Thursday, September 30, 2010

Not even a hurricane can keep this little guy down

When I tell people that my Grampy emigrated to Cape Breton from Newfoundland, they think I'm kidding.  Its easy to forget that Newfoundland only joined Confederation in 1949, because work and family affairs have laid down a well worn path between the two provinces.
Occasionally a very lucky pair of paws follows this familiar path ... as is the case with the adorable little fellow pictured here.  Scamper was not doing well at the Clarenville SPCA .   The little lad had survived a horrible dog attack, along with all the surgery needed to repair the damage.
Scamper had healed physically, but the shelter was no place for a little fellow to regain his confidence and rebuild his spirit.  Everyone had pulled out all the stops to find a foster home for him. 
What was the problem?  Were there no foster homes in the area?  Of course not!  The hitch was finding one without a large dog .... as Scamper was still understandably skittish after everything that had happened.
Happily, the kind hearts at Atlantic Small Dog Rescue here in Nova Scotia were moved by Scamper's plight and immediately stepped up to the plate.  
What a perfect fit for a little fellow so afraid of big dogs!  Although they have a couple of "honorary small dogs" in care, as a general rule the ASDR fosters already tend to be small dog people. 
Its frosting on the cake that they are terrier experienced and are willing to take the time and effort to get all their adoptables off on the right paw.  
What time is it?  Its always time to applaud those who go the extra mile for the animals.  The kind folks at Clarenville who pulled out all the stops for Scamper and didn't even let a hurricane get in the way of things ... and the kind hearts at Atlantic Small Dog Rescue who opened their hearts and their rescue to give Scamper a second chance at the good life!
PS ... if you are interested in adopting this great little guy, please contact Atlantic Small Dog Rescue

from the airport in Newfoundland

where this sweet boy wasn't sure what was going on

but hey ... everyone's been so kind it must be ok

leaving the Rock
 Hello to Nova Scotia
where its always nice to meet new friends!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Expecting Different Results

Best Friends has been running four campaigns for a while now and the poster here comes from the resource section of their Focus on Felines Campaign.  On the surface the numbers don't seem to apply to Nova Scotia where the live release rates on a bad day are never as bad as 28 %.
Why are the live release rates better in Nova Scotia?   Is it because more cats are getting adopted?  Or is it simply that the shelters and groups that AREN'T killing the cats aren't taking every cat who needs a new home?  
The cats are still being killed ... just not by the shelters and rescues, eh?
Here in the real world, the general consensus is that there is no possible way to be open admission for cats.   For example, when the Cape Breton SPCA was open admission,they needed a gas chamber to keep up with the volume.
Here in the real world, where cats can remain in care longer than the homeless pet site has been around, are there any other options?
At the risk of sounding like a stuck record ... if the adopters won't come to the shelters ... then perhaps its time for the shelters to come to the adopters.  If off site cat adoptions have been such a success elsewhere, why is the concept meeting such resistance in Nova Scotia?
I think there are a few misconceptions about off site adoptions:
  • any that I have seen and researched still require the adopters to fill in an application and provide references. 
  • References are still checked and pets ONLY get to go home that day if everything checks out.   Noone is passing the pets out like candy
  • In many cases the pets don't actually go home that day because the offsite adoption events are actually Meet and Greets. 
  • In some cases where adoption rates are up, it is thought that offsite events are not necessary, and
  • Is it not a little elitist to imply that off site adoptions might attract all the "wrong kind of pet owner" ( as opposed to all those wonderful loving pet owners who have simply never thought about the adoption option? )
I LOVE living in Nova Scotia.  I've lived and travelled all around the world and Nova Scotia is my very favourite place on this planet. 
Our old fashioned charm holds a special appeal, but at times that has its drawbacks.  We can be reluctant to embrace new ideas from "away" such as Early age spay neuter, pregnant spays and even the baseline premise that TNR solves as many nuisance behaviors as overpopulation issues.
Not everyone is able to find a vet who will alter a pet before six months of age.  It can be even harder for rescues to find vets willing to do pediatric spays.
This is in spite of the official position of the Canadian Veterinary Association, which may be found by clicking here , which is: 
Dog and Cat Spay/Castration
The CVMA believes that neutering is an important aspect of responsible pet care, both to combat the pet overpopulation problem, and because of the many health and behavioural benefits. The CVMA strongly recommends that all cats and dogs not part of a responsible breeding program be neutered, preferably before 5.5 months of age (i.e. before sexual maturity).
Early spay/castration is now used by animal shelters wherever possible to ensure all pets are neutered before adoption. Long-term studies that evaluated risks and benefits in cats and dogs concluded that there are more benefits than risks associated with early-age gonadectomy in male and female cats and in male dogs (1, 2). Therefore, the CVMA supports the concept of early (prepubertal, 8 to 16 weeks of age) spay/neuter in male and female cats, and male dogs, in an effort to reduce the number of unwanted animals of these species. For female dogs, however, it is recommended that spaying be delayed until at least 3 months of age due to an increased risk of urinary incontinence (1). Just as for other veterinary procedures, veterinarians should use their best medical judgment in deciding at what age spay/neuter should be performed on individual animals.
Euthanasia is not an acceptable means of population control. The CVMA supports all education efforts to promote responsible pet ownership, including that neutering is part of being a responsible owner.
1. Spain CV, Scarlett JM, Houpt KA. Long-term risks and benefits of early-age gonadectomy in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;224:380-387.
2. Spain CV, Scarlett JM, Houpt KA. Long-term risks and benefits of early-age gonadectomy in cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004; 224:372-379.
3. Aronsohn MG, Faggella AM. Surgical techniques for neutering 6- to 14-week-old kittens. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1993; 202:53-55.
4. Faggella AM, Aronsohn MG. Anesthetic techniques for neutering 6- to 14-week-old kittens. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1993; 202:56-62.
5. CVMA position statement on euthanasia
(Revised March 2006) Copyright 2005
And before the keyboards catch on fire, the real issue is whether Early Spay neuter is available to all pet owners and rescues around the province.  From the feedback that I get, not all Vets are on board with the idea and sadly some of the biggest resistance comes from rural areas which have significantly fewer rescue options or adopters.
What time is it?  Its always time to remember that outside of the original Mi'Kmaq, everyone ... along with all their ideas ... came to Nova Scotia from Away.
"Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"  Albert Einstein

