Friday, April 30, 2004

If you were born on April 30th...

IF APRIL 30 IS YOUR BIRTHDAY . . . you are currently experiencing relief as problems that clouded your spirits over the past year have lifted and a toxic atmosphere has dissipated. Opportunities and blessings have showered down on you recently, and more are in the stars in the months ahead. Right now you need to curb the tendency toward possessiveness or a key relationship could experience turmoil.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Awesome post from Canadian Show Dogs Yahoo group

Subject: RE: Who/Why buy a Labradoodle?????

But that brings us back to the point that the CKC should allow mutts in performance events and breeders should talk to potential puppy buyers about the rescue alternative. There are THOUSANDS of rescue dogs in Canada right now Not everyone can or ever will be able to afford purebred dog prices. Many of their owners have no interest in shows, which is completely fine...I have no interest in competitive rugby and that's my right. Many people are just plain not going to wait 6 months or a year for a puppy - while we as breeders will wait for the right one the average pet owner just wants a dog to love. That's why pet stores and BYB do so well.

I would rather see people who really want a pet dog (non-show) go to or their local rescue and get a dog there. There are dogs there TODAY that need homes. I know of several friends who bought their dogs at pet stores (before we met). As I got to know them better I asked them why they chose the go the way they did. Now these are GOOD homes, these are well loved dogs. The most common answer was that they called breeders and got on 6 mo-1year wait lists with no guarantees of getting a pup even then. They said they just couldn't wait that long. Once the
decision was made to add a pet dog they wanted to go ahead and add one. Not really unreasonable. Yes, they felt an element of guilt about buying from pet stores, they knew it was 'wrong' but couldn't tell me exactly why it was wrong. They did not fully comprehend what goes on in the breeding programs and pet stores are very practised in reassuring people that these are 'local' breeders with good intentions and love their puppy's mummy. Does everyone on this list check to make sure your clothes aren't made in Asian countries where child labour is still common? No, you want the shirt, you buy the shirt and don't think about who made it. Same mentality, we all have it. Its just in the show world we are more tuned to the problems in our area of interest. The average person is not.

But as dog breeders hopefully we are dog LOVERS first and foremost. This old dog is an example of what happens to dogs of ALL ages. Great dogs. Healthy dogs, no health issues dogs. Although our 'sport' is showing we cannot and should not be elitist and say no mutts allowed. Mutts have always had a place in our society and often our homes. Old dogs like this Lab CAN find good homes with people who will cherish and love them. In working with rescue I have been surprised again and again at adopters who come in and take home an old mutt. These are dogs LOVERS, they see the
beauty in an old dog. And they are rewarded beyond the usual rewards of dog ownership. They know they have SAVED a life. Not made a life, not bought a life but SAVED. It is different.

So before I go all ethereal I would like to point out the image problem of purebreds starts with the elitist attitude of some show people. I have lived both sides. I have looked at a dog and 'judged' its ears too long, or tail set to high, I have been called a 'show dog snob'. But I have also worked in rescue these past two years. I have done three or 4 dozen
homechecks of people looking to adopt. These are fantastic homes who just want a dog to love. They send me pictures of birthday parties (for the mutt), or I see them walking the neighbourhood fresh from the groomer, or they are outside of local coffee shops enjoying life with their person. I still go to shows, I still LOVE watching the BIS ring, I still love watching
the pro handlers and good owner handlers do what they do, I still love the SPORT of dog showing. But it is a SPORT, if you are in you are in, if your are not you are not. Showing is not for everyone. But many of these great
dogs I have placed have taken up agility - AAC agility. I would like to see them in CKC agility.

How many of the people saying 'purebreds only' actually participate in performance events? That would be an interesting question to have answered. I suspect the numbers to be quite low. Of course there will be exceptions and I do not intend to call anyone out. But we need to remember an organization the size of the CKC does have many branches and many other events other than showing. Showing is a large part of the CKC but not the only part. The CKC can exist with a few bigger branches to balance out the tree, lets make obedience a bigger branch, tracking a bigger branch, agility
could be a very big branch. More branches, more leaves, equals a stronger more viable institution. The show dogs have nothing to lose and only to gain by opening up the CKC. It can be a registry AND a open society of dog lovers and activists. The CKC as a stronger body with blinders off could be more active against breed specific legislation, rentals with dog/pet bans, animal abuse legislation.

And just to keep on topic with the Labradoodle thing. It is a trend, much like the Cockapoo trend - who sells cockapoos now? Very few, often nasty little dogs with hard to handle hair. Most people will find out these coats are terribly hard to keep and they have to buzz them down once a month. Half are not hypo-allergenic and they certainly will bring more dust into your house, soft wavy hair just holds it like a swiffer. They will also see the hip dysplasia, the eye problems, etc The fad will pass and they will be no more. The labradoodle is just clever marketing that they can get away with until it is disproved. There are still many CKC registered dogs that are bred from non-health tested dogs so we can't call the kettle black without looking at our own pot. I still say that we as breeders should give people the option of going on a wait list OR looking at Those that want a dog today can get a nice rescue, those who will wait for your litter will still be there. If you are viewing this Ladradoodle thing as competition for puppy sales, you need to review why you are breeding.

Just my opinion, feel free to email me privately or post to the board.


I emailed her back with the following:

Hi there Sharon, Wow! That post you sent has got to be one of the most articulate, eloquent posts I've ever read about why people get companion animals and why they would choose to get mutts over purebred dogs and why people buy dogs at pet stores. I especially loved the comparison to foreign sweat shops - that had never occurred to me before, but that is SO true, and really - very appropriate. It really is. The more I think about it, the more it blows me away.

I don't personally own any purebreed dogs, but I have relatives who are breeders, and I have friends who are breeders - I am personally part of the "rescue community". But it's always been my contention that what the rescue community should be working towards is a world where only reputable breeders are the ones producing the animals for our consumption. But after reading your post, it has given me pause for thought. I haven't totally processed yet how a world where reputable breeders and mutts could work together, and still be happy - but the way that you worded your post sounded great.

I've personally had a problem with the CKC because they claim to represent Canadian dog owners - they say so on their website, but at the same time they don't allow mutts in - so there is an elitist dichotomy there that has always grated me about the organization. But anyway, that's not why I was wanting to email you - I wanted to email you because I was just so blown away by everything you said in your post - and I was wondering if I could cross-post it to another list that I'm on where we've been talking about labradoodles and the like - it's a group called "Nova Scotia dogs" and it's just a group down here in Nova Scotia of dog owners and we get together and do dog stuff and volunteer and go for group walks and stuff.

