Life at my home, for over 17 years, revolved around dogs, specifically miniature pinscher(s). This is an old breed, originally from Germany where three centuries or more ago, they were bred to catch rats. The first four photos here show: Winston when he was only a few weeks old in July 1984 (his ears weren't trimmed yet) and he hardly made the size of a hand; Tigger (born in November 1982) when he was 2½ years old, in his favourite spot on the bed; Tigger and Winston together on a rec room couch just a month following the previous photo; and Winston in late winter 1985 warming himself at one of the electrical heaters (we kept a cool house!).

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In this next group of photos Winston is seen in March 1986 sitting up against the brick wall that backed the perennial border at my former garden on Hopedale Avenue in East York; and beside him in a photo taken the same day, Tigger competes for attention; the next shot shows the two of them relaxed together in my Nesbitt Drive greenhouse in December 1990; and Tigger by himself in front of a new wall in my Nesbitt Drive garden in June 1993. Tigger died at age 13 in 1995.

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Below at left, Winston is seen in what had always been Tigger’s cage, where Tigger went when he wanted to be alone. After Tigger’s death Winston “took it over” even though he hardly ever used it when his older ‘brother’ was alive! At right, Winston in his favourite spot on the bed. Both photos from the late 90s.

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Upon Tigger’s death we decided to acquire a puppy MinPin to keep Winston company. Leo came to us from a different breeder and he was lively! Winston was not impressed. We didn’t have Leo much more than a year. He had major health problems develop after only a few months. Although we tried everything, we were not able to correct his fits and other problems. Below on the left is a young Leo with Winston on the bed, and on the right Leo by himself on the same day

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Though Winston didn’t like Leo’s excited puppy activity, when Leo was gone, it was obvious he missed him around the house. Here’s Winston (at upper left) amongst the orchids in the living room in March 1996, and to the right, on the couch in the greenhouse just a year later. The black hair remained black but much of the brown or tan was turning white! At the lower left there he was out exploring the countryside around Madoc Ontario in mid-summer 1999, and to the right, drinking out of Lake Ontario on one of his daily walks. He didn’t often drink from the lake, he must have been really thirsty that July day in 2001! He was just over 17 years in this photo.

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At age 17+ Winston was not without his problems. His chronic bronchitis bothered him daily but not more than three or four times a day or night. Nothing that we tried helped but he withstood it well. His right eye, which had to be operated on in November 1999, had little vision but we did manage to save the eye. Several times daily we applied a cream and two different drops. Eventually he lost all vision from that eye. His left eye served him well until very late in his life. It had a severe cataract and his eye vet said Winston was too old for him to operate on it. Amazingly he adjusted well to his lessening sight and only asked to be lifted up and down from the bed. He even did the outside and inside steps reasonably well though we always supervised.

Even in December 2001, on not-too-cold days (and, of course we had no snow) it was not unusual for him to walk with us very slowly for an hour or more. The photos below show him walking at his beloved Cherry Beach at left in June 2001, and at right on October 3, 2001.

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“Winston passed away on my birthday, January 18, 2002, while I was on our Caribbean garden cruise aboard the Ocean Princess. Somehow, I think he was unsure about our move to Vancouver Island, and we too were very concerned about the physical move itself and how it would affect him. He died in his sleep on the bed--his favourite place! Here are two final pix of him, at the left one of him asleep on the bed on September 13, 2001, and the other one my final photo of him. I took it just two weeks before he died, and I was actually using him as the subject of an experiment with my then new digital camera. He was virtually blind, and was afraid of jumping off the bed as he used to do. This pose was our hint that he needed help.”

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