Monday, September 27, 2010

Taking off the gloves

This is one of my very favourite times of the year.  From now until Thanksgiving, Mother Natures palette brushes our tree lined country roads with some new bit of beauty every day.
To be perfectly honest ...what's not to love?   The bugs are generally finished in the woods.  The leaves are still on the trees and aren't yet a slippery carpet to make climbing up and down the ridge such risky business.  Best of all, the more moderate temperatures put the spring back in everyone's step for our hikes.
This is also the time of year when people start noticing stray cats more.  The ones that didn't become coyote or hawk or fox or eagle chow... the ones that were adept enough at hunting not to starve ... the little teenage mother cats who survived being tossed aside to birth their babies in the wild ..... all the little survivors who were tossed aside like rubbish will be trying to charm their way into the warmth and safety of domestic bliss.
Everyone agrees that its not humane to let them starve.  Yet municipal tax mail outs are short on solutions and long on advice about encouraging strays to move on.
Yes I know that the Kings Branch, like the Valley Animal Shelter ( and everyone else )  is full.   Does finding a better outcome for strays always have to involve having shelter space?  Of course not!   Many people will take in strays ... where the problem arises is the areas that are popular dumping grounds.  Eventually even the kindest of hearts "fill up" so it is poor planning on anyone's part to assume that strays will always find safe harbour when they show up.
Many people people are actually like Miss Ruby and Henry.   My beautiful big dogs live in harmony with my six beautiful cats .. in fact they often do double duty as cat warmers at night :)
But these same dogs that snuggle with cats inside view any cat outside of the door as a completely different species.  The best example I can think of that is Dora and Oscar.  When they were still outside, the big dogs went on more than one merry gallop around the house after them.   The instant I brought Dora and Oscar into the house ... they were viewed in a completely different light.
In much the same way, purported animal lovers are quite capable of viewing stray cats as nuisances.  They are sprayed with hoses / fired at with pellet guns / poisoned / shot / caught in bags to be tossed in the river / etc.
Its more realistic to think that the Great Pumpkin is actually going to visit than to expect there are happy outcomes for all the stray cats in this province.
It IS helpful when shelters like Metro offer spay neuter help for kind hearts that bring in strays.  But this type of thing is seldom well advertised ... nor is it the be all and end all solution.
The stray problem is so darned huge that no ONE particular thing is going to be a quick and easy fix.   Its going to take:
  • someone having enough balls to initiate legislation to ban the traffic of living breathing sentient beings in all the free online ad sites
  • People waking up to the fact that the numbers of cats that are killed in Nova Scotia every year are still staggering.  (CAPS was formed because Annapolis County residents were horrified to discover dogs were being shot by Annapolis AC ... if that kind of energy could just be harnessed for the cats just imagine how fast our politicians would react !)
  • Municipalities recognizing that it is cheaper to pony up with spay neuter chits available at vet clinics than to tie up overtasked AC with nuisance complaints
  • Undercutting the competition of 'free to a good homes' with Off Site Cat only adoption events, and last, but not least
  • municipalities not to expect rescues and tnr groups to be their clean up crews without providing meaningful support and creating better and more humane cat bylaws.
Apathy is the glove into which evil slips its hand.  Bodie Thoene

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A First Rate Girl looking for a Second Chance

Its the worst nightmare possible for any committed and responsible pet owner.  Meet Bee .... who has been well cared for and loved for every day of her five year life.  Bee has always lived indoors, has beautiful house manners, is spayed and has had regular checkups and good vet care for all of her life.  Bee is loved and cherished and is the apple of her Mom's eye
So why ... would one ask... would such a dog be in need of new home?  Genuine medical issues is why.  Not the magical gee we suddenly acquired an allergy bs that is so often presented in the free online ad sites.
In Bee's case its the real deal  When her Mom was expecting her first child, the normal asthma that she had flared into pneumonia.  Bee's Mom finally had to be hospitalized during the pregnancy.  Now she is pregnant again and her health is so precarious that her doctor insists that she find a new home for Bee before the baby is born.  And before the keyboards catch on fire ... real honest to gawd asthma is no joke and can be life threatening.  
I'm very careful these days not to swallow whole every tale I am sent.  If I learned anything from the whole Brindi debacle, it is that some folks are quite capable of playing fast and loose with the truth.
But this situation was brought to my attention by a Very Well Respected animal rescuer whose word I trust implicitly. 
So if you, or anyone you know is looking for a lovely, well behaved and beautiful dog who has years and years of love left to share, PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION
What time is it?  Its time to put your thinking cap on and see if there is anyone you know who would love to Bee's new Mom or Dad.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Trying to cat(ch) a little more light

