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How Daphne Kept Me In Toronto

Yes, raising Daphne has shaped my career.

On September 11, 2001, I was working in Cedar Rapids, IA. By November 2001, I was spending great energy trying to figure out how I would get back to Toronto. Here is one reason why.

John and I had been thinking about getting a dog for several years, and we had decided that we wanted a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. We had actually set our sights on getting one because we had seen ONE at a dog show and thought he was extraordinarily cute and well-behaved. The breed fit our requirements perfectly—something that looked like a golden retriever but smaller. Something with soft petable hair. Something that would enjoy going to the lake with our family. Something with a bit of a conversation piece for a breed name.

Since Tollers are a rare breed, the Toller community is particular about who gets them. We had to go through a stringent screening process and agree to co-own the dog until after he or she was bred. And, we had to wait in a long line until one became available. In our case, we waited two years, four months.

Back to the Fall of 2001, the phone rang. The waiting was over, our dog had been born. We could come and see her and we could take her home just before Christmas. At the time, John was very recently unemployed (which he had put the deal in motion months earlier to relocate with me to Iowa). Since his package was generous and it allowed him some time to think, he could be the responsible pet parent and spend full-time raising our long-awaited Daphne.

Kylador’s Duckdreamer Daphne joined our entourage on December 15, 2001. It wasn’t anything like I expected. To say the least she was a handful. She was just like Marley. She needed to be supervised, held, fed, played with, walked, belly rubbed, talked to, encouraged, kissed, potty trained, and it was pretty much a 24-7 thing. She needed things to chew, things to smell, things to jump on. If you did not do what she wanted, she screamed. If the Pink Floyd CD wasn’t playing, she’d scream. If you do a wiki on Tollers, they give a great description of the scream. It is something to behold and is not something the human ear is capable of ignoring. She’d get herself into such a state that she couldn’t get back out. She’d experience clear anxiety if left alone. And, it did not help that I would be in the house from Friday night to Monday morning and then back to Iowa for a week. She simply did not understand. Worse, dogs have this pack order thing which is hard to break. In her case, mommy was at the top of the pack, and daddy was some sad sorry bloke with whom she had to share her quarters. This was not going to be easy.

In truth the fact that she was practically inconsolable when I was gone was the impetus to finding a way to work in Toronto more, and to eventually give up the job in Iowa. I can remember saying to my VP in Iowa, who had gone to great lengths to get me there and to make my life wonderful, was that one of the reasons why I was going to give up this dream gig in the states and go back to Canada was that Daphne needed me, and due to the terms of our arrangement with the breeder, we couldn’t take her to the states initially. I think she thought that I had lost my marbles!

Now how lopsided is that. . . or did Daphne help me to achieve balance? Or, was it simply, destiny? More next week.

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