The Zoo

Sweetpea's - The Zoo

“Flower Shop & Petting Zoo”

How could you come to Sweetpea's and not visit the animals? Quite frankly, you really can't. They are kinda hard to miss.

Our own private zoo of creatures, brings adventure, love and often a broken vase or two to daily shop life.

So many people come and visit Apple Jack and Anna Banana at the shop.  We are currently without a dog, but only for the time being.  Sara, the owner, is an advocate for rescuing animals.   From 2006-2014, she took in seven rescued Great Danes, as well as volunteered as a kitten feeder for two years, with her sister, Rachel, at the Toronto Humane Society.  

The sweethearts that came to the shop have been featured below.    Two of her Danes came and went before the store opened, but are still very close to her heart.

Our lovable furry friends were all rescues.  They brighten our day and always make us laugh. If you have the space and are willing to welcome a new friend into your home, and your heart, we are sure you'll get it back ten-fold. 

To find some furry friends of your own.
Please visit . . . Toronto Animal Services or Danes In Distress


The Cast of Characters

Sweetpea's, The Zoo - Anna

Anna Banana

Our demanding little piglet of a calico. Pizza, cheese, yogurt, you name it, she wants it.  Except for veggies.  Not a big fan of her greens, that's for sure.

Anna is approximately a six years old. According to her records, she has had a litter of kittens, despite being one herself.  Her back legs and tail are a little wonky as they were both broken when she arrived at Toronto Animal Services, but they certainly don't stop her from chasing Jack around the store after hours. Anna loves to watch the pigeons and sneaks outside for a closer look whenever she gets the chance. She is definitely the brains of this operation, but quite honestly, once you meet Jack, you'll understand, that isn't a hard role to fill.


Sweetpea's, The Zoo - Jack
Apple Jack
Wow. So, Apple Jack. He's um . . . he's a handful.

Despite being nine years old, you would swear this little demon was still a kitten. Jack LOVES paper balls. If you come into the shop and find crumpled receipts all over the floor, we can guarantee you, Jack had something to do with it.

Jack is a snuggler, with outbursts of wrestling and the occasional nibble. He likes to be right in the middle of things and feels that anything you place on the counter is his to sleep on.  Clipboards, tissue paper, calculators . . . yes, he sleeps on the calculator.

Jack demands your full attention and, with this handsome fellow, you are happy to give it to him.


Sweetpea's - The Zoo, Gus


Gus was my last Dane (for now, anyway).   After Toby, I knew I needed another dog, but I was waiting for one that was truly special.   The moment I saw Gus' photo on Danes In Distress, I knew I had found him.   

Gus and I bonded quickly.   Gus wanted nothing more than to be with me 24/7.   He wanted to snuggle, loved being sung to and 'sneaking' up onto the couch for a nap.

When I picked Gus up from his foster home, I found out the little girl who lived there had taken to painted Gus' toe nails.    When I got him home, he would see me paint my nails and stretch his legs out to have his done as well.   How could I say 'no'?  I think he liked it most when I would blow on them to help them dry.  So, I was the lady walking down the street, with a massive black and white dog, with blue toes.   One little girl squealed with delight when she first met him, claiming Gus as a "Unicorn-Dog".   Every time she saw him, it was "Hi, Unicorn-Dog.   Have a good day at work." and a light pat on the head as she sauntered past.  Sweetpea's - The Zoo, Gus' Painted Nails

Gus had a lot of health issues which showed themselves quickly.   We took care of them as best we could.   The oddest behaviour was his unwillingness to go up and down the stairs when inside buildings.   It baffled me.   We knew he knew how to use stairs, because he did it outside, but inside, never.   He was terrified.   Myself, friends and family all worked with him in efforts to get him to come up and down the stairs.   As my office is in the basement of the shop, Gus would cry at the top of the stairs while I worked.   At home, I rearranged my furniture, putting my living room back on the first floor.  I took to sleeping on the couch so he wouldn't feel alone at night.   One day, Jonathan, our Construction Manager; who Gus adored and followed around everywhere (as far as Gus was concerned, I was chopped liver when it came to Jonathan), simply told Gus to go down the stairs and he did.   From that moment on, Gus had no problems following me up and down the stairs, earning Jonathan the title of "The Horse Whisperer" and allowing me to finally sleep in my own bed again (and Gus along with me).

As Gus grew more and more attached to me, he also became more and more wary of big city living.   There were so many people.   So many dogs.   So many places.   He became overwhelmed, which made him overly protective of me.   Sadly, one day, a random dog attacked Gus near the shop.   From that moment forward, despite my best efforts, Gus was ready to rumble at the slightest twitch from another dog.  

My beloved snuggle bug at home, with my kittens nestled into his belly, became unmanageable on the street and at the shop.   I tried working with him.   I tried harnesses, muzzles, pheromone collars, but there came a day when I had to face the fact that Gus was not cut out for the hustle and bustle of strange dogs and new people.    With much upset, I had to surrender Gus back to Danes in Distress.    It was the hardest decision I have made in my time adopting Danes.   I had dealt with abandoned seniors, health and behavioural issues, separation anxiety and more.   I had said quiet goodbyes to multiple dogs (and cats), but never had I had to give one up.   I felt as though I had failed him.