I love having pumpkins in my garden.  What's not to love?  They're easy to grow, are really disease resistant and make marvelous fall decorations.   Its almost frosting on the cake that pumpkin is also the key ingredient in so many of my old favourite recipes.
If you're not a gardener, not to worry.   This time of year it is impossible to shop anywhere without practically tripping on them.  Retailers know that pumpkins don't keep forever, so they pull out all the stops to minimize the amount that will wind up in the green bins.
Now people can ... and some do ... head out on the back roads to buy vegetables at the big U Picks.   Its a lot cheaper.  It makes an interesting excursion with the kids.  And best of all one is confident that the produce is local.
Why doesn't everyone do that? Because we live in a convenience focused society.  In many cases, both partners have to work to afford a house these days.  Add into that all the activities folks want time to enjoy and its easy to see why so people many take the simple road when they are shopping for anything.  Its the reason the big box supermarkets, thrive, eh?
It is the very reason why people still buy pets from pet stores.   People KNOW that the pets very likely come from puppy mills.   But people also know that their discounted designer clothes were likely created in sweatshops ... that the dollar store toys come from countries without our Canadian Standards Council ... and that the cheaper rice in the grocery stores might come with a higher health price tag than the organic rice in the health store.
People KNOW ... but if there is a conflict between convenience and social responsibility, convenience wins every time.   No matter how good, or kind or compassionate a person is there are only SO many hours in a day, hmm?
At the risk of sounding like a stuck record ... that is the very best argument for offsite cat adoptions.   There is not a single successful business that does not understand the value of advertising.  What is the best way to 'advertise' cat adoption?  Getting the cats out where more people can meet them.
Its just frosting on the cake that cat only adoption events offer a convenient alternative to the pet stores ... which is business speak is referred to as undercutting the competition.
Do we need laws to ban the sale of all pets in a pet store?  You bet.  But until we actually get them, the most effective tactic is to offer a convenient alternative for consumers with offsite cat adoptions.
After all, the differences between cats and dogs is more than purely anatomical.   There are no offleash cat parks where adoptables can be promoted by their fosters.   The numbers of cats available for adoption are so staggering that its no surprise that Petfinder listings for cats don't always get the same level of work as the ones for the dogs.  
Its the big reason that I'm building the Cat Galleries.  There are hundreds and hundreds of lovely kittens and cats available for adoption in Nova Scotia and unfortunately that still only represents the tip of the iceberg.
Its wonderful that so many have found safe sanctuary ( and before the keyboards catch on fire, yes I know that not all the cats in the society's care live to tell the tail, but THAT was one of the motivators for building the galleries, eh? )
But .... for every cat that has FOUND a safe berth there are at least a dozen turned away.   In some instances that is a dozen a day that are turned away!
But I don't want to wander afield here. 
Offsite cat adoption events are a proven part of the No Kill Equation.  Why? 
  • Is it because they boost adoptions? 
  • Is it that it brings Pet Adoption out in the public eye in a friendly and inviting way? 
  • Is it that each successfully adopted pet becomes an ambassador for pet adoption? 
  • Is it that each adopted pet represents one less customer for pet stores and the "free to a good homes" 
  • Is it that pets adopted from reputable rescues are already altered and so become part of the solution instead of being part of the problem?
Nope!  The correct answer is all of the above!  
What time is it?  Its always time to remember that offsite cat adoption events are a personal and pawsitive way to engage public interest in Pet Adoption.
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.  Plato

