Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The caregiver

Bob Tailed Catahoula. Rescued from hoarder and will be sent to Catahoula rescue.

Hi. Hello? Yeah, it's me. No, no, I'm fine. Fuck yeah. Everything's fine. Totally. Yeah. Yeah. Fuck yeah. That's all good. Fine. No. No. Yeah, I've been thinking about it. No. Yeah, I know we talked about it. Yeah. Sure. Well, I've been thinking that if I talk to the fuckin landlord. I know. I know. Fuck, I know.

What? The Yorkie? The Yorkie's fine. It had that fuckin episode but it's fine now. Yeah, totally. The Husky's good too. I know. I know. Look, I fuckin know it killed the other one but I'm keeping it away now. It's on its own. No, not in the house. It's in the storage shed. Yeah. No, fuck, of course not. It's in a crate. I don't know. Fuck I don't know. Fuck like, maybe thirty. Like maybe there's thirty out there. The ones in the shed are in crates. I don't know. I don't count them. How should I know? No one else is going to take care of them. What am I supposed to fuckin do?

No. No, you can't have any of them. Because I don't know what you're going to do them, that's why. I don't know that. I don't fuckin know that. That's what you say but I don't know. How am I supposed to know? I don't know what you do. Yeah, so you say.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I don't know. Inside the house? I don't know. I don't know. Fuck I don't count them. No. Maybe more. No. No. Yeah, maybe that. Maybe forty. Well, the ones inside aren't in cages. They just walk around so I don't fuckin know. Yeah, the whole house. Yeah, except the big bedroom. Why? Fuck, because the cats are in there. What do you think? Because the fuckin dogs will fuckin kill the fuckin cats if I let them out, what do you think? I don't know. Fuck they're hiding most of the time. I don't know. Yeah, maybe twenty. Yeah maybe. More. Maybe.

Puppies? No. No more puppies. I haven't bred anymore. No, not since that fuckin episode. I don't know. Maybe the fuckin Yorkie had 'em for a night. Yeah, probably just a night. Yeah, she was trying to fuckin nurse them. Fuck yeah. Fuckin psycho. I don't know. All at once. One at a time. I don't know. I didn't see it. Because there's too many fuckin dogs here that's why! There's too many fuckin dogs! But what am I supposed to do? Fuckin tell me. You give me a fuckin plan.

No. No. No. I got to talk to the fuckin guy. If I talk to him, he'll let me stay. I'm pretty sure. I'm pretty sure. Then it'll be okay. Yeah, how do you know? You don't know. I've been here for years. He's not going to fuckin kick me out. I just need to talk to him. No. No. I don't need a fuckin contingency plan. I'm fine. They'll be fine. Fuck.

What would you do with them? Yeah. How do you know? How do you know? Do you know these fuckin fosters? How do you know they'll fuckin take care of my dogs? What if they, what if they, what if they fuckin abuse them?

No, you can't have the Husky. No you can't have him. Yeah, I know. I hate the fucker. I know. Because he killed my ... . No, you can't have him. Because he was my sister's favorite. He was her dog before she ... No, I have to keep him. I know he's in a cage. I have to keep him.

The Yorkie? No ... I ... maybe. Maybe the Yorkie. No, the puppies are gone. I buried them. Which one? It was the Chihuahua. They belonged to the Chihuahua, to Lucy. Yeah, the Yorkie took 'em. I don't know. I don't know. I guess she just took 'em. One at a time, I guess. I don't know. Yeah, she must've shook 'em. She killed 'em all. Yeah, all of them. Yeah, then she fuckin brought them back to her bed and she fuckin tried to nurse them. Yeah. I saw her, trying to nurse those fuckin dead puppies. I know. I know. Maybe. Maybe you can take her. I've got too many fuckin dogs here. I don't know. I don't fuckin know, okay? How many? I don't fuckin know, okay? I don't know.

And if you take them, then what am I going to fuckin do? Eh? Then what am I going to fuckin do?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Newsflash! PETA saves 4 dogs and 3 cats!


And kills 2124 in 2008.


In 2007, PETA saves 17 and kills 1815
In 2006, PETA saves 12 and kills 2981
In 2005, PETA saves 146 and kills 1946

And on it goes.

It does seem unbelievable that an organization that purports to care for animals, spends so much time killing them. It's like something Orwell might dream up. Or maybe just someone with a hate on for PETA and yet here is the animal accounting filed by PETA to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for 2008 (the numbers under the column heading "Reclaimed by Owner" are for spay/neuter services and aren't added into the adopted/euthanized figures). Click on image for larger size:

PETA's submissions to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for earlier years can be found here:

For 2007
For 2006
For 2005


PETA's usual response to this massacre is basically akin to the reasoning they gave for suggesting that all the Vick dogs be euthanized. From PETA's blog:

Every day that these dogs remain in kennels at animal shelters is a day of increased euthanasia rates for the potentially adoptable animals that the shelters must put to death for lack of space. There is only so much space, and resources are limited. May I humbly suggest that instead of raising hell and raising money to try to “rehabilitate” these dogs, and instead of flying to Virginia to “save the Vick dogs,” we do less “heroic” but even more important things to save dogs’ lives. When it comes to euthanasia, every day’s real world choice is of which not if — making the choice to demand that fighting dogs be “saved” is a soothing fantasy, more about public relations and, in some obvious cases, about fundraising, than about truly helping the most dogs in the most productive ways.

There is so much wrong with the whole of that particularly twisted blog entry, it's mind boggling, but let's just stick with the paragraph above. It's essentially saying that because of real world constraints, decisions need to be made as to which dogs deserve to be saved and which ones deserve to die. On the surface, that sounds like a pretty valid point.

