Greg Robinson

Bringing home a love named Semuc

By the Get Leashed Doggy Style team

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Traveling is a magical adventure full of experiences that can change your life. One of the hardest things for dog-lovers however, is their treatment in other countries. What do you do if you fall in love with a pup who’s suffering in the streets of South America? Most of us simply do our best to put those dogs out of our minds and move on. But if you’re Greg Robinson, you do everything you can to bring that dog home with you, and you name her Semuc.

Tell us about yourself:

I’m currently on hiatus from work. After two years at Salesforce.com, I decided I needed some time off and traveled Central America for about 5 months. Now that I’m back, I’ve used the end of summer as a sort of “paternity” leave to raise my pup, Semuc. I suspect I’ll end up at another tech company in the fall (hopefully one that allows dogs in the office).

Aside from enjoying dog-related activities, I try to get out sailing as much as possible, although Semuc’s fear of water has cut into that a bit. I like to cook and I’m getting pretty good at it (Semuc agrees). I enjoy the city but my heart is happiest in nature. I’m pretty musical. Fun fact — I sang at the Vatican with a choir about 5 years ago and met the Pope (he gave more of a wave and a thank you for coming than a handshake but I swear he was staring right at me!). I’m close with my parents and curiously have been seeing a lot more of them lately. I feel this has less to do with me and more to do with the fact that my mom calls herself a, ‘proud grandmother’ and I suspect when my dad tells me to ‘bring Semuc or not bother coming’, he’s not joking.

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A bit about your pet:

Semuc’s (Sa-Mook) breed was a mystery for a long time; even now I suspect she’s more mutt than anything. She looks and acts like a Whippet — a combination of Terrier and Grey Hound, which makes sense given that they are farm dogs and there were a large number of Cacao farms scattered among the rolling hills and forested area where she came from.

She was about 3 months old when I found her and I struggled to understand why she was alone at such a young age. I’ve recently come to the realization that a lot of people in the region will attempt to drown unwanted litters of puppies by throwing them off a local bridge into the river. I suspect this is why she is so terrified of bridges and water. Once we got her back to the hostel and she’d had some food and rest, her playful personality came back. She wouldn’t leave my side and would sleep at my feet. I quickly fell in love and was determined to bring her back to Canada. Luckily the hostel owner knew of a shelter not too far away that specialized in sending dogs to North America.

What does your ideal weekend look like?

We just moved to Queen and Brock, so Electric Mud and Grand Electric are favorites hangout spots until we get sick of them. We also like to spend time in Trinity Bellwoods Park, going sailing on Lake Ontario and going for brunch at Starving Artist, Grapefruit Moon or The Saint. I also prefer hosting parties to hanging out at bars, but when I do, it’s usually a West End dive bar.

Describe your personal style:

Normcore? T-shirts, short sleeve button-ups, plaid and jean on jean.

What inspires you?

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” (I’d add ‘the places you visit as well
– Charlie Jones
I take this to heart, I love meeting new people — the next person you meet could open a new chapter in your life. Books obviously are great and as for travel, you’ll never learn anything about the world if you don’t leave your bubble.

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How would you describe your home?

1700 square feet of open apartment, 12 foot ceilings and exposed brick.

A story about Semuc:

I found Semuc starving in the mountain town of Semuc Champey, Guatemala. She had fleas in her fur, ticks in her ears, scars on her face and belly from dog fights and an underdeveloped leg from rickets caused by malnutrition. We wrapped her up in a towel and carried her to the hostel. She didn’t make a sound, she wasn’t scared, she just seemed…defeated. She stared into my face with those sad, puppy-dog eyes the whole ride back. It took 12 hours for her to start wagging her tail and acting like a happy puppy again. I’ve been asked, why not rescue a dog in Canada and not have to deal with puppy visa headaches? Besides this girl stealing my heart, dogs in Central America aren’t treated like pets, they’re treated like pests. A small percentage of street dogs survive puppyhood. I was taught by a local that if you feel threatened by a street dog, to bend down as if you are going to pick up a rock – they’ve all been hit with rocks and know the action means pain.

In the case of Semuc, dogs aren’t neutered and locals don’t want to deal with females in heat; every wild male in a 2km radius will be aggressively sprinting through your farm. A lot of females are kicked to the curb as a result. Besides all of this, she’s also damn cute. Street dogs make great pets; they remember you saved them and are forever grateful. Special thanks to animalaware.org for helping me with the paper work and getting Semuc sorted. They are a great organization that have rescued thousands of dogs and helped find them homes in North America. #semucthedog