Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Going to bat .... again ....

It is the first weapon of choice for violent hate crimes.  No training required.   No license needed.  No permits required to purchase.  Readily available at most retail outlets for under fifty dollars.  And perfectly legal to carry openly on the street.
I am of course referring to the humble baseball bat.   This week we have seen two terrible stories in the news here in Nova Scotia about severe injuries caused by baseball bats.
Why has there never been a hue and a cry to ban baseball bats?  Are innocent pedestrians not quaking in their boots?  
Or is it simply that most households in the province have a bat?  Some have children involved in the sport.  Many Nova Scotia adults belong to a ball league of some sort.   When the kids are all grown, it is the kind of thing one keeps on deck for visiting grandchildren.
In other words ... for every bat used to commit a crime .. there are thousands and thousands that are only ever, ever used for the love of the game.  
Straight, sweet and simple, eh?
This week there have also been a couple of dog attacks that have made our Nova Scotia News.  What does that mean in realspeak?  Does that mean that people will understand that there are thousands and thousands of 'pitbull types' who are lovely family pets?   Not even close!
Sigh ... it means that once again ... that animal advocates will have to step up and campaign their friends, neighbours, facebook lists and yes of course, their politicians to prevent BSL from becoming the same nightmare in Nova Scotia as it is in Ontario :(
People who never lose a minutes sleep about all the baseball bats start to panic ... creating a climate where they are willing to punish the very people who were never part of the problem in the first place.
(The subject of how the municipal warden in Guysborough County who is the Biggest Advocate for BSL in our province might just have a bone to pick with animal loving community who campaigned to thwart his provincial political ambitions last election is a topic deserving of its own post on another day.  Right now his municipality is reeling from the impact of New Page closing and BSL would just a dandy way to distract people, eh? )
But I am wandering a bit afield here.   This morning, I was horrified to read the following article in  today's Herald
Time to get tough with owners of unruly dogs — McCluskey

Woman bitten at beach by unleashed animal
By BILL POWER Staff Reporter
Wed, Aug 31 - 7:07 AM
Coun. Gloria McCluskey, shown in April 2010, said she will introduce a notice of motion at city hall calling for stiffer fines against the owners of dogs that attack people or pets. (Christian Laforce / Staff)
A Halifax regional councillor called Tuesday for heftier fines for careless dog owners, a day after an attack at Martinique Beach sent a woman to hospital.

"It’s the owners who are responsible for these incidents and not the dogs," said Coun. Gloria McCluskey (Dartmouth Centre).
In the latest in a recent string of dog attacks, Kathy Martin of Dartmouth was treated and released from hospital after an unleashed dog attacked her at Martinique Beach on Monday evening.
Martin told CBC News she was in a grassy area near the parking lot of the Eastern Shore beach when the dog suddenly lunged at her.
"I was on the ground and this dog was snarling and lunging at my neck and face," she said.
Halifax Regional Municipality’s Animal Services department was on the trail of the dog’s owner Tuesday. The dog was described as a pit bull.
"We have information pertaining to the owner of the dog in question and expect to make contact later today," said Animal Services manager Andrea MacDonald.
Last week, an off-leash dog killed a Jack Russell terrier in Dartmouth, and earlier this month a Dartmouth child was hospitalized after an attack. In July, a couple of large dogs mauled a tiny Shih Tzu to death in Dartmouth. In that case, the owner of the attacking dogs was fined $1,360 and the dogs were seized.
McCluskey said she will introduce a notice of motion at city hall calling for stiffer fines against the owners of dogs that attack people or pets. She also wants heavier fines for repeat violators of muzzle orders for aggressive dogs, and consideration for a possible ban on aggressive breeds.
"There have been bans in other jurisdictions of breeds known to be aggressive," she said. "People who train their dogs to attack or who have experienced aggressive behaviour from the dog should not be out walking that dog in public without proper controls."
McCluskey said a simple muzzle could save a dog owner, and an unsuspecting victim, a lot of grief.
The basic fine for a dog running loose is $340.21, and that can be doubled if there is a muzzle order in effect.
MacDonald said there were 96 reports of dog attacks in the municipality during July and August, the peak season for attacks. In 17 cases, injuries to people or small dogs were reported.
"This is pretty much in line with the number of reports during the peak summer period in previous years," she said.
MacDonald said changes to municipal animal bylaws would require provincial approval.
Ted Efthymiadis of Unleashed Potential, a dog training service in Halifax that specializes in aggressive dogs, welcomed talk of strengthening animal bylaws.
"People should not be permitted to obtain these large breeds without being required to undergo training on how they are to be managed," Efthymiadis said.
He said he is concerned about the number of large, out-of-control dogs appearing around the city.
"Anybody can obtain one of these big dogs and do whatever they want with them," he said. "The fines for offences are minimal."
"Fines under the animal bylaw should be steeper and Animal Services should have more staff so the bylaws can be enforced," he said.
Efthymiadis said aggressive behaviour can be a problem with all breeds, and most dogs will exhibit symptoms months or even a year before an attack occurs. He said all dog owners should learn to interpret the signs of problem aggression, such a nipping at other dogs or forcing them into a submissive position, and should learn how to use a muzzle.
"Dogs will welcome the use of a muzzle if they are introduced to it properly," Efthymiadis said. "They will associate it with going for a walk, which is something they enjoy.
"I cannot understand why anybody would bring an aggressive dog to a public area without a muzzle."
Devin Stevens would support mandatory muzzles for aggressive dogs. An encounter with a pit bull on Caledonia Road in Dartmouth on Friday sent his two-year-old Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever to the veterinarian with extensive head wounds.
"The owner tried to keep the dog under control, but its collar broke and it charged across the street and attacked," Stevens said.
Well then ..... where do I start?   Perhaps I should begin with the bit that I've highlighted in red.    Most of the animal loving community on facebook seem to think that Councillor McCluskey is opposed to a breed ban.
As a matter of fact, this very morning,  Councillor McCluskey assured local animal advocates that  she was NOT for breed bans AND was all in favour of having a working PANEL to amend the bylaws to strengthen the bylaws to affect all offending OWNERS not dog breeds.
So ... one of two things has happened.   Either Mr Power and the Herald have printed one of the worst misquotes in the world for all the uneducated world to take as gospel ...... or Councillor McCluskey is engaged in a game of political double speak and is trying to play both sides against the middle.
The point I am making in my meandering way is that somebody got the wrong end of the stick.   ( And before the keyboards catch on fire I am not even going to dwell on why the author of this article chose not to consult Sylvia Jay who has become a popular mainstream media resource on the subject of breed bans ... choosing instead to consult an 'expert' with next to no credibility in the animal loving / positive dog training community.   Was it that he was too unfamiliar with the subject and relying on old research?   Or did he just google aggressive dogs and pick the first name that popped up? )
What time is it?   It is time to implement the solutions that actually work.  Anti tethering legislation.   Support for Spay Neuter.   Implementing breed neutral dangerous dog laws and restricting reckless owners from owning dogs.
And of course ... it is always, always time for the media to acknowledge their role in shaping public opinion

