Monday, May 31, 2010

Cornering the Market isn't as crass as it seems

I love living in a multicat household.   Whats not to love?  Setting aside how very dear each and every individual is to me, as a group the six of them are just pretty darned interesting to live with.  Its definitely well worth the occasional chewed speaker cord and broken ornament.
Admittedly, Morgan is the only one who was actually adopted from a rescue ( SHAID ).  Clive came here when his human .. who was my best friend's brother... passed away.  The other four found their way here because there is something on my mailbox only cats can read : )
Noone likes to think of themselves as ordinary or average, but that actually makes me quite typical of Canadian pet owners, at least according to a survey that was commissioned by the Canadian Veterinary Association in 2008. (Perrin, T. (2009). “The Business of Urban Animals Survey: The facts and statistics on companion animals in Canada,” Canadian Veterinary Journal, 50(1): 48–52.) 
The short version is that means that roughly 140,930 people in Nova Scotia will get a new pet in the next year; of those 29,595 will get a cat.
According those surveyed:
  • 17% adopted from a shelter
  • 24% got kittens or cats from friends and relatives
  • 16 % adopted strays
  • 14% went the "free to a good home" route
  • 11% were offspring
  • 9% were from pet stores
  • 5% came from breeders, and
  • 5% were from "other' sources
Seventeen percent of 29,595 = 5, 031 kittens and cats.  Hmmm.    Bear in mind that this survey didn't promise that 17 percent were Planning to adopt.  Rather that number reflects the percent that Have adopted.
Today, if 5,031 people went to Petfinder, Kijiji and the animal welfare websites for NS groups and shelters that don't use Petfinder (  The subject of how the society can hope to fulfil its no kill strategic plan when  only six of  its branches use the Free listing services provided by Petfinder  ... services I might add that are regularly visited by a "target market" ... is an interesting topic to discuss on another day. In like fashion, it would take an entire post to speculate on the reasons why the cape breton branch seldom lists any cats on petfinder, when a tiny little volunteer group like CAPS can make time to post 124 well written listings, eh? )
Noone ever wants to see Pet Adoption in this province become a business where the bottom line matters more than the value of life.  Yet, many of the business basics would serve rescue groups well:
  • there isn't a successful business that doesn't understand the value of advertising.   Nor would one find one willing to forgo the benefits of listing with a free service that has become a household name
  • customer relations are key .... any restaurant owner will tell you that Canadians seldom complain ...  if they aren't happy they simply don't come back.   The animal rescue world is particularly susceptible in this respect as long time staff and volunteers have seen so much that they generally relate better to the animals than the people.
  • customer convenience is very important.  People are more inclined to do the kind and/ or social responsible thing if it is easy for them to do so.  Lengthy application forms often deter wonderful prospective families from applying.  The new, simplified form that Metro is using is sufficient for starters.  After all, there will still be an interview, reference checks and a home visit, hmmm?
  • Follow up.  If one buys a car/ hot tub / wood stove, its almost a standard practice to receive newsletters and Christmas cards in the mail from the vendor.    For animal rescue, this practice could do double duty by engaging support and volunteer effort as well as future adoptions.
  • And last but not least .... customer support.   Most rescue groups and shelters are more than happy to provide post adoption advice and answer questions. Nor should the value of the standard "if you can't keep the pet we want him or her back" be underestimated.   This type of thing should be played for every bit that its worth, eh
What time is it?  Animal rescue groups and shelters have to remember that  'cornering the market' is the only way we will get to No Kill Nova Scotia.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

More ways to have fun and help the animals.

. The long weekend may be over, but all around the province folks are still putting the fun in fundraising for the animals.

Don't forget that May 27th and 28th are the next dates for Cookies for CAPS at Classic Hobbies in Middleton

TAPA is having a Yard Sale on Saturday May 29 starting at 8:30 am - 2:00 pm

280 Portland St., Dartmouth (close to 5 corners) Rain Date: Saturday, June 5

On May 29th, there is a Music Benefit for the LA Shelter at the Amherst Lions Den .... and earlier that day, the Annual Yard Sale for the LA Shelter is being held by the Amherst Vet Clinic.

OOops .. I just realized that this poster didn't mention that this is takeing place at the Metro Shelter :)

At the Kings SPCA, the adoption fees have been reduced for four of their longest resident cats.  The two black and white cats pictured here are Romeo and Carly and they can be adopted for $75.00 each or together for $100.00.  The grey and white kitties, Gilbert and Sullivan, can be adopted for $120 each or $100 for the pair.  They are vetted, vaccinated and altered and they all look like they are lovely.
PS ... I noticed that this branch is offering a discount for its adopted dogs for their obedience classes as well ... now if only the branch would start using Petfinder ...sigh.