Unfortunately, in practice, that's bullshit. No one carries around a list of traits to check off for animals that can be saved versus traits for animals that can't be saved. Acts of compassion aren't based purely on cost/benefit analyses. If that were the case, we'd all be too busy haggling over the list of the most worthy causes to ever actually do anything worthwhile.

I have to wonder what the cut-off is to make the grade at PETA to not be killed.

Euthman: Okey dokey, we've got 10 dogs here. Let's see which one of you lucky ones gets to be put up for adoption and which get snuffed.

Euthwoman: This one's all chewed up. Looks like it's been in a lot of dogfights.

Euthman: Well, then that one's no good. Obviously money can be better spent on dogs that are healthier. Sorry buddy but it looks like no tomorrow for you. No hard feelings?

Euthwoman: This one looks kind of sick. Its nose is dry.

Euthman: Yeah, I left the hand cleaner behind so if that one's sick keep it away from me. Nix.

Euthwoman: This pup's looking at me funny.

Euthman: That's a sure sign of aggression. Can't be wasting money on aggressive animals when there are so many friendlier ones out there.

Euthwoman: This one keeps licking my hand.

Euthman: That's some kind of obsessive compulsive disorder for sure. Probably suffers from separation anxiety too. Nix.

Euthwoman: These five are running around playing with each other.

Euthman: Yes, it's sad isn't it?

Euthwoman: Why's that sad?

Euthman: They've been so mistreated all their lives they're scared to death of people. We can't possibly allow their mental anguish to continue. PTS all of them.

Euthwoman: Okay and this last one. Mmm, uhh, I don't see anything wrong with it. Oh wait. It's dead already.

Euthman: Perfect.

There was an interesting, though short-lived, dialogue which recently went on at The New York Times between sports writer, Toni Monkovic, and Ingrid Newkirk, president and co-founder of PETA, in which Monkovic decided that if he had a choice between surrendering his dog to Michael Vick or PETA, he'd pick Vick because it would have a better chance of coming out alive. Newkirk took exception to that editorial and wrote one back:

It’s easy to point the finger at those of us who are forced to do the “dirty work” caused by a throwaway society’s casual acquisition and breeding of dogs and cats who end up homeless and unwanted, but at PETA, we will never turn our backs on neglected, unloved, and homeless animals — even if the best we can offer them is a painless release from a world that doesn’t have enough heart or homes with room for them. It makes it easy for people to throw stones at us, but we are against all needless killing: for hamburgers, fur collars, dissection, sport hunting ― the works.

Yes, but is PETA against the needless killing of animals for the sake of needless killing?

Nathan Winograd, the world's foremost promoter of no-kill shelters has something to say about that in his blog post The Butcher of Norfolk:

PETA has argued that all of the animals it kills are “unadoptable.” ... But this claim is a lie. It is a lie because the numbers historically come from the State of Virginia’s reporting form which only asks for data for animals taken into custody “for the purpose of adoption.” It is a lie because PETA refuses to provide its criteria for making that determination. It is a lie because rescue groups and individuals have come forward stating that the animals they gave PETA were healthy and adoptable. It is a lie because testimony under oath in court from a veterinarian showed that PETA was given healthy and adoptable animals who were later found dead by PETA’s hands, their bodies unceremoniously thrown away in a supermarket dumpster. And it is a lie because Newkirk herself admitted as much.

In a December 2, 2008 interview with George Stroumboulopoulos of the Canadian Broadcasting Company, Stroumboulopoulos asks Newkirk: “Do you euthanize those pets, the adoptable ones, if you get them?” To which Newkirk responds: “If we get them, if we cannot find a home, absolutely.” In short, Newkirk admits that PETA “absolutely” kills savable animals.

Here is that interview starting at the 10:00 mark:

Of course, I'd like to know how much effort PETA puts into finding suitable homes for the animals they grab.

Daphna Nachminovitch, the supervisor of PETA's Community Animal Project, CAP, gives some good insight into PETA's philosophy put into practice. In early 2007, she was on the witness stand in a trial involving two PETA employees caught dumping dead animals they had just killed in their van into a grocery store dumpster.

From Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald's article "DA probes into PETA procedures" (the paper did some in-depth coverage of that trial): Nachminovitch added that the CAP protocol for field visits included euthanizing the animals at the site.

Hmm. Euthanized at the site. Doesn't sound like they spend much time at all looking for potential homes.

Oh, but wait. Maybe all those animals they euth'd were all sick and on the verge of death anyway.

At least one of the dogs found dead in an Ahoskie dumpster on June 15 has been diagnosed as healthy.

That is according to an autopsy performed by the North Carolina Medical Board. They forwarded their findings to Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh who had solicited the Medical Board's assistance to help determine the cause of death of 31 animals in the care of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).


Okay, so maybe that was a slip up.

On Wednesday of last week, the longtime Hertford County veterinarian handed over a mother cat and two kittens to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) representatives Andrew Benjamin Cook of Virginia Beach, Va. and Adria Joy Hinkle of Norfolk, Va.

The felines, all strays brought to Proctor's business - Ahoskie Animal Hospital - were in good health, according to the local vet. He said there was no one on his list that had expressed an interest in adopting cats, so he contacted PETA.

"They (Cook and Hinkle) came to the office last Wednesday and picked-up the cat and two kittens," Dr. Proctor recalled. "So, imagine my surprise when I learned they allegedly dumped dead animals in a trash bin later that some day."

