Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Where is Halifax, Nova Scotia going?

The article at the left here was the impetus for me finally writing this post here today. Can you imagine a shopping mall here in the Halifax Regional Municipality that had a 10,000 square foot dog park attached to it, with specially designated shops and dog comfort stations that cater to canines. A place where dogs are welcome at their food court and outdoor patio areas and all of it's “many trendy restuarents.”

There is a mall like that in Chula Vista California - and in tons of other places across the United States – and its because, as this article states - "as an increasing number of restaurants and hotels strive to be more pet friendly".

I was reading this article today in the latest issue of the magazine "Doggie Afficianado" and it hit me like a ton of bricks, because I've been ruminating for the last week - since last Wednesday's meeting between "residents, ball team officials and off leash proponents to meet and discuss off leash issues at the Robert Drive Ball Diamond" over in Dartmouth.

After the meeting I was just so disheartened by what the city officials - namely John Charles - Planner with Real Property Planning, Infrastructure and Asset Management – and by the way, I am SO glad I audio taped the meeting so that I can quote him directly with some of the gold nuggets when he said things like – “parks are for people, we’re not in the business of building dog parks” – to a room full of dog owners there for nothing more than having a park re-opened so that they could run their dogs off leash in a space they considered safe.

That meeting got me to thinking about Halifax in general – where the city is going – what is the municipal government doing to make our city better – how is it treating its tax payers, how does it communicate with them – what does it THINK about the people who live here – what information does it think the people who live in this city need to know.

The word “transparency” has come up a lot in the dog community a lot in the last couple of years – and I’ve been thinking about it in relation to the HRM Municipal government in the last week – and not just in relation to dog issues – I did some googling in other areas of HRM politics – and it seems like the Municipal government is as closed, cold, and unthinking with the rest of the HRM public as it is with tax paying dog owners.

Stephen Kimber wrote a blog post about how secretive Halifax City Council is back in early September – about why Council feels it necessary to have so many Committee of the Whole Meetings instead of Open Council Meetings – and he’s got an excellent point.

The Coast did an article as well about this month – called “Secrecy, detailed - Halifax council uses secret meetings for public business” – the last sentence of the article says everything –

“In a democracy, the presumption should be that information should be public unless there's good reason for it not to be, but in Halifax the presumption is the opposite.Halifax council demonstrates its contempt for the public 63 percent of the time it meets in secret.“

There seems to be a general business philosophy at the HRM that the public are a bunch of no-gooders who don’t deserve any kind of information or authority – from the top to the bottom – and that is SO wrong. They treat the public unbelieveably horribly for no good reason – they give out no information about anything. Do the people in the “media” office actually work?

Me personally – from now on – whenever I have a question about the HRM or a story relating to the City – I am going to email Deborah Story – her title given on the HRM’s website is “HRM Acting Corporate Communications Officer” and her contact info as (902) 490-6531 and storyd@halifax.ca - because you can’t even believe people involved in the specific incidents anymore.

A couple months ago there was the “pit bull incident” on the Prospect Road – everybody remember that? When the “pit bull” bit the couple of cyclists trying to go down the road? One of the cyclists bit said that HRM had already put the dog down – only a couple days after the incident – and I was questioning that, because Andrea MacDonald, head of Animal Control had said that only a judge could order a dog euthanized.

Well here we are last week with a newspaper story saying that this dog is still over at the HRM’s Animal Control Pound facility. It’s still alive. Why wouldn’t Andrea MacDonald have said that the dog was still alive a couple months ago? Why wouldn’t SOMEONE have said the dog was still alive? I sent emails trying to find out why the dog was killed – but no one answered me back.

The people at HRM for some reason think it’s okay to just not answer questions – and I have no idea why they think that. How is that good public relations? I have no idea. Can someone please tell me how that is good public relations? Maybe HRM doesn’t care about public relations. Maybe that’s what it is.

And in my googling – it’s not just about dog issues that this is happening.

I deeply love this place that we are living in, and I am really worried that the people we’re paying to take care of the bureaucratic functions at the municipal level don’t have the best interests – or don’t have the same philosophies – as the majority of the people who are living here in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Maybe they don't even care.

Yes, we are all dog owners, but we are also people who spend time with our families, and our friends – we are part of neighbourhoods, we own property, we live in apartments – there’s a whole section on the HRM’s website that’s called “Good Neighbours, Great Neighbourhoods” at http://myhrm.ca/ - and it’s got a Facebook component with only 95 members the last time I checked – we volunteer with organizations that are important to whatever our life calls us to – and there’s 1,000’s of things in this world that are important and life changing. We all aren't just involved with dog stuff - we're also involved with every other kind of community group that can be imagined within our municipality - and we have to let the people at City Hall know that.

I’ve always said that Halifax is dog friendly DESPITE of the HRM’s government – but for how much longer – I don’t know.

Last Wednesday night we went in to that meeting about the Robert Drive Park with the knowledge that the park was going to be opening up on Friday.

The President of Dartmouth District Minor Baseball Association - Mike Curry, came to the meeting to say that his Association would NOT be renting any ballfield that was also used as a field for use by dogs because it was too much of a liability issue, and the stink made by dog piss was overwhelming - so it was a non-issue for his organization - it was not going to be happening anymore.

There were about 25 dog owners who came to the meeting who pretty much came to the meeting simply because they had no other place to take their dogs because they only wanted to take their dogs off leash in a spot that was completely enclosed - meaning fenced in - and what they considered a safe area. For whatever reason, whether it was because they were runners, or they just were newbie dog owners - they didn't want to have their dogs off leash in open, park like spaces. And that was that. And the Robert Park Drive ball field is the only space - that we know of - that up until now - we could LEGALLY - do that.

When the park was previously open - children were allowed to play in the park - and could do so at any time - every park in the HRM is a multi-use park - open to everyone. The goal on page 1 of the off leash strategy has always said - "HRM will employ universal design principles to ensure that off leash areas are accessible to all park users." Lump it or leave it.

So we went into the meeting with those facts know - and we left the meeting with "compromises" - worked out by John Charles - because that was what HE wanted - so this is what they are -

Dogs are allowed off leash between 5am and 12pm and 5pm and 10pm - so that children can play in the park between 12pm and 5pm unobstructed by those nasty off leash dogs.

He said that "kids need to play on the field", and "ball parks need special consideration" - except for the fact that Mike Curry and his organization will not be renting any fields that have any dog use whatsoever.

At the meeting there were two (2) Municipal Councillors - newly elected Darren Fisher from riding #6 - his email is - and Bill Karsten, the Councillor for

For some reason - neither of the Councillors knew about the fact that there was supposed to be a report released in June 2009 to Regional Council during "Phase 2" of the implementation of the Off Leash Strategy - after having opened more than 20 permanenet off leash parks - and when I said that at the meeting to Bill Karsten and he looked at John Charles all he said was "yup". It's on page 21 of the original "Off Leash Parks Strategy Report" that was released in 2007 - but funnily enough - the report that's currently on the HRM's website - is only 10 pages long. I wonder why? And I wonder if there was any report in June that was released to Council? Maybe it was released to Council of the Whole? I should email Deborah Story about that...

Note - it's beautiful, I just found the email John Charles sent out in 2007 when the off leash strategy was first finalized - here it is:


Please accept my apologies for any cross posting.

The proposed HRM Off Leash Parks Strategy will be presented to Regional Council, Committee of the Whole (COW) on Tuesday, June 26th. Here is the URL for the agenda and report


Official copies of the proposed Strategy will be available soon. In the meantime, here are some of the key issue raised by HRM citizens that lead to the development of the revised Strategy. Over 250 citizens attended our off leash workshops to review the draft Strategy released in January 2007. While most people supported the Guiding Principles of the Strategy, the majority of participants didn't support the Draft's volunteer-based approach to developing and operating off leash areas. We also heard that more than one pilot off leash area was necessary and that extended hours for sportsfields should be considered. Participants wanted convenient, clean, cost efficient, safe, and simple off leash areas. They also suggested that HRM should provide off leash areas in existing parks, trails, and sportsfields and not burden dog owners with additional fees for costly infrastructure (fencing, fountains, etc.) The most frequent recomendations were to provide adequate parking, waste receptacle, regular maintenance, and enforcement. Many also mentioned the City of Calgary's approach to Responsible Pet Ownership as a model program that HRM should consider adopting.