I watched helplessly as Gus was posted as available for adoption and begged for information about him for the months following.   I wanted to know he was safe, in a home where he could relax, be his snuggly self and experience all the love and attention he needed.    After a few months, I was told that Gus had found a home.   Then, last August, when I asked about him again, I was told that Gus had passed away.    The sadness was overwhelming.   All the what-if's and if-only's poured through me.   He was such a sweet kid.   All he wanted was to love and protect me.   I hope that the people who adopted him had a chance to see his beautiful nature, and continued to paint his toes.   

Words can not express my feelings about Gus.   All I can say, is that after that experience, I needed some time.    I may adopt a Dane again, I don't know yet.   I still follow Danes in Distress faithfully and watch their adoptees come and go.   I love the stories of their furever homes and seeing them bounce and play.   I live vicariously through their posts.

Even today, I watched a little girl, in her bright yellow raincoat and pretty blue rubber boots, run and splash in puddles in the park, while her Great Dane guardian, wandered nearby, keeping a watchful eye on her.   They really are the most beautiful creatures I could hope to have in my life.

For now, I have my two little kittens at home, who are the best part of my day.   



Sweetpea's, The Zoo - Toby


My beloved Tobster.  Toby was my third rescued Great Dane.  He lived to about ten and a half years old, with a hard story to tell about his life prior to living with us.  Can you believe that no one wanted this sweetheart in their life?

Toby was actually a little small for a Dane, despite being 145lbs.  He ate about 6 cups of food a day and had a sweet tooth.  Vanilla ice cream cones and the occasional cupcake were his favourite treats.  He was as quiet and lazy as they come.

Toby and I spent our evenings crashed out on the couch together, snuggling like ying and yang.  My Sweetpea came home many a time to find me using Toby as a pillow as I shared a (very small) loveseat with this blanket hog.  He was a great boy.  Smart, quiet and always by my side.  He loved being in the shop and it is hard being here without him.

Toby was my best friend.  In the year before he died, we had so many adventures together.  We discovered new and fun places as I learned a new sport that took us to wooded nature parks and conservation areas.  He spent hours tromping through the brush and drinking out of ponds and muddy puddles.  We had picnics in the sun and naps under the cool shades of trees.  He never minded me using him as a pillow and the two of us would snooze away warm summer days in grassy fields.  He loved my new truck and his ability to put his out the window, to the point where I had to put the childlocks on the power windows, as he had figured out that with a push of a button he could hang his head out and take in the breeze.  I knew he was getting older and his legs just wouldn't hold out.  I was thankful for our time and appreciated each day we spent together, knowing our time was limited.

On December 12, 2013, I said a tearful goodbye to my beautiful sweet boy.  After our first snow storm, watching him struggle walking to and from the shop, falling on ice and tearing up his tail and legs on the concrete, I knew I couldn't put him through another winter.  To do so would have been selfish of me.  I had received a wonderful gift and it was time to let go.  We treated him to a full-sized vanilla cake to appease his sweet tooth.  Sean cooked up a rib-eye steak which took seconds for Toby to gulp down, licking the plate and floor, looking at us for more.  The night before we left the shop, I simply told the staff, "Toby won't be coming in tomorrow".  They smiled down at him, as their eyes grew sad and quiet.  They hugged him, rubbed his ears and said goodbye.  He slept on the bed that night and tolerated the playful kittens who chased his tail and poked at his ears and face.  I was so thankful for his patience with them as an introduction to the world of gentle giants, knowing they wouldn't be fearful in the future when meeting other dogs.

The morning of, we stopped and picked up cheddar bagels, toasted with butter and extra slices of cheddar.  I knew how much Toby loved when my friend Gary would bring them as treats for him during rounds of disc golf and decided they would make a great treat and fill him with good memories of following us around the course.  We lay down on a mountain of blankets and soft beds together and I wrapped my arms around him, whispering thanks and love in his ear.  I tried to be strong and not to cry, so he wouldn't know sadness in his final moments.  As I realized his warm chest had stopped moving, I finally had to let it all go.  I wept and gripped through his fur and kissed his ears and face.  I cherished him physically for the last time, knowing memories were all I could take with me when I left the room.

I miss him terribly, but I don't grieve for his loss.  I now know what true unconditional love feels like and am simply thankful that I had the opportunity to experience it for as long as I did.

I know another Dane will worm their way into my heart in the not too distant future, but for now, I'll leave the stack of giant beds in the basement and wait until the right one comes along. They have big shoes to fill.

