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.

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 »




Larry is a working German Shepherd on an organic produce farm in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, Ferme du Coq a L’Ane, owned by Jean-Francois Labbe and Jean-Francoix Levasseur. He monitors visitors, guards the farm’s free ranging chickens and Guinnea Hens, and oversees his humans’ Scottish Longhorn cattle and extensive pesticide-free vegetable crop.

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 »

PDS Caesar

Caesar and his human partner, Constable Randy Goss, lived their unit’s motto: “Life’s Short – Bite Hard”. He was killed in the line of duty in 1998.
Caesar and Randy Goss, photo courtesy Tom Braid, Edmonton Sun

Caesar and Randy Goss, photo courtesy Tom Braid, Edmonton Sun

At the time of his death, the 85 pound Rottweiler was a 5 year veteran of the Edmonton Alberta Police Service Dog Unit.   As Tom Braid, the photographer who had participated in numerous charity events  with the Unit, said afterwards,  ”People don’t quite get it.  This was not only a dog, this was an actual Police member; his title was Police Service Dog (PSD). Other cops on the street trust these dogs with their very own lives without ever giving it a second thought.  There are many calls that police members make where they will not proceed without a dogman backing them up.”

Caesar was shot while attempting to help police members subdue a distraught, apparently suicidal young man armed with a shotgun on the grounds of Bishop Savaryn Catholic Elementary School.

Fortunately, although it had been a planned outdoor fun day at school, most of the students had gone back inside for lunch because of hot weather. A man pointing a shotgun was spotted wandering around the perimeter of the sports field that was surrounded by three separate schools. The man refused repeated police requests to drop his firearm and instead fired shots into the air. Police services turned to Caesar for help. 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 »