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Look who was on Breakfast Television this morning !!!

Like the river that our trails wind along, we really never have the same hike twice.    Sometimes the changes are subtle ... new scents to catch curious noses.   After a storm, fallen limbs and trees can both block the trail and open new opportunities.
And of course we change.  Miss Ruby and Henry are ever so much more confident now ... which of course in realspeak means we all enjoy the experience more! ( The topic of how quickly adult rescued dogs can be trained is a separate subject though that has, and will again, deserve its own post, eh)
Casual observers seeing how well Rascal trots along at my side could never imagine that two months ago he was still living with his ASDR foster Mom.  And of course, Andy is still my heart .. but I now need to be his legs more often with the carrier.   
At the same time as we were getting ready to bring Rascal into my home and my heart, Atlantic Small Dog Rescue was pulling out all the stops to get ready for the First Annual Rescue Dog Show!   
It is great to see so many people promoting the show on facebook.  It was wonderful to see the article in Sunday's Herald to help spread the word!
And now this morning, Heather and Sandra were on Breakfast Television with Molly and Winston!
What time is it?  It is time to mark your calendar so that in years to come, you can say you were there right at the start!

Monday, August 29, 2011

A little monday morning treat ...

What a wonderful morning in the woods!   Yesterday's weather warnings are history so we could meander along and enjoy the trails at our leisure!
I simply cannot imagine my life without my dogs!  They are fun to explore with and just plain good company whatever we are doing!  
The casual observer could never imagine that there was a time when these dogs were not living the life of Reily.   That they lived very different lives that did not include morning hikes, gentle harnesses, comfy beds and homemade dog food.
That is because they are rescued dogs ... who really do have more love than anyone can imagine when given the opportunity for a better life!  To be perfectly honest, I actually feel sorry for someone who has never experienced the joy of that journey.
All these adorable adoptables are in the care of East Coast German Shepherd Rescue ... who had to postpone their Monthly Dog Walk owing to yesterday's storm.    Normally you would have had a chance to meet these lovelies then ... in lieu of that I have put together a little slideshow for your viewing pleasure :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Finding hope in absurdity

I love being able to make tabouleh with cucumbers and tomatoes fresh from my garden!  What's not to love?  Its simple to make ... keeps very well in the fridge and like many of life's best bits is actually better the second time around!
Rather like pet adoption, eh?    It is ever so much more than the most economical way to bring home a new best friend.   
Pets who have travelled a rough road before being rescued really DO have more love than anyone can imagine for the kind heart who gives them a better life!   Even better, adopting a pet is a great way to walk the walk when one is trying to teach children the core value of compassion!
Best of all, rescued pets do not come with the curbside guarantee that is offered in the free online ads!   
Unaddressed behavior problems are not camouflaged with pat phrases about not having enough time.   Reputable rescues never hide known health issues under a barrel.  Dear little dogs who have lived a dreadful life in a puppy mill are never disguised as good family pets. 
So why, in this day and age, do unsavory breeders still find a strong customer base in the free online ad sites?   Is that that folks find the no questions asked just show me the money honey solutions so simple?   Have they not been reading the news?   Or is it that the issue simply passes under their radar if noone they know personally has been affected?
When I first started seeing rescues advertise on Kijiji, I really got my knickers in a twist about it!   I simply couldn't see past the idea that in doing so they were providing cloak of respectability to the same venue that people like the Benoits' were using!
At the same time, I have been going on like a stuck record about the need for off site adoptions!   Hmmm!
Wood stacking is almost like a moving meditation.    It is quiet, repetitive work that almost begs a bit of wool gathering.   The other day, I had a bit of an epiphany .... what if I was wrong?  
Might it not be a good thing to offer adoptable pets as an alternate in what is really the most popular second hand shopping site?   Hmmmm.
So I rummaged around a bit and noticed that in the dogs and cats for sale listings, there is a new tab "Rehoming and Adoption" with a link to a lovely page about Responsible Pet ownership ... and the new (to me) info that our very own SPCANS is a Kijiji Pet Welfare Partner.
Now unlike certain journalists in southwestern Nova Scotia, I actually like to be sure of my facts before I talk about things on this blog  (the topic of what an inappropriate conflict of interest has come into play when media outlets owned by grandstanding ex directors are used to undermine fundraising is a separate subject worthy of its own post on another day)
So I emailed Kristen Williams, who is the ED for the society to get the real poop.     Ms Williams likes the new partnership between Kjiji and Petfinder that I have been grumbling about.   According to her, " In the Atlantic region in particular this is valuable as we have some of the highest user rates of Kijiji.".  Hmmm.
I also asked if that relationship had been helpful, to which Kristin replied "most definitely" and that " I would hope that by making our pets more readily available in the same environments where competition is high that positive educational opportunities as well as enhanced adoption numbers will result"
Hmmm.    Now before the keyboards catch on fire, yes I know that Kjjiji still has the 'free to a good home' bit that is the bane of so many rescuers.  Nor do those ads have any cute little info tabs included.
To be perfectly honest, I am still mulling over what I think about that, but am going to wait to talk about that one until I have a chance to chat about future pet section plans with Kijiji.
The unscrupulous sorts who breed puppies for profit are after the 'easy money'.   Perhaps the best way to change that is to undermine their market.
What time is it?   Maybe it is time to think of this approach as an aggressive marketing tool for rescued pets ... one that may in time reduce the need for 'free to a good homes'.
If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it. Albert Einstein

Thursday, August 25, 2011

In Shelbourne County ... the Dog Days are far from over ....

