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He's a bit portly but it must be hard to say no to that face.

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

One day, a long time ago, when I was a child, I took my sled and my mixed Husky dog Sheba out onto the snow covered field behind my backyard. I got onto the sled and then waited for Sheba to pull. Sheba always pulled on our walks so I figured she might as well do something useful and pull me on the sled.

She took a couple of steps forward then turned around and looked at me for a bit and couldn't figure out what was going on. Why was I sitting down? What was wrong with me? She came back around and stuck her paw in my face deciding that I probably wanted to wrestle with her in the snow. I said, "Get off," but that only got her more excited and she jumped on me and then I had to stand up to fight her off. I ended up standing in the snow and Sheba was on the sled. I pulled at it, trying to dislodge her, again yelling, "Get off," but she just crouched down, claws gripping the foam padding. I started pulling her around to see if I could make her fall off but she stayed on until I got tired of the stupid game and shoved her off.

"Dumb dog," I said but of course, looking back on it, I was obviously wrong.

Well, this isn't Sheba. It's s Luna, but I'm sure she's just as smart. She's the second Siberian Husky to come into TAS recently. She'll win the award for best couch warmer/lap blanket on those cold winter nights.

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

She was alone and looked down upon the earth and with her breath blew the snow across the plain. She came down, landed upon the ice and started to walk but all around her, the living creatures scurried into their shelters whenever she approached. She traveled in this way, by herself, for days until she grew accustomed to her loneliness and resolved to not let it ruin her. She walked amongst the snowdrifts and ice fields. The flat horizon bored her so she took the ice and snow and lifted them up and created mountains of glaciers and gave them the colour of the sky.

On the seventh day, she awoke and there was a creature beside her against her. Its eyes were black as coal and this frightened her a little but its muzzle tickled her face; its fur warmed her hands; and, its songs thawed her heart. The animal brought her to meet its family and they welcomed her, the first creatures to do so since she'd arrived. They showed her how to hunt and how to run swiftly across the snow and how to talk to the moon and, though she did not need this, how to stay warm. She spent that first winter with them and at the end of it, it was time to depart. Before she left, she marked this tribe so that whenever she returned, she would be able to identify them and their children. As she kissed each creature goodbye, each one opened its once black eyes and revealed the reflected blue of glaciers.

Titus is the first of two beautiful Siberian Huskies that came into Toronto Animal Services South this past week.

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

From the new owner of Rollo, now Sam:

Sam is a great dog! He is getting 4 walks a day, 2 regular walks and 2 off leash runs. It's a good outlet for all his energy - he's always ready for a snooze on the couch after.

At first, he constantly followed Caleb & I around the house but now he feels comfortable enough to stay on the couch as we move through the different rooms and floors. He does have a bit of separation anxiety when we crate him to go to work but we always come home at lunch for a visit and he seems to be getting better each day. He's already been on the subway and did great! He's also interacted with many dogs and seems to get a long just fine. He's not afraid of people and loves to give kisses, we're just working on letting him know when they've had enough!

He's been to the vet and is a healthy little guy although he's still a bit under weight, so we are free feeding him. He is an incredibly fast learner. He's learned to play fetch and "leave it" and he's quickly learning how to walk properly on a leash, stopping and sitting at all corners. We've given him a couple baths and brushed him teeth to get them sparkling again and he's been a very good boy through all of this. The hound in him makes him very easy to distract with a treat! People constantly stop us on walks and tell us what a good looking dog he is. After watching him for the last 10 days, I would say he's definitely got some boxer in him - the way he bounces around and uses his paws. I tell people he's a dalmatian, boxer, lab, coonhound mix. The vet said the way his ear is spotted and how they sit on his head lends themselves to dalmatian and after checking out some photos, I would have to agree.

Anyway - That's enough for now! It's only been 10 days but already we LOVE the little guy! He's a great snuggler!

Mac was transferred in from another rescue. From his former rescue:

Mac came out of a kill shelter where he was on the euth list after being there for 2 months.... this would have been his second summer in my rescue.

Mac has always been sweet to the other dogs and i have never noticed any issues with children.... he hasn't lived in a house with them though so I can't tell you for sure. Just an FYI there is one very dominant female here that he did not get along with ~ she is a large shep/mastiff mix who is very vocal with the other dogs....

