GI Stasis in Rabbits: What you need to know

by Cindy Titus, WHS Volunteer

As a bunny parent, there are certain words, however inevitable they may be, that you just never ever want to hear. These words are GI Stasis. Unfortunately, I heard these words last week in relation to my own bunny, Ernie.

Ernie, a typically voracious eater, is usually waiting by his food bowl for us to come home and feed him after work. He is very much a rabbit in that he really loves routine and isn’t hesitant to show us a lot of sass if we mess with his. When I arrived home last Tuesday around 7pm, he wasn’t sitting by his food dish, and he didn’t get excited and binky when I brought the pellet bag over. In fact, he took one sniff of the pellets and went back into his castle and curled up in a ball. I immediately knew something was wrong. Not only was he not eating, but he wasn’t fazed by me sticking my hand in his castle (he will usually lunge a bit as if to say “get out of my room, mama!”) and he did not put up any fight when I picked him up. Both my heart and mind started racing as I wondered what could be wrong with my Ernie.

I immediately posted a photo of Ernie on Instagram, explaining the situation I was in, as I have many very rabbit savvy friends who I knew could offer some advice or consolation. My husband went to the pharmacy to get baby gas drops as I held Ernie in my lap and rubbed his belly as a way of helping to get his gut moving and hopefully offer him some comfort. He took the baby gas drops well, but unfortunately it didn’t offer him much comfort or relief. I stayed up pretty late with him, helping him be as comfortable as possible. I also woke up many times throughout the night to check on him, to see if he had eaten anything or if he had pooped. Sadly he hadn’t.

I woke up early the next day and called our vet first thing. Thankfully they had an opening very early and we got Ernie in at 8:30am. They checked him over for any teeth issues or temperature issues and he was fine in both areas, which is great, but this means they had to keep him for the day to look deeper into the issue.

A day at the vet and $400 later, Ernie came home, having been diagnosed with a mild case of GI Stasis.

Just as a side note, for those who may think that rabbits are good starter pets for children, or are generally inexpensive, low-maintenance pets, might I remind you that this is not the case. Rabbits are incredibly complex animals that require close supervision at all times. Because I am in very close contact with Ernie multiple times per day, I caught his stasis early on. Even though I did catch it early on, and his case was mild, Ernie still required hospitalization, x-rays, fluids, force-feeding, etc. This was very expensive, and very, very, very necessary in order for him to make it through this episode.

Here is a list of all of the treatment Ernie received at the vet and the associated cost:

  • Consult: $68
  • X-Ray: $105
  • Oral Meds Admin: $11
  • Metacam Injection: $25
  • Subcutaneous Fluids: $37
  • Force Feeding: $25
  • Hospitalization for half a day: $29
  • Critical Care to bring home: $18.84
  • Cisapride: $22.04
  • Metacam to bring home: $25.59
  • GST/PST: $25.64

Total Cost: $392.11

When Ernie came home, he required force-feeding of Critical Care three times a day for a few days, Metacam once a day, and Cisapride twice a day, plus general observation of his litter box habits to make sure that everything was working well. We also called the vet once per day to give an update and get advice on adjusting the feeding or meds as required.

It’s now a week later and thankfully Ernie is very nearly back to his normal self. He is still on the Cisapride, but is otherwise eating and pooping as normal. PHEW! I never thought I could be so happy to see rabbit poops.

This bout of GI Stasis came out of nowhere. Ernie is very well taken care of. He is fed an excellent diet and lives a cage free life, so he has lots of exercise every day, so this $400 vet bill also came out of nowhere. Without these treatments though, Ernie likely would have died a painful death. Rabbits that are not treated for GI Stasis unfortunately most typically don’t make it. I cannot stress enough that rabbits often require expensive vet treatment, or they will die. It’s as simple as that. If you are not prepared to spend time and money on your rabbit’s health and wellbeing, then please don’t get one.

This brings me to my next point. I also cannot stress enough the importance of keeping rabbits indoors, as members of your family, the same way you would keep a cat or dog. Rabbits are sensitive, fragile animals, and they need close supervision of their diet and litter box habits so you can immediately detect if something is wrong. This whole situation with Ernie makes me feel so sad for all of the bunnies who are kept outdoors, living lonely lives in hutches with no one to observe if they aren’t feeling well. A bunny’s health can go downhill very, very quickly and their medical issues, particularly GI Stasis, are typically a matter of life and a very painful death if they aren’t caught and treated by an experienced vet.