Do you have a website or anyplace else where you have written anything? This can't be the only thing that you've ever written on the topic, I'm sure! I'd love to see other stuff you've done!

I have a website called "Charlie loves Halifax" and it's about working towards a dog friendly Halifax - but it's theme is about choosing dogs as your life companions and gaining greater access for them - and about choosing rescue dogs over pet store dogs and things like that. The address for it is at if you want to check it out.

Anyway, I hope I haven't bored you too much - your post just absolutely made my day! Thank-you!

Joan and Charlie and Leonard and Daisy and Buttercup in Halifax

Sunday, April 18, 2004

The Chronicle Herald Published my Peter Duffy Rant!

Sunday, April 18, 2004 The Halifax Herald Limited

Dog days

Re: Peter Duffy's "Hindsight" column in which he talks about dogs as man's former best friend, and legislating all dogs to wear muzzles in public (The Sunday Herald, April 4).

Muzzling dogs is not the answer to dogs biting. Statistics show that the vast majority of dog bites do not happen like the tragic (for the dog, because he was killed) recent case in Clayton Park. They happen in the home with dogs that the people know, or by dogs that are unattended and are approached by people the dogs feel threatened by, for whatever reason.

Muzzling also makes dogs feel frustrated and threatened, and can create a dangerous dog just by putting one on. And if we legislate all dogs to wear muzzles, how many people will stop training their dogs to be good members of society because they THINK they are safe? We know that dog bites happen most often in the home - and muzzles are off at home.

Mr. Duffy may believe he has all the answers to life's questions, but on this topic I really wish he'd educate himself on what the questions are that he should be asking.

Dogs have nothing to do with all the bad things that are happening to them. It's their owners' laziness, and lack of love and training that have everything to do with all the dog bites and fear-mongering that is going on in the media today. And I, for one, am sick of it.

Joan Sinden, Halifax

Friday, April 16, 2004

Man-Dog Love

Man-dog love
I adore my boyfriend, but his obsession with his dog is ruining our relationship.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Cary Tennis

Dear Cary,

He loves his dog more than he loves me!

I am in a relationship with a fun-loving, intelligent 30-something man, who I have been seeing on and off for over a year. We have mutual interests and friends, enjoy each other's company in many ways, and laugh together often. And while I don't plan on marriage anytime soon, I do plan on marrying him when the time is right. However, there is a problem that has been worsening over time -- in fact I am at my breaking point -- and I don't know how to work with him on a mutual solution (as he becomes very defensive): his dog.

The dog is affectionate and adorable. I have grown rather attached to him, but it is not well-trained and behaves horribly. It begs, does not come when called (it is often running off, and I have to patiently wait around while he interrupts our own "people activities" to go look for it), and leaps on people (it weighs 70 pounds), which frightens our friends and their children. Yet he refuses to send the dog to obedience school, "end of story."

The actual problem is how this man lets the dog dominate his entire life, which is ruining our relationship. He cannot spend one night without it. We cannot go on trips where the dog cannot stay, and even if we do, we cannot stay long because we have to "get back" -- same with even short social gatherings. He refuses to board the dog because he thinks it is cruel. Moreover, he lets the dog sleep wherever it wants (I adamantly draw the line to its sleeping in bed with us, however, which he has learned to deal with, as I sleep naked and the dog is often dirty), and he insists that it is "cute" or "funny" that the dog seeks affection during and after we make love. I can even count on one hand how many times we've been intimate without the dog in the room, which is now disgusting me as I write this. It has ruined the intimacy level in our relationship, since he believes that shutting the dog out of the bedroom is also cruel. He will often lie around kissing, stroking and petting the dog (even lying on the floor with it) in front of me while we spend time together, but refuses to give me the same affection (he was very loving at the start of our relationship, however).

I have broached the subject several times and have tried to open up options (paying for the boarding to take a trip, asking to have the dog outside "just during meals" or lovemaking), but he always gets defensive and argues with me, sometimes even nastily, saying that I am just jealous, that I don't understand their relationship, that I have no room to talk unless I have a dog, that I "hate dogs," and the worst, which he stated only recently, that the love and value he places on the dog and myself are exactly the same! He believes that I'm asking to choose between us when I bring it up, when I'm only looking for a compromise, looking to get him to see that I'm a very
important part of this relationship with real feelings about this issue, who needs attention and affection too.

Am I crazy and seeing things? Does he have a problem or do I? I'm smart enough to know that there's something wrong with this picture at this point and have been giving him the benefit of the doubt to come around due to his redeeming qualities, but on the same end I feel stupid for feeling this way, as if I am overreacting. Whatever advice you could give, I would appreciate and take, including leaving him to find someone who is more willing to focus on his significant other
namely, a human.

Puppy Sick

Dear Puppy Sick,

The best advice I can give you is to get a dog of your own.

Sure, the simple solution is to ditch the boyfriend. In fact, I sense that's what you want me to say. But, trust me, if you get a dog, it will change your life. After you get the dog, you still might break up with the boyfriend. But you get to keep the dog.

In giving you this answer, I am torn between my own disorderly passions, my fervent opinions, and my desire to help you. To be honest, I think breaking up with him would make your life easier but I do not necessarily want to make your life easier. I want instead to push you toward chaos and mystery, toward the interpretation of signs and symbols, toward the anarchy and barking of the dog world, because that way wisdom and insight lie! Why are you with this man? Is it simply a dating mistake? Or is it a sign that you need to go to the dog shelter and walk among the kennels and look into the eyes of the many abandoned dogs there and pick one out and take it home and learn to take care of it?

I am torn because, nutty as he sounds, there is something beautiful about your boyfriend's devotion to his dog. True, he's not treating you well, and you deserve to be treated better. In the ideal world, you and he would be able, as you say, to compromise. He could agree to board the dog every now and then, or leave it with a friend. You have offered to pay for boarding the dog, which is admirable. His refusal to even entertain the notion is troubling. There are reputable kennels that will care for his dog. But even if his unwillingness to compromise is rooted in a kind of irrational fear, that doesn't mean he can simply toss it off like a smoked-out cigarette.

