A little chat about loopholes

binky6

To be perfectly honest, I rather like rainy days at this time of year!   Does this mean that I am tired of yard and garden chores already?   That I am ready for a break?   Not even close!

Actually, rain is particularly helpful today.   The moon is in one of its most fruitful phases (fourth quarter, Pisces)  for transplanting.   As with everything else in life, gardening success often depends more on timing than good luck, eh?     The wet weather is just like the prize in the cracker jack box!   Not only will it save watering time today, but it will really get all the perennial divisions off to the best possible start!

It is no secret that I love terriers as much as I love gardening!   What is not to love?    They are fun-loving and full of shenanigans!  Even better,  terriers are thinking dogs who are full of personality!    Best of all of course is that terriers are renowned for their devotion and loyalty for humans who understand they are companions, not possessions!

Last week, the Animal Rescue Coalitions took in a tattered little terrier named Binky who had been obviously living rough for a long, long time!    Indeed, it is very possible that Binky never saw the inside of a house before he was rescued.

On a good day,  when there are no health issues or neglect, rescues spend a LOT of money on vet bills!   For a fellow like Binky, who will need an eye removed along with all the other basic bits, the tab can quickly run up!

The good news is that Binky is a dog!   What does that mean in realspeak?   Simply that he does not bring any of our human hangups to the table.    He may have been utterly unaccustomed to domestic bliss … but he is also a very quick study.     Binky obviously loves this wonderful new direction his life has taken and is eager and willing to pull out all the stops to learn the house rules!

His Foster Mum is certainly very impressed and tells me that Binky is a very special boy indeed!     Once he has recuperated from his surgery and is fully assessed, the Animal Rescue Coalitions will find the home that is the best fit for this wonderful, brave boy!  As a sidebar note to that, if kind hearts want to help with ARC’s vet bills, they can CLICK HERE for more info on how to help

Is Binky the only dog they have in care?   Of course not!    Every week new dogs come into their care!   Some are owner surrenders.   Others follow a well-worn path from Colchester AC to ARC.   And some simply find their way into ARC’s care after a call from an animal clinic!

Would it be easier if Kijiji had completely stopped listing living breathing sentient beings on their site?    Not to be churlish .. because it WAS helpful that they stopped listing the ‘free to a good homes”    … but there are still a preponderance of ads for pure bread dogs and designer ( read expensive mutt) puppies.

And THAT does not even include the ads posted by people looking for cheap or free puppies, eh?     One has to wonder how effective the ‘free’ ban is when every day people come up with new ways to circumvent that, eh?

What time is it?     As long as there are dogs in need it is time to be grateful for the good work done by reputable rescues like The Animal Coalitions.   PS .. Kijiji it is also time to put your heart into turning off the tap!

A little ode to #1228

What a cold miserable morning out there!    Mind you, it will be a great day for doing heavy yard chores 🙂    Even better, it is just cold enough to keep those darned bugs at bay.   Best of all of course is that at least we did not get the wet snow that last night’s forecast had promised!

This Sunday is Mother’s Day!   What does that mean in realspeak if you don’t have any human offspring of your own?   Plenty actually.    Savvy gardeners know that, in this province at least, this is usually the best weekend of the year for sales as the race kicks off for the big bucks that homeowners spend on trees and shrubbery!   Traditionally, it has also been an excellent time … in this somewhat sexist world we still live in … to buy small appliances 🙂

Mind you .. things are nowhere near as rosy for cats and dogs!     There are no wild commercial extravaganza  celebrations of motherhood for them!    Indeed, many pregnant pets are left to fend for themselves and find out first hand what survival of the fittest means 😦

To make matters worse, even when little Momcats or dogs are lucky enough to be rescued with their litters, the little mothers often ‘sit on the shelf’ long after their offspring have been adopted!   As if they were … after all that they had been through .. somehow secondhand and second rate!

This of course is why I have such a soft spot for Spay Day NS.    Although they do occasionally rescue, their core mandate is so beautifully and elegantly simple.   They spay and neuter cats.   Straight, sweet and simple!

For four years, Linda Felix and her team of dedicated volunteers have been doing this.   They make it very easy for cat owners who cannot afford to spay and neuter their cats.   In their own words “We strive to over come the obstacles to having cats spayed or neutered. We make the clinic appointment, provide the cat carrier and the drive to the appointment. We return the cat back home and discuss after care with the owner.  We provide education to the cat owner on the benefits of spaying, neutering and keeping their cat indoors.”

