The first time I ever did a story with a King's student was way back in 2003, and since then I've done quite a few stories - I never turn them down because I graduated from there myself way back in 1987 - so I always say yes to whatever journalism type projects they want to do.
Here's the story he sent me.
Joan Sinden devotes her life to her five dogs, both online and off
Stepping into Joan Sinden’s quaint home in Spryfield was immediately a catalyst for
memories concerning my childhood wish list. A batch of yelping dogs and greeted me
that seemed all too eager to say hello, pushing against a small wooden gate that Sinden used whenever guests arrived. Suddenly, all my desires had been granted as I now had five dogs, four Bichon Frisé and one Jack Russel mix, jumping all over me. Euphoria is an understatement: I was a child.
Sinden’s affection for the four legged creatures far surpasses mine however. The family of dogs not only has a blog catering to their everyday actions but up to date social media reports such as Twitter, instagram, and Facebook to name a few. All of these have become very popular in the dog community gathering over a million hits. When asked about what differentiates dogs from all other domestic animals, Sinden replied that it was really a lifestyle choice.
“The quality of love is much greater. They’re good for cuddling. You can talk to them as well. Buttercup here pretty much speaks English at this point,” she said pointing over at the oldest bichon of the family, just gracing 18 years of age.
Sinden’s blog is littered with pretty much anything someone would want to know about
their dog and the Nova Scotia community. Outside of the general tips and tricks to keep your dog happy, a “Yelp”-esque service provides eager dog walkers with locations to visit.
“Point Pleasant Park is the number one location I would say for ‘off leash’. On leash
socialization is important too though. I like downtown or by the waterfront for this,” she said further explaining that different trails or streets catered to each of her dogs since some of them were very friendly, while others, who had endured unpleasant situations before being rescued, were not so much.
Sinden’s blog is also important for individuals thinking of purchasing their own canine companion. A central aspect of the blog is Sinden’s own battle against animal cruelty such as is present within Nova Scotia puppy mills and an infamous backyard puppy seller named Gale Benoit. Benoit is the subject of much controversy concerning the conditions in which she keeps her puppies before selling them.
“Before I built the Gale Benoit website, nothing would come up when you googled her. Now people know to stray away. She doesn’t scare me,” Sinden stated boldly.
As well, Sinden even performs Shikavati Budhist rituals for dogs that allow them to pass happily into the next life and undergo rebirth 49 days later.
“The regular ceremony that’s done for humans is read. We have pictures of the dogs that we burn up to allow safe passage,” she said.
Finally, I came upon the various urns containing her old pet’s ashes. Sinden made it clear to me that when she passed away, she would like to have her ashes mixed with those of her prior animals.
I entered Sinden’s home as a curious child and left it as one desperately wanting a canine companion after seeing the love present between owner and pet.