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Simone is watching me dig out my car from the second floor window. We'd just come back from her walk in the morning sunshine, walking through the white blanket of last night's heavy snowfall. The last few times I shoveled snow, I kept her outside with me but she just sat by the door and gave me her "Why are you making me suffer out here?" look. This time I let her inside.

A woman in her sixties walks up to me with her German Shepherd.

"You know you're not allowed to do that," she says to me.

"What?" I say.

"You're not allowed to throw snow on the road," she says.

"The snow is already on the road," I say, which is true. The snow is already on the road. My car is parked on the street. I'm digging out the wheels and the piled up snow around the car so that another car can park there when I leave without having to ram through a two foot high snowbank. I'm not doing this for purely selfless reasons. I'm clearing the space because parking is a premium in this fairly dense Toronto neighbourhood and I figure the more accessible spaces, the better it is for everyone, including myself.

"You have to put that snow on your property," she says.

I look at her. Her face is pinched. She's looking for an argument. I look at her dog. Her dog looks bored. It starts sniffing around. It's been through this before.

"You must be really busy complaining this morning," I say. "Every one up and down the street is digging themselves out doing exactly the same thing."

On our walk, Simone and I passed at least a dozen people digging out their cars parked on the street. They were all just moving the snow onto the road because there's no where else to move it. It's not like everyone is parked conveniently in front of their own front yards and people aren't going to be shoveling snow from the road and putting it onto someone else's property. So, the snow gets pushed around as best as people can manage. It's not as if there are any other options.

"You complaining to every one about what they're doing? Or just me?" I ask the woman. Maybe I'm looking for an argument as well. It's been a somewhat shitty week.

"I've been living here for thirty-five years so that gives me the right," she says.

"The right to what?" I ask.

"I can call the city on you," she says. "A neighbour once shoveled snow onto the road and I told him he wasn't allowed to do that but he didn't care about the roads because he didn't have a car but then the city came by and made him shovel it back." She smiles at the memory of it.  Or at least the pretend memory of it.

"If he didn't have a car, then why was he shoveling?" I ask.

"He was shoveling snow from his property onto the road," she says. "The city made him shovel it back."

"I'm not shoveling snow from my property onto the road," I say. "The snow is already on the road. I'm also not causing an obstruction on the road. I'm removing one."

The woman looks at me, angry at my insubordination. She tries a different tack.

"People don't know how to park anymore. They all take up too much space, park too far apart so there's not enough parking. We used to understand how to park. Now ... it hasn't always been like this," she says.

"Really?" I say.

"Yeah, it started in the last few years. I've noticed this.  When the original people in the neighbourhood started to move out and the new people started moving in," she says.

"What new people?" and I'm pretty sure she's going to say "immigrants".

She pauses, then she says, "Young people."

I try not to laugh. There's one of these in every neighbourhood, I'm beginning to realize. Someone who hates the world.

"Yeah, young people are terrible," I say, uncertain if she means to include me in her disparaging remark against the vast majority of her neighbours. "The things people have to put up with from young people. The way they park. Their attitude. So, uh, you hate young people of a certain age range or just anyone younger than yourself?"

She walks away. She's fuming, I'm sure and she's muttering something about how she's just telling it like it is. The German Shepherd walks submissively behind her along the sidewalk which a neighbour, probably a young person, hasn't bothered to shovel.

32 Comments to “The Youth of Today”

  1. Anonymous says:

    mmmmmm????????????? But she does care for a dog it seems, befuddled or not

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yes, dear Fred, there is no escape from such hostile people. I have an apt. neighbour, quite elderly who one time saw me outside waiting for a friend to come. He asked me what I was doing and I simply said, oh, a friend is coming soon and I want him to see me as he's not been here before. He said, oh, didn't know you had any. I recall how crushed I felt at the time, for he laughed thinking how funny it was and it took me awhile to realize this speaks to his own crushed spirit. You are a light Fred, and some people can't handle the light. We need to shine it on such people who need it far more than we. We can all relate. Big hugs to you today.

