Wednesday, December 31, 2014

You Helped Us to Do More and Get Better in 2014

Breezy and her new family
It seems like every year is a big year at the Ottawa Humane Society. I am so grateful to work for an organization where every year the way things are just isn't good enough, one that commits to more and better every year and 2014 was no exception.

Just a few examples of what you and the OHS achieved together:
  • You helped us develop and implement an Orphan Kitten Program for this vulnerable population
  • Together, we expanded our Pet Adoption Location (PAL) Program into veterinary clinics
  •  You helped us achieve the stiffest sentence for animal cruelty seen in Canada, with the sentencing of Breezy's attacker
  • Your support allowed us to launch our humane education school program in French and began to translate our key educational materials
  • Together, we increased the number of school children reached by our programs by an astounding 46%
  • Your support allowed us to launch new dog obedience programs
  • You helped us to brake the 700-strong mark in our volunteer team
Orphaned kitten at the OHS 
These achievements and  the many others would not have been possible without your kindness.  I'm looking forward to collecting the full list for our annual report. Even more, I am looking forward to what we will achieve together in 2015!
Dog obedience at the OHS 
Thank you for helping us make your humane society and your community a better place for both animals and humans.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas from the Ottawa Humane Society

Christmas is most truly Christmas when we celebrate it by giving the light of love to those who need it the most.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Traditions and Animals

It used to be a familiar sight at Christmas in this country: the nativity scene, presided over by sheep, goats, often a donkey  and maybe a cow. I have seen some with dogs and cats as well. It is the mainstay of the traditional children's church Christmas pageant. The shyer children are often selected to play the animals. You may remember playing a sheep or a donkey in one as a child.

Nativity scene 
There are a lot of less familiar Christmas traditions around the world that involve animals. You may be surprised how many.

There is a Ukrainian tradition of decorating the Christmas tree with spider webs made from various materials—including crystal, paper, metal, and plastic—that is based on a cultural legend. It is said that a poor widow and her children couldn't decorate their Christmas tree, so it was bare. This made the children very sad so they started crying. Hearing the children's sobs, spiders that were in the house spun intricate webs on the tree to try to console the kids. When the family awoke the next morning, the sun’s rays turned the web - and the tree - silver and gold.

Also in Ukraine, Sviata Vecheria (the Christmas Eve Supper) features a humble and reverent 12-dish meal in honour of the twelve apostles spreading food for the soul throughout the world. The dishes contain no meat or dairy products to show respect for the animals that shared their place of shelter and were present for the birth of Christ.

In Latvia, during the yuletide season, Latvian "mummers," or people who dress up as entertainers during certain events, would dress up as animals such as bears or horses and parade from house to house in villages singing and dancing to ward off evil.

In Poland, families gather together on Christmas Eve (called Wigilia) and decorate their homes. They share sacred wafers similar to those used in communion to celebrate the season and also remember family members who are no longer with them.  Legend has it that if animals eat oplatek (a wafer) on Christmas Eve, they will be able to speak in human voices at midnight, but only those who are pure of spirit will be able to hear them.

One of the most famous Christmas songs in Norway is "Musevisa," or "The Mouse Song." The lyrics for this song were written in 1946 by Alf Pr√łysen. The song is about a mouse family getting ready for Christmas. The mother and father mice are warning their kids to be careful because of mouse traps.
In Finland, southern Germany and parts of Hungary,  wild birds are offered a special meal during the holidays. And in Sweden, on Christmas Eve, the cattle are given the best forage the house can afford, and afterwards a mess of all the celebratory food of which their masters have partaken; the horses are given the choicest hay and, later on, ale. 

In Sweden, on Christmas Eve, the cattle are given the best forage the house can afford
A common tradition is the "belief" that animals talk on Christmas Eve. According to an old tradition some farmers in Denmark feed their animals especially well, because since on the Christmas Eve animals can talk, and it would not be nice to hear bad words on this special night. Similar tradition includes placing gifts of food in forests and parks for the animals. In Romania there is a tradition of listening to hear if the farm animals talk on New Year's Day.