Here are a few rabbit savvy vets in Winnipeg who you can call if your bunny is sick:

Corydon Animal Hospital

1675 Corydon Ave, Winnipeg, MB R3N 0J8
(204) 488-4577

http://corydonanimalhospital.ca/

Best Friends Animal Hospital
2355 McGillivray Blvd, Winnipeg, MB R3Y 0A1
(204) 269-4451

http://bestfriendsvet.ca/

Winrose Animal Hospital

534 St Anne’s Rd, Winnipeg, MB R2M 3G1
(204) 254-3150

http://www.winrosevet.com/

Centennial Animal Hospital

2747 Pembina Hwy, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2H5
(204) 269-8162

http://www.centennialanimalhospital.com/

St. Norbert Animal Hospital

3311 Pembina Hwy, Winnipeg, MB R3V 1T7
(204) 261-7376

http://stnorbertanimalhospital.ca/

 

I am not sure which of these has emergency access. I know that Pembina Veterinary Hospital has emergency care, but I am not sure that they care for rabbits. I did call and ask about it once and they said they have limited rabbit experience. Here is their info if you want to call them:

Pembina Veterinary Hospital

400 Pembina Hwy, Winnipeg, MB R3L 2E7
(204) 452-9427

http://pembinavethosp.ca/

 

I have put together an emergency bunny list that’s good to have in the event that your bunny gets sick when the vet is closed:

  • Thermometer and the knowledge and ability to take your bunny’s temperature. Normal rabbit body temperature ranges from about 101 - 103F.
  • Baby gas drops.
  • Banana, pineapple, or mango. Both my bunnies go crazy for banana and I know something is for sure wrong if they refuse a banana treat. Pineapple juice can help with hair stuck in their GI tract.
  • Critical Care (you can buy this online, but it’s important to mention that if your rabbit has a blockage, it may be unwise to force feed them as you may exacerbate the issue and make things much worse. Your vet will likely need to do an X-Ray to see what’s happening in your bunny’s belly.)
  • Syringes for force feeding
  • Metacam for pain relief (you will likely need a prescription for this)
  • Pedialyte (some of my bunny friends mentioned they have had good success with Pedialyte when their bunnies have been sick)
  • Get an Instagram account for your rabbits. Not only is it incredibly cute to befriend other bunnies all over the world, but the Instagram bunny community is so knowledgeable and so incredibly supportive of each other, particularly when a bunny gets sick.
  • Make sure to have an emergency vet visit fund with at least $500 saved up so that you can rest easy in ensuring you can offer your companion rabbit the very best care he or she deserves.

And finally, here are a couple of good resources to read up on to help you prepare for the day your bunny may get GI Stasis:

http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/ileus.html

http://www.rabbit.org/chapters/se-pennsylvania/GIStasis.htm

 

Posted in Volunteer | Leave a comment

Pet Pics with Santa Paws – a Christmas Tradition!

We are a family of six – mom, dad, three children (now adults) and Kokanee, our Bichon/Maltese cross.

We had always taken our children for Santa pictures when they were young, so it only made sense for us to do likewise with Kokanee when she joined our family more than 16 years ago. Fortunately, the Winnipeg Humane Society started its Pet Pics with Santa the same year that Kokanee was born.

For her first picture, Kokanee sat by herself with Santa. After that, our children joined her and Santa. Our family has never missed our annual appointment with Santa Paws.

Taken together, these pictures provide us with a wonderful series of snap-shots of the chronology of our family, with Kokanee showing the least amount of change out of all of us. As a result, attending at the building where the photos were to be taken (initially Eaton Place, then a pet store, and now the Winnipeg Humane Society’s beautiful new building) has for many years become a Christmas tradition for our entire family. We have even scheduled trips to and from Winnipeg in a way that ensures that we don’t miss our annual appointment.

It’s obvious that we are not the only family who thinks this way. Each year, there is a long line-up of people and pets of all species, shapes and sizes. And each year, there are the wonderful Winnipeg Humane Society volunteers – especially Santa Paws and Frank, the photographer. Their patience and welcoming nature with both pets and owners is genuine and very special to observe. It is always very nice to see them again, to wish them a very Merry Christmas, and to thank them for keeping our Christmas tradition alive for another year.

And don’t think that you’re confined to just a traditional picture of your pet for framing – quite to the contrary, the Winnipeg Humane Society now provides you with the opportunity to also put your pet’s picture on a key chain, a mug, a baggage tag, a key fob, a photo button, or a photo sticker.