Mac's biggest passion is a tennis ball, he will carry it everywhere, only dropping it to eat or drink. Mac is very sweet, he deserves a home and I really hope you can find him a good one.

Thank you for giving him another chance.

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

This red Doberman Pinscher has got the Clint Eastwood "are you feeling lucky, punk?" stare down pat and I'm pretty sure he's going to be a sidewalk clearer for his future owner. Ironic because this guy is one of friendliest Dobermans I've ever met. He's not one to be looking for fights. He's looking for kisses.

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

he asks the animals in their cages just before he starts killing them. "I smell death. Do you?" he asks in a sing song voice. He's a man who's happy on the job.  He picks up a dog, a Min Pin perhaps, holds it up by its neck, sticks a needle into its chest. The dog is terrified of course. It screams, writhes in pain, dies.

This is Montreal animal control as provided by Berger Blanc.

Radio Canada (that's the CBC to us in Toronto) aired Enquete's investigative report into the situation behind the closed doors of Canada's largest privately run shelters. You can see it here in it's original French version or here in a highly truncated version edited for CBC's The National. I have to admit I couldn't watch the whole French version. After seeing the semi-paralyzed cat fall to the floor and then try to run for its life from the employee, I had to stop.

And in another segment, from the edited English version, the camera pans across a room of dead and dying dogs laid out on the floor and in the background there is one lone Golden Retriever tied up to a post looking on in terror, waiting to be killed by someone in rubber boots.

update, May 14: Here is the whole Enquete segment hosted on Youtube. Not sure how long this link will work before someone takes it down. Warning: very graphic - I still haven't watched the whole thing.

In my previous blog, at this point, I would have likely gone on about what karmic justice would be sufficient for the people responsible for this barbarism but now I will refrain. There will always be individuals out there who remain unaffected by suffering, other than their own of course, and have no problems committing atrocities for minimum wage or just because they feel like it.

A civilized society, I would hope, tries to minimize the impact from such people upon the rest of us.

So how civilized are we? From factory farms (including puppy mills) to private, for profit pounds, anytime animals are processed for profit there's great risk for abuse and abuse on a sickening scale.

We look at the cruelty inflicted upon these most human trusting of creatures by the staff of Berger Blanc and we are for a few moments pushed ever so slightly into an unknowable horror - I will never forget the look in the eyes of that dog - but it's no surprise to the residents of Montreal who have been fighting that organization for years and it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who understands that processing animals for profit means animal abuse for profit.

Why would any businessman worry about animal care when that's just something that's going to eat away his filthy lucre? It's a lot more efficient to collect money from the municipality for euthanizing an animal, done quite cheaply with a jab of poison into the heart, than it is to house it and feed it and put up lost and found notices on some fancy, expensive to maintain website, and then having to deal with the annoying public about their lost pets, never mind putting up the unwanted ones for adoption which might take days or weeks or months before someone takes them home. Even if a business did spend money on providing adequate animal care now, the next time contracts go out to tender, someone else who doesn't mind a bit of animal neglect and is willing to cut costs is going to get the contract because he can do it for less.

If killing dogs is a business then it only makes sense to use the cheapest equipment, the cheapest poisons, and hire the cheapest dog killers you can find. That's how it was in Montreal and that's how it still is. Right now.

If Quebec's animal welfare enforcers had any balls, they'd have raided Berger Blanc but they don't have any balls. If Montreal city council actually cared enough about the animals in that hellhole, they'd have shut the place down but the place is still open for killing.

So why am I going on about what's mostly Montreal's problem? There's not much we can do about it here in Toronto except take in a few of their abandoned animals every now and then. Well, maybe I'm paranoid, but my concern is that Montreal's problem could too soon be Toronto's problem. I'm worried that what we are seeing in Montreal is going to be the future of Toronto animal control. Our present mayor and much of city council are committed to cutting city services (they've already started at TAS) and a large part of their plan is to privatize whatever they can get away with.

Privatizing garbage pick-up is one thing but privatizing suffering is something else altogether.

