Archive for October, 2009

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”.

Toronto Police Dog Services’ 20th anniversary

Some of the handlers and their dogs

Some of the dogs and their handlers

Toronto has the largest police canine unit in Canada with 32 working dogs and 22 human handlers on staff. 

The Toronto Police Dog Services Unit was launched in 1989 and recently celebrated its twentieth year of operation.                                                                                                                                                               What a pleasure it was for me to watch as these fine teams demonstrated their skills in front of an admiring audience.  The dogs strutted their stuff on this special day.  It felt good to recognize the public service they perform.  During the course of their daily working lives,  these animals are put nose first into hazardous situations.

Police dogs are used both during normal police work and during extraordinary situations.  They apprehend suspects.  They sniff out explosives, illegal drugs, and firearms.  They search for cadavers.  They look for lost people.  They are used for crowd control and they guard while their human partners investigate crime scenes.  They are truly partners to their human police men and women.  Each dog has his or her own badge number. They are officers of the law.

Waiting to perform

Waiting to perform


Although most police dogs are German Shepherds, the Toronto force also has several mixed breeds including a Lab mix, a Spaniel mix, and a handsome and capable Golden Retriever.