Here's a wonderful update letter from the owner of Mama, now Shakedown:

Hi, I’m the companion of the dog you listed as Mama almost 2 years ago. I thought I’d send you an update along with thanks for listing her on your site in the first place — we wouldn’t be together if you hadn’t. I’m 47 and have had dogs in my family for all but 10 of my years and this one is a truly remarkable animal.

I renamed Mama “Shakedown” after going through 21 other names over the course of our first month together (Alice, Arrow, Goodis, Hildy, Novak, Gibson, Mojo, Ellsworth, Melville, Pasco…). Far as I know, she’s the only Shakedown and the name really suits her.

As you know, she’s from the First Nations Reserve in Quebec and was recovering from heartworm treatment when TAS put her up for adoption. As a result, when she first came home with me, she was not allowed to strain herself for 4 weeks. No running. No rough housing. No excitement. She didn’t seem too keen on that stuff anyway, so it wasn’t much of a hardship. She was pretty calm and, though not slow-walking, she was never in a rush either.

However, I’ve really come to appreciate just how sick she was when I first got her. You mentioned in your profile how expressive her face is. With hindsight, I think she was really in a lot of pain when you took those pictures. She really doesn’t make faces like that anymore. I love your photos, but, as you can see by the photos, she doesn’t look like the same dog anymore.

For those who do not know, heartworm treatment involves a repeated series of long, painful needles injected into the animal’s back muscles followed by months of confinement. So, it wasn’t so much that Shakes wasn’t interested in being active, it was that she was incapable.

And here’s another thing, as per my adoption agreement with TAS, I took her to a vet the day after getting her home. They did a checkup and then came to me in the waiting room and said, “Well, your dog’s been x-rayed and your dog’s been shot — you need to see this.” I assumed, of course, that they meant they’d given her an injection.


The x-ray revealed something metal in her side, lodged between her heart and lung. It looks like a bullet or bullet-fragment. I’ve attached a copy of the x-ray so that your readers can see it. With no sign of an entry wound, there’s no telling how long it’s been inside her, and there’s no point in surgically removing it, but, suffice it to say, Shakedown’s a survivor. Heart worm. Meh. Shot? Whatevs.

Curious readers can also see the inverted-D shape of her heart in the x-ray, which is what the worms do to the dog’s heart.

Now that she’s fully recovered from the heartworm, she LOVES to run. I mean, really really loves to run. Not only is she incredibly fast, she’s unbelievably agile. As my mother would say, “She can turn on a dime and get change back!”

The only thing she likes better than outrunning (most) all of the other dogs at the Sorauren dog park is outrunning the squirrels in High Park. I literally have to walk behind her clapping in High Park in order to scare the squirrels away. Unfortunately, I’m not always successful.

I’ve attached a photo of her running. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to get one of her at full-speed that’s in focus. She’s a blur! One time she snatched something off the sidewalk and I thought, “Damn, she ate a dead bird!” and I pulled her jaws open and a live bird flew out of her mouth! Very fast.

When she first moved in and I would have to go to work, I’d come home and find all my shoes on her bed. She never wrecked any of them. She would just pile them up and sleep on them. It was odd, but very sweet. That’s the word most of my friends use to describe her: sweet. If you’re not a rodent, she’s the most gentle creature. If you are a rodent, she’s your worst nightmare.

Most mornings we do 5K in High Park and she’s got tons of friends there and in Sorauren Park. We’re coming up on our 2nd year anniversary and I have to say, she’s improved my life in every way. When I got her, I was overweight and getting heavier. I was on antidepressants and working a job I disliked in a neighborhood I hated. I adopted her the end of September, immediately got off the pills, started exercising daily, and within a few months had quit my job and opened my own record store. Life is good; business is great; Shakedown is awesome. I’m thrilled and delighted she’s part of my life and hope she’s around for a good long while. Thanks so much for your web site and allowing me to share this story.

From the owner of Clara, now Meike:

Hi there!

I discovered my dog was on your blog. I adopted her from TAS South in Aug. 2012, and she's been living with me for 3 years now. She wasn't in the best health when I got her; she was diagnosed with a heart murmur and a really bad sensitivity to chicken. After I started her on a chicken-free prescription diet, her skin and fur problems cleared up within a few weeks. We visit the vet regularly to have her heart murmur checked. She also has a bunch of friends (both dog and human) in our neighbourhood.

I adopted a cat from TAS in Dec 2013, and the two of them have been best friends ever since (except when the cat pounces in the middle of the night).

I've attached a picture of the two of them that you can use on your website if you like. I hope the resolution and size is sufficient; let me know if you need a better quality image.

Clara was renamed "Meike", and the cat is named "Kumar".

I love your blog--thanks for taking amazing pics of the pound dogs!