So, Merry Christmas from our family to yours, and we hope that you make Pet Pics with Santa Paws a Christmas tradition for your family! We are confident that you’ll be glad that you did!

-The Carrick Family

Register for Pet Pics with Santa or Hanukkah Pet Pics today – click here!

Posted in Events | Leave a comment

Ode to Norman Steinberg

A poem about a cat who went missing and was reunited with his owners at The WHS!

by Georgia Klass

Where do cats go
When they disappear?
They’re part of your family
And then they’re not here

You comb the back lanes
Trek thru swamp and bog
Hoping he hasn’t been et by a dog
Or killed by a fox
Or hit by a car
At times your thoughts maybe will go just so far

As to wish that some lonely old lady alone
Has taken him in to a comfortable home

In the end you don’t know, and you finally resign
Because nobody ever responds to the sign
That you post on the various neighbourhood spots
And eventually new things take over your thoughts

And just as you’ve almost forgotten about him

He appears with that attitude – How could you doubt him?
“Now why would you worry? Of course I’m just fine.”
Now please serve my cat food
I’m anxious to dine.

Until it should happen
that very last time
that your cat leaves the house
on life number nine!”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I Love Them. Don’t You?

By Margita Tobolkova

We never had any animals in the house, maybe the occasional fly or mosquito.  When I grew up in Slovakia, no pets were allowed indoors.  Oh, my goodness, let a dog or cat share a bed with you? This was totally unacceptable, disgusting.  Dogs and cats belonged outside.   Cats were feeding themselves on mice and dogs got a table scraps or a bone. Sometimes dogs would help themselves to a neighbour’s chicken. They would enjoy guarding the house, herding cattle, or went hunting with the owner.

It sure is different now.  We are mommies and daddies to our cats and dogs. We spoil them rotten. Some people even dress them up. Not me!

My first pet was a golden lab named Ela.  My husband wanted a dog, so we went to the local shelter to choose one. I didn’t know the first thing about dog husbandry. I had no idea there might be a dog poop on the rug, or dog hair everywhere. Ela was only nine months old and was already chewing furniture. Obviously, she insisted on sleeping with us.  In time, I got used to everything and she started to rule the house. When I moved with her to the Winnipeg, people used to say, “Ela, are you taking mommy for a walk?”

Ela was with me 11 years. When she died I cried for a year. No kidding. Then I moved to another house and when I spotted the first mouse, I decided to get a cat.   I took in a neighbourhood stray that was full of fleas and had a rough start to her young life.  I named her Mimi.  She did catch mice, but she also scratched my furniture. I bought plenty of scratching posts and a rug intended for outdoors, but was paradise for her to dig her claws into.

One day I joined my cousin on a trip to the Winnipeg Humane Society.  And, get this – we both left with a dog. I adopted Holly, a mostly black Shepherd cross. My cousin found Remus, who is also a Shepherd cross, but mostly yellow. Holly and Remus became best friends and they also like my cat, Mimi.

Holly came from an abusive household. She was afraid of everything.  To this day, she is still afraid of the odd person. Now she has a loving home and she gives the love back. She enjoys her walks and playing outdoors. She wades in any water.  People who see us walking remark with envy about what a wonderful dog she is, she is so well mannered and obedient. I hope she stays with me for a long, long time. Mimi too.

Pets, you have to love them. Don’t you?

Posted in Adoption | Leave a comment

Marble the Bunny

by Cindy Titus, WHS Volunteer

I love Marble the bunny.

She has been in the shelter since May. That’s five months! Other than one other bunny named Jessie, Marble is the longest term shelter bunny that I have had the pleasure of knowing.

photo by Cindy Titus.

photo by Cindy Titus.

When I first met Marble, I was really worried about her because she was very cage aggressive. She didn’t like anybody messing with her stuff. While this is not an uncommon characteristic of bunnies – any bunny owners can attest to our bunny’s hilarious possessiveness over their poops when it’s time to clean their areas – Marble was much more aggressive than any bunny I had met before. She also didn’t want to be touched at all, and would try and box you if you wanted to pet her.

I felt so much compassion for her because I immediately began to think about what Marble may have gone through that would leave her feeling so scared and angry, because bunnies aren’t born that way. Their life circumstance makes them that way. I always try and keep that in mind whenever I spend time with Marble. Whenever I work with her, I am always sure to give her the space she needs to run and play and I don’t try and pressure her into being pet if she doesn’t want to be.

