Ripley is like one of those dogs who will leap through fire, climb barbed wire fences and dodge trucks on the 401 to come to your rescue if you are ever tied to the railroad tracks by a wax-mustachioed, top hat wearing villain.





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.



I took this happy, friendly Jack Russell Terrier for a walk with my own dog Simone because I had her with me at Toronto Animal Services on Sunday morning. Frazer was very interested in Simone but for any of you who know Simone, it would come as no surprise that his affections were not returned.

No worries, though. Half an hour later, his affections were rewarded when he was adopted out by a lovely couple who had come in just to see him.




I was away for a week a while back and didn't get to post this one on Tess and by the time I got back, she was already adopted - not surprisingly.




Here's Tess in her new 'hood:

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 Kingston's new owners:

So, we've had him now for just over 5 weeks and he is doing very well!! We've been going to obedience school at Paws Way and this week is our last week. Our instructor is Ursula- Dogs Gone Good- and she says she knows you.. she seems to be pretty good but I do think that those classes are designed more for low-energy, non-shelter dogs.

He has gotten very good with the tricks (sit, stay, leave-it and down are perfect!) and his recall is getting much better. He still gets very excited in social settings so I'm not sure that more obedience is the best option for him (he tends to bark throughout the entire class, haha) and we have him in a crate during the day- I didn't think there were any problems but my neighbour informed me last night that he has been crying during the day while we're gone... Do you have any tips for how I could go about keeping him quiet and comfortable during crate time? (Ursula mentioned that you keep things quite 'zen-like' in the shelter).

Other than that, we're so happy with him and he is such a great dog! He is great walking and running with me and the excitement of seeing other dogs has dwindled significantly! Turns out, he is quite cuddly as well- he needs to lay across my lap if I'm on the couch and then if Joel, my boyfriend, is on the couch he needs to lay across both of our laps, haha. Such a cute puppy. I attached a photo for you. I've been telling people to check out the shelters first and give the dogs a chance because wonderful dogs, like Kingston, can easily be missed!





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.




"Everyone get on the elevator. We can all fit," the guy says and sure enough we all fit.

I'm standing in a Metro Toronto Convention Center elevator packed in with an entourage of volunteers and staff from Toronto Animal Services and International Fund for Animal Welfare, Cesar Millan's production staff, Canadian Tire stage coordinators, and three dogs.

We reach our floor and all get off the elevator, dogs first, and step onto the show floor where it looks like the MTCC has been turned into one big Canadian Tire store. The only thing missing is the Canadian Tire smell (all CTs have that smell - I think it's patented). I don't get why people would want to go down to the Convention Center to see Canadian Tire products when they could just go to a regular Canadian Tire store but I'm obviously in the minority because the place is well populated.

Cesar Millan and Lolita

We wind through a throng of people to get to the stage, the dogs and their handlers way ahead now to the point where I lose sight of them and I wonder how it is they've managed to weave through the crowds so quickly. When I catch up to them, they're already on the other side of the red velvet rope and I have to explain to security that I'm with the others. Security lets me duck under the barrier.

The dogs are panting, a little anxious, but not nearly as anxious as I would expect them to be in this new environment given that less than a week ago they were mostly running around on a reservation up north. For a few years now, TAS and IFAW have been partners in bringing unwanted reservation dogs to Toronto where the dogs are adopted out. In IFAW's latest transport earlier in the week, ten dogs were brought down.

Cesar Millan and Goldie

I don't know what the chain of events were exactly but I guess phone calls were made, emails sent and somehow or other, Cesar Millan, who was making an appearance at the Canadian Tire convention, arranged to showcase his dog whispering skills using three dogs from Toronto Animal Services. I didn't hear about the event until the morning of and then I thought, well, this is an odd enough combination that I think I'm going to have to postpone everything I had planned for Saturday afternoon and head down with the gang to check this thing out.

I did have to do some rearranging of my schedule, however, and by the time I got down to the MTCC, Millan had already picked the three dogs he'd be bringing on stage. The three chosen were the most rambunctious of the IFAW dogs: Lolita, a Black Lab mix, Dootie, a Pointer mix and Goldie, a Yellow Lab mix. The only problem was, I thought, the dogs weren't really that rambunctious. Pleasant, though untrained, tends to be the norm with reservation dogs and these three were no exception. Sure, they were somewhat excitable but nothing like any of the dogs featured on the Dog Whisperer TV shows. I couldn't help but wonder if Millan was disappointed we couldn't provide him with bigger challenges.

When I first heard about Cesar Millan years ago, a relative unknown at the time, it was from a Malcolm Gladwell article he wrote for The New Yorker (complete article is here with additional commentary here).

As Millan's popularity grew, so did the legion of critics, mostly people who disagreed with his training methods. I suspect that this anti-Milan backlash may have been perhaps a small contributing factor to Millan's suicide attempt in 2010 which was mostly triggered by the death of his Pit Bull Daddy followed shortly by his divorce.

For me, the show business of training dogs is more a problem than Milan's methods. The show business of training dogs manipulates people hungry for instant gratification into thinking they can fix a dog's problems with a few finger taps on the torso, vocalizing "ch" noises and a maintaining an internal mental state of "calm energy". Just this morning at the dog park, there was a Pug barking a little too insistently for its owners liking and the owner kept trying to chase it down while making "ch" sounds and air tapping because she couldn't reach down fast enough to tap the dog itself since the dog just kept staying out of her reach. As expected, that particular training method didn't produce the intended result.

Whatever criticisms might be applied to the Dog Whisperer TV shows, Millan himself has always been a huge supporter of both shelter dogs and Pit Bulls. And now there is a new National Geographic series featuring Millan, called Leader of the Pack, which focuses specifically on finding homeless dogs a home. From the trailers I've seen, the premise of the series is a bit gimmicky (three candidates vying for one dog) but it's a gimmick which hopefully educates and advocates on behalf of shelter dogs. Millan's doing his part for shelter dogs and that he chose to showcase today three homeless dogs from Toronto Animal Services personalizes my appreciation for this aspect of his work.

