Monday, 18 June 2012

The New Etobicoke Humane at 67 Six Points Road

The new Etobicoke Humane shelter (EHS) is more of a haven for homeless cats and dogs than a traditional shelter, with its poor lost animals lined up in small cages.  EHS has recently moved into its own detached building in central Etobicoke, easily accessed by car or TTC (bus from Islington or Kipling subway).  It has several separate rooms, so that there can be a room for every important purpose.  The kittens, for example, have their own “kitten room” full of climbers, toys, and soft beds.  Cats can be quarantined  until they are free of contagious conditions such as upper respiratory infection.  Cats in need of greater socialization before being adopted can be separated from the others.
There is space for dogs – something that the old, small shelter completely lacked.  And the dogs can be walked outside.There are no stairs for the public and shelter volunteers to climb.The building is accessed from street level, and is entirely on one floor. And, to make the cats and dogs even more comfortable and happy – the “cages” are enclosures 10 x 10 feet.  The cats have space for playing with their many toys and climbers, for sleeping on soft cat beds, for roaming about, for playing with one another.  One very dedicated young man, who has exceptional love for .and understanding of, animals, walks the cats on leashes. What a pleasure to adopt a cat who will accept a leash!  Like all the shelter volunteers, this helper goes far beyond  physical care of his charges; he socializes them and showers them with human love.

One amusing and touching story, made possible by the non-cages set up, is the friendship between Kramer, a Siamese male, and his best friend Brooke, a 3 month old female.  Brooke decided that she did not want to stay in the kitten room.  When she emerged from it and mixed with the older cats, she discovered Kramer. Whenever Brooke was returned to the kitten room, she would meow and meow so piteously for Kramer that the shelter people would just have to let her go back to him! Kramer decided to love her in return.  They have become inseparable, and, fortunately, the volunteer who chose to adopt Kramer is taking Brooke along with him.  In fact, contrary to commonly held belief, cats like companions of their own kind just as humans do.

EHS has many volunteers who foster cats and dogs, kittens and puppies.  The foster parents perform very valuable tasks, often looking after young kittens and puppies, and socializing them, and often looking after animals who need medical help. When I visited the kitten room one day, all 6 kittens wanted to be on my lap at once.  They had been well socialized to accept humans as their friends!

Licensed cruelty investigators working for EHS are, unfortunately, very much needed.  Often, they bring many animals at one time into the shelter, animals rescued from abusive and/or hoarding situations.  The new shelter can provide for these emergencies now that it has space and separate areas.

EHS does such great work for Etobicoke that I can only provide a short sketch here.  Their website is  Look for their sweet animals waiting for forever homes, and for their open house details of June 23.

Yeaaah – way to go, Etobicoke!

Lynda Nanders
AAC and EHS volunteer

Friday, 8 June 2012

My Jane Goodall Evening

Lynda Nanders, one of our dedicated volunteers, had an enchanting evening with Jane Goodall when she visited Toronto in March.  Below is her report:

The March 2012 evening with Jane Goodall, put on by the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, remains vividly in my mind .  She is my hero!  Her achievements are too great and too many to list here.  Her 20 years with the chimpanzees of Gombe in Tanzania led her to her present-day work as an activist on animal and environmental issues; she witnesses first-hand the threats to our planet.

From earliest childhood, Jane’s dream was to work with African animals, especially chimps!  She became the first human to discover and document the facts that chimps use and even make tools, live in complex societies, and  experience sadness, joy, fear, even compassion.  She says that they are different from us but do share many qualities that we humans, in our arrogance, like to believe are ours alone.

On that wonderful evening, we joined a reception in which we could speak with Jane.  A short talk followed, and then a film documenting her work at Gombe.  Her beautifully illustrated book, 50 Years At Gombe, was included in the fee, as was the opportunity to have her autograph the book while having our photos taken with her.

Although she knows and deeply regrets the many terrible  threats to animals and nature, she is an optimist.  During question period, a child piped up, “Do you think your work is worth it?” Her reply was and is positive.  She has established The Jane Goodall Institute and the Roots and Shoots program for young people.  Both are international.

