I woke up this morning and took Stella and Rocky out for their morning walk then came back and fed them their breakfast. This usually takes about an hour and a half but since it was Saturday, I spent some extra time with them outside and so in all, Stella and Rocky time this morning was about two hours.
They were getting low on dog food so the next thing I was going to do was pick up some ground chicken back and beef for them and head right back home but figured that while I was out at the butcher's I might as well get a box of big soup bones for the dogs at Toronto Animal Services as they were almost out. Instead of going straight home, then, I drove over to TAS and brought the bones in. A woman who was there picking up a cat saw me and looked at me carrying in the box and gave me a weird look like maybe she was thinking I was bringing in a carcass or something - which in a sense I was - so I said to her that it was just bones but I don't think that helped put her at ease much.
I was just going to drop the box off and leave but then I started talking to one of the other dog walkers and we started going on about the two Rottweiler puppies who had just come to TAS South recently and how they'd grown up in a shelter and how they really should be getting lots of socialization at this stage in their lives. I figured I had some time so I decided to take them to the park to let them get their ya-yas out and maybe meet some other dogs and people. Ten minutes later, they were in the car with me and they were climbing all over - front seat, back seat, dash, floor, steering wheel. They were like cats. The brown one eventually settled into my lap and then the other one decided it wanted to do the same and kept trying to shove in as well but there was no room left between me and the steering wheel so I kept having to pull it off. It was thinking this was a game and kept scrambling back over. Luckily, the park was only a couple of minutes away and death by car accident was avoided.
The park was totally enclosed with fencing so I let the two off leash and they didn't quite know what that was all about so they just hung around me for a couple of minutes eating sticks and leaves and chestnuts and mud. They were like a couple of kids pretending to be brave and nonchalant when that was the last thing they were feeling.
Soon, another dog showed up with owner and kid and the two pups stood there stunned for a moment, not yet having grasped the idea of a dog park and then suddenly the light bulbs flashed and they took off after the three new creatures. The other dog was a sproingy Lab/kangaroo mix so the pups had no chance keeping up with him but the kid was a much easier target - not that the kid minded. The kid started picking the pups up and chasing them and they chased him back and jumped on him and he ran around and they ran around. The father was pretty good about telling his son how to behave around the pups and pretty soon, everyone was as well mannered as a kid and two puppies could be.
The park was muddy filthy with the strange mid January thaw, so half an hour later the pups were wet, dirty and shivering and I realized I needed to bring them back to TAS to warm up. Before getting into the car, I toweled them off best I could and then loaded them in and got in myself. The brown pup immediately scrambled into my lap seeking warmth and wouldn't relinquish its spot to his brother who was out of luck again. A smell of mud, piss and wet dog wafted up in my face from the pup in my lap but what could I do? It had found its place and who was I to move it?
I was thinking I would just drop the pups off and get going home but on the way back to their kennel, I passed Kipper in his kennel. Kipper had been at TAS for too long, over two months, and I figured I would just spend a few minutes with him before going. During his time at the shelter, in some ways his personality had gotten worse but in other ways, especially with people he recognized, it had gotten better and he'd become a favorite there with several of the dog walkers so even though he had no home, at least he had friends. I took Kipper out for a bit where he got a couple of scared glances and a couple of admiring glances from people who had come out to watch the hockey game at the arena. Kipper was oblivious to them all, lost to the scents in the wind. Half an hour later I brought him back to his kennel which he really didn't want to go into so it was a little heartbreaking forcing him inside.
(Just a note: Kipper was adopted out yesterday!)
I walked out of TAS all set to go home but saw that a new load of dogs had just come in from Montreal. There were probably around twenty dogs and many of them were going to local rescues and many of the rescue people were already there and crowded around the van eagerly awaiting their new charges. Five of the dogs were staying with TAS so I helped bring those dogs upstairs to their kennels. As with all the transports from Montreal, there was a real mix of dogs, all breeds and sizes, all on their way to being saved though not quite there yet.
I just kept thinking about how the core of rescue came down to this: transporting dogs, housing dogs and keeping them healthy, adopting dogs out. In comparison, everything else built up around animal welfare, just seemed like bureaucracy and politics.
By the time I got home, it was 6 o'clock.
What would the day have been like without dogs? Well, it was a Saturday so I'm sure it would have been fun and entertaining but fun and entertainment, it seems, are mostly just commodities these days: easily accessible, highly disposable and quickly forgettable. Many of my weekends can be mindless like that and after a string of mindless weekends, it starts to feel like nothing. So, while some might think I do what I do for the dogs, really I do it for myself so that this life starts to feel like something again.