PET OF THE MONTH!
To be published in the Feb 2013 issue of BEACH METRO COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER
Seeing is Believing
When we bought our 1850’s farmhouse near Colborne a few years ago, I quickly concluded
we had a ghost! Not to worry. Like Casper, he’s a friendly spirit. He also has 4 legs.
As ghosts tend to be, Tobias the Ghost Dog is invisible – except in the eyes of one of our
beagles. Ever since joining our family, Ruby-Sue has enjoyed the not so flattering habit of blankly staring off into space.
I used to chalk it up to a wandering mind with a terrible sense of direction, but now I know better. Our Ruby has a special
gift! She can spend hours happily convening with the dearly departed.
It was around Christmas when my rescue partner started to pester me about Toby, the mesmerizing dog pictured here. I
was instantly reminded of Ruby’s BPFF (Best Phantom Farm Friend). For starters, they share the same name. Secondly,
those eyes are positively other-worldly! Ruby and I agree Toby would make a great ghost dog. But here’s the sad truth
– he might as well be a ghost for all the luck he’s had being seen.
Toby had been haunting the Scarborough pound since September when his owners dropped him off before a move.
I’ll never understand that overused excuse, as if disposal of the family pet is a natural part of the de-cluttering
process. Still, it might have been just as well in Toby’s case. The roughly 6 year old Hound mix had never been to a
vet for annual vaccinations or anything else. He was suffering from a nasty ear infection upon arrival and a poor diet had
left him far too thin. The caring staff at Toronto Animal Services – East Region saw to his medical
needs and filled his tummy with regular meals, but they could do nothing for his hungry heart other than hope a family would
come to the shelter and fall in love with him one day.
Why some dogs
turn invisible in our animal shelters is an ongoing mystery. Statistics have shown that middle-aged tail-waggers tend to sniff
out less interest from prospective adopters than perky puppies or golden oldies, but there’s not much more to go on
other than that. If only private rescue groups like mine could come to the rescue of every invisible shelter dog experiencing
a mid-life crisis. Sadly, even ghost dogs need space and we all run out of that sometimes.
Even as I write this, we have no foster homes available and Toby really doesn’t fit the beagle profile
even if we did. Nevertheless, I had to do something. Like a ghost hunter, I was determined to shine a light on the invisible!
But instead of infra-red night goggles, I opted for the written word and sent out one howl of a heart-tugging e-blast to our
friends and supporters. I figured if we could cast the light far and wide enough, maybe someone special like my Ruby would
see Toby in all his wondrous glory.
I wrote about how he thanks the
moon and stars whenever a staff member or volunteer finds time to challenge him to a riveting game of fetch. I wrote about
how he’s whacky for walkies and head-over-paws for plush toys that squeak when squeezed. I also wrote about
how none of the above compares to receiving a gentle kiss on his forehead and a tickle behind his flip-flop ears. Those are
the moments his sense of being invisible truly disappears.
step was to feature Toby the Ghost Dog of Scarborough Pound for this article. But before I even began, I received an email
that sent shivers up my spine. The sender was thanking me for my e-blast about Toby. She’d been so touched by it that
she read it to her family. They’d been seriously considering a spirited sibling for their beagle for some time.
Mr. Blue Eyes isn’t invisible anymore. I’ve got their family
photo to prove it.
I thought about tracking down another story for
my article after learning of Toby’s adoption, but then I started thinking about the power of illumination and how it
changed the life of one dog already. Maybe Toby’s tale could serve to bust a few more ghosts out of our shelters.
Still not convinced there’s any such thing as ghosts? Maybe you should check with
Toby’s new family. They didn’t believe in ghosts either until they met him. Without a shadow of a doubt, they
know he’s real! They can tell every time they plant a gentle kiss on his forehead and ruffle the fur feathers behind
his flip flop ears.
Ain’t afraid of no ghosts? Join Ghostbusters!
Head to your local shelter and bring an invisible dog back into focus! You might get there by ectomobile but you’re
sure to float all the way home with your happy new family member leading the way!
