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From her new owner, some pictures of Dane Judy lounging around on the boardwalk.

Sally came in with three of her siblings and she's the last one at TAS (one got adopted already and two went to Speaking of Dogs rescue) and it's not hard to see why. She's an adorable Black Lab pup and Black Labs seem to be Toronto's most popular dog. I wouldn't be too surprised if Sally is picked up before this post even gets published.

For adoption information on this dog and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Max came into Toronto Animal Services South back in January and got adopted almost immediately. His owners just sent in some photos of him with his family.

Cop in the middle of the road, directing traffic.

Cop: (yelling at me) Hey! You!

Me: (yelling back) Yeah?

Cop: Is that your dog?

Me: Uh, no. It's ...

Cop: Who's dog is it then?

Me: He's from animal services.

Cop: Oh. Can I come see him?

Me: Yeah, sure.

Cop stops traffic. He comes over. He's got a balaclava on. I can only see his eyes. He looks at the dog, leans over, squats down.

Cop: Oh, who's the cute doggie? What a cute doggie. Aww, look at the cute doggie.

The pup tries to lick the cop on the face then flops down and rolls over on his back.

Cop: Aww, look at that. Look at the cute doggie. If I take you home, my wife will kill me.

Anyone with a heart, this little guy will melt it in zero seconds flat.

For adoption information on this dog and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Last month, Linda Diebel from The Star, wrote an article about the dog rescue work being done at Toronto Animal Services South and the piece featured a dog named Ernest who got his sleepy mug into the paper.

Just the other day, Ernest's owners sent in some photos of Ernest in his new home enjoying cuddles and birthday cupcake.

Two weeks ago, another Sunday afternoon, another Marlies hockey game in the arena beside Toronto Animal Services. As mullet rock begins playing on the outdoor speakers, more people start heading to admissions. There are parents with their happy, excited toddlers. There are elegantly dressed couples who look like they're going to a black tie event. There are the throngs of fans who are just there for an afternoon of hockey.

Sometimes the crowds make the dogs anxious but not Dallas, a Rottweiler cross I'm walking. Dallas is completely at ease with everyone, doesn't pay the passers-by much heed unless they stop to say hello to her.

There's a tour bus parked up ahead. Guys, in their twenties, are wandering in and out of the bus. Some stand around and talk and laugh. Some head to the stadium. The bus driver, in uniform, is pacing on the sidewalk. Maybe he's having a smoke - I can't remember exactly. As I walk towards the bus, I hear something on the bus' loudspeaker system. It doesn't sink in at first because it's lost in the general hubbub of the crowds but then I realize someone's saying over the loudspeaker, "Pick up that shit." As I walk by the bus, the message gets more insistent. "Hey, you, pick up that shit!" followed by giggling. I hear it one more time as I walk past.

I take Dallas to a quieter spot I use for photographing dogs except this afternoon, with the warm thaw, the ground there is too wet and muddy. I try another location but it's the same thing so I take Dallas back the way we came.

We walk towards the hockey fan bus again. I can see through the front window. There's a guy in the front seat chugging something from a brown bottle. He's been watching me and he keeps watching me as I get closer to the bus. Behind him are a couple of his buddies. He leans over over something and speaks and I hear over the loudspeakers, "Pick up the shit," and then giggling from his pals behind him and with more encouragement, the guy at the mike says in a louder voice, "Yeah you. Pick up the shit," followed by laughter.

It's strange but I don't actually feel bad for myself. I feel bad for Dallas. I know the taunts are directed at me obviously but it's like she's the one who needs to be protected against this bus of drunken assholes even though she's of course oblivious to all this.

We continue on past the bus. The message over the loudspeaker gets repeated over and over and louder each time as the speaker's bravado climbs, egged on by his pals.

I see the bus driver still pacing the sidewalk. I walk by him. I hear again, "Pick up the shit! Pick up the shit!" I stop. I turn around and ask the bus driver who these guys are. The bus driver, a man in his fifties, looks at me and shakes his head and rolls his eyes.

"They're just ... " and he trails off.

"Pick up the shiiiit," again, this time in some fake, drawn out monster voice. The passengers in the back of the bus are rapping on the windows like wannabe prison inmates rapping on their bars. I can hear laughter coming from inside.

I'm about to do what I'm about to do and the words "stupid", "reckless", "asinine" are echoing somewhere in the more civilized outer regions of my brain but I'm not listening. A reptile's taken over.