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

When Duct Tape won't do the trick

Today is fall pickup in my neighbourhood.   Unlike the 'city folk' who need the sanction of an actual freecycle day, around here there is an etiquette to spring and fall pickup to encourage recycling.  Its understood that one man's trash often is another one's treasure and so items are displayed for easy access and high value items are put out early for people to peruse.    Everyone slows down to look and over the years I've found all sorts of Very Useful Things.  Used carpet underlay works equally well as underlay for pond liners.   From tomato cages to toddler beds, its almost as good as Kijiji for finding and recycling things.
At the risk of sounding like a stuck record ... I still maintain that Kijiji is no place for the traffic of living breathing sentient beings.  People who wouldn't want their neighbours to know how casual they are about the whole commitment thing don't hesitate to avail themselves of the anonymity of Kijiji.  People who wouldn't dare put their pets at the end of the driveway don't hesitate to put them in the online ad sites.
I love my eldercat.  I was just forty when she showed up, and at the time my vet thought she was three or four.  She could easily pass for a purebred Burmese and at some point before we met, somebody thought enough of her to have her spayed.
Honestly, I don't know what is sadder ... the unaltered youngsters and their offspring who are tossed by the wayside or the more mature adults who have suddenly been left in the lurch.  
If people can understand that responsible pet care includes getting the cat fixed, why is it still such a hard sell to convince some to keep their pets through all of the normal bits of living?
It is part of life's journey to meet new partners, get married, have children, change jobs and move.  Its called living.  And before the keyboards catch on fire, yes I know that many people are responsible pet owners  .. but we wouldn't be in the situation we are in with the kitties if everyone kept their pets for life, eh?
There are no easy answers, but it is disturbing to see the "if we can't beat them join them' school of thought that seems to be emerging about placing rescue ads in Kijiji. 
Even the society seems to be considering the matter ... in the online minutes of their Aug 30 meeting there was, according to item 7, some discussion of "using the Kijiji online service to promote adoptions"
Seriously?  How is possible in one breath to ridicule the Benoit's ad selling their house while having a discussion about using the same venue as the Benoit's to promote pet adoption? 
Of course the board has bigger fish to fry as they are having a serious problem getting some of the branches to come to the provincial board meetings. And before the keyboards catch on fire about THAT, nobody has to leave the farm so to speak as they all have the conference call option.  It has been such a recurring problem that more than one branch president is on the verge of losing provincial voting status as a result.  ( The subject of how one branch president miraculously dodged this by attending the last meeting is an interesting one that would be sheer speculation to dwell on )
But I AM wandering afield here and want to get back to the kitties.  For the longest time I have been wondering how to give the kitties more exposure on the homeless pet site.  The numbers are so staggering that without having staff it simply hasn't been possible to present them in the same way as the dogs.
I'm a middle aged granny not a professional webcrafter and have been sharpening my skills along the way ... and I finally think I have a found a way to get all the individual kitties faces on the site.
I'm in the process now of building Cat Galleries for each group who rescue cats.   Its manageable if I do this by group and so even if I can't hyperlink each individual listing, there are contact links with each gallery
When the galleries are finished, I'll put a drop down slideshow sampler on the front door to add a little extra attention to them
If its not everything that it should be, its a step in the right direction.  We do, after all have a pretty good volunteer network of kind hearts who would be more than willing to help kitties get to approved adopters.  
What time is it?  Its always time to remember that as adorable as it may seem to watch Red Green reruns where everything can be fixed with duct tape, not everything is that easy or simple
Your cat will never threaten your popularity by barking at three in the morning.  He won't attack the mailman or eat the drapes, although he may climb the drapes to see how the room looks from the ceiling.  ~Helen Powers

Thursday, September 16, 2010

When love comes to the door

Its no secret that I love cats.  What's not to love? Kitties are brilliant and beautiful and best of all they make wonderful companions. 
If cats could play hockey, I could field a full string on the ice with my crew.  Its a popular dumping spot for cats out here and I suspect there is something on my mailbox that only cats can read.  
Out of my six, only one was adopted from a shelter.... my mighty little mini Morgan, who came from SHAID three years ago.  At the time, I was already at my firm (haha) four cat limit.   But in the course of researching the background to build the homeless pet site, I stumbled on her story in the very well done SHAID newsletter and actually drove all the way over to Bridgewater to adopt her!
As statistics go, I'm actually pretty close to the mark.   In a survey conducted in 2008 for the Canadian Veterinary Journal *, when people brought home a cat:
  • 24% came from friends and family
  • 17% were adopted from a shelter
  • 16 % took in a stray
  • 14% went the 'free to a good home' route
  • 11% were offspring
  • 9% came from a pet store
  • 5% were listed as other , and
  • 5% more came from a breeder
So in a house where one cat came from a shelter, one was adopted when my best friends' brother passed away suddenly and the rest all just showed up at my door, that stacks up quite normally, eh?  To be perfectly honest, if a survey of popular dumping spots for cats was done the numbers who chose strays would climb up the charts.
Stray cats are really dependent on good luck and good will.  For every Oscar that finds a welcome, there are many more that don't live to tell the tale.  But I don't want to wander afield into an oft repeated list of Unsung Unhappy Tails.
Any meaningful solution for the cat population explosion has to address the issue of stray cats.   Most TNR groups are already overtaxed and rarely have the resources to address all the feral cat colonies.  While they would love to help, its not realistic to expect assistance there.
Nor do most Animal Controls in the province take in strays.  In most instances, unless they are injured or engaged in nuisance behaviours, strays fall outside of their thinly stretched mandate.  Added into that mix is the common perception that all cats that AC pick up are killed, and its easy to understand why kind hearts wind up with their own little stray cat colonies.
Isn't kindness a good thing?  Of course it is.  Its not humane to let the cats starve.  People who take in strays are actually providing a community service that should be acknowledged with spay neuter assistance from their municipality.  It should be a standard thing that anyone could access through any animal clinic in the municipality.
Would that solve everything?  Of course not. It wouldn't keep people from dumping strays .. but it would help keep kind hearts from getting in over their head and needing intervention.  Intervention, I might add that would ultimately involve AC and be a much bigger headache than spay neuter chits.
Even better, it would improve the chances for strays to find a safe berth.  In this day and age, not everyone can afford the spay, hmm?
Best of all, like TNR, it would reduce the nuisance behaviors that require intervention from animal control and culminate in so many Unhappy Tails.
Why do people take in strays?  Because they actually see their sweet little faces. ( we'll get back to that subject in another post )
Nobody has to go to a shelter. Noone has to fill in an application or provide references.  Its simple and its easy for people to do the kind thing.
What time is it?  Its time to recognize that spaying and neutering strays isn't just keeping animals out the shelter system, its a sensible way to create healthier communities.  

