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Category Archives: Shelter Dogs

Real Estate I Highly Recommend

I want to write about the computer virus I just went through, visiting Valentine Mountain with Amicus, buying a new computer, and all the leaps and bounds of progress he and I are experiencing, and I will write all that down, but right now, I feel like talking about something else because it’s on my mind and whether it comes out clearly or not maybe doesn’t matter.

I am an imperfect dog owner and I have an imperfect dog.  That may seem like an obvious statement and perhaps everyone out there but me just automatically accepts that about others and about themselves, but I find it quite a leap.  Of course, it’s not all about dogs and owning them, but really more deeply about just accepting my imperfection in everything.

I am realizing that no matter how good I may be at something which in some cases is stellar and in others not so much, but it doesn’t matter, I may, in fact, be an expert in some things, but no matter what it is, I will NEVER be perfect at it.  It’s impossible.  I’ve never really gone that far; maybe only so far as to accept, yes, we shouldn’t really strive too much to be perfect, thinking because it’s too difficult a journey and usually we’re not up to it, but I now realize that it’s not too difficult a journey, it’s an impossible journey and a colossal waste of time, energy and spirit.

It’s a laudable thing to improve and to grow, but unless I allow that large open room of imperfection to sit comfortably within me, to furnish that room with pictures of all my loved ones and to know that it is a very human room in which I will spend a large portion of my life, I will forever be creating distance between myself and others by actually living with some irretrievable fictional hope of what something/someone should be, should look like, a picture that will never ever realize itself anywhere but in my worried insane high-standard of it’s just not good enough.

Well, this is again something that Amicus is teaching me every day.  He teaches it by being himself 100 percent 24/7 unflinchingly imperfect and thereby downright loveable.  He needs to work on things and so do I.  He’s scared of people and I have a lot of fear, as well.  Sometimes he is not very clear and because of confusion something goes wrong; well, I’m not very clear sometimes, either, and people can’t read my mind.  When I am calm, clear, and confident, Ami does exactly what he should do all the time.  When Ami is clear, I know I better get him outside real quick or buy more carpet product, that sort of thing.

I don’t know if I’m explaining this coherently or not, but somehow accepting this concept of imperfection feels so good and so overdue.  Like, for example, since I got Ami, the actual room I live in is messy and crazy whereas before everything had a specific place and there was no room for anything out of place.  Now, I’m like all those people in movies I’ve always admired.  Whenever I see a house or an apartment in a movie, I like to check out the furnishing, decoration, lived-in-ness, and I have often thought, boy, those movie sets look more lived in than my real place.  I wish I could be like that.

Well, now I have one of those messy comfortable imperfect places where a body can come and go and really live, that wonderful crazy comfortable room of imperfection that Amicus and I now live in, the house that Amicus built.

It’s real estate I highly recommend.


amicus likes ice

Amicus and I on Valentine Mountain 11/24/10

Go read this awesome poem by Janine Allen!

A good buddy of mine just sent me a wonderful poem by Janine Allen.  Every time I read it, my eyes well up with good tears.

It’s  called “I Rescued a Human Today” and the proper place to find it is at:  It’s the Rescue Me Dog site and it’s a terrific website!  Very inspiring to me!

A Dingo Ate My Tennis Ball

Remember back when I said I think Amicus has a thing for Ozzies, well, he recently befriended the most Australian of all Australian dogs, a Dingo.  Yes, a real-life full-blooded Dingo named Honey, and yes, the Dingo ate my tennis ball.  I’ve never seen a brand new tennis ball disappear into shreds more quickly in my life.  She has teeth like scalpels.  When she growls, it’s a different sound than a regular old dog; it’s wild and mad like the entire Outback just opened its jaws and said stand back!  Amicus definitely watched his P’s and Q’s around her, that’s for sure.

When we were leaving the park, Honey jumped right into my car along with Amicus and I said to her owner, “Thanks for the Dingo,” but of course, Honey’s owner wasn’t having any of that.  It’s cool, though, because how many people do you know who can say, “I had a Dingo in my car.”

Other new friends I must mention are Jet, an eight-year-old border collie/lab (I think a lot of borders must be missing their collies), Charlie, a cocker spaniel who likes to bark and jump up on people, which his owner is trying to curtail – curtail, what a perfect word to use in connection with dogs, eh – and Hector who is a little dog with a mighty spirit, but I can’t remember what kind he is.

Amicus has no fear of dogs, he absolutely loves meeting new dogs.  If they show any aggression, he just avoids them.  Unfortunately, he is still wary of people, especially men and especially when people reach for his head.   I hate to think what his previous owner{s} did to put this fear in him.