A beautiful photo from the owner of Whiskey, now Marshmallow Cake:

Marshmallow and his girl at the cottage.  Marshy used to be Whisky.  He is a happy dog & we owe it to you. Thank you for doing what you do.

A thunderstorm threatened but did not follow through. Instead, just half an hour of heavy rain. Thinning clouds shift. Sun comes through in pencil beams. The sky holds onto remnants of grey in the eastern horizon. In the west are lighter hues.

Simone avoids the pools on the sidewalk, veers from wet protruding branches of unkempt hedges. She jumps and barks, indignant, at cars that speed too quickly through puddles, splashing the sidewalk, almost splashing her. The rain has washed away most of the scents so there is little reason for her to stop. Our walk is brisk.

I take my jacket off. I never seem to get it right. The weather confounds me. Too many layers. Not enough. These little things confound me. Every action requires a decision to be made. Should I tie the jacket around my waist? Should I carry it in my arms? I'll carry it in my arms.

Simone is sniffing around a large hosta. She is studious in her sniffing. It is almost ritualistic. A blue eyed husky comes up from behind and lifts its nose at Simone. Simone glances back at it. Two years ago, she would've kicked her feet in fright to get away. A year ago, she would've turned and barked, hackles up. Now, she goes back to sniffing.

The trees have captured the earlier downpour. The wind blows and leaves shed their water so along the road it rains under each tall tree and each drop is lit by the warm sun of the soon-to-be dusk such that the drops look like cascades of gold.

We walk around the perimeter of the dog park. Simone watches the dogs at play. They are formed into pairs and trios. Two dogs, each with dark, longish hair are facing off, barking at each other - to what end? For the joy of it, I suppose. Two other dogs are wrestling in the wet sand. One on top, then the other. Simone looks at them then looks away. She is leery about roughhousing. Two smaller dogs, Beagle mixes perhaps, are chasing a third, a mixed Husky pup rescued from the north, who is not yet much bigger. "Doesn't that look like fun?" I ask Simone who is grazing the tips off new grass. Last thing in the world, I am sure she would say.

The sky is painted in newborn colours - clouds blue, pink and white. There are still large patches of brown in the park. No worries. The rain will bring everything back to life because life follows water. There is no choice in this regard. The breeze carries along a rising, moist, earthy scent. The breeze is just cool enough. My jacket is ready just in case. It's been a long long winter but spring always follows. There is no choice in this regard and this expectant season has finally arrived.

A few years ago, a rescue dog from Quebec named Bach was brought the Toronto Animals Service South to be adopted out. He was large, had a thick white and grey coat and captivating glacial blue eyes. He was also one of those dogs who had the personality of the ideal dog you always wanted when you were a kid: friendly, playful, rolls over for big belly rubs. It didn't take long for him to be adopted out except a few weeks later, he was returned because the owner discovered he had heartworm and she didn't want to deal with the expense and effort of treating him. He probably caught it in Quebec and so TAS treated him and once he was cured, gave him back to the owner.

Two weeks ago, she returned Bach to TAS again (TAS West this time) and this time for good.

At TAS West, because of his age - he's now ten - and because of the glaucoma he's developed in his eyes and the lipoma (fatty tumours which are generally benign but should still be checked out) on his chest, he failed his medical to get into adoption. This could've meant euthanasia for our sweet, once again abandoned Bach.

But, someone at TAS West recognized him - seriously, you'll not forget this dog once you've seen him - and called James at TAS South - James who had originally had him brought over from Quebec - and asked him if this was one of his dogs and of course it was. So Bach was pulled and he has since been transferred to Speaking of Dogs Rescue where he is presently living with a foster family and available for adoption.

Yes, he's an older dog and yes he's got some health issues and yes he'll probably break your heart one day but he's a lovely dog and he's been through enough and so much deserves a real family who'll stay by his side in his senior years.

You can read more about Bach here from the first time he came through TAS South. If you're at all interested in finding out more about Bach's present adoption status please check out his profile at Speaking of Dogs here (Bach's been renamed Robert so click on Robert).

Mariah is a constant chatterbox. She will let you know, from the moment you take her out, her opinions on everything. She will tell you she loves walks, loves meeting people, loves laps. She's telling you all these things because she's worried the world will pass her by and she doesn't want to miss another moment.

The best way to check on the adoption status of this dog (and other dogs and cats and other small domestic animals) is to visit Toronto Animal Services adoption website or call 416 338 6668 for the Toronto Animal Services South shelter. If the dog is no longer on the TAS adoption website, it's probably because it's been adopted already.

Porkchop is turning into a bean stalk, from chub pup to lanky adolescent. Still adorable though except for the sharp puppy teeth which she very much likes to use to explore the world, especially sticks and shoelaces and leashes. She's a smarty so that shouldn't be too difficult to train out. Already knows how to sit, pretty good at the housebreaking thing too. And her ears will melt you.