I walk onto the bus. I look at the guy in the front seat. He's already hidden his bottle. I see his face. I hate it. It's puerile. One of his pals retreats. The other stays up front with a stupid beer grin on his face.

"What's your problem?" I ask.

"Uh," manboy at the mike stares at me.

"What the fuck is your problem?" I ask.

Manboy's pal beside him says, "Pick up your dog's shit," and giggles.

"She's not my dog," I say.

"Who's dog is it then?" manboy asks.

"What do you care?" I say.

"Pick up your dog shit" the pal chants. "Pick up your dog shit."

Manboy says. "Uh, a friend back there said he saw your dog take a shit. You should pick it up." Manboy's fluttering now, trying to excuse his rude assault with a lie.

"Wrong dog," I say.

"Is it your shit then?" the pal asks and gapes a grin.

"No, I think it's yours," I say to the gaper. I can't think of a better comeback than that. Too much adrenaline. Looking back at manboy I say, "Your friend in the back there is an idiot or lying."

"Did your dog take a shit?" manboy asks. Now he's playing interrogator.

"Yeah, but your imaginary friend didn't see it," I say and it's true. Dallas had taken a dump while we were walking around looking for a photo location but that was blocks away from the bus, away from the crowds, away from anyone in view.

"And did you pick it up?" from Manboy.

"Yeah, I did," I say.

"With your bare hands?" the pal asks and giggles at his own wit.

Manboy tries a different tack.

"If that dog's not yours, whose dog is it?"

Manboy's pal suggests something about my mother.

"Why don't you step off the bus and I'll show you whose dog it is," I say.

Manboy's easily got twenty pounds on me. His mouthy pal is a skinny runt but still another body. And there's a half bus load of frat boy mentality hockey fans behind them. I don't know what I'm doing. My brain is under remote control. My blood feels like lava.

"C'mon, step off the bus," I say.

Manboy pauses. His pal stays quiet, still grinning. Then, "I don't want to get into a fist fight," manboy says.

"That's not going to happen," I say. "Just step off the bus." I'm not looking for a fight either. I've got some half formed idea about taking them into TAS since they want to know where Dallas is from. There would be no fighting but they still think I'm a threat.

"We're just here to support our team," someone says.

"Step off the bus," I say one last time. "I'll show you who owns the dog."

No takers.

I back out of the bus. The bus driver walks up to me. He's apologizing. He's asking me to just walk away. I want to say something to him but what's the point. They're not his children. As I walk away, the pounding on the bus windows start up again.

Later, I'm standing near the TAS front entrance talking to one of the animal control officers. I see the guys from the bus start to come out. Manboy is surrounded by his posse. Over the conversation I'm having with the ACO, I hear, "Let's go kick his ass," coming from the bus boys but they see I've got someone with me now so they keep walking.

Even later, I realize this: Dallas, an unwanted, homeless dog, who remained calm at my side throughout this whole episode, had more sense and composure than any of us human goons.

Penny likes to smile.

The next time someone tells you that dogs don't really smile and it's just the way their mouths relax that makes them look like they're smiling, you can assure yourself that the person is wrong. Penny is smiling. Once you meet her, you'll know what I mean.

And her smile's infectious too.

For adoption information on this dog and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

I'm going to start doing a weekly roundup of links to dog related stuff because people send me online videos and such and sometimes they make me go wow and sometimes they make me laugh and I think I should probably pass them around.

Nothing sad here. There's enough sad stuff elsewhere.

A dog collapses during a training class. The instructor does CPR on it. Here's what happens:

Have you seen Portlandia on the IFC network? Here's their spot with the Portland Pet Haven shelter staff. Get ready for some amazing learnin' from two actual dog experts:

Portlandia again. An afternoon with two heroes of the dog rescue community:

Article in The Telegraph from the Don't Communists Make the Best Capitalists Department, a 1.5 million dollar dog:

"He is a perfect specimen," said Mr Lu, who runs the Tibetan Mastiff Garden in Laoshan, near the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao. "He has excellent genes and will be a good breeding dog. When I started in this business, ten years ago, I never thought we would see such a price."

I'm sure you've seen this one. If you haven't, you're obviously not on the internet enough and need to GET ON THE INTERNET NOW! Oh wait. I guess you already are.

Basset Hounds running on a beach by BenfromSalem on Flickr.
More hilarity here.

