I've seen some pretty sad stuff in my years as a volunteer at Toronto Animal Services, animals who have been abused, animals who have died. This, while not as overtly cruel nor abusive, I find heart wrenching nevertheless.
This is Basquiat now:
This is Basquiat when he was first brought to a northern Quebec pound from which he has never left:
Or rather, never left until a couple of weeks ago when he was transferred to Toronto Animal Services South. So, from the time he was eight weeks old until now when he is fully grown, Basquiat has spent his entire life alone in a cage.
I see the picture of him as a pup - and I know dogs don't have the same potential as humans in terms of what we consider "achievements" but they do have a potential for life and things good in life - and when I see the potential in that pup not fulfilled, when I see the pup's bright eyes like any pup's bright eyes, but knowing, despite the best efforts of that pound which tried to adopt him out for so long, how his curiosity will be squashed, how his joy will turn to anxiety, how his trust will not be rewarded, it makes me very sad.
And it's the contrast perhaps but there is something especially sad as well when I see a big dog so full of fright.
Outside, he tries to duck and cover whenever he hears an unidentifiable noise, sees a sudden movement out of the corner of his eye.
I stop walking and let Basquiat just stand in place for a bit. He is overwhelmed by the new environment, the new people, the new dogs walking by. I sit on the sidewalk. I can see the deeply rooted canine instinct in him wanting to come over to me, to bond with a human, but it's being sublimated by his fear of the unknown. I put the camera away. I sit and wait.
There's a lot of back and forth. He steps toward me but sometimes I reach out too soon, sometimes too fast. At one point, he settles his weight into my hand as I scratch his ears and I think, "Good," but then I raise the camera and he's away again.
It takes about half an hour. He sniffs the wind, lies down on the ground, finally lets me take his photo without any anxiety.
I have no doubt Basquiat will make a great recovery and a wonderful companion. When he bonds, that bond will be strong and for life because the yearning for human companionship is strong in him, strong enough to overcome his fear. And he will heal. He is healing already with every new kind person he meets, with every new trip outside.
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.