Cesar Millan and Dootie

On stage, Millan is an enjoyable showman. He is comfortable and knows how to appeal to the crowd with grand gestures and one-liners. But, the first part of the show, with Millan advising and handling the three dogs and their "problems", is a bit anti-climactic. The dogs are too well-behaved to give him much of a challenge. Lolita is supposed to be toy-obsessed but she's more interested in sniffing the floor of the stage. Dootie is supposed to be food obsessed but turns out to be just as happy playing flopsy bunny and kissing faces. Goldie is supposed to be a puller on leash but on stage she walks gently and with relative ease. I wonder if Millan is bored. I wonder if the show business of working with dogs has taken away from his enjoyment of actually working with dogs but if that's the case, he doesn't show it. His energy level is up. His smile is on. The crowd cheers and claps.
After the show with TAS' in house dog whisperer



Elvis was found wandering around High Park. Someone's taken good care of him. He's friendly. He's healthy, well-groomed. He's trained. I wonder about his story, what the circumstances were which lead to him getting abandoned. Somebody cared about Elvis once.

Elvis is very smart but then he is a Border Collie. I once saw a news report about a Border Collie who knew more than a thousand words and was learning more every day which is pretty cool because as I get older, I forget more and more words every day.




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.



Do you like getting slurp on your face? Do you like getting dog hair all over your clothes? Do you like the feeling of a one hundred pound fur coat flopped over you as you sleep? Then meet Francis (who also happens to be Jacob's mum).




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 Walter (who used to be Moose the chocolate Lab):

Here's a little update on Walter! We have moved to a farm and his is the Uncle to our baby chicks!



Harmony is the third and last of the recent puppy mill Chihuahuas being adopted out by Toronto Animal Services and like her companions Ringo and Hershey, who have already found homes, she too is a little shy at first but warms up quickly.





Unlike Ringo and Hershey, Harmony seems to have a bit more spunk when it comes to other dogs and vocalizes whenever she sees one she wants to meet. She sounds like a Hyena who's just sucked back a lungful of helium.


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.



Zoe, young, friendly, funny, yellow Labrador Retriever - hurry on down to TAS South if you want her cuz you know she's not going to be around for long.




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 Molly's new owners:

Well Molly has been with us now for just over 3 weeks and she's been doing well. As I mentioned in my wall post, we got her house broken in about 4/5 days but even so she still only had 3 accidents in the house at the time. She's great in her crate and her mouthing behaviour is getting better as well. She loves to give kisses and loves to be groomed. She is getting better at handling but still not completely trusting in the hind area. We hope that she gets more comfortable with that in time. She's just a little anxious around other dogs but we are working with a trainer and hope to make her more socialized . Overall we totally love her and she seems like she's adjusting well and is happy! ( although I wish I can read her mind just to be sure lol!)

From me:

I'd really like to emphasize this point that one of the biggest stumbling blocks to Molly not being adopted for such a long time was that she wasn't housebroken when she was at Toronto Animal Services. This is such a clear example of how behaviour is so greatly impacted by environment. I'm thrilled that someone finally was willing to give Molly a chance to show she could be housebroken even though I'm amazed it only took them less than a week to do so. Fantastic!









With MacDuff's furrowed brow and apparent frown, he could be mistaken for a very serious minded dog. MacDuff is actually a happy little fellow who's still a bit shy having only been rescued out of a puppy mill for a couple of weeks. He's just getting use to being on a leash and walking around outside and I have to admit at one point I picked him up and carried him back after he suddenly just refused to take another step. I don't blame him. There are definitely times when I would go for the being carried option if only that option was available.



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.



Ringo is outside with Hershey (yesterday's post). He's still standing in the same spot where he'd been set down a couple of minutes ago. He's shivering even though the sun is shining and it's not really that cold out.

When I pet him, he freezes up a bit but then relaxes but doesn't really relax. The snacks don't break the tension. The squeaky toy doesn't break the tension.

Another dog walks by and that gets him moving. He scrambles over and suddenly all is well and he's forgotten whatever anxieties he's had and is checking out the other dog. The other dog eventually continues on its way with his person and Ringo is anxious again but not as much as before. Ringo moves around a bit now. He tries to stay close to Hershey but Hershey wants to be near me so there's that little problem for Ringo.

Eventually, I just pick Ringo up. Hershey gets immediately jealous and wants to be picked up too but right now it's Ringo's turn so I leave Hershey on the ground. Ringo settles into my arms - sort of. He's still not fully relaxed but that's okay. I understand trust is sometimes harder for some dogs. We've only been together a few minutes and he's already come a long way.

I think Ringo will be fine 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.



Natalie, one of the staff, spends fifteen minutes on the floor coaxing Hershey and Ringo (tomorrow's post) out of their crate inside the kennel which is a lot better than I would have done since the pair were too afraid to even look at me.

We carry them outside, Natalie with Ringo, me with Hershey. She tells me Hershey might walk but Ringo will probably just stand where ever he is set down - the outside world still too much for him to handle.

When I put Hershey down, he immediately tries to run away from me but I hang onto the leash. I sit down on the sidewalk. I pull out some snacks but I'm pretty sure Hershey will be too nervous to take any offered food and he doesn't. So, I just sit there some more. After about five minutes, Hershey is calmer and is doing some sniffing around my shoes. Another five minutes and he's by my lap. Then he's on my lap. Then he's curled up on my lap. Funny fellow. Now, even after I get up, he's wanting to climb back on.

I think he'll do fine.




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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