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I don't usually post dogs I've never met before but I'm making an exception for Moogly because I've got a soft spot for Great Danes and also because I know Michelle from IFAW and trust her judgment.

She just returned from a dog rescue mission to bring back dogs from some northern Quebec communities and came across this emaciated Great Dane who had been living outdoors for two years now. Anyone who knows Great Danes knows they aren't made to be outdoors dogs, especially not outdoors in northern Quebec winters, and I'm surprised Moogly had managed to survive this long. Given how thin he's looking now, I doubt he would've been able to survive another cold season. The thought of a Great Dane out in the frozen night is not something I want to imagine, knowing how much Stella (my own previous Great Dane) shivered and needed layers of blankets in the winter even when she was indoors.

From Michelle:

His name is Moogly, and we’ve been trying to get him out for a while. He is from Mistissini, and when I was here in April he’s one of the ones we spotted and photographed. He was thin, thin, thin and people we spoke to said he was owned but that his people were not caring for him and that he just roamed the community. We spent the better part of a day looking for his owners, but never found them. Months later he was given to Manon, our rescue partner in Chapais and she rehomed him. The new home did not work out because they didn’t care for him properly either. So, here we are, finally getting him and looking to place him in a super duper home. He is a big Dane, but sweet and friendly and great with other dogs. His photo, taken in the community in April, is attached. He is, sadly, just as thin now.

Thankfully, the IFAW crew were able to bring Moogly out of the cold and into a foster home. He's now available for adoption and a lot closer to Toronto.

This is what his foster has to say about Moogly:

Michelle forwarded your email re the big, cuddly Moogly. He's here, he's eating tons, lounging in front of the fire, putting his head on counter tops and settling. He is super in the house, less so outside. Because he will take off and never come back (zero recall) and he can pull an adult off their feet (as he did me), I'm looking for an experienced Dane home. He's looking for a big couch and a yard where he can zoom around. He really wants to run and I hope to take him to our horse paddock this weekend so he can bolt about as he wants to.

I need to find him the best, most committed home because not only has his life not included that so far but it's also taken place in a totally Dane unfriendly [environment].

And here's a photo of Moogly in his foster home:

If you're interested in adopting Moogli or would like more information about him, please contact Jan at .

Max spent the whole ride down from Northern Quebec, where he was rescued, to Toronto Animal Services, where he is now in adoption, with his head resting on the shoulder of Michelle, the driver. To say Max is happy to be around his people would be an understatement. It constantly amazes me that dogs like Max are at risk in their original environments. Toronto may have its faults, but we can be pretty proud of the way we generally treat our companion animals.

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 adoption website or call 416 338 6668 for the Toronto Animal Services South shelter. If the dog is no longer on the TAS adoption website, it's probably because it's been adopted already.

Layla is behind the front desk looking up at everyone who peers over the gate to say hello. She's far removed now from the place where she'd been used as a breeding dog for her whole life of seven years. As with most puppy millers, expenses were kept to a minimum and health care was an expense. In Layla's case, the result was that during her visit to the vet, after her arrival at Toronto Animal Services South, it was determined almost all her teeth had to be pulled because they were so badly rotted and deteriorated. When Layla opens her mouth in a dog smile, I see she's got at least one tooth remaining - her canine.

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 adoption website or call 416 338 6668 for the Toronto Animal Services South shelter. If the dog is no longer on the TAS adoption website, it's probably because it's been adopted already.

Charlie keeps stopping at the end of his leash and waits for me to catch up. He's excited about being outside but polite enough to slow down so he's not pulling the whole time. I like this guy. A good energy level but calm and just the right mix of reserve and friendliness.

He was left at TAS South by his owners who said they were moving.

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 adoption website or call 416 338 6668 for the Toronto Animal Services South shelter. If the dog is no longer on the TAS adoption website, it's probably because it's been adopted already.

Albert was found with thirteen other Poodley dogs in an apartment where the original call to the city was for a bug infestation. All the others have already been adopted or fostered out. Albert is the last one. It took weeks for him to come out of his shell and take his first intrepid steps outside. Now he's still a little uncertain at times but mostly trots along beside me as we walk.

