Inside the house, the air was still warm but outside the breeze is already cooling off the earth and as I stand in the dog park under the quarter moon, I can feel that sensation of air against skin which tells me that for Simone's next walk, the just before bedtime walk, I may actually have to put a jacket on but right now it is fine and the person beside me, whom I can't see in the dimness except for a silhouette against the distant park lights says: Isn't this a beautiful night? I don't mind the heat during the day as long as the night cools down, and I say to her: Yes, it's a beautiful night. It'll be a hot day tomorrow, though, as if any of these words have any significance other than to fill the silence but that is the dance we do.


I've been bringing Simone to the neighbourhood dog park every day for two weeks now. When we first went there, we'd walk in through the double gates and I'd release Simone from the leash and she would immediately hurry over to the other gate pleading with me to leave and when she saw I wasn't walking over to her to assist in her release from that enclosure with all those other strange, unknown and possibly dangerous (in her mind) dogs, she'd slink over to a corner of the fence where there was some scant bush coverage and try to look invisible.



Two nights ago, she finally played with one of the other dogs for about ten seconds. It was a wild realization on Simone's part that other dogs could be fun and she ran in berserker circles about the other dog while the other dog just stared at her obvious momentary lapse of sanity. And tonight, once again, with this woman's dog, this new dog, in the dark, Simone stiffens but with a tail wag, then goes into play pose then runs circles - for twenty seconds this time.

We laugh and the woman congratulates Simone and that's the thing with this park, this new neighbourhood which I'm still not used to. It's fully night now and yet there are still people around in the park talking but not the shrieking, too loud talk of the old neighbourhood of near-barfing teens from the burbs at 2:30 in the morning after the Queen Street bars have closed, and there are people here walking and they're walking straight and at ease and not tripping on pebbles on the sidewalk and falling over onto a neighbour's front lawn and moaning about being abandoned by some boyfriend or how the world can go fuck itself, and here in this park I can hear people laughing, in earnest, and not the aggressive drunken, look-at-me-I'm-having-so-much-fun laughter followed by yelling and glass breaking and car alarms going off.

There is much to recommend in living in an "interesting" neighbourhood. There is also much to recommend in living in a neighbourhood where I can exhale.

My favorite thing now, is to lie out on the lounger on the third floor patio at night under the moon or under the silver red clouds and Simone is nearby on her Kuranda or just lying right on the wooden deck and she doesn't take her eyes off me and every time I make a move or look over at her, she has to get up and come over and nudge my arm for a pat or a scratch and sometimes, yes, I admit it, sometimes I ignore her demanding nose and just keep staring at the moon or the clouds and I exhale the day the week the month the year and when I am done exhaling that breath I take in another and it is like renewal.



Adorable Chloe was brought into Toronto Animal Services by someone who found her. After her hold period was up and her original owner still declined to take her back, the finder immediately adopted her. Good job!





This girl was adopted out and then returned a couple days later when the adopter realized it just wasn't the right time to get a dog but no worries, she was adopted again two days later.






It's a funny thing but while some think photographs make people look fat, I think photographs make dogs look skinny, or at least skinnier, because if you saw this girl in real life, you'd go, "Whoa!" - not that she has any self-esteem issues with her weight. In fact, she's quite happy with it (but the vet may not be). The best thing about putting your dog on a diet is that it's your dog on a diet and not you.



If this little piece of bark doesn't get away from my mouth, I may have to eat it

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.



You could hang towels on that rack.

Are you lookin' at my underbite?

Stop lookin' at my underbite!

My underbite is none of yer goddam business!!

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.



Todd is another lemon Beagle (he came in with Norm). Todd also is a barkless Beagle and we're not sure why. I guess maybe he just likes to keep his opinions and secrets to himself. This means he would make a great confidante for someone but wouldn't be very good at writing a gossip column.





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.




The CNE is coming soon and the midway is in the process of being set up. Can't believe how quickly the year has gone by since the last CNE.

