Monday, April 23, 2012

We have moved!

This blog will stay up ... for now at least ... but it has been moved in its entirety over to Word Press and can now be found at

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Better than winking in the dark ....

Like any Jane Austen fan, I love a happy ending!   In this dreary old world where tragedies play out everyday in the media, I will take my entertainment sunny side up please and thank you!
That is also why I love to see good news wherever and whenever it comes!  Last weekend, Pet Valus around the province hosted a Pet Adoption weekend in support of local rescues.  How did that work out?
While CAPS has not added up the tally for applications, everyone who participated is quite pleased by the interest shown!  Even better, the pawprint donations at the Greenwood store were only surpassed by the big stores in the greater Toronto area!   Best of all of course was that even the adorable adoptables who did not attend will wind up getting more attention as a result.
East Coast German Shepherd Rescue has been over the moon about the flurry of adoptions that will be happening as a direct result of last weekend's event!    Five out this weeks nine Happy Tails have been made possible because the soon to be proud new owners had a chance to meet their new Best Friends in 'furson'!
SHAID's Momma and Babies were a hit at the Bridgewater event and the South Shore supporters were both delighted to learn about TNR and generous in their support for this work!
The Provincial Animal Shelter has been having great success all along with their kitties who have been getting good exposure, not only at the Metro Pet Valu, but at the other satellite adoption centers at Petcetera and Pets Unlimited.   While it is incredibly helpful for them to have this resource coming into kitten season ... the real blessing lays in the opportunity for the beautiful adult cats to 'sell themselves'
In other words ... thanks to the auspices of the pet stores who are now helping  instead of creating situations to be cleaned up by rescues .... more kind hearts in our province have an opportunity to meet the adorable adoptables!
At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, there is no downside to this:
  • 'taking it to the streets' allows rescues and shelters to reach out to all the kind hearts who are either unwilling or unable to come to a shelter
  • as any successful business knows, the best way to reach the target market is to make it easy for people to 'shop'
  • interested folks have the reassuring opportunity to meet some of the adoptables before going out on a limb filling out applications
  • seeing adoptables in established pet stores takes pet adoption out of the abstract and remote and brings it down to the achievable objective for first time adopters
  • and of course, last but definitely not least, there is a whole other layer.   Not everyone who attends these events will put in an application right away.   Many people .. quite rightly ... view pet ownership as an important step that should not be rushed into.    Yet everyone of those sensible souls who attends such an event is given 'food for thought' for a later date.
At the end of the day, there is also the 'ripple effect' that comes from each and every successful adoption.   Family, friends, neighbours and coworkers all have the opportunity to see what good value that darned adoption fee really is.  Even better, they have a chance to see just how lovely these 'secondhand' pets really are.   Best of all of course is that boosting adoptions creates more space to save more pets.
What time is it?  It is always time to remember that all great ideas are brilliantly simple!  Off site adoption events provide kind hearts who love animals with the opportunity to meet pets who need homes!
Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.  Steuart Henderson Britt

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The merits of making it count...

I love to see the forsythia flowering in full yellow!   It is one of the more fleeting pleasures in the garden ... but it heralds the start of a beauty parade that will carry on until the hard frosts of October hit.  
Some bits ... like the beautiful Bridal Wreath ... are showstoppers taking center stage for their brief moment in the sun.  Other, like the faithful Stella D'Oro daylilies sweeping along the woods by the pond will soon offer a bright burst of welcome until after Thanksgiving.
Gardeners tend to think in terms of the long haul.  Plans are often made in five and ten year increments that can seem a bit bare in the beginning to the untutored eye.
One of the other best bits about being retired is being able to make long range plans for my garden.   To be able to plant shade trees that I may someday sit under.   To be able to reap the enjoyment of a well establised perennials.
For my money, a well settled garden carries it's own special charms.   Mature gardens take less work ... which of course liberates one to actually spend time enjoying the space :)
Perhaps that is why I have such a special affection for senior pets.  Tomorrow will mark Winnie's two week anniversary here.   How are we doing?
I am happy to report that he is already housetrained ... and has happily settled into our little routine.   Winnie knows where his dinner spot is ... and already understands that the grass is not really greener in the other dinner dishes.
Even better, we all slept through the night from the very first.  Best of all of course is that Winnie has been old enough and wise enough to successfully navigate new relationships with all the family circus.
When I am planning my garden, I can think in terms of decades. I know that well tended perennials can carry on almost forever.  That the trees I bring home in the trunk of my car will in time tower over the house.
It is quite another cup of tea with living breathing sentient beings of any species.   In the game of life, seemingly big strong men can pass on before the ink is dry on their retirement certificate .... while families of dotty little old ladies who have gone to the fairies can hold centenary birthday bashes!
Anyone who has lived in the world for any time knows that time is a trickster that never offers any guarantees.  What does that mean in realspeak?  Why of course that age is really is relative.
As my friend Janice is always saying on her blog, why should senior pets be denied life because we humans limit ourselves with such narrow walls of time?  Truth be told, in such a high stress world ... that joyful ability to be able to live in the 'now' is the very best gift that our pets can share with us.
A pet is not an appliance or a car or a sound system.  Even when one buys a purebred puppy from a good breeder, there are still no guarantees than can transcend any Unforseen Unhappiness.