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 adoption website or call 416 338 6668 for the Toronto Animal Services South shelter. If the dog is no longer on the TAS adoption website, it's probably because it's been adopted already.

Katie takes two steps out the door and stops and refuses to budge. Maybe I'm not supposed to indulge her but I pick her up anyway and carry her over to the grassy patch, put her down. I take a couple of steps away from her. She still won't budge. She doesn't seem anxious about the outdoors. She does seem obstinate against the tug of the leash. So, I squat down to her level and coax her with a wave of my hands and a smile and she comes waddling over. She nestles into my open hands for pets while snorting and snarfling with glee.

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 adoption website or call 416 338 6668 for the Toronto Animal Services South shelter. If the dog is no longer on the TAS adoption website, it's probably because it's been adopted already.

I was at a shelter conference recently where I heard some great suggestions for improving the lives of animals in shelters and it inspired me afterwards to come up with some of my own suggestions but because I'm quite lazy, I just looked up previous posts to see if I could rehash something I'd written before and, voilà, I found something.

This is an update of a post I posted years ago and by update I mean I've added a word or two and changed some grammar around not for any real purpose other than so I can call this an update so I don't have to call this a repost because reposts are lame.

There is some foul language here because sometimes in life there is foul language.

I've been reading some really informative information about adoption strategies and how to improve them so that shelters can better compete with pet stores and backyard breeders and Japanese toy robot manufacturers. While some of the advice is quite good, coming from experts and people who actually know what they're talking about, I've always liked to pride myself in thinking that I'm someone who thinks out of the box so I've come up with some additional adoption strategies which I call super strategies because they are super.

1. Add "Loo-hoo" to the end of every dog name. Cindy might sit in her cage for weeks but Cindy Loo-hoo will get adopted in no time. Annie becomes Annie Loo-hoo. Mabel becomes Mabel Loo-hoo. Don't those names sound so much more appealing? For male dogs, instead of adding "Loo-hoo", add "Big Nuts".

Cindy Loo-hoo, way better than just Cindy. Actually, I just put this picture up for gratuitous cuteness and it's really apropos of nothing in this post.

2. Point out to the potential adopters some benefits to dog ownership they may not have thought about such as:

i. Everyone blames the dog for their own farts but did you know you can also blame the dog next time you crap on the kitchen floor?

ii. Your dog can help you get into shape by hitting the play button on the DVD player with the P90X/Tough Mudder/Zumba video in it when you're too lazy to get your ass off the couch to find the remote control.

iii. A dog is not only good for scaring away thieves but is also good for biting the postman - which is good if you don't like the postman because he's the father of that goddamn kid running around in your house. Goddamn postman.

Bonus Blame:
iv. The next time you get caught on video smoking crack just point to the dog and say, "No, I believe that was the dog in the video," which doesn't make any sense but it's a better way to abrogate responsibility than saying it's because you were in a drunken stupor.

3. Put two dogs in a kennel. If someone shows interest in one of the dogs, tell the person that the two dogs are bonded and they need to be adopted out together. If the person protests or gives some excuse about not being able to take on two new dogs, start dancing around, wave your arms in the air and make weird guttural noises and then stop and, with one eyeball, stare at the guy and tell him you've just cursed him so his penis will fall off. If the person's a woman, this strategy probably won't work.

4. A nice way to bring some attention to a dark coloured dog is to tie a colourful bandanna around its neck. Either that or make the dog look like long term job security with a reliable pension.

5. One strategy that often works with potential adopters is to tell some sob story about the dog. Really try to give the story lots of juicy details to get the person to really empathize with the dog. If that doesn't work tell the person you've slept with their girl/boyfriend and s/he really isn't all that hot but that's really all they deserve so there.

6. Have a "trade-in day" event. This is where you advertise to the public that they can bring in their old dogs and trade them in for younger ones, maybe even for puppies if you've got some. When someone shows up with their old dog to do this, take him into the sub-basement and throw him into the fiery pit to Hell. This won't increase your adoptions but it might make you feel better and it also gets you bonus points with Satan. You can also have a "moving day" event or a "doesn't match the new furniture" event.