And last but definitely not least ... I only just noticed that they are going to have a plant booth at the SHAID Yard Sale on June 5th.  

Same old song ... different day

I love going to the woods with the dogs.... and being able to do this every morning is definitely one of the best bits about being retired.  Over the years, I've learned a lot about the landscape.  I'm able to avoid a lot of trouble by knowing which trails fizzle out, how to get up to the ridge / river / old logging road and even the spots where the skunks / deer / foxes and coyotes like to nest. ( If you have to ask why that's important you really should stay out of the woods, eh? )
There is a bag of odds and sods that comes along too.  I seldom need any of it, but have learned not to leave it behind... pliers for cutting ancient barb wire fences or snares ... a cell in a ziplock bag ... a spare leash ... roll of gauze and tape ..  you get the idea.  All inspired by lessons that have usually been learned the hard way.
I know I go on and on like a stuck record about the need for a law to ban the traffic of living breathing sentient beings on Kijiji.  I know there are some rescue folks who use the 'free to a good home' slot to advertise for their rescues.
But yesterday there was an ad, that is still there today, that really highlights the problems with being able to advertise pets online.  A couple are looking for a new pet for their family. Why is that a problem?  Because the 'old pet' didn't work out.  There were "behavioural and aggression issues" so they "had to give it up"
Odds are to even they found the old pet on Kijiji too.  Perhaps as a puppy that this busy family with three kids didn't have time to train ( the subject of how children don't train themselves either is a separate topic for a blog with a different focus than mine ...sigh )
Kijiji is always promising that ads that don't comply with their policies for posting pet ads will be removed ... but remember that is coming from the same folks who somehow let an ad slip through for a baby .
The bottom line is that legislation to ban the traffic of living breathing sentient beings on Kijiji ( whose parent company EBay Does forbid the practice on their site ) and the other free online ad sites, is as much about consumer protection as it is about animal welfare:
  • The couple who are looking for the new pet won't get the kind of support and education from the curbside guarantee that will ensure they are getting the pet best suited to their lifestyle and experience.  
  • The rescue people who list in the free to a good home could always ask Kijiji to set up a special section for pet adoption from rescue.
  • The reputable breeders already have venues they can use to advertise their puppies and would be able to distinguish themselves from the less reputable folks who Don't Do the proper screening before breeding
  • If it wasn't so darned easy for people to peddle the kittens and puppies when they were too careless or too cheap to spay the mother, perhaps there would be a public demand for low cost spay neuter clinics.
  • And last but definitely not least, it would cut off a free advertising venue that allows people like the Benoits to hide behind a cloak of anonymity and prey on kind hearted people
What time is it?  Its time to let your MLA  and the Minister of Agriculture know that our Nova Scotia needs better protection for pet owners by banning the traffic of living breathing sentient beings on the free online ad sites. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Here kitty kitty

Do you remember Becky and Huck from the post Stepping On Caterpillars ?  Well in a few days it will be June, and that means that these two little adventurers ... who so narrowly escaped a Horribly Unhappy Tail ... will soon be available for adoption from CAPS.  After everything that these two have been through, CAPS is looking for someone with enough room in their heart ( and their home : ) to adopt them both.   ( Scroll down for more Becky and Huck eye candy :)
Its very good timing for Becky and Huck that CAPS is still running its BOGO for all of their kittens and cats.  What does that mean?  CAPS already has one of the most reasonable adoption fees around at $80.00 for adult cats and $100.00 for kittens under six months of age.   With the BOGO, one pays the full fee for the first cat or kitten and the fee for the second cat or kitten is reduced by half.
In plainspeak ... one can adopt two adult cats for a total of $120.00 and two kittens like Huck and Becky together for $150.
But really its not even about the money.  In this busy world ... two cats who are already friends make great pets for folks who have to work, go to soccer, flyball, etc.    Just like the marines ... noone is never left behind alone, eh?
Nor will things seem so strange for new pets when they can bring a pal they already know with them.
And of course there is the thing that somehow seems to escape the people who complain about any of the cat adoption fees ... and that is the simple fact that whether they are at the low or the high end of the range, they are ALL still a Very Good Buy.
When I adopted Morgan from SHAID, her adoption fee was $150.00.  She was already tested, health checked, vaccinated and spayed.   I live in an area where vet costs are lower than the city, and go to one of the most reasonable animal clinics in the area. 
Last year when I had Dora and Oscar tested and wormed and vaccinated ... and Dora spayed, I easily spent five hundred dollars.   And that was with a small discount on Dora's spay that Melissa so generously allowed and of course with the fact that we had discovered that Oscar was already neutered.
No question, wherever you live, adopting from a reputable rescue is a great way to go.  Granted that most people reading this blog are already awakened to the joys of pet adoption, but there is still a couple of Very Important Things that they can do.
Its easy to forget the power of word of mouth ... and yet it carries at least as much sway as what is written in the media.   If you are already full up, you can also post his or her Petfinder profile on facebook.  If you have a blog or a website, you can include the free featured pet generators and custom scroll lists that are so user friendly and easy to install.
What time is it?  Its always time to remember that every cat adopted from rescue into a new family represents a small step forward to slowing the "annual river of cats"