What time is it?   It is always time to understand that by itself time is meaningless.  The important bit is whether we make it count.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Our pets are depending on us to keep them safe ....

I love this short space of time ... when spring is sprinting out of the gate before the mosquitoes and black flies can catch up!   It is warm enough to wade in the river ... but not balmy enough yet for finding all the unrecycled flotsam and jetsam left in the wake of teenage parties.
Not to be mean, but if they are going to be the first generation to actually fix all the mistakes of the past,  picking up after themselves would be a great place to start!
Even so, I am still so very lucky to have such ready access to all the woodland trails on my best friend's land.  To be perfectly honest, being able to hop in the car every morning and head to the woods with my dogs really is the very best bit about being retired!
I am a middle aged granny with absolutely no desire to live life on the edge!  What does that mean in realspeak?   Why of course that before I open the car door .... before we start our hike .. I make sure that all of the leashes are firmly in hand. 
If that makes me a fuddy, duddy ... too bad!   It only takes galloping down the road once after a dog determined to introduce himself to a 'hood' that stretches for kilometers either way to appreciate the value of that ounce of prevention.
As always .. I am wandering a little afield!   In the very short space of time that it took to loop the old geezers leashes on one hand and have a secure grip on the big dog's long lines with the other,  the car was already heating up!  
Every year, I keep hoping that this is going to be the year that everyone actually gets how dangerous that Hot Weather Hazards can be for pets.
One of the best resources I have ever found on the subject is a great site called My Dog is Cool .  It is chock full of good information on the subject and even has printable flyers and posters that can be used.
What time is it?   It is always time to remember that our pets are depending on us to keep them safe.   It might seem like only a couple of minutes to us, when we run into an air conditioned store for a quick errand ... but while they are waiting, our faithful friends can really suffer .... even this early in spring!

Monday, April 16, 2012

What's missing from this picture?

No one was more surprised than myself when this middle aged grandmother won one of the very first Golden Paw awards a couple of years back!  
Me and my big mouth may have been influencing people, but certainly have not always been 'making friends' with any of the (then) independent branches around the province.
Even odder ... at that time in a fit of pique, I had not even renewed my membership for the next calendar year.  
Oddest of all of course was that back then I was still annoying the provincial board with formal proposals asking them to support such things as TNR and Anti Tethering Legislation.  That I now save my breath to cool my porridge is a testament to what can happen to communication lines when intelligent people with sources all around the province are expected to swallow a pat glib line.
But I am wandering afield ... as I am wont to do in my meandering way!  This morning, when we came back from the woods, I was perusing the list of this years Golden Paw Winners.
No question about it .. Nancy Northcott deserves a lifetime achievement award for her tireless dedication on behalf of both the SPCA and Second Chance Charity.  
Even better, these awards are an excellent opportunity to thank 'media partners' for providing such life saving publicity in mainstream media outlets.
Best of all, one would be hard pressed to find anyone in the animal loving community who does not applaud and appreciate the special and significant role played by Inge Sadler and her rescue Pick of the Litter Society.   The only surprise there was that it was year three of the awards before this was acknowledged!
Yet ... there is something missing from this picture!   Where was the nomination and the award for The Nova Scotia Lost Dog Network?    NSLDN was formed in January of last year.  In the first year they were responsible for reuniting four hundred and seventy dogs with the families who already loved and wanted them.  Since then, they have gained bragging rights for at least another hundred Happy Endings!
What does that mean in realspeak?  Why of course that these numbers represent more than the simple sum of all the 'home safe n sound's!  Each and every one also prevented a myriad of Unhappier Tails after the infamous 72 hour hold was up.  Even better, each and every one kept a rescue slot free for genuinely homeless dogs!
Best of all of course is that this valuable resource is a no cost community service that is completely powered by volunteer Love!
To put this into the proper perspective, as of this writing, the Nova Scotia Lost Dog Network facebook group has five thousand, two hundred and seven members.   Whether one still calls it Metro or the Provincial Animal Shelter, the NS SPCA shelter page has 3022 members.
Does size really matter?   Well .... I have been told that this years AGM was the smallest one ever in terms of attendance.
What time is it?   It is always time to remember that grassroots support ... or lack of it ... is always the game changer.   At the end of the day, the 'street cred' for any Non Profit group in never more than the sum of its membership!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Kudos to Pet Valu for hosting a Pet Adoption Weekend!

