Sometimes with the bigger, stronger dogs, I take a moment longer to evaluate their personalities before opening the kennel door to take them out. I have no such need for concern with Madison. She is the most timid Boxer I've met at Toronto Animal Services South - not timid in a snappy-snarly-if-you-get-too-close sort of way but in a please-be-nice-to-me sort of way.

Madison is the type of dog who plays against type and just makes you want to take her home and wrap her in a fuzzy blanket.

She loves other dogs so it would ideal if she could go home to a family which already has a dog, especially a more confident around people dog who can show her that humans can be pretty good friends too.




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.



Now when I meet a dog whom I know is going to be euthanized, I no longer get upset about it or at least I've learned to turn down the volume on that upset so I can carry on with my day, do my laundry, vacuum the floor.

I may spend some time with the dog but usually only in its kennel because often it's in no condition to be taken outside. It's usually a dog which even under more ideal circumstances would be forcing its owners to consider end of life options.

The more appreciative the dog is with my company, the harder it is, of course, so I have to turn down the emotional volume even further. And when the dog leans into me or licks my hand or tries to play, I am already as cold and soulless as a polished black granite block. Everything, the dark, the light, bounce off me. Nothing pierces the surface. Nothing enters. Nothing is allowed out.

I hold this old Jack Russell on my lap. All his teeth are rotten and I try not to breathe in his foul breath when he looks up at me with his foggy eyes. He is incontinent, maybe something wrong with his kidneys; his hips are ruined; he knuckles over and he teeters and falls when he walks; his vision is going, of course; he has a severe heart murmur; later, I am told, he is infested with fleas. But this dog, like every old dog I've ever met, cares not about his ailments, pushes them all aside and spends his time enjoying the company of a human. He does not realize or perhaps doesn't care that I've turned myself into a distant, impenetrable thing.

He nudges my hand with his muzzle. I give him the touch of my hands. I hold him, I scratch his ears, rub his chest, pat his back, hold him. Hold him some more. I give him my hands. I cannot give him anything else.

I don't think about his confusion, his loneliness, his abandonment. I don't think about how he must feel forsaken - but I know of course he feels forsaken. His owner was his god and his god has forsaken him. I don't think about the coward who threw this dog away, this coward who couldn't carry this dog to his final moments of life, or maybe the person was too lazy or too stupid or too selfish. I don't think about those things until later. Later I think maybe this person was just an asshole.

How many billions of us humans are here weighing this planet down, complaining daily about the mundane, always wanting more even though we've already taken over this whole goddam world. Everything is ours already and we bitch and moan and kill for more and then we don't even want it, get tired of it and throw it away. And yet, here is this pathetic, sick, abandoned and about to be euthanized animal who has nothing in the world, who is about to lose his last small foothold in this world, and right now, at this moment, it is everything I am not. It is happy. It is hopeful.


Rest in peace.





How to wreck a puppy:

1. Take the pup home when it's a young cute thing thus depriving better people from adopting him and then return him to the shelter months later when he's lost his puppy cuteness and looks like an adult dog.

2. Do not spend enough time exercising or socializing the pup so the dog still behaves like an under-socialized, excitable pup but now in an adult body.

3. Use dominance/punishment based training methods thus making the dog hand shy because he equates hands near his face with punishment.

Jamie was adopted out when he was four months old, still a cute, wriggly thing. Now he's been returned three months later.

When he first sees me enter the room, he's unsure. I look at him and instead of a wagging tail or excited barks, he lies down and avoids eye contact. I open the kennel door, beckon him but he just looks away. When I move my hand to attach the leash to his collar, he stiffens. I see his eye blink and his upper lip move just slightly and I'm not sure if it's the beginning of a wince or a snarl. I back off.

The owners said he used to take the kids' toys and when they tried to discipline him, he'd show his teeth.

In his recent behaviour assessment at the shelter, he showed no signs of resource guarding so that begs the question: What "discipline" was practiced to make this dog bare his teeth?

