Saturday, October 31, 2009

Toronto Animal Services Friday review, Oct. 30

Just two new dogs this week, both mid-sized dogs surrendered by their owners and both very friendly.

Angie, a Doberman cross, still acts like a frisky young dog and can get quite excited when it starts to play but a few more months and some proper guidance can easily tone it down.

It was getting quite dark when I took Dax, a Border Collie/Lab?, out for its walk so the photo is kind of grainy but I'm pretty sure it's going to get adopted out pretty quickly despite its bad picture because it's such a likable, well behaved dog.

For adoption information on these and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dog bite - part 1

A while ago, there was a medium sized dog at Toronto Animal Services South who was very people friendly, excitable and somewhat unruly from lack of training - no different from many other TAS dogs. He didn't really display much of an aggressive or friendly attitude when he passed by other dogs so he was a bit of a mystery in that regard.

One morning as I was bringing him back from his walk, one of the other walkers came out with a puppy. The pup certainly presented no threat and my guy didn't seem all that interested so I brought him over a bit closer to see his reaction (it's always good to know how a dog will behave with other dogs so that the information can be passed along to potential adopters). The pup, upon seeing us walking closer, started jumping and getting excited about meeting with another dog. My guy grumbled a bit but I didn't think it was a big deal but I didn't let him get any closer just in case.

I knew my guy really liked belly scratches so I started petting his side and he immediately fell down and rolled on his back exposing his stomache. The other walker stayed where she was a few feet away and played with the puppy. I figured the enjoyable belly scratches in close proximity to the pup would be a good conditioning exercise for relaxing my dog around other dogs.

As I scratched, I started talking to the other walker and was only half paying attention to my dog. I should have been more attentive. The puppy was getting a bit exuberant in its play and at some point, it did something - I don't know what - to annoy my dog who was on its back and probably beginning to feel exposed more than relaxed with the hyper pup near by. My dog rolled back over upright and before I realized what it was going to do next, it leapt over to the puppy and had the pup's whole face in his mouth.

The pup screamed and wailed. I'd never heard a dog make that kind of noise before. Even as I was reaching out to grab my dog, I was thinking about the damage it was doing to the poor pup and cursing myself for being an idiot and not being more careful.

When I got to my dog, probably less than 2 seconds after it attacked the pup, I grabbed its upper and lower muzzle with my hands and pulled them apart. This most probably was not proper technique but I was terrified for the pup, imagining the worst. Also, I knew my dog wasn't people aggressive and since it wasn't in an out of control frenzy, I took a chance and figured it wasn't going to turn around and bite me.

As soon as I got the dog's jaws open a bit, the puppy pulled back and wailed some more and then it just lay there, shaking in the hands of the walker, crying and trying to catch its breathe and crying some more, so much like a human child would do after a traumatic event, so much like a child that it almost made me queasy while I waited for the blood to start flowing out of various puncture wounds as I was sure it was going to do because there was already blood on my hands. I could see some blood on the puppy's muzzle too.

But as it turned out, there was no gushing. The pup actually didn't seem physically injured at all. The other walker, sure as I was that the pup was hurt, did a close inspection all around the muzzle, the ears, the eyes, inside its mouth. There was nothing. So, we thought maybe it had bit its tongue, maybe that's where the blood came from but even when we looked close, we couldn't see anything.

It wasn't until five minutes later, when I looked down at my own hands again, that I realized the blood was mine. It must've been from when I had reached out to pull my dog's jaws apart. I must have scraped the edge of one of my fingernails on a tooth, causing it bleed. I wiped away the blood and beneath it, it was just a scratch, later to be washed and disinfected.

The pup was carried back inside, still shaking. My dog had already lost interest earlier, as soon as the pup had crawled away in fact.

The pup fully recovered from the incident, at least it seemed that way and I hope the attack didn't negatively impact its future behaviour too much. It was adopted out and last I heard, it was doing well.

The dog I was walking was adopted out also with a warning that it may not always get along with other dogs. I haven't heard back about how it's doing.

That incident was a reminder to me to always be attentive around dogs I don't know well but, more, it was a good kick in the pants for me to feel an emotional reponse to a dog bite. I've always known that dogs can bite, of course, but I've never experienced the awful feeling that comes from watching a dog which I am supposed to be responsible for, bite another innocent dog, or God forbid, a person. I never want to feel that feeling again.

