Guest Post: A Small Price to Pay


My friend Laura adopted beautiful Junebug from Toronto Animal Services last year despite feeling somewhat unprepared to bring another dog into her life after the loss of her beloved Bandit. Here she shares the story of Junebug, plus some thoughts on the upside of purchasing dog licences.

I’m not much for proselytizing, though many people seem to expect it from me. I eat healthful foods. I use reasonably good grammar and spelling. I’m not afraid of semicolons. I’m changing careers to work as an acupuncturist, so I have much knowledge of what’s called natural or complementary or alternative medicine. I’ve worked as an editor for years. I have opinions. People think this makes me judgmental, but I’m not much for correcting others outside the confines of my job/jobs. Live and let live. What works for me might not work for you. If someone wants to know what I think, and I believe that he or she really does want to know, then I’ll expend the energy to explain myself. That said, I have noticed that living (mostly) well can make other people’s consciences twitch a bit.

And that’s no different for me. I, too, have something in my past that shames me, and since they say confession is good for the soul, I thought I’d spill. I’ve had pets for pretty much my entire life and been fully responsible for two pets since 1988. In all that time, I’ve bought just two animal licences.

Why did I need a licence, I thought? I was very careful with my pets, and they didn’t roam. They were fixed. I further confess I spent time as one of those grumblers, counting, as they say, my troubles instead of my blessings. I actually uttered the phrase, “cash grab.”

Recently that changed. My beloved dog died in February 2011, and pretty much from that moment I knew I wanted another. Wanted? It truly felt more like I needed one. Bandit was a sheltie—and I like to say that once you’ve been owned by a sheltie, your life is never the same. He picked me to be his person. He was owned by my at-the-time boyfriend but before too long he let everyone know he belonged to me alone. When the relationship ended, there was little question the pup would come with me. He was with me through some low points and made my life infinitely better. After I lost him, coming home to an empty house was awful.

Junebug taking a break from playing with Dusty. (For video of them playing, click here.)

Even though my life is crazy busy (working 40 hours a week, in school three nights until 11 p.m. and all day Saturday, plus doing occasional freelance editing assignments), I knew it was only a matter of time before I got a dog. My current boyfriend is the ultimate enabler. After Bandit died, he immediately offered to buy me another dog. And almost every month since, he’s made the same offer again. During slow times at work, I’d sneak on the Internet and look for dogs. And then one day in September I saw her. She was thought to be a sheltie cross. She was rescued in Quebec, and her picture went up days after the bust of a huge puppy mill in the same province. Despite the bad timing, she seemed to be the one…and then she was adopted from Toronto Animal Services before I could get her. Wasn’t meant to be, I thought. There’d be another, I thought. Not a good time, I knew.

Until a week later, when her picture showed up in my inbox. (I’d signed up for a breed notification from TAS.) I excitedly called my enabler, and we made plans to see (get) her that night. I left work early because I had a dental appointment for a small filling. Because the gods seem to want to make my life even more complicated, that simple procedure turned into an hour in the chair. I had two shots of Novocaine and couldn’t even rinse the blood out of my mouth. But I raced to the Ex grounds, thinking the shelter closed at 8. It didn’t. I got there at 6:45; it closed at 6:30. I called my boyfriend—he and his son were inside. He came down to get me, and I finally had the chance to see her. She was a barker. She liked to attack feet. She was so soft. She had floppy ears and golden eyelashes. I was in love.

But the course of true love does not run smooth. The shelter staff wouldn’t start an adoption that late at night and insisted we bring my boyfriend’s dog, Cash—a large black Lab cross—for a meet-and-greet the next day. Cue mad dash down the next morning because TAS doesn’t reserve dogs. The meeting went well. Cash was more interested in just about everything else, but at least he wasn’t trying to eat the pup. As soon as that was determined, I looked for someone to give me the paperwork. A little over $200 later, I had a four-month-old spayed puppy with all her shots. Love and laughter in one soft, squirmy package—for much less than if I’d gone anywhere else. All thanks to TAS. All paid for by my contribution, tax dollars, and licensing fees. She’s incredibly healthy and happy. I don’t have to worry that my city is housing a horror like the one in Montreal—because of their incredibly poor decision to hire a for-profit company (Berger Blanc) for their animal services. So from this day forward, I’ll proudly send in my licence renewal fee, knowing that I’m helping make my city a better place to live for all its inhabitants—two-footed and four-footed. And if you ask, I’ll suggest you do the same.

Note: I wrote this almost one year ago—just after I adopted Junebug. I was in the middle of studying for final exams and didn’t get this to Cathy right away. Less than a month after that, my world turned upside down when my boyfriend died unexpectedly. Junebug has been my constant and my sanity over the past year. When the bill for her tag arrived recently, I thought this was a good time to resurrect this post. Twenty-five dollars is so little to pay for so much love.

2 Responses to Guest Post: A Small Price to Pay

  • Mom says:

    Please let Laura know just how much I enjoyed reading her post. I send my condolences on the loss of her boyfriend. I really do know how much a loving dog helps in the lonely hours. It’s been so much easier dealing with those moments of loneliness and missing your dad since Misha came into my life.

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