Zoey at Toronto Animal Services South
When Stella passed away in June, I knew I wouldn't want to adopt a new dog for a while. Still, when I saw Zoey at Toronto Animal Services, I had to tell Elizabeth. Zoey was a five year old, dirty, itchy ragamuffin. She had big, wide eyes, the biggest and widest I'd ever seen. They were wide enough to reveal the whites of her eyes which lent a very human quality to her gaze. Along with her expressive eyes was her expressive voice - a variety of hi/lo, long/short wah-wah-wahs that, whenever she felt like conversing, made her sound like a cross between Charlie Brown's teacher and a seal. She was friendly but not pushy. She stood her ground with other dogs but had no problem rolling on her back for belly rubs from people. Irresistable enough already but even more, she reminded us of Barclay. Same as Barclay, Zoey was a Bearded Collie. Or an Old English Sheepdog. Or a mix of the two. Anyway, close enough. (We probably won't know if she's a Beardie or an OES for sure until her hair grows out).

Ever since Barclay passed away two and a half years ago, Elizabeth had been looking at Bearded Collie rescues and sighing whenever a particular dog in need caught her eye on Petfinder but none had ever passed through TAS-S as far as I could remember. Then two weeks after Stella died, Zoey turned up. I wasn't ready for another dog but if Elizabeth wanted her ...

One of my main concerns was how Rocky would handle the new housemate. He's not a dog's dog. I'd introduced him successfully to other dogs before but it had to be a slow, carefully considered process and none of those dogs had ever moved in. Still, I knew Rocky well enough to know that his reactivity was not dominance based. He's wary of new dogs because he himself is somewhat frail of limb and doesn't want to get knocked about and hurt. Once he understands a dog is not a threat, his behaviour immediately changes from displays of (impotent) aggression to indifference and/or mild curiosity and eventually, a sort of dependence.

At the meet and greet, Rocky behaved like a lunatic - typical - and Zoey was at first unfazed but then after a few rounds of barking on Rocky's part, she decided she'd had enough and started exhibiting reactive behaviour herself. She wasn't going to be a pushover. I kept Rocky at a distance but in view of Zoey and pretty soon he mellowed a bit. We all sat together for a while in the main foyer at TAS-S, close but not too close. Rocky lay on the cool floor and ignored Zoey - a good sign.

We repeated the visits a few more times and about two weeks after the first meet and greet, we decided it was time to take Zoey home. She was groomed, bathed and rechristened Smitten.

Smitten shorn
The first day, we kept Smitten and Rocky in the same room but far apart and both leashed. There were only a couple of outbreaks of barking from Rocky. The second day, they were off leash but we kept an eye on them. No incidents. Third day they were free roaming and fine together. By this point, Smitten had already realized that Rocky, despite his curmudgeonish demeanor, was no threat to her. She was about the same size as Rocky, but she was young, fast and agile whereas Rocky ... well, Rocky's got his problems not the least of which was that he'd never been able to move very fast and for a dog like Smitten, he was like a slow motion replay. By the fourth day, Smitten was stealing food from under Rocky's nose (we put a stop to that) and Rocky was following her around the yard almost like the way he used to follow Stella.

Smitten is a Quebec dog and she's come pretrained in French so we say, "Assis" when we want her to sit, "Coucher" when we her to lie down and "Viens, ici" when we want her to come and "Au pied" when we want her to heal. Like most dogs, "Viens" works best when there's a treat in hand and "au pied" is getting better. When she does something bad, we scold her in English and she looks at us with her "I don't understand your silly language" stare.


We're not sure what her immediate past was like but she came with a few minor health issues, a couple of which we are still dealing with (1. her allergies and 2. a bad stitch up job preformed by the vet who did the spay) but for the most part, she is a healthy, happy dog. We adore her and now that Rocky is sleeping on the same couch as she is, I guess he's okay with her too.



17 Comments to “We are smitten”

  1. Ian says:

    Very cute.
    Even before I read your post,I thought that dog looks just like the dog he used to have on his blog before Stella.
    We`ve had 2 dogs that have had those "human eyes".
    Glad to read about the new family member.