I love offsite pet adoption events!  Whats not to love?   They are a great way to reach out to potential first time adopters!   Even better, kind hearts have a chance to dip their toes in the water with a 'sneak preview' before actually jumping in with an application!   Best of all of course is that the adorable adoptables are the very best ambassadors ... and can do a wonderful job of selling themselves when folks can meet them 'in furson'!
This weekend, at three Pet Valus around the province, local rescues are having offsite adoption events:
  • SHAID is at the Bridgewater store, promoting the value of TNR and spay neuter ... with some of their purrfect pals,
  • East Coast German Shepherd Rescue is at the store in Dartmouth and
  • CAPS is at the Greenwood Mall.
It is a well known fact that me and my trifocals aren't going into the city anytime in the next millennium... but the Greenwood mall is actually only three km away!  This morning I went down and was pleased to see such great support for CAPS from the store!
What a nice display!    Nice clean crates with beautiful cats were softened up with colorful blankets, cat toys and name tags!   All sorts of very cool .. and affordable fundraising bits!  (Even if one wasn't thinking of adopting, the homemade cat and dog toys would be well worth making the trip for!)
With over a hundred cats in care on any given day, there would be no way to bring them all into the store.    Instead there was a nice rolling display of slide shows set up on a laptop for visitors to peruse.
Casual visitors could lend their support simply by buying tickets on the beautiful rug .. pictured above.  
Last but not least, there were all sorts of informative little pamphlets .. on everything from CAPS sponsorship program to their Humane Education Program.  To be perfectly honest, even I did not know that their President .. who is also a retired school teacher... had made time in her busy schedule to set this up!
For anyone in the Greenwood area .. CAPS will be back at the store tomorrow ... as will ECGSR in the Dartmouth store and SHAID in Bridgewater store.   All month long, all three stores are selling pawprints for donations for the rescues ... with all proceeds this month going to the rescues featured this weekend.
It takes a lot of work to organize the level of support that CAPS has developed.  It is more than the sum of all the pamphlets and programs!   It is a group effort that sustains such support that long after people leave the area, they are still knitting mice and mailing cat toys back here.
What time is it?  It is time to remember that these events also represent a great opportunity for anyone interested in fostering or transporting or helping with admin work to talk to the folks with the rescue first!
No doubt about it ... CAPS volunteers are living proof that nice guys don't have to finish last!

Charley reminds me of my own handsome Clive ... and he is just as affectionate!

This beauty made such an impression that a family was putting in an application on her while I was in the store :)

Morrisette thinks that thes cookbooks would make great stocking stuffers ... and that they are a steal at five bucks!