I love the whole idea of companion planting!  The concept really is so darned simple ... that crop yield can be boosted simply by WHERE one plants everything in the garden.
As an organic gardener, I can actually attest to how well it works!   Carrots really do love tomatoes ... and both benefit by the proximity!   Dilled beans may be lovely, but mixing them together in the garden won't yield best results!
Why does it work?  The short version is that each plant family has different nutritional needs and attracts a different gang of pests. 
Why bother?   Setting aside the fact that I am growing my food and that my water comes from a drilled well, organic gardening is just plain easier on the pocketbook.
Good ideas don't always have to come with a hefty price tag, eh?     One of the reasons I find so much to praise about PET Projects is their continual ability to think outside the box.
I am in awe at how effectively they engage the community!  How do they do it?  By partnering of course!   If you live in Shelbourne County and need help keeping your own pet / rehoming strays that come your way / creating a better life for chained dogs in your neighbourhood/ etc, PET Projects will partner with you to help make that happen!
I love their latest campaign ... The Dog Days of Summer!  Every week this month, they have added a new feature targeted at the dogs in their community! 
It is always important to remember that most folks in rural Nova Scotia are at best only one generation away from owning dogs that never came into the house or visited a veterinarian for any reason.  
Real change can only come at the grassroots level and that is what makes PET Projects so effective.   
Their Can Do approach accomplishes amazing things without a big fat price tag!   How do they do it?
  • Instead of saying "no, we don't have room for this stray cat or that litter of kittens, PET Projects partners with people to alter and advertise, using the Stay at Home Foster approach.
  • Even better, they encourage pet owners in their community to keep their pets for life by offering spay neuter assistance, emergency pet food and medical care subsidies.
  • Best of all, their motto is to 'empower, equip and encourage'  their community to address the need of companion animals in Shelbourne County.  You want to see community support?  There are even collection cans in taxicabs there!
What time is it?  It is always time to understand that the road ahead for the animals can only be paved by community support!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Into each life .....

What a wonderful morning in the woods!   Without the horseflies ... it is pure pleasure for the dogs to meander along and sniff out every new scent.   Even better, it is still 'lovely, dark and deep' under the old forest canopy.  Best of all, the sporty carrier that our new pet store in Greenwood ordered in for me is working wonderfully when Andy needs to hitchhike.
As a matter of fact, when the carrier came in, the folks who run Pet Central liked it so much that they have ordered more!   It is well made, easy to clean ... and like everything else in their store very reasonably priced.  
We believe Andy is fifteen now ... and as Bette Davis once said, old age is no place for sissies.    The week after I adopted Rascal, I had to hustle Andy into my vets for what we thought was a bladder infection.     His urine test was so hinky we did a full blood workup and discovered that my little man is in chronic renal failure.
I'm a big fan of regular checkups for all dogs, even more so for seniors.   When everything seems to be ticking over well, folks don't always feel the need to ante up for a vet visit.
Because Andy had only had his last checkup the month before, beyond the obvious bit about the weight loss,  it was easy for my vet to notice the difference in his heart too :(  
CRF can be a roller coaster ... but that doesn't mean that it is time for imminent doom and gloom.   If the Goddess is kind, it can be properly managed for some time.
So now ... we celebrate the small things.   The days when he feels up for his hike ... the hikes when he spends more time sniffing along than hitchhiking in his carrier ... and the mealtimes when his appetite his good and he eats with a gusto!
Good days or bad days ... he is still never further than five feet from me in the house.   He may feel more fragile ... but he is still first in line for snuggles and hugs!
Why is it so easy for some to stop loving pets when they age?  By our best estimates, Andy was thirteen when he was rescued.   Did someone think he had wandered off to die?   Or did they simply feel he was past his best before date when they dumped him?
It is beyond my imagining how Andy came to be homeless when he is so sweet and loyal and everything one could wish for in a friend.   
Even before he became ill, I knew we weren't going to have fifteen years of love together.  But as my friend Janice often says .... time is only a problem for humans and that our dogs are really here to teach us to not to be limited by 'receding walls of time'.
What time is it?    It is always time to remember that the true measure of our society is the love and respect we show to those who are aging.   For pet owners ... and adopters ... that means that pets are never, ever too old to be loved!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Metro is going to the Hallifax Mall!!

I love trying new recipes!   Mind you, when my daughter was younger, she didn't always appreciate supper being a science project ...... now she understands that each and every one of her favourite standbys once started as a little snippet clipped from somewhere!
From family traditions to favourite sweaters .. at some point in time every bit was brand new.   Social changes we take for granted now all began life being strongly opposed as wacky ideas, eh?
The road to No Kill Nova Scotia is going to be paved with 'newfangled' ideas and notions!   New to us only here of course ... having been time tested and proven elsewhere!
A couple of years ago, there was much scepticism about the idea of offsite adoption events.   While everyone was quick to admit it seemed to work elsewhere, somehow the idea never got out of the gate.  Noone actually called me an idiot (at least to my face and in person) for going on like a stuck record about it ... but it seemed that outside of the Greyhound  rescue community, there was absolutely zero enthusiasm for the idea.
That is why this year it is so lovely to see the idea taking hold.  East Coast German Shepherd Rescue have held two events this summer ... and if adoptions are the measure of success, both events went very well indeed!
CAPS has been gallivanting off to the Greenwood Mall with good results!   PET Projects has been using every fundraiser to get their adoptables out to meet the public!
Even more exciting of course is the upcoming First Annual Rescue Dog Show that promises to be the mother of all ways to promote animal rescue and pet adoption in this province!
So I was surprised to discover that The Metro Shelter has already jumped on the bandwagon!  With absolutely no Facebook hoopla ... last Friday they started having Mall Dates at the Halifax Shopping Center.   If that passed under your radar too ... not to worry as they will be back there again this Sunday, Aug 28th.   
The notice for this is so low key that no time is mentioned ... but I will try to ferret that out!   Good grief ... I am a middle aged grandmother not an advertising pro, but I suspect that adoption events will garner more attention if they are properly advertised, eh?
Update:   Thank you Tracy .... the time is confirmed on Sunday from Noon to 4(ish) as she has to take the kittens back to the shelter.   Ahhhhh.... kittens!!!!
What time is it?  It is always time to celebrate when good ideas get off the drawing board.   PS ... scroll down to meet the adorable adoptables listed at Metro right now.  Odds are they won't all be there, but perhaps there will be applications you can fill out, hmmm?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Keeping an eye on the ball ....