Are they the first ones to spay and neuter cats?   Of course not!   Cat rescues have been quietly doing this for years for both rescued and owned cats.   Not to take anything away from that work, what makes Spay Day so special is that their willingness to collaborate with other groups and with the society.

Today … as we speak … Spay Day is running a Mega Twenty-Six Cat Spay Day.   Early this morning, volunteers with carriers picked up cats from all around the city and delivered them to their clinic appointments!    Wow!   What does that mean in realspeak?   Simply that the surgeries are really only the tip of the iceberg!     Without the behind the scenes fundraising and application checking, there would be no marvelous days like this!

What time is it?   It is always time to applaud spay neuter work in this province.   Of equal import .. it is always, always time to applaud the kind of collaboration that is needed to make a meaningful difference for cats!

PS ….today will make a total of ONE THOUSAND, TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY-EIGHT spays and neuters  Spay Day NS has done in the four years since they began this good work!      At the end of the day, the ONLY way to fix the cat overpopulation problem is to fix the cats!

pyramid

A little musing about the possible

It is such a joy to see bare ground after the winter we just had.   The only downside of course is that we have catapulted from winter wonderland straight into late spring.    Why I am whining?   Was I not waiting for the good weather to roll?

Of course I was!   But at the risk of sounding churlish,  now I am playing catch up on all the April yard and garden chores that simply could not be done through the snow  🙂   Living proof once again of course about the home truths in adages about best laid plans, eh?    Really .. why should anyone bother making plans?

Then of course I cat(ch) myself and remember how far the hard-working cat rescuers and advocates in this province have come in such a relatively short time.    Eight years ago, who would have imagined Tuxedo Stan?   Earl Grey?   Spay Day NS?    That the society would start up its own low-cost high volume spay neuter clinics?   Who  could have dared to dream that we actually would see off site cat adoptions in pet stores?  Or cat adoption events?

So does this mean that the problem is all … pardon the bad pun .. fixed?    Not even close!   After so many years of neglect .. everyone will still be playing cat(ch) up for a long time to come.

Why would I say this?   Is it not absolutely awesome that action is being taken on so many fronts?   Of course it is … but … at the risk of sounding churlish this is still not the time for complacency.     When cat rescuers are struggling to cat(ch) up on years and years of TNR chores, this is still not the time to get comfortable!

And of course this is still very much the time to contribute to the cat rescues who are dancing as fast as they can to cat(ch) up!    We could only wish that our politicians could be so frugal with our money as cat rescuers are!   Truth be told, every cat rescuer I know could give lessons in getting good value for every dollar to our elected officials!

There are so many, many ways that anyone can help:

  • donate money of course to your favourite rescue or shelter.   Helpful hint, if a tax receipt is important to you, ask in advance if they have current CRA status as not all groups do.
  • support your local low-cost high volume spay neuter clinic
  • donate supplies to your favourite group.  Not sure what they need?   Check their website page for their wish list 🙂
  • donate funds to the rescue account at the animal clinic that provides their support.   If you are not sure, generally all you have to do is ask.
  • volunteer your time.   The rescue world is powered by volunteer love.   If you can drive a cat to a spay appointment or deliver a bag of food to a TNR colony for foster it is a big help
  • find out first hand why fosters really are the life blood of rescue, and last but not least
  • let every politician who represents you at any level know that support for cat welfare is important to you as a taxpaying voter.   Hey … if the NDP can win a majority government in Alberta, then anything is possible, eh?

What time is it?   It is definitely  still time to support the hard-working cat rescuers who are trying to make safer and healthier and kinder communities for us all.

A little more Monday morning musing

I truly do not like doing spring pickup (of all the dog shit) in the yard.    Normally it is not that big a job since I retired, but this has certainly been an exceptional winter on all fronts.   Will this be the shape of things for every winter now?   Who knows!     Maybe I will need to strap on my snowshoes to keep ahead of yard patrol next winter, eh?

It really is a shame that one cannot use all that ‘organic matter’ in the garden!   Why do I say that?   Would it not be a BIG help?      Wasn’t that what farmers did years and years ago?    Well yes .. and yes!   But … sometimes when something is free it really IS too good to be true!    The short version of all this is that using fresh carnivore poop to boost an edible garden is the sure path to winding up with worms and parasites!

