Category Archives: dogs
At Sunnybrook dog park, I saw a bunch of these little mesh bags tied to branches of something I think might be called jewelweed. It has little orange, orchid-like blooms.
First, the bags would be empty, then they’d have something in them–I couldn’t tell if it was a bug or a seed.
Anyone know about these things?
How to Make Friends in San Miguel by Paul Schiratti (It’s published under Mr. Grumpy’s name, but I wrote it.)
Years ago, while waiting in line at the Teatro Angela Peralta, I overheard the stranger behind me say he needed a fourth for tennis.
“I brought my racket,” I said.
“Great! Here’s where we’re playing…”
I’ve been playing with them ever since.
That’s hardly a unique experience in San Miguel. Five minutes in the Jardin and you’ve already met two new people and received three restaurant recommendations.
I’ve met many wonderful people and had many exceptional experiences in San Miguel, but the most fulfilling, the one I hurry back to each year, is walking the dogs at the S.P.A.
No sooner do I unpack, when I head down Canal Street to see my friends. My welcome is deafening. Barking, howling, baying—a sweet melody of doggie greeting. I walk through the well-maintained, volunteer-run facility, past each brightly painted cage to see old friends and new faces.
There’s Dulce and Guera, Shy and Nube. I’ve been walking them for years.
I’m delighted to see them, but it breaks my heart they’re still here, year after year, hopefully awaiting their forever homes. No matter how clean and bright each cage is, it’s still a cage. Dogs need a home of their own and a family—even a family of one. Add a dog, and now you’re two.
I volunteer because I love dogs, San Miguel and walking and making new friends—of both the human and the canine varieties. The S.P.A. satisfies all my passions.
I walk the larger dogs, together with other volunteers—strangers one minute, best buddies the next. My wife prefers the smaller dogs, and sometimes “socializes the puppies.” (Read: plays with them.) Cats, too.
Sadly, this year, we stayed home because our older rescue dog had grown too frail to board. And indeed, she crossed the rainbow bridge just before Christmas—too late for us to change our plans and join you in SMA this year.
I miss San Miguel, the Jardin, the coffee window, parque Benito Juarez. I miss Azteca soup and the soulful violin of Pedro Cartas. I miss the music and the dining and the art and the people.
But most of all, I miss the dogs.
Because I’m usually the only person at the dog park at 6:00 am, I am very aware of my surroundings, and of other people, especially people walking without a dog.
This morning, a woman walked near me along the trail. Not only did she have no dog, but she also had no purse, keys or anything. (Later, the police would ask me if she had a weapon. Yikes! I hadn’t even thought of that.)
The trail is very wooded, in places rough and forested, but at the end of the trail is a small rock garden with seats maintained by Glendon College. When I reached there, she was sitting on a rock crying. I dropped the handful of litter I’d collected into the trash bin and went over to ask if she was okay.
She was, in no way, okay. She told me nobody could help her, that she was being held down and tortured by the government each night and hadn’t slept in years. That people followed her and just stared. That the police were in on it. That the government had killed her dog.
Her litany devolved into criminals chasing her and robots torturing her. I kept saying she might want to see her doctor. But apparently the medical profession just want to drug her.
I checked her out. She said several times she was 67, but no way was she more than mid-fifties. She had on a grey blouse printed with a black speckled pattern so I couldn’t tell if it was dirty, but she had a nice haircut, was probably 15 lbs. overweight (so not starving), and clean, stretch jeans and sandals. I’d followed her down the path so because of the form-fitting (but tasteful) jeans, I could see no keys, no weapon, nothing.
She cried and cried.
Why did I call the cops? For two reasons: 1) Sunnybrook Park is located right behind Sunnybrook Hospital, which, I’m told, includes a mental health facility, and 2) because she talked about suicide. She never said the words, “I’m going to kill myself,” but she did say she thought about suicide, wished she would die, and “Maybe I should just kill myself.” That sounded like a cry for help.
At first I didn’t know what to do and I excused myself and headed back toward my car. Then suddenly, I realized she had a fairly recent pedicure. It was like one of those TV shows where they say “Here’s my card. Call me if you remember anything else.” And it was the pedicure that convinced me I should call someone.
I first tried to google “suicide prevention,” but that got me nowhere, so I googled “Toronto Police Non-Emergency” and found a number. I was all the a way back to the car by then. It took a bit, but when the call connected, I had a little speech prepared. “I’m at the park behind Sunnybrook Hospital and I’ve just met woman who’s talking suicide. Should I make a report?”
“Let’s make a report,” the nice Officer said. He took all the pertinent details. That’s when he asked about weapons. I didn’t mean to be snarky, but I was nervous. I said, “If she’d had a weapon, I would have led with that.” Oops. While I was on the phone, she passed me again, heading through the parking lot back the way she’d come. I didn’t think till later I should have snapped a picture from inside my car.
The Officer asked me to wait there so I rolled down windows and waited. Forty minutes later, not one but two police cars pulled up. They asked me again about weapons and where she’d gone. They said I could go and so I headed out.
I hope they find her and get her some help. The really creepy thing was, among her description of her assailants, she said, “People follow me on planes.” What’s creepy about that? It’s the same thing said by another paranoid delusional woman I met in Mexico a couple of years ago.
What if there really are people following them on planes?
In other news, Book 2 of the Reaper series debuted today, but I think I’ll put that in another post.
Each year about this time, the snapping turtles emerge from the creek at the dog park, somehow climb up the steep, man-made embankment and slowly creep across the path to the swamp. This one was making good time since she was there on our way into the park, but gone by the time we returned.
She was about the size of a Frisbee–a big honkin’ Frisbee with a beak that’ll snap your little doggie toes off.
“Billie! Get away from that. It’s not a short, green, slimy dog.”
Whew! At least she sniffed its tail end and stayed away from the dangerous part!
No, it’s not my dog that’s fractured, it’s my brain. Sure, you do it, too. Sing customized songs to your dogs and cats, right?
This morning at the dog park, the dogs disappeared for a few minutes. Upon their return, I could tell they’re flouted my, “No swamp!” edict.
The Bad Billie Song (sung to the tune of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”)
“You got mud on your face,
Wagging your tail all over the place.
We will, we will walk you.”
Okay, just me then.
Taken at the dog park this morning (while I was wearing gloves and a hat. Again!)
Here’s a jack-in-the-pulpit. You hardly ever see these although we’ve got a few in our backyard. They came with the house. Like trilliums, if you pick them, they never grow back.
Next, some tiny violets, and finally, a third type of trillium that is neither white nor scarlet like the other two I posted.