Tag Archives: Nova Scotia

Thank God I’m a PFA

I’ve been cross-blogged. Cross blogging is not unlike cross checking in hockey. A local blogger caught the doo dad I did on TV re. the service dog park story. She somehow ended up checking me out and has concluded that I am not adjusting well to blindness and feel beset upon by everyone,  and that I use my blog to rant about how the world is unfair to me yada, yada, yada. Hmm. Actually, dear (this IS Nova Scotia where we all get called ‘dear’ a lot) I think I’m OK with my ‘adjustment’ to blindness. I just can’t adjust to being a PFA. For those of you who are in the dark, a PFA is the short version of ‘Person From Away’…a term coined to refer to anyone who is not born and pedigreed Nova Scotian.  It is a term that even appears as a reference in internal government material. Hmm. As a PFA, the first thing I noticed 16 years ago when I got here, (once I got past the charming painted houses, regional accents and general ‘quaint, quietness’ of the East coast) was the perplexing, passive acceptance by the local population of inferior service; at the hands of bad waiters, shoddy contractors, shop keepers and so on. People here tend to also accept cheap or defective products, bad decisions by government bureaucrats etc. Once in a while, you see a spark of complaint or revolt (“Ooo we’re so upset that you want to take away Johny’s school lunch program”)  Being a PFA from Montreal, we tend not to suck it up, but to complain and ACT. Then we go home and sleep well, instead of whining to our spouses or neighbours  behind close doors about it. I choose to blog. My ‘rant’ is a literary device, not an indication of my state of competence and ‘adjustment’.  “GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM!”, I hear. Hmm. I like the sea air and sleepiness of this town, even though no one here (except transplanted PFA’s) speaks Yiddish or understands the true meaning of “vibrant” when referring to a city. You can’t buy a  decent bagel,  French books or interesting art or furniture here either. It is laughable when news of a local swarming generates comparisons to ‘urban life’. PFA s make the world interesting and keep people accountable with their complaints.

Regards the service dog park? Just to clarify, I have no problem with pet dogs.  It’s the  HRM legal department that does. I proposed an enclosed dog park for all dogs. They are the ones who won’t go for it because of “liability issues”.  It’s not that service dogs can’t ‘mingle’ with pet dogs. And yes, I do know that some are running around  off leash with their ‘well adjusted’ handlers in Point Pleasant park. It should be a matter of choice as to whether or not someone wants to let their dog off leash. But then, this IS Nova Scotia and choices are few and I AM a PFA….


“Bone and Blood is the Price of Coal”

I doubt that Bono and U2 really have any kind of understanding about what they sing about…except maybe that they make an opportunistic buck from it. “Springhill Mining Disaster” is a song U2 have performed, but was written by a woman, named Peggy Seeger.

A miner’s life is a dark, dangerous one, carried out in the depths of the earth, far underground- and in the case of Nova Scotia miners, frequently in dank tunnels stretching miles beneath  the Atlantic Ocean. Sweat from the miner’s brow has often been mingled with blood.

Here in Nova Scotia, we remember (emotionally) today, the miners who perished 50 Years ago on this day.  The coal miners of Springhill, Nova Scotia were “in the pit”  on October 23rd, 1958 when the “bump” or underground seismic event occurred. the “Springhill Bump” as it is known,  was actually the most serious mining disaster in North America mining history.  Three shock waves, each resembling small earth quakes occurred.  Draegermen (rescue miners) and barefaced (no breathing apparatus) miners descended to attempt to rescue the trapped miners and encountered deadly gas.  Of the 174 miners working in the #4 Colliery on that day, 100 were trapped and later rescued, and 74 were killed. This mining disaster was the first major international news story to be covered by live television broadcasts, capturing the horror, despair and pain as families and miners waited on the surface for days and weeks in hopes of seeing the trapped miners rescued.   The controversy about the indifference and irresponsibility of the mining company persists to this day.

