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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.

5 Comments to “Simone at 5”

  1. Carin says:

    Have you ever read the book "Sight Hound" by Pam Houston? If not, I highly recommend it. It's a tear jerker for sure but soooo good. Your writing sometimes reminds me of that book, mostly because so little writing out there gives animals the kind of grace and awe they deserve. Anyway, thanks, as always, for all you do.

  2. deva says:

    Happy to see Simone again, a beautiful girl. Glad she's going strong.

  3. Anonymous says:

    beautifully written about a beautiful dog. Happy Barkday, Simone.

  4. T'ain't middle age, son. It's the prime of her life. Just ask Miss Magic Daintyfoot, now seven years old. She'll tell you in *no* uncertain terms that five is practically a puppy!

  5. Anonymous says:

    nice to see the beautiful Simone again. Sounds as if she enjoyed her wild side a bit with her run on the dunes. But as for ticks they are in the city too. My dog got one on his nose while nosing in the fallen leaves in his small Toronto back garden!

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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.