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For better or worse, many people, probably most people in Canada, consider the dog's prime place in society to be that of family pet, and not as a tireless worker out in the field or ferocious guard of one's property - not that some dogs don't still hold those duties but they are the minority.

Certainly, in Canadian cities, where there are no livestock to tend or vast acreages to patrol, the need for dogs to earn their living through labour is not usually a requirement. A dog living in an urban environment earns its keep by being a companion to its human keepers. City dogs are family dogs.

The thing most modern bred dogs do best is provide real and constant companionship - and that's no mean feat considering the increasing competition for our attention. But, spurious Facebook friends are as plentiful and fleeting as snowflakes and the social interactions we conduct the most nowadays require batteries. Neither are particularly warm blooded and neither provide a connection to earth.

I suppose if one day humans become just brains floating in jars, interconnected wirelessly to a great data cloud gathered and constantly changing on some corporation's vast hard drives, then the role of dogs will be no longer necessary and dogs will be defunct. Until then, we'll still need something to help keep us human.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be doing a series of photos of ex-pound dogs, now family dogs, in their adopted homes with their owners (eventually, this might turn into some kind of fund raising gig for animal shelters but right now, it's just a personal project). We so often see photos of pound dogs gazing woefully at us, unwanted and hoping to be adopted. That is indeed a sad reality for so many but the public also needs to be shown that these animals are not just discards but can also be wonderful companions if given a chance. There are pound dogs all over the country waiting to be rescued and, in return, the happiness these dogs bring to their adoptive families can be immeasurable.

Kate and Mike saw Winnie at Toronto Animal Services South several months ago. She had just arrived from Montreal and back then she was at first a shy but nevertheless curious young dog, barely out of puppyhood. Indications were that she'd been abused. Half her tail was chopped off and she flinched whenever someone raise a foot.

The scraggly looking mutt in the pound photos didn't look too promising at first but within an hour of meeting her, Kate and Mike were won over by Winnie's personality.

They took Winnie home and a week later, Kate wrote TAS to tell them "we're smitten" (you can read her letter here).

It can be a leap to go from being unfettered to suddenly having the responsibility of taking care of a dog. Kate is a reporter for the Globe and Mail and Mike is a engineering consultant so it's not as if their schedules weren't already full. Kate told me what it was like. People are busy, she said, but you get a dog and you don't mind giving it the time it needs.

It would indeed be hard to begrudge Winnie one's attention. She is now a happy, gregarious dog. She's generous with her kisses if you let her. She knows her basic commands and is well-behaved enough to not run away when off-leash.

Recently, Kate had Winnie DNA tested for breed. There were no surprises when the results came back saying she was German Shepherd with some Rottweiler and a dash of Doberman Pinscher. All three breeds have a reputation for being guard dogs and yet Winnie has not a hint of guarding behaviour in her.

She is indeed a perfect family dog.

1 Comment to “Family dogs - Kate, Mike and Winnie”

  1. Erin says:

    I love this idea and congrats to Kate, Mike and Winnie!! I may be a bit biased though, considering I count myself amongst the lucky to have a fabulous dog from TAS South. I don't think we could have asked for a more perfect dog for us than our table hopping, nose poking, kiss giving, ball of loving energy that is Mabel!

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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.