It was not the first mining disaster in springhill.  In 1891, an horrific explosion in the #1 and 2 Collieries killed 125 miners and injured many others.  A second Springhill mining explosion occured in 1956, killing 39 men. We should remember them all as  we flick a light switch or use any electrical appliance…it is, afterall,  the coal that such miners sweat and toil to obtain (at great risk to their health and lives) which fuels the hydorelectric plants and generates our power.

Run Opal, Run…and I REALLY Mean It This Time!!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen, service dog handlers, dog lovers, friends and readers; I am pleased and proud to announce that HRM (Halifax Regional Municipality) has approved funding (via a recommendation from the HRM Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities) in the amount of $20,000. towards the creation of an off leash dog park which service dogs and their handlers will have priority use of.   What does this mean? Guide dogs, hearing dogs, special skills dogs, other service dogs and their mums and dads will have a safe, fenced place to go and exercise OFF LEASH. An existing site, already partially fenced has been secured.  The funding will allow for total fencing,  clearing of the area, addition of some seating and refuse bins and posting signs. The location is more than suitable, with bus and ferry service routes nearby. Service dog handlers who require parking will be accommodated as well. Use is not exclusive to service dogs, however signs will indicated that pet dog owners must vacate when a service dog handler wants to use it. A public awareness and education campaign will  hopefully ensure that this is a workable stipulation. The parks department will take care of maintenance.

I have worked on this proposal through its various incarnations over the last two years that I have been on the ACPD, and more so in recent months as the committee’s chairperson. When this dog park is finally established, it will be a first in Canada.  We are the city to watch. We will be the model for all other initiatives seeking  to establish similar facilities in Canadian cities.

When I finally pronounced the outcome of the motion today, Opal rose and stretched. Sure, I know that she was bored, but I like to think that she was showing a little interest. I KNOW she will when I take her to the dog park next year (hopefully fully functional by then) and let her free run. She will go foolish!

Brand New Day

The best part of going to bed at night, is the assurance that I will wake up to a new day and a fresh start.  No matter how horrible a day has been,  I can start a new one with the feeling that the day before has been erased.  A clean slate, Tabula Rosa and all that.   I woke this morning singing ‘Brand New Day’. Van Morrison does a better job, I am certain, however I felt the urge, given the day I had yesterday.

Yesterday, I woke at 4 am to the unmistakable sound of Lucy (our cat) vomiting.  Sigh. I got up and took care of my little calico. This involved cleaning up, cooking brown rice to settle her stomach and giving her fresh water (in Opal’s dish,  of course).  The radio news really put a spin on my mood too. It seems that a man was stabbed and decapitated  in an unprovoked attack by a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus in Alberta.  It’s been a violent week in this world.  Unitarian Universalists in Tennessee were killed in their church by a shooter who did not approve of our UU ‘liberal views’.  I mourn with my fellow congregants.  In local news,  a  bus driver was attacked on her bus by a man who tried to sexually assault her.

I thought that work might reset my mood. It did not. My computer coughed up a cyber hairball and refused to operate. The arthritis in my hands, neck and spine seemed intolerable.  Step out, I thought. I saddled Opal and off we went.  I am in desperate need of orthotics and new shoes. I know this because of the shooting pain in my feet as I walk. No wonder I’ve been so cranky lately! Opal and I went to purchase a small birthday gift for my sister at the mall. In Basket Emporium, we stood near the counter and waited for assistance. A shopper came into the store and exclaimed, “You’re beautiful!”.  Her comment was meant for Opal, of course.  I replied, “thanks, but I have a sweetie”.  She  did not seem to appreciate my humour.  It’s all about the dog some days. I just happen to be the woman attached to the end of Opal’s harness.  I hobbled home and prayed for the day to end. Mercifully, it did.

So, when I woke this morning, the promise of a better day was intoxicating and induced me to sing. I tried “A New Day has Begun”  (from Cats), but I could not recall the lyrics and it brought Celine Dion to mind, which is deffinitly not the way to start anyone’s day. I chose Van’s tune…”Brand New Day”.

Hey Chicago!

