Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wiggle Waggle Walkathon 2015: Not a Washout

The weather over the past few days has been incredible—sunny, warm, but not too hot. I keep thinking that every one of them would have been perfect days for the Wiggle Waggle Walkathon. What are the odds—the one sustained rain all year happened on walkathon weekend? Moreover, that the expected lightning storm would hit hours earlier than forecast?  

In my 15 walkathons, I have been amazed that the weather has cooperated so well. There were a couple of overly warm years, a couple of uncomfortably cool ones, and a few with intermittent drizzle but none so bad that we had to cancel and evacuate. Rain is one thing, but once the lightning started, metal tent poles made the site dangerous, and terrified some of the dogs. 

Some people have asked me why there was no rain date. I wish we could have had one. But, there are many reasons why a rain date simply isn't realistic. The park has to be booked well in advance—as long as a year—and the logistics of pulling together 300 or so volunteers on the day, rebooking dozens of already heavily booked vendors and exhibitors, rebooking tents and equipment, etc. all make a rain date impractical, if not impossible.  

I felt badly for the everyone who worked all year to make the event a spectacular success: the volunteers and staff who braved the storm on the day, and of course the tremendously committed walkers who weren't going to let the animals down and showed up despite the weather. Everyone got drenched but I heard no complaints. Amazing. 

So where does the evacuation leave the OHS and the animals? Well, we started with a pretty big funding gap. How big? We were looking forward to raising over $250,000. Luckily, over half the money came in online before the event even started and so the gap on Sunday was not the full amount. But at  more than $100,000, the gap was still a big hit to the OHS, our programs, and ultimately, the animals. 

Since then, OHS staff and volunteers threw together a very nice party last Friday for prize winners to collect their prizes and be recognized. We wanted to thank everyone who came out. More pledge money has been trickling in and to date, a number of donors have come forward to help close the gap.  The thermometer on our emergency page is creeping up as many in our community recognize the need to make up the funds for the animals, and now the gap is a little over $50,000.  

But then, terrific news came in over the weekend! One of our most generous donors approached us with a proposal. He wanted to help us close that gap and encourage everyone to help. He would make a gift and ask others to match it. Until this Sunday, he will match your gift dollar for dollar, up to $25,000. So, spread the word. You can help the animals. You can double your impact with this donor's help. You can close the gap and ensure that this year's walk isn't a washout for the animals.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

Friday, September 4, 2015

Interviews With Guinness: Chief Bordeleau


The Science Diet® Wiggle Waggle Walkathon and
Run for the Animals Spokesdog Guinness
Guinness sat down with Chief Bordeleau, Ottawa Police Services Chief of Police and the Science Diet® Wiggle Waggle Walkathon honorary chair, to see why being involved with the Walk is so important to him!

Guinness: Thank you Chief Bordeleau for sitting with me today. To begin, why is the 2015 Science Diet Wiggle Waggle Walkathon important to you?

Chief Bordeleau: Because of the programs the OHS runs within the Ottawa community. The OHS and the OPS have a strong partnership in supporting our community through its LEAD and youth program. The OHS LEAD program directly assists youth at risk. This dog-training initiative promotes the animal-human bond while encouraging youth participants to develop personal responsibility, empathy, self-esteem and compassion towards all living beings.

Chief Bordeleau
Guinness: Do you have/have had any animal companions before?

Chief Bordeleau:  I had a dog as a teenager – a “Spoodle’ names Spunky. We now have a Miniature Schnauzer – Pepper.

Guinness: Where is your favorite place in Ottawa to walk?

Chief Bordeleau: Conroy Pit – steps away from our home.

Guinness: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today, Chief Bordeleau. Woof!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Why obedience training?

Though now a happy cat owner, dogs have been a part of most of my life. And despite my rediscovered love of cats, I will always have a soft spot for dogs. After all, they are loyal, unconditionally affectionate, playfully exuberant and have a zest for life. We have to remember though, that dogs and we primates are very different animals. Though lovable, dogs have some tendencies —like jumping up to greet you, barking, and digging—that can make it difficult to live with them. To grow your your relationship with your dog, it is very important to teach her some important skills that will help her live harmoniously in a human household.

It is easy to get all kinds of advice about training your dog. Some people will tell you that the key is to use a “firm hand” to make sure your dog doesn’t think she can get away with naughty behavior. The OHS and most experts argue that you should only use rewards in dog training and not punish your dog in any way. You should reward behaviour you like and makes sure you are not rewarding the behaviours you don't like.

The "how" advice is everywhere. What about the why? 

The American Dog Trainers Network (ADTN)  remind us that obedience training is one of the most important aspects of raising a dog. Their website sums it up beautifully: 

A well trained dog is by far a happier dog! Why? Because a trained dog requires fewer restrictions. The more reliable the dog, the more freedom he is given. For example, many stores and businesses that normally won't allow dogs on their premises will make an exception for a puppy or a dog that will heel nicely by his owner's side, or will do a sit-stay or down-stay without hesitation.

And when company arrives in your home, there's no need to banish a well-behaved dog to another room for fear that he will be a royal nuisance. Moreover, because a well-mannered, obedience-trained dog is both appreciated and welcome, he receives more attention and interaction from family members, visitors, and passers-by, than does the ill-mannered dog.


Training serves to strengthen the bond between a dog and his owner. It builds communication, understanding, and mutual respect.

The ADTN reminds us that training may save your dog's life:

Obedience training also gives the dog owner the voice control necessary to prevent numerous potential tragedies. For instance, should a dog slip out of his collar in the middle of a congested traffic intersection, he can be safely heeled across the street, then given a sit command to facilitate putting his collar back on. Or should someone accidentally leave the front door open, and you spot your dog leaving, he can be safely called back to you using the recall command.

Not only will obedience training help your dog to become more responsive, but because it enables you to have immediate control over your dog's behavior, in an emergency situation obedience training may save your dog's life. In fact, it can ultimately save the lives of many dogs, because far fewer dogs would end up in animal shelters if their owners would simply take the time to train them.

The consequences of misbehavior are many:

Without proper training, many dogs are likely to misbehave. And when owners allow their dogs to misbehave, everyone suffers: The owner, because he or she lives with a dog, the dog, because everyone's down on him for misbehaving; the dog's owner's neighbors, because living next to a difficult dog is no one's idea of fun; and ultimately every dog owner, because each incidence where a dog creates a nuisance increases anti-dog sentiment, and contributes to the likelihood that tough legal restrictions will be placed on all dogs.

A well-behaved, obedience trained dog is a pleasure to own because he can go virtually anywhere without being a risk or nuisance to others. And don't we all want a dog who exhibits appropriate behavior in a crowd, good manners when we have guests in our home, is reliable around children, and who doesn't threaten other dogs or passers-by?

The bottom line is that dog obedience training truly benefits everyone.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

With thanks to the American Dog Trainers Network

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