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 ain’t 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!”

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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?

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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!

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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

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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.

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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

 

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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.

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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!

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A Happy Valentine’s Story

The joys of fostering and adopting dogs – from puppies to seniors!

by Kristina Graham, WHS Assistant Manager of Retail Operations

For me dogs are like a fine wine, they just get better with age.  Sure, puppies are super cute. Their bouncy antics and clumsy playfulness are undeniably adorable, but they’re also a whole lot of work.

I grew up with a mom who wasn’t an avid dog lover (the rest of us slowly converted her). My father had a dog when they first met, and this canine companion was with them when my sister and I were born.   I have vague memories of this little rat terrier from my small childhood, but she passed away when I was only five.

I had to beg and bargain for almost four years before I finally succeeded in convincing my parents that our family needed another dog.  I was in the third grade and I insisted I could take care of a dog. I would walk him and feed him and clean up after him.  My parents would not have to worry about a thing. I crossed my heart, pinky swore and said a million pretty pleases with sugar and sprinkles on top.

I remember Valentine’s Day 1989 well because it was the day my wish was finally granted. I got to pick one puppy from a litter of squirming, cuddly fur-balls. My eye was instantly drawn to the runt, a little blonde bundle of cuteness that I appropriately named Valentine.

Valentine relaxes outside

Valentine relaxes outside

Of course as any parent can tell you, kids and their short attention spans are not the most reliable when it comes to pet care. So, as my mother predicted, my father ended up doing almost all of the training, feeding and walking of Valentine.  Thanks to the time and effort he put in with the dog, my dad and Valentine were the best of friends for 17 wonderful years.

In hindsight I can see that my sister and I were like fun toys that Valentine would occasionally play with until his provider, my dad, came home.  From that point on, he followed my dad loyally wherever he went.

Valentine snuggles up with his "provider"

Valentine snuggles up with his “provider”

As I got older, I had dreams of one day having that kind of bond with a dog of my own.  A few weeks after I purchased my first house, I found myself wondering if I was ready for another puppy.  I found a local rescue that was in need of a foster for two German Shepherd puppies. I agreed to take them in and socialize them until they were ready for adoption. Suddenly, I found myself the primary caregiver for two young, under-socialized, terrified 4 month old dogs with no training and no manners. Needless to say, I soon discovered that they weren’t the only ones with a whole lot to learn.

After months of gaining their trust, paper training, cleaning up messes, and trying to teach them not to be destructive (my poor base boards were ruined!), I found myself emotionally enriched but physically exhausted.  You could say I had an epiphany of sorts. While puppies were cute and fun, they were also a lot of hard work and responsibility. No wonder my parents didn’t believe me when I was a naive 8 year old.

Biggie the boisterous foster pup dips his toes into his water dish.

Biggie the boisterous foster pup dips his toes into his water dish.

Now, I am drawn towards the older dogs. When my husband and I were recently looking for a new addition to our pack, we agreed we would only consider dogs who were 5 years or older.  We figured this would give us a friend who was close to our other dogs’ ages and with a similar activity level.  While not every 5 year old dog is calm and quiet, we knew we had a good idea of what would be the best fit for our family. Armed with this knowledge, we began to keep our eyes and hearts open for the perfect match.

The great thing about mature dogs is that you already know exactly what their quirks are. On the other hand, puppies are still growing into themselves and learning through training (or sadly a lack thereof) who they will eventually become.  While it is rewarding to be a part of a puppy’s nurture and growth, I know there are hundreds of other people in the world eager to take on that challenge. Plus, puppies do a pretty good job marketing themselves with their youth and exuberance.

In my experience, older dogs are often passed up or overlooked because they aren’t as cute, cuddly or engaging. These dogs sit quietly in their kennels, patiently waiting for someone to see the true value of their calm, gentle ways. Often they are polite and unimposing, indicating that someone along their journey has taught them some manners. They are friendly and will lean against you for pets, but they no longer have the inclination to jump all over you and chew on your arms. They still have energy and enjoy walks in the park. They still like to play with toys and have their bellies rubbed, but they are also content taking a nap while you work on the computer, read a book or watch TV.  They like attention, they just don’t need it constantly.  These are the dogs for me.

