The Pandemic Puppies Are Settling In To Old Ottawa East

Lori Gandy

If you’ve been out walking in Old Ottawa East this past year, you will have noticed an increase in the number of dogs strolling with their proud families. The pandemic – and people working at home with more time on their hands – has produced a significant surge in dog ownership, and the OOE community is no exception. Here’s a peek at a few of the canine cuties gracing our neighbourhoods these days.

Claire and Emily hug new family member, Poppy, as they prepare for her first walk in the neighbourhood. Photo Supplied

Claire and Emily hug new family member, Poppy, as they prepare for her first walk in the neighbourhood. Photo Supplied

Meet Poppy

Catherine and Aaron Shackelton and their daughters, Claire and Emily recently welcomed Poppy into their home, a Hungarian Vizsla from a breeder in Hamilton – OnPoint Vizslas. They had put their name on the breeder’s list before the pandemic rush hit. So they were thrilled when they were contacted last September about a recent litter.

Poppy arrived in the Shackelton home in November, and they are enjoying having an energetic puppy around. They are diligent about walks, even when Poppy is less enthused. “She hasn’t taken to the snow or cold,” Catherine says. “She wears a coat, but she won’t tolerate boots! She doesn’t like long walks and she won’t walk through puddles of slush.”

Claire says that Poppy is a troublemaker: “She does puppy things,” she says with a giggle. Poppy is a true pandemic puppy, as Catherine explains: “If we turn our backs for a minute, she’s up to something. If we didn’t close the bathroom doors, Poppy would get in, and then we’d have toilet paper all over the house. So we were really short of toilet paper during the pandemic.” Besides the impact of a puppy in his home, Aaron, a veterinarian, has seen an impact on his business:

“The veterinary/animal service community is seeing an increased demand for veterinary services at a time when veterinary hospitals are not able to see as many clients due to COVID-19 related health and safety protocols. Most clinics have seen an overwhelming increase in demand and have a back-log of appointments and elective surgeries.”

Timber, an Australian Shepherd puppy and the epitome of cute, “just kind of fell into our laps,” says first-time dog owners Ben and Kelsey Mahon. Photo Supplied

Timber, an Australian Shepherd puppy and the epitome of cute, “just kind of fell into our laps,” says first-time dog owners Ben and Kelsey Mahon. Photo Supplied

Meet Timber

Ben and Kelsey Mahon had wanted a dog for some time but had felt it would be unfair to leave a dog alone while they were at work. “When the pandemic hit and we began working from home, we thought this might be a good time to start searching for a puppy.” Their search for a breeder came up empty – so many people with the same idea meant long wait lists. “So we decided to wait and see what happens,” says Kelsey.

Well, Timber happened. Ben’s cousin and his wife have two Australian Shepherds who produced a litter in mid-November. Ben and Kelsey did some research about the breed and fell in love. So they headed over to the farm in Shawville, Quebec to meet the puppies, all of whom had been given names.

As Kelsey relates: “Timber just kind of fell into our laps.” Or between her feet more accurately. Kelsey recalls how they were looking at all the pups when she noticed one of them nestling between her ankles. “I asked who this little guy was as he seemed to like me.” Besides the adorable name, they also loved his colouring – brown, white and black.

“Timber has his quiet moments, but he’s energetic and he has traits common to an Australian Shepherd,” says Kelsey. A strong herding instinct, for example. Timber will nip at their ankles or walk in front of them to get them to walk in the direction he wants to go.

Kelsey and Ben have had to adjust to the daily ritual of the early morning walk. So too the bathroom breaks during the winter.

“There have been times when we’ve had to rush out without our coats on,” says Kelsey.

While Timber’s folks are still adjusting to his routine, Timber is right at home. He now has loads of friends in the neighbourhood, including his best buddy Poppy. Winter hasn’t slowed him down either, as Kelsey explains: “He loves the snow, loves sticking his head into it, making little forts in the snow, which is adorable.”

Jynx, a sweet-tempered bulldog mix, is a rescue and a perfect fit for her new family. Photo Supplied

Jynx, a sweet-tempered bulldog mix, is a rescue and a perfect fit for her new family. Photo Supplied

Meet Jynx

Julie Greene and Phil L’Abbe had been looking to adopt a dog for the past two years. They wanted their sons to have the experience of growing up with a dog. “I had one criterion,” Julie confessed. “The dog had to be female because I live in a house full of males.”

They also wanted a small- to medium-sized dog so their youngest son Rhys could
walk her comfortably. And they were looking for an adult dog that had been fostered, so somebody could tell them about the dog’s personality. “We wanted a dog who would be good around little kids as our neighbourhood has so many little ones now,” says Julie.

Enter Jynx, a bull dog mix, who came to them from Findingthemhomes.com, a dog rescue based in Barrie. Phil picked her up on February 1st and Jynx has since settled comfortably into her new family. Their eldest son Fin enjoys being woken up by her, and their younger son Rhys is in charge of feeding her. “She really likes affection,” says Julie. “She has a sweet temperament; she’s happy to see everyone. So we know she’s definitely had love in her life.”

Both Poppy (L) and Jynx (R) have clearly mastered the essential skill of posing for the camera.  Photo Supplied

Both Poppy (L) and Jynx (R) have clearly mastered the essential skill of posing for the camera. Photo Supplied

Julie recommends people consider getting an adult dog: “Someone else has done the puppy training. Jynx arrived house trained, crate trained and pretty good on a leash.”

Timber practices her snoozing skills after a tiring day of training her new owners. Photo Supplied

Timber practices her snoozing skills after a tiring day of training her new owners. Photo Supplied

In these days of social distancing and limited contact with other people, dogs are fulfilling an important role in many peoples’ lives. “You can pour so much love into them and they’ll give it all right back to you,” says Julie.

Don’t we all need a little more of that right now

Whether you are looking for a puppy or an adult dog, be sure you are dealing with a reputable breeder and getting a dog that suits your household and life style. As Veterinarian Aaron Shackelton says: Getting a dog is not a short-term commitment. A dog’s presence in the family can last 15+ years. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) has published a helpful COVID Puppy Survival Guide that is an excellent resource:
COVID Puppy Survival Guide

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