As Britney would say, Oops, I did it again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

Here is, I think, the best quote from that series of articles on that particular trial:

Who else [but PETA] could have a department known as Domestic Animal and Wildlife Rescue and then claim they are forced to end the miserable lives of these poor, unwanted animals. If that is their definition of rescue, I sincerely hope that if I’m drowning, they’re not the first on the scene. I may be on the receiving end of a cinderblock rather than a life preserver.

And please don’t respond with the tired excuse that all the pets at our local pounds are unhealthy and have to be put to sleep. That’s your wet dream, not ours. If it were the case, then how has an under funded group of volunteers, aka PAWS of Hertford County, adopted out nearly 300 animals since July of last year. If PETA’s “rescue” program had their way, those 300 pets would all be dead by now.

That, of course, is PETA's excuse for killing put into practice. There will always be "better" animals to save so why not just kill the one you've got.

It may sound like a dilemma - which animals deserve saving - but it's not really. The answer's pretty simple if saving animals is the real goal for PETA.

Here's one answer to PETA's dilemma: You save the one that is in front of you.

A doctor walking to work sees a traffic accident where a pedestrian is hit by a car and may not survive. The doctor stops and aids the victim. According to PETA, though, the doctor should ignore the victim and just keep going because she's got lots of patients already waiting for her at the clinic with much easier problems to solve like colds and sprained fingers.

Here's another answer: You save the one that you can readily save.

A young man eating a sandwich is sees an older man, hungry, sitting on the sidewalk. The younger man gives the older man half his sandwich. According to the PETA philosophy, the younger man is in the wrong and instead should have searched out the hungriest person in the world and sent the sandwich to that person.

And here's another: You save the one you want to save.

There are often no clear cut reasons for putting more effort into one being over another. Maybe it all comes down to the level of emotional attachment. Maybe it's because someone likes short haired dogs over long haired ones. Whatever. The important thing is that an animal is saved. Of course the problem with this answer arises if you don't actually want to save anything.

Which brings us back to the PETA statistic of 2124 killed versus 7 which were allowed to live.

Those 7 must have been fuckin saints.

There's been much written about this already so if you want to read more, you can start with Gina Spadafori's blog entry at Pet Connection Blog and then follow her links.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Update on Daisy

This beautiful Great Dane, Daisy, was one of the French Connection dogs rescued from a Montreal puppy mill by Companion Animal Adoption Centers of Quebec and sent to a private rescue (not TAS) who adopted her out to a Dane experienced home in Toronto. Daisy was only 96 pounds at the time and looking very skinny for a Dane and so it was a surprise for everyone when it was found out that she was pregnant and about to give birth any day.

That's exactly what happened a few days ago and the results are two fawn and four brindle puppies.

From Rita, Daisy's new owner:

Hi Fred, good news Daisy had her babies yesterday the 1st one was born at 5 am and finished at 11:30. She had 6 in total, 2 fawns and 4 brindles. Daisy and her babies are doing well, here are some pics they are less then 10 min old. aren't they beautiful. Rita

The pups will likely be adopted out privately and probably won't last long as requests have already been coming in.

Continued here.

Update on Luna

From Luna's (now Hayley) owners:

Hoping all is well. ...Just a quick note letting you know how Luna is doing. Luna seems a little more responsive to "Hayley" so I think we found her new name :). Clapping hands and calling her name is sure to get Hayley to run back to you with a big grin.

I'm finding out quickly that Hayley is one of the most social dogs in this city. She hasn't met a person or a dog she hasn't immediately liked. Overall, she's doing great and she's overcoming some of her uncertainty about her new surroundings. Hayley is quickly learning what sidewalks are and, although she's still a little nervous when buses and streetcars approach, she's learning to confidently ignore them. Car rides are popular -- she loves slobbering on the side windows and will occasionally lean over and give you a kiss when you're driving.

Hayley has a little anxiety and initially was uncertain about laying on anything other than the cold floor but she's quickly making the house hers to explore and now knows it's OK to step onto her bed without being invited. Hayley doesn't really know what to make of dog toys yet. Also, she's not food motivated so "treats" really don't generate a lot of excitement but a run in the dog park bring out all her excitement and playfulness. By the way, she's quite the popular dog at the park and gets along with all dogs of all sizes, male and female.

I found out that she's pretty good at getting into the breadbox when no one's home (the big clue was 1/2 eaten mini loaf of bread and the trail of crumbs leading to her bowl :) -- I've since puppy proofed the kitchen counter). Hayley's extremely well behaved: she stays off the couch (at least when I'm home); she doesn't beg for food; doesn't bark; already knows sit and stay and knows that she needs to sit when reaching any door. We're working on sitting when stopped at the sidewalk curb, working on her leash manners and working on being off leash. Hayley's definitely a smart girl and I'm sure that in a few more weeks she'll continue to learn more and get better.

The neighbourhood vet removed her sutures and gave her a check-up. There was a little discharge and signs of infection from her spaying but the vet is confident that all will be good when she's done with her medication in a few days.

I've found the email address of the Eaton, Ohio shelter and am going to send them a quick email hoping to get a better understanding of her eating and elimination habits. She started out eating less than 1 cup of food a day but is now eating just under 2 cups (she simply gets bored/full and walks away from her bowl).

I'm attaching some pictures -- apologies for the poor quality.

Thank you again for introducing me to Hayley!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Globe and Mail gives Toronto Animal Services some sugar

The news about what Toronto Animal Services (South) is doing is finally starting to hit the mainstream press.

From "The canine underground railroad":

Last Saturday, 11 pooches from La Belle Province arrived at the Toronto Animal Services South Region centre on the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition.

