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When I saw Ethan on the weekend, I understood why he wasn't getting adopted. I had just finished walking him and we were sitting around inside just hanging out when I was asked to bring Ethan into the glass-walled meet and greet room to let him spend some time with a father and son who were interested in him.

I brought Ethan into the room, made sure he was okay with the two new people and left them. When I looked back, I noticed Ethan was paying absolutely no attention to the man or boy and he was just looking at me so I figured it was because a minute earlier I'd been giving him treats so he was probably still hoping for more of the same. I stepped out of the room, grabbed a few dog cookies, brought them back in and handed them to the man and I said something like: Ethan sometimes takes a while to warm up to new people but these treats should help.

Except they didn't. Not much anyway. After feeding Ethan the treats, Ethan went back to ignoring the humans and just stared through the glass walls at me. I walked away to give the three of them some time alone but Ethan kept tracking me so I walked around a corner and stayed out of his line of sight for a while.

When I stepped back out from around the corner, Ethan was no longer looking in my direction but he was most definitely not interested in interacting with the two people beside him. Ethan was lying there beside their feet, seemingly unstressed, gazing coolly out of the glass room and ignoring the company. I sort of knew at that point, he wasn't going to be going home with these two people and that was too bad because they seemed quite nice and capable.

The father and son probably spent twenty minutes with Ethan in the room but never got much of a response from him and eventually they said their thank yous and left. Who can blame them? Few people are going to consider adopting a dog they haven't managed to make a connection with.

So Ethan isn't a gregarious dog. He's not going to be the dog who jumps into someone's lap at first glance but, still, I don't think Ethan means to be aloof. He's friendly with me. He's friendly with other volunteers and staff. It takes time for him but once his personality comes out, he's bouncy and loves to play and especially loves to run. One of the walkers takes him out on forty five minute long runs and he comes back wanting more.

Ethan reminds me of the quiet kid at school, not the shy quiet kid, but the quiet kid who isn't always looking for attention. He would be the kid who doesn't have a lot of friends but the friends he does have are close. He's the kid who's generally okay with himself but who, like anyone, has moments of doubt.

It may not seem like Ethan is stressed out in the shelter but I know he can be because sometimes he tears up his blankets and yowls when he's left alone. He's like some people in that way. He wears a brave face in public but the anxieties come out when the lights are turned down and the night comes creeping in. He knows he's not home yet.

Ethan has been at TAS since the end of December.

Update (Feb. 12): Ethan has been adopted.

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 or call 416 338 6668 for the Toronto Animal Services South shelter.

13 Comments to “Ethan”

  1. Erin says:

    I swear upside down and backwards that I will be there Saturday. I wish I could come sooner, but a loved one has passed away. So long as he gets along well with my kids and Mabel, I am happy to take all the time he needs for him to blossom, because I can see it in his face, he can blossom and he will.

  2. Those photos are beautiful and he looks like lovely dog!

  3. Chelsea says:

    I really hope with everything in me that he gets adopted. I'm in Ottawa, and actually called the shelter yesterday about Ethan. I'd LOVE to adopt him, but can't make the commitment right now. I did offer however to get him in a foster home (or foster myself) to help him come out of his shell a little bit (I volunteer with a dog rescue in Ottawa). We've been working with a not-overly-social dog and it does require a lot of patience. Poor guy- sounds like he just needs a home environment.
    If things don't work out for him in Toronto, please contact me. I'll drive down and pick him up if needed. Whatever I can do to help this pooch get adopted- even if it means a 5 hour drive

  4. NK says:

    Thanks for highlighting Ethan again, I am sure there are lots of older people out there that would enjoy his placid attitude around the house. I hope the lady above is true to her word and that he finds his forever home this weekend - he appears to be the last TAS-South dog at the moment. Good luck and Fred, use your charm and persuasive personality to enlighten the public about this lovely but shy dog!

  5. Alex says:

    I wonder if there is a way to let prospective adopters take a walk with the dog. A shelter isn't a good environment for most dogs, and some will only show off their personalities properly outside.

  6. mel says:

    I always find it strange that people expect dogs to be so happy and jumpy everytime they meet one. Dogs are like people -- sometimes they take a little while to warm up.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for writing about Ethan so beautifully. I'd love to have Ethan in my life but unfortunately can't.

  8. Fred says:

    Hi Alex, any dog at TAS who is in adoption can be taken out for a walk by prospective adopters. In fact, it's highly recommended.

  9. Unknown says:

    I was just looking at the original Ethan post again yesterday - such a beautiful dog. If I didn't live in an apartment with a psychotic pup, I'd be there in a second. Hoping someone saves the day soon and gives this guy a chance!!

  10. Lynn says:

    Isn't part of it the Husky in him? I have a Husky mix. I've had her since she was 8 weeks old and she'll be 13 next month. She is my Love but she will always be aloof. I can be away all day, come home and I'm LUCKY if she even gets up. Mostly, she'll just lift her head and make a little groaning sound, as if to acknowledge my presence. I have two others who are constantly in my face, wanting to play, wanting to be petted, but Savannah just isn't like that. I was always under the impression that it was a breed trait. Or, shoot, maybe she just doesn't like me!

  11. I'm so glad to see Ethan is adopted! Hope his new people understand huskies: they are, as Lynn says, less people focused than most breeds. They need a lot of exercise, too. With Ethan's slender build, I'll be he loves to run and *do* things! Hope his future is as beautiful as he is.

  12. Chelsea says:

    SOOOOO happy to hear that he was adopted :)

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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.