The silver lining is that Jamie was returned before any further damage was done. He's still young, certainly young enough that his rough puppy manners can be corrected and his lack of confidence and anxieties can be alleviated.

I loop him with the end of the leash to keep my hands away from his face. When he realizes the leash is on and we're going for a walk and I'm not there to punish him, his manner immediately changes. Now he's pawing and playing. Now he's a pup again.


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.



This is Simone on her bed when I leave her in the morning for work:


This is Simone on her bed when I come home:

She started bringing the sock over to her bed a few weeks ago. She doesn't chew it. She just keeps it near.

It breaks my heart a little every time I see that.





Next year's Pound Dogs Calendar is now available here.

The calendars cost $20.99 plus taxes and shipping. About $16 of each calendar sold goes to the calendar company and the rest goes to TAS. So, basically, for every calendar sold, $5.00 goes directly to rescuing animals.

If you want to receive the calendar before Christmas, you'll have to check the company's order-by-dates to ensure timely delivery.

It looks like the previous year's Pound Dog calendars are still available as well for those of you who want a re-do on 2012.



A very noble animal.





This guy will be available for adoption within the next few days. Keep your eyes on the Toronto Animal Services adoption website if interested or call 416 338 6668 for the Toronto Animal Services South shelter.



I've never seen a Pointer point before, at least not live and right in front of me, until I walk Enzo and then there he goes, points at the bushes, waits for me to pull out a rifle to shoot the shrubbery.




Enzo will be available for adoption within the next few days. Keep your eyes on the Toronto Animal Services adoption website if interested or call 416 338 6668 for the Toronto Animal Services South shelter.



Teddy and Bear came in together but they appear to be more quarreling siblings than bonded pair. These Bichon Frises are both great dogs on their own but together, one is constantly trying to hump the other one and that only leads to growling and escalation. I made the mistake of walking the two of them together and not paying well enough attention and at one point a noisy but harmless fight between the two pipsqueaks broke out. All the snarling and barking turned quite a few heads over in our direction. I'm sure people were wondering if I was training the two for the dog fight circuit.

So, for their sake and everyone else's, these two are being adopted out separately. I wish I could tell you for sure which one is Teddy and which on is Bear but I can't. Like I said, they're both adorable, on their own or maybe even with other dogs, just not together with each other.

This is the first one, the humper:




This is the second one, the humpee:





These two will be available for adoption within the next few days. Keep your eyes on the Toronto Animal Services adoption website if interested or call 416 338 6668 for the Toronto Animal Services South shelter.



Or maybe Japanese Chin mix.

Chins are toy dogs and were bred mostly for laps and amusement and this guy excels at both. He loves being picked up and lording over other much bigger dogs from the vantage point of someone's cradled arms.




This guy will be available for adoption within the next few days. Keep your eyes on the Toronto Animal Services adoption website if interested or call 416 338 6668 for the Toronto Animal Services South shelter.



Get ready for some snarfling.




Bentley will be available for adoption within the next few days. Keep your eyes on the Toronto Animal Services adoption website if interested or call 416 338 6668 for the Toronto Animal Services South shelter.




She's in the meet and greet room. I can seen her through the glass walls, lying in her bed not approaching me even when she sees me approaching her. She's sad. She's uncertain, perhaps a little scared. She's the last of six pups who came in from a reserve up north. Her brothers and sisters were all adopted out, over the course of the morning, and now she's alone.

I wonder how long she'll be by himself. Hours or days? Long enough for an eight week old puppy's mood to turn melancholy?

It wasn't my intention to take her out first but how could I resist? I put the leash on her and try to walk her out of the room. She sits and refuses to move. I try to coax her with voice, hands, food but nothing works, so I pick her up and carry her out.

A few steps out of the room and into the corridor and I put her down, see if she'll walk on her own now. She takes a few steps and I guide her to the top of the stairs. She looks down the stairs. She won't do the stairs. I guide her over to the elevator. She looks into the elevator. She won't go into the elevator. I pick her up again and carry her into the elevator.

