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Lose one
Well, I thought I gave a pretty good speech, if I do say so myself, at the Toronto Humane Society Annual General Meeting this past Tuesday but it was all for naught as I didn't get elected onto the board of directors. Apparently, the decision was mostly made before the AGM even started by mail-in ballots and from the two hundred or so proxy votes brought in by the women of the Next Steps slate from new THS members they had signed up. Two hundred new members is a good chunk of new supporters so good job Next Steps! The Next Steps crew won the majority of the six available seats and have obviously got political savvy and membership drive skills so let's hope this new bloc bodes well for the THS. Let's hope they bring in renewed energy and some good ideas without the additional turmoil of partisan politics.

I admit a big part of me is relieved I wasn't selected. During my time on the board in the few months previous to the AGM, I was fishing around for how I could be most useful and I started thinking about plans for supporting and advancing communications at the THS, how to get their message out to the public, essentially. Any such plans, however, would have taken up a large investment of my time for the next three years (the term length of a THS board member), time which I can now selfishly dedicate to more personal concerns. However, if the occasion arises, I hope to be able to continue to profile some of the dogs at the THS. I really enjoyed the time I spent with some of the great staff and animals there, short though it was.

Win one
Speaking of more personal concerns, this is off topic of dogs and animal welfare but earlier this year I entered into the Toronto Star short story contest and to my utter amazement, I was selected for first place. There was a nice cash prize along with tuition for the creative writing course at the Humber School for Writers which starts in January 2014 ... which means I have to have a manuscript ready by then ... which means I need to start writing - and even as I write this, I'm already experiencing early writer's block anxiety.

Anyway, if you want to read what I wrote for The Star contest, it's here.

17 Comments to “Lose One, Win One”

  1. I read your story in the Star today and didn't make the connection. Congratulations! I can see why you won....I couldn't put your story down. Very nice work.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations on winning the Star short story contest! Anyone who followed One Bark at a Time and now Pound Dogs will not be surprised by your win! And I am sorry you did not become a THS board member if that is what you wanted. I got the strong sense that the Next Steps group has more of an interest in cats than other animals and therefore thought your compassion for dogs would balance things out. As you say, we can (as ever) only hope for the best for all the animals passing through the doors of the THS. I hope you do continue to profile the dogs at the THS for I have long thought THS needed your touch very much in their attempts to find homes for their animals. I hope you are also going to keep up the fantastic photos and profiling at the TAS that mean so much to us and the dogs

  3. Anonymous says:

    Happy to hear the good news. I and others believe you are a good writer!

  4. Luan says:

    Well done, for stepping up for THS and your first place short story win!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Here's a link to your story.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Excellent story!

  7. Lenni says:

    Ha! Great work Fred. Good for you. I have urged you a few times in the comments section here for a book - I think you are a brilliant writer. Well done.

  8. I loved your story in the Star, Fred. Congratulations! I hope you will still find time to photograph your dogs. Each profile is a little gem of writing and photography!

  9. Fred, Congratulations.

    Since I've found your blog, I've always thought of you as a writer first and foremost (your photos are great, too). I find myself going back and reading old posts just for the enjoyment of reading great writing. There is something like Richard Ford in your stories -- not an imitation of him, but the same strength of voice.

    And sometimes I think, if these stories were ever compiled, what a great collection they would be in book form. (I see others have made the same point).


  10. Janice says:

    Well done and well deserved first place! A very good read - as someone else mentioned, it would be great to read something longer. I already love to read your dog comments - they are brilliant. Also, based simply on reading your blog and loving the passion and understanding of the dogs you profile, I think THS missed out on opportunity to have a valuable voice on their board. Hopefully you will continue with the amazing work you have been doing and we will all continue to share your posts and I'll tell two friends...and they'll tell two friends and so on and so on.....After all, you don't actually have to be on the board to help the animals. Just ask the ones you have already touched.

  11. Anonymous says:

    thanks for sharing. You had the first hand news about the THS

    " additional turmoil of partisan politics " is something we expected to see about the THS in the future. I really hope people would stop donating to THS and let them shut down for good. We have other shelters doing better jobs than them

  12. Anonymous says:

    Sorry " that anonymous" but I think the THS does do a lot of good. The feral cat program is just one thing that brought me, cynical to the core, back as a supporter of the Society. I hope that Fred will keep in contact with the THS through some lovely photographs and "home finding stories" so that we will know how things are progressing at the Society and can react accordingly.

  13. Anonymous says:

    You dodged a bullet. Being on the board would only be fun if you were in charge. You would have meet their standards not yours. And as you noted the politics are consuming. This blog as you pointed out is fun to do, lets you meet nice people, lets you do your own thing. You contribute in a concrete way that makes a difference. This way you can play by your rules.
    Don't worry be happy!

    What ever happened to Bella?

  14. I agree with 11:23 AM Anonymous. The THS does do a lot of good, it needs and deserves our support. If you get three animal people in a room, you'll hear four opinions *L*, so "partisan politics" is part of the rescue game. People are always the problem with animals *L*.

    I'd like to see the names of the shelters 10:56 AM Anonymous thinks are doing a better job. I sure can't think of any.

  15. Fred says:

    Thanks Everyone for your words of support for both the election and the story. There may be more of both.

    Anon, Bella got adopted a few weeks ago (Yay!).

  16. Anonymous says:

    Bravo Fred for this story. You are a born dog lover, born writer as well, for you have wonderful depth, and you miss nothing. Yes, you have the heart of lion, but a lion with a huge heart. No matter what you write about I have always been gripped immediately. I say born writer for to be able to mix the pathos of life, yet include such joy, and such creative anger!!! oh man, you are truly multi gifted.

    Thank you for choosing to live here. Our city is better for you.

  17. Kit Lang says:

    Congrats on the win. Lovely story!

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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.