Besides, the reasons for his unwillingness may be deep, compelling and several. For one, he may believe -- as one comes to believe various things correctly or not about one's dog -- that the dog is as well-trained as it is going to get. Or he may lack the sheer will to train the dog any further. After all, training a dog means not only adding traits but extinguishing others. If he, for instance, believes, as many do, that his dog possesses a sense of humor, bringing the dog under complete and strict voice control might entail the eventual extinction of its anarchic love of the unexpected, which can be one of the chief delights of owning a dog. He may not believe it is his
place to have absolute mastery over the beast. He may be temperamentally unsuited to the kind of vigilant policing such control requires. He may have discovered through his own attempts to train the dog that it retains an intractable independence of will that only a shockingly fierce, demanding, unrelenting dominance could shake. He may simply not have enough of that consistent, rules-based, top-dog enforcer in him to gain complete control of the dog.

At the risk of overlooking you and your relationship problem completely, I must further say that dogs are, after all, individual beings. They are problem solvers, dreamers, lovers, fighters, pleasure seekers, officious and naughty and slovenly, haughty or humble or simply aloof, good or not so good at standardized tests, adept or inept socially. They are seemingly possessed of that atom of singularity as distinct as a human voiceprint that we tend to refer to as a "soul." They argue, in their way, for the correctness of their position. If you listen closely, it is sometimes difficult to dismiss their arguments.

So it is to our eternal discredit that we tend to see dogs only as guests in our world. We are just as much guests in theirs. Moreover, we bear them a unique responsibility, for although they are separate from us, it is we who shaped them to our liking as much as we could. It is we who made them herders, barkers, biters, cuddlers, preeners, ratters, trackers. We brought into being this whole race of boxers, Pomeranians, Dalmatians, poodles, pugs and innumerable others. So our bond is complicated: We created them and we control the conditions under which they live, yet, in the strictest sense, we neither own nor control their beings. Having brought them this far, having given and taken so much, we orbit around each other on a tether of complex reciprocity. We owe them our lives as much as they owe us theirs. We are bound in a way that bears certain cautious parallels to slave-owner and slave. The relationship is full of tension and contradiction, and each, in his role, strives for redemption over a terrible legacy, strives to act in accordance with some principle that ennobles his behavior.

Masters live in their slaves' universe much as slaves live in theirs; in the same way, we dog owners live in our dogs' world much as our dogs live in ours. We are not immune to their criticism and contempt; we fail them as often as they fail us, yet they seem to be more patient and forgiving of our lapses than we are of theirs. It is probably to our eternal good fortune that we cannot listen in on their brutally ironic confabulations, their trenchant criticisms of our imperious designs and our angry authoritarian lapses, our breaches of pack etiquette, our deafness to their clear entreaties, our coldness to their offerings of love, our cruel and repeated attempts to shut them out of our lives, our feeble and inadequate physical accommodations, our policies of euthanasia, our casual practice of routine abandonment, our thoughtless trading of puppies, our calculated breeding for blood-thirstiness and for beauty.

I repeat: The only way you can come to accept your boyfriend's relationship with his dog is to get a dog yourself and watch as you are slowly transformed into the same slovenly, disgusting slave to canine whim as he is, until you, too, want to leave the club early to get home and feed the dog, until you, too, become acutely sensitive to the various barks, whines, squeals, yips and nudges through which the dog makes known its rich and complex emotional life, until you, too, find yourself rapturously inhaling the dog's wet, furry aroma and staring minute upon minute into its adoring brown eyes, welcoming its wet tongue over your cheekbones, spending evenings peering into the spaces between its paws and the recesses of its ears, looking for burs and ticks, until you, too, find yourself looking at your lover and then at your dog, unable to choose between them.

The dog, after all, will not judge you on your opinions; it will not adopt an air of superiority and try to make you feel small; it will not withhold its affections or change its mind about whom it loves. It is yours forever, unconditionally, without question, and will defend you to the death if called upon.

Until you own a dog you will not see yourself in their eyes. They will remain outsiders, guests in your world. Only when you undertake the complicated routine of daily sharing the universe with another species will you see yourself as they see you, and only then might you realize that what seems reasonable treatment of animals today may one day appear as barbaric as slavery or public hangings. If you could look back from that hypothetical future, you might even feel ashamed of your assumption that you, because you're human, come first in the world; you might be humbled enough to see how majestic is your boyfriend's love for his dog.

Pick a loving and relatively trouble-free breed. Soft-coated Wheaton terriers are nice, as are certain smaller poodles.

Become a dog person! Surrender to the delights of man-dog love!

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Me and Buttercup! Posted by Hello

I found something that I wrote but didn't know had been published!

I was looking around at stuff tonight and I found something that I wrote a
while ago for a newsletter for Dogs Deserve Better and I just found that
they also put it on their website! That is so neat! It's at:

No! Dogs Deserve Better Does NOT
Advocate Letting Dogs Run Free
By Joan Sinden
"It's a shame that we need laws to dictate common sense. If you’re going to bring a dog into your life, you’ve got to be willing to take responsibility for it's care and well-being. Allowing a dog to run free around the neighborhood or chaining it to the nearest tree are both irresponsible behaviors, and can and do end in death for the dog or, and in all too many cases, a small child. A responsible caretaker's dog lives inside, and has a fence high and sound enough to protect both the dog and children passing by or walks the dog on a leash for the safety of all. We are attempting to educate society, one by one if necessary. But we must also stand NOW to insist on the laws being changed to protect the innocent, both humans and dogs. It's too crucial to NOT do so."
—Tammy Grimes, founder of Dogs Deserve Better

As the owner/guardian/foster mom to a lot of dogs over the years - some of which were chained to trees and or dog houses for the greater portion of their previous lives I feel a kinship with the mission of "Dogs Deserve Better."

I was thinking back to how it all started for me and I think it was with a huge black dog that lived 2 houses down from my parents cottage. I can't even remember the dogs name, but he was chained 24 hours a day to a tree on about a 10 foot chain - the kind that has the barbs in it - in dirt that when it rained turned to really goopy mud. He was there by himself the whole time. At that point I'd never had a dog and knew nothing about them, but he broke my heart - I'd go over there and he'd knock me down he'd be so happy so see someone! My parents would get angry with me because I'd spend all my time over there with the dog and no time visiting them! Every once in a while he'd get loose though - he'd break free from his chain and go running with great abandon - that was 100 times worse than being chained to that tree though, because there was an excellent probability that he was going to die at any moment on the very busy road he was running up and down. He stood no chance of being rescued if he was dead. Running loose either by himself or joining up with some other dogs and running in a pack was NOT a good idea.