I have noticed a really big difference in Marble over the past few weeks. I am finding that she is still very energetic and a little bossy, but I am also noticing that she is much more open to receiving affection. Yesterday I was able to give her many head pets and she even relaxed and put her chin to the floor for a long time. I am also noticing that she is incredibly playful and silly. It seems as though she is settling into her surroundings and is feeling more like she can be her true self. It’s just too bad this isn’t happening in her forever home with a loving family.

Marble reminds me of my own bunny Ernie. It took Ernie a really long time to come out of his shell and learn that he can trust us. We didn’t really even see his true personality for probably seven months after we adopted him. It was really challenging at times, but the truth is that even though it took a really long time for us to get to know each other, it was also a very nice time that helped everyone in our family learn some valuable lessons about patience and accepting an animal for who they are, rather than who you want them to be. We love Ernie so much. His personality has blossomed so much since we’ve had him. He is incredibly intelligent and the silliest, most mischievous bunny you might ever meet and we are so happy he is a part of our family.

I feel like Marble is the same kind of bunny as Ernie. There will be some growing pains. It might take you a long time to get to know each other and it might take a while for her to trust you, but in the end it will be so worth it.

Are you ready for a rabbit? Visit our website to learn more about rabbit care!

Posted in Adoption, Uncategorized, Volunteer | Leave a comment

Running for a cause: Why I support The Winnipeg Humane Society

by Al Garlinski

Supporting the Winnipeg Humane Society:

My wife, Cindy, and I have always been big supporters of the WHS. The Paws in Motion event is a favourite and a great opportunity to raise funds for, and awareness about humane treatment for all animals.

Animals infinitely enrich our lives, but their impact is often overlooked and the compassionate and humane treatment that they deserve is neglected. By running and walking for this cause, we hope to raise awareness of the many animals that have no place to call home, and to dispel the notion that animals are disposable. The relationship people have with their pets is unlike any other relationship, providing us the opportunity to love earnestly and unconditionally without thought to what we will be given in return, without worrying about being judged, criticized or evaluated as can happen in our human relationships.

Al and dogs

Running & Inspiration:

You could say I have two passions in life. Running and running with dogs! My running adventures started nearly 40 years ago in hockey dry land training by running for miles with my childhood dog, Frisky. I have been running ever since.

We all have role models in our lives that we look up to and from which we draw the inspiration to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone and to keep going when the going gets tough. One of mine happens to have four legs!  He is Spencer (Kurtz) Morin, a ten year old Schnauzer who runs with me.  My good friend, Renee Morin, took Spencer in when his owner, Andy Kurtz, had to move into a senior care home at the age of 98! Together, with Renee’s dog, Chloe, they founded and organize the Out of the Dog House Small Dog Playgroup.  Spencer is also a staff dog for the daycare at The Little Dog House Small Dog Center where I organize Fit & Fun play sessions for small dogs.

When I’m thinking of reasons not to run, I think of Spencer and the all out joy he has to be out running with me.  I’m no different than other runners and I often have several built-in excuses not to run when I don’t feel like it, but when I think of Spencer, all the potential excuses evaporate.  I think if he can run, I can surely run, regardless of the type of day I’m having.

You see Spencer is not a natural runner.  He has an ataxic gait from a neurological condition.  Although his “walk” is a bit unusual, his running stride and form is much closer to that of a normal dog. He wears bright red sharp-looking Vibram rubber hiking shoes on his front paws to protect the tops from rubbing against the pavement.  Over the years, I have seen him develop and build up muscles he never got to use in his former living situation, and his love of running keeps growing.

When you think about it, Spencer’s attitude toward running and exercise is no different from any other dog – but it is a lot different from our own. While most of us have to force ourselves to exercise and make resolutions to stick with it, especially with something as vigorous as running, a dog needs no motivation to go outside and run. Running is very high on most dogs’ lists of favourite things to do!

Al and Spencer out for a run

Al and Spencer out for a run

Memorable Marathon Experiences:

Of all the races I’ve done over the years, my absolute favourite race was participating in Racing the Planet’s ultra-marathon, a 250 km run across Iceland.  Being a self-supported race, we ran with 25 lb backpacks full of food, water and supplies. I was honoured to wear the Canadian flag and represent our country. Sadly, the race didn’t end well for me as I was hospitalized for hypothermia, but I learned a lot of life lessons that I have taken to heart, and I was still able to support my charity for the event, the WHS.

