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Here's a wonderful update letter from the owner of Mama, now Shakedown:

Hi, I’m the companion of the dog you listed as Mama almost 2 years ago. I thought I’d send you an update along with thanks for listing her on your site in the first place — we wouldn’t be together if you hadn’t. I’m 47 and have had dogs in my family for all but 10 of my years and this one is a truly remarkable animal.

I renamed Mama “Shakedown” after going through 21 other names over the course of our first month together (Alice, Arrow, Goodis, Hildy, Novak, Gibson, Mojo, Ellsworth, Melville, Pasco…). Far as I know, she’s the only Shakedown and the name really suits her.

As you know, she’s from the First Nations Reserve in Quebec and was recovering from heartworm treatment when TAS put her up for adoption. As a result, when she first came home with me, she was not allowed to strain herself for 4 weeks. No running. No rough housing. No excitement. She didn’t seem too keen on that stuff anyway, so it wasn’t much of a hardship. She was pretty calm and, though not slow-walking, she was never in a rush either.

However, I’ve really come to appreciate just how sick she was when I first got her. You mentioned in your profile how expressive her face is. With hindsight, I think she was really in a lot of pain when you took those pictures. She really doesn’t make faces like that anymore. I love your photos, but, as you can see by the photos, she doesn’t look like the same dog anymore.

For those who do not know, heartworm treatment involves a repeated series of long, painful needles injected into the animal’s back muscles followed by months of confinement. So, it wasn’t so much that Shakes wasn’t interested in being active, it was that she was incapable.

And here’s another thing, as per my adoption agreement with TAS, I took her to a vet the day after getting her home. They did a checkup and then came to me in the waiting room and said, “Well, your dog’s been x-rayed and your dog’s been shot — you need to see this.” I assumed, of course, that they meant they’d given her an injection.


The x-ray revealed something metal in her side, lodged between her heart and lung. It looks like a bullet or bullet-fragment. I’ve attached a copy of the x-ray so that your readers can see it. With no sign of an entry wound, there’s no telling how long it’s been inside her, and there’s no point in surgically removing it, but, suffice it to say, Shakedown’s a survivor. Heart worm. Meh. Shot? Whatevs.

Curious readers can also see the inverted-D shape of her heart in the x-ray, which is what the worms do to the dog’s heart.

Now that she’s fully recovered from the heartworm, she LOVES to run. I mean, really really loves to run. Not only is she incredibly fast, she’s unbelievably agile. As my mother would say, “She can turn on a dime and get change back!”

The only thing she likes better than outrunning (most) all of the other dogs at the Sorauren dog park is outrunning the squirrels in High Park. I literally have to walk behind her clapping in High Park in order to scare the squirrels away. Unfortunately, I’m not always successful.

I’ve attached a photo of her running. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to get one of her at full-speed that’s in focus. She’s a blur! One time she snatched something off the sidewalk and I thought, “Damn, she ate a dead bird!” and I pulled her jaws open and a live bird flew out of her mouth! Very fast.

When she first moved in and I would have to go to work, I’d come home and find all my shoes on her bed. She never wrecked any of them. She would just pile them up and sleep on them. It was odd, but very sweet. That’s the word most of my friends use to describe her: sweet. If you’re not a rodent, she’s the most gentle creature. If you are a rodent, she’s your worst nightmare.

Most mornings we do 5K in High Park and she’s got tons of friends there and in Sorauren Park. We’re coming up on our 2nd year anniversary and I have to say, she’s improved my life in every way. When I got her, I was overweight and getting heavier. I was on antidepressants and working a job I disliked in a neighborhood I hated. I adopted her the end of September, immediately got off the pills, started exercising daily, and within a few months had quit my job and opened my own record store. Life is good; business is great; Shakedown is awesome. I’m thrilled and delighted she’s part of my life and hope she’s around for a good long while. Thanks so much for your web site and allowing me to share this story.

16 Comments to “Update on Mama”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful story! What a compassionate owner! Shakedown is a lucky dog! Thank you for all who helped and for the comforting update.

  2. Cathy says:

    Amazing update! So glad that you and Shakedown found each other! It sounds as though it's been a truly mutually beneficial union. :) (Our dog has had two "bullets" (BB gun maybe?) found in her--one was removed from her cheek, and the other was found embedded in the tissue of her neck last week when she needed an MRI, and I warned the vet there may be metal in her. So sad that so many dogs are mistreated by humans!)

  3. Grace K. says:

    Amazing update! Also, that guy's 47?! You'd never know! Dogs really do take years off your life ;)

  4. Unknown says:

    Great story! The power of pound dogs is one I know well!

  5. Unknown says:

    Absolutely fabulous!!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Symbiosis :-) Glad to hear that you've benefited each other.

  7. Anonymous says:

    What a wonderful story, you saved each other. Long life, good health and much happiness to you both.

  8. deva says:

    Brilliant story. Thank you for sharing.

  9. I agree. Great update! Everyone in our house is sooooo happy for you and Shakes! As for the squirrels, my dogs would love to get some tips, and my cats are all agog at the live bird catch! But the best part is the way she moved you to take control of your life and do the thing you wanted to do! Best of luck!

  10. Reading this, was smiling from beginning to end, what a beautiful story glad you found each other..

  11. kat says:

    Wonderful story. thank you for sharing.

  12. Anonymous says:

    What a transformation. The earlier photos were beautiful, but serious and a little sad. Now I understand why. The after pictures, well, she looks like a different dog, so full of joy, and it sounds like quite the badass.

  13. Unknown says:

    Thank you for sharing! Love to hear such a sweet story! I adopted a German shepherd/schnauzer mix and she is the best dog! Couldn't imagine life without her. Taking her to get her first haircut tomorrow. Wasn't sure how I'd like her having short hair but because you shared the first picture of shakes with short hair...I'm gonna go for it and have it cut. Would you mind sharing more photos?

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thanks to everyone for their kind comments.

    More photos of Shakedown can be see at though you may have to scroll through photos of some of the other animals in my life.

    Best ones are:

  15. For anyone interested, here's Shakedown's DNA breakdown.

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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.