Wednesday, 25 May 2011

beautiful joe

Today I pulled a book off my shelf called Beautiful Joe. This book was first recommended to me by a friend in elementary school; it was inspired by Anna Sewell's Black Beauty. Written by Margaret Marshall Saunders, Beautiful Joe follows a mixed-breed dog from his beginnings with an abusive owner to his exploits with the family who rescued him.

In the beginning of the novel, Joe describes some of the heinous crimes committed against animals; "He began to swear because we were so ugly, and said that if we had been good-looking, he might have sold some of us... He took one pup and then another, and right there, before his children and my poor distracted mother, put an end to their lives" (p9).

At a year old, Joe's abusive owner cut off his ears and tail with an axe - Joe's yelps were heard from the road and a young man came and took him away.

Joe then begins his life with the Morris family, and quickly learns to love them. This is a story to encourage humane education; through Joe's own experiences and his conversations with other animals the reader is exposed to many different types of cruelty and the overcoming of it.

Another example of cruelty occurred with one of the Morris' other dogs. Jim had been a hunting dog, and was loaned out to a group of young men. These men tied Jim to a tree and "He fired close to me a number of times - over my head and under my body. The earth was cut up all around me. I was terribly frightened, and howled and begged to be free" (p46).

I love this book, the story is told is a very direct way and gives a good description of how animals were treated circa 1893. It is a children's novel, therefore a very easy read. Although many parts are sad, most events told in the book have happy endings. Highly recommended to anyone who loves animals.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

apartment hunting

This week, my mom came to visit for a few days, and to help me look for an apartment for next year. I decided a long time ago that I wanted to live by myself - I like having a roommate but feel that life is generally easier without one. This means finding a bachelor or one bedroom apartment, guaranteed to be more expensive than my current rent.

My apartment wishlist includes the following:
- pet friendly (obviously)
- outdoor space, either a balcony or accessible yard
- full kitchen
- parking
- half hour (walk or bus) to campus

Yes, I know I am picky. And I cannot really afford to pay anything more than $800 per month, including utilities. But I feel like I've lived in enough dives, and had enough crappy roommate, that I am justified in my search for the perfect apartment. This place will be my home for the next three years, and I want to be happy there.

So far there are two front runners. One is a condo, which my parents would have to buy. It's a half hour walk to school, backs onto hiking trails, and has a huge balcony. Small kitchen but the perfect amount of living space. Between all the fees and utilities etc, my mom and I figured it would cost me about $870 per month to live there. Unfortunately over my budget. And my dad is not on board with purchasing a property.

The other front runner is an apartment on the main floor of a house. It is a beautiful old house, currently being refinished (new appliances, floors, paint, etc). There is a front porch, backyard, and to be honest there is more indoor space than I would need. The landlord was super nice, he said they do not normally allow pets but was fairly agreeable to mine. He could not remember what the rent was, but said it would be between $800 and $825 per month, including all utilities. Plus my internet would be about $860. Over my budget again.

My predicament:
Is it possible to find a nice place to live, with everything on my wish list, for $800 or less per month?
Is it worth it to accrue more debt to live in a place I love?

I will continue to look for apartments, but feel like an opportunity like this will be hard to match.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Willow Meets the Boar

blog carnival

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Time Demands

Last week I started work at Rens Pet Depot in Kitchener. It is a great pet store, selling high quality foods, toys, and other pet products. It is also a great location, about 20 minutes from my apartment in Waterloo, and I think about 25 minutes from Guelph. I also get an employee discount, which will be awesome!

The downside is that it is killing my weekends. Being part-time I will be working Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays. No more ADS outings, weekends at the cottage, or Rally trials.

I had intended to take Ace to get his Rally Advanced in March... then April.... and now it looks like it will have to wait until June. It's a good thing I'm not in a rush! He is only two, so I have lots of time to do these kinds of things with him. 

But for now, I suppose I will have to spoil him with bones (now that I get a discount) and lots of hikes and attention!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

dog aggression in a multi-dog house

Last week, while my apartment was being renovated, I stayed with my friend and fellow puppy-raiser. Let me tell you, it is quite the production to pack up two dogs and a cat for a week-long visit, and not an experience I care to repeat frequently. My friend was as accomodating as possible, considering the dog drama she deals with on a regular basis.

Her canines include:
1 Belgian Shepherd, Summer, pet - dog aggressive
1 Smooth Collie, Wizard, ADS foster - friendly
1 Labrador, Maggie, Lab Rescue foster - dog aggressive

Since she introduced the Lab Rescue foster three months ago, her life has been one of baby gates, crates, and aborted attacks between Summer and the Maggie. Wizard has learned enough to be able to float between the two, however this past week he joined my pack on the upper floor of the house. Maggie stays in the living room or the car, and Summer now lives permanently in the kitchen. My pack lived on the second floor, so to take them out for a pee, we first had to move Maggie to the car, or through another baby gate into the basement. The animosity between Summer and Maggie is so extreme that a crate has to be placed in front of the gate to ensure there is zero contact between them.

After several days in this house, I was moving Maggie from the basement to the living room, after having put Willow, Wizard and Ace in the car. The crate was moved further back than was normal, but I figured Maggie knew the routine enough by now that if I opened the gate she would move into her regular space. Boy was I wrong. As soon as I opened the gate, Maggie dashed in the other direction, towards Summer. The gate sprang open, and I had to try to pull Maggie off Summer before she could do serious injury. Luckily I was able to grab her collar and pull her away before any damage could be done.

Now, Maggie is a very sweet dog, one on one. She is fun-loving and affectionate, and very food motivated so in principle she should be easy to train. However, she has been in and out of various foster homes for the past year. At one point she was adopted out, but someone stepped on her and broke her back leg, so she was taken back by the rescue. Her original owner bought her at a pet store, and surrendered her to the rescue becasue he didn't realize she would get so big. Maggie has been through about seven homes now, most in the past year. See her story here:

I cannot imagine having to live my life constantly jumping over baby gates, crates, and the fear the one dog could injure another. I have heard of pit bull rescues operating like this, and I have a newfound respect for this type of dedication. I have to wonder about the quality of life for dogs who live in such stressful environments - yes they are better than in a kennel, or tied up in a backyard, but when the patience of both dogs and humans is shorter, how much can you really accomplish?