These traditions are delightful.  They come from a time where people recognized that their fates were tied to those of the animals.  Gratitude for animals and help in their welfare would have been understood in a very different way than today.  Now, our mostly urban lifestyles are disconnected both from nature and our sources of food. We may see the welfare of animals as a moral imperative, but seldom as connected to our own survival in the way our ancestors did.   

Have you created a modern version of animal holiday traditions? Do you buy your pet a Christmas present?  Was your pet included in your family's holiday portrait? Are your pet's names included on your Christmas cards?

Tell us on Facebook how you include animals in your holiday traditions.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Home for the Holidays

One of my all time favourite Christmas specials is The Homecoming, the TV movie that was the precursor to the long-running series, The Waltons. In it, the Walton family is preparing for Christmas in 1930's rural Virginia.  It is Christmas eve and they are waiting for their father John Walton to come home from his job in a city some 50 miles away. Since he is late, everyone is worried, and over the radio the mother and grandparents hear about an overturned bus and hurt travelers, but keep the news from the rest of the family. It is a simple story set in a simple time, but the coming home for Christmas subject resonates with me, as I suspect it does for a lot of people.

A quick Google search reveals a half-dozen or so movies with variation of the phrase as the title. The 1943 song I'll be Home for Christmas has been recorded by close to 150 singers since its first release. 

Clearly for a lot of us, Christmas is about homecomings. For me, since I work at the Ottawa Humane Society, some of the homecomings are for our animals, especially those that have been waiting a very long time for their forever homes.

Jasper, a young, beautiful black cat has been waiting since last February.  He is affectionate and playful, and all he needs is a special diet.

Max is a three-year old retriever/hound mix who just needs a little training and some room to move. He is sweet and active. Max has been waiting for a home since October.

Stacie has been waiting even longer than Jasper for her new home. Stacie is a lovely grey and white tabby.  She is cuddly and is looking for a one-cat home.

Jasper, Max and Stacie have been waiting a long time. Are you the person that will find it their heart to give a home to one of the animals that has been waiting?  Will you help us make their dream of Christmas homecoming come true by spreading the word about these great pets?

And may you make it home for Christmas, wherever that is for you, and may all your Christmas dreams come true.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Because of You...

We regularly share stories with you about animals in need, their healing processes and their happy endings. But did you know that you there, with us — right beside us — every step of the way?

When tiny kitten Ophelia came to the shelter this spring, one of more than 750 orphaned kittens arriving at the OHS every year, you were right alongside the specialized team of OHS staff and volunteers as they helped this struggling kitten survive without the love and attention of a mom.
Lovey and Dovey, a pair of two-year-old lovebirds, were surrendered to the OHS after a divorce. A month after arriving, you were right there with them when they were adopted together right in time for Valentine’s Day!
Lovey and Dovey
Rescue and Investigation Services agents allege Tyson’s owner got very mad after the young German shepherd ran away from home and tied him to a moving truck as punishment. You were right beside our agents while his rescue was underway.  And again when OHS veterinary staff helped heal his paws and back which were all cut up, there you were.
And what about Landon who got his happily ever after, thanks to you? Landon, a 12-year-old golden retriever, was surrendered to the OHS by his owner who could no longer care for him. Yes, you were there during his extensive dental care and treatment for an ear infection when he was adopted then sadly returned to our care when his new owner didn’t have time for him anymore — then he finally got adopted to a home with another dog where he remains happy and healthy today.
Landon in his forever home
You were also right there when we helped thousands of lost dogs, cats and small animals reunite with their families. Animals like Einstein, a lost guinea pig that was reunited with his family this past summer.

These are just a few examples of when you were there  right beside us  helping the more than 10,000 animals that come into our care each year — giving them a second chance. Together, we will continue our promise to save them, heal them, and protect them.

Lori Marcantonio
Director: Outreach & Interim Director: Development

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