Al at Race for the Planet

Al at Race for the Planet

I remember reading a t-shirt at the race that said“Better to die trying than live in regret.” While I don’t want to die, I could definitely relate to the message of pushing yourself to your limits, to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. This is what I did with participating in this race and plan to continue to push myself until this old body expires…no regrets.

I used to fear failure, but now I embrace the learning that comes with it and I hunger for more knowledge.  There is so much that we may miss about ourselves if we don’t dream, if we don’t try,if we don’t keep reaching for those bright sparkling stars.

See you at PAWS in Motion in June!

Al and Spencer

Al

Posted in Events | Leave a comment

Lacy Looks for Love: A Rescue Story

by Patricia Diane Olson

There was once a little white dog named Lacy. Now Lacy was a very pretty  dog with freckles on her nose and long, silky ears. And lovely little white, stubby teeth.  Yes, teeth.  Because Lacy was the only dog ever that smiled.  Really smiled, showing off her teeth whenever she was happy.  And wagging  her tail and wiggling her little bottom till the freckles on her nose danced.  If you saw her you  couldn’t help but love her.  At least that’s what you’d think. Because Lacy wasn’t always loved.  In fact, for a long time, she was very unloved, despite the smiles, the wiggly tail, and the freckles.

When she was only a Pup, she was bought by a  man  who wanted to train her to be a watch dog. He sent to a mean, mean, school where all they did was yell and wave sticks, sometimes even using them to smack.  Still little Lacy  wagged her tail and wiggled and smiled, sometimes even tried to roll onto her back to have her tummy rubbed.  But this was no tummy-rubbing place; no place for smiles either.  Somehow, though, Lacy got through it.

Lacy

But bad things for Lacy were not over.  Soon she found  herself outdoors on a chain, in the summer’s heat and the winter’s cold for hours and hours, just waiting to be let back indoors.  She was so hot and thirsty, or so cold and wet  — and so scared  — that she shook till her pretty teeth chattered. She couldn’t even muster a smile if she tried.

When she was finally allowed back indoors, first thing she’d do was smile and wag and wiggle, hoping for a teeny bit of love and approval for all of her good behaviour. But she didn’t even get a pet, never mind a hug or a kiss.  Instead, she was scolded for not being a good enough watch dog. Good enough watch dog! Had she ever heard the like! Not only did she not want to bark at all those nice people who passed by, but she wished one of them would come up to her and pet her and maybe take her home!

Then one day  she decided to do it – she’d growl at one of those good souls. And so she did (albeit, very reluctantly). And then when he lets me in, she told herself, the rewards will be waiting -  there’ll be a nice fire and I’ll curl up at his feet with a nice bone.  And maybe, just maybe, if I smile and wag and wiggle enough, I’ll get a hug.  Not a chance.  No hugs.  No kisses.  No pets.  Not even a kind word, even though Lacy nearly smiled her face off.  No bone either.  Just stale water, some mushy old  food, and the cold back porch to sleep in.

There were some evenings when the grouch – what else could she call him? – had his friends over.  They sat around the kitchen table and played cards.  Lacy went from one to the other,  smiling, wiggling and wagging for each and every one of them.  But all each and every one of them did was send her back to the dark, cold porch.

Sometimes, the grouch went out.  Now you would think little Lacy would have been glad.  But she wasn’t.  Not at all.  Because before he left, he locked her in that awful old porch where she had to wait all day for him to come back.  And when he did return, he didn’t even say  hello,  just put her outside on  her chain and  locked the door.

It was getting harder and harder for Lacy to  smile and wag and wiggle, that was for sure.  Some days she didn’t smile even once.  Then one day the doorbell rang and a nice lady came to the door.  Her voice was soft and gentle and sounded to Lacy just like music.  The  first thing the nice lady did when she saw little Lacy hiding in the porch was exclaim:

“Oh, what a lovely dog!”

She was just  about to reach out and touch Lacy when the grouch barked: “Leave her alone.  Don’t give her the soft stuff! She’s a watch dog!”

The nice lady withdrew her hand and left.  After that, Lacy felt so sad and so lonely that two big tears welled up in her eyes.  But no one even saw them.

A long time passed like this and soon Lacy stopped smiling, wiggling and wagging altogether.  In fact, she hardly even lifted her tail anymore.

