Friday, October 31, 2008

Please, put your mouth where your money is!

(Yes, I wrote the title that way on purpose.)

This is another sincere appeal to the Nova Scotia SPCA: please live up to your mission and help me and my dog. Please.
I realize you are concerned about your contract to run a pound - and rightly so, because it brings good compensation. But it also brings an automatic conflict of interest. Yet this is no reason not to "walk your talk", to be who your dog-owning public thinks you are.

After three months, publicly declaring neutrality, yet being paid to keep my dog locked up; is it possible for you to be sure of your mission? Are you really content to keep Brindi so long, and then - should I lose, go broke, and/or give up, heaven forbid - go ahead kill her on some unknown date? Really?

To the public, the SPCA's job is to look out for the welfare of all animals, and that means all animals; why should there be any exclusions? Running the pound is not your primary task; it should never preclude helping the unfortunate animals in the pound. They are among those who need you the most.

I understand that the board is new, or partly new. I understand you all have a lot to do and that you are all dedicated volunteers, and equally dedicated employees. I understand you are interested in restoring your relationship with the public and showing you really do put animals first. But I do not understand why you don't begin with just one animal, Brindi. She's be a great place to start! Heaven knows she's paid her dues in spades. She was the longest resident of Celtic Pets on record, over two years. I'm pretty sure she's been a patient and understanding good girl, just like she was there, and just like I have been for over three months.

I have no other advocate to turn to other than my lawyer, who, like all lawyers, comes at a pretty steep price. A lot of folks are trying to raise money to help me afford his help - money that could be going to help other animals instead. And my lawyer, as good as he is, does not have what you have.

You wield a great deal of power and influence in this province and in this city when it comes to animal control issues, although you may not realize it or choose to take advantage of it. You are trusted by the public and their elected officials. You are paid to hold the monopoly on anti-cruelty enforcement in the province. You are contracted by the city of Halifax to be its sole poundkeeper, and your contract continues for years. A new contractual period begins in March 2009, but your actual six-figure contract keeps going, according to your annual report. You influence public opinion, including the opinions of other animal welfare groups. You accept donations from hardworking people who believe you exist primarily to look after the interests of animals. You run the Metro Shelter directly, so you also look after Brindi every day. You work closely with Animal Services personnel every single day, and like no elected official, lawyer, or member of the public, you have their ear on many matters, including their policy of not allowing owners to visit their dogs in the pound, not to mention their methods of enforcement.

I am told your staff no longer use a rabies pole when they walk Brindi. That is good news, although I'm not sure at what point exactly this changed. I am told she is now allowed to use the outdoor pens. That is very good news as well, although it is no longer summer or fall weather. I hear that Brindi has been her usual good-natured self in your care, which is her survival mode, long-practiced in her two-year stay; she can't be her best self, show off her best, I'm afraid. And I worry that she'll need to relearn all the commands she was taught and spent hours practicing with me, after being in a cage so long. She doesn't know she's supposed to be killed, of course, or at least I don't think she does. But I worry that deep inside, she's hurt, but has resigned herself to a life behind bars, not understanding what happened. Will she ever trust me or feel secure again? But she's not herself anymore, and, I'm sure many will agree, neither am I.

I have no way of being sure, but I am worried many people mistakenly assume that
since the SPCA has not spoken in our defense, we must be guilty. Worse, I fear
some of them may have been misinformed, and passed on the information. It's pretty hard for a single dogowner to contradict the authority of the SPCA, blog or no blog.

I know you have an enormous task ahead of you as you plan for the care of a number of potential animals who will need you in the future. But Brindi is a real live dog. She was rescued once already, then put in a shelter-for very possibly longer than any dog in the province in recent memory. She's right there in your building, every day. Why not help her right this second, and help me get her back home where she belongs?


I can only report that my lawyer is working on something called an "interim application", which could speed things up a bit in terms of court. I remain hopeful that somehow, some way, we can finally sit down with the human beings who have the discretionary power of life and death over dogs in this municipality.

I wish they would regard my attempt to save my dog's life as necessary and right, not as a threat to their authority. They know better than anybody that the law is not perfect and the system needs improvement.

The world may be a tough place; nevertheless it is not a sign of weakness to change a decision. When it means sparing a life, being flexible enough to change your mind is the greatest strength there is.

Open, strong, flexible, balanced...

Trick or?

I was going to post a picture from last year of Brindi wearing a Halloween mask. Halloween was always my favorite holiday (or non-holiday), next to Easter. But I don't feel very festive today.
So for now, I want to post this picture of what used to be a sight I saw every day, a bit to the right of my bed-top computer, just as it is located to the right of this text.
Well, except for the roses. I never saw those every day. But who does?

Two poems to remember


Despite illness of body or mind,
in spite of blinding despair or habitual belief,
who you are is whole.
Let nothing keep you separate from the truth.
The soul, illumined from within,
longs to be known for what it is.

Undying, untouched by fire or the storms of life,
there is a place inside where stillness and abiding peace reside.
You can ride the breath to go there.

Despite doubt or hopeless turns of mind,
you are not broken.
Spirit surrounds, embraces, fills you from the inside out.
release everything that isn’t your true nature.
What’s left, the fullness, light, shadow,
claim all that as your birthright.

– Danna Faulds


There is healing in the laying on of hands;
in the letting to of fear,
in asking for help,
in silence, celebration, prayer.
There is healing in speaking the truth
and in keeping still,
in seeking sunlight
and not shunning struggle.
Laughter and the affirmation of wholeness
hold their own healing.

When the soul dances,
when the day begins in delight,
when love grows and cannot be contained,
when life flows from moment to moment,
healing happens in the space between thoughts,
and the breath before the first sung note.

Healing is a birthright and a grace.
When we dare to be open to the unknown,
when we extend ourselves in caring,
when we welcome in the vast expanse of life,
healing comes from the heart,
and blossoms from the inside out.

– Danna Faulds

I am indebted to my yoga teacher, Lisa Grainger, for making me aware of the first poem. I discovered the second while searching for the author of the first.