Many of the dogs I come across, and I'm not just refering to the ones at TAS, do not like other dogs or do not like certain other dogs or do not like certain other dogs under certain circumstances. Bites can result.

Having said that, though, I don't believe biting should mean game over for a dog. The solution to biting, except in the most extreme out of control cases, is behaviour modification and control. If a dog doesn't like other dogs, then keep it away from other dogs until it can be taught to feel at ease around other dogs. Why force a dog into a situation where it will fail at staying within the bounds of acceptable behaviour?

I've been thinking about this stuff because of some recent events involving dog bites and the different responses to them from the dogs' owners.

More on that in a future post.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Time to Eat the Dog - the new green cuisine

The public reaction to the book Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living by Robert and Brenda Vale (father/daughter?, husband/wife?, both?) is, for the most part, one of deserved ridicule - and guess what - it ain't gonna stop here.

Maybe you've heard of the book already? It's the one where the Vale braintrust suggests that dogs (and cats as well) should be eaten because their existence is harmful to the environment.

A joke, right? One of those provocative tabloidesque titles meant to create shock and awe and pump up sales? Well, if it is a joke, it's a poor one. Regardless of the nuances within the covers, the suggestion that we should eat our pets because they are impacting on the environment will only give animal haters and abusers more reasons to hate and abuse.

The Vales seem to be taking their own joke rather seriously, though:

Eat your dog - because its carbon footprint is bigger than a Toyota Corolla's.

That's what Wellington city councillors have been told by Victoria University research fellow Brenda Vale, who is an authority on sustainable architecture.

Her latest co-authored book, Time to Eat the Dog, investigates ways to modify behaviour to save energy. It will be published next year.

She told a city council briefing last week that all pets should be edible because their carbon footprints - or pawprints, as the case may be - contribute to global warming.

Acting mayor Ian McKinnon said she explained that "a big dog can have a carbon footprint that is the equivalent to a small car and therefore the best way forward, if you are going to have a pet, is to make sure it is edible".

To enable this to happen, the council would need to ensure that it was legal for humans to eat cats and dogs. Or it could ban traditional pets and let people keep conventional food animals, such as chickens and pigs, in their homes.

Blaming the impending environmental disaster on pets is kind of like me blaming the current global economic meltdown on the fact that Bill didn't pay back the $10 he still owes me for lunch. Sure, the default in repayment might be an aggravating factor in my finances thus contributing to the overall financial debacle but should he really be chopped up, battered and deep fried for it?

Surprisingly, the Vales themselves used to have pets.

"We used to have lots of cats. But we've got to the point where we feel that we shouldn't," Robert Vale said Monday from Wellington. "It's quite sad. We were very fond of our cats."

Well they might be sad but I guess at least their stomaches are full.

Robert: Want some ketchup with that?

Brenda: No, you'll ruin it.

Robert: You know, it tastes surprisingly like chicken or monkey brains - I'm not sure which.

Brenda: Did you try the Siamese yet?

Robert: No, I'm saving the best for last.

Brenda: Speaking of Orientals, I've been eyeballing the neighbour's Pekinese. What a cutie ... pie.

Robert: Oh you don't want to get neighbours angry at us. I'm sure you can pick up something cheap at the pound.

Brenda: Which reminds me, did you take the dog out?

Robert: I took it out of the freezer this morning.

Brenda: Do you think it'll be enough for everyone? You know how the families like to gorge themselves at Thanksgiving.

Robert: Yeah, no kidding. Especially your dad. He's fattening up pretty nicely.

Brenda: What do you mean by that?

Robert: Nothing. Oh, look. I got the wishbone.

Brenda: I wish for a greener world, honey.

Robert: So do I, honey. So do I.