Dogs Deserve Better, for some reason, gets letters from people who think that because we are trying to get dogs off of chains and out of pens that we are advocating dogs running loose! That is the furthest thing from the truth because that is even more deadly than being on a chain! What we are working
towards is making all dogs the companion animals and family members that
they deserve to be - and that includes keeping them as safe as we would want our own children to be.

Personally that means I keep my dogs on leash whenever we go outside the house, and when I exercise my dogs we go to legal off-leash areas that are fenced in and they play with other dogs who are well socialized and also off-leash. So I suppose they are "running loose in a pack" - but certainly
in a very different connotation! And also with a very different outcome - the only thing that will happen is that I'll have some very tired and happy pooches, and nobody will die or end up at the pound. Dogs Deserve Better than that!

Thinking back to that big black dog - when he broke free from his chain and he started running around the neighbourhood, what do you think he was probably looking for? I think he was looking for an open door to go in so that he could go inside and get some love from a human, because that's what he needed and wanted most - and unfortunately he never got it before he died. One of my biggest regrets is that I didn't know at the time you could do things like "rescue" dogs. That's why I try hard not to walk by any other dogs who need my help now - sort of to honour him. Because he definitely deserved better.

—Joan Sinden, DDB yahoo group coordinator and moderator

from the The Austin Pets Alive! No-Kill Handbill - I subscribe to their daily newsletter because I think it's a really neat idea that I think would be helpful to do here. It would take a lot of energy though. And a lot of connection. At the bottom of each newsletter it says the following:

"Euthanasia" is by definition, an applicable term only for those who are killed for reason of terminal illness. Animals who are killed because they are homeless, have behavior problems, or are unwanted, are not, by definition, "euthanized". In that context, this word will always be changed to [killed].

Because pets are sentient beings, Austin Pets Alive! does not believe they can be owned in the sense that an inanimate object can be owned. Therefore, the word "owner" in this context will always be changed to [guardian].

At the top they state very clearly that they are working towards being no kill, but that they do kill in their shelter:

Supporting the No-Kill Millennium - a thousand years without killing our friends.

Austin Pets Alive!'s Randall's charity ID number is 8858.

Austin kills an average of 29 dogs and cats at the Town Lake Animal Center every day.

Austin Pets Alive!
Supporting the No-Kill Millennium
The No-Kill Millennium Comprehensive Plan:

They do their mailout via a free mailing list provider which is at:

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

This is the version of Annie's story that I have sent to "Best Ever Dog Stories"

This is the story of Annie - a little black poodle who was dumped in the parking lot of a local mall the Saturday before Christmas one year. I kept an on-going diary while I had her. She was a special little dog and she taught me a lot about love, and unfortunately she also taught me a lot about letting go - and way more than I ever wanted to know about soul-wrenching grief.

I brought Annie home on Christmas Day from the SPCA to foster her. She had a really bad eye infection, ear infection and something neurologically had happened to her - a stroke or something like that because she could barely walk and couldn't feel her legs. She was having bad kennel strees and wasn't dealing well with living in a cage which had been placed in the kitchen area at the SPCA which is just about the most social area in the whole building - has the most humans passing through it. She was crying all the time. Little dogs need love or they die. And little dogs when they are sick need extra love. Any dog who's sick needs extra love and should not be in a kennel situation and should go into foster care immediately unless they need to be totally immobilized.

I had received a call the day she arrived to see if I could foster her and I said no because I was already fostering a dog which brought my total up to maximum capacity - 4 dogs. But on Christmas Day I was at the shelter walking dogs and Annie - which is what they had called her - because of "little orphan Annie" I assume - was still there! No one had taken her home to foster. I couldn't believe that people had been walking by her cage for almost a week and not been swayed enough by her absolutely forlorn condition to immediately scoop her up in their arms and walk out - which is basically what I did! The staff had been carrying her around and keeping her outside while they were there but they hadn't been able to find anyone who would take her home to foster - a geriatric paralyzed stinky incontinent absolutely perfect and delightful black toy poodle. I picked her up, said "I'm taking her home" - then I walked dogs for an hour to fulfill my commitment for the day - and then wrapped Annie up and took her home with me.

Her prognosis was that she would either dramatically improve or deteriorate and probably die.

December 29, 2003 9:46pm
I'm happy to say that she seems to be improving! Every day she is getting stronger. She is still totally fumbling around and can't feel her legs at all at this point , but I have faith that she has a strong spirit and will be able to overcome what happened at the previous place she lived at.

I also want to tell the story of a dog who was discarded too easily. A perfect little dog who people clamour for - that people ooh and aah over - everyone who meets her say they can't believe that someone could do anything mean to her. I want to tell the story of how easy it was to make her physically well again, and how love and connection with an animal can make you accept and work with any problems that may come up. You may see a black dog stumbling across the lawn but I see a majestic poodle with a puppy clip prancing with all 4 legs moving and her feet not turning under as she looks directly in my eyes with a big smile on her face and comes directly towards me so she can give me a big stinky kiss!

December 30, 2003 12:00am

My Dad worries that taking in fosters will get me into conflict with my neighbours. I try to placate his fears by telling him that where I live is just a place, it's just a space to put my stuff - the dogs are way more important - if I have to leave because of my dogs I'll just go somewhere else that's more dog friendly, it's not that big a deal! And then I always end the email by saying - "but if you want to lend me the money for a down payment on a little trailer, I wouldn't turn that down - that sounds like a win-win situation to me - I could have all the dogs I want and you wouldn't have to worry about my living situation anymore!" That usually shuts him up for a couple months! But this time I also sent him the following poem, because I think it's appropriate to Annie's situation:

ONE BY ONE - A Tribute to Mandy

One by one, they pass by my cage,
Too old, too worn, too broken, no way.
Way past her time, she can't run and play.
Then they shake their heads slowly and go on their way.
A little old woman, arthritic and sore.
It seems I am not wanted anymore.
I once had a home, I once had a bed,
A place that was warm, and where I was fed.
Now my muzzle is grey, and my eyes slowly fail.
Who wants a dog so old and so frail?
My family decided I didn't belong,
I got in their way, my attitude was wrong.
Whatever excuse they made in their head,
Can't justify how they left me for dead.