Toronto Animal Services has its faults and its detractors but one thing not up for debate is that because it is a publicly run department, it's transparent. Under freedom of information, all records pertaining to TAS operations can be obtained. All animal stats, all financial information, all staffing information. If you don't like what's going at Toronto Animal Services, at least you can find out what's happening there and maybe do something about it.

Try doing that with a privately held firm. Unless there's an undercover reporter around, who will ever know what really goes on behind the Keep Out sign. There won't be any witnesses because animals don't talk.

The only thing that would hold back council from putting animal control out for tender is if they support animal welfare. That's it. There's nothing else. There's no law that says animal control has to be a publicly run department. Imagine how much cheaper it would be to rent out some warehouse space, stack a few rooms with wire mesh crates and staff it with cruelty for kicks needle jabbers and a couple of animal hating dogcatchers in vans. And you know there are a lot of people out there who would love to see this type of low maintenance, high abuse set-up if it means they can save a few bucks on their taxes. The question is how many of those people are on our city council.

Montreal has for years now blindly allowed the torture and killing of tens of thousands of dogs and cats because they use private animal control firms. We must remain vigilant in Toronto that city sanctioned abuse on that scale never happens here.

Additional commentary, in French, on the CBC Berger Blanc news report, including from Johanne Tasse of CAACQ here.

The truth about Berger Blanc facebook page is here.

CTV report on Berger Blanc here.

Firsthand accounts of the Berger Blanc "customer" experience here.

Montreal SPCA reaction to Berger Blanc and why for profit pounds don't work for the animals here.

The Doodle from Val d'Or got a Happy Easter trim. It turns out Dodi's got double dew claws so maybe her other half is Pyrenees or Kuvasz.

Dodi is available for adoption from Speaking of Dogs on their Petfinder listings.

Sarah Kalnajs was in town this past weekend giving a two day seminar on identifying the stress signals dogs display as precursors to possible aggressive behaviour and conducting risk assessments on dogs in home environments. In no particular order, here are some things:

Sarah is a clear, energetic, fun speaker who passed along a huge amount of information and managed to keep the audience's attention despite the long stretches after lunch, sitting in a dark room, watching projected videos. I would've been asleep in five minutes if I'd been listening to anyone less captivating especially after those three pieces of cheesecake. Oink.

She handed out bags of "rewards", mentioned her possible urinary tract infection, passed around a dog toy which resembled a pink dildo and smelled like vanilla, kept commenting on how polite Canadians were, got people to dance to Bieber, and made half the room cry with her story about euthanasia or maybe it was the whole room - I don't know because my vision suddenly went blurry.

There were a couple of women who chattered throughout the seminar, whispering between the two of them loud enough so that everyone around them had to concentrate a little harder to listen to Sarah. One of the women brought a dog with her. The dog was very well behaved but being a dog, it got restless every once in a while and every time it made the slightest noise its owner would tell it to be quiet.

When it's raining really hard out, the ceiling in the Commonwealth Ballroom at the Don Valley Parkway Hotel leaks.

Judging by attendance, 99% of the people involved in dog rescue are women.

The best leash is a hands free leash, one that wraps around the hips. Several reasons: your joints don't get repetitive stress injuries; less pulling on the leash from the human results in less counter-pulling by the dog; with the leash wrapped around your center of gravity, it's very difficult for even the largest dogs to pull you anywhere if you are well grounded (eg. not standing on ice); dogs seem to heel better when the owner's arms are relaxed as opposed to holding the other end of the leash; convenient for when you'd like both hands free. Sarah sold her own version of this type of leash and it looked like the pile she brought with her sold out pretty quickly. You can always make your own or buy something similar.

The crux of Sarah's seminar was about aggression signals and risk assessment and she passed on a loads of information with accompanying video examples. I wish I could write an outline on the seminar but it would be like trying to do a single post on human psychology. Aside from listing details, what I got out of the seminar was that dog behaviour is not easily reducible, not easily quantified and not easily studied. Dog behaviours, like human behaviours, are complicated and must always be taken in context with their situation and their other concurrent behaviours. A human crying might indicate extreme sadness or extreme happiness. It can't be determined until the context is known. Similarly, a dog rolling on its back, in one case, may be asking for a belly scratch but in another case may be displaying submissive behaviour and asking an intrusive person or animal to please back off. Sarah discussed various ways to determine which was which and it was always based on putting the behaviour in context.