7. Tell the potential adopter that you've got the most amazing dog just for them. Take the person to any dog and ask the person to say "Hello" to it. As soon as the person's done this, you say "Hello" in a dog-like voice but try not to move your lips. Then point to the dog and say, "Ta daa. A talking dog!" It may take a couple more lines of dialogue before the potential adopter is convinced. If the person still isn't convinced and walks away, say in your dog voice: "Yeah, well, I slept with your girlfriend/boyfriend and s/he's not all that hot," and then shrug and point at the dog.

8. If you're showing an older couple around, tell them that a dog is a great child replacement for empty nesters. Tell them that it'll be just like it used to be when they weren't so old and were surrounded by children who loved them but who have now all left home and hardly ever call anymore and are already planning on how to spend their inheritance money. If the old fogies say something like they like not having kids around and can now spend more time vacationing, start bawling your eyes out and in between sobs tell them that you just lost your own parents last week when they were killed while on vacation.

9. Sometimes dogs stay in a shelter way too long through no fault of their own. People just pass them by. You must make every effort to help these dogs find a home. Next time someone comes in looking for a dog, show the person this particular dog. If the person shows disinterest and starts to walk away, proclaim in a loud and determined voice, "Okay, that's it." Take a bottle of vaguely sinister looking pills (you can use Tic Tacs dipped in blue food colouring for this) and start popping them into your mouth and swallowing. When the person looks horrified and asks what you're doing, say: "I made a pact with myself that if I didn't get this poor dog adopted out today by 11:00 [use whatever time it is at the moment], I'd kill myself because I have failed this animal." This should be enough to encourage the person to adopt the dog. If the person still does not show interest in adopting the dog then throw the rest of the "pills" in the person's face and say, "Fuck you, at least I tried," and walk away.


10. When I was a kid, like 10 or 11, I had this next door neighbour who was like 5 or 6 and he used to be able to vomit on command. He had an older sister whom I had a crush on. Sometimes he'd chase his older sister around while trying to puke on her. She'd start screaming and then he'd take his pants off and then continue chasing her while trying to vomit and she'd scream even louder. I'm sure you can understand how being puked on by a kid with no pants on is so much worse than being puked on by a properly dressed one. The rest of us kids in the neighbourhood would get in on the action and chase the brother around (while he was chasing his sister around) and whenever we could, we'd pick up some dirt and throw it at him. Ah, lovely childhood. The next time you've hit an awkward moment of silence with a potential adopter, feel free to use this story as your own and place yourself in any of the three main roles. It will help to cement the bond of trust between you and the adopter. Thus, when you say the 200 pound unhousetrained Mastiff who eats twelve cups of food a day and craps ten is perfect for the single adopter who has eight kids all under five and lives in a basement apartment, the adopter will have a greater tendency to believe you. Also, this last point rounds out this list to a nice even ten points and I was told that's the way lists should be done (instead of leaving it at nine).

I unclip Simone from her leash. She feels her release and takes off at full speed. I've never seen her go so fast. I usually only let her off leash in enclosed parks where there are other dogs around, where she feels inhibited by those other dogs. But here, on the dunes, she is the only dog in sight. So, she runs.

She has a funny run, not graceful, a little wonky, like her legs aren't quite coordinated, sometimes like they might be tempted to fly off in different directions, sometimes like her back legs are trying to get ahead of her front ones. She runs without a glance back. Fifty meters. One hundred meters. Still doesn't look back. One hundred fifty meters. Two hundred meters and she is down amongst the trees now and I'm a little concerned. I yell out, "Simone." She stops. She realizes she's on her own. She starts the run back, back out from the trees, across the sand, up the dune. By the time she's reached the halfway point on the incline, she's huffing and dragging her feet. Silly girl. But she's happy. Manic eyes and panting tongue.

The hike around Sandbanks is four hours long. Along the beach, Simone stays away from the encroaching waves. On the trails, she gets tangled and caught in the underbrush. By the end, she is tired and for the next couple of days, she has a bit of a hard time rising after a lie down. It's her back right hip or knee. Then that passes and she's fine.

