Monthly Archives: September 2013

Every Dog Has Its Day

There’s something about dogs – the way they want to be your new best friend in about four seconds, the way they grin with their tongues lolling, the way they’d do anything for cheese – that captures your heart. Don’t you think? That’s why it’s unfathomable that an adorable young Irish wolfhound not far from my west-Toronto neighbourhood was let loose, without collar, tags or any other form of ID, by owners who no longer wanted him.

This little guy may have had a rough start, but it didn’t take long for his luck to turn around. First he was found by Alice Woods, a dog lover. She and her husband Nick have a pup of their own – plus a sense of humour. The couple immediately went to work plastering posters around his community that said in part: “Mom or Dad, if you’re reading this please call Nick at 416-xxx-xxxx because I am crashing at his place.” Nick and Alice included their own helpful notes: “This sweet boy looks like a young James Franco, if James Franco was an Irish wolfhound mix.” The poster was shared on social media and seen by thousands of people while Nick cared for furry JF II – quickly dubbed Seamus – at home.

Finally, the owner was located. But in an unexpected and heart-rending twist, they didn’t actually want the dog back.

Still, all this advertising led to a happy ending for Seamus. “The good news is that we were contacted by an awesome family in our neighbourhood – fenced yard, two kids, one of the parents is at home, previous dog owners – who have adopted him,” Nick told me yesterday. “So the posters did work after all.”

I’m particularly attached to this story because my own family just adopted a dog. Our daughter has been lobbying for this pretty much her whole life. Her dream finally came true when a five-year-old sweetie, beleaguered by a recent series of changes and in need of a new home, came to live with us forever.

Taking in a pet is life-changing, but as a colleague told me of her own dog: “He has made our house a home.” I congratulate Alice and Nick on their loving, patient care of an abandoned and frightened dog. And I wish a lifetime of happiness for Seamus with his new family.

I have to admit our new pup looks a little like my husband, if my husband was a salt-and-pepper miniature schnauzer. I suspect it’s the grey beard.

I have to admit our new pup looks a little like my husband, if my husband was a salt-and-pepper miniature schnauzer. I suspect it’s the grey beard.

Just an Old-Fashioned Love Song

Fred Stobaugh was neck-deep in grief after losing the love of his life. Then he read about an online songwriting contest. Something about it reached Fred, who isn’t actually all that musical, and moved him to write a tribute.

There was just one hitch: Fred is 96 years old, and he doesn’t use the Internet.

No matter. He scrawled his song on paper and mailed it in a big envelope.

“We didn’t quite expect an entry like Fred’s,” says producer Jacob Colgan in a Green Shoe Studio video. The studio, based in East Peoria, Illinois, had asked contestants to upload videos to YouTube and send them the links. No wonder Fred’s submission stood out.

Fred had plenty to say about his departed wife, Lorraine. After all, they spent 75 years together – two dating, and 73 married. “Listening to the lyrics, and the passion behind the lyrics… it was just so heartwarming,” Colgan says. So, even though the song didn’t meet the contest requirements, the studio made the decision to transform the lyrics into a real, professional song – at no charge. When they told Fred, he cried. “Music means so much to so many people,” says Colgan.

“I wish we could do all the good times over again,” the lyrics of the song, called “Sweet Lorraine,” read in part.

Fred says the song – you can hear it at this link or buy it on iTunes – is helping him through his mourning. “It just seemed like she’s just sort of with me… She’s smiling down, and she likes that song, I know.”

Gold… What a Rush

What would you do if thought you’d won an ordinary $59 clock radio in a raffle, opened the box, and instead found more than seventeen thousand dollars’ worth of gold and cash stuffed inside? After you picked yourself up off the floor, I mean.

What if you’d been given it by mistake? What if the money and gold had been a donation to help cure cancer? What if your own husband had died of cancer? And what if, in an ironic twist, your husband just happened to have been researching a cure for cancer with gold particles before he died?

If you take all these what ifs into consideration, it’s probably no surprise at all that Toronto’s Gloria Lee didn’t even consider keeping the valuables after she found them a couple of weeks ago. See, when the clock-radio box was originally sent to the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, nobody ever noticed that the sealed box no longer actually contained a clock radio. (Having never held a gold bar and two wads of fifty-dollar bills in my hand, I can only guess that the combined weight must be comparable to that of a small electronic timepiece.) The box was then stored on a shelf with other donated goods, and eventually placed in the August fundraiser alongside a boombox and a digital compass.

Which brings us back to Gloria and her startling win. “I had no idea that there was something that big in the box,” Gloria told a journalist. “I was in shock. I was in total shock.”

The original donor of the loot is elderly, lives in community housing and doesn’t want his name shared. The note he wrote and packed into the box for the hospital says: “I am unable to bring this. I hope that it will be delivered safely.”

Thanks to Gloria, it was. She believes her husband would approve. As she says in the news story: “He would be proud of me that I continue his legacy.”

Sadly, the box I brought home only contained a clock radio.

Sadly, the box I brought home only contained a clock radio.

Say It with Flowers

Our human species may be open-hearted in the twenty-first-century, but we don’t own the market on magnanimity. Archeologists in Israel have studied a prehistoric cemetery, looking for clues about the customs with which ancient people buried their dead. (When we say “ancient,” we’re talking up to 13,700 ago. I can’t even think back to a time when YouTube cat videos didn’t yet exist).

One of their finds is astounding. The excavated graves had been originally lined with fresh blooms from plants in the sage, mint and figwort families. Turns out these prehistoric folk laid their loved ones to rest on soft beds of scented wildflowers. Scientists speculate that the mourners were trying to provide the recently deceased with a few creature comforts as they transitioned to the next world. Sounds much more practical than a memorial wreath, don’t you think?

There have been other discoveries that prove compassion dates back to prehistory. We didn’t invent decency. Being kind is in our blood. And it’s been there for a very long time.

Or you can just walk around with them…

Or you can just walk around with them…