  3. Fred says:

    Anon, I'm not generous enough to give her the excuse of befuddlement. It's not an age related thing. I live in a fairly age diverse neighbourhood and most people here, regardless of age, are very pleasant. No, this is a personality thing particular to this person. But, yes, she seems to take care of her dog. I see her out with it quite often.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It's always interesting to me that the people who are always complaining are never the ones offering to help out and do some work.

  5. Anonymous says:

    while i don't agree with her tactics leaving the snow on the road is actually dangerous to other motorists. please don't do it! I hope you did shovel it back onto your property into a nice pile when you were done.

  6. selkiem says:

    actually, i HATE it when people shovel snow on the road - it causes ice build up and ice slicks - sucks for drivers and cyclists. it also is against city by-laws - but apart from that it is ignorant - and at the risk of sounding like your grumpy lady- people (and I mean all people, young, old, every culture and every colour) didn't used to do it- just something I've noticed over the past few years.

  7. Fred says:

    Anon at 12:50, I had the same debate in my head yesterday and I did consider the risk to others of leaving snow on the road but there wasn't enough of it to cause a noticeable deterrence. Plus, by spreading the snow out as opposed to shoveling into big piles on the street, the snow has now melted whereas the big piles are still big piles, taking up parking spaces and still creating a hazard for drivers who are trying to park and pedestrians who are trying to cross the street.

  8. Fred says:

    Hi selkie, as a year round cyclist, I know how you feel but on a sunny day, it's my opinion that the best thing to do is to get the snow melted. Also, the city by-law is 719-5, I believe, which states that it's illegal to move snow from private onto public property, like when people shovel snow off their driveways and onto the street. There's no by-law, as far as I know, which prevents people from digging their cars out from on-street parking.

    After an extraordinary snowfall like the one we had Friday, I didn't see one single person shovel snow from around their car parked on the street, transport that snow onto their own property which may have been around the block and pile that snow up nicely on their own front yards.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Oh boy, can you see Fred how your One Bark at a Time is helping everyone? Some of us are Doberman's or Pit Bulls who have only been taught to fight, some are fluffy little pom pom doggies, just wantin to give and get love. Some are street wise strays who only know street justice. But all of us, all of us just need to become aware that we are all so connected, so the same in our hearts and yearnings. So just when you might wanna throw a shovel of snow at someone, think of all the awareness you are bringing to us all. There is never one day I don't check this astonishing site of your's, and learn something, have my heart broken over some innocent animal neglected or abused, and other times so uplifted I feel I might just levitate with joy. Yeah, I'm the pom pom kinda dog this time around. In a past life was a ferocious sort of chap. Grrrr, Grrrr, everyone afraid of me, now people melt when they see me. Ha Ha This time around my tail won't stop waggin with happiness. Thank you Fred. Thank you SO MUCH.

  10. yasmin says:

    wish i had been there to watch the drama!!

  11. Angela says:

    Hilarious! Thanks for the laugh.

  12. rise above...don't kvetch...rise above..listen...placate the situation..don't escalate it..a poor approach met by a poor response gains no ground...

  13. Fred says:

    I wish I could agree with you, RCF, because the world would be a much better place but few axiom hold true 100% of the time.

  14. Unknown says:

    I don't understand why this snowfall has brought out the worst in people. Everywhere I go, drivers are yelling at each other, people are pushing and shoving and screaming at each other on the bus.....I like the snow, it makes getting around harder but it's fun to play in and dogs know that best of all.

  15. anna says:

    Fred I am glad to see that you were not displaying ageism, misogamy or bigotry in your irritation with the 60 year old woman. I would have been broken hearted and surprised if you had been with your history of compassion. For those not involved in the care of people with mental problems, age related or not, recognizable or not, it is difficult to sympathize when they do not act appropriately towards us. As the person with the beef against her "quite elderly" neighbour indicates. He was probably just joshing and did not realise times have changed and that we are all offended most of the time these days. I always try to imagine that the person who irritates me has a dog at home and that cools the ire. Sometimes!

    Keep up the good work Fred, the dogs and even their sometimes irritating owners like me need your words

  16. Anonymous says:

    Fred, you are a delight!

  17. Fred says:

    Hi Anna, with luck, we'll all reach 60 and beyond some day. The only reason I even mentioned the woman's age, or appearance of age, is because of her statement concerning youth so I felt it was relevant to the post.

  18. slorenz says:

    recently I responded to an equally hostile and argumentative toronto city "worker" who informed me that my dog, who was just outside a dog park, retrieving a ball, could be ticketed and I was in violation of city by laws; I thanked him kindly and then as I turned to leave, with him glaring at me, I turned back and said "You know , I know it is none of my business, but I am a heart specialist and your look is very worrisome. You need to see a doctor, you are in bad shape. Have your heart checked out soon." He had no idea what to make of what I said and walked away , truly befuddled.

  19. Lenni says:

    older people covet youth, but hate the young.

    Good comebacks Fred! She was lucky to have encountered you, and not me. Because I would have told her precisely where she could put that snow. You are a gent through and through.

  20. Anonymous says:

    It is sad to see this once compassionate site turn in to a battle field. Lenni hating the old, others hating the young. Slorenza threatening witchcraft. A curse implied. Posing as a medical specialist to frighten people is if not illegal then cruel. And believe me it takes longer than that to make a diagnosis or even give an opinion without a differential diagnosis! I assume she meant heart as in "feelings" but that might have not been clear to the City worker who was probably trying to do his job according to the rules he had been given and might have expected to be berated and reported by the equally voiciferous anti dog park users of the area if he had not done so.
    But we all love our dogs and this site don't we? Lets not waste time grinching when we could be helping Fred find homes for those beautiful TAS dogs.

  21. Anonymous says:

    All these comments have validity to this degree or that. Even I in a thoughful mood after reading all these, in particular about the aged, realized many seniors are in chronic pain and that effects them all day and night, making it really hard for them to be sociable at all. On the other hand, the one thing I love and respect about Fred, for he is a powerful writer, hits me in the gut everytime, is that he just tells it like it is, and I very much appreciate him doing this. It reminds all of us that we are all just mere humans trying to do the best we can. Some days we just can't measure up and Fred is humble enough to admit this. So his posts humble me every time. I realize that I must broaden my view, all the time, every day. It's rough going trying this all the time, but the rewards are so bountiful. So not trying to throw cliches out here, or be trite either, and 99% of the time, Fred's posts are only about animals. That he gets all these diverse reactions bodes well for all of us.
    Don't even stop Fred. I always, without fail, read your posts, and you never let me down, for they are always poignant, wonderfully vulnerable, and just great.

  22. Lenni says:

    Actually Anonymous (oh why are they always Anonymous), I DO help find homes for rescues, I have fostered for over 20 years. My "...hate the young" quote is taken from a highly influential book called "Growing Up Digital", I have always thought it an interesting posit and certainly applicable to Fred's situation.

    Being "senior" does not excuse rudeness or aggression. If you didn't see the humor in my tongue-in-cheek response to Fred's frustration with the provocative woman and it lent to your sadness about the "battlefield" on this site (??) then I'm afraid there is nothing I can do to help lighten your load.

    Now, off I go to sign my name to my profile.

  23. Lenni says:

    PS Fred have you ever thought of writing a book about your rescue work, complete with the wonderful photos? You really should.

  24. Fred says:

    001mum, I don't think I called the woman old and if I did, I wouldn't have meant it as a slur. Hey I might be nearing 60 myself and also I may be wrong about her age. Maybe she's only 40. I only mentioned her age because of her statement regarding people younger than herself so I felt it was pertinent to the story.

    This really has nothing to do with the person's age but the person's attitude. This woman, in my eyes, is a bully and her domineering attitude and self-righteous tone imply to me that she's been one for a long time because she feels it's her right since she's one of the "original" homeowners in the area. She went out of her way, literally, to create a conflict so I don't think it's a matter of just not being sociable. It's a matter of being antagonistic, xenophobic, unneighbourly.

    Yes, the dog counts for something. Even our enemies (not that she's an enemy) can own dogs and so we at least have that humanity to share.

    Will I talk to her again? Maybe. Will I take any crap from her. No.

  25. When we first moved here our next door neighbour was like that. It wasn't that nothing was right, it was that everything anyone did was clearly aimed at destroying her house/garden/peace of mind. At first, I responded, but then the woman at the deli clued me in to the tragic back story. So I stopped fighting back and just let it roll off me.

    Then we were abroad for over 6 years, and the house was rented out to students.

    When we came back, with three cats and two barking dogs, we looked pretty good to her -- or maybe she's gone deaf. Whatever the reason, she became a really nice neighbour, says she never hears the dogs, and always stops to chat.

    I'm with the 'Let it pass' school. It is enough that you know you are acting within the law. Let her grumble on, perhaps mentally reminding yourself that she is probably a lonely and unhappy person, for reasons you don't know. It won't make it easier to take, but it won't inspire her to greater heights of rage, either.

    And, for those who think the old envy or hate the young, I would hesitate to make a generalisation like that, lest I be tempted to think the young are just pig ignorant about a whole lot, due, in large part, to lack of experience. Next thing I know, I'll be making nasty comments about people with different colour skin or differently shaped eyes, and drooling in my soup!

    To paraphrase Maurice Chevalier: here's to growing old -- it's way ahead of the alternative!

  26. Anonymous says:

    sad to see this becoming a suggestion of a battle between earlier settlers of an area (old) and "newcomers" (usually younger).
    As one of the despised old fogeys of this site I have to say that on my street the "newcomers" are extremely friendly and kind to those of us who where here before them. And we, pleased to see them enhance our street, try to return the kindnesses in ways that we are still able to do. We where all newcomers once.
    All streets I imagine have the person who tries to organise the way it runs. Sometimes to great advantage, cleaning out the catch basins, bringing escaped dogs home, keeping an eye out for us all and offering help with minor garden or house problems. Usually a strong authoritarian character, but understood and valued.
    And which of us hasn't ranted at someone, especially those of us the animal welfare society! And who hasn't received a ranting at some time I was once berated because someone thought my neutered oraange cat was the father of all the orange cats in the entire area.

    The ranter was promoting spay/neuter so had a good point on my later calmer refelection as I too am a strong supporter!
    So you never know what it is all about ...ever Best to take a pinch of salt

  27. Anonymous says:

    xenophobia????????? me thinks there is more to this story. Bigotry on both sides perhaps

  28. Anonymous says:

    Dear old fogey, I bet you are the sweetest marshmallow. I laughed at your orange neutered cat, his only sin being orange. No one despises the eldery, certainly not me, and for sure not Fred, nor anyone here. If anything we need to honour and respect elders as much as possible. Maybe the one thing we all have learned, is to cut elders more slack. Just agree with them no matter what is said, and letting go of our reactions. One hopes that when we become older to have more tolerance, but some days, it just ain't so regardless of our age. I have enjoyed reading all these comments, and I hope Fred will write more about just such things, so we can all learn from one another. Despite differing opinions we are all animals lovers!!!!

  29. GoodDog says:

    What this post needs is a picture of Simone giving you (or your neighbor) the stink eye from the window....

  30. anna says:

    Fred what we all need right now to sum up these conversations is some of your wonderful updates. Showing that all different kinds of dogs and all different kinds of people benefit from your very important Pound Dog site! Bringing together comforted dogs and proud much admired owners

    The updates warm our often bleeding hearts, thank you for that!

    I don't know if you want to include this site on yours but it makes me smile and appreciate even more those who care.

  31. Fred says:

    Great link, Anna. Thanks.

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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.