DUNEDIN, Fla. – Mark Buehrle won't be experiencing the dog days of summer.
While the pitcher is headed to Toronto, his family will split the season between Broward County in Florida and their home in St. Louis. One of their four dogs, Slater, is a mix of bulldog and American Staffordshire Terrier — which is of pit bull lineage. Pit bulls are banned in the province of Ontario.
"He's an awesome dog," Buehrle said Saturday. "That's what's a shame; just the way he looks is why we have to get separated."
Sent to Toronto as part of the Miami Marlins' payroll purge, Buehrle had a few options. He could have left Slater with friends or placed him in a kennel. The Buehrle family also could have moved to Buffalo or somewhere else on the U.S. side of the border, forcing the pitcher to commute 90 minutes each way to Toronto.
Buehrle's wife, Jamie, 5-year-old Braden and 3-year-old daughter Brooklyn will spend time with the 33-year-old left-hander during spring training, as will Slater and their three vizslas.
"It's something we're going to deal with," Buehrle said. "It's going to be tough at the beginning, not seeing your kids, but people deal with it and we'll make it work."
Buehrle concluded responsible pet owners should not delegate to others the task of caring for a dog. And he said he wouldn't break a law by taking a dog where it is prohibited.
"We've had people say, 'Oh, you can bring them up here. Knowing you have money, no one's going to take your dog because they know you're going to fight against it,'" Buehrle said. "But the thing is, Slater will have to sit in a cage until that court date gets there, and that could be two weeks, it could be three months. If people don't own dogs, they're not going to understand you're leaving your family and your kids behind over a dog."
Buehrle said his family will travel to Toronto for occasional visits.
"It's not like we're not going to see each other," he said. "But we just feel like with all the training and all the stuff that we've done with the dogs, it's better that they stay with my wife."
After going 161-119 during 12 seasons with the Chicago White Sox, Buehrle agreed in December 2011 to a $58 million, four-year contract with the Marlins. The team went on a spending spree as it prepared to move into a new ballpark, but a terrible season caused owner Jeffrey Loria to shed stars.
Buehrle was traded in November along with shortstop Jose Reyes, right-hander Josh Johnson, catcher John Buck and outfielder Emilio Bonifacio to the Blue Jays.
None of the Marlins' players had contractual provisions allowing them to block trades. Buehrle issued a statement in November, saying "I was lied to on multiple occasions" by the Marlins.
"I let it be known how I felt, and I wasn't happy," he said. "I felt like we took a leap of faith there, coming there without a no-trade clause, and we felt like we'd be there a long time."
Buehrle said Marlins President David Samson reached out to him.
"I had nothing to say. I told them I wasn't in much of a mood, and that they wouldn't like to hear what I had to say," Buehrle explained. "I didn't have much interest in talking to them, and I don't have any plans now to ever talk to them again."