“Won’t you please come to Chicago?…”  Remember that Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young tune? Oh never mind. It’s a lyric from a CSNY song from the 70’s.  It seems that the Chicago Off Leash Dog Play Group that Opal and I belong to, REALLY want us to visit. Today, we were invited to a patio party at a Chicago Bar coming up on Thursday.  That’s not our cup of tea (or pint of beer). We also (and this would be up our alley) must decide if we can get to the Anti-Cruelty Canine Cruise happening on the weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that the doggie play group finds ‘nice’ places to cavort with the pups, but my memories of Chicago? Not so good. Maybe I was in the wrong part of town, but I found it rather crowded, with dirty streets and a very smelly waterfront. Wasn’t it Chicago Harbour that used to catch fire spontaneously every summer? Maybe I’m thinking of Detroit.  Perhaps they had a harbour clean up like Halifax. Our Mayor, Peter Kelly recently announced that Halifax Harbour is now safe to swim in.  Hmm… Somehow, I don’t think that Opal and I will be donning our water wings any time soon. As for our buds in the Chicago Dog Play group? I think THEY should consider a road trip… to Nova Scotia! Much cleaner, quieter, friendlier and hey, we have seafood, and plenty of (WAY TOO MUCH IF YOU ASK ME) Celtic stuff like fiddle music (groan). Once the doggie caravan arrives and gets it’s fill of Nova Scotia, they’ll find that it’s just a hop-skip-and-a-jump to Prince Edward Island. PEI is a tiny province, famous for its red soil, potatoes, Anne Of Green Gables stuff (WAY TOO MUCH ANNE STUFF), lobster and the birthplace of Canadian confederation. Enough with the travelogue! I have a Chicago play date to RSVP to.

Horrific Animal Cruelty Incident…How did this happen?

Yesterday, the media broke a story here in Nova Scotia, that has everyone reeling.  Reports revealed that over one hundred animals, including 80 cats and 27 dogs, were rescued from a site which had been operating as some sort of ‘animal shelter’ in Port Hastings, Nova Scotia.   The SPCA had been trying to investigate this situation for several months.  It was not until last Sunday, that they had the legal authority to search the premises.  When their team of workers, along with RCMP officers, entered the Celtic Pet Rescue centre, they were horrified to find two building full of animals in deplorable conditions.  Cats and dogs were lying about in toxic filth. The stench of ammonia was so bad, that some of the workers were not able to proceed.   A number of animals were found dead.  The basement was filled with sewage where animals lay. Cats were so encrusted with feces, that their colour could not be determined until they were taken away and bathed for hours. A dog and her nine puppies were found in a crate, hidden by boxes, nursing her pups.  It was estimated that many of the animals had not been attended for over sixty hours.  SPCA workers were shocked (and they don’t shock easily) by the scene.  They had anticipated a rescue of 30 or so animals and ended up with a scene they had not expected or prepared for. The situation necessitated two trips to remove the animals.  The cats and dogs were taken to sites in Halifax and Dartmouth, for the most part, and work began to evaluate their condition and treat them.  Nine cats were found to have Feline Leukemia. The response has been overwhelming from concerned animal advocates.  Even people who are not big animal lovers have expressed sadness and concern, upon hearing the news.  Offers of veterinary care, donations, and requests to adopt have poured in.  Of course, the first question on everyone’s mind, is HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?  The woman who was granted a license to operate an ‘animal shelter’, has not been charged yet, though public outrage will undoubtedly result in a careful investigation on the part of the authorities.  It is expected that charges will be laid. Background information on the operator of this ‘shelter’, is sketchy.  The SPCA is the only organization that has the right to actively investigate and seize animals in such circumstances in Nova Scotia.  Their resources are limited and their powers are also not extensive.  The woman who applied for, and received a lisence to operate this place, is reported to have met standards to open.  How and why conditions deteriorated is unknown.  Without legal authority, it was not until recently that the SPCA were granted a warrent to enter, even though they had requested permission to examine the site, and were denied. They could not act.  If an adult is suspected of physical abuse or neglect of a child, the system moves very quickly.  Obviously, society’s conscience and values, do not provide for the same intense scrutiny and care for animals,  as it does for children. We can’t seem to strike a balance. Comment?