I could've gone to a friend's cottage, could've brought the dogs, both Simone and Smitten - they would've enjoyed that. First I had said yes, then ten minutes later I phoned her back and said no. There's too much I need to get done in town this weekend, before next week when work is going to take over my life for a while.

I'd said no and was fine with that but then this morning came along. I had 1200 nickels in rolls in my bicycle pannier and I was taking them to my bank. I'd accumulated them over the past fifteen years or so in a pink plastic piggy bank which one day Rocky decided he needed to maul and then the wounded piggy bank just became this ugly weight I had to constantly move around whenever I cleaned house and every time I moved it, nickels would fall out.

I don't know why I decided to roll them and bank them. I should've just dumped them into one of those rip-off coin sorting machines they have at the grocery stores.

Instead, this: I was riding my bicycle to the bank when I hit a bump in the road and the weight of the 1200 nickels pushed the edge of my pannier into the rear spokes. The edge caught and the spoke pulled the pannier hard into the wheel, jammed the wheel and ripped open the pannier. Rolls of nickels fell out of the bag and were thrown into the derailleur, chains and spokes upon which many of them were torn open and the tinkling of nickels hitting the asphalt greeted my ears even before I turned around to confirm the sad event with my eyes. My bike, with its jammed wheel, was ground to a halt in the middle of an intersection - not a major intersection but busy enough. About a third of the nickels had fallen out of the bag and I figured twenty bucks was not worth risking my life for so I abandoned the nickels in the middle of the road and carried my bike to the sidewalk. I didn't turn around even when I heard car tires rolling over the pile of nickels crunching them and exploding the remaining intact rolls.

I surveyed the damage to my bike. The pannier was in shreds. The bicycle pump inside the pannier was busted in half. The rim of the rear wheel was so bent that when I rode, the whole bike wobbled. In total, I figured getting these, what once used to be sixty dollars worth of change, to the bank, would set me back about three hundred dollars once I had everything repaired or replaced. Plus, I had to walk my bike, couldn't ride it anymore with the busted pannier and the bent out of shape wheel.

The rest of the day was spent bringing the now mostly loose change to the bank (cashier was not impressed), getting my bike fixed, arriving into work really late then staying late to make up for it, picking up my bike, finally getting back home, where Simone was slightly frantic because she should've had her dinner and walk a few hours ago.

Shoulda gone to the cottage.

The evening, though - partly why I decided to stay in town, because I knew there would be this or something like this. I take Simone for her walk. She sniffs every sniff along the way, takes her time doing it. We reach the park. The sky is dimming. The clouds are turning pink. There's a couple on the baseball diamond playing bocce ball, their dog quietly lying beside them watching. There's the guy with the wispy white beard sitting at his usual spot with his two dogs. There's a younger woman in hot pink yoga pants sitting on a bench, plugged into her smartphone, with her oddly shaped Chihuahua on guard in front of her. There are small groups of friends and families congregated all around the park.

There are a few people inside the fenced in dog area but I don't recognize any of them or more importantly, Simone doesn't recognize any of them in there so I decide to give her a break from having to meet more new dogs. We walk by the woman and her Chihuahua and the Chihuahua eyes Simone suspiciously and advances slowly. They air sniff each other and when the Chihuahua tries to come closer, Simone hides behind me. The woman is watching. I explain, Simone is shy. She asks, How old? I say, Maybe three. We smile, talk.

I walk on, towards some bleachers where I take out Simone's brush and give her a quick groom. A father walks by holding his young daughter's hand, says to her, Look, the sky, the clouds, and so the daughter looks and they stand there both looking and I say to them, Waiting for the blue moon? and the father says, That'll be out a bit later. Then the mother comes over to where I'm sitting and the father and daughter come over and we are all around the bleachers and Simone is wagging her tail and letting the girl pet her and I say to the girl, Watch out, you might get some kisses. The Chihuahua comes by and the father says to his daughter, Be careful, hon, with that one. The mother says, Wow, look at that dog go and she's pointing at Razor, the Border Collie, who is almost famous in the neighbourhood, who runs laps around the outside of the fenced-in dog area and we talk about dogs and cats and their neighbours' cats and going back to school and the huge gourds hanging up on some particular porch and the big sky and pet stores on Roncie and living in the neighbourhood and dogs and cats. Then it's eight o'clock and the father says it time to bring the girl home so they leave.

I see Stephen and his dog Holly going into the dog area and I could yell out hello to them but I don't. The night is almost here now and the quiet isn't meant to be broken. Simone is lying in the grass, looking up. The moon is just passing behind the only wisp of a cloud in the sky and for a minute, it does indeed look blue.



9 Comments to “Change”

  1. Anonymous says:

    That was amazing and beautiful.

  2. MKlwr says:

    Man, that sucks about the nickels wrecking your bike. Bank tellers can be as unimpressed as they like. When I was a kid, the bank had a change counter/sorter and they'd just pour all the coins in there.

    My current foster is a sniffer too. Our walks are fairly slow as he needs to read all the p-mail, and leave his own comments.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful.

  4. Anonymous says:

    So sorry to hear about your bike but glad you weren't seriously injured. Great piece.

  5. Kit Lang says:

    Sorry about your bike, but love the day's redemption.

  6. 001mum says:

    arn't the late summer evenings fabulous? arn't you happy that you didn't let the bike stuff ruin your enjoyment of days end? good stuff Fred!

  7. Jody says:

    welcome to the neighbourhood Fred, hope I run into you and Simone and Smitten. Thanks for your blog, I love the photos and I'm enjoying your stories too.

  8. lynda says:

    Glad you are enjoying Roncies

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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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