September 14, 2011

The Little Dog debate

In the spirit of letting my readers in on who I am, and where I'm coming from in terms of my (strong) opinions, I wanted to devote a post to the new addition to our Exchange District condo: Cali.

About eight weeks ago I was browsing the Small Dog Take Me Home Rescue website  while a proposal I had sent to our landlord was still pending, regarding getting a dog. When my partner James and I moved into our condo six months ago, I was over the moon to be living on our own and starting our lives together. When the property manager said the words "No pets allowed" I disregarded it without a second thought, thinking I would be happy as long as I had this place with my best friend and boyfriend. As the months went on and James would leave on his work trips (every other week-ish) I would putter around the condo, wishing I had a companion like the big friendly golden retriever (Wilson) I had left behind at my big house on Kingston Row. I missed coming home to something that would bound towards you, and help melt away  your stress with the simple pleasure of seeing each other.

As a PR major, I know how to write a kickass proposal. From advertising, I know how to appeal to someones practical instincts, and emotional relations. Having never met my landlord (he lives in Toronto), I was nervous about approaching the subject. After several emails back and forth and some concessions on our part (foregoing the security deposit, extending our lease), we had an agreement to get a dog. And let me say, I felt like a rockstar. Having someone want to make you happy to the point of trusting you with a dog on their HARDWOOD floors and LEATHER couch (our place is furnished), was unreal, and let me say I will be forever thankful to our landlord- despite the fact that in his mind it probably was a pretty sweet bottom line- I know he wants this to be our home.

So back to the website searching. After searching the kijiji ads back and forth, researching and talking to others, I knew I didn't want a "little purse dog," but obviously we couldn't have a large dog in our 1000 sq. ft condo. With one visit to the home of a yorkshire terrier (who's owners were selling her for odd reasons) I realized this was our dog. However, yorkies go for THOUSANDS of dollars, as they are in a high demand breed and make great companions, and as a student that wasn't going to fly. I made the budget for $400, and kept hoping we'd find "the one." I may have even put out an ad on Kijiji. When I saw the sad little face of Cali on the Small Dog Rescue site for the price of $400 (fate, I know), I had to meet her. On the drive there James and I kept trying to keep our heads on straight and not get too excited, but from the moment we drove up and she quietly sat there looking at us, like she was waiting us- we were goners. We took her for a walk and she pranced around, and four days later we took her home.

Cali on the day we met her below: 

Cali is an absolute delight, and makes my day when I come home. She literally FLINGS her body at me like one of those fish that jumps out of water in the Australian outback, with no care for where she lands... something I may have taken videos of to cheer me up when locked in an edit suite.

 For all those "dog parents" out there who I used to make fun of for being obsessed with their animals, I can now relate. Cali came from a puppy mill in the states where she was tagged as being too large for breeding the small, teacup puppies that are popular (she's 7 pounds), and they were going to euthanize her. Small Dog Rescue drove down to the states and picked her up with two other dogs, who had approximately 10 litters in their five short years, getting a C section each time as they were too tiny to deliver their own. As we had no idea where Cali was prior to us having her or what kind of care she received, every cough, sneeze, tumble and jump gave me anxiety. In the 8 weeks that we've had her, we've had her teeth cleaned (where she went under anaesthetic), had her vaccinations, had a bout of sinusitis and is now the vets favourite patient because of her quiet demeanor.

When I'm at school, I'm hoping that she's okay hanging out in the bedroom, that she has enough toys/stimulation to get her through the day until I'm home. When I go out (DJing or to the gym) I feel immense guilt and have to lure her into the bedroom/kennel with peanut butter, usually rushing home after I'm done to check on her. Of course, she's fine and I'm happy that she's not as clingy as she first was when she came to us- something I've been amazed to watch as she's become more comfortable and curious, realizing that this is her forever home.

FINALLY- The little dog debate. Many people prejudge those owners who have small dogs, thinking they got them strictly to replace a child or to become a fashion accessory. Though I am a blonde, I'm no Paris Hilton and have no aspirations to dress Cali up in dresses (though, she does don a bandanna from time to time)- and put nail covers on her paws not so she looks "prettier" but so she doesn't scratch anything when excited. I do feel some people are ignorant, thinking that choosing a big dog makes you more of a "real" dog owner or that small dogs are all scared little yappy things. Cali is not scared (anymore) and can run with the big dogs at the dog park, where people are always incredibly surprised how "brave" she is and what a good natured pup she is. I guess what I'm getting at is though a dog may be small, its not a "purse" dog anymore than a small person likes to be called "cute" or assumed they are immature. When I carry Cali I do it because the big dogs at the dog park are getting rambunctious and she is simply in the way, or because it's easier for ME to just carry her from one place to the next versus walking through heavy traffic downtown. I would like to see an owner with a larger dog attempt to walk through a busy intersection without their dog getting excited or scared- its' a nerve wracking endeavour for any dog owner.

I will also say that like people, some dogs have bad attitudes or personalities that wouldn't necessarily fit with us, and it doesn't depend on their size. We've met plenty of barky, high energy dogs that have horrible manners and are "territorial" as many people assume small dogs are.

Finally, I want to give advice to anyone out there that adopting a dog in need is SO rewarding, and that I will never buy a dog from a breeder. Puppies and dogs are living, breathing things and have feelings and personalities- when someone takes advantage of a dog and turns their offspring into a living, then discards the breeding dog... it's animal cruelty in my books. Cali was extremely lucky that she wasn't "fit" to breed, and we found her merely days after she got into the rescue, and is an extremely well-adjusted, socialized lady with great manners.

To educate yourself on what "puppy mill" advertisements look like and what to look for when adding a dog to your family, visit the Puppy Mill Awareness Day site.

This is what a "rescue dog" looks like

Love from Cali and the Exchange
Hannah xo

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