Many McGill students feel as though they have little time to care for themselves, much less for a pet. However, the McGill student body is not without its share of dog owners, as many students can be seen walking their dogs on campus on a regular basis. Armed with a socially-acceptable reason for an adult to pet stranger’s dogs, The McGill Tribune set out to get to know student dog owners and the loving, unique relationship they have with their dogs.
Age: 1 ½ years
It’s a balmy Thursday afternoon at the weekly Farmer’s market, which is in full swing. A couple walks briskly by with their dog trotting in front, despite her short legs. After a quick, well-appreciated scratch, owner Dana Li, U3 Joint Honours Economics and Finance, uses a knee as leverage for face kisses as others come to pet and take pictures of her dog, Sugar.
McGill Tribune (MT): How did you get Sugar?
Dana Li: “I have a friend of a friend who has a farm. They had two dogs and would give puppies away.”
MT: Where do you like to take her on walks?
DL: “Mostly on Mont-Royal, but I also take her on [walks] around campus.”
MT: Can you tell me anything special about Sugar?
DL: “She’s very well-behaved. She can shake hands and sit [on command]. She’s well house-trained.”
Age: 8 months
A large throng of students pass through the Milton Gates on their way to class in the early afternoon. Amidst them, a small dog pulls ahead of the pack, followed quickly by her owner, Taylor Kris, U2 English and Marketing. The small, fluffy dog expertly weaves out from under the many feet in search of more smells and a faster pace.
MT: Is this your first dog?
Taylor Kriz: “My parents have two, but this is my first dog I’ve personally owned.”
MT: Where do you like to walk Harper?
TK: “I walk her everywhere! Usually on the mountain since you don’t need a leash.”
MT: What makes her special?
TK: “She’s a furball and pretty smart. She’s already potty-trained and can sit [on command].”
MT: What is your favorite thing about Harper?
TK: “She is such a snuggle bunny. She likes to sleep beside me every night.”
Breed: German Shepherd/Border Collie/American Pitbull mix
Age: 2 ½ years
On the grassy steps near the Milton Gates, River lounges beside her owner, Kyle Gardner, U3 Marketing Management, as he does homework. River stretches out on the grass, trying to get as much sun exposure as possible. With the approach of others, she perks up with a bright spark of intelligence in her eye.
MT: How did you get her?
Kyle Gardner: Actually, she’s my twin brother’s dog. He got her off of Kijiji because someone was trying to get rid of a litter. I’m taking care of her now because he can’t have River in the apartment. I’ve been taking care of her on and off since she was a pup.”
MT: Where do you like to walk River?
KG: “I walk her on campus, but I usually take her to the dog park on Docteur Penfield and Pins.”
MT: What is special about River?
KG: “She is the smartest dog I’ve ever had. She can do so many tricks. I’ve almost gotten her to get a beer from the fridge. We got the foamies for each can but she won’t pick them up. She can defend [a goal], like in soccer. She especially likes hide and seek and hiding the ball.”
MT: Do you have any concerns about the pitbull ban in Montreal?
KG: “I was thinking of registering her as a German Shepherd and Border Collie. I won’t get her tested though, just for plausible deniability.”
MT: Does she have any quirks?
KG: “She gets upset when no one is petting her. She also has a terrible nose. She can’t sniff out anything. And she doesn’t under the concept of pointing. She just stares at your finger.”
Breed: Black Labrador/Rottweiler mix
Age: 5 years
In front of the McConnell Engineering building, Vladimir’s huge, black frame pulls towards the Y-intersection with little heed of his owner, Mashal Khan,U1 Software Engineering, who attempts to keep with his break-neck pace. Upon being stopped, Vladimir jumps up for a hug, and goes straight for the face for kisses.
MT: When did you get Vladimir?
Mashal Khan: “I just got him this weekend at the local SPCA. He was abandoned and left on the street. Then he was adopted for 3 weeks and returned. So many people get dogs and then say they are too busy to take care of one and then get rid of them, especially McGill students.”
MT: Where do you like to walk him?
MK: “I walk him on campus. He likes Lower Field since he has space to run.”
MT: What is something special about Vladimir?
MK: “He never barks. He has the best temperament. He’s always friendly and he likes everyone. He especially likes to hug. When he’s tired, he likes to curl up next to me. He also loves belly rubs.”
Breed: Miniature Pinscher
Age: 3 months
At the bus stop on Milton and Parc, Berk Tokmak, U1 Political Science, sits with his dog Kaiser; Kaiser is small enough to fit in his owner’s hands. Kaiser is shivering in the cold, despite his coat—though this doesn’t stop him from trying to eat bottle caps and drag his leash in front of pedestrians. Kaiser is full of youthful energy, and is very affectionate.
MT: Is Kaiser your first dog?
Berk Tokmak: “He is my first dog.”
MT: Where do you like to walk him?
BT: “Depends. I walk him everywhere.”
MT: What do you like most about Kaiser?
BT: “He’s very energetic. He is instinctively programmed to hunt down vermin.”