The batch included Sunny, a five-month-old German shepard; Midnite, a flat-coated retriever that seemed patiently hoping for a Frisbee; a Lhasa Apso mix waiting for the folks at TAS to give her a name; and Scratch, a shaggy brown-and-white two-year-old large Munsterlander that many a Queen West hipster would be proud to trot through Trinity Bellwoods Park on a Saturday afternoon.

Johanne Tassé likes to call it Le French Connection.

An umbrella group titled Companion Animal Adoption Centres of Quebec has driven 275 dogs from the Montreal area to Toronto twice a month, since last May, when it began keeping figures.


While Montreal has too many stray dogs, Toronto arguably has too few. "We don't have an overpopulation problem in the GTA," says Ms. Leiher. "Over the years, it's sort of dwindled off." Ms. Leiher believes that situation is the result of "education and people becoming more aware of spaying and neutering, and enforcement of the bylaw. "We remember a time when there were always loose dogs. We were always chasing dogs, and we hardly ever chase loose dogs any more."

As the number of stray dogs in Toronto dwindled, says Ms. Leiher, it became increasingly difficult for TAS to fill the demand for dogs.

"For us to be able to sort of fill the void here where people can get a shelter pet, and help them [in Quebec], where they were maybe doing a lot of euthanasias because there were more dogs than owners, we're just trying to balance that out," she says.

It's just saying what we all already know but the confirmation is nice.

There's going to be more media on TAS and CAACQ in the next couple of weeks as Johanne Tasse will be on Animal House Calls on CP24 on April 7 at 5:15 p.m. (repeated at 11:30).

Friday, March 27, 2009

Toronto Animal Services Friday review, March 27

I think on Fridays I'm going to start posting up photos of new dogs who have come into Toronto Animal Services South the past week. With all the rescue TAS is doing these days, a lot more dogs are available and I'm thinking the additional publicity can only help. These pooches are either already up for adoption or will be shortly.

Some of the photos have accompanying descriptions and some don't. That's not because the ones without have got no personalities but because I can only write fun, friendly, happy, etc. so many times before those words lose all meaning.

If you know anyone who's interested in adopting one of these guys, just contact Toronto Animal Services South at 416 338 6668 or go to their website.

You can also e-mail me and I might be able to give you some additional information before you go check them out.

Sira is fascinated by birds and I've never seen a dog actually point before but she certainly knows how it's done.


McTavish may look like he's got Scottish ancestry but it's all in the haircut. He's actually a Lhasa Apso but came in with thick fur so dirty and matted that the groomer decided to give him buzz cut.


Chanel is a puppy mill dog who is a fab dog. Since she's spent most of life inside, and likely inside a cage, she's still very curious about the outside world and is a little anxious around loud noises. Otherwise, she's a wonderfully affectionate dog and great on a leash.

Update on Gigi here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

We don't have caves but we do have dumpsters

Toronto Police photo
(h/t to redstarcafe for this)

Thankfully, the Gido Washa cave is a world away but someone in North York is making do with a dumpster. Sometime in the last day or two, someone put a Lhasa Apso puppy into a box, dropped it into a plastic bag, tied up the bag and threw it into a dumpster up by Yonge and Finch. Here's the article from The Star: Janitor finds 4-month-old pup in condo dumpster

This little guy has been brought to Toronto Animal Services North and is presently listed here under the Lost section with the name Charlie. TAS reports that he's currently healthy and happy.

I somehow doubt the owner will show up, so after holding Charlie for 7 days, he'll be up for adoption unless the police decide they need TAS to keep Charlie longer for their investigation. I hope this doesn't drag out. Charlie deserves a proper home sooner than later.

Continued here.

Gido Washa

The new season of Dogtown, National Geographic's TV show about the dog sanctuary run by Best Friends Animal Society, has started and because I don't have the National Geographic channel I went to their site to peruse their upcoming episodes - which is kind of like going into your favorite bakery with no money. I know, I should just subscribe to the channel already but I hold back because I don't need anymore excuses to sit on my ass all day. I'll just go buy the DVDs when they come out, though for all the plugging of the show I do here, you'd think they'd just give me a free copy of Season 3.

Anyway, where was I before I started lobbying for swag?

Right. While there, I came across this, the trailer for the April 3 episode. Warning: if you already don't have much faith in the general heaving mass of meat that is humanity, this might just put you over the edge. The catalyst for the show was the intentionally horrific starving to death of thousands of dogs in the Gido Washa "cave" in Ethiopia at the hands of local villagers. Fortunately, a good man named Dr. Roba heard about this cave and, along with HAPS (Homeless Animals Protection Society, Ethiopia), had it sealed off and rescued the four barely living dogs that were there at the time. Two of the four end up at Dogtown.

What happened to the other thousands of dogs that were in that cave before them? Well, you'll see:

The episode is called "Starting Over". Talk about understating evil in the title. I think I would have called it "Saved from Dog Hell on Earth" or "Ignorance is no excuse for casually sadistic evil" or "Let's stick the dog killers into a pit and see how they like it". I guess that's why I'll never get hired by National Geo, though Fox might consider that last idea for their next reality TV season.

Here's more on the actual rescue at the Gido Washa cave. The cheery narrator sounds like a he could be talking about a nice Sunday afternoon stroll for ice cream and lollipops:

And there's more info on the four rescued dogs and the excellent Dr. Roba here and here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My profile

I've been getting some queries about why I don't have a profile up so I decided to write one except that I've got so much to say about myself that it doesn't fit in the allotted profile word count made available by Blogger (1200 characters only! Ha, I couldn't come close to describing in hi-def detail even the first few moments of my life with only 1200 characters!) so I decided to make a post of it, all about me, and here it is:

I volunteer at Toronto Animal Services South. I walk the dogs there and I photograph them. I blog about it. Mostly about the dogs. Not so much about myself.