Simone is maybe five years old now. I've had her for just over two years, a foster failure from Toronto Animal Services South. She is my routine and I am hers. The vet tells me her recent skin allergies are either due to the environment or food which is telling me not much at all but other than that, she is doing well. I wonder about the limits placed on her life because she lives with me in the city but then she's not really a country dog. I think the open environment makes her a bit nervous. I remember the afternoon out on the property in Picton, how it was drizzling, ground wet, grasses too tall for her see over. She didn't like that at all. She was morose for most of that walk. And then later, there's a tick on her, stuck to her ear which at first I had thought it was a skin tag.

I'm pretty sure Simone prefers the comforts of an urban life. It's dry, warm. There are many soft surfaces upon which to sleep. Water and food are available and appear on schedule. There is no scary wildlife except for the black cat who lives around the corner - who is far too friendly for Simone's tastes - except for the squirrels but they know enough to run away, except for the raccoons but they just stare from halfway up a tree trunk. Certainly no coyote, deer or snakes.

Simone is entering middle age for a dog but she still dances when she thinks there's a chance it'll net her some food. And, of course, the warm welcome when I return home from work. And, of course, the occasional nuzzle for a pet, checking in, making sure I am still around and reminding me of her presence. She would be beside me 24/7 if she could be. Of course loyal, of course trusting, of course a constant companion. Those things will not change.

From the owner of Corwin, now Desi:

He loves his new home and is a very happy little fellow. The feeling is mutual . We love him and having him with us. He gets lots of love, attention and walks. He has a backyard to run around in and explore. He is great at fetching his ball. He is also going to the Petsmart’s Beginner Dog Training classes and is learning the basic commands and is getting some socialization.

Thank you again for letting us adopted him.

From the owners of Gomez and Tina (now Gomer and Willa)

We adopted Gomer on February 16, 2012. Fred described him perfectly, as he was definitely a kid trapped in a grown-ups body! We thought it appropriate to re-christen him "Gomer", as while he did often wreak havoc, he was sweet and had a good heart and really never meant any harm. He was our first dog, and the first few months with him were definitely challenging! But as we learned to become better "dog parents" and redirect his energy, he settled down and has become a great friend and companion! He even earned a spot on our wedding invitations!

We adopted Willa after seeing Molly on the blog and visiting her at TAS with Gomer. Unfortunately, Gomer and Molly didn't jive. James asked us to hold on, as he had another dog he wanted us to see. Down the stairs he came with this baby puggle who swarmed us both with kisses on our first meeting. Who could resist?! We adopted her the next day and our doggy odd-couple was born!

Gomer and Willa have been great friends to one another, and we are so happy to have them in our family. We can't imagine our lives without them now, and we must thank James at TAS especially for spending a lot of time with us and for giving us the confidence and reassurance that we could be good dog owners! James you are the best!


I remember Raven when she was a pup, a bright young thing with a spring in her step. She's been returned by her owner now almost five years later. I have her outside and she seems diminished. She is fearful of the noise and the people. She doesn't want to walk. She looks at me to bring her back inside.

She's not a small dog but I carry her to a spot which is a little less trafficked where I can take some photos. She's not doing too badly. She just doesn't seem familiar with the environment. She doesn't seem familiar with being outside anymore.

On the way back, we pass by another TAS resident, an overweight, unkempt Cocker Spaniel. They give each other a sniff and for the first time, I see Raven wag her tail and then she twirls and goes into a play pose and jumps and twirls again. Then the Cocker moves on and the curtains fall and Raven is on her own again. I take her inside.

I spend a few minutes with her while chatting with others who pass by. She climbs onto the couch, snuggles against the armrest, lays her head down.

Raven has been transferred to the Toronto Humane Society.

I see Chief in the meet and greet room with an older Golden Retriever. The young couple have brought their dog to see if it will get along with the pup and the harder Chief tries to get the Golden to play, the more the older dog wants to leave the room. The woman picks Chief up and gives him one last big hug and they leave him behind. It's a little sad but for the best. Chief will have no problems getting a home and better a home where he can bounce and bump carefree without disturbing an older dog.

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 adoption website or call 416 338 6668 for the Toronto Animal Services South shelter. If the dog is no longer on the TAS adoption website, it's probably because it's been adopted already.


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.