The best way to check on the adoption status of this dog (and other dogs and cats and other small domestic animals) is to visit Toronto Animal Services adoption website or call 416 338 6668 for the Toronto Animal Services South shelter. If the dog is no longer on the TAS adoption website, it's probably because it's been adopted already.

Freckles leans against the door to her kennel and looks at me. She presses her head into the wire mesh. I go over and say hello, scratch her ear through the mesh. She sinks to the ground on her back, waits for a belly rub. "I'll be back in a bit," I say to her as I've got a couple of other dogs to walk first. She looks at me like I've done her wrong.

Later, I take Freckles out with another volunteer who's walking Delia. Delia's a pipsqueak. The two want to play but leashes get tangled and Freckles steps on Delia. I pull Freckles back but Delia keeps barking at Freckles to keep playing. Freckles wants to oblige so she pulls. Leashes tangle. Freckles steps on Delia. Repeat. It's too bad the management at Exhibition Place won't oblige Toronto Animal Services by allowing them to put up a fenced in run. It would be fun to watch Freckles and Delia off leash in supervised play.

Freckles is adorable. I don't how anyone could've given her up. Maybe there's a sad story there. Well, any story with a dog being abandoned is a sad story but you know what I mean. I'm pretty sure the next chapter is going to be very different for Freckles. I'm pretty sure whoever gets Freckles next is going to hang onto her for life.

The best way to check on the adoption status of this dog (and other dogs and cats and other small domestic animals) is to visit Toronto Animal Services adoption website or call 416 338 6668 for the Toronto Animal Services South shelter. If the dog is no longer on the TAS adoption website, it's probably because it's been adopted already.

Delia's so frickin happy to be outside with her pal Freckles, she could burst - and quite often she does with a round of yaps imploring Freckles to play. Freckles obliges by getting down to Delia's level and paws her but Delia scuttles around to avoid the descending foot and leashes get tangled and Delia gets stepped on by Freckles - which might put off some small dogs but not Delia. She wants more, size differences be damned even if Freckles is ten times more massive.

Delia's only seven months old. Brave little one and cutest pup I've seen in ages.

The best way to check on the adoption status of this dog (and other dogs and cats and other small domestic animals) is to visit Toronto Animal Services adoption website or call 416 338 6668 for the Toronto Animal Services South shelter. If the dog is no longer on the TAS adoption website, it's probably because it's been adopted already.

Every few steps Samantha stops, frozen by anxieties caused by environmental stressors only she perceives and then I have to gently lift her up and push her along a couple of steps before she'll move on her own again. It takes a while for us to reach the door then it takes a while longer to reach a spot where I can photograph her.

Samantha is probably related one way or another to Brandy as she was rescued from the same breeding factory as Brandy but unlike Brandy, Samantha is actually a little more outgoing despite her hesitancy with walking on a leash. Someone will fall for her, no doubt, and with a little TLC, she'll be sparkling.

This lovely, unassuming girl has been transferred to Speaking of Dogs rescue and she is available for adoption through them:


A request

The reason for this blog is to help get specific dogs adopted from TAS but equally important is to try to normalize the idea of shelter dogs being just as good and just as desirable as any other dogs including those which are regularly merchandised by backyard breeders, puppy millers and those few remaining pet store owners who still feel a need to sell live animals. The single greatest stigma shelter animals still face is the belief that shelter animals are substandard animals. Anyone who has had enough experience with shelter animals knows this is untrue but the general public hasn't had the same experiences you've had. They see a nice dog photo in a glossy magazine and too many of them would never think of associating that dog with a dog from a shelter. After all, no one abandons perfectly good dogs, right? Unfortunately, as we all know, perfectly good dogs are abandoned all the time.

The public still too often associates shelter dogs with images of beat up, sick, dirty, severely traumatized animals and while we definitely sometimes see victims such as these, they are certainly not the majority and, regardless, even the most abused animals can very often be saved and made whole again.

Pound Dogs sometimes discusses the sad histories some of the dogs have suffered. For the most part, though, it tries to present the dogs not as victims but as great potential family members. The goal is to raise the profiles of animals in adoption centers so that a potential pet owner sees them as the best choice, not just as the charity choice.

So, here's the favour I'm asking. Whenever you see a dog picture on these pages you think is decent enough, I'd like you to consider sharing it on Facebook or any other social media sites you're using (I know many of you do this already and thank you for that). And when you share it, please mention that the dog in the photo is a shelter dog like so many other shelter dogs waiting for a home. If we can get even five percent of the pet buying public to see shelter dogs differently, to see how beautiful they are and how wonderful they are, and to consider shelter dogs as their first choice for a new family member, we can end the suffering of homeless pets in this country.