Except I realized, after I read it, that wasn't nearly enough info about me and it dawned on me that, really, a single post wouldn't do me justice anyway and so now I could have done what most bloggers do which is create a blog all about myself and write about myself constantly and every single day and provide utterly mind blowing, need-to-know twitter updates ...

7:09 a.m.
Hey it's raining. I'm going to wear my rain boots

7:35 a.m.
Oh my boots are leaking

7:36 a.m.
Or is that my feet sweating?

7:44 a.m.
Must look into getting botox injections to stop sweaty feet. Is that too vain?

7:51 a.m.
What would Jesus do?

7:52 a.m.
I just remembered, Jesus doesn't wear shoes so he probably doesn't worry about sweaty feet

7:59 a.m.
Oh wait, did my dog just pee in my boots?

... Everyone who's anyone is twittering and I'm sure that would have been totally kick ass but instead I've gone a step further and created something even kick assier.

If you want to know more about me, I've developed a comprehensive training program which studies have shown can improve knowledge about me in 9 out of 10 people, 17 times out of 20. The kit includes a double folded pamphlet about my life, a random object I lightly touched within the last week, a page from a magazine I sort of glanced at quickly, and the residual warmth from my fingers emanating from the envelope I send you. All this for not 7, not 6 but only 5 easy payments of not $79.99, not $69.99 but only $59.99 each - and that includes all taxes and handling and by handling I mean:

1. I put all the valuables into a bubble envelope.
2. I lick the flap and/or remove the removeable strip to reveal the sticky stuff underneath.
3. I fold and seal the flap.
4. I get my mum to drop the envelope off into the mailbox.
5. If my mum can't do it because she's too "busy" "cleaning the house" or "cooking" or "doing my laundry" or "running the bath water for me" then I get the kid next door to drop it off but then I have to pay him $5.00 which will cost you $20.00.
6. If the kid next door can't drop it off then I have to drop it off myself which won't cost me anything but which will cost you $45.00 plus a possible surcharge of $10.00 depending on whether or not it's cold out and if I have to wear pants.
7. If I have to deliver the envelope to the mailbox at the corner myself, there may also be an additional $500 charge which is how much I owe the guy across the street for, uh, headache medicine. But that's only if he catches me and he hasn't yet so chances are good you'll save the $500.
8. Yes, you still have to pay for postage. I mean, fuck, do I look like I'm running a charity here?

Anyway, yeah. That's how it works. Once I get all the cash, I send you the stuff.

Bonus: If you act now, I'll also include some tap water which I will have personally transferred into a plastic bottle. Once you've poured the water out into your own properly consecrated gold chalice, remember to return the plastic bottle to me so I can get a refund on it otherwise there will be an additional $25 charge added to your credit card.

Bonus Plus!: If you really act now, you will automatically get a 5% discount on any item I discard this month. So far that includes an empty bag of ketchup flavoured potato chips (some crumbs at the bottom but now that I see them, I'll probably pour them out into a dish and save them for guests), a bottle of old shampoo, and one sock (because I've spent the last 8 months looking for the matching one but can't find it and the police are absolutely no help). Actually, sorry, I'm going to keep the shampoo, in case the guests ask for hand soap.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fight and flight

I get to the dog park with Stella and as we enter through the south gate a woman I don't know approaches us with her Sheltie and as soon as she sees us, she starts to put the collar on her dog and I'm thinking that maybe she's worried about the big dog I've just brought into the park so I make Stella sit to put them more at ease. I'm feeling kind of bad that this woman is leashing up her dog on my account so I say to her, "You're not going to let your dog play anymore?" and she says, "Oh no, we're leaving," and then before I can respond, she adds, "You might want to be careful with your dog because there are a couple of dogs coming in the other gate that aren't too friendly," and then I look over across the field and I see my friend, J, with Marlowe, his German Shepherd, and beyond that, the guy the woman's referring to and his two dogs standing just outside the north gate.

I know this guy from before. I've met him a couple of times, never at the park, just in passing on the sidewalk. He only had one dog those other times, the bigger one. The first time I met them, I'd only had Stella for a few months and, coming home from the park, the guy was there with his dog standing just off the sidewalk and when he saw us approaching he moved further back and pulled his dog with him. I said hello to the guy and he said hello back while his dog glared at Stella and Stella, not one to back down from a staring contest with another dog, stared back and the other dog went crazy, big teeth, jowl shaking crazy and the owner gathered up a fist and punched the dog in the head and screamed, "Calm down, asshole!" I'd never heard anyone call a dog an asshole before but given the area where I live, I figured it might have been a term of endearment in the neighbourhood. The dog, for its part, did indeed calm down a bit but its stare stayed locked on Stella.

The next time we all got together was when I was on my way to the park several months later and this time the guy and his dog were both much more sedate. At least the dog wasn't lunging and frothing on sight of Stella but the owner still kept it well back from the sidewalk. We humans exchanged a few niceties while the dogs remained unsure of each other but didn't seem that bad. Stella lost interest anyway after a few seconds and then the other dog, too, relaxed. A couple of minutes later I walked away happy that we avoided having to bury any bodies and thinking that the guy had maybe straightened his dog out.

Over the next few years, I saw them a few more times but mostly from across the street. His dog always seemed under control.

Until now.