We never seem to know until the last minute but TAS South might be closed again for the duration of the CNE or if not closed, access will be limited. This means starting Friday August 17th, no more adoption intakes for TAS South and no volunteering until the CNE shuts down again in September sometime.

In the meanwhile, there are still a few recent arrivals who need homes. Norm is one of them. He's a Beagle without a bark which is like ice cream without calories (I like Beagle barks fine but it can sometimes make them hard to place in our land of thin-walled condos).

Norm is what's known as a lemon Beagle because of his colouring. He may also like lemons but I doubt it. I don't even like lemons unless it's mixed with lots of water and unhealthy amounts of sugar in a pitcher.



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.



All the way from Montreal, on her way to Alberta but got left behind in Toronto. Sounds like some country heartbreak song. And I'm sure Cora's heart is broken, being left behind in a strange city while her owner moves on without her but she puts on a brave face waiting for someone to take her home.





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.



From Willy Pi Pi's new owner: Thank you so much again for Willy. He is an amazing dog and always sleeps in bed and is listening well. He even walks off leash when we are in the bush and does not go after any animals. He also has never had an accident at all. He know asks to go outside when he needs to go. He is doing great and here are some pics and video.




video



June


Summer weather has come early to Toronto and tonight is the first night I've sat outside on the porch to soak in the cool night air. Smitten is sitting beside me on one side and Simone is standing on the other and this reminds me of Stella, who sat, and Rocky, who stood, and we all look into the darkness now as we did then. Smitten looks for critters. Simone makes quick dashes into the depths of the yard when her courage rises but she always quickly runs back and retakes her place beside me. I stare into the back of the yard and I can see shadows of new growth, of still bare branches, of lights from the neighbours beyond that. The AC units in the area have not been turned on yet, the drunks have not started fighting yet, the clubbers have not come downtown yet. Sandwiched as we are between Queen St and King St, it is surprisingly quiet.

I will miss this house. It's been home to several roommates and their various cats. It's been home to Barclay and Stella and Rocky and we've seen them live and play and grow old here. It's been home to Smitten and Simone, of course, and they've made it their playground to wrestle, chase, explore. It's been home to my marriage and it sees the end of that as well.

Simone will be coming with me, Smitten with Elizabeth. The dogs are each other's friends but they are bonded with their humans. Smitten would be heartbroken without Elizabeth and Simone, well, she is my shadow now.

I've spent the last few weeks getting this house ready to sell and it's been quite a bit of work so the posts here have been sporadic. I even missed going into TAS South a couple of weekends and I don't think I've done that before unless I was out of town or TAS was somehow inaccessible. Now that all this decluttering, painting, repairing has been done, it feels a shame to be leaving this place. It's like I've prepped the house for a great party I won't be going to.

After the first eight years of living in the house, my internal clock stopped keeping track and whenever anyone asked me how long I'd been there, I'd say eight years - and believed it. It wasn't until I checked the records, after the decision was made to sell it, that I saw I'd been here for thirteen years. It was a shock. It was like waking up one day and realizing I was five years older than I thought I was.

If dogs have ghosts, I wonder if they are location constrained like human ghosts. Perhaps then Stella and Rocky and Barclay will haunt this place. The future owners will hear the pad pad pad of paws. They will find dusty hair balls mysteriously appearing and rolling across the floor. They will feel the warmth of a furry weight settling in on their laps. And if the new owners are lucky, if they are especially sensitive to these kinds of things, they will feel a sense of overjoyous, crazy welcome every time they come home and walk in through the front door.


July
As we grow older, each year seems to go by faster, each winter feels colder, and each move becomes harder. Our baggage, physical and mental, accumulates and weighs us down. In the past, it was always a mutual agreement between friends to help with each other's moves: a bunch of boxes, a few pieces of heavier furniture. Not a big deal, nothing a few pizzas and cases of beer wouldn't help cover.