In other words, I would need to put all that wormwood running amok around the yard to its original use instead of being a dual purpose sturdy play yard plant and deer repellent 🙂

But back to the whole holy cow what a winter we had thing.    Is this going to be our new normal?    Just in case, I have been compiling a top priority To Do list so that next winter we are better prepared.      A list, I might add, that was compiled after careful consideration and research.    The sticky subject of the lack of planning and consultation  for the controversial provincial budget has been  … and I am sure will continue to be a testy topic on numerous blogs (with a different focus than mine)  around the world

But I am wandering afield … as I am often wont to do in my meandering way.    The point I am actually trying to make this morning is that this has been a record year for other things than snow.     What do I mean?   There is not a single rescue or shelter in this province that has not noticed that the numbers of homeless animals are up!   Way up!

Surrender requests are up!   Abandoned animals .. especially pussycats .. are popping like miserable little mushrooms everywhere.    To be perfectly honest, anyone involved in frontline rescue right now is bailing the boat with a teaspoon, eh?

Would it help to throw more money at the problem?    Well yes … especially if it was targeted towards spay neuter assistance.     Here in the real world though, there are still some steps that our Agriculture Department could draft  … if Minister’s assistants can tear themselves away from Twitter that is!

What do I mean?    Am I talking about mandatory cat licensing?   Well no … and not because it isn’t a fabulous idea.    Here in the real world where the majority of pet owners do not license their dogs, I expect the cost of enforcing cat licensing would exceed any revenue generated.

At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, I am talking about mandatory breeder registration.    Why should backyard breeders be able to make tax-free money while destroying dog breeds?   Hey wait a minute … wouldn’t such a step wind up breaking the hearts of kind folks who just want a nice pet?   Who cannot or will not spend the money that reputable breeders who do all that darned genetic screening want for their puppies?

The answer to that one is so simple a stump could understand!    Not to be mean, but just because a dog walks like a pug / Labrador / etc … and looks like one does not mean that they are going to act like one!   Backyard breeders do nothing to preserve the temperaments that make each individual breed so well-loved by its aficionados

Personally, I am still surprised that the government continues to let those tax dollars slide through their fingers.    If Nova Scotia is so broke that only poor struggling banks can get assistance, would it not be wise to at least check this out?     Do the math?   Crunch the numbers?

What time is it?     It is always time to remember that any rules and regulations that promote animal welfare often do double duty by providing consumer protection  as well.

On recycling something that really counts

Earth Day is just around the corner!   After forty-six years, it is a well established tradition that encourages communities to consider their next best step.    Has it changed everything?   Of course not!   Like anything else in life, environmental concerns really only come in to play if they do not inconvenience folks unduly, eh?    At the end of the day, folks who want to drive the big honking truck home from their desk job, fire up the BBQ and tantalize the neighbourhood dogs with the sizzling aroma of several pounds of burgers / steak / sausages / etc  are not going to lose any sleep about climate change, eh?

Here in the maritimes, we have been adept at recycling and reusing for generations!   My mother used to save jars and empty bread bags.    Most of the flannel coated bearded boys around here are masters of the mechanical universe.    And of course, here in this yard, fallen brush finds new life in small animal refuges tucked away in corners of the yard and vegetable scraps are recycled as compost!

Reputable animal rescuers are … in my not so humble opinion …. wizards at recycling in a different way.     Under their watch, homeless dogs find a second chance at love in a suitable new home.

And before the keyboards catch on fire … suitable is the operative word here, eh?  Not to be mean, but there is nothing more damaging to the reputation of rescue than those groups who believe that ‘all is fair in love and war’.    Lets face it .. not every dog or cat will be well matched in every home.

Even worse,  there are some rescuers who believe that full disclosure of a pets history can hurt their chances of adoption.   No shit .. I have actually been told that in such a way as if it was a clever idea 😦

Saddest of all of course are the rescues that are either unwilling or unable to properly assess and evaluate every pet!    Really that is like playing Rescue Roulette and hoping that the bullet won’t go off every time somebody pulls the trigger.