In the spirit of saving the planet through culinary creativity, here's a list of some other things which commenters have suggested should also be eaten because they are harmful to the planet:

1. all animals
2. children
3. neighbours
4. ex-spouses
5. SUVs
6. the Vales' brains
7. oil rigs
8. nuclear missiles
9. farts
10. people who eat cats and dogs

Whether or not the Vales really want people to eat their dogs is debatable and perhaps what the Vales are getting at is that we need to look at how we can reduce our environmental impact in every aspect of our lives and that's all good and fine but the key words there are "our lives". Pushing the blame onto the creatures around us isn't going to solve a problem that is essentially created by humans and perpetuated by humans. It's like when people build their suburbs out further and further into the once wilderness and then complain when bears, coyotes and deer start "invading" their backyards. I can understand not wanting a zoo in one's backyard but the animals aren't the ones doing the invading and killing them is not the solution, at least not a good one.

We're at the point now where we humans have so depleted and ruined the land and resources around us that some people are starting to feel that any other living species which may compete for those same necessities can be considered a threat to our survival and thus deserving of extinction. It's sad to see that this type of human-centric thinking has even infiltrated academia. Of course academia, especially the fringes of it, has always been fraught with misguided, illogical notions.

I think if the Vales were to logically tackle the what-to-eat-to-save-the-environment question head on, they'd realize that the best thing they could consume is, of course, themselves. I'd suggest they start with their feet. It's hard to eat without hands.

And they'll probably want ketchup with that.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The story of a sure thing

I've seen this awesome girl coming to the park a few times now and she's got this Border Collie with her and I think its name is Maggie or Mags or something like that but I'm not sure what the girl's name is. She always just comes to the park by herself and her dog and I'm pretty sure she's like not seeing anyone and once I overheard her say something about an ex something or other, like a boyfriend or maybe even a husband though I'd be pretty surprised if she's been married because she seems like pretty young but I guess with some people when things don't turn out, they just end it right away which is the smart thing to do. At least that's what I would do if things weren't working out. No point in dragging things out, right?

My dog, Lucky, goes over and right away starts to climb onto Maggie's back end and I think it's kind of funny because Lucky is like a quarter of the size of Maggie because he's like a Min Pin something or other but the girl isn't exactly laughing so I stop laughing and I run over and grab Lucky and put the leash on him and I say Sorry to the girl and tell her that Lucky's got great taste in women, Ha, ha and that's why he's called Lucky because he's always trying to get lucky, Ha, ha.

I tell the girl my name is Henry and she says she knows and I ask her how she knows and she says because one of the other dog owners mentioned me a while ago and I say, Well, whatever they said, it's not true, unless they said I was fantastic in which case it's true, ha, ha and the girl just sorta smiles so I ask her how long she's been coming to the park and she says about a month and I ask her if she'd just moved into the neighbourhood and she says she'd been here a while but only just got the dog from a shelter about a month ago and I say, So that's why I've never seen you before because I've been coming here a long time and I know pretty well everyone but I've never seen you before, so I guess that's why because you just got the dog. Its name is Maggie, right? and the girl says, Mags. And I tell her my name is Henry and ask her what her name is and she says, Lucy. Is that short for Lucille, I ask, like that Kenny Rogers song? but she says she doesn't know that song so I sing You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille but she says no, it's not short for Lucille.

Lucky takes a dump so I go over and pick it up with a few sheets of newspaper and I walk back to Lucy and she says, No plastic bags? I've got an extra one if you need it and right away I know she's really awesome because not everyone would offer someone they just met a plastic bag so I take her plastic bag because she offered it because I don't want to seem ungrateful because you should never turn down a gift. On the bag it says Johnson's Dollar Mart and I say, I go there too. They've got so much stuff. It's amazing what you can get for a dollar, though some of their stuff is like 1.29 or even 1.99 now and Lucy says, Yeah, I usually just go there when I get a chocolate craving because they have all those cheap chocolate bars, and I say, Oh yeah, totally. That's why I go there. Their chocolate's great and I think most of it is like the really good imported stuff too like from China, and Lucy says she didn't know that and I say, Yeah it's important to read the labels because you never know what they put in food these days.

We have a really good conversation so when Lucy tells me she has to leave I say, Hey, if you're not doing anything later, why don't you drop by my place for a coffee or something and you can bring Mags, and she says she's probably going to be busy but I tell her my phone number in case she changes her mind and I ask if she's got a cell phone and she says Yes but maybe the battery is dead so I ask to see it and I turn it on and it looks like the battery is still fine so I tell her my number again and get her to put it into her cell phone and then I get her to show it back to me just to make sure she put it in there properly and she shows me and it's alright which is awesome because now she's got my phone number. Okay, just call me later, then, okay? I say and she says okay and waves and leaves with Mags, who is a great dog by the way.