from this morning's Herald
Dog control officer too powerful, says shelter president

By BEVERLEY WARE South Shore Bureau
Mon, Aug 22 - 4:55 AM
BRIDGEWATER — Bridgewater’s animal control officer has too much power in deciding a dog’s fate, says the president of Lunenburg County’s animal shelter.
"The dog control officer, whoever he or she is, has a lot of power," Claudie Le Cam, president of Sheltering Helpless Animals in Distress Tree Shelter Society, said in an interview Sunday.
"They should do more of an investigation before deciding to put down a dog."
The Town of Bridgewater is reviewing its dog bylaw, which hasn’t been updated for 15 years, and council recently asked for input from the society, whose shelter goes by the acronym SHAID.
Le Cam said the society realizes the animal control officer has a difficult task.
"It’s a very tough job, a very stressful job, dealing with all kinds of people."
But she said the town needs to implement clear protocols when it comes to dealing with dog complaints.
"The dog control officer has too much power to do what they want."
When someone complains about an animal, there is little investigation, Le Cam said.
"If there’s a complaint about a person or a dog attack, they just need to call. They don’t investigate very much."
She said that leaves the process open to abuse by neighbours who don’t get along.
"They don’t go to the site, they don’t ask the owners of the dog what happened, they don’t ask the vet," Le Cam said, referring to the animal control officer.
"They should do more investigation."
She said the officer should provide a written public report explaining what happened when there was a complaint and investigation.
"Right now, we have no idea whether they have good reason (to put a dog down) or not. "
The shelter is not opposed to a dangerous or vicious dog being euthanized, Le Cam said.
"We have nothing against the dog control officer. . . . If they have to put down a dangerous dog, then they should do it."
Well then!  More bylaw revisions!  Why is this such a big deal?   Why should pet owners around the province care?
Isn't updating good?   Not necessarily!   All too often, animal control is viewed in a different light than other municipal obligations.
Politicians wouldn't dream of building a new bridge or connector lane without commissioning a feasibility study.   Engineers would be consulted!   Public input would be required!  Financial projections would be needed to determine budgetary implications!
In other words, politicians would listen to the experts before embarking on any change.  Normally.
Does this happen with animal control?   Not always!   The Yarmouth Town Council was prepared to ignore most of the input from the society when the notorious first draft of their new Dog Bylaw was so hastily clabbered together.   It took overwhelming public opposition to the first draft for the council to read the writing on the electorates wall.
Mind you, there have been a few bright spots this year.    After input from the society, the new Windsor Dog Bylaw includes the provision that "any dog that
has not been reclaimed after a period of seventy two hours, with the exception of Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays,  may be offered to the local SPCA for adoption"

That is a lifesaving measure that should be standard around the province, with of course the inclusion of access to all rescues and shelters,
One simple little word could also be altered ... if 'may' became 'must' it would offer even more protection, eh?
In my perfect fantasy world, all municipalities would be obliged to set up their own pounds ... in easily accessibly locations with hours conducive to promoting pet adoption.
Here in the real budgetary world, municipalities are going to take the more economical route of employing contractors.   So here is today's first what if.
What if someone simply had the sense to change the laws so that anyone providing contractual services for any Nova Scotia Municipality was obliged to provide publicly available statistics?
There is nothing wrong with municipalities taking the path they perceive to be the most economical.   Not in these times.  But there is something terribly wrong with allowing contracted wolf's work to hide behind the smokescreeen of sheep's clothing, eh?
Did you know that any municipality AC ( or its contractor) is able to have a Petfinder account where they can list all the pets in their charge?   You know of course, that this is a free, zero cost to the taxpayer service, right?
So today's second what if ....
What if all municipal AC's AND their contracted representatives were obligated by law to list all the pets in their charge?  ( and before the keyboards catch on fire, yes I know that Homeward Bound City Pound uses Petfinder ... as of this writing they are the ONLY ones who do )
Last but not least is the fact that all municipalities have websites.   So here is today's third what if...
What if all municipalities were required to post two petfinder widgets on the municipal website ... one for found pets with pictures and one for adoptable pets?
Three what if's that could have a big whammy without big budget implications!
Taken in tandem with Ms Le Cam's suggestion for more transparency ... these three what ifs could save a lot of lives.  Why should councillors pay attention?  Can't they keep doing the same old same old?  
Public opinion is shifting when it comes to the animals.  PJ's Pets and Pets Unlimited did not stop selling puppies because they woke up one morning and realized how horrible that was!  Why did they stop? 
Straight, sweet and simple .. they stopped selling puppies because public opinion has shifted.  Because it is bad business practice to be an adversarial position with one's customers, eh?
We are lucky enough to have live in a democracy all our lives ... and so we often forget the one thing that elected politicians always remember.   We 'hired' them and we can 'fire' them. 
What time is it?   It is always time to let our elected officials know that we have our eye on the ball!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Adoption Events this Weekend!!!!!