Monday, May 24, 2010

Summertime Blues

 Gardeners are real optimists.  No matter how bad last year's season was ... no matter how cool or damp or dry this year's weather is ... the beds are tilled and planted in the hopes that good things will come.   Is it raining?  Gosh doesn't that do the garden good!  Is it hot and dry?  Well ... we can never have too much sunshine either :)
There is a lot of romance attached to gardening.  The gardening shows and magazines are long on the loveliness and short on the amount of time and energy that is required to create successful gardens of all sizes. 
Why do they do that?  Because gardening is a big industry.  The reason the big box stores roll out the temporary garden centers is because there are big bucks to be made when gardeners come out of winter hibernation.
At the end of the season, it doesn't matter if everything was sold.   To be perfectly honest, none of the retailers really care whether the plants survived and settled in.  After discounting the remaining stock, its not a big deal if the unsold plants become part of the municipal composting system.
The pet industry represents big money too.   Like the gardening shows, more emphasis is placed on promoting the appeal than on the time and energy involved in the journey from infant to well behaved and well socialized adult pet.  
When the novice gardener, who remembers hostas from home plants a promising hosta bed on the sunny side of their house, it will generally not survive the first season.  A rookie wouldn't realize that the shade tag on the plant meant that full sun will kill the plant.  They might not know that new transplants need lots of extra water and tlc the first year.  Nor might they have thought that the kids might like to shortcut through that space to the front step.
Although it makes the gardener in me wince to see things like that, it is never the same thing as the pets that turn out to be the wrong fit for the family. Most of us live different lives than our parents and just might not have the time to train and exercise the Labrador that we loved when we were children. 
The pet industry resists regulation in the same way the auto and oil industries have.  All the stops were pulled out to discredit Ralph Nader.  Energy efficient prototypes were killed on the drawing board.   Two of the Big Three were brought to the brink by their failure to recognize the changing choices consumers were making.   The current crisis in the Gulf is brimming with industry altering implications.
When legislation, and more importantly the regulations that spell out the specifics, is on the drawing table ... it often gets bogged down with the very big question of how it can enforced.   As a result, the "new" Animal welfare bill in NS is still like a barebones CSS frame that needs to be filled out before it represents anything meaningful.
As a side bar to that .. it is Very Interesting Indeed to note that on the archived page listing the official status of bills that Bill 186 has been proclaimed except for "ss 31-33".  Why is that so interesting?  Those are the clauses that detail the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board which was supposed to provide a timely appeal process for owners of seized pets.    Hmmm.
But I am wandering a bit afield.  Regulations and laws do not exist so that they can always be enforced in a proactive way.   The RCMP don't go knocking on everyone's doors looking for drugs.  Their regulations are there so that when they DO find something, they are able to prosecute.
By the very nature of their limited funding for cruelty investigations, the society is never going to be able to go knocking on everyone's door looking for violations.  Their's is a reactive process that is normally complaint driven. 
So why do we need the regulations?   Without regulations, the RCMP would not be able to pull drunk drivers off the road.  Without regulations, the inspector from the Agriculture Department wouldn't be able to close an unsafe restaurant ... or post the violators names on their website.
We need the regulations so that when the society inspectors visit a puppy mill, they can actually do something about it.  We need regulations so that as other provinces and states tighten their own belt, so to speak, that we do not become the new puppy mill capital of the eastern seaboard.
Most importantly, we need regulations because companion animals are living breathing sentient beings.  At the end of the day, its not a big deal if the plants wind up in the composter.  But it is a Very Big Deal ... at least to me ... when the Unhappy Tails add up.
Everyone loves animals.  If our NDP government are looking for a great ... and fairly low cost ... way to restore their popularity, I can't think of a more effective way to do so than by fast tracking the regulations for the "new" Animal Welfare Act.
What time is it?  It is Always Time to let your MLA's know that you are an animal lover and your pet votes.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


