Archive for the ‘Favourite Family Dogs’ Category

Sasha’s surprise

Jack and two of Sasha's offspring

Jack and two of Sasha's offspring

sasha-puppiesThe morning Ann Silberman took Sasha, the family’s 11 month old yellow Labrador Retriever to their Bowen Island, B.C. veterinarian clinic to be spayed, she was surprised to receive a call a short while later.
The vet explained that he couldn’t spay Ann’s dog because she was already pregnant. Ann, her husband Jack, and their son Ben were astounded. Sasha was their first dog and they had meant to have her spayed sooner but the busy family hadn’t quite got around to it.As the initial shock wore off, reality sunk in. Read the rest of this entry »

Latchkey child

Latchkey child

The four year old girl in this 1980s photo grew up within a kilometre of Parliament Hill, Ottawa. 

Her bond with a neighbour’s dog, a young Airedale female named Asia, meant the world to her and gave her respite from her own home life which, although caring, was highly dysfunctional. Her friendship with this dog and the people she met through the dog allowed her to find her own voice and provided a little balance in her otherwise tumultuous life.  

Since I also grew up bonding with my neighbours’ dogs, I’ve always remembered this child who eventually grew up and had children and I hope dogs of her own. 

The mysterious disappearance of Toby


Toby and Mr. G

Mister G lived alone for many years in his big rundown house in my neighbourhood. His was an entrepreneurial spirit. Garbage pick up days provided him with weekly opportunities to fill his big old truck with his neighbours’ scrap and other ‘re-cyclables’. A feral cat and many litters of her kittens called the crawlspace under his veranda home. Mr. G’s one sidekick, a Miniature Poodle, Toby, followed him everywhere. This is what innocent, loyal dogs do, whether they’re treated well or not.

Eventually both Mr. G and Toby began to show their age and then Mr. G was diagnosed with liver cancer. Toby’s condition had already been going downhill; his eyes were caked and sticky and his fur so matted no hand could pass through. Several concerned neighbours urged Mr. G to take Toby to the veterinarian, but Mr. G was in denial and maybe a little thrifty.

One day Toby disappeared. Mr. G was sure he’d been kidnapped and shipped to an experimental lab. He was upset and furious that somebody had picked up his dog from his front porch.

Several months went by.  One afternoon I found myself in the home of a woman who lived several streets away who wanted me to look at something unrelated in her house.  As she was showing me around, in every room I saw one, two, or sometimes three animals, both cats and dogs, in various stages of twilight living.  There was no unpleasant odor, they were all clean and looked well fed, all were very old, curled up in individual dog or cat beds.  I’d walked in to an old folks home for pets!  And suddenly, there before me, lay Toby.  He was cleaned up, his eye condition medicated, and no more mats.  He lay content in his own little bed and if he’d been a cat he would have purred.

What did I do?  Did I blow the whistle?  Did I confront the ‘dognapper’? Did I tell Mister G?  I did not.  Mr. G was in another world by then. I kept my discovery to myself and let sleeping dogs lie.

Not a vegetarian

Standing tall

Impatiently waiting

This Husky/Shepherd mix is waiting for the return of his owner who is picking up a custom order at Palmateers Meats, a busy fresh meat market in Tweed, Ontario. His owner had trouble finding processed dog food with the right lamb mixture to suit his big dog’s tricky digestive tract and has gone directly to the source of all good eats for dogs. Thanks to Bob, Jane, and Robert Palmateer and their customer whose dog “runs like a bullet”.

Richard Stengel: Menodae

Richard with two buddies

Richard with two buddies

Richard met his Metis partner, Jesse, in a small First Nations fly-in community named Neskantaga (Lansdowne House), north of Thunder Bay, Ontario.

“We live on 250 acres that edge the Canadian Shield near Sturgeon Falls.  On our land we plant five acres of organic produce, raised bed method, 16 feet long, 4 feet wide, 2 feet high. With open fields, thick mixed forests and a creek running through it, the property was chosen to provide a healthy environment for us humans and our canine friends. Our house is situated at the end of a road, surrounded by land locked Crown property on two sides.  Read the rest of this entry »

Claudette Waite: Never say never

Mickey with Guy and Claudette“When our seventeen year old Miniature Poodle died I cried and cried and said I don’t want another dog. But my late husband, Guy, he wanted a dog and he started going to the pound every day looking.

We had friends who had a little dog, part something, part butterfly dog, a Papillon. He was the cutest little dog, his name was Peanut. His ears were gorgeous of course, and he had a beautiful full tail he carried around like a palm tree. Our friends lived out in the country and Peanut would sit up on his hind legs like a prairie dog on the front lawn and if you’d say to him, Peanut, salute, he’d lift his front right paw to his forehead and salute. People would stop their cars to check him out. You could tell him to fall over dead too, but we didn’t do that too often as he didn’t like doing it all that much. Read the rest of this entry »

Jan Dean: Heidi Dean, teacher’s pet

k15841471Two Golden Retrievers peer curiously over the veranda gate, eager to meet the visitor.  Jan has agreed to tell me about the most memorable dog she’s ever had, an animal I’d heard described as a saint by those who knew her.


“It all started for me in 1989 when I answered a Canine Vision ad for foster homes in the Toronto Star.  After I passed their qualification process they put me on a waiting list.  At the time I was a Physical Education teacher and Vice-Principal at Timothy Eaton Business and Technical Institute and I had two Golden Retriever adults.  The day after the holidays ended that Christmas, I got a call from Canine Vision informing me they had a puppy for immediate take home.” Read the rest of this entry »

Nancy Fox: Fox Family Retrievers

riley-relaxing3Nancy Fox taught kindergarden for 28 years before she retired in 1987.  She and her husband, Doug, raised a blended family of eight children and they have many grandchildren.  Born in Toronto, Nancy grew up during the 1940s and 1950s in Port Perry, Ontario where her father used to own and operate a small theatre.  “He was forever bringing stray dogs and cats home.” Read the rest of this entry »

Baby sitting

lacey-and-matthewA baby, a good dog,  an empty egg carton.  Simplicity itself on the kitchen floor.

Thanks to ML

Lisa Fioretto: Organ donor and a best dog named Smokey

It was a particularly cold January for Toronto and on this evening, drifting snow had stiffened to concrete hardness on the stairs going down to the front entrance.  Moving into this apartment, I learned later, had been part of a necessary downsizing strategy for Lisa, a single mother.   After her surgery she encountered tough financial times, a roller coaster begun by her former employer who unexpectedly fired her during her recovery. Bedecked in tattoos, henna’d hair and eyes reflecting a complex life, Lisa greeted me warmly.

Lisa and Pug puppy

Lisa and Pug puppy

I met Lisa Fioretto and her daughter, Cheyne, in their Toronto Queen Street West basement apartment about eight months after Lisa’s kidney donation surgery.

While young Cheyne bounced back and forth between us and a reality program on t.v. in the next room, Lisa and I sat down in her artfully decorated kitchen. During my work as a realtor I see a lot of basement apartments and this was one of the coziest and most beautifully decorated I had ever come across. On Lisa’s lap sat a most adorable Pug puppy named Pollyanna. Read the rest of this entry »