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.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The writing on the wall

I love so many things in life ... but doing housework isn't even on the bottom of that list.  When I get busy writing, the dust bunnies frolic behind the couch ... casual visitors can easily spot the big dogs' favourite windows by the noseprints and the oddest bits of things can collect on the kitchen counter.
At times like that, I'm always happiest to have familiar friends pop by.   First time visitors might not understand that that the dog coats on the back of the chairs and the dog booties dangling from the pot rack aren't really a permanent fixture.  Honest!
Good friends aren't going to gossip about that.  And anyone who does simply wasn't much of a friend to begin with, in my books.
Animal rescue organizations and shelters of course want to present themselves in a good light.  Gossip can have a detrimental effect on everything from adoptions to fundraising.  It can even keep kind hearts from offering to volunteer.
Some groups attempt to prevent gossip by insisting that all their volunteers sign confidentiality agreements.   In some cases, this can really handcuff animal advocates who have to choose between being able to physically help the animals and bringing things to light.  
Canada is a separate country from the USA, so of course we have all of our own laws.  South of the Border, Section 1983 of their own laws have been used in a very ground breaking way to stop government officials and employees from retaliating against animal activists who speak out against conditions in animal shelters.
Another very effective tool that organizations have to prevent gossip is transparency.  When the shelter is an open  book, when impromptu visitors are encouraged to take a tour , when outspoken animal advocates are welcome to add their energy to the Board of Directors .... it becomes very easy to nip negative gossip in the bud.
Anything less only encourages suspicion, eh?
Its important to remember that at some point in time, most existing No Kill shelters had a journey to make ... one that generally began with rebuilding their relationship with their community.   How did they do that? 
The Nevada Humane Society started with a series of Town Hall meetings and surveys to determine how the residents felt about their shelter. 
Was everything peachy keen?  Of course not.   There was a great deal of dissatisfaction and skepticism as to whether the shelter was doing all that it could to save lives.
That began a two year process of change.   A new director was hired who was committed to moving forward.   The entire management team was replaced.  Only three of the original seventy employees were allowed to remain.
This was only possible because the Board of Directors chose NOT to circle the wagons.  It was only by airing out the dark corners that any of this was able to happen. 
Sound radical?  Not when one realizes that these changes were possible because the community wanted change.   At the end of the day ... change always has to be community focused ... because without that any shelter is just a building which can be viewed with suspicion and distrust instead of being embraced and supported.
Sound like a "south of the border" solution?  Not when viewed in light of the wonderful progress that has been made by our own society at the provincial level.  None of that would have happened without a new and very determined BOD.
On another note .... anyone who follows the No Kill world has eyed with envy the wonderful No Kill Conferences that have become annual events.  If you have always wanted to attend, now there is a very cool thing being put on cooperatively between the No Kill Advocacy Center and Animal Ark ... No Kill Webinars .  For an incredibly modest fee of twenty five dollars, anyone can register for the first one on Oct 22, the topic of which is Reforming Animal Control 
A second session on "TNR and Other Programs to Save Community Cats" is scheduled for November 12th.
What time is it?  Its always time to recognize the truth of the old saw ... if at first you don't succeed.... try and try again"
It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.  Samuel Adams

Monday, September 13, 2010

An answer for Sarah

Besides weeding out the often illiterate and/or the spam sort of posts, comment moderation is also handy when somebody leaves a comment on an old post.  The commenter actually had such a good point that I'm going to post it here with my answer
"Hi Janet, I'm adopting a retired breeder (she's 8) and I'm wondering if you know of any resources for senior dogs such as how to start an exercise regime, weight loss program, etc. I currently have a 2 year old cairn terrier and I'm just looking for some reading to make the transition from a single dog house to a two dog house. Thanks, Sarah "
Well Sarah .... coming out of the gate its important to note that every "retired breeder" is as different as the circumstances she spent the last eight years in.  For instance ... some bitches spend their breeding years in a kennel vice living in a home.   Many retriever breeds from good breeders are used to a high level of activity if they come from field lines ... because of course the value of their pups is directly linked to the parents accomplishments in the field trial world.
From the sounds of your comment that might not be the case here :)
  • Our very own SPCA here in Nova Scotia has developed an awesome collection of Educational Material that includes ( but is not limited to ) a wonderful Dog Training Guide, another one on how to introduce your dog to new dogs
  • All the Best Friends Dog Resources have now been sorted into a manual called the ABC's of Dog Life 
  • The Senior Dog Project is a great resource for health issues for senior dogs .... if you scroll down the front door there is a veritable potpourri of anything and everything there 
  • there is a pretty neat FAQ on geriatric health issues for dogs here
A couple of things that I've found from personal experience:
  • two dogs have more fun than an only dog ... and once they are settled in together your younger dog could help with the weight loss just by playing
  • if your new pal eats too quickly, you can slow a bit by using one of the stainless dishes that have a rim and inverting it so they have to work a bit harder at it.
  • two dogs with different nutritional needs can't have their food left down so at least its easier to manage quantities
  • Oops.. what I meant to say was that my my vet says that any dog over five should NOT be eating any food or snacks with wheat and perhaps its just me but I've found it makes a difference
In this house anyway, liver makes the world go round.  Liver cookies, liver brownies, roasted strips of liver or you can always buy dehydrated liver.  I'm not a professional dog trainer but I'm telling you right now my kids will do anything for liver :)
And last but not least, if love and liver cookies doesn't do the trick, we have a few wonderful pawsitive dog trainers here in NS who could get all paws on the right path!
Good luck!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Winking in the dark