But I am wandering afield as I am wont to do in my meandering way.   The point that I am trying to make today is that reputable rescuers really do recycle the very best bit … LIFE!     How do they do that?   By matching homeless pets with the right kind heart of course!

As a salute to Earth Day, I have complied a list of ten ways that everyone can help homeless pets:

  1. Share Nova Scotia Lost Dog Network listings on your social media favourite flavour of choice.    Every year this simple act helps reunite hundreds of homeless pets with the humans who already know and love them.   In other words, it prevents them from being misidentified as strays and saves all those rescue slots for genuinely homeless pets.
  2. Help kitties by asking to join Lost and Found Cats in Nova Scotia
  3. Volunteer with an established rescue or shelter!     To be perfectly blunt, spending some time learning the ropes before opening one’s own rescue can really cut down on the rookie mistakes that plague this province
  4. Find out about fostering.    Reputable rescues will never let you get in over your head.   Why do I say that?   Because seasoned rescuers require fosters to fill out applications and have home visits so that they are not paired up with a pet that could disrupt their own home, eh?
  5. Join Maritime Animal Transport and find out how to lend a hand to homeless pets in need of a ride to the vets / their new foster home/ their approved adopter / etc ….
  6. Support Animal Rescue Fundraisers.   Fun fact … every dollar raised goes directly to the animals, eh?
  7. Tell every politician who represents you at any level that animal welfare is important to you as a tax paying voter.  Special note for Canadians … soon the candidates will be making the rounds for the federal election.    Ask if they support changing the Criminal Code to recognize that a living breathing sentient being is not the same as a car or a washing machine … because of their capacity to feel pain and to suffer.
  8. Check your local rescue or shelter’s website for a wish list.   Some of the most helpful items they need would surprise you!
  9. Want to help hundreds of cats and dogs?     Sponsor the spay or neuter for one pet at your local rescue or shelter. … and last but not least
  10. The next time you are looking to enrich your life with a pet … ADOPT don’t SHOP!   Reach out to a reputable rescue for a Happy Tail that will last a lifetime!

What time is it?    It is always time to remember that while you are waiting for the big lotto win so you can open your own rescue, there are still ever so many real ways to help!

On digging for answers

I love watching the wild birds that flock to my yard!    That always seems to come as a surprise to the bird watching mafia … who cannot possibly find any affection for the cats that they claim are decimating the songbird population, eh?     Not to be mean, but none of the pussycats prowling around the bird feeders packed their own bags and left home, eh?

As long as people in the community keep tossing kitties away like trash,  there is no justification for demonizing a little pet for trying to survive.    As long as politicians sidestep around the simple fact that the only way to fix the cat overpopulation problem is to fix the cats,  humans who view birds as being more valuable than cats have not got a leg to stand on!

And as long as taxpayers view community cats like vermin … instead of demanding results from their elected officials … there is no reasonable hope that the same wildlife people who line up to watch bald eagles eat dead chickens will ever view cats in a more positive light.

As a sidebar note to that, wildlife advocates choose to overlook the simple  fact that artificially inflating one species population for tourism actually has a more negative effect on those little songbirds than the pussycats do!   Wot?    Really?    Well … the simple fact is that since the eagle population has expanded  upcountry, the eagles have displaced other raptors who in turn have kicked the smaller ones further down country.    These days it is rare to find a bird feeding station around here that is not haunted by the smaller … but deadly to songbirds .. .chickenhawks.  😦

But I am wandering afield as I often do in my meandering way.    The point I am trying to make today is that like any other bird lover, I have been very worried about the impact of so much spring snow on the ground on the little robins.   I have tried putting out chopped fruit … but the truth is for actual sustenance I expect there is nothing to replace ‘the real thing’

By that of course, I mean the worms that are the staple of a robins diet.   This morning when we were coming back from our hike, I found another dead robin in the lane 😦    Clearly the fruit really wasn’t helping 😦

So I got out my trusty Fiskar’s ergonomic gardening spade and went to work in my garden  …  and what an image THAT must have been for the neighbours, eh?    The short version is that after chipping away the thick icy crust and digging down through three feet of snow, there is now a promising patch of soft dirt for the robins that are left.

001a

It doesn’t look like much .. but with that good sun today it should spread out and become even more helpful 🙂      Note that I did not dig the sides straight … this is just a theory of mine but I expect that wild things want to be able to see if anything is lurking nearby, eh?