What a great idea .... battery operated reflectors for Fido's collar for walking at night instead of the throwaway ones.  Here in Nova Scotia, for six months of the year anyone walking their dogs after supper could use one of these :)

Tickets are available for the Annual CAPS May Dinner and Silent Auction

CAPS supporters may sometimes be posted away, but keep sending toys from as far away as Manitoba :)

Anyone with a dog knows how useful these are :)

This is the CAPS pawprint display in Greenwood .... ECGSR supporters can buy these at Pet Valu in Dartmouth and SHAID supporters in Bridgewater.    Isn't this so much nicer to see pet stores helping rescue instead of creating problems for rescues to clean up?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Years of wrongs still do not make anything right ....

from the CBC News website:
Sydney animal shelter kill rate too high: SPCA
The Nova Scotia SPCA says the animal shelter in Sydney euthanized far more animals than it adopted out last year.
The provincial group won control of the shelter after a court battle with a local humane society.
Kristin Williams, executive director of the SPCA, said an audit found that 565 animals were adopted last year while another 813 were put down.
That's well above the 10 per cent euthanization rate at most shelters, she noted Wednesday.
"Obviously, our aim is to make sure that every animal has a chance to be given a loving home, and it was clear that the animals at the Cape Breton shelter were not given that opportunity," Williams said.
The SPCA has a no-kill policy, which means animals should only be euthanized if they are in extreme pain or extremely aggressive.
Williams said they've been able to stick with that policy in Cape Breton.
"We have been operating that shelter since January and we've been able to do so without euthanizing animals for reasons other than mercy and severe aggression [and] that may cause a risk to public health," she said.
"It really is about attitude."
The SPCA launched a legal fight last year against the Cape Breton Humane Society, a local group that was running the shelter and was once a branch of the provincial organization.
During a court hearing, volunteers and staff with the SPCA said they had serious concerns about cases of animal neglect and a failure to provide veterinary care at the shelter.
The local board said it was largely unaware of those concerns and that many of the allegations were based on hearsay.
In January, a court awarded the SPCA temporary control of the shelter.
The SPCA promptly restricted new arrivals, saying it would only accept those brought in by animal control because too many cats and dogs at the shelter were sick.
Nearly 50 animals were transferred to a shelter in Halifax in the first week.
Williams said her group will return to court in late May if it can't reach an agreement with the local humane society for permanent control of the Sydney shelter.
Well then ... as with any online media article, these days the comments can often be more telling than the story itself!   Commenting provides a wild west forum where detractors and supporters can attempt to sway public opinion on any issue.
One of the more interesting ones in this case suggests that if the SPCA was running the shelter when all this killing was taking place .. while the renegade shelter was only running for a couple of months .. that clearly the society and by extension the ED are to blame for all the killing.
Someone has conveniently overlooked a few teeny little details:

  • the people running the renegade shelter were the ones doing all the killing,
  • the dismissed manager and disgraced former branch president repeatedly lied to provincial about everything from animal care protocols through to shelter statistics,
  • previous site visits from provincial were never unannounced... which in realspeak means that there was always time to prepare
  • the dismissed shelter manager and disbanded board would still be killing animals this year if the society had not finally paid the Sydney shelter an unannounced visit!
  • Straight, sweet and simple ... when advance notice is provided it simply is not possible for provincial to be able to see the full picture.   
When the branches were transitioning from a more independent stance, it may have made sense (to provincial at least)  to give them the grace of a couple of planned site visits.  Sacrifice a few to save ever so many more down the road might have seemed like a good idea at the time.
Not to be mean, but there was never, ever going to be a time when the dismissed manager was going to transition gracefully to No Kill.  Through no fault of the existing board, the Sydney shelter had been allowed to go on its merry own way for far too long to accept the authority of provincial.
While I do not always see eye to eye with the society, I do believe that they took the right action by taking the unprecedented step of making a surprise audit of the shelter!
It was an eye opener that did more than obligate provincial to act.   It caught the attention of the community and laid the groundwork for the strong level of grassroots support when the society regained control of the shelter.
Quite frankly, given the sorry state of the audit results .... along with the significant improvements that have been made in such a short time ... this middle aged grandmother suspects that the humane society is holding out for an agreement that includes a non disclosure clause.
But I am ... as I always seem to do ... wandering afield in my meandering way.  The point I am actually trying to make is that surprise inspections are the game changer.  In small communities, where board members can easily be related to shelter staff and managers, it is difficult for locals to find a ready ear for any problems they might have.
What time is it?   It is always time to appreciate the value of proactive management.  At the end of the day, it is always cheaper and cleaner to address things before problematic protocols become standard practice.    At the end of the day, years of "wrongs" never make a 'right' .... they are just harder to fix!