It was one day in deep, dark winter, while Lacy was lying in the cold porch that the doorbell rang and she heard the nice lady’s voice again, just like music.  This time, to Lacy’s surprise, the nice lady walked right over to her and gave her a great, big hug.  Just like that.  Lacy  thumped her tail.

But she was wary.  Would the nice lady leave again and then she’d be stuck with the grouch? So she kept all  the smiles, wags and wiggles that she felt inside for the nice lady all to herself.

I’ll bet you can’t even guess what happened next?

Lacy surely couldn’t.  That nice lady marched right over to the grouch, handed him some pieces of paper and said,  “She’s my dog  now.”

To which he replied, “Good riddance.  Take the useless thing.”

That was the last Lacy ever saw or heard from the grouch. Because right after that the nice lady snapped onto Lacy’s collar and nice jeweled leash  and walked her right out of the grouch’s house. Lacy didn’t even look back.  It she could have talked she would have shot back the words over her shoulder,  “I am not useless!”

But she couldn’t, so she just trotted alongside her new owner to her car  -  where she rode in the  front seat, with a nice  warm blanket to snuggle under,  all the way home.

Lacy

Not even in her wildest dreams (and we all know how doggies dream) could Lacy have pictured such a nice den. There were soft armchairs everywhere.  And fuzzy rugs.  And as soon as she got inside, the nice lady lit a huge, crackling fire in the big, brick fireplace.  Lacy lay down in front of it on one of the fuzzy rugs and was served  –  yes, served – her supper  — a nice stew followed by fresh water.  And for dessert, the  biggest, juiciest bone ever, which she gnawed on for the entire evening, until bedtime, when the two of them toodled off to bed.  For the first time in her life, Lacy slept up high on a real bed.  So soft and fluffy, it  felt as if she were sleeping on a puff of cloud.

Soon spring came and Lacy and the nice lady went splashing through all the puddles they could find, the  nice lady wearing high rubber boots.  Then in summer she took Lacy for long walks in the woods behind their house where she picked flowers while Lacy chased butterflies and birds.  When autumn came, the nice lady raked huge piles of leaves and gathered nuts and berries; Lacy chased squirrels and mice.  Then it was winter time again with long, dark nights and a crackling fire.

All the year round, Lacy loved her new life, days filled with fun and nights with comfort in her forever home. But what she loved best of all was that every time she wagged, she got a kiss; every time she wiggled, she got a hug; and every time she smiled, she got both.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How I raised $1500 for Paws In Motion… and you can too!

by Pam Rempel, WHS Volunteer

I was surprised to see the total climb on my fundraising page for The WHS’ Paws In Motion fundraiser. Two years ago, I reached a whopping $45! Last year, I set my goal at $100 and my dad, supportive and motivating, pledged me that amount. He also challenged me to set my goal higher – a staggering $1000. I laughed at the idea, but decided to make it a ‘stretch goal’.

Two dogs pose for the camera at PIM 2013

Two dogs pose for the camera at PIM 2013

What did I do differently last year? I decided to overcome my shyness. I think it could be said that virtually everyone is uncomfortable with asking for money. No matter how valuable the cause, it is hard to ask. So I didn’t ask my friends and neighbours for money. I asked them to join my team and come have a really fun day. I printed up a flyer with photos of my dog, Sandy, and his bio, how The WHS helped him, and how grateful I am for it. On the flyer was the phrase Donate Now and an explanation of the purpose of  the needed funds. Out on walks, when Sandy stopped to meet a dog, I mentioned the walk and gave them a flyer. The donations began rolling in.

Then I went one step further, and it made the big money difference. I took my dog and my flyers to the businesses that I frequent in my neighbourhood. I offered to display their logo during the walk-a-thon on my back in appreciation for their support. Their business’ name would be mingling through the enormous crowd. I promised to follow-up in a week and got the name of the decision maker. When I returned, the generosity astounded me. Some even put out a jar and their staff members contributed. From $10 to $150, these companies were glad to sponsor Sandy, and I think meeting him helped make the connection.

A happy pup smiles after finishing his walk

A happy pup smiles after finishing his walk

So, can you do it? Can you get out of your comfort zone and mention the walk whenever someone asks what you’ve been doing lately, or what your plans are for the summer? Can you keep a few flyers handy for anyone you speak to who seems interested? Can you speak to potential donors about WHY you believe in and support this cause? If you can, then you can raise more than you ever thought you would.