There is a new facebook group,  LOST BLACK RUSSIAN TERRIER "MAVRA" IN TANTALLON AREA.... that has been set up to find a lost dog in the Tantallon area.  Mayla is only ten months old and tends to be a bit shy of people but might come to someone walking another dog.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ahh ... a long weekend

What a beautiful day! This early in the week any weekend forecasts would be guestimates at best ... but rain or shine it IS the long weekend. Around here, the Victoria weekend signals the start of the season for campers and day trippers alike.

  • If you happen to take a tour to the Valley on Sunday, HART/ is holding an Open House Adoption/ Donation Day for their lovely kitties ( see poster below )
  • If you are browsing for bargains around HRM, the Nova Scotia SPCA are hosting a booth at the Harborview Weekend Market in Dartmouth from 9am until 4 pm every Saturday and Sunday
  • This Saturday, TAPA is holding a yard sale at 280 Portland Street in Dartmouth with all kinds of goodies ... Books, garden plants, Holiday wreaths from Props Flower Shop and all kinds of household items.
  • If you happen to be in the Yarmouth Area between 10 and 5 on weekends .. they have all kinds of nifty merchandise for sale at the shelter, as well as tickets for their upcoming Funny Fundraiseron June 11th
  • CAPS will be at the Middleton Market every Friday from 2 - 6 pm
  • Tickets are also on sale now for The Big Doggie Do being held on June 12th for Lab Rescue
  • The GPAC rescue folks really understand the value of getting out into the community and have an entire page devoted to the events where they will be
  • There is a gorgeous quilt set being raffled off for the benifit of Feral Cats ... see poster below

BTW ... if I have missed anything, please don't hesitate to email me.

And of course, if you want to help your favourite rescue in a really meaningful way, why not offer to foster. Summer vacation is coming up and many of them will need short term fosters to step up to the plate so that the kind hearts who foster for them all year long can go on vacation too: ))) What a wonderful opportunity to find out if fostering really is for you, eh?

Last but definitely not least is a gentle reminder for all pet owners that unless it pours rain all weekend, there will be fireworks. Make sure that your own pets are safely leashed after dark, even in fenced yards. Every year there are Unhappy Tails of lost pets who skittle away in fright and are never seen again ... at least by their original owners.

The subject of how that can also be prevented by having pets carry their own ID .. either tags or microchipped .. is a separate subject deserving its own post coming soon

What time is it? Its always time to have some summer fun ... especially when you can help the animals at the same time.