And one more. I don't know what breed these two are but they really like water. Maybe Lab mixes or something probably:

Trinity came into Toronto Animal Services with her brother. Trinity is quite friendly with people but her brother, Morpheus, not so much. At five months, Morpheus has a bit of a nipping habit so he was sent off to the Toronto Humane Society where they have the time and expertise to stop that behaviour before it gets any worse.

The growing partnership between TAS and the new THS will only result in more animal lives being saved and this is a clear example of that. Let's hope this partnership continues and evolves. Good luck to Morpheus and much thanks to the THS for helping him out.

As for Trinity, she's a beauty with striking blue eyes and sharp as a whip. She'll be a fantastic dog for someone soon.

For adoption information on this dog and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

This little alien claiming to be a Shih Tzu landed on our planet a few days ago. It hasn't worked out the whole facial expression thing yet so that's an obvious give away that it's not from this world. Do not be beguiled by its funny faces and promises of superior alien technology. I've been down that road before and I can tell you, it doesn't end well.

Hi, I'm happy.

Now I'm angry.

Really sad now.

Wahooo, time for crazy face.

Ok, I'm back to normal.

I told you. Do not be beguiled.

For adoption information on this dog and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Stella stops to sniff a patch of grass. Rocky comes bumbling over and even though he is fifty pounds lighter than she is, he clonks her on the side of her head with his head and shoves her out of the way. Stella jostles back and the two of their noses bump off each other as they take in the mysterious yet fragrant odor rising up into the clear morning air. Rocky, deciding that the spot needs anointing, raises a leg and pushes out only a few drops because that's all he's got left in reserve. Stella doesn't get out of the way fast enough and her ear gets splashed. Same as it ever was. It's as if they'd never parted.

Barclay is around somewhere, not so much interested in the scent preoccupying Stella and Rocky as he is in the squirrel he's just spotted digging around a tree. Barclay springs into his run, stretches his body out, all four feet off the ground. You can barely see him. You can barely make him out. He's fast but still the squirrel manages to disappear up into the tree, the highest branches of which seem to disappear in the clouds. Barclay barks his disappointment but it doesn't really matter because he's not really all that disappointed - the barking is just part of the game - as there's lots more squirrels and lots more time for squirrel chasing.

Stella hears Barclay's bark and looks up. She decides it's something exciting, whatever Barclay's up to, so she trots over. Rocky, not wanting to be left behind, follows. Barclay has a squirrel in his mouth. Stella tentatively, respectfully, sniffs the air around the squirrel then she looks at Barclay and stamps her front feet, ready to play. Barclay drops the squirrel which runs off and Stella gives chase and Rocky chases Stella and Barclay chases Rocky - it's all very worthwhile - and because they get hot and thirsty from all the chasing, there is a sloped path leading to a cool, shallow lake and there they drink and Barclay rolls on his back and cavorts in the cool soft grass. Stella finds and munches on some new shoots. Rocky, who is relatively new to all this, still isn't sure and sniffs around for something reassuring.

Rocky runs at the other dog, his hackles up and he barks furiously at it. The other dog leans back a bit but otherwise just sits there. Stella hurries over and starts barking at the other dog as well. Barclay watches from a few meters back. He's somewhat suspicious of Huskies but this Husky isn't doing much except sitting there. Strange, Barclay thinks. But then Huskies are that way, aren't they? They have those strange pale eyes but this one doesn't have those eyes. She just has ordinary brown ones. That's okay then.

The sun has been shining for a day, maybe a year, maybe longer but the dogs remember snow so it snows for a change and then the snow turns into rain and the rain turns into a river and the river turns into an ocean and the four dogs are running along the beach. Stella has a long bleached stick in her mouth and she's shaking it and she's whacking the rocks on the beach with it as she runs along. Rocky is running and stopping and running and stopping every time he smells the scent of something, maybe fish, maybe critters, maybe ... but then he gets whacked in the head with Stella's stick and she stops and lets him grab a free end of it and their tug of war elicits growls and grunts and groans and the stick is the most exciting thing in the world. After a while, they stop to chew on their respective ends of the stick.

Barclay sniffs a beached fish which flipflops and slaps him in the nose and then Barclay runs and chases the Husky whose name is Sheba but no one has called her that in a very long time. Pretty soon, they are running across the field and through the woods and up the hills and across a frozen lake. They are chasing shifty squirrels and fat raccoons. They are chasing slices of cheese skipping along on four legs and pizza crusts fluttering about with angels' wings.