I hope you will be pleased with the revised Strategy. Here are a few highlites.

5 new off leash park areas in 2007 13 additional off leash park areas in 2008
Extended sportsfield hours during the off season Pilot program for all year use of 10 sportsfields in 2008 HRM-operated with no volunteer committments or additional fees
Responsible Pet Ownership public education and communication plan

It's important to understand that at this point, the proposed Strategy has not been discussed, or endorsed by Regional Council. On June 26, the Strategy could be accepted by Council, or it could be sent back to staff for further amendments. When adopted, the Strategy won't be an inflexible document that will prevent any necessary policy changes that may become apparent. Annual reviews, ongoing public consultation, and reports to Council will ensure opportunities for the Strategy to evolve during its implementation.

John Charles
Planner Real Property Planning
Community Development

John Charles email address is parkdog@halifax.ca

One has to ask themself - was anything in the off leash strategy implementation really fulfilled? And if not, why not? If you click on the link I gave at the beginning of this post on John Charles' name - it's a link to an article about John Charles where he talks about how Halifax's off leash parks are going to be different because “These parks are going to be under a microscope.” Meaning more patrols by park officials and bylaw officers. More fines for unregistered dogs and untethered ones outside of the off-leash areas."

I would say any dog owner who's been to a park in the last 2 years would agree that none of that has happened. And that is a HUGE problem. Enforcement - the city has totally let dog owners - and non dog owners down. And who is to blame for that? You decide - and do something about it. Let the city know. Because if Mr. Charles wants us to "compromise" - I think the City has to do at least a modicum of work - at least empty a couple of garbage containers would be nice.

If you're interested - this is what John Charles said about 1 hour into the 2 hour meeting about the Robert Park Dog Park meeting:
"How can we work this out, are there places we can compromise. We’ve heard that the kids need to be able to play on the field, uh and we’ve heard that ball teams have special considerations and we’ve heard that dog owners have special considerations, so we’ve got a place where we can’t all share it at once. So are there compromises we can make right now at once, right now that would allow us to move forward and improve the situation for all of us. So that’s my challenge to you…

Does everyone realize that when the ball teams rent those fields they pay for them? We could go into this, and I understand that ball teams do rent facilities, likewise – agility trainers and associations and trainers rent ball fields as well – so and in summer, 30 of our sports fields across HRM open every November to May 1st all day for off leash use, and that’s on our website – that list of 30 sports fields – so think of that opportunity that has been presented.

Someone asks “how many of them are fenced?” And John replies – “um – and I think that what you have to do is again, when we first came out with the strategy was in 2006 it called for fenced areas built, and we had close to 400 people out to our community consultation – a vast majority said that what they wanted were open trail walking experiences for their dogs, uh, and, they didn’t want enclosures – and that’s, that’s what we heard. All of the reports from the public meetings are on our website. I encourage you to go read them and see what the public said and what we heard is that parks are for people and park use of people with dogs is a privilege because there has to be equal responsibility to have a well trained dog and that “if” we’re going to provide areas of enclosure, um, then there’s a lot more work that needs to be done.

We approached this by saying what we need is something economically sustainable. We have many different demands on our resources, and what can we do to convert some areas of our parks to offleash use while maintaining the balance of the approach in maintaining the areas of where you can know that you’re not going to see a dog off leash and know whereas you’re welcome to have your dog off leash, but in any of those areas, people are welcome – anyone can come into an area, it’s not an exclusive off leash area – parks are for people, we’re not in the business of building dog parks, we’re building parks for dogs and people – so we don’t build those exclusive use facilities for dogs, that’s not part of our role – and that’s what we heard from the public – that’s what we heard back from the public during those meetings – so I’m not going to go any further, because what we need to do is focus on Robert Drive"

I figured out why dogsbite.org woman hates dogs so much!

