|A BILL OUTLAWING puppy mills was defeated in our provincial parliament today. The Liberal backbencher who proposed the bill -- I won't mention his name -- broke down and cried when talking to press afterwards. The Tory government, who voted against the bill almost unanimously, said that they thought there were better ways of dealing with puppy mills. Decoded with my magic Toryspeak decoding ring, this basically means that they'd like the issue to just go away.
I'd like to say I feel for the aggrieved Liberal MPP.
I hate the idea of puppy mills myself, especially given some recent, gruesome
busts of local puppy mills just this past year. As a pet owner -- from
a family of pet owners, married into a family of pet owners -- I deplore
the unnecessary suffering, the kind of crass overbreeding that produces
hip dysplasia and vicious tempers in animals.
K. and I would like to have a dog one day, when we have
the space, and the time. K. has her eye on a pug, or a Boston terrier.
I'd be happy with a pleasant little mutt. When I've visited the Humane
Society, I've seen what puppy mills produce, and I know how workers there
feel every time they have to euthanize rescued animals from these horrid
little cottage industries. So I have sympathy for the disappointment of
the Liberal MPP.
Except for one thing -- a personal thing, but something
I can't forget. I know, or knew, the Member of Provincial Parliament once,
many years ago. He was a teacher of mine in high school, in several classes
over at least three years. I might have utterly forgotten him, if not for
two things. First of all, he left teaching for politics, and I've been
able to follow his career for years. Secondly, he once beat my head against
a bulletin board, in front of a whole class.
The bell had just rung, and we were all talking, when
he sauntered into the room, still wearing his workout clothes from gym
class: track pants and a sweat shirt and a pair of those new, expensive-looking running shoes, the ones with the thick soles that ran up onto the heel
and toe of the shoe. They were something of a marvel; most of us still
wore old Pumas and Adidas, in blue and brown suede, with tattered vinyl
accents and rotted-out insoles. I had taken his gym class a year or two
previous; I remember him sitting in the bleachers, chatting with the class
jocks, while the rest of us -- the geeks, the pencilnecks, the fruits and
weiners -- ran endless laps until we could taste blood. It seemed, at the
time, a bit unfair.
IT SEEMS ALMOST RIDICULOUS to point out that our school
was run by the jocks, or at least run at what seemed their convenience.
It was a private school, reputedly the best Catholic boy's school in the
city, a reputation it still has today. I think anyone who's spent time
at such a place knows how regular, venerable even, this informal social
order can be. At our school, it was funded and enforced by the alumni association, itself mostly composed of former jocks. There were special blazer crests, and an off-campus residence for out-of-town players on the Junior B hockey team. It was known, unoffically, as "Date Rape House".
The school's athletic reputation was impeccable; we'd
produced countless pro hockey, football and basketball players, some of
them real legends in their game. A few classes ahead of me was a future
NBA player. One of my own classmates would have a minor career in the NHL.
In my grad year, one of our football stars -- an amiable enough guy who
made the team at Cornell the previous year -- died on the field of a stroke
in the middle of first term. The school went into mourning, his body was
brought back for a huge funeral at the church adjacent to the school; just
months earlier, he'd graduated in the same church. A monument was erected
in his memory, a boulder with a metal plaque, on a quiet spot by the track.
There was an obituary page in the yearbook.