Eventually, Stella and Rocky join them and they tree a slow possum who hisses at them as they bark and bark louder until their barking is like thunder rumbling across the plain and there is no one there to tell them to stop so eventually they stop on their own, quite satisfied with their accomplishments.

The dogs riproar around for a day, maybe a year, maybe longer and then they find their couches and they settle in.

The light couldn't be more glorious. Even as evening comes, the light fades but its glow remains. When the dogs fall asleep, they dream of life. Why else would they sleep if not to dream of life? Rocky snores the loudest. Stella quietly whistles through her nose. Barclay barks in his sleep. Sheba is the quiet one. They are each their own now, finally and fully, but they all dream of life and all they have left behind and all that await them.

Big bowling ball head on a body that still needs to put on a few more pounds. Deuce is happy Mastiff well liked by both people and other dogs, big and small. He might be a teensy bit too exuberant for some, but I think his outgoing personality suits him.

For adoption information on this dog and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

For adoption information on this dog and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Rocky my rip roarer, my wobbly shadow, my snorter, my snarfler, my crocodile snack snapper, my loyal sidekick, my trooper, my good spirit, my stony-faced, black-eyed people scarer, my house wrecker, my rescue, my sleep depriver, my skin rasher, my welcome home every day, my sidewalk pee decorator, my skunk chaser, my eager good morning, my happy wagger, my laughter, my great and constant companion, I will always hold you near and I will always miss you.

Goodbye Rocky, my dear dear dog. May you sleep well and deep and in the warm arms of eternity keep.

Rocky. 1999 - March 20, 2011

Zack spent a cold winter's night tied to a tree, note pinned to his collar asking any passerby to take him to Toronto Animal Services or Toronto Humane Society. Some kind soul brought him to TAS South the next day.

For adoption information on this dog and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

(I wrote this on Monday. Looks like Reggie got adopted two days ago!)

Reggie's been at Toronto Animal Services South for too long now so I decided to take another photo of him, maybe bring him some better luck. Reggie can be a bit choosy about his dog companions but he's great with people so it's strange that no one has given him a chance yet.

For his photo session on Sunday, I took him to a little fenced in area and let him off leash.

Reggie tore around like a fruitcake for about ten minutes, had a good roll around on last year's brown grass and then played with a tennis ball, like a cat with a ball of yarn, for another insane five minutes and then he was done.

He came over. I congratulated him on getting his yayas out and leashed him back up and took him out of the yard.

We found a less visually distracting spot and I took some photos of him while he had a bit of a rest.

For adoption information on this dog and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

For adoption information on this dog and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Despite being malnourished, Cooper, a Collie mix, has some real zest for life. Energetic, intelligent, gregarious - he won't be long without a home.

For adoption information on this dog and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

From the Youtube comments section:

These 2 dogs have been rescued! Helped by a team of volunteers led by the owner of a pet food company : Kenn Sakurai - the only way they can access the region is on dirt bikes w/ cages strapped on the back. It took them 2-hrs to ride them to the nearest shelter in Mito, Ibaraki-ken. The white one still at the vet & his defender is waiting at the shelter.

The above rescue was accomplished by Kenn Sakurai who has a facebook page here.

For more photos and ways you can help out, you can check out the Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support facebook page.

Also more information at Kinship Circle.

Dallas may look like a Rottweiler but secretly she wants to be a purse dog.

For adoption information on this dog and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

I round the corner of my block with Rocky. We're on our after dinner walk. Rocky's on prednisone now which makes him much more thirsty than normal and also much hungrier so he's constantly got his nose to the ground whenever we're outside, snarfling for bits of food.

Rocky catches some scent and sticks his head into the bushes. Too late, I pull him back out and he's already got something in his mouth, chewing. I'm about to go in after it before he can gulp it down but then he crouches back and I think maybe he's just backing up but instead he starts to take a dump.

He's chewing on his new found treat and crapping on the sidewalk and looking up at me and he might as well be saying, "What? I'm multitasking."

From behind me, a little girl and her mom turn the corner. They stop. The little girl goes, "Mommy, lookadoggie."

Oh dear God, I think.

"CanIpethim?" little girl asks.