This is what she used to look like - Colleen Lynn - the woman who has the dogsbite.org website - the site dedicated to killing all pit bulls everywhere around the world (http://www.dogsbite.org/)- she won a contest back in 2006 describing her boss - and her boss said things to her like - "You are a dog. As a dog, you do what dogs do — simple things. You also do everything that I tell you to, and when I tell you to." and "Get down on your hands and knees and pick up the tape! I want to see you crawl around like a dog. Do you understand?" She goes on to say in the article - "Earlier than this, I craned over the classifieds table and manually pasted ad after ad onto a blue-lined sheet. The rabid woman habitually came by and said things like, "You don't have talent!" And, "You don't have what it takes!"

I wish someone would say that to her now. I found out about this because the below article was in our local newspaper today if you can believe it - I couldn't find it online, but when I saw it I immediately recognized the face as the one and only woman who runs that awful website. It couldn't have been anyone but her - and she has 2 poor bichons - I feel very sorry for those dogs. They don't look very happy - they definitely need a trip to the beauty parlour.

So she obviously has a psychological disorder relating to her first job - maybe post traumatic stress disorder because her boss treated her like a dog - and she thinks that dogs are somehow worse than humans - somehow "below" humans - and she wants to be able to elevate herself above dogs - but in her head she can't because her first boss wouldn't let her - she was no better than a dog - and she just can't do it - so she's trying to have the species annihiliated - and then maybe somehow that will make her all better. Then she will be okay. Really - instead of hating this woman for what she's trying to do - we should pity her and try to get her the help she needs. And it was all there in a writing contest she won way back in 2006 and we could have been trying to get her help ever since then - what shitty friends she must have that they had that right in front of them all this time and they've never tried to help her. That is too bad. Now that some dog people know about it - maybe now she'll get the help she needs - feel free to contact her through her dogsbite website or her vainnotion website.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Former Halifax Police Officer Jamie Symington in new "Cesar's Way" Magazine!

So Cesar Millan has got a new magazine, and I had to pick up a copy - and wow, I couldn't believe that on page 24 there's a photo there of Jamie Symington - former Halifax police officer, who won a contest to have his now deceased police dog Trackr cloned! What a small world, eh? Amazing! He is so famous now I guess!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Zeus the dog 1 and 1/2 years later - a video!

I've been down with a headache all day - so when I got up and found an email from Zeus's owner - the dog who was thrown in a cage for almost 4 years by animal abuser Zonda MacIsaac - the owner of Celtic Pets who abused many many animals, and who's mother, animal abuser Alice MacIsaac abused by dog Jack - giving me a link to a video they'd taken of Zeus showing how he's doing now - I was just SO happy to see it and couldn't help but cry at how happy Zeus is living now. You can click on the video below to watch it or go directly to the You Tube channel at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oo6ezpbLqm0

Happy endings are always so beautiful to see - and this one is especially nice - because to know an animal living in a cage in his own shit and piss for 4 years because of some crazy hateful woman when there were so many people around her offering her help - and to know that even now there are still people around her who maintain friendships with her, is pretty disgusting to me, and I'm sure to a lot of people.

But Zeus is getting the life he deserved now at least. Thanks to his wonderful family now - who I'm sure always wanted the best for all animals. Thank-you!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Meet your meat in Windsor, Nova Scotia

So instead of going to the Wiggle Waggle thing being put on by the CKC today over in Shubie today, I decided to go to the Exhibition up in Windsor with my Dad - he loves to watch the "Ox Pull" - which is what we went to see - you'll see the photos below - this photo is of a donkey that was mixed in with a bunch of mini-horses -
I thought that was really funny - you remember the Sesame Street song "one of these things is not like the other - 12 of these things are kind of the same..." - well that's what this was - 12 pony's and one donkey - he was very cute though.
And no rural visit would be complete without some photos of flowers -
They had 4-H contests for everything - flowers, tomatoes, pumpkins, apples, baking stuff - way more than the Halifax competitions at the Halifax Exhibition every fall.

Another big difference between this Exhibition and the one in Halifax is that this one was dog friendly! If only I'd known!