Now I sit in this cage, where day after day,
The younger dogs, get adopted away.
When I had almost come, to the end of my rope,
You saw my face, and I finally had hope.
You saw thru the grey, and the legs bent with age,
And felt I still had life, beyond this cage.
You took me home, gave me food and a bed,
And shared your own pillow, with my poor tired head.

We snuggle and play, and you talk to me low,
You talk to me dearly, you want me to know.
I may have lived most of my life with another,
But you outshine them with a love so much stronger.
And I promise to return all the love I can give,

To you, my dear person, as long as I live.
I may be with you for a week, or for years,
We will share many smiles, you will no doubt shed tears.
And when the time comes, that God deems I must leave,
I know you will cry, and your heart it will grieve.
And when I arrive, at the Rainbow Bridge all brand new,
My thoughts and my heart will still be with you.
And I will brag, to all who will hear,
Of the person who made my last days so dear.

December 30: 10:00am

I have 2 different scenarios of how Annie ended up in the parking lot of Penhorn Mall. One of them has me crying right along with her previous owner, and the other one has me as outraged as any animal lover should be.

The first one is that she is the beloved pet of some senior citizen who just didn't know what to do with her anymore because she seemed so sick and she loved Annie so much and was just so heartbroken that she couldn't bear to have her put to sleep and the person thought that if she left Annie in a safe public place like a parking lot some one would take care of her. Annie had a bad eye and ear infection along with the paralysis so she would have looked really bad when she was dumped. I did the same thing to a bicycle when I was about 5 years old. I loved that bicycle a lot, but the pedals were broken and the chain kept coming off and it was really hard to ride and it really broke my heart to do it, but I left it underneath an 18 wheeler truck along the waterfront of where we were living at the time hoping that someone would find it and take it home and fix it up because I couldn't ride it anymore the way it was. But I loved that bike with all my heart. I remember walking home crying like crazy. Stupid, isn't it? But that actually is a true story! But I digress, back to Annie's story... so in this version her previous owner is absolutely heartbroken that they had to give Annie up. They didn't see any alternative because they didn't know there were any options and they couldn't afford to take her to a vet and they figured that it would be really expensive to fix the health problems that she obviously had. So they did what they thought was best for Annie and left her in a public place knowing that someone would take care of her. With a face like that how could anyone ignore her?

It's just super unfortunate that what they failed to realize is that there is no fairy god-mother for dogs and one didn't appear that day for Annie. I actually have met a couple people who found their dogs abandoned in parking lots. But on this day the person who found Annie took her to Animal Control instead and she ended up in a cage after going to the Emergenecy Vet Clinic - she could just have been put to sleep right then and there, but luckily that face did save her life!

I say in this version I'm crying right along with the owner because for a lot of us - there but for the grace of *** go us. It's easy to feel overwhelmed when a loved one is sick. We can feel like we have no options, and we can't deal with taking care of them - especially when they're as small and fragile as Annie is. And in my version of this the owner is a senior citizen who's own health is bad so they can't take of their own bad health let alone Annie's bad health. I'm sure the person thought they were doing the right thing and the only thing they thought they could do - but unfortunately it was the coward's way out in my opinion. They were putting all the tough decisions on someone else's shoulders. If Annie was sick enough that she needed to be put to sleep the original owner should have had the courage to be there for her when Annie needed her there.

But luckily Annie is not that sick and she's got alot of life left in her as far as I'm concerned. But every dog and cat who comes into the SPCA has a story at least - if not more interesting and definitely as tragic and most certainly as stupid as this one!

My second version of how I think she might have ended up at the shelter is a little more violent.

December 30, 8:30pm

The vet at the Emergency clinic said that Annie is probably "ancient". What that means is open to interpretation - she could be anywhere from 9 - 15 years old. Her breath is SUPER stinky and her teeth are really bad. She's obviously had bad nutrition her whole life and been fed a lot from the table. Table scraps aren't a bad thing and are what keep a lot of dogs alive so my second scenario involves Annie living the major part of her life very happily in a nice home but something happened - the owner died probably, or had to go into a nursing home and Annie got sent to a relative's house who didn't care about her and she got severely neglected and none of her whims were indulged anymore. I say this because Annie has the cutest dinner dance you'll ever see! When I am at the kitchen counter doing anything - or when there is the hint of impending food she will sit up on her haunches and swing her front legs back and forth. It almost makes me think that she's been paralyzed for awhile, and she's learned to adapt to her disability in different ways. She'll sit up on her haunches quite often - like rabbits do when they sit up and sniff the air. Especially in the last day or so as she's starting to feel better. Today she's been feeling really good and has been actually exploring the house a little bit. She can't grip the floor at all though, and is continually splaying her legs on the floor.

But back to my evil owner story - she's being severely neglected and she's now got a really bad eye and ear infection and she stinks and she can't walk and she's pissing and shitting everywhere and Christmas is in a few days and I don't need this hassle anymore so when I'm on my way to the mall I just open the door and toss her out - there - that's done! Now we can have some peace! We've finally gotten rid of the last remnants of that bitch no-good mother-in-law.

I just can't imagine how awful it must have been for Annie to have been left in that parking lot. How long was she there? What was the weather like that day? How many times did she almost get run over? Was she hungry? What did she think was happening? Every time I turn the ignition off in the car she starts to squeal and freak out. I wonder if she thinks I'm about to throw her out. The first day I got her I put her down in the back yard while I retrieved something out of the passenger side floor and she let out such a yowl that it scared me and it occurred to me then that she thought I was abandoning her and it devastated me that she could think that. That reminds me of another poem:

The Meaning of Rescue

Now that I'm home, bathed, settled and fed,
All nicely tucked into my warm new bed.
I'd like to open my baggage,
Lest I forget,
There is so much to carry -
So much to regret. Hmmmm ...

Yes, there it is, right on the top,
Let's unpack Loneliness, heartache and Loss,
And there by my bed hides Fear and Shame.
As I look on these things I tried so hard to leave -
I still have to unpack my baggage called Pain.

I loved them, the others, the ones who left me,
But I wasn't good enough - for they didn't want me.
Will you add to my baggage?
Or will you help me unpack?
Or will you just look at my things -
And take me right back?

