WINDSOR — When Brett Eagles first laid eyes on a flea-infested puppy roaming the streets in Kabul, he swore he wouldn't get attached.
“I said, 'nope, I can't get attached'; this is not the area to get attached to animals,” recalled Eagles, who had spotted Capo playing with a piece of meat the Afghan National Police left for him.
“He was too young to actually eat it,” recalled Eagles, who lives in Windsor.
But when that tiny pooch wound up at the embassy where he worked later that day, Eagles knew they were destined to be together.
“We basically lived in a room for the remainder of my time there; up until summer,” said Eagles.
The Nowzad Conrad Lewis Clinic for small animals helped Eagles get Capo checked over, needled, neutered and treated for fleas and parasites. The charity is the first and only official dog shelter for strays in Afghanistan, and according to Nowzad's website, they have helped more than 800 soldiers serving in Afghanistan be reunited back in their home country with the dogs or cats they rescued. Nowzad also has a cattery that houses nearly 30 former street cats.
Nowzad helped Eagles get the necessary health certificate so that Capo could get clearance to fly to Nova Scotia.
“Then he was mine and I was his,” said Eagles.
Capo, who's name is Italian for boss, is about 18 months old and is a European shepherd mix.
“He's very well-mannered; very easy going. He loves people, loves attention,” said Eagles.
Because of his pleasant demeanor, Capo is in training to become a therapy dog.
“He's not quite there yet – he still has a lot of puppy in him. But I would say fairly soon he'll have the testing for it,” said Eagles. “He probably could pass the testing now, actually, but I just want to curb a couple other enthusiasms with him.”
Eagles hopes to volunteer at local nursing homes to provide a morale boost to the seniors.
“One of my work mates coined 'puppy therapy' and would come into work looking for Capo. This is one of the reasons I started looking into therapy dogs once back in Canada,” said Eagles.
Business community benefits
Capo has already left his mark in the downtown Windsor business scene, inspiring Eagles to build Capo's Corral — a resting spot for dog owners looking to pick up a coffee.
“The idea really started in the summer,” said Eagles.
Every time he went for a walk with Capo, Eagles would tie him outdoors so he could pick up a coffee. He soon met the florist at Daniels Flower Shop, a business that shares an entrance with TAN Coffee on Water Street, and was invited to bring Capo inside.
Eagles then had the idea to build a corral for people to tether their dogs to when running to get coffee or flowers.
“They can't bring them in here because it's an eating establishment. So they can being them into the foyer and tie them there and go and have a coffee and get them on the way out,” said Eagles.
It's something that Jennifer Daniels, the owner of Daniels Flower Shop, says is good for business.
“It gives the animals protection in weather events and it also gives the owners a sense of security knowing where their animal is,” said Daniels, who used to foster cats and kittens in her shop.
“It also provides an extra perk to shopping in downtown Windsor. They can bring their animals. It's an animal-friendly area and they know they are safe and secure.”