PET OF THE MONTH
(my column in BEACH METRO NEWSPAPER - to be published in January 2012 issue)
“Ugh! I’ve been kissed by a dog!
from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”)
I’ll never understand Lucy types. Receiving a kiss from a dog can be life-changing…in a good
It was only a bell’s
jingle before Christmas when I burst into a revised version of a Katy Perry song while driving home from Toronto Animal Services
kissed a dog and I liked it!”
There’s nothing terribly odd about that given the fact I’ve traded in a normal life to rescue appreciative
beagles. Kisses have been plenty. But this particular kiss will go down in beagle rescue history as the one that mattered
most. It’s not because the dog delivering the kiss (she kissed me first) happened to be our 100th beagle
rescued since Big On Beagles (B.O.B) began its work a decade ago. I didn’t make that observation until
What made this kiss
so special is how it gave me the reason I needed to keep the pet repair shop open for beagle #101.
On December 8th, I received an email from the shelter asking
if we had space for an approximately 12-year-old beagle riddled with suspicious lumps. She clearly wasn’t adoptable
to the general public. Heck, she wouldn’t be adoptable at all if any of the lumps proved malignant. Accordingly, she
was an ideal candidate for BOB. We have this thing about coming to the rescue of the Charlie Browniest of dogs, i.e.
the seemingly hopeless.
we already had our quota of hopeless hounds. A few days prior, we’d taken in two beagles that had sadly lost their elderly
owners. 10-year-old, grief-stricken Beowulf had been deposited to the Barrie SPCA. Winston, aka Winnie the Pooh, had been
home alone with only the neighbour to feed him.
Our foster homes were officially bursting with beagles. I couldn’t possibly take another. Or, was
there hope for Miss Hopeless? Catherine, founder of Sheba’s Haven, could fit in one more palliative
care beagle for us if needed.
I went to the shelter to see if she fit the bill. Of course I got lost first, after taking the wrong exit but eventually arrived
albeit in a Charlie Brown woe-is-me kind of mood. That changed quickly once I got the whole scoop on lumpy lady.
It had been a cold night in early December when the animal control officer
came to her rescue. She’d been left tied to a shopping cart in a mall parking lot.
I hear such heart-tugging stories all the time and had begun to wonder
whether my heart was willing to be tugged at any more. Apparently it was. It gave way as soon as she walked through the door.
With all her lumps, she looked like a 4-legged Christmas tree with ornaments hanging from every limb. But those lumps didn’t
weigh down her beagle tail! With every exuberant wag, I felt an equally exuberant tug.
The intention was only to assess temperament, gauge the extent of the
health concerns and return to home base to ponder the next course of action. But within seconds of my inspection, I was scooping
her up into the beagle-mobile while proclaiming her “Clementine” in honour of the season.
The way home was filled with my usual one-way conversation. But when we
stopped at a street light, something better than words happened. Clementine had been backseat-wagging in polite response to
my nonsensical chatter. I turned to whisper yet another sweet nothing in her ear when she gave me a shy little kiss. I kissed
her back and started to sing.
had her surgery a week before Christmas removing the worrisome lumps. Two were likely malignant but with any luck, gone for
good. Her heart will need monitoring though. An ultrasound confirmed mitral valve disease, but thankfully no evidence of congestive
heart failure. Paws crossed, there’s plenty of time for more kissing!
On Christmas Eve, I introduced Clem to her foster parents at the Belleville Dog Park halfway
between our farm and Sheba’s Haven. Despite her post-surgery cone-head, my darling Clementine marched up to her foster
daddy and planted a confident kiss on his face. That’s when I knew she was going to be just fine.
100 beagles saved should be worth celebrating but for every 100 you save,
there’s a thousand more you can’t. While we’re seeing positive change in the plight of homeless pets, there’s
still so much more to be done. It can make you feel hopeless sometimes. That is, until a pathetic-looking Christmas tree with
barely any needles left on its branches nudges you away from your pity party.
I watched the Charlie Brown special over the holidays as I always do but
this time, I really got it! Poor Charlie Brown was in search of the true meaning of Christmas. He might have given up entirely
if not for rescuing that silly old tree. Lucy and the gang laughed but for some reason, they decorated it anyway. In the end,
that tree was the most beautiful tree of all.
Thanks to Clementine and Charlie Brown, I’ve learned it’s okay if you don’t always see
the forest for the trees. Taking on one seemingly hopeless little tree at a time is far less complicated…just like
a dog’s kiss.