On the way home, I stop off at Johnson's Dollar Mart and tie up Lucky on the bicycle rack outside and I go inside and buy a Kit Kat, an Aero bar, 2 Reese's pieces bars, some Cheezies - but that's for me mostly because Lucy didn't say anything about liking Cheezies but you never know - and another Kit Kat and I think about how I'm going to just leave the bag full of chocolate bars on the coffee table when she comes over and she'll comment on it and I'll be like, Take a look inside, and she'll look and see all those chocolate bars and she'll be like, Awesome, and I'll be like, Yeah, I remember you said you like chocolate from Johnson's Dollar Mart so I just dropped in on the way home this morning and picked some up for you. I got some Cheezies too in case you like them but if you don't, don't worry because I'll eat them. I know some girls don't like them because they turn your tongue and fingers all orange but I don't mind that. I mean, I don't mind if Lucy's tongue and fingers turn orange. I'm not uptight like that.

I also decide to buy some shampoo at Johnson's Dollar Mart because I don't have any at home. I grab one bottle that says it smells like Honeydew Explosion and another one that is supposed to smell like Peppermint Toffee and I unscrew the tops off and sniff them and they both kinda smell the same and not really like anything I ever smelled before. I put the lid back on the Honeydew Explosion one and put it back on the shelf and then I take the Peppermint Toffee one and pour a bunch of it into the plastic bag I got earlier from Lucy which is in my pocket. I put the empty bottle back on the shelf.

I pay for the chocolate bars but have to put one back because I don't have enough money because I forgot about the tax and then I go outside and there are a bunch of kids standing around Lucky and they're making barking noises at him so I go and untie him and one of the kids says something like, How much for the dog? but I ignore him so he says, "I asked you how much for the dog, faggot?" and the bunch of them laugh but I ignore them and just keep walking.

When I get home, I put the bag of chocolate on the coffee table and I say to Lucky, That's not for you, understand? That's for our guest, okay? and I take the leash off Lucky and then I get his breakfast ready and while he's eating it I go and take a shower with the Peppermint Toffee shampoo which now that I'm more used to it, does kinda smell like Peppermint but I'm not sure about the Toffee part but maybe that will come later.

I have a shave and brush my teeth and when I'm done I check my phone messages to see if anyone's called but no one has so I go outside to get a newspaper and a coffee and I come back and sit down in front of the bag of chocolates and drink the coffee and read the newspaper. After finishing the newspaper, I go into the kitchen to check the phone messages again but no one has called. It's almost 2 o'clock and I'm a little bit hungry so I break open the Cheezies and eat half the bag, saving the rest in case Lucy decides to have some later. After I eat the Cheezies, I see that my fingers are all orange so I go and take another shower.

At four o'clock, I eat the Aero bar.

At six o'clock, I eat the Kit Kat bar and finish off the Cheezies.

At eight o'clock, I eat both packages of Reese's peanut butter cups.

Lucky is beside me on the couch. I give him just a little piece of the peanut butter cup even though I know it's probably not good for him. I love the way he smacks his lips whenever he gets peanut butter. He puts his head on my lap and looks up at me hoping for more.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I'm missing one

First a reminder of what they looked like when they first came in:

And now, a shave and a haircut later:













(Umm, I seem to have missed the 13th one.)

Looks like they're about ready for world domination.

Geese have a gaggle, fish have a school. There should be a word for a group of Shih Tzus as well, like maybe a cuddle of Shih Tzus or a cloud of Shih Tzus.

Much thanks to Cassandra at Canine Clips for donating two days of her own time to grooming the dogs. What a fantastic job she did!

Continued here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Toronto Animal Services Friday review, Oct. 23

Tiger is a non-celebrity Shih Tzu but don't tell him that. He's got cute cornered:

This guy may think he's a Shih Tzu but I'm not too sure. Looks like he's got a bit of funkiness thrown in:

Lovely German Shepherd pup. He's got the same weird walk that so many purebred GSDs seem to have these days:

One of the things I like best about pups like Dale below is their floppy earness especially when you catch them at that point when one ear is all grown up and the other is still slouching over like a teenager:

For adoption information on these and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lucky 13

13 Shih Tzus were on the news yesterday. A woman had phoned Toronto Animal Services and asked for the dogs to be removed from her apartment in Parkdale. The story told by the owner was that she'd been looking after the dogs who had belonged to a recently dead relative but couldn't deal with them anymore.