On February 14 of last year, my husband and I found an older dog that was perfect for our pack. We discovered you can put a price on love in the form of an adoption fee. We brought home the perfect Valentine’s Day present from the Winnipeg Humane Society:  a 5 year old Shepherd mix named Lumberjack. After a year with the lovable lug, we can’t imagine our life without him.

Lumberjack strikes a pose.

Lumberjack strikes a pose.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love to see a cute puppy and will oooh and ahhh with the best of them whenever I do. But at the end of the day, I am so glad I don’t have to clean up their messes or teach them to be gentle and less destructive.  I am okay leaving this important job to some other loving soul with the patience of a saint. When I get home from work, I am content and happy when I see my three older dogs waiting eagerly at the door for me.  These beautiful old friends bring me joy, peace and an abundance of love.

Lumberjack the "loveable lug"

Lumberjack the “lovable lug”

 

 

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Your photos: cat photo contest

The Internet is an incredible resource for research, interesting articles, and – perhaps most importantly – cat pictures!

Last fall, we asked our Facebook followers to submit pictures of their cats doing their favourite activities. Your response was overwhelming! You sent in oodles of great pictures – too many to fit on one page! We included some of our favourites in the Winter 2014 Newsletter and decided to post the rest of them here on The WHS blog.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy some wonderfully wacky pictures of cats at their best.

Baxter loves laying in the sun on his cat post.

Baxter loves laying in the sun on his cat post.

Beanz LOVES playing with string!

Beanz LOVES playing with string!

Billy likes taking naps with her big brother Oscar.

Billy likes taking naps with her big brother Oscar.

Bowser likes to hang out with his best friend Crash.

Bowser likes to hang out with his best friend Crash.

Coffee enjoys helping his owner knit (not!).

Coffee enjoys helping his owner knit (not!).

Dibbuk likes to sleep like a human.

Dibbuk likes to sleep like a human.

Eve likes to play with everything - including catnip mustaches.

Eve likes to play with everything – including catnip mustaches.

George and Kit Kat love to snuggle.

George and Kit Kat love to snuggle.

Herbert's favourite thing to do is have his fabulous self acknowledged.

Herbert’s favourite thing to do is have his fabulous self acknowledged.

Hydro likes to relax outside.

Hydro likes to relax outside.

Joey likes to lick his tail

Joey likes to lick his tail.

Lily loves to hide in cupboards.

Lily loves to hide in cupboards.

Mia loves to hang out in the grass in the summer.

Mia loves to hang out in the grass in the summer.

Mickie loves to soak up the sun in her bed.

Mickie loves to soak up the sun in her bed.

Milo's favourite thing to do is nap... stretch, yawn, nibble, repeat.

Milo’s favourite thing to do is nap… stretch, yawn, nibble, repeat.

Minie loves the squirrels

Minie loves watching the squirrels.

Penelope's favourite thing to do is people watch!

Penelope’s favourite thing to do is people watch!

Princess loves to snuggle up by the fire.

Princess loves to snuggle up by the fire.

Rusty loves posing for pictures.

Rusty loves posing for pictures.

Shadow does not like to wear costumes!

Shadow does not like to wear costumes!

Snuggling with their dog is a great pastime!

Snuggling with their dog is a great pastime!

Sofie is a little lady who loves to look pretty!

Sofie is a little lady who loves to look pretty!

Sylvester

Sylvester’s favourite thing is being groomed. He pushes his body into the brush, looking for more.

This cat enjoys rides in the stroller with his sister the chihuahua.

This cat enjoys rides in the stroller with his sister the chihuahua.

This cat loves to chill in her favourite room.

This cat loves to chill in her favourite room.

This cat thinks he's a penguin.

This cat thinks he’s a penguin.

This cat's favourite thing to do is chill with friends.

This cat’s favourite thing to do is chill with friends.

This cat's favourite thing to do is cuddle with her sister.

This cat’s favourite thing to do is cuddle with her sister.

This cat's favourite thing to do is meow at his owners until he gets a treat!

This cat’s favourite thing to do is meow at his owners until he gets a treat!

This cat's favourite thing to do is nap.

This cat’s favourite thing to do is nap.

This cat's favourite thing to do is nothing!

This cat’s favourite thing to do is nothing!

Tobey just likes to have a good time.

Tobey just likes to have a good time.

Xena loves to curl up with a good book.

Xena loves to curl up with a good book.

 

Thanks for sharing your photos! It’s always great to see adorable, friendly felines doing what they do best – being adorable.

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