's life. One hotel owner jogged 10 k along mountain trails with her two dogs everyday then took them swimming in a lake then brought them into work with her where they traipsed around outside on a grassy plain overlooked by mountains on all sides. And they probably ate better than I did too. But she wasn't overindulging her dogs. She just included them in her daily life.

These two guys had to be penned when outside by themselves because one of them started retrieving golf balls from the course next door.

Considering this is where they hung out with their owner most of the time, I wasn't feeling too sorry for them:

It was good to see the bond many Austrians have with their dogs as many of us have with ours. If nothing else, it was a great ice breaker. I've always felt something is missing in those who don't have a connection with dogs or animals in general. It's like meeting someone who doesn't like music or hates food. Sure, I may still be able to get along with them, but it seems something very basic is missing and there's a natural reference point that cannot be shared.

It's indicative of a certain amount of compassion and empathy to be able to connect with a creature outside of our own species. It's a sign of our common humanity.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Scruffy dog photography

Illona Haus is the photographer behind Scruffy Dog Photography and she is the best dog photographer I have ever seen showcasing her work on-line. Her attention to details of colour and texture are exuberant and she does a fantastic job of capturing personality. And even better, a percentage of her session prices are donated to various shelters and rescues. You can check out her website here and if you do, make sure you see the images under Fine Arts Dogs in her portfolio section.

Daily dog: Kino

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Daily dog: Buster, Greyhound

Buster, Greyhound

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Daily dog: Rex, German Shepherd Dog

Rex, German Shepherd Dog, malnourished.

There is no excuse for this in a city like Toronto.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Daily dog: Pebble, Dalmatian

Pebble, Dalmatian puppy

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

It's finally over

I strolled through the Ex this year, first time in over a decade. There were the same mediocre barf rides stained with regurgitated purple and green liquids from the last batch of slushie gulping kids. There were the same cheesy games where you pay $2 to try to win stuffed toy prizes (made in China for a dollar) to be deposited into a landfill a month after bringing them home. There were the same fast food stalls, most of which were just more expensive, less hygienic versions of what you can get elsewhere in the city. There was the vast flea market where you could get discount lingerie beside discount fake grass. There was the Superdogs show always filled to capacity so we couldn't get in. There were the traffic jams and blocked roads in the neighbourhood. There were the ear piercing engine screams from low flying jets in the 3 day air show (The first fly by is cool. The next few dozen, not so much).

I have no right to complain, though. The Ex was here in the neighbourhood way before I was, though I don't think it's been appreciated by many neighbourhood residents for a long while now except those few that still try to rent out their front yards for $15/day parking.

But now the Ex is finally over and I can take Stella and Rocky for their usual morning walks through the CNE grounds again as long as we avoid the tons of garbage strewn all over the park. It'll take weeks to completely clean it up, expecially the nasty chicken bones and the broken glass.

And Toronto Animal Services is open for adoptions again. They start out the season with a dog returned by its owner. The owner did no training, never brought him to a vet, and now he's several months older than when he was first adopted out as a pup. The usual story. He's a handsome boy but a handful. His name's Charlie. Check him out if you'd like. He'll probably be here a while. If the link doesn't work, it'll hopefully mean he's found a home(Yay!).

I'll be out of town for a couple of weeks. Rumour has it that by the time I get back, there'll be a roomful of great dogs up for adoption.

Daily dog: Benny

Monday, September 1, 2008