The dogs, 8 pups and 5 adults, were picked up and brought back to TAS. All of them were covered in shit and piss and heavily matted. 3 of the pups are curious about people but most of the rest, especially the adult ones, get quite anxious when approached. It's like they'd been kept in a box their whole lives. Luckily for them, their fear doesn't translate into biting so they'll probably all do okay once settled into caring, responsible homes and judging from the constant phone calls and the stream of people going into TAS and filling out applications for them, placing them won't take long.

It's amazing what a little news segment on a major TV network can do and I'm really glad for those 13 little guys. If only some of that spotlight would spill over onto the rest of the non-celebrity dogs waiting in their kennels.

These three pups below are wary of people but love their litter mates. I'm sure they'll warm up to people as well eventually.

The adult females below, who have not yet been cleaned or dematted, are petrified of any human approach. There's a third one in the back who buries her head in the other two and won't even look up. They're not fear biters, though, but I don't want to touch them because I think I might give them a heart attack.

Now these pups below are doing okay. Typically happy puppy frenzy and an eagerness to meet everyone passing by. Can't wait to take them outside.

The remaining adult males were out getting their spa treatment when I was at TAS so I didn't get a chance to do their photos today.

Continued here.

For adoption information on these and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Daily dog: Willie, West Highland Terrier

Willie, West Highland Terrier

Daily dog: Buster, Greyhound

Buster, Greyhound

Daily dog: Rex, German Shepherd Dog

Rex, German Shepherd Dog, malnourished.

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

Daily dog: Pebble, Dalmatian ...

... or English Setter (h/t to commenters) or the rare Spotted Fuzz With Pirate Eye Patch Hound?

Pebble, Dalmatian? Setter? puppy

Daily dog: Maggie, Rhodesian Ridgeback

Maggie, Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy

Daily dog: unnamed Beagle

Unnamed Beagle

Daily dog: unnamed Terrier

Daily dog: Neo, Neopolitan Mastiff

Neo, Neopolitan Mastiff

Daily dog: Mini, Cane Corso

Mini, Cane Corso

Daily dog: unnamed Basset Hound

Unnamed Basset Hound

Daily dog: Baxter, Pointer

Baxter, Pointer pup

Doing some reorganizing

Please excuse the next few repeated posts while I sort a few things out with the blog.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's like some weird tube food space travelers might eat

Chocolate is a food group which a lot of people can't do without. Unfortunately, it's got questionable nutritional value and often when some article entitled "The Benefits of Chocolate" or whatever is published referencing studies about how cocoa invigorates one's hypothalamus or how the colour brown enlightens one's chakras, I can't help but wonder who funds those studies and also why even bother? People don't need a valid reason to eat chocolate. That might just take the fun out of it.

In the same way, Stella doesn't need nor care for a reason to eat goose poo. In this fall season, it's easily accessible enough. Every day now, Canadian geese take their vengeance upon us humans for destroying all their wetlands by shitting on almost every untrafficked patch of cleared land near a body of water. For us, that would be the CNE grounds down by the lake shore where I take Stella most mornings.

When I first got Stella years ago and was yet unaccustomed to her ways, I used to see her loping across the grassy expanses with her head hung low and her mouth open. I thought she was licking the dew off the grass which seemed oddly resourceful for a city dog like Stella. Of course upon closer inspection, I realized she was imitating a whale harvesting krill only it wasn't seafood she was filtering through her mouth, it was goose poo - which, come to think of it, maybe could be considered seafood, just overly processed, since geese do get a good portion of their food from aquatic sources.

After that eye-opening discovery of my dog's dietary quirk, there were some stern words uttered and Stella soon realized that I did not approve. Sure, it's a disgusting snack in the form of speckled green tube food but I was also worried about giardia.