While J and I talk, and Stella and Marlowe posture and greet each other, I see the guy and his two dogs waiting outside the north gate. The guy doesn't come into the park. He's obviously waiting for us, the only ones left, to leave. J looks back over his shoulder at the guy and he says, "I'm glad you're here. I was just going to leave. Don't like that guy's two dogs." I'm about to say something about how I don't think the big one, at least, is too bad since the last couple of times I saw it, it seemed okay. But I don't. Something does feel different so I keep Stella on her leash. Even Marlowe, who would normally be over by the gate to check out the new dogs, isn't going anywhere near them.

A few minutes later and I've got to go so J and I walk out the south gate. As soon as we're out the gate, the guy by the north gate walks into the park with his dogs and lets them loose.

I wave bye to J as he drives away and I start to walk around the perimeter of the park, along the outside of the fence. The guy's two dogs see me and Stella and they run over and hit the fence hard.

His first dog is the same as before but his second dog is new. Can't tell what it is exactly. Looks like a cross between a dog and a chainsaw. It's like an extra large Jack Russell but black. It's flipping out on sight of Stella. It's attacking the fence, biting it, clawing at it. The larger dog, inspired by the smaller one, becomes equally enraged, aggressively barking. Their level of anger reaches such heights but without release that they end up blindly attacking each other. One dog succeeds in biting the other, I can't tell which, but I hear the other whimper and they break off and run away, searching for another way to get through the fence.

Stella's staring at them and I can read her mind and she's thinking, Now that's some mofo crazy shit.

The two dogs run a circle and come back again, and attack the fence again. I look at them. They're totally fixated on Stella. They don't even see me. I make her sit to see if that'll calm them down but it does nothing. Their aggression crescendos and they again attack each other and one is bitten and they both run off to do another circle.

They repeat the pattern a couple more times. Meanwhile, I can't see what their owner is doing. There are trailers in the way and he probably can't see what his dogs are doing either or maybe he doesn't care.

We continue walking until we get close to the north gate and that's when I remember. Somebody stole the latch on that gate a while ago and since then people have been using a rubber bungee cord to keep it shut. But not everyone bothers to hook up the cord properly. If it's not tight enough, a dog could push on the gate and slip through.

It's too late to turn around now. We're already too close to the gate and the dogs are running over. I'm taking off my jacket, wrapping it around my right arm in case they decide to go for me even though I'm pretty confident that won't happen. These dogs will go for Stella. The lizard part of my brain is taking over, figuring out how to deal with them before they do too much harm to her. She can probably handle the smaller one, I'm thinking, so I'll grab the bigger one's hind legs while it's preoccupied with trying to get to her. Then what? Kick it in the balls? Does that even work with a dog? Doubt it. Then what? I've got this dog by its hind legs. Then what? Then what?

But then nothing. The two dogs charge the gate. The gate holds. The guy has put the bungie on properly. It's tight. The dogs aren't getting out. And now that they're by the gate, in the open, not behind the trailers, the guy sees what they're doing and he yells at them and kicks at them, not contacting but the little one takes off anyway and the bigger one calms down. The bigger one sits and looks up at his owner and his owner looks at me and I look back at him.

And I can read Stella's mind and she's thinking, Yeah, I could've taken them.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Boxer delivery

This Boxer just got off the van from Montreal to Toronto Animal Services. It's spent most of its life inside a puppy mill cage. Its white furred feet are dingy yellow from living in its own filth for so long. It's not quite sure what to make of the outside world. Noise, people, scents.Mostly, it just watches at first. Sometimes, it wants to run back into the security of a cage. Even the ground beneath its feet must feel strange. No more rusty metal mesh.

It becomes wary of the camera so I put it away after a couple of minutes. And then, what amazes me is that it starts to bond. It comes to me for reassurances. It tries to hide behind me when there is a loud noise. It starts to take comfort in pets and scratches.

This must be innate. How could it have possibly learned this from within a cage? Who would have set the example? Even after only experiencing some of the worst humanity has to offer, it still wants to trust us. We can't let it down again.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


photo by Michelle

If you watched the CBC Marketplace episode on How Not to Buy a Puppy about the flow of puppies from puppy mills in the States to Hunte Corporation to P.J.'s Pets in Toronto, you might remember Dinglehopper, the little Pomeranian with big medical problems.

As it turns out, Michelle, Dinglehopper's owner, has a very informative website, aptly named Dinglehopper, about all the major health ordeals her young dog has gone through so far including the giardia he brought home from the store, 3 surgeries for his luxating patella and most recently, progressive retinal atrophy which will eventually blind him. In all, he's had almost fifty vet visits so far, the majority of which were in his first year.

The Marketplace angle on puppy mills to pet stores focuses in on the health risks/medical costs of the pups purchased (it is called "Marketplace" after all) but I think most dog advocates would agree that while that is important, especially to the eventual owner, the real story is how buying pet store pups perpetuates the factory farming of dogs. Michelle understood this from the start, even before purchasing Dinglehopper, and this is the part that reveals an even more insidious side to this industry: how it preys on a person's compassion. From her website:

I always said that I would never purchase a puppy from a pet store. I have always been told that by doing so, you are setting yourself up for heartbreak as far too many chain pet stores have puppies that came from puppy mills. However, I had been told by a number of this store’s representatives/employees that this was not the case with their store – that they did not have puppies with a puppy mill background. Numerous employees told me that if their store had involvement with puppy mills, that they would not be working for such a place.