Stress leads to arousal which leads to fear and aggression issues. Nothing is 100% guaranteed but one way to test if a dog is stressed is to offer it a high value treat and see if it will eat it. If it doesn't or is unusually slow to accept it, it's stressed. Another way to check in with the dog's stress level is to ask it do a sit or shake a paw. Sit and shake are the two most well known commands for dogs.

It's very difficult to work on improving a dog's behaviour when it is stressed.

Sarah's assessments deal with practical risk. She asks the question, is this dog's behaviour acceptable in its particular environment. This means that a small dog biting someone's feet with shoes on is not ranked as bad as a big dog biting someone's arm. This means that an easily stressed dog in a calm environment is not ranked as bad an easily stressed dog in a volatile environment. She takes everything in context so everything is relative and there is no simple pass or fail. Well, not usually. Unless the recommendation is euthanasia in which case that would obviously be a fail.

Yes, Sarah does sometimes recommend euthanasia. I didn't ask for stats. She herself has a license to euthanize because she's decided that if she's going to recommend euthanizing a dog then she must be willing to do it herself, if the situation demands it. She believes that any behaviourists who recommend euthanasia should be ready to it themselves so they know and feel the full impact of their decisions.

It's amazing what you can teach a dog - almost everything necessary - only by using rewards.

It's amazing what you won't be able to teach a dog - almost nothing, nothing good anyway - using positive punishment (eg. hitting, choking, shocking). This, however, does not preclude setting boundaries and saying "No". You don't want to end up with a spoiled brat.

Sarah didn't say that positive punishment techniques never work but usually the punishment has to be extreme (ie. scare the crap out of the dog) and then there's the risk of other undesirable behaviours resulting from the experience. Why would anyone want to take that kind of chance with their pet? Sarah referred to the training of bomb sniffing dogs in the U.S. military and how nearly half of them fail due to fear induced stresses (and are thus subsequently euthanized).

When we try to force a dominance based social model on dogs, we are trying to mirror dogs' behaviours to our own. Interactions are much more hierarchy based and more rigid and prevalent in human groups than in dog groups. Dogs, in a free roaming situation, don't form permanent packs and alpha roles constantly change. See this post by Ian Dunbar.

Like most people, the thought of spending a whole weekend indoors listening to lectures is not that appealing a prospect but in this case, I was glad to be proven wrong. If you get a chance, check her out the next time Sarah's in Toronto.

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

People sometimes wonder why rescues and shelters in Toronto go to the trouble of importing dogs from Quebec to adopt out here.

Two reasons:

1. The people of Toronto are pretty good about how we treat our dogs (relative to other cities, we're actually pretty great). While there are the occasional horror stories that pop up in the news and systemic injustices like the Ontario Pit Bull ban which we have to suffer with, people don't generally abandon their dogs here. We are, for the most part, responsible pet owners.

Torontonians are also pretty good about adopting. The more adopters, the better, of course, but relatively speaking, we're doing okay and we're getting better. Adoptions are going up as public awareness increases about the quality of shelter animals and the cost savings associated with adopting vs. buying.

Responsible pet ownership and willingness to adopt means that sometimes, especially within the larger shelters and rescues, there's space available to take in animals from other jurisdictions. If there's an empty kennel, it only makes sense to use it to save a life.

2. Here's the other reason. The following is a video clip from an upcoming CBC news show, Enquête, on Berger Blanc, one of the many private pounds in Montreal. It's graphic, it's sickening and many people involved in Montreal rescues know this is happening but have been powerless to do anything about it.

The full episode will air on CBC this Thursday at 8 p.m. on Enquête which is in French. It will also be available on-line on the CBC site after the broadcast.

More on Berger Blanc here.

From Penny's new owners:

Thanks for all of your help in our adoption of Miz Penny. She is awesome and has fit in well with our family; even Gramma adores her! No big probs with other dogs, just remaining consistent with her. We love her! Will send photos periodically. Thanks to you all for taking good care of her until we found each other!

