Monday, July 21, 2008


Three rescue dogs are coming in from Serbia and the driver who was supposed to show up at the airport to pick them up has cancelled. Luckily, Gudrun is happy enough to help out with her van and that's a good thing because the dogs show up in two large crates and a mid-sized one. Cathrine, who brought them over on the plane, introduces us to Irene, the smallest, Dominick, the largest and Smiley, in the middle, all variations on shepherd mutts and all very tired. They all seem healthy except for Smile who walks with a pronounced limp on her front right leg. Cathrine tells us that when Smiley was 2 months old, she was hit by a car and left for dead. She was found and taken to the vet. After surgery, her bones have mended back together and she is able to walk again except for the limp.

There's nothing extraordinary to report here. The trip from YYZ to Toronto Animal Services is fairly uneventful so I take the opportunity to have a chat with the dogs.

Me: So what is it that made you decide to come to Canada?

Irene: Well, I've always wanted to study your western democratic system first hand. I'm especially interested in things like your systems of checks and balances, your rules behind campaign financing, political transparency and, in general, the responsibilities for everyday citizens living in such a democracy.

Smiley: Wow, that's deep.

Dominick: Yeah, deeply dull. I came to Canada cuz I hear the food's really good. All my friends on Facebook are constantly throwing messages up on my wall about how good the food is. You can only read so much about Asian fusion, food courts and Timbits before you figure that's something you gotta try out for yerself.

Me: Smiley, why did you come to Canada?

Smiley: I'm an artist and the last few years of my life have been a mess back home. I'm a very sensitive person and I think it was Marlon Brando who said that a sensitive person receives fifty impressions where somebody else may only get seven. Sensitive people are way too vulnerable. I never allow myself to feel anything, because I always feel too much. You know I've being going to therapy for a while now and ...

Dominick: Cripes, she's going on about her therapy again. Look, you've had a few bones busted. Boohoo. How long you gonna ride that wave?

Smiley: You shut up, fatso. All you ever talk about is food. As if that's the only thing that's important in your life. Stop being so two dimensional.

Dominick: Yeah, well you should try to do some real living. Look up from your navel sometime, at least long enough to smell the shi ...

Irene: Alright, enough already. You two are embarrassing me.

Dominick: Oooo, Miss Hoity Toity is embarrassed. Well, I hope I don't embarass you as I take a leak ...

Me: Er, that's going to have to wait until we get you outside.

Dominick: Aww, man. How much longer? My bladder's gonna bust.

Me: Just a few more minutes and then we'll be there.

Dominick: Alright, I'll try to hold it but I can't promise anything.

Me: Well, do the best you can. Thanks.

I check the time. It really isn't much longer to TAS. Dominick's talk about food has made me hungry.

Irene: Emm, excuse me.

Me: Yes?

Irene: Do you have parks here?

Me: Yes, we do.

Irene: You've got parks where dogs can run around?

Me: Yes.

Smiley: Off leash? I heard we might be able to run around off leash and meet other dogs?

Me: Mmm, hmm. They're called dog parks. Some of them are off-leash and some are not.

Dominick: Why aren't they all off-leash?

Me: It's complicated.

I don't have the heart to tell them. Even here, not everyone likes dogs. Even here, sometimes terrible things are done.

Irene: Do you think someone will want us?

Smiley: Will someone take us home?

Irene: I hear some dogs even get their own doggie beds.

Smiley: I'd like that.

Dominick: I'd like to sleep on a couch.

Irene: Oh yes, that would be even better.

Smiley: Ooo, that's a great idea.

They all go quiet for a moment savouring that thought. How easily satisfied, I think.

Irene: Are people here nice?

Sometimes, I think.

Me: Yes people here are nice.

Irene: Are they nice to dogs?

Some people are, I think.

Me: A lot of people are very nice to dogs.

Irene: I hope somebody nice chooses me.

Smiley: Me, too.

Dominick: Me three.

And me four. They'll be spending the weekend in quarantine until the vet comes by next week. After they pass their health checks and temperment testing, they'll get put into general adoption where they'll be competing with purebreds, puppies and an assortment of other abandoned dogs for the hearts and minds of prospective adopters.

Dominick: Hey, I heard you got this thing called back bacon and maple syrup. Can you tell me about that?

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