Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Globe and Mail Article - November 10, 2007

Pets: Cat-Sized Pups
As the number of people living in condos goes up, the average size of canines running around the park is shrinking

Jose Lourenço
Special to The Globe and Mail
November 10, 2007

There's a natural bowl in Trinity-Bellwoods Park where men and women stand apart and in clusters, holding charge-less leashes and watching their dogs run about. Last Tuesday afternoon, I counted seven dogs there. Five of them were the size of toasters.

Toronto clearly has a snuggle affair with the mini-pups, and it seems that condos have had a hand in the downsizing of our dogs.

Jacquelyn and Dave Cyr live in a two-bedroom unit in the Westside Lofts at King and Bathurst. In September, they brought home four-month-old Darby, half pug, half shih tzu. Slightly smaller than two outstretched hands, she has a short white coat dappled with chestnut and grey, and her face features the saddest sad puppy-dog eyes I've ever seen. She looks like someone just ran over her dog ... friend.

"She's nine pounds," Mrs. Cyr says. "She won't get much bigger than this.

"We were looking for a small breed," she adds. "Dogs are so much work to train, we weren't ready to handle the dirty dog business of a big mutt in our downtown condo."

Although Westside Lofts does allow bigger breeds, at many other condominiums in the city, size is the determining factor in whether condo owners are allowed to keep a dog. A common weight restriction - at buildings such as Palace Pier on Lake Shore Boulevard and 25 The Esplanade - allows condo owners to have dogs under 25 pounds only. Because unit owners aren't renters, they must abide by their building's declaration and are not protected by Section 15 of the Tenant Protection Act, which states that a landlord cannot legally mandate a "no pets" clause (save for extreme cases).

Dog-owning condo residents have become a large enough breed that George Khayet, Paul Ryu and Angela Suh, co-owners of Timmie Doggie Outfitter on Queen West, stock their shop with products that particularly appeal to the tiny, well-designed life, whether they be impeccably crisp water bowls, handsome steel food bins, or dog beds so luxe they make me despise my box spring.

"We see a lot of pugs, a lot of Boston terriers, Jack Russells, that sort of dog," Mr. Ryu says. "And new designer dogs too, like mini-poodles mixed with everything else.

"In the past, you would see bigger and bigger dogs in the city, but now you're looking at a lot of compact doggies that are compatible with smaller areas."

The shop has been open since June, 2006, and Mr. Ryu says Timmie's customer base has steadily increased, attributing some of the store's success to its location. "There's a massive dog park across the street, and it's a massive shopping district.

"Mostly people who shop in this neighbourhood are young ladies who live in condos," he adds.

The ladies or gentlemen who do stop by will find more than a few items that would look lovely in their homes.

"You can spend $200 on a bed here," Mr. Ryu says. "You could get a $20 bed at Costco, but that bed you're going to have to squish somewhere when people come over."

For those interested in what a $200 doggie bed looks like and who would also like to see some money go to the Toronto Humane Society, Timmie Doggie Outfitters is hosting an event called "The 12 Beds of Christmas Charity Auction" on Nov. 22, when they will auction off one-of-a-kind designer puppy beds.

The event, naturally, is located at the M5V Condominium Presentation Centre.

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