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Thursday, March 27, 2008

This dog is a biped

The word biped doesn't typically elicit thoughts of canines, now does it? However, here's the story of a dog named Faith, born with a congenital deformity (the total absence of her thoracic [front] limbs). It's an endearing story that has just simply warmed my heart. Watch the story here.


Faith, as a puppy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Canine Café?

Ok, you may have heard of a few places like this, and if not, you can take the idea and make a mint. Or not. This post is to get the opinion of the readers. Would a Canine Café work in Toronto? Here's the concept: a place, or restaurant, only for dogs. Well their owners would be welcome as well. Owners would be given a menu with many choices of meals for their dogs. Specific dietary needs, special requirements, food sensitivities, and allergies to specific foods would be noted. A meal would be brought to the dogs, possibly as 1) appetizers, 2) a main course, and 3) desert (this part is easy).
What do you think? Ok, I'll partly answer that. Am I crazy for even fathoming this idea?! Would the Canine Café not cater to eccentric pet owners, those pet owners who put their dogs in purses and strollers (see previous post on this matter)? What a hypocrite I would be. Slam the behaviour and then contribute to it for a buck (or more)! Sell my soul for money... that is so NOT me!
But imagine what a hoot it would be! (Ideally) A place teeming with happy dogs, happy people, and satisfying the basic needs of a pet in a healthy, original, and (hopefully) lucrative way. I need some feedback: would you take your dog to such a place?

Ok, is this normal?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Feeble laws protect the offenders

One hundred and one Arabian horses were seized by the Alberta SCPA, most of which were severely malnourished, emaciated, and in dire distress. Twenty nine were already dead from starvation. Other animals in the barn, such as rabbits, goats, and sheep, were in no better shape.
The owner of the farm, Axel Hinz-Schleuter, was previously fined in August of 2005 for neglect. This is his (documented) second offence. Ostensibly, he was unable to pay for their care. He should never have had a horse farm. If times were better in the past (when he could afford their care), he should have had the wherewithal to seek help during these hard times. Apparently, he had prize-winning horses at one time and "loved his horses dearly," according to a trainer who owns a horse purchased in the past from the accused. Seeking help could have meant bankruptcy, but hey, we'd all prefer that over the suffering of these animals.
The owner of the farm faces a fine of up to $20,000 and a prohibition on ever owning horses again. Since a lack of money is what apparently got this guy in trouble in the first place, I'd be satisfied with the latter, however he should not be allowed to own ANY animals in the future. No newts, no rabbits, no horses.
He should have received the $20,000 fine the first time, instead of the meager $1,000. He would have better remembered that number...
Canada's legislation on animal cruelty has remained virtually untouched since the late 1800s. Most are aptly calling them "archaic." People who inflict pain and suffering on animals either deliberately or through neglect cannot be prosecuted. Ironic that the current laws "protect" those that are inflicting the suffering. Slaps on the wrist will not deter humans from inflicting pain and suffering on those who cannot speak for themselves. Let's speak loudly for them.


Canada's animal cruelty legislation: as current and effective as these.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

More perilous road conditions


Either I do know how to drive outside of Toronto, or I have been considerably more sensitive to terrible driving conditions elsewhere. Brooklyn, New York: diverse, cosmopolitan, and dangerous. I have never despised driving more than I have in Brooklyn, NY. Whether driving my Mini or my horse-drawn pumpkin (above), I constantly felt like a slalom Olympian. Potholes (more like crevasses), children, their parents, the homeless, were the majority of obstacles I succeeded in avoiding. Deep, smooth curves and dips in the actual asphalt reminded me of the roller coasters of Coney Island, not too great a distance from where I was staying. Mind-numbingly frustrating were the traffic lights, which were completely asynchronous. I would stop at red lights, seemingly never-changing, while the next light barely 100 meters ahead would be green. Having reached the next, it would turn red, the following green, the following red - you get the picture. It likely required 10 minutes to drive less than a mile. Not only does this contribute significantly to the flow of traffic, but invariably increases fuel consumption and therefore pollution. With nearly 250 million passenger vehicles in the US, I think it's high time that things like synchronizing traffic lights should be considered. Apparently, they are indeed synchronized in Manhattan.

After the Mini Cooper, the smallest vehicle in New York City. Gross.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Montreal: perilous road conditions

I'm two weeks in to my sabbatical, time off, whatever. I'm now in New York for the week, after spending last week in Montreal, whose streets have more potholes than the moon. Like the Bermuda Triangle, accidentally driving into one would inevitably have lead me into another dimension. Luckily, that didn't happen.
Though my stay in Montreal was not accident-free. Around the corner from my parents' place, a lanky 14 year-old ran across the street and right in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes but alas, too late. -boom- He went up on the hood as I slammed on the brakes, and as the car skidded to a stop, he landed a few feet from the front of the car. I, sanely, stood him up, checked him out, and asked if was ok (he was evidently fine). I called an ambulance while a witness called the police. It must have been 10 seconds before the paramedics arrived. We called his mother who ran franctically to the scene, overwhelmed yet relieved to find her son unscathed. A little shaken, yet relieved, I went over the accident with the officer who was extraordinarily sympathetic to me. He went on to describe how careless the "piétons" (pedestrians) in Montreal can be. He reassured me the accident was not my fault (after hearing my side of the story).
In retrospect, the child was afraid, not hurt. This was particularly evident when we called the police. This poor kid thought he'd be in big trouble. His reaction was at par with ours. The freaked-out entourage caused him to be freaked out. Before walking home with his parents, I reassured him that it was neither his fault, nor mine.
I had asked his parents for their phone number so that I can call them the following day (and gave them mine to call me for whatever reason). Happily, they gave it to me.
The only damage: the child's CD player, which I replaced with, say, a nicer version.
I called the following day for an update: he was doing great and his parents were understanding and appreciated the follow-up. When I arrived at their apartment to give the boy his replacement CD player, they would not let me go without insisting I stay for a drink. I must have spent an hour and a half with them. I felt lucky and humbled that such good and understanding could have stemmed from a car accident. They were understanding, empathetic, and down-to-earth. They manifested not an iota of blame or vindiction.
These are truly good people whose exemplary behaviour has reminded me of humanity's ultimate capacity for compassion and forgiving. I needed to have that accident and am thankful for the outcome.

I believe I have the right of way.