Do you have the time to help me unpack?
To put away my baggage,
And never repack?
I pray that you do - I'm so tired you see,
But I do come with baggage -
Will you still want me?

~Author Unknown

That's one thing about taking in rescue dogs and adopting them - sometimes they come with issues. A lot of times they come with their issues worked out - especially if they've been in foster care first - which is another good thing about foster care (I think all dogs should be in foster homes and out of kennels personally). But I think one of Annie's main issues is going to be abandonment - and her fear of it. I have to say that I've always had a problem with separation anxiety.

I think I have it worse than my dogs have it. When I've gone to people's houses and they've said that the dogs had to stay outside I've just stayed outside with the dogs while I'm there - I can't bear to be away from them.

And now with Annie it's even worse because there's a sense of urgency to her because she's:
1. old
2. a foster who could be adopted at any time
3. sick and could die

So I feel like every moment we have is precious so I don't want to waste any of it.

Sunday January 4th 2004 2:00pm

We did go to the vet yesterday - we got the okay from the SPCA so we went in the morning. It was what the vet said that is causing my current turmoil. It was Dr. Lindsay at Carnegy's - she said that since it's so obvious that Annie needs to stay on steroids to keep the swelling in her brain down then that makes her prognosis very poor and it's only a matter of time until they stop working. She said that Annie is going to die.

Yesterday before I took her in she wouldn't walk at all, it was like her muscles had no tone left, and Dr. Lindsay agreed that in her current condition she couldn't keep herself standing. When I held her she couldn't even keep her back straight. And she'd only finished the drugs 2 days earlier. And she wouldn't eat her breakfast yesterday which to me was a bad sign. Only a few days before she could stand up and walk for 10 minutes at a time - well she could wobble for all that time. Yesterday they gave her a shot of steroids and within a few hours she had enough stability that she could stand up again but even today there's still no spark in her eyes.

I don't think she's in pain, she's still going to the washroom outside and she's eating again and seems interested when I'm preparing food so maybe she'll perk up. But when I hold her it's like she could die at any moment. It is such a horrible feeling to look in her face and watch it.

So long story short right now I'm vascillating between not giving up and then looking in her eyes and just collapsing, but I think that as long as she is physically alive and functioning I have to believe that somehow I'll be able to reach her and everything will be okay. I can't quite figure out why she's affected me so much - it's almost like she's the first dog I've ever encountered who - no matter how much love I've given to her - she's just been too hurt (or something) to realize that everything is now okay and will be okay - and it's just killing me to know that she has no faith in me.

Yes, I'd say that's pretty much what it is. It's always about us and not the dogs though , isn't it?

So all this leads me to the next and inevitable question - is all the stuff I'm doing and going to do for Annie available - or even known about - to the average dog owner? Even if Annie's owner would have been able to do all of this would she have had any idea about any of it? Probably not, and she probably doesn't do any of it for herself either. And maybe none of it will help Annie. Maybe I'm just prolonging her torture because I also can't do what her original owner couldn't do. There's absolutely nothing about Annie that is screaming - "save me" - she's just simply here. And that's why I have to do it. Because I want to see what the real Annie is like - if there's any chance of her coming back. Someone discarded her and she let herself die for some reason. All lost dogs are like that when you first get them. That's why we love our rescue animals so much because we think we've had something to do with them being able to reclaim their true spirit. Annie is just so withered on so many levels.

It undoubtably would have been the right thing for her original owner when given the same diganosis yesterday that I did to have her put down. She should have been put down instead of being dumped in the parking lot of Penhorn Mall. Especially if she was in the same shape that she was yesterday. But since she is in my house now, I am going to prolong her torture, or you could say I'm going to give her another chance, or I won't give up on myself, or whatever you want to call it. Annie will be dead for long enough, she lived in someone else's house for long enough, she's only lived here for a week and a half. I'm sure she'll tell me when she's truly had enough. I hope I have the courage to listen to her.

Tuesday January 6th, 2:00pm

I've had a couple people now say that I should just put Annie to sleep and end her suffering. That certainly IS one of the best things about our companion animals is that when they are sick we can euthanize them humanely - that they DON'T have to suffer too long like humans do when they're sick. My problem with Annie though is that I'm not sure her problem isn't fixable because I don't know what's causing the paralysis/swelling in her brain. It may be something acute that can be cured and she can still go on to have a good life. My Dad is one of the people who thinks Annie should just be put to sleep - he thinks that would end my suffering too! (little does he know that would only make it worse!) My Dad had cluster headaches DAILY for years. I don't know how he lived through it. They would come at the same time every day, and he said it was like someone jamming an ice pick through his forehead. They were mis-diagnosed and he was given valium, lithium, you name it - he got it. They even operated on his nose and he almost died from a blood clot. Then he got referred to a neurologist - finally - and he sat down in the neurologists office and the doctor looked at his file and looked at my dad and said "you have classic symptoms of cluster headaches, here's a drug that tends to work for these types of headaches." My Dad has not had a headache since finding this drug.

Can you imagine going through YEARS of unimaginable DAILY pain to being completely pain free after just getting correctly diagnosed by one neurologist in an office visit? You don't have to believe in miracles or angels or gods or anything to believe that shit like that does happen from time to time. That is a huge thing to have happened to my Dad, and I'm not sure he truly understands the hugeness of it. But at any point when he was suffering he could have just killed himself because he couldn't take the pain anymore and he didn't. He kept on going - for what reason, I have no idea - except that maybe he was hopeful that at some point they would find out what was causing the headaches and then the headaches would go away. And that's exactly what happened! And I'd be willing to bet you that 20 years after he's had his last headache that he's pretty glad he never acted on any impulse that I'm sure he MUST have had to do himself in at the time. Because he's had a pretty good life since the headaches went away, let me tell you!

So that's why I'm not putting Annie to sleep yet. Until I find out that she's not going to get better, I'm keeping her alive. I'm going to a different vet to get a 2nd opinion and a couple tests done and if they also say she's going to die then I want to be there when Annie goes so that she'll have someone there who truly loves her. If she's going to get better, then I'll foster her and let her be adopted.

Annie's been doing better since she's been back on the steroids. Sunday night when we were in bed it was TOO funny! I had her all squished up next to me and I was chanting Buddhist mantras to her so that in case she dies she has a better chance at a human rebirth, and she decided - "enough of this shit!" - she squirmed and squirmed and pulled herself up and dragged herself down to the bottom of the bed and slept down there! It was like she was saying - "I've had enough of the full body contact! Give me some space - PLEASE!" So I let her sleep down there.