006a

What time is it?    It is always time to remember that sometimes small things can make a difference.

On the need for finding money in the kitty

doraandoscar

Folks who have followed this blog for a few years will remember Oscar and Dora’s story.    For those who haven’t,  six years ago, a little scrap of a feral kitten (Dora) showed up under my bird feeder in the deepest cold of winter … so thin and desperate looking I could not begrudge her the bird she had managed to take down.    Shortly after, a beat up and bedraggled Oscar showed up … likely because I had started feeding Dora to try to build a bit of trust.

The short version of this story turned out to be a Much Happier Tail than normally befalls abandoned kitties and their offspring.    Dora is now spayed.   Oscar actually turned out to be a neutered tom and not Dora’s mother as I had first thought.   Hey … in the absence of any hard evidence … wouldn’t you think those two pairs of bibs and boots had to be related?

Dora and Oscar may have been  the exception to the rule … but Dora’s mother and any siblings certainly were not.    It is quite possible that Dora’s mom was a stray, eh?   Was she tossed away like trash instead of getting spayed?   Or was she left to fend for herself when it was clear kittens were on the way?    It boggles any thinking mind that a country road well-travelled by gravel trucks could be seen as a humane option for a little pet.

By the time the next winter rolled around, Dora and Oscar were well settled in to their new lives here as indoor only cats.    They may not be social butterflies whenever company comes around, but they are happy and healthy and well-loved and safe.

But like I said .. their story is not typical.   In spite of the best and most heroic efforts of cat rescuers around the province,  there are just so many Very Unhappy Tails waiting for abandoned cats and kittens.    Out here we have hawks and eagles.    Coyotes and foxes.   There are no dinner dishes waiting on this road that is so well-traveled with neither street lights nor any active police supervision.   And saddest of all of course is that all too many humans still treat community cats like vermin instead of the casualties of human carelessness that they actually are.

Worst of all of course, is that in the absence of any public funding for their work, groups can only save as many cats as they can fundraise for 😦

On the uptick, the new regulations specifically state that it is now illegal to abandon a cat!     Of course the trick will be providing proof that will stand up in a court of law.    Like anything else in life, this law will only be a deterrent if it can actually be enforced.     Really … how many people would hop behind the wheel after Happy Hour if the RCMP did not diligently do everything in their power to prevent that?

What time is it?    It is way, way past time for our provincial government to provide meaningful support for the cat rescuers who are creating healthier and kinder and safer communities by providing clean up crew services.   And before the keyboards cat(ch) on fire .. if there is money to prop up the “poor destitute’ mink farmers … if blank checks are being written for ferry services … and if struggling big banks can get subsidies … then there is definitely money available for this!

Of course … it is also always time to remind your MLA’s that even if cats cannot vote … that you can!

PS …. if you do happen to see anyone abandoning a pet … please contact the SPCA Cruelty Line licketdy split.

Musing about missing links

I love balmy breaks in the weather like we had yesterday!     What is not to love?   There are no spring chickens here … so we ALL appreciate some warmth from the sun!    Even better,  that one warm day really dropped the level of the snow in the yard!   Best of all of course is that our little sneak preview also promised that spring might not be such a pipe dream after all!

Lets face it … none of us need to be a weatherman to see how the winds of climate change are blowing.     One of the fringe benefits of gardening is a real familiarity with how the seasons are unfolding.    And it is not just gardening, eh?    These days the rule book is being rewritten on any weather driven activity, eh?

What does that mean in realspeak?    Simply of course that if the goalposts are shifting, any successes will depend upon our ability to change.

That is as true with animal welfare as it is with anything else in life these days.     And before the keyboards catch on fire, yes I do know that generally in this province once a rescue slot is found for a homeless pet, he or she is usually safe.    And that SPCANS has been making huge strides from the days when so many cats and dogs were being killed in Cape Breton that trucks had to be hired to haul them away 😦

And yes … whether it is waved as a banner on the front door or simply part of policy … I also know that most rescues and shelters in this province think of themselves as No Kill.    Is that a bad thing?    Of course not!

So why … in the midst of all this … are we not at No Kill Nova Scotia yet?    Sadly, even with all this enthusiasm for No Kill, we are not even close to being in the ball park!    Wot?     With all that love for the animals?    What on earth is the hold up?