Music video from Haley Dreis in support of dog adoption from Pets Inc., a shelter in Columbia, South Carolina.

The disaster in Japan is nowhere near fixed even though it's slowly being pushed aside in the media by more current news. Here's a news segment on Isabella Gallaon-Aoki who works with Animal Friends Niigata rescuing dogs out of the disaster zones.

Cute Roulette. Just click on it. You know you want to.

Another dog from Val d'Or care of CAACQ.

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

Don't be scared off by the name. I think Kaboom refers to his ears.

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

Rossy, a Val d'Or dog via CAACQ.

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

(Continued from here.)

The next day, or maybe it was the day after, I started sifting through all the dog emails from CAACQ which were in the trash folder, still undeleted. Why? I don't know. Maybe because I didn't have enough nails lying around to jab into my eyes.

After looking through all the dog profiles, I decided to find out more about the SPCA de Val d'Or so I went online but couldn't find much information on them. They didn't have a website and most Google hits pointed to nondescript address listings.

There was this, though, from the Forum Canin Abitibi Temiscamingue:

The dog in the lower left corner, Rossy, Lab mix, looked like one of the dogs mentioned in one of the e-mails. I checked the date of the forum post. May 3, 2009. It couldn't be the same dog. What kind of a high kill shelter would keep an unadoptable dog around for two years?

I dug through my e-mails from CAACQ until I found the one I was looking for and this was the attachment:

Same photo. Same name. Same dog? Couldn't be. Maybe there was a mix-up. Maybe someone was just re-using old photos. When I brought this up with CAACQ, the intermediaries, they thought the same as I did. Probably a mix-up. It was highly unlikely that a place like SPCA de Val d'Or would keep a dog for that long. How could they have the resources?

Well, I guess we'll see, I thought. Rossy, or whoever it was, was one of the dogs picked to come to Toronto.

Later on that day, I got an e-mail from James telling me the dogs would arrive on Saturday.

I called him to confirm the time. Around 4:30.

And then he said, "Yeah, they're going to be driving that big truck for ten hours."

"Why a big truck?" I asked.

"Sixteen dogs," he said.

"You're bringing down all sixteen?"


Between all the TAS locations and various rescues, including Speaking of Dogs and Happy Tails, they managed to find placements for all the dogs.

5:30, Saturday afternoon, the truck arrived. The dogs inside started barking with excitement even before the trailer doors were opened. I'm not sure if there were exactly sixteen dogs - there may have been some confusion with the e-mail numbering - but the cargo area was packed. Eyes peered out of the shadows, nervous, curious, happy. Lots of panting, whimpering, barking and scratching at cage doors. Lots of tail wags. People, spilling out of the Marlies game, gathered around, wondered what was going on and came to their own conclusions.

Rossy was right up near the front and it was indeed Rossy, the same dog in the photos. His pale blue eyes incongruous with the reddish, shaggy coat, looked at me and then looked away as I took his picture. If he was nervous, he didn't show it. He sat there, patiently waiting for his turn to be taken out of his cage.

I didn't see the Berger Anglais so I got into the trailer and started looking into the crates. I was surprised by how many large dogs there were. The photos in the e-mails made them look smaller.

She was near the back. She was pacing her cage, excited. Much bigger than I had thought. Ninety pounds maybe? Certainly well fed. Clean. When I took her out to relieve herself, she ambled along, pulling a little but not bad. She definitely wasn't an Old English or a Beardie, more like a Doodle of some sort. Labradoodle, Golden Doodle, maybe even a Beardie Doodle. Who knows?

Over the next couple of days, the dogs were transferred to their respective locations. TAS South was keeping Rossy so I got to see her again. I was told the women who transported the dogs from SPCA de Val d'Or cried when they said goodbye to him. It must have been difficult to have to say goodbye to the dog who was saved out of the dozens or hundreds who were killed over the years. This was the dog they pinned their hopes on in a place of too much suffering and they finally succeeded in getting him out.

Here's a video from Carol at Happy Tails Rescue who took in Cheryl and Bosco, renamed Lana and Harley:

The Doodle has gone to Speaking of Dogs:

They asked me if I'd be willing to foster her but, after thinking about it for a night, I declined . Seriously not enough time and mostly I'm not ready yet.

