The Love That Dared Wag Its Tail

Like many dog lovers, my father was a reluctant master who let his pets have the upper hand and turned a blind eye to their faults.

This arrangement suited his favourite dog, Chester, a magnificent golden retriever. Chester was friendly and curious, with a keen zest for life, but he also had a dominant streak, which meant he could be disobedient and aggressive with other dogs.

From my father’s perspective, though, his best friend could do no wrong. I once overheard him telling his cousin Geoff, a retired CEO, “Audrey and the children think Chester’s disobedient, but he’s not. He comes when you call him – most of the time.”

“I see,” said Geoff.

“It’s not that he tries to be captain of the ship. He just is.”

“A born leader.”

“That’s right,” my father replied without a trace of irony.

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At Toronto’s Dog Day Care Centres the Play’s the Thing

As a dog lover who currently finds herself dogless, I am always looking for excuses to expand my circle of canine acquaintances and my repertoire of shaggy tales. The perfect opportunity presents itself when I learn that two people I know have enrolled their pets in day-care centres, of which there are two in downtown Toronto, namely, Dogs’ Paradise and the Tire Biter Depot. My friend Linda takes Thomas, her two-year-old golden lab, to the former twice a week to be de-energized; Ian, a friend of a friend, sends his lab, Lucy, to the Depot every day because he feels she needs company while he is at the office. I call Linda and Ian to see if I can accompany their charges to day care. They are both willing.

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The Dog in the Hat: A Christmas Story

My father is the impossible-to-shop-for member of my family, but this Christmas the gift he has been dreaming of for years will await him under the tree.

Although my mother may find its scent pas à son goût, for him it will evoke Proustian memories redolent of happy days spent in the company of his friend, Chester. Sadly, Chester died of cancer suddenly the summer before last, leaving dad devastated. His friend was not human, but he might as well have been: My father can distinguish between a person and a dog—in this instance it was a golden retriever—but he chooses to ignore the difference.

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