  2. Shannon says:

    Adding a new family member can be a scary time but more so it's one full of excitement and blossoming love. Getting to know a new 'furkid' is such an adventure, I think that's why I like fostering so much. I never run out of cats to fall head over heels for. Congrats on Smitten. Enjoy the ride.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am so happy you decided to adopt again. Giving another dog a chance at a happy life doesn't diminish the love you had for the one that passed. Stella will always be in your heart but there's plenty of room there! Wishing you many wonderful years with Smitten......she's so adorable.

    Pam

  4. I am so happy for you all, Fred!!

  5. Lisa says:

    Fred,

    I was so sad to hear about Stella; but am now wearing a smile a mile wide reading about Smitten. Congrats!

    Lisa

  6. Anne says:

    first off, congrats on the new addition! The name is just adorable
    second, my family has owned 3 OES over the last 20 years- the first thing i thought when i saw her pic was -what a cute OES. They are also pretty vocal in a crazy- nonbarky way.
    If she is indeed an OES, you're going to have years of fun

  7. Erin says:

    Congratulations!

    Your story has some echoes of our story with Mabel and it seems to me that certain dogs are just destined to join our families and that makes everything work out just fine. I wish you all much love and wonderful adventures together!

  8. Vida says:

    Smitten is gorgeous, I am so happy for you and your family.

  9. Biscuit says:

    she's just gorgeous, fred. what a lovely thing to happen to all of you.

  10. Joanne says:

    Stella is smiling...........

    I have an OES next door to me, a very handsome, well-mannered young man...Bentley..would you like me to arrange a date with Smitten or do you think Rocky would get jealous?

  11. Fred says:

    Hi Joanne, I think Rocky would enjoy the break actually but Smitten might not be so romantically inclined. She can be choosy about her friends sometimes.

  12. yay congrats! I'm with Anne (well we're twins...) and i completely agree - as soon as i saw her, especially her eyes and nose, i saw OES. And then when you added in the vocalizations, well that sealed my prediction for me.
    She is adorable, and what a great name!

  13. Amy says:

    Congrats on the new addition to your family! So glad y'all rescued another dog in need. She is a lucky girl to have you.

  14. Joanne says:

    Hey Fred.....Bentley is the bomb...he is such a good, good little man..well not so little. His owners tell me he stands outside my door when he comes back from his walks in the hope that I might come out and say hello to him. He is so affectionate and well-behaved and BIG.......about 80 lbs. When you have 5 lb dogs, that is huge. If he is in the hallway when I go to the laundry room, he gallops down the hall to see me, wiggling out of his skin. It is a mutual thang between Bent and I. For first time dog owners, his parents did a wonderful job raising him. Also, I don't know if you remember her or not, a little brown poodle/schnauzer mix...now named Olive, can't remember her name at TAS. Anyway, she not lives in the building also. A friend was looking for a dog and I suggested TAS so off he went and came home with little miss excited.....she is doing well, calming down, not barking too much and learning her manners. James would remember who she was......anyways congratulations on Smitten. I adopted MeiMei from Jenn and James about am month and a half ago and she has settled in very well and today I took Buffy (renamed Liang) from Bay Cat Hospital that was one James had brought in from Montreal....both persians. That's it, no more looking at websites.......the inn is full.

  15. Fred says:

    Joanne, I'm sure Bentley's great. My comment was more in regards to Smitten's sometimes princess-like behaviour. Actually, it sounds like they'd be a good match. Smitty's about 70 pounds, and wiggly as well.

    Glad to hear you have a full house. A full house is a happy house.

  16. Lynn says:

    Oh, I just read about Smitten! What a lovely, lovely girl. I liked what you wrote about her eyes, because I have one like that too (Fuego, a mostly flat-coated retriever). One of his lesser-used nicknames is "Chimp-eyes" because of that connection he makes when he looks at me. It's special. Anyhow...congrats on Smitten. May you have many happy years together! She is Be-U-tiful!

  17. Lynda says:

    Congrats on the new addition, Fred! That's wonderful and I'm "smitten" over Smitten. Can't wait for the many stories to come this way!!!

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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.
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