But in a few weeks, who knows?

Val d'Or is a city about 400 km north of Montreal. Someone found gold there in 1923 and it's been a mining town ever since, but more recently it's been beleaguered with high unemployment and low incomes. Add to that the rather lousy weather (191 days of annual precipitation, -23C average temperature in January) and perhaps that's why Val d'Or has won the dubious award of being one of the worst places to live in Canada, though I'm not sure a magazine about personal finance is necessarily the best source I'd go to for advice on where to live, but regardless, ranking that low is probably not a good sign.

It's not a surprise then that the local SPCA in Val d'Or is underfunded. Sure, saying that any animal charity is underfunded is like saying black is dark but when underfunding means that abandoned animals are still being gassed to death because killing with gas is cheaper, then there's a real problem.

Last week I was cc'd on some emails sent out by CAACQ on behalf of SPCA de Val D'Or. They were looking for assistance in adopting out 16 of their dogs. Often when I get emails from high kill shelters looking for help in rehoming their dogs, I don't look at the accompanying photos because I hate looking at pictures of dogs who are probably going to be dead in a week - all those hopeful stares. If I look at the photos and do nothing, it feels like I'm the one sticking the needle in and pushing the plunger, or in Val d'Or's case, slamming the door and hitting the gas release switch.

I was tempted to just trash all sixteen emails and I did at one point but I never deleted them from the trash. I ended up perusing the written descriptions of each dog. There were sixteen emails and each email had the profile of one dog attached and each dog was numbered from 1 to 16.

One especially piqued my interest. It said the dog was a Berger Anglais which I knew meant an Old English Sheepdog. When our dog Smitten first arrived from Quebec, she too was described as an Old English Sheepdog (though she turned out to be a Bearded Collie) so then, of course, I had to look at the photo.

In the photo, it was obvious the dog was large, all white and could maybe be an Old English with its coat shaved down or a poodle mix of some kind. It was wearing a red scarf, lying on the wooden floor of what looked like someone's house. It didn't appear as if the photo was taken in a shelter. Maybe a photo taken by the original owner in happier times, then - not that it mattered now. I stared at the picture for a few minutes, enlarged it in Photoshop, compared it with images on Google and still couldn't really distinguish the breed with certainty.

Regardless of breed, I got the usual sick feeling thinking about how it might be gassed if someone didn't volunteer to take it in. Then it got personalized to "What if this were Smitten?" because even though it didn't look exactly like her, it did look sort of like her with her hair trimmed. And then, having looked at the one photo, I had to look at all the rest and that was an even bigger mistake. There were Poodles, German Shepherds, Labs, Pekingese, Spaniels, some young puppies and a bunch of mutts or maybe they were all mutts to varying degrees. I couldn't tell and again, it didn't matter.

What mattered was that these dogs might not be long for this world and I regretted having looked at any their faces.

I left the computer, did some work around the house. Later, I was back in front of the monitor working on some photos.

Email went "ping".

I opened it up. It was from James at Toronto Animal Services. The subject line said:


and the body of the message was:

i will take this dog

I looked up the dog #3 email and saw it was a female Bichon puppy, named Cherly (Cheryl? Shirley?), 3 months old.

Well, that's one at least, I thought and then went back to working on photos.

Email went ping again.

This time it was in regards to dog #2 and it was the same message:

i will take this dog

Dog #2 was also a puppy, Bosco, related to Cherly, white fur instead of black.

So maybe he'll take all the puppies I thought. And why not? After all, puppies, especially small breed puppies, would be easy to adopt out.

Then email pinged again and this time there were three more emails and I saw the rest of the pups were indeed going to be taken but now also Tao, a one year old male Lab mix, 80 pounds.

I got a total of seven emails. Seven dogs saved. But then the emails stopped. The Berger Anglais wasn't one of the chosen ones.

At the end of the evening, I turned off my computer and I tried not to think about the dog with the red scarf who didn't look exactly like Smitten but sort of did.

(I'll continue this post tomorrow.)

