Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Cheese is Mine, Cat!

Last year, a Canadian television commercial for Armstrong Cheese showed an elderly woman feeding her cat all sorts of tasty human food, but when she pulls out the cheese, the woman shoves the curious cat off the table, and hisses, "The cheese is mine, cat."

I emailed the company, telling them I found that 'shove' a bit brutal. The company responded, saying I wasn't the only one offended, and they assured me the cat wasn't harmed during the filming of the commercial. They didn't pull the ad, but cut out the shove. Now, the cat appears to simply fall from the table.

I don't know why I'm sharing this with you. Perhaps just to say that if a few raised voices can make a change to an obscure and probably harmless commercial, think what we can do when it comes to something that really matters.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Can You Stand It? Another Happy Ending

Last November, two-year-old Bear, a black lab mix, disappeared from his Nova Scotia home during a snowstorm. His owners, Arie and Jackie Levering, searched the area; and notified neighbours, animal control and the veterinary hospital.

Ten long weeks passed without Bear, and the couple soon gave up hope, believing the dog had either been hit by a car or attacked by coyotes. On January 23rd, the vet phoned with news that Bear had been found.

David Lewis, a government employee, was in his truck when he spotted a dog crawl out from the woods. Mr. Lewis figured the dog was lost, so opened the door and Bear jumped in. At the veterinary hospital, it was discovered Bear had two broken legs, a crushed pelvis, and lost two-thirds of his body weight. Some of the fractures had fused, so there may be surgery in Bear's future.

The Leverings believe Bear may have been hit by a snowplow, but have no idea how the injured dog survived for two months in the dead of winter. One thing they do know for sure -- they're glad to have Bear home with them.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Caught in the Headlights: Wildlife on Our Roads

The other night, my headlights flashed on a deer at the side of the road, but she'd been hit and was quite obviously dead. Since her head was still in the way of traffic, I called 911. Because of that scene, and so many others like it, I thought I'd post something from last summer. I believe the message is important, so instead of calling it re-posting, let's call it re-gifting.

On Sunday, I drove past three dead raccoons--one large, two quite small--grouped together at the side of the road. Whenever I see roadkill, I imagine a possible scenario: After foraging for food, a mother raccoon makes her way back to her children only to be struck by a car. But on that particular Sunday morning, it was the entire family of raccoons who lost their lives. It makes me incredibly sad to see wildlife so senselessly killed (although it's hard to think of a senseful killing).

According to a study by L.P. Tardiff & Associates for Transport Canada, motor vehicles may be the number one predator of wildlife. Some statistics from Wikipedia:

"Merritt Clifton, editor of Animal People Newspaper estimated that the following animals are being killed by motor vehicles in the United States annually:

41 million squirrels
26 million cats
22 million rats
19 million opossums
15 million raccoons
6 million dogs
350,000 deer

Often, there's not much a driver can do to avoid hitting animals that venture onto the road, especially at night. Animals react differently--a rabbit's frozen bewilderment as a car barrels toward it; a deer's unexpected jog to the left when we expect it to go right. So it's up to us to take precautions.

What drivers can do:

Ease up on the gas pedal when driving through wildlife areas. Look for the yellow, diamond-shaped warning signs.

Watch for movement at the roadside, and slow down when you see any. It's far better to use your brakes than to use your wheel as swerving may result in the loss of control.

Be aware that wildlife is most active at dawn and dusk.

Watch for the car's headlights reflecting off the animal's eyes. Often drivers will see the shining eyes before they see the animal.

Anticipate unpredictable behaviour from all wildlife.

What governments can do:

Build wildlife underpasses and overpasses. On the Trans-Canada Highway, through Banff National Park, 24 underpasses and overpasses have been constructed--the largest scale wildlife passage in the world. Since 1996, more than 50,000 large mammals have used them, and animal-vehicle collisions have dropped by 80%.

Erect animal crossing signs on high-risk stretches.

Invest in heat-seeking cameras that detect animals and warn drivers when one is ahead, or wildlife warning systems that use alternating sounds and lights to scare animals when vehicles approach.

For more information on reducing the risk, check out this site:

Wildlife Collision Prevention Program

Let me know if there are other measures we can take to keep our wildlife safe and alive.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Last month, in Entertaining your cat, I wrote about the toy I'd purchased but my cat had ignored. Just wanted to let you know that I took it up to the OSPCA (where they seem to have an overabundance of full-grown cats), and put it into a large room with six cats.

They loved it! They played with the thingamabobs and actually went inside the green 'house'. Although the Society provides lots of toys for the cats, I think I'll buy a few of the Birds of a Tethers that Meeko loves, and take them over to the shelter.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Stuffed Animals

Last week, as I was happily (okay, not so happily, it was more like frantically) scrapbooking the last few years of my life, I came across a photo I'd taken in a shop in Pisa, Italy. I suppose the owner thought four stuffed, oddly dressed pigs (weasels?), sitting down to dinner and wine would draw in the customers. It worked--I came in far enough to take the picture (click on the photo to enlarge):

Stuffed Pigs at Table in Pisa Italy

It reminds me of a television commercial running in Canada for the restaurant Montana's Cookhouse. It features a wall mounted deer and moose head chatting about the great food and customers just meters away. Is it just me, or does thinking about dead animals with their heads chopped off turn most people off their feed?

One day when my daughter was quite young, she came home from a birthday party with a knick knack in the form of a kitten.

It was soft and cute, and she quite liked it. I didn't tell her that the fur had once belonged to a rabbit.

But I'm just as guilty. Looking through my cat's basket of toys, I found several rabbit fur-covered playthings. I know I bought them, but can't imagine what I was thinking when I picked them off the store shelf. I guess I was thinking the toys were soft and cute, ignoring the fact that the fur had once belonged to a bunny.

I promise to be more aware (and awake) in the future.

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Happy Ending

In November, I promised Nuclear Toast a story with a happy ending. I think this news qualifies:

Last August, Brenda Hemsing drove from San Diego to Wetaskiwin, Alberta with her two dogs, Cocoa and Jake for a family visit. While the family was away on a day trip, the dogs escaped from the fenced-in yard. Cocoa was found, but Jake, a three-year-old German shepherd-collie cross, eluded capture, and Ms. Hemsing returned home without her beloved pet.

Fast forward five months: A seemingly well-fed Jake is found camping out under an abandoned bus in Ponoka, 36 kilometers from Wetaskiwin. Ponoka residents supplied blankets and food to the dog they'd named The Squatter, but grew concerned when temperatures plummeted to minus 40.

Lured into a humane live trap with the promise of food, Jake has been rescued, and is now booked on a flight back to San Diego. And the warmer weather.