Animal control has traditionally had a different mandate than animal rescue.     AC’s have traditionally been charged with the responsibility of addressing ‘nuisance’ behaviours such as running at large and disturbing the neighbourhood peace.

Here in this province, not all animal control departments are created equal.    Truth be told, the only constant is that there is NO constant!    In a world where each and every municipality has made its own unique arrangements,  WHERE a pet is impounded can make a life and death difference!

Now this is where folks are going to want to start throwing things at their computer screen!     One of the biggest bones of contention in the animal rescue community is that homeless dogs are being brought in from away!    From high kill pounds in Quebec to high kill animal control departments in the southern states, kind hearts here are moved to save lives by bringing them into their rescues.

Why do they do this?    Are there absolutely no homeless dogs in need in this province?    Of course not!   On any given day, most rescues and shelters have waiting lists for a ‘room at the inn’.     Here in the real world, not everybody on those lists is going to be able to wait for their chance to become a Happy Tail!   Some will be abandoned.   Others will be taken to the vet to get the short end of the long needle.    And that does not even begin to cover the possible Unhappy Tails awaiting impounded animals in this province when the 72 hour hold time is up 😦

Deep down, most rescuers know that there are only a finite number of rescue slots and adopters here.     So why do they do this?    That answer is so simple a stump could understand!     They are moved by compassion and love!   Why?     When they know from experience that it is going to take more resources to rescue a dog hundreds and even thousands of miles away?   Why?

The short answer is that animal advocates from away are pulling out all the stops to save every life that they can.   Really they cannot be faulted for having discovered they can send dogs here.    Nor are they going to worry about any implications for local homeless or impounded dogs.    They are simply doing what they can for the dog in front of them.

And that is the missing link that we need to get to No Kill Nova Scotia.     Like I said … the only constant is that there is no constant.   In some areas, like Colchester County, Animal Control has a proactive relationship with a reputable rescue like The Animal Rescue Coalitions.    In the city, Homeward Bound City Pound just won another five year contract to provide sheltering services for Halifax  AC.   In other areas, such as here in Kings County,  the Kings Branch of  SPCANS has won the AC contract for the county.   And in other places, there is a dark veil of mystery shrouding all Animal Control activities in the area.

What is missing from this picture?    There are none of the death defying advocacy groups struggling to save every impounded animal in every county here!   None!    That is the missing piece of the puzzle.    It is why otherwise ethical rescuers have no qualms about bringing dogs in from away, eh?     In the absence of any accurate web presence defining dogs on death row in Nova Scotia, they are able to focus on the need that they CAN see, eh?

As a sidebar note to that, there ARE several small bits that the animal loving Liberal government could do to help.   At the risk of sounding like a stuck record,  it should be mandatory for every municipality to:

  • post easily accessible and clear AC statistics on their official website
  • post clear pictures of all impounded animals, along with the impound date and the end of hold period
  • and of course that all impounds other than dangerous dogs be available for transfer to rescue   ( as a sidebar note to THAT … any contractor being paid to provide sheltering services should follow in Homeward Bound City Pound’s footsteps and ensure that all animals transferred to rescue are altered, vaccinated and vet checked )

What time is it?    It is time for local animal advocates to put their heart into helping cats and dogs in their own AC departments to find better outcomes!    Perhaps then, kind hearts would understand that there is a lot of need right here in their own backyard!

 

Weighing the odds

These days I am paying very close attention to the play yard fence!  Even without getting out the measuring tape and level, I can see there will be some repairs needed in the fairly near future when things (hopefully) warm up!

Why would I say that?  Was it not properly built?   Of course it was!   But it is just a fact of life that winter is hard on everything!   To make matters worse, this year  has been long on consistently colder weather and very, very short on the balmy plus one days that we are normally used to 😦

The short version of all this is that … like the ones that it is built for … a play yard should never be taken for granted.   Fences need to be kept up.   Gates may need to be rehung.   And the page wire that is weighted down with snow will need to be tightened up.

Is it worth all the work to have a play yard?   You bet!    While it is no substitute for a walk, the dogs all love the liberty of being able to rummage around and … as we used to say in the sixties …  do their own thing!    In short .. it has been well worth the work for the enjoyment we all get out of it.