She is back to doing her dinner dance and wandering around the apartment on the carpet. It will be good to have a couple days where it doesn't appear like she's dying, thanks to having 2 weeks worth of steroids on the go - her personality may start to come out a little bit - that will be really interesting!

Thursday January 8, 9:00pm

I'm feeling hopeful and dejected at the same time. I think we've gone into a waiting period now and we'll have to see what happens. I pray that it works out. Several excellent things HAVE happened though.

She's continuing to do really well on the steroids. She's walking around, barking at everything and yesterday when Shelly Malcolm was doing physio and giving her acupuncture she totally was trying to bite us! And not just nip us in response to fear, she was searching out body parts baring her teeth and trying to sink them in as far as they'd go! So cute in a 10 pound paralyzed dog! I think I've been around 100 pound dogs too long! We were like - this dog has got spunk! And she's started being manipulative in little ways too. If I have her down on the floor, she'll start making little squeaking noises because she knows I'll pick her up. So these to me are not traits of a dog that has decided she wants to die. I think she might be starting to come around. Which makes the next part even harder.

I took her for my second opinion tonight to the "Full Circle Veterinary Alternatives" on Portland Street in Dartmouth to meet Jennifer Bishop. She was fantastic! She seemed to understand by pulling Annie's legs certain ways and maneuvering her around and giving her a really good physical exam the things that I was telling her about how Annie acts, how she declined so quickly and what I hoped would happen in the future. Unfortunately she gave as potentially as bleak a future as Dr. Lindsay did. She doesn't think that Annie's paralysis has anything to do with her spine, and she doesn't think it's muscular. She thinks it's in the brain. It could be a tumour - which could be growing, or it could be a lesion, or it could be meningitis - or it could be a whole bunch of things. The only way we could really know for sure is to send her to PEI to do - I think she said a spinal tap and see what that said. I'm pretty sure that Annie's face won her another reprieve though, because Dr. Bishop said she wanted to go check some of her homeopathy books to check something and a couple minutes later she came back with an 8 day supply of "Curare Injeel" and "Conium" which I have to give her 1 ampule orally each day for 8 days. They are both homeopathic drugs that have to do with the brain, and the right side and cancer (in case its a tumour that causing her problems) and a bunch of other stuff that she said that they're good for. She also gave them to Annie for no charge (since she's an SPCA foster dog), which totally blew me away and made me realize that there ARE some vets in this city who are in their chosen profession for altruistic reasons! The right side is important because it appears that Annie's left side doesn't work currently.

So now we're going to wait 8 days to see if the homeopathic treatment improves her condition. I forgot to ask what we would be the next step if it DOES improve her health. All I know is that if it doesn't do anything then Annie is pretty much doomed at this point.

Then the decision will be - do we just put her to sleep because she's going to die anyway? Or do we keep her alive for as long as the steroids give her some kind of quality of life and she seems to want to stay alive, and then the question is who does she live with? Actually when it's worded like that the answer is pretty obvious! We're all going to die but that doesn't mean we should just kill ourselves right now because of it!

Saturday January 10, 12:30 pm

I am hesitating to write this but I think when I buy groceries today I'm going go buy some bacon. Annie wouldn't walk yesterday, and she's started whining a lot for no reason. I don't know if she's in pain or what's going on, but the only place she wants to be is in my arms. I can't even put her down for a minute and she'll start crying. I think somethings coming. She had a sausage McMuffin for breakfast this morning.

Friday January 16, 4:00pm

Where do I start? Annie's gone. She died Monday. It's taken me this long because I couldn't face realizing that there was an end to the story and that it had happened. I feel like my heart is broken. There was nothing I could do about a brain tumour. But I still don't think that 18 days was enough. I should have been allowed to have her a little longer than that before she got so sick she had to die. From Thursday to Sunday she had completely lost the ability to hold any weight on her legs. In order for her to go poo outside I had to hold her up. she couldn't hold her back straight. She had completely lost bladder control, if she wasn't in my arms or my lap she was crying, and I know the steroids were the only thing giving her an appetitie. But when she was in my arms she seemed completely happy and content. If she wasn't suffering I would have been completely willing to give any level of care required to keep her happy and healthy. I was ready to carry her everywhere for the rest of her life. I just didn't think it would be so short a life with me.-

But since she was deteriorating so quickly I knew that she was going to start suffering a lot more than she already was so I had her put to sleep on Monday. It was awful. She ate 2 cookies with great gusto on the exam table at the vets office, and then the vet took her arm and she looked at me confused - because she didn't know what was going on and I was saying to her and looking in her eyes "I love you, I love you I love", and then the vet said "She'll relax now". And then she was dead, and I started to say "I loved you I loved you I loved you". And she was dead. And there wasn't anything I could do. It was too late.

When the original owner knew how sick she was they should have loved her enough to keep her until the end. The SPCA did the right thing in not euthanizing her in the beginnning because she could just have had a bad ear infection that could have been cured easily. Unfortunatly it wasn't, it was a brain tumour and she died and I fell completely madly in love with her anyway and my heart is broken because of it.

So maybe what was learned from Annie's tragic story? Abandonment and cruelty happens to all types of animals, even the small beautiful ones. There aren't happy endings to every story. You really cannot save every animal that you want to. But the greatest lesson I've learned is that euthanasia hurts whether it's the right time to do it ir not. It is never the right time to do it. As soon as she was dead I was dead sure that to put her to sleep was a mistake. I killed her too soon. And you can't go back on that. I'm sorry Annie. It was probably only a matter of days maybe, I don't know. Maybe she was suffering and I did do the right thing. But it's too late now.


I had an email from a nice lady in New Brunsick named Cheryl and my response to her I think sums up best what I think was the best gift that Annie gave me:

--- Cheryl C. wrote:
You broke my heart with this story. I sympathize with you completely. I volunteer at our local Animal Rescue League in Saint John NB and have brought home several dogs and cats with kittens to foster. Recently, when I went to the shelter, there was a beautiful little girl mix who had just been brought in. She was very sick and since it was Friday night and a snow storm, none of the staff wanted to stay overtime to take her to the vet. I took her in my truck and it turned out she had Parvo and was gravely ill. They put her to sleep right then and there. I was devastated and I had only know her for 2 hours. The world needs more people like you,dedicated to the cast aways. Thank you so much for caring. Cheryl

Hi there Cheryl - thanks for your email!