Five years ago today, we found George.    To be perfectly honest, we might have missed hearing his squeaky little peeps had my daughter not been so close to her due date.
Before the big dogs came here ... before my granddaughter was born ... we used to regularly go for a good power hike that looped up the mountain and back down to my door.   Me for my heart ... she for her Mommy!
But five years ago today we had slowed to a power waddle and were wandering down my little country road.    At that pace, it was easy to hear the little peeping noise that piqued our curiosity. 
It took clambering through the ditch and the brush to find the source ... singing away in a puddle of water with a slug on his head!   Small enough to sit in my hand ... with absolutely no idea how far down the food chain he was :(
Happily my vet had an opening that morning and the rest is of course history!  To see his lovely magnificent self draped across my bookcase headboard, one would never imagine how teeny his sweet self was at the start.
To this day, he finds water irresistible!   The communal water dish has to be kept in a big basin to reduce the spillage as he drags it around the kitchen floor.   George is fascinated by bubble baths and seizes the opportunity to be a peeping tom with the shower curtain whenever he can!
Mind you, I'm less smitten with the latest water sport .... playing with the flush handle to hear the water run ... but at least that's easily fixed with the shut off valve, eh?
Five years later, are we still seeing as many cats dumped out here?  General consensus around the 'hood' is no.  Does that mean nobody's dumping cats anymore?  Of course not!  
More likely it is the dozen or so houses that have sprouted up along the way!  The type of person who can casually abandon a helpless pet on a country road isn't going to want an audience!   Deep down they know that it is not acceptable social behavior, eh?
They are still being ditched .... just not here!   How do I know that cats are still being tossed aside like trash instead of being treated like the treasures they are?   Why of course because every single rescue that saves cats is brimming full to bursting!
It is no secret that I am a big fan of adoption events!   It is great to 'free up' rescue slots by getting pets adopted!   Even better, it is wonderful to know that most of the adoptees will be already altered and not add to the numbers!   Best of all of course is the wonderful way that every adoptee becomes a wonderful ambassador for pet adoption period!
  • even though its not for the kitties per se, TODAY, Aug 19th,  the tireless Heather Morrison is holding a spontaneous Moving everything must go Yard Sale  ..... and 20% of all proceeds will go to the wonderful NS Lost Dog Network that she helped to create!
  • Saturday, Aug 20th, PET Projects is holding an Adoption Fair and Bake and Yard Sale at the Shelter Building at 528 Sandy Bottom Road.  It is on from 10 AM to 2 PM and if you want to meet all their adorable adoptables, please click here
  • Saturday, Aug 20th, if you will recall, East Coast German Shepherd Rescue is holding their Adoption Pawty and BBQ at Tailwagggrs in Bedford from Noon to 4 PM (see poster below)
  • Sunday, Aug 21st, CAPS is holding a Kitty Speed Dating Event at 1268 Ben Phinney Road from 2 - 4 PM ( see poster below)
Not every pet that is abandoned finds a safe harbour such as George has.   In my perfect fantasy world, people would stop abandoning animals by the wayside.   Here in the real world, it is much more realistic to recognize that boosting adoptions to keep rescue slots open is the best way to protect unwanted pets.
What time is it?  It is time to share this info ... who knows what wonderful things could come of it for some of the people in your life!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A little chat about ethics and responsiblity

I really love my little old geezers!  They are each as different as one could possibly imagine, but they are both so full of spunk as to bely their age.
Rascal's stubby little legs have no trouble keeping up with the big dogs on the trail.   And if my littlest hobo needs to 'hitchhike' in his snugli now and then, he is still first in line full of terrier feist when the occasion arises.
They are both bright and curious and clever enough to keep learning new 'tricks'.   Life as they now know it may be different ... yet they have both been sensible enough to settle in smoothly!
Does that mean there were no speed bumps?   Of course not!   Andy may always have zero percent recall if I drop his leash on the trail.  Rascal is still learning that barking is not necessarily the path to success!
Neither of those are deal breakers.   Andy's leash is always firmly looped around my wrist now in a half hitch and I am developing a repertoire of distractions to encourage better behaviour than barking!
But what it there HAD been a deal breaker?   Why then right there front and center in the adoption contracts I signed, they would have bounced right back to the rescue that they came from.
I have adopted four dogs and one cat in Nova Scotia.  Every contract I have signed included some version of the phrase " If I am unwilling or unable to keep this pet I promise to return him or her to ......"
I have adopted pets from four Nova Scotia rescues.   Rascal came from ASDR.   Henry came from CAPS.   Morgan from SHAID.   Miss Ruby and Andy from ARC.
Five adoptions.  Five contracts.   Five promises to return!
There doesn't seem to be a time limit on that either!  Just a few months ago, ARC had a return after fifteen years!    The dog had outlived his adopter ... and when none of the family could step up, ARC took him back.  Took him back and found him a new home, please and thank you!
That is what a reputable rescue does!   It provides a security blanket for the adopter!   Even better, it recognizes pets may not be as confident and well behaved in a new environment ... or in less experienced hands!  
Best of all, it protects the life of the pet ... preventing the pet from being passed around like an old sock on Kijiji ..or worse!!!
Does that happen everywhere?   Sadly not.   What happens then?   If the adopter is Very Lucky .. another rescue may be able to help pick up the pieces. 
What happens when I hear about it?   If it comes from someone I consider to be a reliable source ... or several someones ... the rescue listing is removed from the homeless pet site.   Straight, sweet and simple.   They may eventually come back on in time ... provided there has been no negative feedback for a while.
That type of behavior gives all rescues a bad name and I will not promote it on my site!
What happens when it is an SPCA branch?   Now THERE is a sticky wicket indeed.   People don't differentiate between one branch and another.   Behavior at one branch tends to be taken as the status quo.   So rather than simply listing some branches, I am waiting until some of the big bits are sorted out so that I can list them all again.
These are difficult days for the society.   Their ED is working,  rather effectively I might add, at the mandate given her by the provincial board.    There has already been enough grandstanding there without adding to the upset, eh?   (The very interesting topic of how persona partaking in a recent revolution seem to have mysteriously acquired the AC contract in Yarmouth is a sticky subject that can wait until the bylaw is settled and the branch is back on its feet )
What time is it?    It is always time to remember that promoting responsible rescues and pet adoption is part and parcel of what the homeless pet sites are for.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sometimes ... love really is all you need!