The operative word there of course being we.      And yes .. before the keyboards catch on fire … I know that there are plenty of  responsible dog owners who just open the door and let their dogs out in their fenced yards.     But here in the real world, that path is fraught with perils of all sizes.    I don’t know about you .. .but I prefer to be outside with my dogs when Jehovah’s Witnesses or children wander in the lane / the bald eagles are hunting / the coyotes are afoot / or even just if the evil sqwirrels are chittering on the other side of the fence!

People are much less likely to open the gate when there is a human in the yard!    Nor are dogs as likely to hop the fence in pursuit of wandering pussycats when there is a voice of reason close at hand.    Best of all of course is that this simple ounce of prevention is the best protection that I can provide against predators of all shapes and species.

Is it a chore to do this?   Of course not!   Why would I have dogs if I did not enjoy their company, eh?   It is really just frosting on the cake that being outside in the play yard also allows me to intervene and / or referee before anything gets out of hand.

Lets face it … there are no guarantees in life!   That being said, there ARE simply ever so many situations that can be prevented by one’s presence!      Not to be mean … but the odds of dogs being stolen or eaten by coyotes are radically reduced when there is an adult presence at hand!

What time is it?     It is always time to remember that our pets depend upon us to keep them safe.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.    Benjamin Franklin

A little bit of this and a little bit of that

I love blueberry tea with honey on a bitter cold day like this!   So hot and sweet and so full of promise that spring will soon bring us balmier days that are at least forty degrees warmer than it is this morning.    As a sidebar note to that … each and every silly soul on Facebook who is wishing for global warming should do enough homework to understand that more extreme weather like this IS global warming, eh?

But then Facebook is full of such foolishness!    People often don’t pay attention and ‘like’ posts meant to mourn the loss of a person or pet.     Even worse, heated debates can be pulled out of thin air and cause serious rifts in any online community.   Saddest of all of course is that often the adults are really not setting any sort of social networking role model for their children.

Yet for all their warts and wrinkles …  sites like Facebook and Twitter have changed the fabric of everyday life.     At their best they keep us more aware and informed in a more immediate way that was utterly unheard of when I was a young adult.      There is no question that these sites have opened  up new lifesaving animal rescue possibilities.    They have allowed our favourite astronaut to inspire us by sharing an intimate view of our world from space.

In other words …  not even the sky is the limit anymore!     But .. here in the real world the old adage about all that glitters also holds true.    What does that mean in realspeak?    Simply that one still has to sort the wheat from the chaff.

And nowhere is that more important than in the animal loving community!     Not all dog trainers / dog food diets / breeders / rescues / etc  are created equal.     Why is that important?     Because at their core … all of these services are being provided for living, breathing sentient beings … not things!

More importantly … at least in this province … most of these services are not actually all that regulated.    Yes … business books can be audited and yes … retail premises may be inspected for cleanliness.    But as of this writing, there is nothing to stop any pet store from selling shock collars over the counter.    Trainers that use “results based” methods are not required to explain the nitty-gritty of fear based training to their customers.

And not even the best packaging can guarantee that any sort of food might actually be GOOD for the pet that you are trying to take good care of.

Should these things be regulated?     You bet!    And in time they will be .. but right here right now it is still buyer beware!     So how is a kind heart to know what to do?   What trainer to pick?  What diet to feed?    What protocols to follow?

That answer is so simple a stump could understand!   Start with the premise that pets are companion animal who will hopefully share our lives for years and years.     Really … everything else simply flows from that!     Would you bully a friend into submission?    Take away their spirit with a shock collar?    Would you hurt a friend with a prong collar when there are better and kinder harness options out there?    Would you let a human child go to classes without talking to other parents and checking out the program?

And would you ever in half a hundred years expect to have a healthy pet by shopping for their food in the bargain bins?    Without ever checking the dog food ratings?     Without investigating the options?

After all … it is not as if there are no options to choose from in this province!    We are lucky to have effective positive dog trainers such as Sylvia Jay and Jane Smith .     Although places like Pet Valu still sell shock collars to one and all, there are plenty of pet supply stores that carry good harnesses and good food.    Gosh … we even have the incredible resource of Planet Paws to help kind hearts on the right nutritional path for their best friend!

How does one find the right trainer / breeder / rescue / pet supply store or any other pet related service?    Really there is no magic formula .. but if you start with the premise that you do not want to hurt the ones you love, you will at least be on the right path.