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From a Toronto animal shelter to CityPlace, Steve’s story

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When her dog Rowan passed away after twelve years of companionship, CityPlace resident and football mom Tonja Armstrong felt torn over whether to bring another dog into her life.

“I missed having a dog in my life. I missed the exercise, socializing at the dog park and the unconditional love,” said Armstrong, “But I just kept thinking about the last few months of Rowan’s life. It was very sad to see him suffer, so I had to make the decision to put him down. That was one of the most difficult things I’ve had ever had to do.”

Armstrong had been weighing the pros and cons of getting another dog for about five years when a good friend and fellow football mom posted about her two new foster puppies on Facebook. Armstrong had been contemplating getting an older dog to “give them another chance at life,” but agreed to meet the puppies at one of their sons’ football practices.

“They were about eight weeks when I first saw them,” said Armstrong, “I fell in love with the girl, Rosie, but my son loved Steve. I wasn’t too stuck on what our new fur baby was going to look like, so I went with his choice.”

Armstrong was no stranger to shelter dogs either, having adopted Rowan from the Toronto Humane Society. “There are so many dogs who are in need of a loving home, and I don’t believe I need to spend lots of money on a particular breed of dog,“ she said.

On August 8th, 2015, Steve was finally ready to be adopted into Armstrong’s family.

Steve’s mother, a pointer mix, was pregnant when she was brought to the city of Toronto’s Animal Services (TAS) shelter. She had nine pups at the shelter, and the Toronto Humane Society (THS) took them in when TAS was unable to care for them.

When the Armstrong family was getting ready to celebrate Steve’s first birthday, they learned from the THS that Steve’s siblings ’ and mother’s new families had been in touch and wanted to have a reunion. They exchanged e-mails and although they were, unfortunately, unable to track down Rosie, six of the pups got to reconnect with each other and their mom.

“It was quite emotional and so interesting to see the dogs’ reactions to each other,” said Armstrong, “Steve was one of the bigger boys, and he was trying to boss his brothers around. The mother’s reaction was funny. She ran up to each of her babies and barked then she would just ignore them.”

Some of the families brought their young children; others brought treats to share with everyone. Everyone shared stories, and there was the talk of connecting in the coming years for more canine family reunions.

As for whether bonding with another dog was the right choice for Armstrong, “Steve is a wonderful dog, he’s goofy, full of energy, smart, cuddly,” said Armstrong.   “I’m more active now, and part of the dog community and that restores my faith in what it means to be supportive and neighbourly in one of the most diverse cities in the world.”


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Dean Maher

Dean Maher is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The 416 Magazine.

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