This time, I hired movers - a necessity. The furniture, now several pieces, are all heavy; the boxes, now multiplied in number, have gained weight as well, and the new place is narrow hallways, narrower stairs and three floors. The movers hauled for almost eight hours straight in the heat. By the end of the day, their clothes were soaked through from shoulders to knees.

There were times when I couldn't watch, like when they were carrying the three hundred pound couch up the stairs with a clearance of less than inch on either side or when they were trying to shimmy the awkward TV (a big old console) around a tight corner without scratching anything or busting the screen.

"You're never moving that TV again are you?" one of the movers asked.

"No," I said. "If I ever move again, I'm going to have a smash-the-TV-party and you're gonna be the first to get an invite."

Simone doesn't like living with boxes. She's particularly skittish around them. I bump into one, she jumps. I pull the packing tape off one, she jumps. I slide an empty one down the stairs, she jumps. She'll be happy when they no longer populate every room and hallway.

She likes the new neighbourhood, though. So many new smells. She stops more than she's ever stopped. At every new yard she passes, she has to mark - yes, she's a marker. She's even learned to lift her leg.

This morning as we stepped out the door, across the road was a guy walking two Whippets. They were blonde and sleek and gleaming, emblematic of the neighbourhood. Simone, a Parkdale dog if there ever was one, eyed them with suspicious. They stared back. They bucked and pulled at their leashes trying to get over to us. Simone dared them on. I'm not sure who grunted first but immediately after, the snarling/barking started.

Poor behaviour on all the dogs' parts to be sure but I thought it was kind of funny. It played into a classic narrative friction between the established and the newcomers, the polished and the unkempt, Roncevalles and Parkdale.

Maybe I'll get Simone a shinier collar. Maybe I'll start wearing less trashy clothes.

Or maybe not.




August
The old house is empty now. I am back one final time to say goodbye to the ghosts. Soon there will be new spirits inhabiting this place.

It's silly, but I feel I'm abandoning this house. Perhaps I'm confusing that feeling with a feeling of having abandoned a big part of my life. I never did all the things I wanted to do here. There was always something that needed to be done, big projects, big plans, as any of you living in old Victorians probably know. I often hated the place, all the responsibilities that came with it.

But I'm not just talking about the house. There were other things undone as well, in life, in love, undone, incomplete.

I often wanted to leave but I never actually saw myself leaving.

Now it's happened.

I wonder how many times this scene has replayed itself in this house before, similar thoughts from others who have been on the edge of leaving. I've seen this house indicated on a map from the 1880s so it's at least 130 years old. That's almost as old as Canada. How many families have passed through here since then?

There are echoes in here now with all the furniture gone. They are echoes of love, joy, sadness, happiness, anger, hope soaked into the bones of this old house, emanating back out. I leave that behind now.

I lay on the floor and stare up at the ceiling and I think: this once was mine.

May the new owners take care of these old ghosts.


1999 - 2012
These are the lives who have passed through here:

Davian, Gavin, April, Kelly, Jason, Lindsay, all their cats, Barclay, Stella, Rocky, Smitten, Simone, Elizabeth, myself.






Duke is a chatterbox so no condo living for this guy, unless you've got neighbours on all sides who like the sounds of out of tune violins being played by tone deaf three year olds on sugar pills. Okay, he's not that bad but he does like to bay when he converses and he seems to have a lot to say, at least at the shelter.

I suspect part of it is that he's missing his owner and he's not getting enough attention at TAS. At one point, we were stopped on our walk by three young women who were on their way to the Drake concert. They wanted to know if they could say hello to Duke and in response, Duke pulled himself over to them and plopped himself down in their midst. As they cooed and ran their hands over him, he was completely quiet and he gave me this look and I swear he was thinking, "Sucks to be 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.



After a recent tragedy, Stella is back in at Toronto Animal Services South, this time along with another Basset Hound, Duke (tomorrow's post). They are friends but aren't bonded and so will be adopted out separately.

You may remember Stella from her first time through when she was still a pup. Hopefully, her stay this round will be just as short.





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.





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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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