These days, when goose poo season first arrives, Stella still can't help herself and she always tries to sample the new vintage. She no longer does the whale thing, that being too obvious, but instead she tries to be sneaky about it. She starts by giving me her sideways glance to see if I'm looking - which I usually am but that doesn't really stop her from moving forward with her surreptitious plan. She then slunkers down a bit and trots nonchalantly away from me, all the while looking back at me to make sure I'm not going to chase her down or anything. When she reaches the morsel, she doesn't grab it up right away but instead pretends to be just sniffing the spot, like any other spot, no big deal, nothing to see here. She's still got her eye on me this whole time and then if she thinks I'm not looking, she quickly laps up the pungent delicacy and then it's chomp chomp swallow.

Now you'd think with my human brain, it wouldn't be such a big deal see through Stella's illicit behaviour and stop her before she gets to her goal, and I usually do, but I have to admit that she still manages to slurp one back every now and again.

This morning was one of those times and then after we went through the usual ritual of me berating her and her pretending to be sorry for what she just did, we continued along on our walk through the park.

People don't often approach us on our walks but this morning a man came over and asked me about my dogs (Rocky was with us as well). It turned out he was visiting from the States and wanted to come over and say hi since he was missing his own dogs.

"Is she friendly?" he asked, indicating Stella.

"Er, well, sometimes she takes a while to warm up to people she doesn't know," I replied because Stella doesn't usually like it much when strangers, especially male strangers, approach with too much enthusiasm. This morning, though, maybe because she was still all aglow from her goose poop snack or maybe because she just wanted to prove me wrong, she sidled up to the man.

He responded by stroking her back. Stella leaned into him, as Danes will do, having decided she liked the man's affections. The man made some cooing noise and started scratching her neck. Stella turned her head upwards and stared lovingly up into the man's face.

At this point, I knew she was up to something and what she was up to was no good. She was going to try for the prize, the prize being her tongue in someone's mouth. I used to think this behaviour was a remnant from from wolf cub instincts where a cub would make his mother regurgitate food by agitating the inside of her mouth. Now, I think Stella is just a sleazy old broad who likes to French kiss.

"Um, you might want to back off a bit," I said to the man whose face was inching closer to Stella's. "She's going to try to lick you." Sounded better than "She's going to try to tongue you."

"That's okay, I've got a couple big dogs at home. I'm used to it," he said.

"Yeah, but Stella just ate ..." I hurried to say but stopped.

It was like a car accident where everything seems to go into slo-mo. Stella was looking up at the stranger, batting her eyes at him, enticing him closer. Stranger was enchanted, lowered his face ever closer to hers. He opened his mouth just about to whisper some sweet nothing and Stella, like a frog catching a fly, flicked out her tongue and planted one well inside his mouth.

"Whoa, don't I get a dinner first?" he tried to joke but that only gave Stella more opportunity to strike. And she did.

"Sorry about that," I said. "She can be very forward."

"Ah, that's okay," but he'd had enough and he straightened up out of her reach. As I called Stella back over, the man make a smacking sound with his mouth.

"What'd she have for breakfast?" he asked, uncertain, ready to be horrified.

"That's probably the kelp flakes you're tasting," I said. I didn't want to ruin his day.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The end of Pit Bulls

Tomorrow, on October 19th, Michael Bryant, the man largely responsible for bringing BSL and the resulting mass slaughter of Pit Bull looking dogs to Ontario, will be in front of a judge to plead his case in the killing of cyclist Darcy Allen Sheppard.

While killing thousands of dogs simply because of their looks has nothing legally to do with the killing of a cyclist, let's see how karma judges Bryant for his overall performance as a human being.

Leading up to Bryant's plea, I thought I'd post a couple of links showing the real, up close and personal consequences of Pit Bull abuse and slaughter.

The first one is from Bad Rap, "Hallowed Dogs - A Compassionate Goodbye for Victims of Cruelty".

Below, Oklahoma handler of public service working pit bulls, Molly Gibbs,
describes her experience of giving a dignified death to two dogs from what is being called "the largest dog fight bust in history." We agreed that the stories of these two dogs must be told, as they represent untold thousands of pit bulls-without-option across the country, including and especially those dogs from the big raid that will not be lucky enough to find their way into already crowded rescues.

The photos in the above piece are especially hard to look at not because they show anything graphic but because they show love before it was extinguished.