Monday, May 17, 2010

On going the distance

There is a frost warning for tonight ... but really its no big deal here. This isn't my first dance, so I have learned not be seduced by the first tempting bits of warm weather into planting the garden too early.
I'm not sure if we get wiser as we get older or if its more a matter of having already learned life's lessons the hard way. The real freedom in being fifty five comes from the confidence of not being an apprentice anymore, eh?
Twelve years ago, when I bought my first computer, I had no idea how computers would bring the world to my doorstep. While I'm not much for chit chat or games and would never have enough time to lead an alternate life in a virtual world, I am delighted to have unlimited information at my fingertips.
When I adopted Ben, for instance, I knew that I was going need a whole new skill set. He had lived his entire life in an outdoor pen and brought more baggage with him than a model on a photo shoot. Between, and of course the kind folks at Maritime Golden Retriever Rescue, I was able to learn how to set him up for success.
If a person wants to start from scratch with a puppy or work with adopting an adult pet, there are wonderful guides available .... one of the best resources around is the free download section of The Best Friends site is chock full of great info. Our own has assembled a pretty comprehensive collection as well.
Anyone who adopts from a reputable rescue can also depend on the group for advice and support. But the one thing a rescue cannot do is force someone to keep their new best friend when they realize that there is more to pet ownership than simply adding the love.
When that happens ... reputable rescues always take the pet back in their care. There is no time limit on that with the really good ones ... very recently, ARC ( ) took a dog named Mollie back into their care ... eleven years after adopting her out. Her owner had passed away and noone in the family was willing or able to keep the little dog. So she came back to ARC, who will find someone who IS willing to offer this sweet girl a safe and loving retirement home.
Sometimes its a shorter interval than that. A few months ago, Elsie called me about a little fellow who had bounced back to ARC before the ink was even dry on the adoption contract. His new Mom had thrown him into every new possible situation immediately and then couldn't understand why the little fellow was a bit overwhelmed.
Of course Max was welcomed right back and settled back in with his Foster Mom to wait for a more committed and/or experienced adopter. Finally in January, I was delighted to remove Max from the homeless pet site when he was adopted.
One of the great satisfactions of adopting, imho, isn't simply knowing that one has saved a life.... it is the journey that one makes with each pet as their confidence and trust grows along the way.
There is no substitute or shortcut for that. I would like to be able to feel sorry for people who are unwilling to wait for that ... but in truth I have much more sympathy for the pets that are left in the lurch by those humans who are either too inexperienced or too impatient to go the distance. Pets have no say in the matter and it just confuses them more when yet another person decides to set them aside.
So a couple of weeks ago, I was saddened to have to list Max back on the site. He's just a great little guy .... he's friendly and well behaved and socialized and still young enough to have ever so many years of love and loyalty left to offer. Why did a great little guy like him wind up bouncing back? Was it his quirky little bark? Did his new home not realize that little dogs need as much work as the big boys?
I could almost envy the person who DOES adopt this great little guy ... because after everything that has happened this little lad really would have more love than anyone possibly could imagine for someone who really would love him furever.
When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably. Walt Disney.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

With all the Unhappy Tails coming in from the Land Of BSL ... its always nice to hear from the good people at S.H.A.I.D. They are looking for donations for their ever popular annual yard sale ... see poster below.
If you live in the HRM area, you can always help out the Metro Shelter by:
  • visiting their booth at the Harbourview Weekend Market, 42 Canal Street Dartmouth, every Saturday & Sunday from 9 am - 4 pm. Quality used clothing, new/used books and household items. 100% of proceeds for animal welfare.
  • Stopping by their Spring Yard sale & Barbeque on May 29th at Metro Shelter 5 Scarfe Court, 10 am - 2 pm.
  • If you are looking to donate items, Nancy Northcut will be at the storage unit, across parking lot from Metro Shelter, 5 Scarfe Court, this Saturday (rain or shine) from 10:30 am - 1:30 pm. Drop by with your boxes or bags of goodies and say hello. Donations of books, clothing, household items, tools etc. Do not accept computers, printers, televisions, microwaves or encyclopedias. No left over yard sale items please - just creates work for them to dispose of it.

If you live in the Middleton area, you can help CAPS by:

  • the last Thursday and Friday of each month, Classic Hobbies located at 163 Main Street in Middleton is hosting a coffee party. For $2.00, you can enjoy a delicious muffin or cookie with a cup of coffee. Proceeds to CAPS. Donations of food and supplies for CAPS may also be dropped off at the store. Please drop in, say hello and support this wonderful fundraiser. Dates are as follows: May 27&28, June 24&25, July 29&30, August 26&27, September 23&24, October 28&29, November 25&26.
  • and starting this weekend, Stop by the CAPS booth at the Middleton Farmers' Market held on Fridays from 2-6 pm , across from the Middleton Town Hall.

The Spring Fling Extravaganza... with a delightful Italian theme.... in support of the LA Animal Shelter is being held on May 19th, at 185 D’Orsay Road at 12 pm. Take outs will be offered from 11:15 to 11:45 am. Please note that take out orders must be reserved and will not be accepted on the day of the event so book those early as well since orders will be limited. Reserve your spot right away by e-mail to or just call her at 667-2880.

Stay tuned ... there are lots of events for the animals now that the weather is getting nicer .. and as I rummage around and find them, I'll post them here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