On January 3rd, 2006 I came across two Pomeranians that were for sale. Upon request, an employee led me into a room to meet the puppies, separately. I instantly fell in love with the cream sable Pomeranian. I was told that this Pomeranian had been in the store for a number of months. Furthermore, it was mentioned that nobody had been expressing interest in this puppy as it was “too old” (he was not yet 4 months old) and the younger puppies were more popular. I left that evening not planning on purchasing the puppy as, again, I did not believe that it is right to buy dogs from pet stores. That evening, however, I couldn’t push the thought out of my head how nobody wanted this Pomeranian because he was deemed to be too old. I decided that the next day I would return to the store to inquire further about the dog.

The following day the puppy was not in the window, yet his price tag remained. When I inquired nobody seemed to know where the puppy had gone. After approximately 20 minutes he was found in the back. I was informed that he was “boxed up” ready to be shipped away because nobody wanted him, restating that he was too old to remain at the store. I was told that if I wanted him, I could have him, but if I wasn’t interested he would be sent away. I was not told where he would be sent, but it definitely was not said in a tone that sounded promising. The situation seemed to be urgent, as the Pomeranian needed to continue on its way if I was not going to purchase him. I purchased the puppy for $1,944.99 + taxes (15% GST/PST here in Ontario) and named him Dinglehopper.

I can imagine how hard it would have been, thinking that you held the balance of a dog's life in your hands. How impossible would it be to walk away from that, especially when an attachment has already been made. It's this same strength of compassion in Michelle that makes her continue her care of Dinglehopper. And it's this same compassion that these pet stores use to blackmail even those who are somewhat knowledgeable about puppy mills.

It was only later, after more investigation, that Michelle realized that Dinglehopper did indeed come from a puppy mill and of course by then, it was too late. Their bond was formed.

I'm sure Michelle would never make the same decision again but it was a lesson learned the hard way. Her website tries to inform others of that lesson before they end up in the same situation.

That's another sad thing about this: that in order to stop the cycle of puppy mills, people have to stop buying pet store puppies and that means the puppies in the display cases will end up growing too old, getting boxed, and shipped off.

Michelle tells me that Dinglehopper's next vet visit is today. The blood flow to his retinas is estimated to be at 50%. Due to the progressive retinal atrophy, once there is no blood flow he'll be blind. "There's nothing we can do... just hold on to some hope that maybe it will take years for him to become fully blind. It's sad because this condition can be screened for and if a dog has it, don't breed them... because if they have it, or are carriers it's going to be passed on to at least some of the puppies."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mother and child

Pedro is an extra lightweight Pomeranian pup that was found abandoned in an apartment lobby a few days ago. He's a super sensitive quiet little guy who's gentle and curious and affectionate.

A mother and her 3 year child want to check him out so they're brought into the playroom with Pedro. The three year old exuberantly tries to engage with Pedro. The mother doesn't correct her child's behaviour and looks satisfied as Pedro doesn't react negatively. The child picks up a heavy rubber toy and whips it at Pedro's head, hitting Pedro hard. Again, the mother does nothing to correct the child's behaviour. The staffer who is in there with them, picks up Pedro and takes him out of the room.

Mother: It's over then?

Staffer: Yup.

Later, when the mother is denied adoption of the pup because of her child's behaviour, she complains that it's the fault of Toronto Animal Services for leaving the toy in the room in the first place.

The next morning the woman comes back in and tries to adopt out a Chihuahua.

Here's another question I need to add to the idiot proofing test:

9. Do you really think TAS is going to let you get your hands on one of our dogs so that one day when it has had enough of being abused by your uncontrolled child and it nips the kid in terror you can bring the dog back and have it euthanized for being a vicious biter? This is a rhetorical question. It doesn't matter how you answer it. You've already failed.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Auditor

This is old news but I just read about it yesterday (h/t to Smartdogs' Weblog) so I thought I'd pass it along because I just love this dog's story.

Berkeley Pit, now a Superfund site in Butte, Montana is a poisoned waterhole, a remnant of the world's largest open-pit copper mine situated in the midst of a landscape that carries no life. The Pit water is so toxic that in 1995, 342 migrating geese landed in it and died before they could take off again.

Into this toxic environment, in 1986, a puppy was left behind. No one knows why. Maybe it was abandoned; maybe it ran away preferring its own company, sensing a desirable solitude in the barren landscape.

In his younger days, pre-dreadlocks

That pup grew into a lone dog and managed to survive in that hostile environment for 17 years with the help of local miners who brought him food and even eventually built him a dog house.

They named him The Auditor because he would disappear, sometimes for weeks and then reappear, surprising the miners who had thought maybe this time he was gone for good.

By all accounts, The Auditor was a solitary dog. He didn't like to hang out much with people and it seems he only ever allowed a very few to get close enough to him to touch him.

One such person, nearer the end of his life in 2003, was Holly Peterson, a professor at the University of Montana who was interested in getting a sample of The Auditor's hair to test for levels of environmental toxins. With a miner accompanying her, she was brought to the dog house where she managed to coax The Auditor over with a milk bone and she clipped off a length of his dreads which she then sent to a lab for testing.

"The report indicated elevated levels of everything imaginable," Peterson said and she's gone on to use the collected data to develop a method of using pets as a way to evaluate health risks in the environment. You can read more about Peterson's work here.

By then, The Auditor was old and arthritis was visibly affecting him so the miners had started putting baby aspirin in his food. Still, he spent most of his time alone wandering through the waste dumps, leach pads and dirt mine roads around Berkeley Pit.

On November 19, 2003, The Auditor ate his last can of Alpo in his dog house and later that afternoon was found dead in his doggy bed.