The next post does contain graphic photos. "Time to wake up to the horrors of BSL", from Wag The Dog!, is about the mass slaughter of Pit Bulls in Denver by city officials.

As the poster writes:

Now, just before you lean back and wipe your brow to think this is a Denver issue or this isn't happening here.. think again.

This happens every day right here in Ontario. We have the numbers. Over 5000 dogs have been killed right here in Ontario since August 25, 2005!

Something to think about come tomorrow.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Football and dogfights and Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell, one of my favourite writers/speakers has just recently published an article in The New Yorker, one of my favourite magazines, called Offensive Play - How different are dogfighting and football? in which he uses the Michael Vick case as a foundation for laying out his premise that football players and dogs used for dogfighting are very similar in that they are valued for their gameness - their ability to fight on even at great expense to their own personal well-being. No, he's not suggesting that pro football players get electrocuted or a bullet in the head if they lose - nothing like that - but instead he questions the ethics of football, which most Americans take such pride in versus dogfighting which most Americans look down upon with great disdain - and rightfully so. You'll have to read the article for yourself to get the breadth of it because I can't simplify it all here without basically rewriting it.

Anyway, the reason I bring up this article is because of the parts of it relating to dogs. Gladwell's got a heart for dogs. He was one of the first mainstream writers to write about Cesar Milan. He also wrote an excellent piece on anti-Pit Bull laws and racism.

In this newest article, the paragraphs dealing with dogs are few but brilliant. He gets right to the crux of why the dogs fight the way they do and why it is so abhorrent that dogfighters exploit these animals.

Here he is describing Meryl, a Vick dog rescued by Best Friends:

The court-ordered evaluation of the Vick dogs labelled Meryl, a medium-sized brown-and-white pit-bull mix, “human aggressive,” meaning that she is never allowed to be taken out of the Best Friends facility. “She had a hard time meeting people — she would preëmpt anyone coming by charging and snapping at them,” Ann Allums, one of the Best Friends dog trainers, said, as she walked around Meryl’s octagon, on a recent fall day.

She opened the gate to Meryl’s dog run and crouched down on the ground next to her. She hugged the dog, and began playfully wrestling with her, as Meryl’s tail thumped happily. “She really doesn’t mind new people,” Allums said. “She’s very happy and loving. I feel totally comfortable with her. I can grab and kiss her.” She gave Meryl another hug. “I am building a relationship,” she said. “She needed to see that when people were around bad things would not happen.”

What happens at Best Friends represents, by any measure, an extravagant gesture. These are dogs that will never live a normal life. But the kind of crime embodied by dogfighting is so morally repellent that it demands an extravagant gesture in response. In a fighting dog, the quality that is prized above all others is the willingness to persevere, even in the face of injury and pain. A dog that will not do that is labelled a “cur,” and abandoned. A dog that keeps charging at its opponent is said to possess “gameness,” and game dogs are revered.

In one way or another, plenty of organizations select for gameness. The Marine Corps does so, and so does medicine, when it puts young doctors through the exhausting rigors of residency. But those who select for gameness have a responsibility not to abuse that trust: if you have men in your charge who would jump off a cliff for you, you cannot march them to the edge of the cliff — and dogfighting fails this test. Gameness, Carl Semencic argues, in “The World of Fighting Dogs” (1984), is no more than a dog’s “desire to please an owner at any expense to itself.” The owners, Semencic goes on, understand this desire to please on the part of the dog and capitalize on it. At any organized pit fight in which two dogs are really going at each other wholeheartedly, one can observe the owner of each dog changing his position at pit-side in order to be in sight of his dog at all times. The owner knows that seeing his master rooting him on will make a dog work all the harder to please its master.

This is why Michael Vick’s dogs weren’t euthanized. The betrayal of loyalty requires an act of social reparation.

I love the use of language and reason here. "...the kind of crime embodied by dogfighting is so morally repellent that it demands an extravagant gesture in response." Gladwell understands very well why it was so important for us humans to rescue the Vick dogs. We needed to save the dogs but just as important, we needed to redeem ourselves.