So many great ways to help homeless animals in ns

What a beautiful morning it is becoming! From chilly first frost to almost twenty degrees by mid morning, the day is certainly a nice change from yesterday. One of the best bits about being retired is that the time I can spend outside with my dogs is weather driven instead of being squeezed into a work schedule.
But even though I'm retired ... and even though I'd like to think I'm a compassionate human being ... I still can't adopt every dear pet in need that I see. There are names for people like that and none of them are nice : ((( In fact, that's a guaranteed way to wind up on Live at Five with the SPCA van in one's dooryard.
So how can a person help ... when they have already found the right balance of pets for their personal lifestyle? You'd be surprised how many different and neat little ways that there are out there now to help a homeless pet in Nova Scotia, besides the obvious bits of donating cash or items from group and shelter wish lists:
  • CAPS has started a program where kind hearts can sponsor one of their adoptables in foster care
  • As always, SHAID is leading the way by utilizing the sponsorship option on their petfinder listings so helping is as easy as clicking a mouse
  • ARC has a really interesting online auction ( as well as their ever popular jewelry selection )
  • The LA Shelter has a fence fixing program on right now and is offering sponsorship of said fence, at ten dollars a foot, on the front door of their site
  • The TLC shelter also has a sponsorship program for its adoptables,
  • Not sure what to do with your gently used baby blankets and fleece? The Pick of the Litter society can always use them.
  • East Coast German Shepherd Rescue has started a sponsorship program on its lovely new website
  • Bide A While has all kinds of monthly options available, both for individuals and corporations,
  • Pet Projects have a truckload of clever ideas. You can click HERE. to download a printable poster of one of their adoptables to print and display. They are always looking for dog house donations for their Roof over Rover program
  • Every TNR group in the province would be delighted to have a donated shelter for feral cat colonies ... for helpful construction tips, go to
  • and of course, even if you have 'no room at the inn" for adoption or fostering, you can volunteer to transport animals for your favourite group.
  • The Metro Shelter has started a very cool Kennel sponsorship program ... see poster below. You can also help Metro this month by buying one of the awesome special community cupcakes that Susie's Shortbreads are offering

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Webmaster Note: Thank you to everyone who emailed and called the Herald today ... the wording of the article has been changed from "pitbull-type" dog to bull mastif mix . It is the humble opinion of the webmaster that fear mongering and sensationalism has no part to play in a well respected, 135 year old publication that is read by the entire province.

Dangerous Days for the animals here in NS

I love stewed rhubarb. It is the first of the summer pleasures from the garden and so simple and sweet a child could make it. Its a little sentimental too ... as my rhubarb came from my Mother's garden where I began my own journey as a gardener. ( the lovely story of how well my mother's garden and her barn kitties coexisted is another sweet subject deserving its own post on another day)
I am the gardener that I am today because over the years more experienced gardeners like my mother have been so generous with sharing their expertise. I'll be the first to admit that gardening isn't for everyone. Its dirty and sweaty and soon will be so buggy that I won't tackle even the smallest job without my bug jacket and hat.
Many people lead a full and complete life without ever needing to know the ins and outs of gardening. If the lawn is kept mowed and the yard is kept tidy nobody in the community has any cause for concern, eh?
Sadly the same is not true when it comes to the animals. Whether or not individuals want to personally own a pet, there is a real need for all members of a community to be educated in a sensible fashion about humane issues. Like many humane issues, it transcends the boundaries of animal welfare and becomes a public safety issue.
For instance ... legislation to ban the online traffic of pets is as much about consumer protection as it is about limiting options for backyard breeders and puppy brokers. Mandatory breeder registration and breeding limit laws are designed to maintain breed standards and prevent the unscrupulous from exploiting the animals behind the scenes while creating the nightmare of unexpected medical bills and Unhappy Tails for the kind hearts that just want a nice pet.
But I am wandering afield here. There was a local story in the news yesterday that really highlights the need for public education in all sectors :
  • first and foremost of course was the immediate mislabelling yesterday of this dog as a pit bull. In the Chronicle Herald followup article today ,, Ian Fairclough still insists on referring to the dog as "an aggressive pit bull-like dog". Pitbull advocates already understand the implication of sensationalizing stories and the whole issue is well expressed in a published psychology paper from Missouri Western University that can be found at ( the subject of what role the NS media played in the politics of the coyote bounty is a separate story for another day)
  • Secondly, the comments from the public REALLY highlighted the need for targeted education about pitbulls to NS residents who are already out of the public school system
  • thirdly, the story emphasizes the need for better training for the professionals who have to deal with the public in situations that may or may not involve an aggressive dog,
  • and last but not least the story really brings home the need for public education about 'yard dogs'

Yard dogs? What's that you say? A yard dog is "any dog that is consistently left outside the family home ... whether it is on a chain, in a pen, a garage, under a deck or even in a fenced yard with a dog house.

There is a growing move in BC by the Animal Advocates Society to push for bylaws that prohibit tethering. In Lions Gate, BC ... it is actually illegal to leave an unattended chained or tethered dog.