The story of The Auditor is fascinating on many levels. His basic survival ability is a big mystery. How did he manage for so long to avoid ingesting anything that didn't immediately kill him, especially when it came to water? With such high levels of metals in his hair, he obviously absorbed his environment somehow, through mere breath or ingesting and yet he lived at least 17 years. What does that say about his physical fortitude? How long would he have lived if he hadn't been exposed to such toxins?

I'm of course, even more interested in his personality. Why was he such a loner? Was that trait innate or due to some traumatic event? He didn't shy away from all humans. Could it be that the right one just never came along to coax him into cohabitation? Was he lonely? How would he have responded to other dogs? What did he do with himself all day?

His solitude and strength have resonated with the miners of Butte. Statues have gone up in his memory; his past has become somewhat of a tourist attraction; his story is spreading around the world. There is something metaphysical about The Auditor which captures people's imagination. His self-isolation is tied in with the isolation intrinsic with such a barren landscape. His resilience is the same as that of the miners living within that place.

There is something more, though. In his daily wanderings, he must've felt it, like all of us alone in the universe, searching for something, not knowing what it is.

You can read more about The Auditor here,
here, here and here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

HSUS lawsuit against Petland and Hunte Corp

A couple of weeks ago, CBC's Marketplace did a story connecting U.S. puppy mills with dogs sold by P.J.'s Pets in Toronto. One of the puppy brokers that P.J.'s deals with is The Hunte Corporation which the Humane Society of the United States is now pursuing in a class action lawsuit, alleging that Hunte is conspiring to sell unhealthy puppy mill puppies to unsuspecting consumers in numerous states.

Legally, that's probably the best option because unfortunately, in law, you can't sue someone for being a scuzzbag who perpetuates the sickening conditions that puppy mill dogs are forced to endure their entire lives.

HSUS is not only going after Hunte but they are also going after one of the larger pet store chains that sells the Hunte dogs, Petland. P.J.'s may want to pay attention to this.

In the HSUS video below, they trace back the origins of some of the Petland pups to puppy miller, Kathy Bauck of Minnesota who has hundreds of caged breeding dogs producing thousands of pups a year generating an income for her of $500,000 annually. In 2006, the state of Minnesota found that Bauck was performing surgical procedures including Caesarian sections and botched spaying and neutering on dogs without proper anesthesia. Despite charges of animal cruelty and animal torture, Bauck is still legally breeding and selling puppies.

HSUS Investigator: Is she [Bauck] a good breeder?

Petland Employee: She's a good breeder but I just don't like that she has ten dogs down there ... in her kennel.

Wow, how misinformed can a person be?

P.J.'s, you watching this?

3 artists from Ohio

The Dancer

The Tenor

The Thespian

Available for in-home performances soon.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Going round the internet ...

What happens when dogs get too drunked.


The little Shih Tzu, Chewy, didn't want to leave his basket so I had to use my secret technique to get him to come forth. It may look like I'm just waving my fingers at him and throwing cookies on the floor but it's actually a specific set of dance steps which took years to perfect.

Okay, so I couldn't tempt Chewy away from his basket. I did, however, manage to eventually get him to trust me enough to let me pick him up and take him out of the kennel. Once outside, he chilled and was totally happy walking on leash.

Chewy will be out and away from here in no time.

Update here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I am Shih Tzu, hear me roar

You talkin' ta me, punk?
Don't make me angry. You won't like me when I'm angry.
Don't say I didn't warn you.
Aaaaarrrr ...
... chooo!
Ah, much better!
I hope I did not make you pee your pants too much. Update on Chewy here.

More Shih Tzus at Pound Dogs.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Rocky's not so bad these days but he used to be all about the holes. It must have been that whenever I left the house, he'd think to himself, "That prick left me alone again. I can't believe it. This time I'm really going to show him," and then he'd get to work chewing out one perfect little hole in the blanket or sheet he was sleeping on. It was never like he tore anything to shreds. No, that would be too much work for Rocky. It would be just one hole, maybe two, and that would be enough to calm his nerves.

When I got back home, I'd find a little circular cut out lying on the floor and then I'd go searching for the newly minted hole.

He'd work through a blanket over the course of a couple of weeks or a month until it was more holes than not and then I'd have to throw it away and bring out a new one.

Luckily, I splurged on Rocky's blankets at Valu Village so each cost me maybe five bucks (that Bambi one may have cost seven) but unfortunately, Rocky went through a phase where it wasn't just blankets.

Here's a cushion that was hand made a few years ago.

Rocky must've thought it needed some updating because he pulled out a little hole in one corner to register his disapproval. Not big enough to throw the cushion out. Just big enough so that when company comes over and sees it, they're like, "Shit, you've got major mouse problems here. We'll come back when you've that sorted. See ya."

He also did it to this one ...

and this one ...

The most ambitious Rocky's ever gotten with his hole making ventures was on the sofa.

This was quite atypical for Rocky because he would have had to stand to create this hole and he's way happier lying down on the job.

Of course, being the self centered human I am, I think all this hole making is directed at me but it may not necessarily be so. Rocky may actually be exhibiting passive aggressive tendencies towards Stella. Our house is quite cold at night and the dogs moan and groan if they're not warm so I made some pajamas for them. Here's Stella modeling hers with some nice detailing work from Rocky.

Rocky's pajamas, on the other hand, appear unair-conditioned.

Rocky's hole making has greatly decreased in the last few months. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe he's come to realize that even though the humans sometimes leave the house without him, they always come back at some point. Or, maybe it's because he's ten years old now and he's just decided that it's time to retire so he can spend less time hole making and more time farting - which is not as visible as hole making but possibly just as bad.