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

It was only a matter of time before Toronto Animal Services started to feel the squeeze coming down from City Hall with their new belt tightening policies. There were promises of no cuts to essential services during the election but of course one's person essential service is someone else's second helping of gravy.

There used to be five animal control officers on-call for after hours work for all of the GTA. These are the people who would be called if there is an injured or dying animal on the road after being hit by a car or if the paramedics are faced with a snarling dog protecting its unconscious owner or if the police are doing a drug bust and they're uncertain about the guard dog in the dealer's apartment.

These calls, on average, take about an hour which would include driving out to the location, securing the animal, driving the animal to where ever it needs to go and taking appropriate action - of course some take less time but some take much longer especially if securing the animal is an issue. Five ACOs for all of the GTA is not a lot and on-call nights could get pretty busy for them and this after pulling a full day's shift and to be followed by another full day's shift.

Now the five on-call ACOs are being cut back to only two, one person working west of Yonge and the other east of Yonge. It wouldn't be a far stretch to imagine there are likely going to be nights when it's going to be impossible to get out to all the emergencies or at least get to them in time. This means that when an animal gets hit by a car and lies suffering on the side of the road and someone calls it in, that animal may just have to wait an hour or two before an ACO shows up to assist it, if anyone shows up at all.

Perhaps I shouldn't be so pessimistic. Maybe this will be the year when animals finally evolve and learn that they shouldn't get into trouble after hours and save all their accidents for 9 to 5 and then we won't need all those on-call ACOs after all.

Or maybe not.

So, if one night you stumble upon an animal, injured and unable to move, and you call Toronto Animal Services and they tell you all two of their ACOs are busy and there's no one else available, you'll know it's a direct result of a bunch of city politicians and bureaucrats deciding that alleviating animal suffering is just too much gravy.

Animal Rescue Corps rescues puppy mill dogs. Maybe they'd consider opening up a chapter in Quebec.

Elsa's Lullaby, a song by Canadian singer songwriter NEeMA about her dog who she took in when it was a stray pup.

This is an old update I just saw today about a dog rescue which started with the Just One Dog video that went viral at Christmas 2009.

Thank goodness there are still some places in Canada where dogs like Stanley can find sanctuary and aren't automatically killed because of their looks.

And finally, an interesting quote from Jane Goodall taken from a recent Globe and Mail article:

“My favourite animal is a dog. I love dogs, not chimps,” she declares. “Chimps are so like us: Some are nice and some are horrid. I don’t actually think of them as animals any more than I think of us as animals, although both of us are.

I really like this guy. Look at that nice smile he's got and with a personality to match.

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

Rose is a Beagle without the bark. Calm, gentle - a good first dog for someone who has the time to housetrain her.

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

Shera is a very shy dog. I opened her kennel door and I sat quietly for ten minutes before she would come out to say hello. The whole time she exhibited submissive behaviour - looking away, sniffing the floor, retreating. Once we finished our walk and she got to more used to me, she became quite affectionate and demanded a seat on the bench beside me and there we sat in the afternoon sun watching the people go by.

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

Okay, so I'm one day late. Anyway ...

Hope springs eternal. Does anyone know how a dog can survive three weeks at sea with no food and water? Can dogs drink sea water?

Kandu, an adopted two legged dog, gets a new set of wheels and more.

Looks to me like the dog cheated a couple of times.

I can't quite place my finger on it but I'm pretty sure the following video has been faked. I know this because there's no way it would take six minutes plus for a dog, especially a Lab, to finish that small a meal.

Skateboard dog. This is kind of a cute animation but don't try this at home.

dog skateboard from theAMIGOunit on Vimeo.

Skateboard Dogs. The following short came out about the same time as the one above but this one is a bit weird/creepy, I think.

Dogboarding from DANIELS on Vimeo.

Extreme animals. Animal photographer, Ren Netherland, takes photos of dogs with surprising haircuts.

Yes, that is a dog. More here. And again, please don't try this at home.

Woodkid - Iron. The best thing about this over wrought music video is the sequence near the beginning of the drooling German Shepherd. Okay, the owl and the horse stuff is kind of cool too but the exploding mud bombs is, well, it's too exploding mud bomb-ish for me.

Thanks to everyone who submitted a suggestion.


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.