The geese are starting to gather!   This morning when we were up on the ridge, we could see them settled in the fields by the river, gossiping like long lost friends with every new group arriving in.
For the next couple of weeks, they will spend their days down there.  Like clockwork, they will fly back up the mountain at dusk to tuck in for the night.
I have been living out here for almost eighteen years and am still thrilled with it all!
Would it be quite so exciting if they lived here year round?  Of course not!   You will never see me dropping my dishcloth to run out and watch the ravens flying overhead, eh?
My inner overgrown kid never fails to be amazed that the geese find their way back to the same fields every year.  
A dear friend of mine finds just as much joy with the parade of kittens that she has been fostering for Pick of the Litter.  She has been regaling us on facebook with the delightful pictures of each litter that passes through.
These little transients are all dear to her ... and she continually finds new and delightful ways to capture this on film :)
None of them are settling in to stay ... so she will always have these lovely little souvenirs to remind her of the little ones she has nourished and cared for. 
Folks like Pat who foster kittens play a particularly valuable role.    Thanks to their good work, these little ones are better prepared to be purrfect pals.  These wee ones are socialized and playful and confident enough to fit in anywhere!
Best of all of course is the sure knowledge that every time one fosters, one really and truly is saving at least one life!
There is not a rescue anywhere in this province that actually has enough foster parents.   No matter where you live, odds are there is a group who would welcome your help.
What time is it?  It is always time to remember that fostering is one of the very easiest ways you can ever find to save a life!  The rescues provide all the food and vet care ... love really is all you need to bring to the table!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Its an Adoption Pawty!!!!

I love being able to buy local fruit and fish at all the truckside tables!  This time of year, one cannot drive five minutes in any direction without being able to pick up anything one could wish for the table!
It is really rather frosting on the cake that all this bounty is usually much more reasonably priced than in the retail world.   Even better, it provides an opportunity for folks to meet the people producing their food.  Best of all of course is that what is good for the customer is good for the farmers and fisher folk in sales.
After all,very few folks are going to drive around the countryside looking for produce to buy.   These little tailgate 'parties' are so popular because they are easy and convenient. 
Just like offsite adoption events, eh?   Last month, East Coast German Shepherd rescue held an offsite adoption event at the Homeward Bound City Pound as part of Petfinder's fifteenth Birthday Bash. 
How did that go?  Very well I should say.  Three dogs that were adopted as a direct result of the day!   Nela, Bella and lovely Levi, who had been waiting for his lucky day for seven months!
If I am not mistaken, adoptions with East Coast German Shepherd Rescue seem to be up since then too.    Success breeds success, eh? 
So I was delighted to discover that ECGSR is holding another adoption event this month!   This time it will be at Tailwagggrs in Bedford ( see poster below) ... on this Saturday, August 20th, from Noon to 4 PM!
Just for fun, I have made up a little slideshow of the grrreat dogs they have available for adoption. (scroll down to see :)
What time is it!  It is always time to applaud when good things are happening for the animals! 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fun ways to help the animals this weekend

I love being able to graze through my garden!   No question about it ... dinner does taste better fresh off the vine!  Even better, growing a garden encourages so many of the little birds that brighten the days here!  Best of all of course is knowing exactly what is ... and is not ... in my food!
One of the reasons I retired here in the beautiful Annapolis Valley is the good weather for gardeners.   It was kind of frosting on the cake to find out that there were ever so many lovely spots to see within such an easy drive.
This time of year, no matter where you live or wish to drive, there are fun ways to help the animals pretty much every weekend.   If you are out and about this weekend:
  • the Big Book and Music sale in support of Second Chance Charity for Animals is being held tomorrow
  • CAPS is having its Fun Day at the Above Par Golf Course, Saturday from 10 AM - 2 PM.   There will be volunteers with CAPS goodies for sale .. and if you want an easy lunch you won't find a better buy anywhere than a BBQ'd hot dog with a cold drink for $2.00!    Kudos to Above Par who are kindly donating all green fees for the day to CAPS!
  • I know its not pet related, but didja know that the first ever Arts and Crafts Fair is being held at the Forum tomorrow from 11 AM - 6 PM ?
  • Tomorrow, the GPAC folks are holding the Lake and Shore Parade from 11 - 2 PM at Porters Lake!
  • Sunday, Aug 14th, from 10 AM to 4 PM , the fun loving folks at GPAC are holding the Dog Days of Summer!  Its being held at 343 West Petpeswick Road, Musquodoboit Harbour, NS (at their kennel)  All kinds of fun is planned and in their words, promises to be a tail wagging good time!
  • I don't know if there are any seats left, but this weekend the annual Animal First Aid for Disaster Responders is being put on by DART in Truro
  That's all for now folks .. all that I could find for this weekend anyway!  If I have missed anyone, please email or leave a comment!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

No Dog Days of Summer here .....

I love having a cozy fire on when its cold and damp!  Granted, I don't normally need to do so this time of year ... but last night it was lovely all the same.  
Rascal is still a rookie here ... so by the time he caught on, Andy had already commandeered the comfy dog bed closest to the stove! 
Seniors are quick studies, so it is a sure thing that the next time Rascal sees me rummaging around the wood cupboard he will snuggle down to wait with his pal!
Personally, I think we could all take a few lessons from mature pets.    A few months ago, Rascal was happily living a completely different life with an elderly lady.   Life here is very likely the polar opposite to that!  
To see him bouncing along beside me every morning in the woods, a casual observer could not imagine he has barely been here a month!   It took exactly one day for Rascal to get the lay of the land here ... to understand the First Rule of Cat ... to realize that the grass really isn't any greener in someone else's supper dish ... and all the other bits and pieces in between!
So it should be no surprise that Annie has been settling in so well to her new and improved life under the ASDR umbrella.   In the short space of time since she was attacked, Annie has rebounded like a champ.    Her wounds are healing well ... and more importantly,  she is happy and playful and still loves to go out for walks.
As a matter of fact, Annie has done so well with her behaviour assessment that she is now available for adoption!   Mind you, the Petfinder bio that Annie's foster Mom wrote is enough to make you weep.  
How has  Annie has stayed so sweet in spite of it all?   Isn't it a blessing that dogs do not bring our human hangups to the table, eh? 
What time is it?  It is time to say thank you to everyone who helped make this possible!   Now it is also time to help spread Annie's story so that she can find someone as special as she is!
I love a dog. He does nothing for political reasons. ~Will Rogers