I can feel mom's eyes focusing in the dark, trying to figure out what's going on. Rocky looks at them. He finishes chewing and gulps and at the same time another large turd drops out of his ass and falls beside the other two turds already deposited on the sidewalk.

"Oh," mom says. "I think we should cross the street." They do so. The little girl looks back at Rocky, disappointed.

I pull out the plastic bags, clean up after my dog, vacate the scene.

When Jorja first came into Toronto Animal Services South, she was only 80 pounds and looked skeletal. Check out the beautiful girl now.

From Jorja's new owner:

Jorja is now 110 lbs and still eating really well without any diarrhea. She loves to play. I’ve enrolled her and I in obedience classes which we will be starting very soon. Here are some pictures of her.

I lean back and close my eyes when I realize I've been focused on the same spot on the monitor for I don't know how long. These eyes have got to last me several more decades so I better not burn them out too soon. I decide to go for a washroom break. I walk past all the stalls, staring at the tops of people's heads, at their desk plants and posters and toys. In the washroom, someone is in one of the stalls having a conversation on his cell phone and I think to myself that there should be an app which tells the caller on the other end of the line if the person he's talking to is taking a crap - like a little alarm that goes off and a synthesized voice that goes, "WARNING WARNING. YOU ARE CURRENTLY TALKING TO SOMEONE TAKING A CRAP." I think I could get rich selling an app like that.

Back at my desk, I open up a bunch of please help this dog emails from a high kill shelter in the States and there are photos attached and I look at their faces behind kennel doors, staring out at me like there might be some hope. I flip over to the online news and Japan is falling apart and drowning. Cars, ships, houses floating by like plastic toys in a bathtub, people in shock, not yet crying, not yet mourning. I move the mouse to go back to my work screen and my computer freezes. I wait for a couple of minutes in case it decides to start working again. I look out the window. The weather reporter on the radio this morning had said the precipitation would stop. It hasn't. It's snowing now.

I restart the frozen computer, throwing away at least half an hours work. I work until lunch. I go out, buy some soup, come back into the building. I wait at the elevator. The elevator doors open. Three men inside. One is older, in his fifties, handsomely dressed in a suit and fitted 3/4 length wool coat. Head full of hair with elegant grey strands as if placed there by a designer, combed back with pommade. Well manicured but not too well manicured. Just rough enough to not be misconstrued.

With him, attentive to him, are two younger men, in their twenties, baggy jeans, one with a sports team jersey, the other, a red sweatshirt, both in over sized, stuffed winter jackets.

The two young men are listening to what the older man is saying so it's not that any of us are being rude, but they don't acknowledge me with a greeting and I don't acknowledge them with one.

They exit the elevator. I enter. The doors start to close and as the three men walk away I hear a snippet of what the older man is saying:

" ... and for a young black man, he wasn't too out of control."

The younger men snort.

I'm back at my desk, drinking the soup, browsing Facebook. Somebody's bored at home being sick. Somebody's happy about last night's game. Somebody has a new puppy. Somebody needs to find homes for puppies. Somebody needs signatures for a petition. Somebody is angry at the world for not being vegan enough. Somebody is angry at the world for not being considerate enough. Somebody is angry at the world. I click off Facebook and go back to my emails. I look again at the pictures of the dogs in their kennels. The emails are a week old so the dogs are probably dead by now.

Suddenly, I am angry at the world. I look outside and it's raining and I know I'm going to have to ride home in that freezing rain and I'm angry at the weather. I'm angry at people who make casually racist comments on the elevator. I'm angry at people who converse while shitting. I'm angry at my soup for not being as good as it was yesterday. I'm angry at my computer for crashing. I'm angry that I'm going to lose an hour this weekend because of daylight savings. I'm angry that I have to bear witness again to the slow death of my dog. I'm angry at the day for not being over. I'm angry at being angry and maybe I should just get on Facebook and yell at people over and over and over again like some self-righteous prick and I'm watching the black water crawl across a field, drowning everything in its path or carrying everything away and I see the fires burning and the buildings collapsing. I see an airport surrounded by a dark lake. I see a city being washed away. I see the nuclear reactors at risk. I see the death toll rising. I see the faces of the people not yet mourning and yet the mourning will come.

I'm sitting in my comfortable chair in my comfortable office in a comfortable building with a little rain sprinkling outside. The anger subsides and for a moment there is nothing.

Rockin' that beard.

(Care of CAACQ.)

For adoption information on this dog and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.


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.