It makes me sad to think of someone putting that kind of horrible negativity into any dog, but right now especially Amicus because he has such a sweet loving spirit and wants so to please.  I bet when he was a puppy, he trusted everyone; that someone took that beautiful innocence away from him totally reinforces my commitment, no matter how long it takes, I will help Amicus trust again, help him to trust like a puppy trusts.  Amicus needs to access his inner puppy.  “Here, puppy, good puppy!”

What a journey we’re on!

Quick Caveat

I just got pet insurance for Amicus so I thought this would be a propitious time to say that, as far as I know, HE HAS NO PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS. Hee hee.  I went with Trupanion which was recommended by Amicus’ vet. It’s gotten good and bad reviews, but mostly really good ones so that bodes well.  Every insurance company I researched got good and bad reviews, so there you go.  Oh, did I mention that, as far as I know, AMICUS HAS NO PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS.  Also, I should add just to empower the universe, if possible, I’d rather never have to make a claim so keep your massive stellar eye open for my doggie’s safety, please and thank you!

When Ya Gotta Go, Ya Gotta Go

I just took Amicus to the vet, Westview Veterinary Hospital.  The vet is male, Amicus went up to him immediately, and they were soon fast friends.  Every one I’ve talked to in town gave glowing recommendations about this vet and I think aptly so.

The reason I brought him in was because I was a bit worried because his eyes are always red.   I discovered the reason is that he has no pigment in his third eyelids and that, while slightly rare, that’s normal for some dogs.

He either weighs 87.5 kilos which is 192 pounds or he weighs 39.77 kilos which is 87.5 pounds; I’m pretty sure it’s the latter now that I really think about it.  Anyway, screw math.  He does need to lose a little bit of weight, not a lot, but a bit, so we discussed that.

The vet is super nice and explains things well.  I am really glad he has a cool doctor.  I can’t believe how quickly Amicus trusted him; that makes me trust the guy, too.

Amicus actually pulled me into the clinic like he was going to Disneyland and then he dragged me around (which he doesn’t normally do) and smelled everything and, when I say everything, I’m including the small molecule of dust hidden behind the miniscule iota of paper in the far corner of the tiniest shelf.

He really enjoyed getting weighed and stared at the digital numbers closely through his pigmentless third eyelids.  He liked climbing on and off the scale over and over again.

Then, just as we were getting ready to leave the treatment room, to top it all off, Amicus pissed all over the vet’s floor, and I’m talking Lake Superior, baby.  Embarrassing, yes, but the sheer volume, very impressive.   The vet was very good about it and so was the poor nurse who had to clean up the significant puddle.   I think I saw her using that thing Kevin Costner wanted to use for the Gulf spill.  Anyway, suffice to say, Amicus has had his afternoon pee.

Then at the reception counter, I picked out cat treats and the lady had to tell me that I probably wanted dog treats and so I felt a bit like a wanker and then when I was leaving Amicus decided to ensnare me in his leash like wrapping a mummy/dummy and so I shimmied out little baby steps red in the face, holding dog treats, new food samples, flea pills, and feeling like a total idiot.

Some Pics of the Trip

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Put in an application for a four-year-old collie/shepherd cross at the Cowichan SPCA who sounds awesome! Will probably know more tomorrow or the next day.

Well, my application was approved, next step is a home visit by the Powell River SPCA to make sure I exist and am not a psycho, and then, according to Rick down in Cowichan who has already today said no to three people, A.J., is presently on hold for me, providing I come down and meet him and we are a fit.

Just got another call from Rick, said he talked to Powell River SPCA and they’re going to call me right away (ASAP) for a home visit right away and if all goes well I’ll be heading down to Cowichan on Wednesday to meet A.J. possibly a.k.a. Amicus! Weird how his first initial is already A, eh?

Yup, SPCA just called like minutes later and they’re coming to check out my abode at 4:30 today!

He was found as a stray in Abbotsford, he got picked up by the Abbotsford dog pound which is a “high kill” pound; Rick, the Cowichan SPCA guy, read about him and another stray online and phoned up the pound and convinced them to send the two dogs to Cowichan and the other dog has already been adopted and A.J. is probably about to be, by me! So he was probably days away from being euthanized for no good reason except he was “superfluous.”

Well, the SPCA just did their home visit and seemed impressed with my fence so far; and so I’ll be heading over to Cowichan on Wednesday and probably coming back with Amicus.

I just bought a huge dog bed, a Kong toy, a tennis-ball-throw thingie, some cans of food, some dry food, and a bag of treats.

Heading out for a double-double at Timmy’s, then off on the first ferry to Comox, then down the old Island Highway to go get me my houndie hound! Yay!

We’re home safe and sound, extremely tired, must drink water, pee, then go sleepy sleep; these photos are the best I can come up with; Amicus Rules!