"... those who select for gameness have a responsibility not to abuse that trust: if you have men in your charge who would jump off a cliff for you, you cannot march them to the edge of the cliff — and dogfighting fails this test." And that's really it, right on the button. That's why dogfighting is so detestable to most civilized people - because it's an ultimate abuse of trust. The crime not only results in the torture and violent death of a dog but it also displays an utterly inhumane desire and ability in some people to exploit the best traits in other living beings, to twist those traits around to the point where the animals destroy themselves for a moment of entertainment.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Update 2 on Luna

From the owner of Luna (now Inka):

As you can see, life is tough. She is doing great. Many thanks, I love her.

Toronto Animal Services Friday review, Oct. 16

I guess TAS South is trying to make up for the downtime over the summer with respect to dog rescues/adoptions so with all the new dogs coming in, the place is getting quite full and busy. Some of these guys don't even have names yet - or I just haven't managed to track them down.

Ciara, a Whippet mix? Well, that's what her kennel card says anyway.

Spike - Yellow Lab

sorta Rottweiler pup

Buddy - Beagle

Jasper- Beagle

Update on Spike here.

For adoption information on these and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kitchener Waterloo coming to their senses?

(h/t to Ian for this story)

From The Record Dog owner pleads case to save pet’s life:

Jack Simpson walked into City Hall on Monday morning to plead for his dog’s life.

Last month Simpson’s dog Charlie was designated as a banned animal by the Kitchener Waterloo Humane Society. A designated dog must be destroyed.

Simpson appeared before the city’s Dog Designation Appeal Committee, saying his Charlie never bothered anyone.


But mainly because of the size of the dog’s head Carroll [humane society officer] designated Charlie a Pit Bull-like animal that was banned and would have to be destroyed.

Luckily for Charlie, Simpson was able to convince the Committee to give him back his dog.

Kitchener Waterloo was the first jurisdiction in Ontario to bring in a Pit Bull ban leading the way for an all Ontario ban.

From Canadian Kennel Club, Public Hearings into Ontario's Proposed Bill 132:

Dr Gary Goeree of the Animal Hospital of Kitchener-Waterloo gave a powerful presentation. Heavily involved in the Kitchener-Waterloo By Law application, he provided an overview of the process followed to enact the By Law. Council banned "pit bulls" in 1997 as a result of one veterinarian bringing to Council the following: - "Pit Bulls" are the leading cause of bites, chemically they have a different brain from other dogs, they have a 2000psi jaw pressure and are number 1 in dog bite fatalities. Research thereafter proved that ?pitbull? ranked well down the bite scale, immediately behind Poodles; a board certified neurologist confirms that there is no study and has never been a study noting any thought of a chemical difference in the brain of a "pitbull" vis-à-vis any other dog; no study has proven the 2000 psi thought this has been media generated; regarding dog bite fatalities, fatalities tend to be in proportion to the breeds numbers in any country and for a time the "pit bull" comprising four breeds as denoted in the US was #1 but then the focus moved to other breeds. In 1997 there was no good evidence that "pit bulls" were more dangerous than other dogs. When asking the Kitchener paper why they reported only "pitbull" bites, the editor responded, "They make news". Dr Goeree notes that Kitchener-Waterloo's By Law is not a success story. It is an experiment that was a mistake and is not based on fact. It is not and experiment that should be repeated Province-wide. When asked about the Calgary By Law, Dr Goeree responded, In January this year I presented to Kitchener Council the methods to toughen up dangerous dog legislation. Waterloo bite statistics have not dropped since BSL was invoked.

Spotted blue tongues

There's been a influx of dogs with spotted blue tongues this past week. I always thought that a whole or partial blue tongue meant a dog has some Chow Chow or Sharpei in it but apparently that's not always the case. Some breeds, including Labs, sometimes just show up with spotted blue tongues all on their own. Either that or they've been licking too many blue flavoured slushies (what flavour is that anyway?).

Retriever Danny has got abundant energy and will need lots of exercise as well as some training. He's a pretty attentive dog, though, so the training shouldn't be too difficult.

Hendrix, the Collie mix below, is one of those popular dogs whose photo I take and before it even gets put up on the site, he's already adopted.

Well, Red at least looks kind of like a Chow Chow. Some Chows can be indifferent to strangers but this one is quite friendly though not in any pushy sort of way. He waits politely for you to make the first move before he comes in for more attention.