By Kathy McGrath

Last March I wrote about my first few weeks as the owner of a bouncing little Corgi pup named Wendel. Back then, life was a blur of vet visits, house training and ushering guests into the backyard who wanted to meet our bundle of joy.

Eight months have passed and we have settled into a calmer routine, although as I write this story Wendel is vying for my attention with his new squeaky toy. His eyes are imploring me to GET OFF THAT COMPUTER AND PLAY WITH ME!

So, what have I learned about dog ownership over the past eight months? Lots, actually.

1) Dogs help you meet new people and their pets.

A new dog is like a mini family ambassador. As we walk the neighbourhood, strangers stop us in our tracks and, without even making eye contact, ask a litany of questions about our dog: What breed is he? Where did we get him? How old is the little bundle of fur? This is especially true with other dog owners who instantly embraced us as kindred spirits – it’s like being part of a special club! Caveat: while humans may love a new puppy, their older dogs may not be smitten with a pesky puppy jumping around them and acting crazy.

2) The ground is dirtier than you think.

Until you own a dog, you don’t notice how much debris there is on grass and sidewalks. Unfortunately, puppies want to put everything in their mouths, so suddenly the ground becomes a land mine of cigarette butts, spilled drinks, discarded food, rabbit poop and poisonous berries. It’s a good idea to make sure Spot is not too hungry before taking him for a walk!

3) Dogs can have weird, unpredictable quirks.

I know several people who change their dogs’ food brand every few weeks because their little darlings are so fussy. More than a few owners have told me they must feed their pups by hand or the dogs won’t eat at all. Oh, boy! Since Wendel is a canine vacuum cleaner, this hasn’t been a problem for me. However, my dog is not without his issues. While I assumed all dogs LOVED walking, I learned that’s not the case! From day one, Wendel didn’t see the purpose in walking in a straight line on a sidewalk attached to a leash. More often than not, he would simply plop down on the sidewalk in defiance of our efforts. No amount of cajoling, bribing or reprimanding worked. Short of dragging him along the sidewalk, we had to seek professional help with this. Wendel is a better walker now, but there is still lots of room for improvement.

4) Dogs help you focus on the here and now.

These days, listening to the news is sure to induce anxiety and depression. Global warming, a pandemic and spiralling inflation are just a few topics that weigh heavily on our minds. While dogs may not solve the world’s problems, they force us to attend to their immediate needs, providing a refreshing distraction from the doom and gloom. Playing with an active pup, taking walks in the woods or cuddling on the couch with a warm bundle of fur definitely helps the shoulders relax a little. Which reminds me, it’s time to get off the computer and play with Wendel!

Furry Friends

Einstein and Kingsley: the ultimutt duo

Einstein and Kingsley are highly recognizable in Centennial as they regularly walk in the neighbourhood with Linda Udovicic. These King Charles Spaniels animate the word “cute.” Einstein, the black and white 8-year-old boy is the leader of the little pack. He’s a little drama king, said Linda, as 5-year-old Kingsley follows Einstein’s lead through all his antics. Einstein has a particular love for apples and he has developed an immunity to amygdalin in apple seeds that releases cyanide into the bloodstream when chewed and digested. Linda restricts Einstein to only one apple should they come across fallen apples on their walks. Kingsley’s passion is to play ball. Linda’s passion is her little two cutie pies.

Cleo: a pawsome little companion

Cleo is the cherished and long-awaited dog to owners Judy and Rick Pillsworth. And the three of them couldn’t be happier! Just over a year ago the Pillsworth’s dog Toby passed away and they spent the better part of the past year searching for another one. With the pandemic raging at the time, the demand for pets was very high. Judy and Rick wanted a rescue dog but finding one that had the traits they were looking for was difficult. After months of searching and filling out applications, they discovered a rescue agency that brings in dogs from Egypt. Hence the name Cleo for Cleopatra. Cleo, a Papillon, is between 4 and 7 years old. She loves to go for walks and car rides and she enjoys cuddling on a warm lap. Judy and Rick also own two cats so the baby gates throughout the house help to keep Cleo from chasing them. This has been a challenge but having Cleo in their lives has made everything worthwhile.

Tillie: rescue dog gets new leash on life

Leslie Hancox Wagner adopted her adorable Shepherd/Lab mix, Tillie, at the height of the pandemic. Tillie’s mother, a street dog rescued from northern Manitoba, gave birth to seven puppies en route to Ontario last November. Leslie’s adult daughter, Kelsie, agreed to foster the mother and all the pups and eventually adopted one of the puppies. Leslie took a puppy as well, saying, “It was child pressure that made me do it!”  While Leslie calls Tillie a good, gentle dog, she adds that “everything is always on her terms.” The dog’s ideal walking route, for example, would be “no route at all, running free without a leash!” Tillie, who has mastered the art of extracting the squeakers out of her toys in minutes, was named after Tilley Drive where the family lives. “We changed the spelling to make it look like a girl’s name,” adds Leslie. 

Sophie: always the life of the pawty

Sophie is a friendly 6-year-old Golden Doodle who has the exuberance of a puppy. Janet Taylor and her husband John have owned dogs since 1994 and Sophie is their fourth. Their last dog was also a Golden Doodle but Janet said Maggie was a timid dog whereas Sophie is more outgoing. “She likes to be cuddled a lot and she loves people. It doesn’t matter who you are. She just wants to be friendly.” Janet said Sophie also likes other dogs to the point where she jumped so enthusiastically with them that she hurt her shoulder and had to be rested for 10 days. “She doesn’t know when to stop.”

When Sophie’s out in the backyard, she enjoys the usual dog things like watching for and chasing chipmunks. But she also has an independent streak. “When she’s warm she’s been known occasionally to go in the pool herself – the only dog we’ve ever had to do that,” Janet said.