Now I am not familiar enough with the circumstances surrounding this particular dogs living situation .. because the media was long on emphasizing the plight and terror of the handicapped man and his son and short on any relevant details about the dog other than a hint that the family was not home at the time of the incident. So it would be churlish and inappropriate of me to suggest that is the case here.

But anti tethering legislation would provide a proactive way to protect neighbourhoods from similar instances. When a dog is deprived of human companionship .. a Lab is a Terrier is a Collie is a Golden Retriever is an unsocialized and unsafe member of the community.

As with any other humane legislation, laws to limit or prohibit unattended Yard Dogs are designed to do more than protect the animals. Such a law would do double duty by creating safer communities while educating the public about proper and safe animal husbandry practices for companion animals.

What time is it? Its time to realize that anti tethering legislation is one of the most effective ways to protect all members of a community. For more information, go to You can also lend the support of your voice by joining Break the Chain in Nova Scotia

More importantly .. its time for the society to step up to the plate with this before we wind up in the same situation as Ontario. It was knee jerk politics that changed things overnight there and, as the NDP reversal on the coyote cull shows, it could happen here. We are in the same boat as Ont was then ... with a Majority government desperate to regain public confidence. If the NDP Natural Resource Minister is now hoping that trappers will kill "half of the 8000 coyotes" do you think our government will scruple over a few hundred dead dogs?

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing... - Albert Einstein

Friday, May 7, 2010

A little mothers tale

To see the well oiled team wrapped up with their Cat TV here, one would never imagine the time it took them to settle into their own 'pecking order'. Anyone who has followed this blog for any amount of time is familiar with the tale of Dora .. at the left ... and her maternal tom buddy Oscar ... tail high exiting stage right.
Now that they are settled all of them .. including the big boy who is so handsome he was named after Clive Owen ... defer to the tiniest one in the pack. Yup .. that is my mighty little mini Morgan front and center ... and everyone of them follow wherever the little lady leads them.
She wasn't always Queen Bee. When she was just a teenager, someone had been too careless or to cheap or just too darned stoopid to get her spayed ... and in an all too familiar Unhappy Tail just tossed her aside when she became pregnant.
She had a really hard time out there on her own and was finally brought to SHAID, along with her litter of kittens by a kind person who saw her be hit by a car.
Even though she couldn't walk ... Morgan still looked after her kittens and dragged herself to the litter box in her cage. The staff at SHAID were dreading the time when her kittens would be weaned ... fearing that there would be an Unhappy Tail for this brave little mother.
But sometimes prayers do get answered ... and like a little miracle Morgan started to move on her own. First a paw .. then a leg ... then by the time her kittens were weaned, Morgan had regained most of her mobility.
Like many other little Momcats, Morgan waited for months after her babies were adopted and finally a kind heart at SHAID wrote a touching little tale about her in their online newsletter.
Now as the kind folks here at HART and CAPS can tell you, there is no shortage of homeless cats here in the valley. So why, when I was already at my firm (hahaha) four cat limit, did I drive all the way over to Bridgewater on the ten?
Because I was moved by the story in the newsletter is why.
I will never forget walking into the lobby at SHAID with my friend Liz. There were several volunteers inside ... and you could hear a pin drop when they looked at the carrier. It was only when I said "Hi, I'm Janet and I'm here to adopt Morgan ...." that they let out their collective breath and started to smile. ( The subject of how casually people expect to be able to dump their problems on volunteer laps is a separate story needing its own post at another time)
Of all the cats who have ever come in the door here, Morgan was easily the quickest to settle in and make herself at home. Within no time, she had the two bigger boys properly trained and had established a respectful rapport with the two elders.
Last night I was up a little later polishing up this years Mothers Day feature for the homeless pet site. ( Click Here to Meet some of the Momcats ) The little mommies are so often left waiting on the shelf and yet I can tell you first hand that these little momcats make incredibly devoted companions. They are already brilliant because they are cats ... so they understand the value of a second chance at the good life they should have had to start with.
Morgan will never be an Olympic athlete .. but she is still a champion. She is brave and she is beautiful and she is my best friend.
You'll have to go and adopt your own little momcat because I would never ever part with mine.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A different kind of driving lesson

