It's a Doggy
By Mike Hawkins
Retired metro Toronto cop Harry Urwin gathers his troops like an army drill sergeant.
Standing at the open door, Mr. Urwin looks out and yells "roll call!"
With military precision, they file in.
Lacey, Abel, Panda, Matthew and Baby Bop, five full-grown English sheepdogs, run in and surround their leader.
Sitting at their master's feet, looking up with mouths open and tongues flapping, the dogs eagerly await their next instruction, oblivious to the visiter with the cameras they near toppled at the doorway.
" I worry about them going out on the ice," Mr. Urwin said, explaining his quick retrieval of his pets.
Mr. Urwin and his cast of sheepdogs live in a picturesque A-frame home on Mechanic Lake, just a few kilometres from Sussex. The dogs have become a part of his life one at a time, he said.
Abel 10 and Lacey, 9, are related to his first sheepdog Napoleon, who died a few years ago while they were living in Ontario. Panda, 9, was picked up in Ontario from a couple who couldn't care for him. Matthew, 7, came from Saint John was his owner moved into an apartment that didn't allow pets and Baby Bop, 2, was picked up from a shelter in St. Stephens.
The dogs make him the center of attention wherever he goes, he said.
"In Sussex, they know me as Dirty Harry or just The Guy With the Sheepdogs," Mr.Uriwin said.
Mr.Uriwin said it's not just a love of sheepdogs, he has a special love for all animals. The walls of his home are filled with photographs of moose, deer, coyotes, and birds that he took himself in the woods around his home.
Drawing is another of his many artist outlets, which also includes wood carving, sculpting and painting. The antics of his cast of playful pups has prompted him to develop a comic strip documenting the lives of his dogs.
These guys are never bored. I'll tell you that," he said.
Neither is Mr. Urwin.
After retiring in 1995, he bought his current home and is still working on remodelling the interior. He spends his days making wood carvings and other intricate art, he plays hockey seven days a week and has plans to develop his property into a type of wilderness theme park as a gift for area children.
But his dogs will be the star attraction.
"Kids just love them. They're the best dog for kids," he said.