Sleep well Beautiful. I'll see you on the course and we will play together on the other side of the bridge. I love you. Be good. ♥



I knew I was setting myself up for heart break with Beth. After losing Bentley, I had declared myself a "single dog owner". That lasted all of three weeks. A friend told me about a ten-year-old Dane, found abandoned in a park. She was in poor health and needed a home. I said 'No, I'm done. I need a break'.  A few days later, I saw a posting through Danes In Distress' Facebook page, with a link to Toronto Animal Services.  A single glance at her photo and I had to take her home. A few phone calls later, and I was top of the waiting list for this sweet old girl.

I named her, Beth, after my nickname for Wade, our store manager who had recently moved back to the States.

My hubbie and I picked her up on a Sunday morning and posted a quick pic to Facebook.  The response was overwhelming.  Everyone was so excited to meet this sweetie.  It started small, but within a few days, we were inundated with phone calls, emails and visits.  When we started to hear from people in the States and England, we knew the world wanted a fairy tale ending with Beth miraculously recovered, living happily and walking on her own.  I knew that wouldn't happen, and was afraid to let the world in on my sad secret.  I didn't want them to lose hope in this wonderful girl.

Beth had a lot of health problems, from inoperable tumours to complete kidney failure.  I did what I could to ensure her last days were spent in a wonderful place, with people who cared for her.  There was no shortage of love coming her way.  Traveling to and from the shop in our garden cart, she made everyone she passed, smile.  How anyone could have walked away from this beautiful girl, I don't know.

Knowing my time with her was going to be so short, I had my camera always turned to her, so I could have a small gallery to refer to when she was gone.

Beth was with me for all of nine days.  She is the first dog I have had to put down entirely on my own, with no one in the room.  It was just the two of us, sitting together, knowing our time together was too short.  She smiled and ate liver treats.  I rubbed her ears and kissed her head.  She went as quickly out of my world as she came into it.  I waited until every small twitch and move of her muscles was gone.  As long as I could see movement, I wanted her to know I was there.  I would not leave her alone.  Her last moments would be with someone who loved her by her side.

Beth spent her last few days experiencing love, warmth, caring and patience.  She gobbled down meatball subs (with extra cheese), liver treats, was bathed and brushed.  She was carried, wheeled in carts and allowed to roam when she chose to.  Her last meal was a complete roast chicken in the park under the shade on a sunny afternoon with Toby and I.

I want to send a heartfelt thanks to all of those who followed Beth on Facebook, came in and visited her and restored my faith that there are so many incredible people who really care what happens to these wonderful creatures.

Beth, you were a sweet, sweet girl.  I hope you are chasing squirrels and running at a full sprint.  I'm so glad to have had some time with you.  I'll see you on the other side of the bridge.  Giant hugs to my only girl. ♥


Sweetpea's, The Zoo - Bentley


Bentley came to the shop in January 2012. He wasn't with us for long, only a few months, but in that time, he became a Sweetpea's favourite. Bentley LOVED the sunshine, following sunbeams from the back garden, to the front door as the day progressed. He learned very quickly that the customers at the shop were there to rub his ears and be leaned on, and took full advantage of that fact.

His wonky ear was absolutely charming and his smile lit up the whole shop.

On May 23, only four months after I first met him, I was in NYC and got a call from Wade, our shop manager. Bentley had bloated, and there was nothing that could be done to save him. I called his 'real mum', Lindsay, who had raised Bentley from a pup, and only gave him up because she couldn't give him the attention during the day he so badly needed. I had continued to send her photos and videos of Bentley, so she knew he was happy and loved. Without hesitation, Lindsay, rushed to be by his side, along with Wade and Kira from the shop. From what I hear, Bentley's reunion with his mum, was nothing but smiles and tail wagging. Once I knew he was surrounded by the people and community who meant the most to him, I gave the vet the ok, and then wept on a bench in Central Park and waited for a phone call to tell me he was gone. Thalia, one of our florists was with me. She wrapped her arms around me and held me as I shook and screamed and experienced Bentley's loss from too far away.

Bentley's time with us was short, but impactful. He was a beacon of love and happiness. Even in his passing, he showed me the love and support that surrounds all of us, and the strength of friendship during the hardest of times.

I hope the sun is shining on you wherever you are, Sweetheart. Be a good kid. See you on the other side of the bridge. ♥


Sweetpea's, The Zoo - Caleb


In January 2011, we lost Caleb. He was just shy of his 17th birthday. Born so close to Valentine's Day - I always said he was my little love child. He was one in a million. My sister says I won the dog lottery. ♥

He was my constant companion for more than half my life.  My shoulder to cry on through high school heart-breaks.  My study buddy in university.  My ring bearer at our wedding. As an event planner, I would sneak him into hotels and bring him bacon, sausages and eggs from the breakfast buffets. I brought him with me every where I could. Straight through to opening my store. Quiet, welcoming and patient, he was the best shop dog I could hope for. 

I miss him daily.  He was my world.  Despite all the love he had in his heart - his body simply wore out.  If not for his legs, his unconditional love would have kept him going for another 17 years.  I carried him for months.  I would have kept carrying him forever if I could have. 

I love you puppy. Sleep well, Sweetheart. I'll see you on the other side of the bridge.

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