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Lady was in adoption room 3 and she sat calmly but eagerly behind her kennel door as I approached her to take her out for her photos. She is a Bernese Mountain Dog/Great Pyrenees cross and was used for breeding at a puppy mill or a backyard breeder in Ontario.

I was expecting some behaviour often associated with dogs from these environments but instead Lady behaved like, well, a lady. She waited at doors until they were opened for her. She never pulled on the leash. She was affectionate and did not shy away from friendly strangers - at least that was the case until we stopped to do the photographs.

There are a few locations where I bring the dogs for their photographs and I choose which one based on time of day, weather, season, crowds, personality of the dog. I walked Lady to a grassy patch near the far end of the TAS building and sat down with her just to hang out for a few moments. On the way over, we'd already passed several people and a couple of dogs and I didn't notice any reaction to them from Lady.

At the spot where I wanted to take the photos, I pulled out my camera and tried to turn it on only to find the batteries were dead. No photos then but it was a nice afternoon and I didn't want to just bring her back to her kennel so we sat there in the half sun/half shade and enjoyed the weather. Lady came over for some attention and leaned into me so I scratched her chin and rubbed her chest and I started talking to her in my own invented dog language which I won't go into here because then I would lose all respect.

Five minutes later and it was all pretty relaxing when suddenly Lady stiffened and turned away and started pacing at the end of her leash. She was anxious and I looked around to see what it was. Maybe a new dog in the vicinity, or a squirrel? All I saw was a woman walking along the sidewalk about twenty five meters away. I tried to call Lady back over to me but she was getting more agitated, making little whining/barking noises and kept pacing.

I looked around again to see if I missed something and that's when I noticed the woman walking off the sidewalk and toward us.

Usually, when I have the camera out with the dogs, people tend to leave me alone or at least stand back a reasonable distance. This woman, however, walked right up. For a moment I thought she wasn't going to stop and would walk right over us but then she put the brakes on and sat down just a couple of meters away. She wasn't disheveled looking but she did have on a few too many layers of clothing for the warm weather. Maybe she was just caught off guard by the heat.

"Hey," I said to her.

"Hi," she said. "My brother has a dog. His name is Gerald and I think Gerald is a Cocker Spaniel but I'm not sure. My brother got Gerald when he was a puppy from a family and the family told him the dog was only going to grow into a small dog but the dog actually grew quite big. I think it's about forty pounds. My brother feeds him twice a day but he also gives him a lot of snacks. I've always wanted a video camera. I know all my friends have still cameras and still cameras are very trendy but I want a video camera. I've got some projects I'm working on. It's quite good here in the shade. The sun is too hot today. Does your dog have a name? What kind of dog is it? I think it looks like a Collie. I've been walking all day and it's really hot ..."

"Yeah, it's too hot to be in the sun," I interrupted. "The shade's nice, though."

"It's good here. I like sitting under the trees. My brother has a dog. Gerald is about ten now. Maybe he's twelve. I don't think he gets enough exercise. He's fat. He doesn't go outside very much. Do you know a good video camera? Or ...? It's hot now but not bad in the shade. Is there a soccer game on? I saw some people walking around. There are a lot of people here today ..."

And on she went and every minute or so I'd say something in response to something she's said and she'd actually hear what I had to say and redirect her monologue so it better suited my interjections. Still, the woman was bonkers. Lady had picked up on that from twenty five meters away.

The woman continued talking at me. She was obviously no threat and Lady calmed down enough to go sniff her. Then it was the woman's turn to freeze. Well, she didn't really freeze but she stopped talking which is probably the equivalent of freezing for her and she just looked at Lady like she was ready to scream or run or faint if Lady made any sudden moves. Or maybe she was fine with Lady. I didn't know. I realized I wasn't able to read this person at all.

Just in case, I didn't want there to be any incident so I got up and called Lady back.

"See you later," I said to the woman. "Enjoy the rest of the day," and then I walked away.

"Bye," the woman said. "I ..." but the crowd in the stadium roared and banged their drums and her words were drowned out.


Lady, from another day when my camera batteries were working:

2 Comments to “Lady - Bernese Mountain Dog Pyrenees cross”

  1. Anonymous says:

    What a gorgeous girl! Bet she's already adopted!

  2. Fred says:

    Anon, not yet. I'm quite surprised - but it was a slow weekend for dog adoptions at TAS-South unfortunately.

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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.