Once outside, her interest in walking improves and we manage a short loop on the grass but then she plops down again. I don't know if this behaviour is because she's afraid of something or if she's just being obstinate against being leashed. She seems fine when we don't move, when we just stand in one spot she relaxes and starts to sniff and roll.

I take her photos and everyone who passes by stops to say hello to her.

Once the photos are done, I bring her back to the meet and greet room and again she is alone in there and at a loss without any companionship.

But I don't know why I was ever concerned. There's a family in the corridor and they see the pup. They walk over and ask if they can meet her. Yes, please. They open the door to the room part way, not sure if they can go in and I tell them to go ahead.

The kids play with her. The father watches with a smile on his face. The mother asks questions.

An hour later, they're filling out her adoption forms.








Joka's a big, looming Cane Corso Mastiff mix and once belonged to some lowlife, small dicked dirtbag who hacked off his ears when he was a pup to make him look tough, and sure, he looks tough until he swings his hind end against your leg and leans into you and gazes back up at you waiting for butt scratches.

I'm glad I don't own a house at the moment because if I did, I'd probably have a new dog right now. No one should ever adopt a dog on impulse but if I were ever going to break that rule, a dog like Joka would be the cause of my infraction.

Big bowling ball head, good on a leash (he pulls but only slightly), gentle with people and he appeared okay with most other dogs - though I didn't have time to do any up close and personal dog to dog introductions.

Joka will clear the sidewalks for sure and that always attracts a certain type of douchebag who will want him for an ego boost, so the trick will be to find him an owner who will treat him kindly and well and allow his gentle nature to flourish.





This was Joka's reaction when Mia passed by and gave him a stare down (Mia is about a third his size):



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 the owner of Rocky, now Alfie:

Alfie had his first birthday with us on October 23rd - can't wait for many, many more!






A couple of photos of Maddie with her new best doggie pal:





From the owner of Moose, now Walter, who, I'm guessing, is also a "Breaking Bad" fan:

I just wanted to give you a little update on (formerly known as Moose) Walter. I have adopted him. He has been in our home for almost 3 weeks. We fell in love with him thanks to your phenomenal photographic skills of capturing these dogs' souls. I love him with all of my heart and with the help of our vet he has been given a good bill of health.

He seems to have allergies/asthma which was causing his breathing most noticeably when he is stressed out. Since I have asthma too, I completely understand how it can be a vicious circle of panic. He has bonded with us so well and has a brother named Hank (a 10 month old Boxer/Cane Corso). He is a wonderful boy and loves our horses too. By the looks of things he will be around enjoying his new life for quite some time.

Thank you again.




Three Bernese mix pups, a brother and two sisters, came in a couple of weeks and were quickly adopted out maybe within a day of one another.

Following the photos is an update from the woman who took the two sisters.

The brother:



The two sisters:





From Ellie's new owner:

As promised i am keeping you up to date on our “ladies” Bella Dean and Ellie Melanson.

Life has taken on a whole new meaning for both Loweena and I and the “girls”.

We are getting our exercise with at least 3, 40 min walkies per day and that is not including the trips to our back gardens and the short jaunt just up the street and down before bed.

Ellie is just so gentle and sweet. The most amazing personality. All of my neighbours adore her and have volunteered for babysitting duty.

The toilet training is going really well we are both happy to report. Not perfect but what the heck they are still babies.

Tomorrow Ellie and I are off to see Dr Mike and the Westside Animal Clinic. She will get a real going over and I have a few questions too, nothing really serious I hope just her nose is warm and dry and she drinks gallons of water. Otherwise she is just thriving.

The world is just a huge wonderment for Ellie, she sits beautifully when we encounter neighbours and friends. And she walks really well on her leash.

I am on the lookout for a fluorescent collar and leash as she really is hard to see at night when she gets onto the lawns. ( i happily pick up after her )

I will write more when i get her results from her first vet visit. Loweena will take Bella next week ( 29th i think ).

Thank you for having faith in us to take these wonderful charges. I promise you will never regret it.







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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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