Thanks a million everyone for all your support and love throughout this quest and AJA says, “Arf, woof, grrr…, yow, bark, yip grrr…,” which I believe means, “Why the hell do you keep tapping those weird black things and making annoying clickity clack sounds, just shut up and give me another snack, you colossal wanker.”

It’s going to be so refreshing for once to work on someone else’s issues.

He’s lying down right now and his nose is on my big toe.

Sorry had to go do a bunch of stuff and get A licensed with City Hall. He’s number 776.

It’s not so much he slept well last night ’cause he slept all the way home pretty much; what’s awesome about him is that he let me sleep last night ’cause I was exhausted. Every few hours, he’d come over and stick his nose in my face to make sure I still existed, I guess, but he was so sweet in letting me sleep.

No, he doesn’t bark, he just sort of skirts around him; I think he has “men” issues, probably in his past life a man was mean to him; so we’re socializing him nice and easy.

I was comforting him when he was scared and saying no when he was defensive; both wrong, now for dad it’s totally no touch, no talk, no eye contact; I strayed unknowingly from Cesar’s path, but am back on track. Everyone over here is in major learning mode.

Once I really thought about it and how much I hate it when someone goes, “Awwww,” or says, “It’s okay, Layne,” or whatever when I feel vulnerable or uncomfortable and how I’d way prefer them to ignore me, its become quite easy to not do that anymore about him.

Just took Amicus off leash along the seawalk and he was awesome, playing or avoiding dogs depending on his mood, no aggression, stayed within 20 feet of me the whole time; what fun we had!

Now, he’s sleeping guarding my door while I work.

He made like a 30-foot avoidance circle around two little toy poodles as though they were killer werewolves; he cracks me up.

Yeah, he’s the swellest; he does have some fear issues we’re working through. He doesn’t like to be surprised and he is still scared of men unless they have cute playful dogs and treats and then he warms up to them.

He’s awesome with me on all counts. I have been testing to see if he has any food aggression issues and started with feeding him his first handful of food out of his bowl as I crouched right down by the bowl and this morning I pretended to eat out of his bowl first and let him eat out of it with me, and he was totally fine wagging and crunching away, so it’s not at all aggression for him, he just gets scared sometimes.

Just took Amicus off-leash in the forest, as well, and he is the most awesome off-leash forest dog you could ever possibly want; sorry, Kimba, Zach, Jethro, Brown Dog, and Farther, but the best off-leash forest dog I’ve “ever” seen.

So far Amicus has made these friends: Highway, Chica, Lulu, Peaches, Milly, and Barney.

Highway is a 12-year-old Australian something or rather; Chica is also an Australian something or rather, I guess Amicus has a thing for Ozzies; Lulu is a black border collie/lab/Akita/etc., I believe; Peaches is a sled dog who actually pulled a sled in Churchill, Manitoba, for two years; Milly is a Golden Lab who likes to bark happily a lot; and Barney is a Basset Hound.

I don’t really know much about blogging; but sounds like a really fun idea; I’ll have to research that and learn more.

I have to add Sally, a border terrier which I’d never heard of, and Max a Labradoodle to his friend list.

I have had more conversations with strangers in the last four days than I have in the preceding year; and I kid you not.

Seriously, how have I managed these many years without a car and a big dog to ride in it?

It amazes me that a huge strong creature with big sharp teeth who could easily rip out my throat and carry my head around chooses instead to give me happy sloppy kisses.

Amicus grabbed another dog’s tennis ball and then permanently lost it in the rocks; kind of embarrassing.

Thanks, Terri and Simon, I’m actually checking out that site Terri and I think I will start a blog about Amicus, WTF. I’ll keep you posted. I just want to do a bit more research. I love this idea!

note to dog: in future, no peeing on the commemorative benches.

I have taken some advice from two excellent pals and have started an adventures of Amicus blog:


The other dog, Red, was barking so loudly that A.J. had to bark back to tell him to stop; then all the other dogs started to bark and growl; then the nice people came out to tell all the dogs to quiet down, all of which made A.J. wish he could just jump out of the cage and run and run and never stop.  He stopped barking and lay down sighing slumping his head on his paws.  The nice people went back inside, the other dogs finally settled down, and A.J. just lay in his cage, just another day of clamour and cages.  Sighing again, he began the long wait for dinnertime.

Suddenly in the distance he could hear beautiful music that tugged at his insides.  He raised his head.  The beautiful music was coming from a small car that was pulling up the long driveway to the shelter.  The car parked; the beautiful music stopped.  A dark-haired woman got out of the small car.  Some of the other dogs started barking to show off how strong and big they were.  A.J. just lay down again wondering how much longer until his food would come.

He watched the woman as she made her way past all the other cages, one by one, without slowing, only to stop in front of his cage.  A.J. looked up.  She was staring right at him.  A.J. started to worry slinking to the back of the cage.  He looked at the woman, she was still looking at him, and he could see her teeth.  Then she went inside the building into which the nice people would disappear.

A.J. lay down again, just another person visiting the nice people.  Then the door to the building opened, one of the nice people came out with the dark-haired woman, and they both approached his cage.  The two stood outside his cage and talked in low voices.  A.J. knew they were talking about him.

He looked again at the dark-haired woman and walked up to sniff her through the cage.  She smelled good like trees; her voice was quiet and gentle.  The nice person opened the cage and put a harness and leash on him handing it to the dark-haired woman.  A.J. wondered what was going on.  Then the dark-haired woman took him for a long walk.

At first A.J. barked at all the other dogs, pulling on the harness, not sure about the woman.  Then as they got further away from the other dogs, he decided to just smell and listen to her.  She was very strong, clear, and he knew exactly what she meant when she asked him to stay by her side and to sit down.  She was nice, too; her hands felt good in his fur.  A.J. decided she was okay by him.

Then they started heading back to the shelter.  A.J. knew he was just going to be put back in his cage again and that would be the end of that.  People had come visiting before and taken him for walks, but they all went away again alone in their cars or with other dogs.  A.J. sighed.

Then the nice shelter person came talking for a long time with the dark-haired woman.  They handed paper back and forth.  A.J. figured he would be put back in his cage now.  Then the shelter person took off his harness and the dark-haired woman put a different collar and leash on him.  A.J. perked up; this was unusual.  The shelter person and the dark-haired woman who smelled like warmth talked again.

A.J. suddenly felt the old ache in his heart, he felt it strongly like he had never felt it before.  Soon it would be back to the cage, the barking, and being all alone.  Why did they not just put him back in his cage and then the nice dark-haired woman could go take a different dog like everyone else did, and he could go lie down on his blanket?  But then the shelter person leaned down to pat him saying, “Goodbye, fella, you go and live your life now.”  A.J. did not understand but he felt the shelter person was both happy and sad.  A.J. watched as she headed back towards the building and went inside.

He was alone with the dark-haired woman who, instead of taking him back to his cage, began to lead him to her small car.  A.J. looked up at her; she looked down at him.  Her eyes were bright and looked happy.  A.J. felt his old ache suddenly burst, transform, suddenly split wide open into something brand new, something he had never felt before, something that felt like the beautiful music he had heard from her car.

The dark-haired woman kneeled down and held his face in her hands saying in her gentle quiet voice “Okay, buddy, you’re now Amicus, and we’re going to be best buddies, got that, schnooky pooky.”  The dog did not understand and then she kissed his nose.  He could not help it when his tail began to wag, he could not help but lick her face, too.  He felt so excited, safe, and something, something; he just wanted to be with the dark-haired woman forever.

The dog climbed into the back of her small car; she got in the front.  She turned on the car; the beautiful music started again.  Feeling so excited, he whimpered a little; he could not help it.  The dark-haired woman turned around looking at him with her bright eyes; then she gave him a delicious treat from a little paper bag.  Then she began to drive away with him, and he with her.

Amicus sighed realizing suddenly that the ache in his heart was completely gone, as though it had never been there, and all he felt was good.  His tail began to wag again and he knew this time, this day, he had finally been found.

A.J., the Shelter Dog

“A.J., good dog, here boy,” the dog romped over to the man who held a bowl of food.  The man placed the food down, scratching him behind his ears.  Then the man headed off to the next cage.  The dog, now called A.J., liked the man who was the one who had taken him gently out of the cage on the truck and had sent the noose stick man on his way.

Now A.J. lived in a big cage with a warm little house, blankets, and he got two big bowls of food a day and he would get walked once every day.  The people who took care of him were nice, but they were very busy because there were lots of cages, lots of other dogs, cats, and even little tiny animals that looked like squirrels, all barking, meowing, squeaking, and all wanting attention.

A.J. felt much safer, but the deep ache in his heart would just not go away.  Day after day, walk after walk, A.J. began to feel frustrated.  The other dogs began to bark too loudly, bite too often, and he did not want to be in the cage most of the time.

A.J. paced back and forth in his cage growling and barking at all the other dogs because they were all so angry at him and were all so loud.  A.J. just wanted to sleep somewhere quiet and play with happy dogs who liked him.  He slumped down sighing in his cage ignoring the food.  He closed his eyes and wished his heart would stop hurting.

He could hear the man walk by and heard him say, “Hey A.J. fella, guess you’re getting pretty sick of this place now, huh?  Time for your forever home soon, I hope.”  A.J. could not understand the man, but appreciated his warm tone, sighed, and decided he better eat his food which smelled really good.

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