Category Archives: Animals

Island Dogs

Island Petwear sign, Gateway Village PEIOn our recent trip to PEI, we stopped to get our bearings in Gateway Village at Borden-Carleton, just off the bridge.  Walking around, saw a pet store with an open sign. That’s all the dogs and I needed.  In we went to Island Petwear.

Proprietor Margaret Wedge and her assistant were unpacking.  They Leo wearing PEI tartan scarfhad just returned from a dog show in Charlottetown.  But they were happy to show us around their store and make a fuss over the dogs.

If you’re in the market for some winter clothes for your pooch, you’d love Island Petwear.  If you live nearby, you can do one-stop Christmas shopping for all the dogs on your list.   Coats, beds, leashes, toys and food.  If you’re not close, visit their Facebook page.

Red leather dog coatLeo and Charlie had a great time, sniffing around, looking at the toys and asking for treats.  Then I started trying clothes on them.  Leo, at least, enjoyed it and I’d have loved to buy this beautiful red leather and faux-fur number for him. But we were traveling light and he didn’t actually need a new coat. Charlie did, so he got a reversible flannel hand-made wrap-around jacket.

reversible dog coatLovely dog coats, made by Margaret with beautiful craftsmanship and design.  And if you want your dog to show support for the ‘underdog’, there are Toronto Maple Leaf sweaters (as well as other teams).

If I lived in PEI, I’d be a regular at Island Petwear.  Nice store, products and people – what more could you ask for.  Our stop made a Margaret Wedge, prop. Island Petwearfun beginning for a very pet-friendly vacation in PEI. Absolutely no problem at any motel about the dogs staying.  Also lots of coastline and woods for long walks and runs.  The dogs had a great time, and so did we.

 

Luanne Demers, Founding President

It was with much sorrow that we learned of the passing of a lovely Luanne Demers and Katie, from Facebookwoman – our friend and founder of STDOA Luanne Demers. Luanne died of cancer, too young, this past weekend.

Those of us on the executive of the STDOA met Luanne three years ago when she began bringing her dogs, Lab crosses named Katie and Buddy, to play with our dogs. I remember her watching Katie and Buddy wrestling with each other and anyone that would play, and saying “what we need in town is a proper dog park”. The response of some, like me, was “yeah, like that’s going to happen! Been tried, hasn’t worked.” She said, “well, it’s gonna happen this time.”

And it did. She organized us in a group, which was about as easy to do as organizing wound-up dogs when it’s time to go home – as in, not! Luanne at left ribbon cutting at Lions Club Dog Park May 2010She quietly but efficiently had us establish a committee, approach council, look for suitable land, and lobby for permission and funds. Never heavy-handed, never raising her voice, never complaining. Just getting it done and getting you to do it without even realizing it was getting done.

Dog-lover, mother and worker

All the while, she and we knew about the cancer. She was a mother and a worker. She appeared on a Dec. 2008 CTV W5 news documentary about hard times in St. Thomas, talking about employment searching in a bad economy. She told her story, and that of so many in our area, clearly and dispassionately. She didn’t ask you to feel sorry for her. All she asked was just to listen to what she was saying about the need for work.

Luanne with Lab puppySimilarly, with the dog park, she just asked that all residents – City Council, non-dog owners and dog owners alike – listen to why a dog park was needed. And she succeeded. We got a dog park and an ongoing group committed to the welfare of dogs. I don’t think we would have done so without her.

Luanne officially stepped down as president of STDOA in mid 2010. She needed to focus on her own life and family. We missed her then, and we still do. I will never forget her lovely smile and her laugh as she watched those silly dogs of hers roll and tumble and chase each other. It was impossible to not smile yourself just looking at her.

Note: This was first published on my St. Thomas Dog Blog. With it no longer online, I have moved it here but kept the original posting date. I still think of Luanne and miss her.

Hickstead

Canadian athletics and the world of show jumping lost a superstar last Sunday.  The great Hickstead died during competition in Verona, Italy November 6th at age 15.  His big heart just gave out it seems.

Hickstead 2006 Capital Classic-wikicommons-222fjbHe and rider Eric Lamaze became heroes of Canadian sport, even for those not interested in show jumping.  Especially after they won individual gold and team silver for Canada in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, everyone knew their names.

Both of them fought great odds and have the kind of rags to riches stories that we all love.  Hickstead was a small horse by show jumper standards, but he put every ounce of determination he had into every jump.  He was a joy to watch, back hooves stretched behind him as he cleared fences and water jumps.

Horse Superstar

To those too young to remember Ian Millar’s Big Ben, Hickstead is the epitome of show jumping beauty.  To those of us who watched Big Ben jump, even if we were only watching him on television, Hickstead became a worthy successor to that big beautiful horse.  And Eric Lamaze has joined Captain Canada himself, Ian Millar, as horsemen we admire and are proud to call our own.

Hickstead made me cry many times.  Watching him fly way over fences, seeing the Hickstead jumping at 2008 Olympics - horse superstarexpanse of air between him and the obstacle.  Crying with happiness that he did it and crying in awe of his beauty.  Tears of relief when he’d complete a round safely and with no faults.  Crying at the pride on his face and on Eric’s when they’d finish, and the obvious connection between the two of them.  Then last Sunday, hearing the news of his death and crying for the loss of such a great horse.

He was getting up in years for what he was doing and Eric was aware of that, not over-pushing him and saving his strength.  He also wasn’t planning to retire him and I’m glad for that.  Hickstead clearly loved jumping.  He died doing what he loved.  We should all be so lucky.  Goodbye, Hickstead.  Watching you gave me great joy.

Sussex NB Dog Park

In Sussex, New Brunswick, when the first snow of the season hit. trail to Sussex dog parkBeautiful weather the past few days, then bam – rain, snow and high winds. Not as bad as New England got it, where we had just been, but still very cold. Not a day for the dog park.

But, having been told by my brother that there was one, I wanted to see it. So off Leo, Charlie and I went. We found it at the edge of the industrial section, at the end of a road with a hiking trail alongside it. Snow covered the sign so I couldn’t see what it said.

dog park Sussex New BrunswickIt was wet and windy on the top of that hill. Nobody else was there this Sunday afternoon. If I’d asked Charlie his opinion, he’d have said “and you’re surprised?” He and Leo ran around for about 10 minutes then Charlie stood at the entrance. Clearly, it was time to go.

It’s maybe an acre, about the size of a small ball diamond, enclosed two dogs going through entrance Sussex NB dog parkwith orange plastic snowfencing. The gate is a chute which turns at a right angle, then there’s a flap of fencing you can fasten to block it off. Quite ingenious and easy to do. A dog determined to get out could, by jumping the fence or pawing at the gate  But it’s not like you’re putting your dog out to pasture at the dog park so the fencing would be fine.

Part of Sussex hiking trails

The hiking trail that passes the dog park hooks into a main trail that goes along the river right through town. Apparently it too is lovely. Wet dogs back in carToday was not the day for us to find out. But I’m glad we went to the dog park. I’d like to see it on a nice day.  The view is superb.

And it was clean! Snow or no snow, my Leo can sniff out dog poop. And he only found one lot (sniffed it and ran on). That’s impressive in any field, I think.

The Sussex “Bark Park” is at the end of McLeod Dr., off Leonard Dr., in Sussex.

 

Elsie 1997-2011

Elsie Rose died yesterday, Sept. 1st, peacefully with her family beside her. She is buried at Sandy Ridge Pet Cemetery in Eden. She is mourned.  This was written last Sunday.

Elsie in car, Sept 1/11I’m writing this when I’ve realized Elsie is in pain. It’s time to phone the vet, time for her to go peacefully. She wants to, I think, but I don’t want her to.

She arrived around my house in May fourteen years ago, a month after my old cat had died. I wasn’t looking for another one. But there she was, still kittenish, but past the fluffball stage. About 5 months old, the age of coming into first heat. And she did, in my back yard. Every tom in the area camped out there too.

She wouldn’t come near me, but one night she was in the narrow lane between houses and I caught her. She had a flea collar on, so she belonged somewhere. But no response to posters I put up. I’d been planning to leave Newfoundland. One new cat was more than enough. Kittens?  No. So a quick trip to the vet.

Elsie hanging out Outer Battery house window, St. John's 1998Another cat, Spam, spent a lot of time at my house and hated her. Twice her size, he attacked and beat her unmercifully. My vet said let them sort it out.  Interfering will just make it worse. So I tried.  It didn’t get any better. Even my next-door neighbour who did not like cats came over one day to try to save poor Elsie.

I knew why he hated other cats: my previous cat Cedric had made his life a living hell when he was a kitten. So he learned from her to hate other cats. Cedric, in her turn, had been found wandering and, in her first new home, their cat bullied and terrorized her. The cycle of violence perpetuates itself, and I thought for sure it would with Elsie after what she endured from Spam.

Accepting, adaptable Elsie

But in Elsie, nature overcame nurture. She is willing to accept any person or animal – even cats. Never did she let bad experiences with an individual affect her treatment of others. She likes and dislikes based on the individual alone, not her preconceptions of them. That, in my experience, is almost as rare in a cat as it is in a person.

I stayed another year in St. John’s after getting Elsie and acquired a pup in need of a home. She was fine with him. She told him at the outset to mind his manners, and he did.

Then we moved to Ontario. She traveled easily, just zoned out in a Zen state in her carrier. She adjusted to new surroundings and to Elsie's 10th birthday notice 2007 St. Thomas Times Journalbecoming an indoor only cat. My dad, not a cat person, loved her. He played yoyo with her for hours – dangling the string for her to bat and chase. When she’d escape outside, he could get her in with the yoyo string. She fell for it every time.

She is my last living connection with St. John’s. Jack has been gone three and a half years and now it’s her turn. My lady cat, Elsie Rose.

 

Pawlooza: Rescue me!

Pawlooza last Saturday in London Ont was great.  So many people and dogs!  Other pug having a rest at STDOA booth on rescue rowthan a bit of a walk-around, I hardly saw anything of it other than our St. Thomas Dog Owners booth in Rescue Row.  But the world comes by one’s booth, I found.

We didn’t take Leo and Charlie.  Charlie likes a party, but gets bored and cranky quickly.  Leo gets very enthusiastic at parties!  While I felt a bit ‘odd man out’ without dogs, I found our booth provided a haven for dogs who wanted a little quiet time.

Touring Rescue Row

Next to us was the Chinese Crested rescue.  They had several of these dogs with hairless bodies and long plumes on head and tail.  I Chinese Crested from Crest Care rescueoverheard them telling stories of their dogs to people flipping through photo albums.  Horrific stories.  One dog was left in the house, locked in, after the people moved away.  Fortunately, someone suspected that she was in there, and she was saved.

Why, I thought, would someone leave a dog like that?  Any dog, but one of these?  These aren’t dogs you see notices tacked up for, saying “free puppies.”  You have to go to a lot of trouble and expense to get one.  So why would you then just walk away?

A magnificent black Standard Poodle across the aisle.  A St. John Ambulance therapy dog now, he’d been taken from what sounds like an unbalanced hoarder.  The man who rescued him had been looking for a Giant Schnauzer.  He’d had them for years, but this Poodles at Pawloozatime he wound up with a giant Poodle.

He said Giant Schnauzers end up in rescue care because people get them as puppies and then are surprised at how big they get, how much care their coats take and don’t want to be bothered.  But how can that happen?  Doesn’t the “Giant” in their name give you the tip off that this is going to be a big dog?  They also are expensive pups.  He said it’s easy to pay $4,000 for one.  You would lay out money like that and not realize that it’s going to be a big dog and that rough beautiful coat requires a lot of brushing and clipping?

Why so many?

I passed by Friendly Giants Rescue on my one tour.  A St. Bernard was lolling around, hoping for a home I guess.  Sure, there are legitimate, even heartbreaking, stories of why someone has to give up their dog.  But so many of them?

Do people get them as status symbols?  Be the first on your block to have a hairless dog.  Then you realize there is upkeep and expense particular to that breed and it’s too much bother?  Or you saw the movie Beethoven and thought how much fun it would be having a St. Bernard living with you? And you forgot you’re already cramped in your tiny apartment?

Yorkies trying on coats at STDOA boothI am so glad the rescue people are around, both for specific breeds and just for regular old dogs.  Without them, I don’t know what would happen to these poor creatures.  A woman at Boston Terrier Rescue told me a lady had made an 8-hour drive to Pawlooza, just to look for a dog at their booth.  I hope she found one.

Show Jumper

Coming up fast to the fence, feeling the muscles gather beneath you, crouching low over Ian-Millar-and-In-Style,-winners-of-WEF-Challenge-Cup-Round-7the horse’s neck, then springboarding into the air. Sailing over the rail, touching down on the other side, horse and you regaining balance and cantering on. The exhilaration of flying. One time I did this.

I had no business jumping, in fact had no plans to. I was taking English riding lessons at a large stable. Lessons consisted of riding around in small circles, learning balance and control. I liked it; just being on a horse’s back was enough for me. I had many different teachers, all young women who had ridden since they could walk. The horse was often different too. They wanted you to learn to ride any horse.

One week, only one teacher was there. The others were at a show or something. She had never taught me before. Maybe she was bored, tired of watching incompetent people ride in circles or, with it just being two of us, felt like having some fun. She said, “do you feel like jumping?” I stared open-mouthed and said “I don’t know how to do that.” She shrugged and said “up to you.” I said ok. I’d never ridden that horse before either. He was a good choice. He knew what he was doing.

Jumping

Show jumping sequence over fence, DelawareI was like a floppy sack of potatoes on his back on the first jump. I’d chickened out several times leading up to that; getting to the jump, then losing my nerve and pulling him up. I daresay he was fed up with me and probably as surprised as I was when, finally, I let him keep going.

I remember the power surge as he prepared to jump. But I don’t remember the actual jump. I closed my eyes to keep my heart from stopping. I reopened them when we landed on the other side, both of us in one piece and me still on his back.

Then I wanted to do it again. That time was perfect. I made myself keep my eyes open 2008 Olympics poster, Eric Lamaze and Hicksteadand experience it. Riding Pegasus. It was bliss. I was Ian Millar and Eric Lamaze rolled into one.

Third time, I unbalanced myself. He jumped straight, but I came off to the left. He circled around and stood looking at me. My teacher thought maybe that should be the end of my lesson for the day. So I got back up on him – always get back on the horse – and rode around a bit.

After the Jump

I took him to the barn, took his tack off and groomed him. Then I went to my car. Standing beside it, I had no idea where I was. The barn didn’t look familiar and I didn’t know how I got there, or why. After a few minutes of concentrated thought, I remembered my lesson, the jumps and the fall.

The next week, I had a familiar teacher. She didn’t mention jumping and I didn’t tell her about the week before. I kept taking lessons, but never jumped again. My time as Captain Canada was over. But it was worth every second of terror and the concussion to fly that one time.

Dear Cat Dumper

To the person who dumped a grey tiger and white male neutered cat at Waterworks Parks on or before July 4, 2011:

cat dumper - Poster for found catHe’s doing well, considering.  He misses you and his own bed and routine.  He spends a lot of time in the garage.  It’s where he feels safest, I guess.  It was where he stayed that first night with us, a place to let him adjust.

At the time, I thought it would be only a day or two of strangeness for him.  I thought you’d contact us as soon as you saw the ads and posters.  A well-looked-after cat like him must have people missing him, I thought.  A couple people did call, hoping he was their lost cat.  But he wasn’t.

He’s been dewormed and vaccinated.  He probably already was, but we couldn’t risk it.  His vet bill is $191 and he needs booster shots.  Thank heavens you had him neutered.

Wally on chair in kitchenHe’s a funny cat, loves to bat cat toys around.  Loves catnip. He has no fear of dogs or of people he doesn’t know. He’s very well adjusted, pretty much the perfect cat.

He prefers canned food.  When we found him at the park, he happily chowed down the cat kibble we had with us.  Then, belly full, he went “mmpff” to kibble and demanded canned food.  So that’s what he gets.

The vet thinks he lost a lot of weight fast.  His skin is loose, as if it used to cover a larger body.  And he’s terrified of the sound of rain.  Those things make me think he was wandering on his own for longer than I’d thought.

Our Wally now

Wally lying on stairsHis name is Wally now and he answers to it.  Maybe you or your kids called him Tigger or Sox for his white feet.  He loves to sprawl across laps and hug up close in your arms – but I guess you already know that.

So he’s ours now.  Just one request:  please don’t replace him with another kitten or puppy until you’re prepared to make a commitment that lasts as long as that animal’s life.  I can’t take another of your pets when you don’t want them anymore.

The next one I find will make a quick trip to the vet to be euthanized if I can’t find another home quickly.  I won’t take him or her to the pound or shelters.  Why?  There aren’t enough homes for all the cats Wally on couch in front of laptopand kittens, dogs and puppies dumped and produced by irresponsible people.

Caring for your pet in the pound costs a lot of money.  City employees get good wages and benefits to scoop litter boxes and put out kibble.  Rescue volunteers do it for free.  But how much labour and money are they expected to give to look after pets that people like you can’t be bothered with anymore?

I too do it for free.  But I’ve reached my limit so, remember, the next dumped animal I find gets a one-way trip to the vet.  It’s a kinder death than the starvation you consigned Wally to.

If you think he is your missing cat, please accept my apologies and contact me!

(From my St. Thomas Dog Blog. See Waterworks Cat for his backstory.)

Waterworks Cat

I’d planned to write something about this past week’s national birthdays but I’ve been Waterworks cat Wally rolling on floor, July 4thbusy – dealing with someone else’s problem, I think.  We have a new cat.  We didn’t seek him out, didn’t want a new cat.  But he’s here and my hope that he will return to his real home is fading fast.

Monday evening he was wandering the parking lot at Waterworks Park, meowing.   People said he’d been there for an hour or so.  He came right up to us, purr-purr and headrubs. Dark was coming, what are you going to do?

Put him in the car, stopped at a nearby variety store.  Nope, he didn’t look familiar and nobody asking about him.  So he’s been in our garage, slowly venturing into the house.  Our nasty cat hisses and spits at him.

Posters up in Waterworks area

Wally on stairwayPosters are up, ads are placed.  If someone has lost their pet, I hope they find us.  And he definitely is a pet cat.  He’s neutered, he’s not starving, he looks healthy, and he loves cuddling on laps and being petted.

But he’s been here two whole days now.  If I lost my cat, I’d be beating the bushes, going door to door – I’d call in the police if I thought I could.  Maybe someone is doing that and just hasn’t found us yet,  so please accept my apology for what I am about to say.

If this cat no longer fits in your plans or if you thought you could help solve a difficulty by dumping him, thanks for giving us your problem.  If you drove him to the park thinking “somebody will take him in and give him a good home”, thanks for disrupting our lives for two days so far.

Yes, we did take him.  A crying cat alone in a public place with no houses near by, almost dark.  What kind of person wouldn’t?  The people there were all concerned about him, and I could see the looks of relief when they realized a sucker was there willing to take him.  Lucky them!

Vet check needed because we don’t know

So he’s now being treated for parasites – no evidence of any, but just as a precaution old cat watches new catbecause I don’t know anything about his history.  If he isn’t claimed soon, he’ll have to get vaccinations.  He might be up to date on them but, again, I don’t know.

So, I have a request for anyone planning to dump their pet for someone else to look after. Spend one last dollar and buy a collar.  Attach a note with information on vaccinations, age and medical history.  If you want me or some “nice person” to clean up your mess, that’s the least you can do.  We’re paying money to do preventive vet care that may not be needed.

Again I apologize if someone is frantically looking for him.  Please contact me if he’s your cat.  We like him, are calling him Wally, but would love to see him reunited with his people.

Here’s a July 29th update on Wally – still with us!

In Memoriam: Mya

Last night a friend called.  She and her husband had to put their lovely young dog to Doberman Pinscher Myasleep.  Mya, a beautiful Doberman Pinscher.  On Saturday, she was ill and her vet diagnosed her with Dilated Cardiomyopathy.  They were familiar with this heart disease, a congestive failure too common in Dobermans.  They knew it meant probably only months left of life.  But with Mya it went blazingly fast.  By Tuesday, she was so sick and tests showed nothing could be done.  So they did the only humane thing they could.

The Doberman they’d had before, Sasha, also developed it.  They took her to the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph and found out that it’s a common congenital problem for several breeds of large dogs, but especially prevalent in Dobermans.  It usually hits anywhere between 2 and 6 years of age.  Perhaps Dobes are more prone to it because of their huge chests and huge hearts.  Both Sasha and Mya had big hearts and loved their people and their friends, both dog and human, deeply.

Doberman research at U of Guelph

The disease progressed in Sasha quite rapidly, but slowly compared to Mya.  Sasha became part of a research experiment at the OVC in Guelph.  A doctor wanted to find out why this disease is so prevalent in Dobes and can it be eradicated.  After a few months of living with it, Sasha succumbed to it.

My dog Jack missed Sasha; they were best friends.  We’d go to the park he usually met her at, and he’d watch the road.  Every truck that sounded like hers would cause him to run to the fence, looking and hoping.  Jack never got to know Mya.  He was getting old and sick himself, and Mya was a very rambunctious puppy.

My new dogs, after Jack passed away, became friends with the young adult Mya.  She was much bigger than either of them, but they played and chased each other.  They’d just hang out together and go to whomever they thought might have treats and mooch.  Mya’s long, pointed nose would push into your pocket to see what you had.

We ran into her just last Friday evening, along with several others of Mya’s good friends.  So she had a fine time, running and wrestling.  That was her last run, but it was a good one.

When your house is too quiet

Last night, petting the cats lying beside me, I thought of how quiet Mya’s house must dogs wearing poppiesseem without her there.  She was an only pet.  It would be different for me, I thought, if one died there are others.  There still would be the life sounds of 4-footed creatures.  But then I remembered when Jack died and, soon after, a cat Henry.  With both of them, there was a huge hole in the house.  A void felt by humans and other cats alike.  New ones come along and make their own place in heart and household, but the memory and loss of the ones who are gone remain.

You will be remembered, Mya, and you are loved.  Rest in peace, beautiful girl. Feb. 6, 2007 – June 28, 2011