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This is a month ago. I notice an adoption notice for a dog named Tiger up at Toronto Animal Services North. Tiger is a fourteen year old Staffordshire Bull Terrier who was found as a stray in Toronto. The write up says she is a very nice dog who needs a quiet retirement home. It also mentions something about medical issues.

I phone and ask about her and find out more. Tiger's original owners had been located. They had papers for her to prove she's a legit Ontario Staff Terrier, grandfathered to pre-BSL days, allowed to live in the province without a death sentence hanging over her head.

I'm not sure what happened with Tiger, if her original owners still had her or if she'd been passed along. Something changed, though. Her circumstances, their circumstances? Either way, someone figured throwing this old dog out the door was the easiest thing to do. I'm not sure how else she would have ended up as a stray. She'd suffered a stroke sometime in her life so half her body was out of kilter and she was no longer the type of dog who could leap over fences or make a quick getaway, not that she'd ever run in the first place.

Tiger has got separation anxiety. Maybe she's had it all her life but getting thrown out of one's house in old age might give most creatures a sense of insecurity.

Okay, I'm thinking. She sounds like another Cloud, a dog who is going to end up spending months at the shelter, cared for by the staff but overlooked by the public and eventually ... what would become of her?

I make a trip up to TAS North, then, on a clear Saturday morning, warm enough to still ride my motorcycle. My intention is to take her photo and do a post on her, give her some publicity, plus there's always that voice in back nattering on, thinking maybe I could do more.

I arrive at the facility and ask about meeting Tiger and one of the staff brings me behind the building to a fenced-in, grassy yard. North has a spacious facility. They've got a couple of smaller yards, which actually aren't that small and a larger, dog park sized field for the dogs to run in. They've also just recently started a volunteer program up there so I wish them much success with that. Walking the dogs down at TAS South is fine but I'm envious the volunteers up at north get to let the dogs run free, off leash, yet totally secure.

Tiger is brought into the yard to meet me. She is indeed friendly but I can tell immediately her focus is on the staffer. There is a bond between them, no doubt. Tiger, while liking the attention I give her, doesn't want to let the staffer out of her sight.

In Tiger's face, there is something not quite normal about her. The stroke has left its mark in her noticeably asymmetrical expression. Not that I would wish any dog to suffer a stroke but I find her look quite endearing, and, not to be mean, quite comical as well. Tiger wobbles a bit when she walks - no falling over, though. Running is slow for her but even without the stroke, she's an old dog and slowness is to be expected.

I ask about how Tiger gets along with other dogs and I'm told she doesn't really. She wants her peace and quiet and at her age, who can blame her? Selfishly, I think at least now I no longer have to feel guilty if I don't take her home with me but this illustrates the point that her lack of sociability is just another obstacle in the way of her getting rehomed.

The staffer leaves us to get back to some other work. Tiger whines, looks out forlornly through the fence at her most adored one leaving. I try to take photos of her but she won't have anything to do with the camera, at least not while the staffer is away. I coax her and try to ease her anxiety by scratching her backside and rubbing her chest. After about ten minutes, Tiger starts to notice me ... a bit. I take some photos. I get down to her level in the grass, a little concerned about lying in poop remnants from previous dogs but the ground looks clear.

I take more photos, from above, from below, from level, in shadow, in sun, in different spots in the yard. By the time I'm done, Tiger doesn't mind the camera anymore. She's by my side, waiting for more ear scratches. She leans against me.

I'm feeling guilty again.

The staffer comes back in. All of Tiger's attention shifts back to her. Tiger's tail is wagging. Tiger's butt is wagging. The smile on her face is huge. The staffer asks me if I am done with Tiger. I'm a little disappointed but there's not really anything more for me to do and the longer I stay, the more tempted I would be.

I tell the staffer I'm all done. She tells me that she needs to get Tiger back because there's a couple just arrived who are interested in meeting Tiger.

I let her take Tiger away. I go wash my hands. I gear up for the ride back home. Before I put my helmet on, I stare through the window at the couple sitting on the bench, talking to the staffer about Tiger. I can't hear them but I see smiles on their faces mixed with concern. Tiger is wagging her tail, her muzzle against the lap of the man who is scratching her back.

I ride home. I try not to get my hopes up. I wait a few hours before I look. I go online. Tiger's adoption profile has been taken off the TAS North adoption list.

12 Comments to “Tiger - Staffordshire Bull Terrier”

  1. GoLightly says:

    You made my day. Thank you!

  2. Lori says:

    Tiger got a fantastic home with a friend of mine! She is happy as a clam and has a new old girlie sister. In sisterhood the old girlies have a happy and loving home where they can go for walkies and hang. She has fit into the routine just fine and gets along great with her new sis and family. Happy endings.. How anyone could give up a dog much less a very senior old dog, makes me feel sick. She is in her forever home now thanks to some very dedicated and caring people.

  3. selkiem says:

    that makes me incredibly happy. Poor old girl - and it gives you faith in people. When I used to volunteer at the THS I was always humbled by the number of people who were willing and able and eager to take on dogs that were elderly, dogs with severe medical issues, dogs that you knew were not going to last long - it made me realize for every cruel person out there, there is also a kind, compassionate one.

  4. nk says:

    Well there is a Christmas story if ever I heard one! Happiness adopted dog that isn't returned!

  5. rika says:

    Love her big smile! I wish Tiger all the best with her new family.

    Beautifully written, Fred. You've captured what it's like to spend time with dogs like Tiger - you feel guilty, you try not get your hopes up, but you do it nonetheless. Thanks for this.

  6. Anonymous says:

    FYI - That "couple" you saw on that beautiful Saturday morning at the shelter was me and a friend of mine. I just thought you'd like to know that Tiger has a wonderful new home to live out the remaining years of her life. She is everything you described in your short visit with her and so much MORE. She is very well loved.

  7. SA MVH says:

    Fred, what a happy ending to a very sad story.

  8. Fred says:

    Anon, it's wonderful to hear from you with an update on Tiger. If you ever feel like it, please email me a photo of Tiger with her new sis and I'd be happy to post it. Thanks so much for taking her into your home.

  9. Anonymous says:

    lucky dog and amazing new owners! thank you!

  10. Wonderful woderful ending, she's a beauty. The older I get the more I appreciate senior dogs. So glad Tiger finally found the home she deserved.

  11. Lynn says:

    Great story. Thanks.

  12. Thank you for sharing your life with Tiger. Just show some love and take good care on him.

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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.