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

In praise of an incredible journey

I love the techs at the Berwick Animal Hospital!    They are sensible and helpful ... and unfailingly polite no matter what sort of foolishness spouts out of the customers' mouths.  
More courteous than I could possibly be for sure!  The clinic is a busy spot ... in no small part because their fees are somewhat lower than some of the competition. ( The topic of how the clinic owner, Dr Bohaker, is one of my personal heroes because he keeps his spay neuter rates reasonable is a separate subject worthy of a spot of its own some day :)
I was in there recently with Andy, when a woman came in with a cat carrier full of kittens.   In the course of casual conversation while we were waiting, she proudly announced to me that she had allowed their cat to have a litter of kittens before being spayed.   She went on to explain that this was all part of a plan to provide her child with an important life experience!
Now the bearded, burly, flannel coated lads I keep company with have a rather rude expression that seemed particularly suited to the situation .... Starry Eyed A**holes!
Tempting ... but out of respect for the hard working techs who would likely take the flak for me and my big mouth, I took another tack.    Instead, I mentioned that another way to do that would be to foster on of the many pregnant cats that regularly come into rescue.
Sheesh ... she had never thought of that!  Nor had anyone else in the waiting room!   Perhaps it was a day late and a dollar short for Mrs S.E.A. ... but one can only hope that perhaps the seed germinated elsewhere.
Why can I be so confident that there are no shortage of pregnant cats coming into rescue?  How can I be so sure the supply won't run out anytime soon?
Gosh ... I would be a woman of wealth if I had a loonie for every little mommy cat who comes into rescue here in NS.  Make that a quarter for every litter that is 'free to a good home' on Kijiji!
Did you know the old adage is true?  That if you want to get anything done, for best results ask a busy woman?
A friend of mine has her own business and a family ... and wears a variety of volunteer hats with CAPS.   Simply maintaining the multitude of Petfinder listings would be a herculean task in itself!
Yet Deb also finds time to foster!    On the 31st of July, her foster kitty Reba gave birth to four beautiful kittens!   What better person to ask for pics for this topic, eh?
Fostering a litter of kittens offers any kind heart the best of both worlds.  No question about it, birth is a pretty amazing experience!  My daughter has never forgotten the time she saw a calf being born while visiting my parents!
The beautiful thing about fostering is that all one has to provide is the love!  One doesn't have to budget for the vet bill.  There is no worrying about how to pay for the food!   Best of all, there is none of the stress of finding homes for the kittens!
What time is it?  It is always a beautiful thing when such an incredible journey can do double duty by saving lives!
If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.  Betty Reese.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Breaking down the walls ......

I love my friends blog!   To be perfectly honest, The 'splorin' Wolfies is one of the sweetest little spots in my day :)  It is more than an endearing testament to the joy that Janice finds with her dogs ... all the lovely little vignettes and goofy bits come with a solid underpinning of home truths.
Many of these nuggets cut to the chase and truly transcend the 'wolfie' world.   Today, when Guinness was explaining  "We often hear people say "Oh! I could never get a wolfhound--it is too sad!" I ask you: Will it not be just as sad to lose a beloved pet after 15, 18 or even 20 years? Of course. Silly humans. You deny us our very life when you confine us to your receding walls of time. " ... that could ever so easily apply to mature and senior pets.
At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, a pet is not an appliance or a car.   My beautiful boy Ben never made it to his sixth birthday.  Yet years ago, back before we knew so much about pet food, the labrador I fed grocery store food to lived to be eighteen. 
The only guarantee we have is that our pets will love us completely and unconditionally every day of their lives.    
Still, anyone adopting a seasoned pal IS getting a sure thing!  Why do I say that?  Because all the cliches I am so fond of using on the senior pet site ARE true. 
Mature pets are already as big and beautiful as they are going to be.  It really is easier to tell if they are going to be kindred spirits!  Senior pets actually do like a good nights sleep as much as you do!  They make grrreat companions!  Purrfect pals! 
So why do so many sit 'on the shelf' for so long?   It is often the darned time thing.  Some folks are afraid to give their hearts to a pet that might not have fifteen or twenty years of love to offer.
Like Guinness says ... time is relative!   Andy and Rascal are as dear to me as any young dog or pup that ever came in the door.     It is not necessary to be a dog's first love ... the important bit is to 'seize the days' that the Goddess grants.  As Dad used to say ... peel the apple in your hand, not the one on the tree.
Does that mean that everything is all staid and predictable!  Not a chance!   It is a hoot to watch Rascal discovering the joys of barrelling around with Ruby!   It is hilarious to discover that my littlest hobo is so full of terrier feist!
The old geezers love to go to the woods every morning as much as the big dogs!   They are just as happy to get belly rubs and cuddles!  And to be perfectly honest, the younger dogs nap just as much as the old geezers do!
Believe me, it takes a lot of restraint when I am doing the senior pet site.   Deep down I know I cannot invite them all in ... but that doesn't stop me from seeing how lovely they all are!
Shera is like a poster girl for all the best bits about senior pets.   She is quiet and well behaved.   She is settled enough to be good company  .... yet is still full of fun when the opportunity for play arises!  In fact, she is still peppy enough to be a bit dominant with other dogs ... although the kind folks at the Metro Shelter believe she might do well with a younger pup.
Why did such a beautiful girl become homeless?  The short version is that her family were evicted and could no longer care for their faithful friend.
Shera lives up to the Aramaic meaning of her name, which is light!  She is bright and beautiful and still has ever so much to offer.   If you are not one of the 'silly humans' who are hung up on 'receding walls of time' ...  Shera might just be the love you have been waiting for.
All that amstaf love with all that experience?  Sheesh!  I could almost envy the kind heart who does not need to be her first love to become the light of Shera's life!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Today could be the day you learn how to save a life ....