Rain or shine .. this would be a very interesting way for anyone in the HRM area to spend some of this Sunday.   Are not kids of all ages just fascinated with Reptiles and Amphibians?
Last year my brother went to the Halifax Reptile Expo and said that it was very interesting indeed.   Its being put on by the very media savvy folks at Ssafe Haven . 
These are not people who overlook any opportunity to promote both their rescue and responsible husbandry practices.  Their Petfinder page is one of the best examples around that I can think of ... they have a very active Facebook Group where attractive posters of all their adoptables are listed and can be shared ... they are one of the few groups around that take advantage of the Petfinder Event Calendar.
( In fact the only other group event listed this month for the entire province is the Yarmouth SPCA Bark in the Park )
But I don't want to wander afield into yet another Petfinder rant ... simply to point out that Ssafe Haven have all the bases covered.   This is the third year they have put on the Halifax Reptile Expo ... which in my books makes it an annual event, eh?
I know that the very well attended GPAC Pet Expo is also an established event ... but just imagine the possibilities if there was to be a Pet Adoption Expo?   With information on adopting?  Reps from rescues and shelters?   Plugs for the merits of Spay / Neuter? 
Gosh ... the rescues and shelters could peddle all the tshirts and magnets that do double duty for advertising their group!  What about a Meet and greet with well behaved dogs and friendly cats ?  
What an opportunity to promote the more boisterous dogs and the shyer kitties with free posters that visitors could take home!  Gosh .. the staff and volunteers could even wear t shirts with iron printable transfer pics of the pets who had been waiting the longest!
Visitors could sign up for free E newsletters!  Foster pawrents could be on hand to "recruit"!   And best of all ... people who never go near an animal rescue site could take home an adoption or foster application to send in!
What time is it?  Its always time to remember that everything has a beginning.  Three years ago, the Reptile Expo was just a brilliant idea and now its an annual event.
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

Update on Nate

Remember Nate?  The lovely young "honorary Lab" whose huge surgery
bills were the inspiration for Lab Rescues' Speed Dating fundraiser?  I'm happy to report that he is recovering well and has been adopted by lovely people with lots of land for him to run on.  AND the speed dating fundraiser was so much fun , and such a success, that all but $650. of the bill has been paid. 
There is a second speed dating fundraiser in the works ... stay tuned!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The difference between cats and dogs is more than purely anatomical.

The geese are going south today.  We were lucky to see part of the parade while we were having our post hike cool down / inspection tour of the play yard.   I truly hope they survive the newfound enthusiasm for goose culls on both side of the border and that we'll see them next spring.
Summer really does slide away with such beauty and grace.  If the nights are already noticeably longer, they are also lovely and cool for sleeping.  The lions share of the heavy lifting in the garden is done and the only bits left are like a buffet to be enjoyed instead of something else to be processed.
Where would we be without the seasons?  We live in a continual state of anticipation ... looking forward to the next turn of the Wheel that will bring cooler/ clearer/ warmer / hotter weather around.
Where would we be without change?  We are a society that professes to love animals .... yet our compassion is often overridden by situational ethics.   Its always easier to turn a blind eye than to take proactive steps forward, eh?
The society stats for the second quarter were published online last night.  Coming out of the gate, its important to remember that these numbers only paint part of the picture. 
They do not include the statistics for every AC and private rescue in the province.  Nor do they include the numbers of pets who could not 'find room at the inn'    Nor they do not include the number of Owner Requested One Way Trips to animal clinics.  Saddest of all, they do not include all the Unsung Unhappy Tails where animals are shot/ drowned or abandoned to die lonely and hungry and afraid.
Still ... they are out there in the open for all the world to see, and if they don't paint the entire picture, they at least are an indicator.
Me and my trifocals haven't really had a change to digest them all yet, but once again the big thing that jumps out is the difference in live release rates for cats and dogs.
Would that not make this an excellent time to start doing off site cat adoptions?   And before the keyboards catch on fire, I am not specifically picking on the society with this subject.   Nor am I suggesting that implementing offsite cat only adoption fairs will magically fix things.
The homeless cat problem is so huge that many kind hearts can't even wrap their minds around it.   Its going to take every tool in the arsenal to make a real difference ... and THAT includes all the other essential bits I'm always going on and on like a stuck record about.   Low cost / high volume spay neuter.  Meaningful support for TNR.   Promotion of Early Age Spay Neuter to both pet owners and the veterinary community.
Like it or not .. the difference between cats and dogs in more than purely anatomical.   Cats are permitted by more landlords, they are cheaper to feed and can be found 'free to a good home' everywhere.   Add into that mix that pet owners who would never dream of opening the door and just letting the dog go out on tour unattended don't hesitate to do so with their kitties.
What time is it?  If we wouldn't feed dog food to a cat, its time to stop expecting the same adoption strategies to work for cats and dogs.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Another Cat(ch) 22