One of the best bits about being retired is not having to wait until the weekend to mow the lawn. I have an 'if its green just mow it' country lawn and if my ride on had an odometer I suspect it would rival the mileage on my car.
Like any other tool, it needs the odd bit of tlc now and then, so this morning after our hike I was off to Canadian Tire for a new battery and a liter of oil. But I am still a girl, so on the way I stopped and picked up a package of ice cream bars.
Normally that would be my last stop ... but it was a nice breezy morning and still chilly enough to warrant a light jacket. And .. I knew I was only going to running in for a battery and hey .. how much time could that take, eh?
Greenwood is a popular place to retire ... so as it happens I wasn't the only one shopping for a ride on battery this morning. Nor is it simply a matter of swiping one's card. The fellow ahead of me had to go back out to the car to get his old battery so he wouldn't get hit with the enviro deposit fee. And of course each and every battery comes with a warranty and paper work has to be filled out for everyone in line for that : )))
I was actually pretty impressed that it only took twenty minutes before I was putting the battery in the trunk. And I wasn't worried about the ice cream bars ... not for such a short time on such a breezy morning, right?
Well its a great blessing that I always keep a green bin in the trunk for my groceries ... at least I didn't have to set my new battery in the puddled remains of the ice cream bars: ))))
People think that its only during the dog days of summer that pets can be at risk from the heat. The truth is that even a balmy spring morning can represent real risk for pets ( Click Here for Warm Weather Pet Safety Tips )
One of the best resources for information, including downloadable flyers and posters is a site called My Dog is Cool, The poster below is available in pdf form from the site and there is even a very neat little table to show how the temperature in cars correlates to the outside temperature.
After all, its no big deal to lose a few ice cream bars but it would be such a heart break to lose a best friend, eh?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Chance is inducted into the Purina Hall of Fame

From the Purina Hall of Fame, 2010,

Chance, South Bar, Nova Scotia

Chance, a nine-year-old Dalmatian/Fox Terrier mix, is a loyal and obedient family dog with an incredibly strong sense of responsibility. At the end of last year, his family found out first-hand just how devoted he is to protecting those he loves.
On a mild day early last December, Veronica Fraser and her seven-year-old son James Delorey were playing in their backyard with Chance. James, an energetic and curious boy, suffered from severe autism and as a result he was unable to communicate through speech. Veronica was watching James and Chance play, when she heard a loud "clunk" come from the direction of the family motor-home, parked on a nearby hill. She turned to suddenly discover that it was starting to roll away. Veronica quickly ran to the motor-home, jumped in to the driver's seat and put it into park. When she returned, just moments later to where James and Chance were playing, they were nowhere in sight.
The family backyard leads into a densely wooded area and brook. Veronica immediately started searching the area, following several trails. But despite her immediate and urgent search, she could not find James. Panicked, Veronica ran home, alerted her entire family and the police that James was missing. The search was officially on ? this time with police and community assistance; four-wheelers and trucks drove deep into the forest and through the streets of South Bar. When evening came, the police brought in night-vision goggles and helicopters to aid in the search. Veronica, terrified about what had happened to her son, was comforted by the fact that she knew Chance was with him. Chance loved to follow James and she knew that he wouldn't leave him alone. The search continued long into the night.
By the morning, a snowstorm had hit the region. There was still no sign of James or Chance. James did not have a jacket and had been outside all night. Everyone involved felt the gravity of the situation as each hour passed. Hundreds of people within the community were helping with the search, now in blizzard-like conditions. The one thing keeping Veronica's hope alive was the fact that Chance had not yet returned. In her heart Veronica believed that this meant that James must still be okay, because Chance would only come home if James couldn't.
Two days after James' disappearance, Chance suddenly emerged from the marshy woods. As a result search and rescue teams followed Chance's footprints in the snow leading them straight to James, who was suffering from severe hypothermia. He was unconscious but, amazingly, still alive. He was rushed to the hospital where medical teams worked tirelessly to stabilize him. Officials were astonished that he made it through the blizzard. They attributed his survival to Chance staying by his side, keeping him warm.
Sadly, James succumbed to the hypothermia and passed away later that day. Both his family and Chance were devastated. Although James is no longer with them today, his family is indebted to Chance for being his guardian angel. Chance not only kept James alive until he could be found, but he is also the reason Veronica was able to say goodbye to her son. Without Chance, James Delorey would never have been reunited with his family.
Like everyone else in this province, I was incredibly moved and saddened by this story. According to today's article in the Herald,, Purina received a record number of nominations for Chance (400).
To meet the others whose bravery has been acknowledged in the Purina Hall of Fame, go to
What time is it? Its always time to remember how much the animals can teach the human species about loyalty and courage.