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes.  We all notice the obvious ones.   Dedicated volunteer firefighters who are devoted to their communities and ready to risk life and limb at the drop of a hat.  Stellar role models for our youngsters, such as Sydney Crosby.   Reporters risking life and limb in the firm belief that the truth can set us free.
We all notice the ones we see on the six o'clock news.  The big dramatic stories that we see on the net.   The homecoming parades
Yet for every hero we see, like the proverbial mice, there are ever so many more that simply pass under our radar.  Why?
Perhaps it is that their work is seldom seen as newsworthy.  It lacks the edgy drama of a cup series.   It certainly won't sell papers as well as celebrity indiscretions will.
Such a shame really, when these unsung heroes weave the warp and woof of our world.  Short on hoopla and long on results, they keep quietly creating better communities on our behalf.
I love the little foster based rescues!  They are wizards at stretching every donor dollar to the max!  Their adoptables are well socialized.   Best of all, they are able to offer a realistic real life assessment of each and every one of their adoptables
We are lucky here in Nova Scotia to have the particular expertise of Inge Sadler and Pick of the Litter.   ( if this is your first time here, Inge is the go to expert in this province for saving neo natal orphans )
As of this writing, Inge has 54 kittens in her charge. When the need is so great, it is actually a shame we can't clone Inge:)  
The next best thing would be to find volunteers willing to bottle feed the wee ones for Pick of the Litter. 
If you are interested in becoming an unsung hero, please contact Pick of the Litter directly.  You won't ever get a parade.  Noone will ever give you a medal.
You will get something better than that ... you will learn how to save some lives!
A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom. Bob Dylan.
PS ...  if you cannot commit to that, perhaps one of these adorable adoptables might be your next best friend :)  And that is always helpful too :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

In praise of humanity ...

from Tuesday's Spectator
Finding forever homes: Part 3
Published on August 3, 2011
The complicated nine lives of toms and tabbies
By Heather Killen

The Spectator

Willie is shy at first but loves to be petted, especially just under her ears. In very quick time, someone that spends time with her will have a truly loving companion. Willie is a very loveable kitty but needs a home with no other animals.
The best way to help tabbies and toms is to practice what is preached about the birds and the bees.

Sue Skipton, of Adoptable Rescued Cats (ARC), says she has always loved helping animals and about four years ago began working with Team TNR to help humanely address the growing problem of feral cat colonies in the county.
Team TNR is a group of volunteers that traps, neuters, and returns feral cats to colonies where they live out their natural lives.
There is no SPCA or municipal animal shelter in Annapolis County. Often when people’s life circumstances change, they can’t take their pet into the new situation. If someone can’t care for an animal, it’s hard to find a shelter that will take it.
Often cats are then abandoned, or stray into the wild. These cats congregate around a food source, such as a wharf, and if they reproduce, two stray unfixed cats quickly become a couple of dozen feral ones. Often when females are trapped, they already have a litter of kittens and until these kittens are spayed and neutered, the feral population continues to grow.
Cat Shelter
From this work, Skipton started her own cat shelter (ARC) about two years ago. Whenever possible Skipton catches the kittens and works with them until they can find homes. She also takes grown cats that aren’t suitable for shelters.
Skipton said she hears a lot of sad stories when seniors move into long-term care facilities and are unable to find placements for their beloved pets. Volunteers from groups such as the Companion Animal Protection Society fosters cats and dogs that are picked up by the animal control officer, but are unable to accept animals that are surrendered by their owners.
Atlantic Small Dog Rescue will accept dogs that are surrendered by their owners, but don’t typically work with cats. Skipton accepts these adult cats and also works with the feral kittens, trying to ensure they are healthy and happy until they find their forever homes.
At ARC the adoption fees range from $50 for an adult cat and $125 for a kitten.
Cats Pick Owners
Over the past two years she estimates that she’s helped and homed about 400 cats. All of her animals come with a return spring, she says. While she does get a few not-so-happy returns, her system mostly works with return customers looking for another kitty.
“If you take home kitty and it doesn’t work out, you can bring her back,” she said. “People’s circumstances can change and I don’t want to see anyone dumped.”
The best way to home a cat is to allow it to pick its owner, she says. She’s seen cats walk up to their people and signal with a determined paw and when that happens it’s usually a match made in heaven, she says.
However between her work with Team TNR and ARC, she’s seen a lot of animals that have just been dumped, she says. In an average month she gets hundreds of animal welfare calls and estimates that for every two cats she hears about, there are 12 more she doesn’t hear about.
Spay and Neuter
In one weekend she said she rescued five mothers and 15 kittens. The way Skipton sees it, more needs to be done to promote spay and neuter programs. While some counties offer special rates for low-income pet owners, she says in her opinion these well-meaning programs are targeting the wrong people.
“A low-income family with a pet can’t afford kittens and will set money aside to have the animal fixed,” she said. “Middle and upper income people don’t always. I’ve picked up at least one tattooed Siamese cat and brought it in the TNR program because it was a stray unfixed cat.”
For more information on, or how to support Adoptable Rescued Cats (ARC), or Team TNR call Sue Skipton at 902-665-3232, or email Sue
It is a real delight to see Sue's work featured as part of this series.  Without having either a website or a facebook presence, she quietly carries on with rescuing cats.
This morning, the river was still running fast and high.   Happily, it will only be a matter of days until it drops down enough for safe wading and water fun.
Wouldn't it be lovely if it worked that quickly for the river of cats?  Until that day, it is a very good thing to hear some hard home truths quoted in the mainstream media.
The article raises a very valid point about spay neuter.  Offering a bit of low income assistance is as useful as wishing the water away.   It overlooks a basic bit of logic ... which is of course that the only way to stop the river of cats is to turn off the tap.
It is poor logic to say that assistance should be limited to low income.   Paychecks are like objects in the mirror .. appearing larger than they are.     Child support /  alimony / needing uninsured meds or treatments / having a collision with only plpd coverage are only a few of the unanticipated wrinkles that can whittle the net down to the bone.
Denial isn't just a river in Egypt   Why do municipalities not want to talk about spay neuter?  Fund spay neuter?  Implement permanent programs? 
Do they not understand the math?  That unaltered cats have a mind boggling multiplication table?  
Because cats do not vote!   Ergo it is up to the people who care about cats to speak up!  
If everyone who owned a cat called their municipal councillor and / or their MLA, I can guarantee you we would start seeing more meaningful spay neuter support. 
What time is it?  It is always time to remember that the way ahead for the animals will only be paved by strong voter feedback!
The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.  George Bernard Shaw