I'm a middle aged grandmother, not a professional webcrafter, but even an amateur like myself has discovered the advantages to using CSS script for websites.  It is just so darned convenient to be able to change every page in a website by editing a single CSS style sheet.
One page or fifty, anything can be changed with one edit.  Who wouldn't find something like that useful?  And the really lovely thing is that it doesn't cost any more to build or host a CSS site.
I think that's one of the things that I really love about Petfinder.  Whether an adopter lives in Berwick or Broad Cove, they simply have to punch in their postal code to search.  Petfinder even offers the option of choosing the distance the adopter is willing to travel in pursuit of their new best friend.
Even better, Petfinder offers adopters advanced search options to research the pet a bit before contacting the shelter or group.  For instance, in a few months, my daughter and her husband are planning on adopting a dog.  My granddaughter turns four tomorrow and they already have two cats .... so they are searching a narrower set of criteria than an empty nester might.
Petfinder is rapidly becoming a household word.  In the past couple of years, popular TV shows such as NCIS have actually incorporated a characters use of Petfinder as part of the storyline.  This week, there was an awesome huge advertising feature in Time promoting Petfinder  It was sponsored by Petco and no doubt timed to launch their National Adoption Weekend Sept 18 and 19.
At the risk of sounding like a stuck record .. whats not to love about Petfinder?  Its a well known free service that allows rescues to engage adopters with great pics, a good bio and even a video.
Now an adopter living in Broad Cove might broaden his or her search, because even when the Cape Breton SPCA list one of their adoptables, a picture usually has to be worth a thousand words. 
As the old saying goes .. the devil is in the details.  Adopters full of questions are turning to Petfinder for answers.  Is the dog good with kids?  Housetrained?  How about cats? 
How many potential adopters move right along to the listings that DO offer the information they are looking for?
Which brings up another one of my Petfinder beefs.  In a province where there at at least eight cats for every dog listed on Petfinder, good cat bios are far and few between.    At the top end of scale is CAPS.   This morning, CAPS has 146 cats listed on its Petfinder site.... all with good pics and a nice little bio.  
One of the busiest women I know, Sonya who runs Sonya's Cat and Animal Rescue Society, never stints on the time spent doing Petfinder bios for each and every cat in her care. 
Honestly ... NOT listing all the cats with interesting bios is exactly the same as expecting to sell the old car without listing it anywhere, eh? 
Isn't it just another version of Cat(ch) 22 .... there are so many darned kitties that not everyone makes the time to do their listings .... and yet there is seldom any room at the inn because the kitties don't get adopted as quickly as the dogs with the better listings. 
 What time is it? Its time to recognize the connection between the double standard for Petfinder listings and there never being any room at the inn for the poor second class kittizens.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cat(ch) 22

I could have used some of this nice cool weather last week when I was rushing to put the wood away before Earl arrived.  I'm a middle aged grandmother not a twenty-nine year old weight lifter and it would have been so much easier to tarp it down securely and hope for the best.
Happily, I'll never know if that would have done the trick.   The lovely summer sundried wood is snug and safely tucked away now so anything else would be just sheer speculation.
One of the other bits bout being a middle aged grandmother is understanding the real value of an ounce of prevention.  And nowhere is that more evident than in the urgent need for low cost spay neuter clinics.  
If there is one single, solitary subject that everyone in the rescue community agrees on, it is the need for low cost high volume spay neuter clinics.   Every discussion that I've had with every group this summer has included some version of the phrase" this is the worst summer we have ever seen for stray cats and kittens"
Why?  In everyone's perfect fantasy world, the only people who would get pets would be the ones who could afford to alter them.  But here in the real world, when it can cost a months groceries for the surgery, it just isn't happening.
Here in the real world, people fall in love with the cute face.  Decisions on the affordability of pet ownership are based on the cost of food and litter without calculating the cost of trips to the vet.  Nor does it help the situation that the "free to a good homes" aren't screening for vet records.  Nope .. they are simply grateful to have their own oversight settled so easily without worrying about that.
So there is a Cat(ch) 22 where the very people who should be adopting the altered cats either don't qualify or don't have the adoption fee readily at hand.
Here in the real world, most people still haven't heard of early age spay neuter ... nor are all the vets in this province on board with that either.  All too many folks also live in that fantasy universe where they will be able to keep a cat in heat from getting into mischief.
Which in turn of course creates more "free to a good homes" or worse, more strays when the teenage mommies are abandoned ... often because there is no 'room at the inn"   Another Cat(ch) 22
Should low cost/ high volume spay neuter only be available to low income families?  Not if it is to be effective!  Especially in times like these, there is a country mile between net income and disposable income, eh?   Life events of all sorts can leave no wiggle room at all irregardless of the tax bracket.
So what happened to the wonderful Low Cost / High Volume Spay Neuter clinic proposal that the Nova Scotia SPCA presented to HRM council back in Jan 22?
Was it put on the back burner?   What happened to it?
Was it too expensive?   Not self sustaining?  Or was it just another instance of politics being played at the expense of the animals? 
The only thing we DO know is as of this writing its still just a great idea.  A well considered thoughtful idea based on a successful program in another province.  But the longer it sits on the drawing board the more urgently it will be needed.  Cat(ch) 22, eh?
What time is it?  Its time to recognize that every summer from here on in will be the "worst one ever" until somebody smartens up and turns off the tap.  As always, the way ahead will only be paved by strong voter feedback:

Friday, September 3, 2010

Golly gosh gee whiz .... I just didn't know....

from this morning's Herald:
Dog rescued from hot car

By Eva Hoare Staff Reporter
Fri, Sep 3 - 4:53 AM
A long-haired dachshund found inside a car in a grocery store parking lot nearly died Thursday in sweltering 53-degree heat.
"We were very fortunate that a Good Samaritan, just in the nick of time . . . removed the dog from the vehicle and called us," said Kristin Williams, executive director for the Nova Scotia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty.
The young, male dog recovered. It was one of more than 20 such cases that had SPCA officers busy during the day, Williams said.
The SPCA was called to the Atlantic Superstore lot on Joseph Howe Drive around 11:30 a.m. The dachshund was in really bad shape after being inside the vehicle for about 20 minutes, she said.
It was the second call to the same location that morning, although the other dog — a long-haired, mixed-breed collie — wasn’t in nearly as bad condition, Williams said.
"We tested the surface area of the vehicle; it was 53 degrees . . . although inside the vehicle, it was probably much higher," she said of the car that had the dachshund inside it.
The owner didn’t realize the dog was so close to dying, said Williams.
"That was definitely the worst we’ve seen in a long time," she said. "He was quite surprised that it was such a serious concern and that the dog became so ill so quickly."
So far, Thursday was the busiest of the year to date for this kind of call, said the spokeswoman.
It wasn’t clear Thursday whether the society would proceed with charges in this or any of the other cases, said Williams.
Such severe incidents serve to let the public know just how serious it is to leave a dog unattended inside a vehicle or outside without shelter in extreme heat, Williams said.

The SPCA will be on standby over the weekend and has a number of volunteers on duty to deal with any animal troubles associated with the impending storm, she said. Homeowners should consider posting a sign on their doors to indicate the number of pets in the residence, their behaviour and other needs if the hurricane causes great damage in the area, she said.
Twenty dogs?  Somehow I suspect thats the tip of the iceburg and that the total around the province would stack up a lot higher than that.
And yet it "isn't clear whether the society would proceed with charges in this or any of the other cases"? 
Laws by themselves are never an adequate deterrent.  What would happen if people were pulled over, given a breathalyser and then sent on their merry way if they told the rcmp they didn't realize they had too much to drink? 
In all fairness, I suspect the society is caught in a funding catch 22 type of situation with respect to cruelty investigations.  In the publicly available board minutes for the June 28th meeting, it was reported that "Provincial is still having a challenging year with respect to investigations".  In realspeak that could mean that charges that cannot be successfully prosecuted might not get laid. 
And yet .... people will continue leaving dogs in hot cars until a few ARE successfully prosecuted. 
Otherwise ... people will keep pulling the stupid card and dogs will continue to be in harms way.
What time is it?  In a world where not everyone can be 'good for goodness sake', its time to set a precedent by making an example.   In this less than perfect world, the best defense for the animals could just be a good offense.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Getting ready for Earl

Gosh.. is it EVER hot out today!   When there's a blue heat haze shimmering on the mountain, we just skip the trails and head straight for the river. We don't usually see fish jumping in the river this late, but its just one more delight to amuse and entertain the dogs.
Like everyone else in Nova Scotia, I'm "battening down the hatches" for the possibility of a hurricane this weekend.  In countryspeak, that means putting away the sundried wood and filling the freezers with tubs to make ice.   Closer to time, I'll get kettles and buckets of water organized.
When I was thirteen we spent a summer in Sardinia, where we found out first hand why siestas are so popular in sultrier climes.   Even though its not nap time here, its a chance to get out of the heat by checking my mail and doing site updates.
I was very pleased to see this waiting in my inbox:
SPCA asking pet caregivers to take precautions and prepare for Hurricane Earl

Nova Scotia (September 1, 2010) – The Nova Scotia SPCA is alerting pet caregivers to take precautions with the upcoming category 3 storm: Hurricane Earl. Though downgraded from a category 4 storm, the still powerful hurricane is expected to hit the Canadian coast this weekend. During a storm, it is important to bring pets indoors and to try to keep them calm. Some simple precautions and preparations include:
1. Ensuring vaccinations are up-to-date and that records are handy
2. Keeping a collar with license and identification on your pet
3. Preparing a special kit for your pet that includes a leash, carrying case, food, water, bowls, toys, medications and any special instructions for the care of your pet
4. Put a sign on your door that indicates how many pets live at your residence in the event that you must leave your home
For more information consult the SPCA, Disaster Animal Response Team of Nova Scotia, or the Emergency Management Office (EMO) or this website:
Its a good thing, imho, to remind everyone to think about what would happen if they had to leave their homes with, or worse, without their pets.  And before the keyboards catch on fire, people generally don't deliberately leave their pets behind but if you will recall the last time they had the fires out at Porters Lake not everyone was home when the roads were closed off by the police during the day.
Its early yet in the week to say for sure how severe the storm will be ... but its a sure thing that its always good to to take a proactive approach and have a plan.