Clementine is the 12-year-old beagle that kissed this dog rescuer back to life! Of course, she’s
got a lot more life-saving kisses to give! Clem and I thank the staff at Toronto Animal Services (North Region), Catherine
& Bill of Sheba’s Haven – www.shebashaven.petfinder.com , and the generous supporters of Big On Beagles (B.O.B) Rescue for getting us to 100
beagles saved so far – www.bigonbeagles.ca.
OF THE MONTH…Unforgettable
*To be published in the Sept/09 issue of BEACH METRO COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER
For me, there will always be two famous ‘Darwins’ in history - Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, and
my Darwin, origin of everything else. That’s stretching it a bit, but mothers have the right to embellish.
In Darwin’s defense, he truly did discover
many things over the years. Mind you, these things almost always belonged to someone else and were often edible by nature.
Darwin remained oblivious, celebrating each discovery to the fullest…from a pack of gum foolishly presumed safe in
a purse to an entire family picnic. Being the great explorer that he was, Darwin felt a certain entitlement to whatever his
nose sniffed out. Call it beagles’ logic, as illogical as that might be.
Despite constant embarrassment, I was crazy for Darwin. Love made living
with the Baddest Beagle in the Universe for 14+ years worth every red-faced apology I made on his behalf. When it
came to our love story, love meant always having to say I’m sorry. But he made up for all that by
turning me into a hopelessly devoted helper of homeless howlers. He was the first beagle I saved and the very reason I started
Big On Beagles (B.O.B) Rescue.
summer, I lost Darwin to cancer. I’m supposed to look on the bright side. Our little canine crusader outlived his prognosis
by more than a year. Don’t forget the average life expectancy of a dog is 12 years old and Darwin turned 15 on April
Fools Day – the date aptly chosen to celebrate his birthdays.
But none of this is much consolation for a paw-stained heart counting on forever.
And yet, there is a bright side. It dawned on me the moment I met Francesca Davino, a fellow Beacher about as stubborn as
a beagle when it comes to fighting back. One inspirational conversation with her and I was singing “Hot Diggity Dog!”
for the future ‘Darwins’ of the world.
The expression may date as far back as 1928 but you’ve got to admit it’s doggone catchy! Something tells
me it’ll make one howl of a comeback this September 20th. That’s when Special Events expert, Francesca,
will be shining a hopeful light on the dogs that enrich our lives through her fur-flying FUN-raiser for canine cancer research
--- “Hot Diggity Dog in the Beaches!”
There’s an undeniable optimism in Francesca’s approach. Although it shook her to the core to learn 60%
of all dogs will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, she’s encouraged by the strides being made in the research
labs for both humans and companion animals.
The Ontario Veterinary College boasts a world-class center for canine cancer research. That’s where Francesca
will be directing the funds raised through her event via The Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund.
Francesca’s preferred weapon in the fight against cancer? The love
bomb! Invented by Sunny, a dog she once knew. Love bombs are the only way she can accurately describe her hugs. They were
devastating. No frown could survive a love bomb from little Miss Sunshine.
There will be plenty of love bombs going off at Hot Diggity Dog in the Beaches!
After all, it’s more than a fundraiser. It’s a celebration of the dogs we adore – past, present and future.
The sparks start flying on
the Boardwalk at 11:00am with The Parade of Stars! Imagine all our beach dogs marching to the beat of their tails
from Woodbine to Silverbirch! There will be prizes to win for the walkers with the most pledges, awesome auction items to
bid on, performing dogs to marvel at, and contests to participate in! “If that doesn’t put a smile on your face,
then the Live Steel Band will!” Francesca exclaims, with a sparkle in her eye, “You can’t listen to a steel
band and not get happy!”
know nothing lasts forever, even gum-chewing beagles with original charm. But I also know love is the kick-in-the-pants for
all good deeds. I wouldn’t be surprised if a dog as unforgettable as Darwin will one day be the inspiration behind the
cure for cancer.
This article is dedicated to my infamous beagle, Darwin. He would have approved any event that includes picnics!