A few things I did that anyone can do…

1)  In conversation, when asked about summer plans, mention prepping for PIM.

2)  Take your dog with you when you ask for support, or show a photo of your pets.

3)  Have a flyer with the details on it, and give them out to everyone.

4)  Ask businesses you frequent to support you and offer to promote them in exchange.

5)  Make conversation at the dog park, on walks, at appointments and invite everyone to join your team.

Ten things I did to raise $1500… and you can too!

1)  Decide not to be shy, and mention the walk whenever you’re asked what your plans are for the summer.

2)  Share your reason for participating, whether you are walking in memory of a beloved pet, or have adopted a pet.

3)  Have something tangible to give out always at hand, a flyer or business card with your donation website, the date and how to join your team, and distribute freely.

4)  Bring your dog or a photo of your pet with you when asking for support. It is surprising how generous people are when they are petting an animal.

5)  Follow-up on every contact because no reply doesn’t mean No. We are all busy and have big to-do lists.

6)  Encourage everyone who may want to come along that last minute enrollment is not too late. Advise them of pre-registration and event morning registration.

7)  Ask businesses you frequent to donate. Many companies are happy to support their regular customers’ charitable efforts. Putting the company’s logo on team shirts is simple to do with iron-on transfers and is a big motivator for the business.

8)  If you receive a donation in memory of a beloved pet, offer to dedicate your walk to their memory. Wear their name on the sleeve of team shirts if possible.

9)  Talk about the purpose of funds being raised. Fixing the problem of unwanted animals starts with controlling over-population with Spay & Neuter programs.

10)  The month after the walk is a great time to give out thank-you’s with your total funds raised. Involving your donors in your achievement lays the foundation for next year’s event.

What a great day! This pup rests in his owner's arms after his walk

What a great day! This pup rests in his owner’s arms after his walk

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Do’s and Don’ts for working at The Winnipeg Humane Society and with Wildlife in South Africa

by Ashley Henry

On May 20th, 2011, I received two phone calls that changed my life. In the morning I got a phone call from a representative for African Conservation Experience informing me that I had been accepted to travel to South Africa the next year to spend 6 weeks working with a wildlife veterinarian. In the afternoon, I received a call from the Shelter Manager of The Winnipeg Humane Society asking me to come in for an interview for a job that I considered a long shot to get. I felt pretty ecstatic but I don’t think that even I understood just how much those two phone calls were going to change my life.

I have been working at The Winnipeg Humane Society for nearly 3 years now and it has affected me in so many ways and so did traveling to South Africa. Here are a few insider tips for anyone curious about the life of an employee at The Winnipeg Humane Society.

1. Do make things work with whatever you’ve got.

  1. Photo credit: Ashley Henry, 2011
    Photo credit: Ashley Henry, 2011

We, as a charity, are often short staffed and we have to make do with what we have available. The same is true in South Africa. The ability to “roll with the punches” is essential for working in any field with animals, because whatever can go wrong, probably will.

2. Do prepare yourself to be dirty for the rest of your life.

Photo Credit: Fanny Morend, 2012

Photo Credit: Fanny Morend, 2012

I could never count the number of times that I have said “Oh darn, I have poop/boogers/pee/ vomit etc. on me.” Working with animals is a dirty job no matter how you spin it. When I was in South Africa it was winter time in the southern hemisphere and not incredibly warm outside as the sun was not very strong. But we would all have a day where we came home from some outing and said “Oh I finally got a little bit tan today,” and then the tan would wash off and we would realize that we were just very, VERY dirty.

3. Don’t assume you are safe with any pet (or animal) that you don’t know.

Photo credit: Stephanie Lacayo, 2012

Photo credit: Stephanie Lacayo, 2012

A minute before this photo was taken, I was thrown flying off of this giraffe, who had decided that he was no longer sleepy, or enjoying my presence on his neck. Many of the animals come into our care at the shelter and are very frightened by the new surroundings. This fear often makes them unpredictable. I always make an effort to fight my own fear and connect with the animals who scare me the most, because I know that they are more scared than I am.

4. Do have a sense of humor about dirty jobs and less than stellar situations

Photo Credit: Amanda Schaff, 2012

Photo Credit: Amanda Schaff, 2012

The ability to laugh at yourself and your situation is crucial when you find yourself covered in drool and acting as a pillow for a groggy buffalo. It’s also very necessary when we find ourselves dealing with loss in the shelter. Often when I tell someone where I work they say “I don’t know how you can do that.” My response usually is “I don’t know how I couldn’t do it now that I have done it.”

