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July 24, 2015 | Puppies

A best-selling Canadian author of 14 books on economic trends, real estate, the financial crisis, personal finance strategies, taxation and politics. Nationally-known speaker and lecturer on macroeconomics, the housing market and investment techniques. He is a licensed Investment Advisor with a fee-based, no-commission Toronto-based practice serving clients across Canada.


“Hey business guy,” she said, sticking her head through the doorway and loud-talking over the Dow Jones machine, “wanna dog?”

I didn’t. As a crusading daily newspaper columnist in his thirties, I was too busy saving the planet. When that proved tiring, I bought commercial real estate, published two investment newsletters and owned a couple of stores. Inflation. Expansion. Opportunity. Excess. God, I loved the Eighties.

Then I looked up and saw the pup. It looked like a miniature wolf, all silver and trouble. We locked.

“Okay,” I said. And I had a dog.

She came fully equipped with a collar, a name (Sheba) and a piece of string, which was handy to keep her from getting trampled in the big-city daily’s newsroom. The entertainment-section babe who gave him to me said Sheba had been found wandering down an alley off Queen Street. Lots of panting. The only cup I could find was columnist Mark Bonokoski’s favourite coffee mug with the death warning on it, and she drained it of water.

Sheba and I drove over to pick up Dorothy from her office job downtown, and waited in the lobby by the elevators. The dog, which I figured out was a purebred German shepherd, made astonishing puppy yaps, peed a little and embraced every single person she could ambush. Later Dorothy told me she heard this weird dog noise, ten stories up.

In those days we had a hobby farm about sixty clicks away, where this puppy turned into a 100-pound comedienne. She routinely attacked and killed the lawn sprinkler. On walks down to the pond she would flail around the edges making the maximum amount of splash and noise possible while other dogs paddled serenely by. In the barn she jumped the partition into the sheep pen for a visit and was almost turned into a wall hanging by Blackie, the bone-headed, moronic ram. She ran joyously with our goats, BillyJean and Thriller. She crowded the wheel and dripped all over me whenever we went to town in the F150.

And she routinely became sauced.

At first we failed to connect the dots. The dog would try to get up and couldn’t. Then she walked, weaved, fell over and smiled. Often she would spend an hour or so lying on her back, paws in the air, under the pear tree. In fact it wasn’t until we watched her eating at least a dozen windfall pears a day that we realized what was happening. She was getting high on fermenting fruit.

Samson came along. Another puppy. Another German shepherd. Magnificent, jet black and tan, noble and serious. They played incessantly until, a year later, Sam started having epileptic seizures. Infrequent at first, later almost daily despite every remedy we could find (it was a brain tumour). Sheba did not run away when he flailed, fell on his side, convulsed and paddled. Instead she stood over him, protective until the violence stopped, then licked him clean of the foam as he lay in a stupor. It took our breath away.

One early morning Sheba slipped down the driveway. Unexpected and out of character. I heard the thump from upstairs. My heart froze, as I knew instinctively what had happened.

We drove the ten miles to the vet at warp speed, Dorothy’s nightgown wet with blood as she held her. Sheba lived two more hours. It was thirty years ago, but feels like yesterday.


A picture of Sheba hangs in our house. Samson, too. All the dogs we’ve lived with are there. Selfless, giving, loyal, friendly animals who – led by the puppy with a drinking problem – showed me how the world could indeed be saved.

That’s my puppy story. Yours?

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July 24th, 2015

Posted In: The Greater Fool


  • Avatar NolaM says:

    Nuthin in this world like a good dog. We had a Huge White Kuvasz named Blue.
    Lived in a small town that the only sidewalk from the local pub was situated on.
    At some time in his puppyhood, one of the tight and wobblies navigating home,
    figured it was a great idea to throw a bottle of beer over the 3 foot fence at him.
    He was trained to stay in his own yard but developed a loathing for anyone smelling of suds.
    With a 150 foot frontage he would hide around the corner of the house… waiting.
    Let the inebriated get to about the 110 ft mark and tiptoe out behind them.
    About 3 feet from their rear pockets he let out a roar that would stop traffic.
    Then he would stand there doing a canine version of laughing hysterically,
    Then proudly prance back jauntily to await the next victim.
    Had grown men almost cry telling me of the trauma they suffered.
    The underwear sales down at Sears certainly spiked.

    We sold RE at the high and built low so had to rehome him for a year.
    Went out to visit the new owner and got an earful of his transition to farm life.
    We had a sleek Female Siamese that he allowed to eat from his bowl and snuggle into his tail.
    Seems like the first day out at the farm he went out to the barn.
    Full of bushy matted feral farm cats. Sat and watched for a bit, then…
    Picked out an old gnarled 1 eared grey tom cat, and herded him on up to the house.
    Demanded that he eat first and sleep with him. Took about a week to train his new pet.
    They were inseparable after that. Picked himself out an orange kitten when the Tom eventually died.
    He was also hit by a car, got one of the first canine knee replacements that worked great.
    I offered to take him back after the house was built but he had bonded.
    Luckily we found a second family that had accepted his eccentric individuality.
    As important as a good dog is the right owner/partner/family.
    The most important criteria to dog training is to be smarter than the dog.

  • Avatar bh2 says:

    A sweet story, Garth. Thanks.

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