So grab your pooch, pack a picnic and be part of this good deed! HOT
DIGGITY DOG IN THE BEACHES! takes our community by sandstorm
on Sunday, September 20, 2009 starting with the Parade of Stars at 11:00am, followed by fun-filled furstivities from 1-5pm!
Visit: www.hotdiggitydoginthebeaches.ca for more dazzling details! To lend a helping paw on Event Day, email:
This article was published in the June,
2008 edition of the Beach Metro Community News.
PET OF THE MONTH… I (HEART) HUCK-A-BEAGLE!
think of my column as the canine comics section of our paper. There’s the ‘Headlines’ and then there’s
me – the ‘Tail Ends’. Anybody looking for a heartwarming chuckle can flip to the funnies, or furries as
is the case, where I’m only too happy to accommodate. My ulterior motive, of course, is that your laughter will lead
to love and the characters of my comic strip will spring from the page paws first straight into your laps forever! But for
this article, I simply want to tell a heart-tugging tale. No ulterior motives…just a worthy plug along with the tug.
remember the first time I met Huck. The little jailbird scored an early release from doggy prison courtesy of Big on Beagles
(BOB) Rescue. Without batting a tail hair, Hucky made the 3-hour road trip from the rural pound to the Beach. He’d been
accompanied by a doting shelter volunteer and his parrot. You’d think he would have been exhausted after such a journey
but Huck the Beagle bounced out of the car as fresh as a daisy! That was about 5 years ago. Huckleberry Hound was ancient
even back then. Shelter records indicated he’d been around since before the Blue Jays won the World Series. Huck is
at least 20 years old now. You might wonder what sort of joy a 20-year-old beagle could possibly paw out of life. You might
even think he’d be better off pushing daisies than watering them at this late hour. Beagles, however, are stubborn by
nature, even when it comes to getting old. Huck may love listening to the blues, but he’s definitely not crying over
them. Thanks to his forever foster family, he’s discovered that life this side of the clouds is gosh darn heavenly enough.
So he’s working on breaking the world record for Oldest Dog.
It’s not always the case that
the beagles we rescue find adoptive homes in the end. They’re either too expensive due to chronic health issues, too
old like Huckaroni, or too something. But no matter what lies ahead, our homeless howlers can always depend on a hook to hang
their leash down at what one of our foster parent’s fondly describes as BOB’s Beagle Repair Shop.
“Mr. Fixit”, aka Foster Dad, recently sent a perky pupdate on our oldest rescue beagle ever. Foster Dad is a musician
and Huck is his favourite critic. “The Ancient One” pretends to be completely deaf when Dad gets out his guitar
and plays classical, jazz or celtic. But when he starts strummin’ the blues, Huck is front row center and all ears.
There will come a day when the music will end for our little blues hound. We all know it’s inevitable. But the music
will play on in celebration of this extraordinary dog. And it will play on for the next beagle determined to break a record
– reparable or not. It’s what we do.
It’s also what so many fellow rescue groups do
– phenomenal folks that I’m proud to know personally. That’s why it’s such an honour to come together
with them once again to raise funds for these many dogs I write about, these dogs whose triumphant tales give us reason to
smile. All of us are reunited for the 6th Annual K9 Rescue Me Walkathon at Woofstock on June 14, 2009!
set a pledge goal for yourself and walk for your favourite dog rescue! And while you’re walking, think of the dogs you’ll
be helping. Dogs like Huck with personal goals of their own…such as, living to see the Blue Jays win another World
Huck is a 20-year-old veteran beagle who loves the blues! He’s got a permanent
gig with his foster family at BIG ON BEAGLES (BOB) Rescue, www.bigonbeagles.ca. But he’s not getting any younger so let’s make howl while the sun shines! Walk for BOB in the K9 Rescue Me Walkathon at Woofstock on June 14, 2009! To learn more about this fur-raising event and the other participating dog rescue groups who
need your support as much as we do, visit www.k9rescueme.com!
PET OF THE MONTH!
*To be published
in the November 1st 2011 issue of Beach Metro Community News
Halloween ain’t over, Rover! It’s time to do the Monster Mash at the BEAGLE
when you thought it was safe to answer your door now that the ghosts and goblins have disappeared until next year, there’s
a monster on the loose! He’s a one-eyed, one-tailed, flyin’ purple tennis ball eater and he’s determined
to celebrate HOWL-O-WEEN all year round!