I recommend all of her books, especially 50 Years At Gombe. 

If you see the movie, Chimpanzee, know that the battle between groups of chimps is pure Disney, not something that would happen in nature.

Andrew Westoll’s book, The Chimps Of Fauna Sanctuary, won the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction. It is well deserving of this prize, and I do recommend it.

Jane Goodall is a quiet, unassuming person, but a true hero of our day and age.  She says that the young must take up the torch; as we know, the future belongs to them. Her Roots and Shoots is a hands-on tool for young people in many countries of our world.

If anyone else attended her night, or has had similar thrilling encounters, please share!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Tribute to Charlie

By Liz White

One week ago today, my beloved Charlie died from complications of diabetes and liver disease.  He was 16 years old.

I first met Charlie outside of a Jack Layton campaign office.  Jack and I were friends and I agreed to help run his 1997 campaign to win the riding of Toronto Danforth from Liberal Dennis Mills.  We did not have our political party at the time. 

Charlie was sitting in a basket just outside the door of the campaign office.  It was 10 pm and a lovely woman from the neighbourhood approached me and begged me to take Charlie.  She said that the entire litter of kittens, except Charlie, had been killed on the road.

Of course, I couldn’t refuse.  I think I fell in love with him that day.  I took him to our Animal Alliance offices where he lived for three months.  Jack lost the campaign and I won Charlie.

While he was at our offices, he met Nicki, my dog and they grew to tolerate each other.  So Charlie moved home with me. 

For some unexplained reason, we loved each other from the first time we met.  I say unexplained because Charlie tested my loyalty and love in every possible way.  He was dominant, opinionated, demanding and difficult.  He expected to be fully loved regardless of his transgressions.

When he was 8, he developed a condition called mega-colon.  After six months of treatment and alternative therapies, he had surgery to remove the affected portion of his bowel.  This surgery was supposed to cure his condition but of course in typical Charlie style, he required intense management to make sure the condition did not return.

In an odd way, the care he required brought us closer together.  I have to say that despite his opinionated personality, Charlie was eternally patient with me when receiving his twice daily treatment.

In 2009, my partner Ronnie and I moved from downtown to mid town Toronto.  Ronnie’s mom was very ill and we needed to be closer as we were both care givers.  Charlie found the move very difficult.  For two months after we were settled, he experienced a high level of stress but finally settled in, basking in our large sunny windows.

Charlie never gave up hope that he would be able to go outside.  I tried him with a leash which he hated.  I tried him in a large pen which he hated.  I tried sitting outside with him but he always wanted to go further than would have been safe for him.  So, he was able to enjoy the fresh air through our open windows but the longing was always there.

He showed the first signs of illness in late January of this year.  I thought he had a stroke but when I took him to our veterinarian, his blood work was fine.  It was not until late March that he was diagnosed with diabetes and several weeks after, we also discovered that he has liver disease.  Our vet told us that he would only have a few days, possibly a week to live.

With immeasurable sadness, we brought Charlie home to die.  After being on a rigid diet for his mega colon, Charlie ate whatever he wanted.  And he and I spent hours outside on our front porch, Charlie lying in the sun and enjoying the fresh air.  And even in his compromised state, Charlie continued to try to extend his outside boundaries.  He lived six weeks beyond the time the vet gave him and I am convinced that it was because he lived for the time we spent outside together. 

Throughout the last six weeks of his life, he required extensive care to make him comfortable.  He remained eternally patient while I checked his blood sugar and administered his insulin and coaxed him to eat.

Last Thursday he stopped eating and drinking and I knew that we were near the end.  On Friday afternoon before he died, he and I spent several hours outside on the porch.  He fell asleep in the sun and for the first time in several days, he seemed to be at peace, free from all the affects of his maladies.  He died in my arms Friday night.

His absence from my life has left a huge hole in my heart, but he was well loved and will always be remembered.  He lived a rich life, defining the lives of others around him.  We were so lucky to be able to share our lives with Charlie and Charlie was lucky to be loved, unlike so many animals who never experience tenderness and compassion.

Rest in peace, my love.