5. Do educate yourself on all aspects of the issues.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Maughn, 2012

Photo Credit: Rebecca Maughn, 2012

I want you all to meet Valentino. Valentino is a Southern White Rhino calf who was orphaned when his mother was poached for her horn. Valentino was sent to our farm to be cared for and he has since returned to living with his own kind. Rhino horn poaching is a major issue globally and is resulting in the extinction and endangerment of many rhino species. It is also resulting in the deaths of many people, as poachers and anti-poaching units carry automatic rifles and shoot to kill each other. “Poach the Poacher” is not the answer to this issue. What would you do to feed your family if you were desperate, as many in rural Africa are?

With most cases it is not our place to judge people for not being able to care for their pets anymore. It is our place to thank them for recognizing the point where a situation has gone beyond what they are able to handle. It is our place to ask them to give what they can and ask for no more. It is our place to give their pets the best possible chance at finding a new loving home where they can grow old.

Posted in Clinic, Staff, Volunteer | Leave a comment

Buddy: 18 years of love

Loving Buddy

by Rene Weinstein

I have been the fortunate owner of Winnipeg Humane Society dogs for over 30 years.  My most recent dog, Buddy, was adopted 18 years ago.  He was a white/apricot coloured terripoo with soft curly fur.  Buddy was loving and playful, and generous with kisses!

Buddy tackles a bone

Buddy tackles a bone

He came to me as an emaciated scruffy looking pooch with open sores and diesel oil on his back, but to me he was the most beautiful dog in the world.  He quickly settled in, put on weight, learned some manners, and was house trained within a week, and within three months he ruled the home!

Buddy loved to wear winter/rain jackets, and scarves; he wore a kerchief daily with themed designs for holidays.  He was especially fond of his Halloween ghost costume, which he wore for many years.  At the age of 16 years, he learned to wear winter booties, finally!

Buddy loved people, but not other dogs.  When on our walks which Buddy relished, he would whimper when big dogs came close, we eventually learned to yell out to approaching large dog owners – “Humane Society Dog!”  They immediately moved aside, conversation ensued about his situation, and many lasting street friendships were formed.

Buddy was constantly learning new things.  When he visited my friend’s mother he would hunt for his dog biscuits stored in a Tupperware container. Smart dog that he was, he snatched the entire container in his mouth, knowing he would receive more than one treat.

Buddy treasured his toys.  His greatest pleasure was removing the squeaky mechanism from all his new toys.  He would do this in a matter of  seconds then shake the daylights out of the toy.  He had a rope toy that we named Mr. Tug which he shook with great gusto, enjoying this activity for many years!  He had names for all his play things, remembered all their names and would fetch the identified toy, returning it to his toy box when finished.  He initiated play with his humans, amusing himself with different games from “rough house wrestle” to rope tugging.  He would growl and put on a great display of ferocity, and always won.

It wasn’t always fun and play, Buddy had chores too.  He assisted with sorting laundry and vacuuming.  He loved to be the first one on a newly laundered bed!  He once cared for a friend’s goldfish.  When the fish was put into a smaller bowl on a low table during a water change, Buddy delicately scooped it up in his mouth, however, not enjoying the movement in his mouth, he promptly spat the fish out.  The goldfish went on to live for a long time, and Buddy never tried sushi again!

He delighted in the warmth and heat of the solarium in the summer, smelling his flowers, stretching out in the sun, and watching his neighbours.  Everyone in the condo building knew Buddy and loved to stop and greet him,  he savored this attention and returned their greetings with tail wags and kisses.

When he eventually became blind and deaf, he continued to problem solve.  When he could no longer jump onto a piece of furniture, he would stand in front of it waiting for us to pick him up and put him on his favourite chair.  As Buddy aged, he liked the comfort and warmth of being bundled in a blanket, sleeping with his head on a pillow or teddy bear.

He was a very spirited and tenacious little fellow.  His vet admired this quality in him and told us this tenacity gave him the feistiness he enjoyed right up until his demise.  He was the oldest dog in her practice at the time of his death at aged 18, on January 15, 2014.

We will miss him dearly, and have donated his kennel and other assorted goodies back to The Winnipeg Humane Society.  He was the light of our lives!

Thank you, Winnipeg Humane Society!

Posted in Adoption | Leave a comment