There have been reported sightings on the beach which have led to chilling
close encounters! That’s because this li’l one-eyed monster likes to give mega monster hugs, the kind that make
you tingle all over. First, he places his paws strategically on your lap. Then, once he’s got your full attention, he
zombifies you with his spell-binding one-eyed stare. You’re toast after that. You cannot resist the hug that
follows, which ultimately transforms you into the cheese melting on the toast. The hug leads to kisses and the kisses lead
to the point of no return.
Make no mistake - he’s so cute, he’s
So how do I know so much about this mind-melting beach monster? I guess
it’s because he tricked me into opening my door and he’s been haunting my house (and heart) ever since.
It all started when I got an email from a shelter in Ohio about a month
ago. Attached to its plea for help was a picture of a beagle that was clearly missing an eye. He’d been wandering the
moors of rural Ohio with a two-eyed goblin girl of similar beagle persuasion. His moor-mate, later dubbed Scarlet JoHOWLson,
was also in need of rescue. She’s an old goblin and they don’t get as much attention as the young ones. Similarly,
goblins missing an eye are often too scary for those easily spooked by veterinary bills. So the two unwanted goblins kindly
offered to swap goose-bumps for refuge with Big On Beagles (BOB) Rescue, an assistance agency for beagles
experiencing troubled times. Lucky for them, we love getting goose-bumps.
Scarlet JoHOWLson (shelter name, “Trixie the Trickster”)
is currently entertaining her foster parents in Welland with a plethora of adorable trixies in exchange for treatsies,
while the one-eyed monster decided to treat me to his spine-tingling presence post-surgery.
Upon examination, our vet concluded the missing
eye to be a birth defect rather than an injury which only required sewing closed to prevent infection.
Choosing a name for our recovering patient/resident spine-tingler was
next on the agenda. Although highly accurate, One-eyed One-tailed Flyin’ Purple Tennis Ball Eater
was much too long. We tried Porthos initially but it seemed frighteningly pretentious for your average down-to-earth monster.
We finally agreed upon Cy. What Cy is short for, however, is up for debate. Foster Daddy insists it short for Cyclops…the
horror! I prefer to think it short for Cyril, more dignified than pretentious and definitely uncommon.
Some folks might describe the beagle as monstrous. I’m willing
to concur, depending on how they define monster of course. Monsters can be scary, but don’t forget the monster with
the heart of gold! Beagles fall under that category. One minute, they’re stealing treats from the counter while piercing
your very soul with their demon eyes. The next minute, they’re doing the Monster Mash with you and all the bad stuff
vanishes like a ghost caught in a flashlight beam. Such is the charmingly wicked way of the beagle and beagle lovers would
have it no other way. An equally wicked sense of humour protects us from any serious harm. That’s not to say we’re
completely immune to monster manipulation. Beagles are masters of manipulation. Why else would I have chosen to rescue bad-to-the-bone
beagles instead of angel-fish?
Fortunately, I’m not the only one fallen prey to the curse of the beagle.
Our numbers are many and, every November, we ban together and throw one howl of a party on their behalf. This year marks our
6th Annual BEAGLE BASH FOR CASH! The party room at Pawsway is sure to be bursting at the seams
with beagles and their servants again this year. You’re also certain to see other dog breeds in attendance hoping to
learn the fine art of manipulation while supporting the cause with their unsuspecting owners.
The truth is there really is no such thing as the curse of the beagle.
I’m just pulling your pant leg, a trick I no doubt learned from…a beagle. If falling madly in love with a bodacious
beagle like The Cy Guy is a curse, I never want it lifted. I can think of a lot worse afflictions than laughing all the time.
Yesterday was Halloween. Today is All Saints Day.
The innocent-looking beagle pictured here? Just call him Saint Cy.
Cy is a ruffly 2-year-old marvelously
monstrous mix of Beagle and Basset Hound, trick-or-treating everyone into loving him unconditionally at Big On Beagles
(BOB) Rescue, www.bigonbeagles.ca. Help keep the spell of the beagle forever cast by joining us
for the monster ball of the year - our 6th Annual BEAGLE BASH
FOR CASH! on November 27th at Pawsway!