Annie was a super special little dog, I had no idea when I brought her home that she would have such an effect on me and on everyone she came in contact with. I still can't bear to look at pictures of her or go back and read what I wrote because it still physically hurts to think about it. And you're right - I don't think it matters whether it's 2 hours, 18 days or 40 years - a connection is a connection - and if your heart has the ability or maybe I should say the weakness to hurt, it hurts with the exact same intensity regardless.

I think the one thing I learned most is that there is nothing you can do to avoid the grief, you just have to live through it and know that you will come out of it - but the living through it is definitely the hard part. Especially since there is absolutely no comfort at all in it. But you have to take the good with the bad, and take your chances. She might have just had a really bad ear infection and been totally healed and a bouncing black running toy poodle by now. That would have been sweet. And most times, as you well know - that is the case. Most times they ARE discarded too easily.

Anyway, I'm sure I'm preaching to the converted! I was SO lucky to have her for the 18 days that I did. She taught me a lot and I wouldn't trade that for anything, and it's gotten me some great emails from people like you! Thanks again for taking the time to tell me that you read her story!

Joan and Charlie and Leonard and Daisy and Buttercup

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

A chewy rawhide or other treats, a Kong, rubber ball, or a fuzzy cat toy goes a LONG way for a homeless animal at Town Lake Animal Center. Make a furry friend's day and the long hours in a cage or kennel a little easier. TLAC could use newspapers to line cages, chew toys, cat toys, towels or blankets. Donation items can be left in a bin inside the front door of the Davenport Building. Call TLAC at 512-972-4738 if you have any questions about donations for the animals.

Making toys for the animals is a great activity for Boy/Girl Scout troops, birthday parties and school projects and is a great way to teach youth about animal welfare and issues. As a volunteer at TLAC, I once met with a small group attending the birthday party of a sincere, animal-loving 8 year old girl. It began with a slumber party the night before, where the girls had fun making cat toys. At the birthday girl's request, her friends brought treats for the animals in lieu of gifts for her. They arrived on Saturday morning with their bags of goodies for the animals. After a short presentation about responsible pet ownership, we made a tour of part of the shelter where the girls gave their presents to the very grateful TLAC animals. Great idea, huh?!

If you know a scout troop, pass ideas like this along. If you're looking for useful projects, contact me and I can offer some suggestions. I also have instructions for goodie bags for shelter animals that I can send to you. Even ones for the rabbits!

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Don’t be discriminatory, don’t keep a grasping and rejecting attitude. For this reason it is said, “Truth has no comparison, because it is not relative to anything.”


Friday, April 9, 2004

Dog knows where I got this quote from but I liked it so I saved it:

I always tell people "training your dog is not expensive - its priceless". I always stress training, and when someone calls us to rehome their dog for behavioural issues, I always insist on a consultation with a behaviourist - NOT a trainer (different although not mutually exclusive).

Wednesday, April 7, 2004

So Daisy had her head sliced by a guy who didn't want his dog playing with other dogs. That's what we think happened anyway.

After we got home from Seaview I was scratching Daisy's head and felt something gooey. She had a big hole - a tear in the back of her head. Somehow she has gotten a tear a little more than 2 inches wide right through to her skull. I don't know how she could have done it. I'm really worried that they guy who was hollering at the dogs that had the chocolate lab did it with his dogs leash because he was hitting dogs with the leash and I'm worried he could have been doing other things. It is a really bad slice.

So I have a franken-dog right now, poor Daisy. They had to put her to sleep to give her stitches. She's got about 8 stitches in her head and the top of her head is shaved. I haven't been able to get a picture of it yet. I'd say the stuff they gave her to wake her up from the anaesthesia has her bit wired. She's just been pacing since we got home.

But the consensus is that it was from the metal end of a leash. I saw the guy swing at Daisy but I didn't see the leash - but I wasn't really paying attention because I was just walking up the hill arriving, as were Daisy and my other dogs. I was paying more attention to greeting the people I see every night. Other people saw him swinging the leash at dogs - so everything is circumstantial. And we all heard him hollering and swearing at us - that's for sure! But then of course we hollered back at him! So if the guy ever comes back to Seaview whenever any of the more butchy men who were there last night are there, he may find himself in a heap of trouble. He has been to Seaview before and is supposedly a military police officer. So he's a real goombbaa it sounds like. I'm not going to mess with him anyway.

I know that I'll be keeping a much closer eye on the dogs from now on. I guess I was just taking it too much for granted since I was there at the same time every night and all the dogs knew each other and all the humans knew each other that the place was completely safe. No place is completely safe, unfortunately. It could just have easily been Buttercup. She barks like crazy at new dogs. If he would have swung at Buttercup like he did at Daisy - she'd be dead right now. No doubt about it.

But Daisy's going to be perfect - she'll just look like Friar Tuck for a little while! Luckily the skin underneath is black like her fur, so you don't really notice there's no hair. But she must have one hell of a headache! I'm glad I am not her tonight!

This is what M said about it: So glad to hear Daisy is recovering nicely from this horrible incident. Daisy is very, very lucky to have you to attend to her needs so quickly and responsibly. No-one can prevent all bad things from happening, as much as we'd like to. How one responds to incidents like this shows the true mettle of a person; and Joan, you were nothing but concern, care and love. SO STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP! :)

This is what E: Daisy is so fortunate to have you; all your dogs are. And our dogs too because of the caring ideas and advice that you share. And than you "mentor" this Group so that we can all share, from which I'm sure that the ideas we learn here get spread to our other contacts in life too. Look at the wonderful influence you are having to make this world a better place!

Including, I hope, some pricks of influence on P Duffy. Good for you - I really liked your response to him. (Note the use of word "prick"; somehow it just seemed the word to use...)

A thought has been with me since you started the wondering how Daisy could have such an injury and not seem to notice it. It feels so sad but perhaps that is because in her life Before Rescue she had injuries which were never noticed or treated and so she came to expect that situation concerning all her hurts.

Caring so much, E

Monday, April 5, 2004

I have to write a story for a book about "best ever dog stories" so I'm going to do Annie the SPCA poodle's story for it. So here goes: