Feb 4


This isn’t the best time of year to consider buying a puppy. The urge hits you and you check the internet hoping there is nothing available to get you all excited.

Our beloved Maxx, a German Shepherd died last fall. Rosanne and I decided we’d take a break from having a dog around the house.  In early December, she gave me what you might call a muted hang-dog look. I nodded. With no words spoken, she went to her Ipad.

“What do you think of him?” she asked, showing me a small black and tan shepherd from a previous litter, bouncing around on a backyard grass, then stopping to sniff the camera lens.

She had picked out CITYWIDE GERMAN SHEPHERDS in Toronto and owner Mauro Mila. He had a litter born 7 December (2017). If we wanted one, he said, in his pleasant, reassuring way, we could take a dog home at the end of January.

They would already be checked over for any infirmities by a registered vet, registered by the Canadian Kennel Club. He would have the first of three vaccinations. Parasite control. A microchip implant should he get lost.

Rosanne, Nathaniel and I drove into Toronto to pick him up last Sunday. You could tell Mauro Mila loved his dogs by how he treated them. Part of one big family. He gave us good advice on feeding them.

He makes up his own fresh food, meat, sending us home with a week’s worth. For kibble, Costco’s in a red bag is good, and not too expensive. Watch his sharp first teeth. He’ll use them to rip apart things you never thought he could get his teeth into.

Nathaniel chose the furry little one with floppy ears, and a blue collar. Mauro carried Levi – I think of Levi-Strauss, my favorite brand of jean – out to the car, gave him a hug and handed him over. Mauro would call us the next day, to make sure we, and the pup was okay.

Author’s comment: Be warned about taking on a new puppy. They’re hell raisers in ways you can’t imagine: their uncanny ability to attack with joyous abandon every little weakness in your home.

Electrical plugs, furniture legs, bedroom slippers. All to keep their little minds off the ache caused by growing first teeth. Buy hard toys to chew on. Like tough plastic squeakers.

The moments when these attacks overwhelm Levi (below), he flops down exhausted, and dozes off. It’s then we convince ourselves there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. And cross our fingers that it isn’t a train.

photo credit-Nathaniel Wallace

photo credit-Nathaniel Wallace

Posted on February 4th, 2018 by Clarke
Jan 28


I’m not getting into any political swamp; or telling politicians how to behave. They should instinctively know when the ground shakes beneath them: seek higher ground.

We’re talking about signs, outdoor mostly, that are meant to improve our way of life. Provinces are good at posting them, so too municipalities. Ontario is a good example, they’re everywhere.

If I’ve mentioned this one before, it’s worth repeating. Someone asked when I came back to Toronto area, after living in Montréal for five years, what the major difference was between Ontario and Québec.

Take a swimming as a good example in Ontario, I said.  Be it municipal or one, say, in a hotel. The province has strict rules for those with public pools. It’s sign language. DON’T DIVE, DON’T RUN AROUND THE POOL. NO DRINKING BY THE POOL. You get my drift. Take the one sign at a hotel pool in Québec. CHAMPAGNE HALF PRICE.

We drive to Timmins to visit Rosanne’s family from time to time. Once past North Bay – we’re halfway – the inane signs begin appearing by the provincial roadside. I might not be writing them down verbatim, but close to it. SPEED KILLS. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ROOM TO PASS. Or this: DON’T DRIVE WHILE SLEEPY.

Next time I will get out my notebook and write down every one. And report back to you.

Author’s comment: None of these compare with what’s going on in a small plaza in Woodbridge. There’s a pharmacy, a really good Italian restaurant despite being called the Ice Cream Patio; an All-You-Can Eat Sushi. And the usual Tim Hortons, a new Denny’s, a pharmacy, and a convenience store among others.

The plaza is a zoo each weekend. Cars taking up every inch of pavement. People all over the place talking; probably drinking. Whoever owns the plaza must’ve disliked the atmosphere, the noise. Disliked it enough to put up signs nailed to lampposts: NO LOITERING. NO TRESPASSING. NO LAWN CHAIRS. NO IDLING. NO HOOKAS SMOKING.

And these, if you missed those: NO LOAFING. NO SKATEBOARDING. NO ROLLERBLADING. And finally, if you didn’t get the message: VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED.

Posted on January 28th, 2018 by Clarke