Monday, March 02, 2009

Ossington Part II

My friend Rob, who rented the back studio for some time, had a dog named Giotto. Giotto was Rob's dog, but I had a stake in his care too. We worked different hours and we both cared for the dog when we were available. I liked Giotto very much, and when we finally had to give up the Ossington studios, I really missed him.

Back then, in the mid-80s, quite a lot of people took their dogs out to Trinity-Bellwoods Park to run. It was not a "leash-free zone", if they even had those in the city at the time. Mostly, if you cleaned up after your dog and the dog stayed out of trouble, nobody complained. We took Giotto there, and let him off the leash. The first thing he would do would be to look for squirrels. Every squirrel belonged in a tree and Giotto made sure they understood. Next, he would start running the perimeter of the park. In the field near the east side, there were usually a lot of birds on the ground doing bird stuff, but Giotto held a heartfelt belief that birds belonged in the air. He came around the corner at full tilt and chased those birds until they were all flying, then he would continue on toward "the pit". Back in those days, the pit was the place where they had the wading pool. Giotto love to swim and headed right for it. We would call, and he would ignore us. Down into the pit he would go. Children screamed. Giotto didn't care about the kids though. He just loved to run through the water. Then, back up the hill to check for squirrels, and around the south end and back toward the field where the birds had just landed.

Occasionally, we would walk him down to Coronation Park, beside Ontario Place. When we would let him off the leash he would bound toward the water and leap off the cement wall into the drink, with no thought that it might be difficult to get back out again. That dog loved the water.

At one point we had a problem with rats. It was a big and ugly problem. I think they had rat highways and they could travel from place to place up and down the street. They were big rats, and somehow or another, they worked a deal with Giotto. Remember, this was a dog that would identify a squirrel from a football field away and come very close to catching it as he chased it up a tree. One evening, I heard the tell-tale sound of dog kibble being crunched. I looked up and saw Giotto resting in the doorway between my studio and the kitchen. If he wasn't crunching kibble, who was? I looked up over Giotto and saw the grand-daddy of all rats feasting on dog kibble. Giotto didn't even look.

As it turned out, it was very difficult to get rid of the rats. We would win the battle, but we always had to be on our guard, watching for insurgencies and border skirmishes. They're smart and they're persistent.

More soon...

No comments: