Category Archives: animals

Suspicious Minds

You know that the world’s going to Hades in a hand basket when a sad story, such as the one broadcast all over mainstream media today, leaves people feeling so mixed up. Or is it just me? A woman in Nova Scotia drowned a couple of kittens last summer and got fined $5.00 for it in court today. Yeah, yeah…this initial ‘teaser’ lead bit on the radio leaves you thinking…”You crazy, sadistic b..tch! They should drown YOU”. Then, you hear the sad flip-side of the story; she fed a stray cat, fed it some more (The Cat Came Back is the song that comes to mind- Harry S. Miller 1893), and bing, bang…she’s got one cat+2 kittens… She’s poor, can’t get help from her town’s officials, and decides to euthanize the kitties in a bucket. Groan. Of course, Suspicious Minds (written by Memphis songwriter, Mark James and the last #1 hit for Elvis Presley in 1969- his last) like mine ask, ‘What cat has only two kittens’!? Maybe she lied about THAT too…and actually drowned a litter of 14. Not that it matters much, they’re all dead, regardless. But NOW, the SPCA is crying foul. They want “BIG FINES AND JAIL TIME”! said their head mouthpiece with emotion. My question? Where were you guys when this nutty, albeit well intentioned stray-cat-feeding woman was busy phoning around, trying to find someone to off the felines? Sure, “dangerous precedents are being set”, yada, yada, but NOW you’re worried that everyone is going to think it’s OK to euthanize Fluffo ’cause it’ll only cost five bucks instead of the usual $179.00 at the vet? Sigh. Then, the legal beagle for this woman (gotta be legal aid lawyer) said a bunch of really stupid things (he compared his client’s action against that of the person “who hanged that dog in Point Pleasant Park” …I can do without hearing that sort of thing). It did not endear me to the situation or to this woman…still…she’s poor…she loves the animals…a regular Doctor Doolittle ….who simply done too much. “We’re caught in a trap….”

Hiatus

I have written this blog (and 236 others, two of which were deleted…why did  I do that?!) for just under one year. Some 20,500 people have dropped in to date. I am currently involved in a writing project (very interesting stuff which I’m sure you will all want to pay big bucks for…or not). That’s the good news. The bad news, for some, is that I am taking a temporary break from blogging. Others may see this as cause for celebration (the crass, reactionary types). Regardless, I am outta here for a time, but like MacArthur (or was it some other dude?)  said, “I shall return”. Thanks to all the regular readers, the web drifters, and especially to those who have taken the time to send comments (except perhaps, the demento types who really seem to have a loose grasp of reality and lack social decorum).

Opal, my long-suffering (that’s just an expression!) guide dog bids you adieu for now too. She says to tell you that she will update you personally on the progress I make with my writing  project (literary pimp, that she is). It just wouldn’t seem right to go on blog holiday without one more pop-culture reference all wrapped up into a piece of wise advice:  “Stay calm, be brave, and wait for the signs”- (from the Dead Dog Cafe gang on CBC Radio),

Dr. Opal

I awoke yesterday with a massive chest cold. (my mom would have said, “Tu as coucher les fesses a l’aire” -translation: “you slept bare-bummed”. Maybe so, but Christmas Eve with my sweetie was worth it. All through the wee hours last night, I coughed, railed and hacked gobs of… well, never mind. At six AM this morning  when Opal woke up, she jumped on my bed and proceeded to give me an intense  45 to 60 – second breathalyzer test. She stuck her shnozz next to my lips and carefully sniffed the odours  (not too pleasant, I imagine) emerging from my mouth. Then, she promptly lay down beside me, head hung over my legs,  until I could get up an hour later. Clearly Doctor Opal diagnosed something not very healthy and decided to cut me some slack. She continued to request samples of my halitosis throughout the day. She must have thought I was insane when I saddled her up and said, “Come on, puppet, we’re going to Sobey’s to buy some honey”. We got there and back with barely any commands being uttered and moving quite slow. I spent most of the remainder of the day wrapped in my authentic Hudson’s Bay wool ‘point blanket’ with Opal and Lucy both settling over me like poultices. Thanks girls. You really know how to take care of your mum. What better nursemaids can a gal have?

Hey Butthead!

Thanks a lot buddy. Yeah you, the nameless smoker who flicked your LIT cigarette butt into the air by the Walmart entrance today. Yeah, I realize it was cold out and you were caging that smoke as long as possible before entering the insanity that is Wally World two days before Christmas.  Plus you couldn’t be bothered disposing of the disgusting dregs of your addiction properly, like in a receptacle, oh no, you had to toss that flaming fag, without glancing where it might land, like ONTO MY GUIDE DOG, Opal! That explains why she became startled… I had no clue.  I thought it was the foot traffic making her nervous, until someone told me what happened, expressing their outrage about it to me, long after you had blown into the store while exhaling the smoke from your last drag (into somebody’s face, no doubt).  I bet you’ve started a forest fire or two in your day, huh? You’re the kinda dope that tosses butts (and beer cans) out the car window as you speed down the road. Sheesh! Here’s my Wise Advice for you. Give them up for New Year’s, you creep. Get the patch! Arm yourself with mints and toothpicks. Sign up for support groups, acupuncture, psychoanalysis…but give me a break and leave my dog out of your pathetic path of destruction. And hey! quit smoking and you’ll start to feel better, smell better and sound better. The extra bonus for the rest of us is that you will decrease your share of the smokers

burden on the health care system.

From Rant to Rescue…to Remembering

I was about to blog a rant, entitled, “Canadian Tire is Uninspired”… (a rhyming title and a rant to boot). Actually, it was going to be a rant ABOUT boots, or the lack of the allegedly “on sale” boots that appeared in the  Canadian Tire flyer this week. With aching feet,  bad boots in my closet,  and a Canadian Tire gift certificate to put towards anything my heart desires, I thought my problem was near resolution. Yes, I would head into the Christmas shopping fray at CT and buy those puppies for my sore dogs. My sweetie, ever the pragmatist (and maybe not so willing to go into the fray with me), suggested that I check their web site or call ahead to check on availability of my size. ‘Good idea’, I concurred. I entered the item code number into the Canadian Tire web site and yielded nothing except messages to ‘contact store for more information’.  Then I dialed and dialed my phone some more, waiting on hold forever and finally talking to frantic staff people immersed in bedlam over in the Canadian Tire stores throughout Halifax. I thought one guy at the Spryfield Canadian Tire was having a breakdown. Lucky for me I have ‘Crisis phone line’ training and could talk him down from his  counter top. Two hours later, I was back on the phone with the sweetie to announce  “Canadian Tire is lying to me. There is not one store location in town with ANY of those boots in any size. They never had them to begin with. Those shysters just want us to get us into the store to impulse shop…’cause they know we would. What happened to the Canadian institution of my childhood? The one with the catalogues (just the right size)  I would strap to my knees in lieu of real hockey pads ’cause we couldn’t afford the ones they sold in their store? (catalogue about to axed from publication) The ones who gave you Canadian Tire ‘money’ with every cash purchase? (about to be relegated to memorabilia collections too).” Sigh. The boot search continues.

I never got to that sole rant of a blog. Why? This morning I got the Warm ‘n Fuzzy Christmas feeling, not from any success in my search for affordable boots, but from two news items I heard on CBC radio. Very simple. First, a  rescue dog called Ace, found a Hamilton woman, lost for THREE days,  buried in in a pile of snow, ALIVE.  She should have been dead. CBC found the story and put the ‘miracle’ tag on, just in the Saint Nick of time. Good job, Ace! 

This was followed by a moving tribute (given by Jane Kansas) about  a local homeless man, ‘Terry’ who died over the weekend at age 65. He was a colourful Halifax fixture, know as an eccentric, often irritatingly in-your-face kinda guy who could cry crocodile tears on cue if you were ‘nice’ to him, or dismiss you if you had no money or smokes to offer.   The man was an alcoholic and suffered from schizophrenia. He wore dapper suits and sports jackets to panhandle, albeit dirty ones. His death is not the happy note here. The fact that his tribute made it to mainstream media IS. This guy’s passing  could easily have gone unnoticed. If we can’t take care of our unfortunate citizens, we can at least mark their passing.

Yesterday, a memorial service was held at St. Georges Round Church to honour the lives of people who have lived and died homeless and in poverty.  Perhaps more people could make it a point to attend this yearly service in future.

Do Guide Dogs Misbehave?

Short answer to this question? Yes, of course! They’re dogs, just dogs with special training. All dogs will misbehave, given the opportunity (and all you people with allegedly ‘perfect pooches’ need to rethink that plan to nominate your canine for sainthood!)

I must say that I get a lot of comments from people (bus and taxi drivers, store keepers, hospital staff etc.) who remark that Opal is a very well behaved dog. I would agree, given what I’ve heard about other guide dogs, much to my surprise and horror.  Sure, Opal has been known to lick women’s bare feet in public when I’m not paying attention.  Her passion for soft and fuzzy things has overwhelmed her more than once too; she stole a ladies gloves off a seat at the ferry terminal once, and she has tried to boost a stuffed animal or two from Walmart’s and other stores. Ok, so maybe she has also shredded a basket  (‘off the job’) and torn several pairs of my panties into confetti. At least I caught up with her when she tried to destroy my bra, in time to rescue it. See a pattern here? Oral fixation…jaws and tongue in action? Like many labs, she loves to carry stuff. The first thing she does when  her ‘saddle’ (harness) comes off at home, is to pick up the nearest object that will fit in her mouth and run like a dog possessed.

I have said this more than once: Dogs are a lot like kids. They are opportunistic.  They need good structure, routine  and enforced rules in order to behave like good dogs. I think that most of the stories I hear from cab and bus drivers about guide dogs jumping around, barking, annoying the driver or passengers (!!!!) in their vehicles, is not about a ‘guide dog being bad’.  Nope. It’s about a handler that does not ‘sort their dog out’. These are the handlers that give the rest of us a bad name by allowing the public to develop a negative impression of guide dogs. I have been at functions with other people who had guide dogs, in one instance, 35 blind people and handlers. All  were relatively very well behaved (even the people). I have also been at meetings, and parties where only one other guide dog and handler were present, where  I became irritated beyond belief (the handler irritated ME, the dog irritated Opal), ’cause the handler was asleep at the switch and not paying attention to, or doing anything about his wandering and misbehaving dog.

The off-duty guide dog will eat that chocolate birthday cake, those half dozen blueberry muffins (low fat), the marinating steaks etc. IF THEY HAVE OPPORTUNITY. They will bother your guests, demand attention, ‘act out’, just like small children, unless you enforce the rules which YOU  create, consistently. It makes them feel more secure to know who is leader of the pack (or parent). It is  really about ensuring that they do not have opportunity, and preempting the food theft, destruction of property, annoyance of guests etc, BEFORE IT CAN OCCUR. Put your stuff away! (like my panties which should not be lying on the floor next to the hamper). Put your foot down  firmly (but do not carry a big stick!–be kind and fair to your dog).

Opal, a UU-Spirited Dog

Two of my favourite things to talk about (and I do so incessantly), are Opal and my church, the Universalist Unitarian Church of Halifax. When I have a reason and opportunity to combine both in one conversation or text, my life seems very sweet indeed.

I’ve been under the blogospheric weather for a few days, but only because I have been busy….mostly singing. Last night, the UU church of Halifax held its rescheduled ‘gospel sing-along’ evening. What does this mean? Yes, of course, a bunch of  white folk singing gospel songs could potentially translate into a pretty lame event, however, when UU’s sing gospel, we REALLY try hard. Last night, we also provided cultural and racial acknowledgements, and historical information about the music that we were about to perform. As a member  of both performing choirs, I had been rehearsing full tilt and memorizing a plethora of song and hymn lyrics for weeks (SONGS GUARANTEED TO NEVER LEAVE MY BRAIN AGAIN!). An early snowstorm  had forced us to reschedule the event.  Finally, last night, we sang…and shone, perhaps not like blinding light, but certainly with spirited illumination.  Opal was well behaved (as usual )and slept, wrapped around the microphone stand at my rhythm- tapping feet. We finally got home after 10 PM and eventually got to bed, but not before her ritual settling period had passed. (Opal needs to relax when she finally gets out of harness, and usually does so by picking up a soft object and running around like a nut. Lately, my panties have been the object of choice. She turns them into lingerie confetti.  That’ll teach me to leave my dirty clothing lying about!). Early this morning, Opal  accepted my unreasonable demand to ‘saddle-up’, (good sport that she is), and off we went to church again. This time we were helping out in the UU orientation for the newcomers. We participated in the day-long UU boot camp until early afternoon and then left the group  to tend to our last UU mission of the day; A hospital visit to a church member who has been beset by surgeries and the aftermath of infection.

One of the perks of the harness which Opal wears, is its status and how it can act as a pass to enter into places where pet dogs can not go. A hospital is such a place. My friend, M. who is the unfortunate soul in ill health, has two dogs of her own…at home. What a smile I heard in her voice when Opal gave her a huge greeting!  She had no roommates in her hospital room and the place was oddly quiet, so I took Opal’s harness off for a minute to allow for some big time kissing and goofiness. THIS is true medicine, UU canine style.