Bobby and Buttercup would have loved this place - this jack russell was manning a booth at a country clothier from Halifax called "The Cowboy Way" - and just when I was thinking to myself that the cow hide carpet matched the fur on the dog perfectly the people started talking about how the carpet was the hide of the dog's mother - but of course they were kidding!

There were dogs everywhere - out on the midway, in with the animals -
Even in the ring with the oxen - although I'm not sure he was meant to be in there -
Although he seemed to be having a pretty good time - I wonder what oxen shit tastes like to a dog?

I also went and checked out the farm animals - this sheep was very neat - he really liked the taste of my hand - although I think he most enjoyed the taste of the diamonds on the ring I was wearing!
I love these animals who have the eyes on the sides of their head - their eyes are always so big and expressive with such big eyelashes, and somehow they seem to be so good at giving eye contact.
These are some other kind of sheep that weren't so interested in human contact - that previous one loved to be scratched and petted - he was amazing for a city person not used to farm animal contact.

And then I got to my favourite part - the cows - and today I tried to look at them a slightly different way than I have in a while - I tried to look at them as animals that are on their way to slaughter in the not too distant future.

That's for two reasons - I'm currently taking an online course called "Most Good, least harm" from the Institute for Humane Education - and also because I watched a 2 minute video that's on Facebook right now called "I am Scared" - and it's 2 cows in a chute waiting to go through a door to be stunned so that they can be killed for slaughter - and those things can set a person to thinking.
I have talked about philosophies about meat eating here before - so I won't go into it again - but I'll give some links to the sites I've come across in the last few days.
There's a facebook group called "Global Earthlings" that's all about - I think you would call it, the abolitionist principles, of which I am NOT particularly for, but it's somewhat compelling. They have a link to the movie "Earthlings" that you can watch in it's entirety online.
The "I am Scared" video on Facebook can be watched by clicking here
- the Institute for Humane Education's website is here - and they also have a facebook page
The book "Most Good, Least Harm" book by Zoe Weil though is an amazing read - every page has something that has a life-changing thought on it if you choose to do something about it. It is truly an unbelievable book in the ideas that she's writing about regarding a new way that each of us can live our lives so that we can each be gentle, compassionate, and as it says on her website - "With a world steeped in materialism, environmental destruction, and injustice, what can one individual possibly do to change it? While the present obstacles we face may seem overwhelming, Zoe Weil shows us that change doesn’t have to start with an army. It starts with you. Through her straightforward approaches to living a MOGO, or “most good,” life, she reveals that the true path to inner peace doesn’t require a retreat from the world. Rather, she offers powerful and practicable tools to face these global issues and improve both our planet and our personal lives.

So now on to the oxen! I saved the best part for last - I also took photos of the oxen last year at the Halifax Exhibition and you can see those in photos in a post from last October - in that competition the winner pulled almost 10,000 pounds and today they only got up to I think almost 7,000 pounds.
I liked this guy - he seemed very nice to his oxen.
This was the guy who ultimately won the competition - and this was the winning pull - they were really working it.
I love it when the guys seem like they're pulling all the weight themselves and they almost fall down - or DO actually fall down when they're trying to get the oxen to pull the weight - that's always a big crowd pleaser - especially when their hats fall off or something like that! Now that's entertainment!

Friday, September 18, 2009

A new piece of camera equipment = fun for me!

So I've gone and bought a new lens for my fabulous Canon EOS 40D that this coming Christmas I'll have had for 2 years.
It's an image stabilized 18-200mm lens for those of you who have fancy cameras - and I LOVE IT.
Up until now I've only had basically the lens that came with the camera - an 18-55mm lens - although I had switched it up for an image stabilized lens which did make a difference.
I feel like it's okay to talk about this geeky stuff here because this blog is so photographically heavy, so maybe some of the readers appreciate talk about camera specifications - because it's pretty important if you want to get the perfect dog shots - and that's one of the major goals of my life at this point and has been for the last several years - to get the perfect dog wrestling photo! I still can't believe that this photo of Jackie was taken clear across the room from where I was sitting yesterday. Oh, the photos I'm going to be able to take now.
The only drawback to my recent camera upgrades is that the weight of my camera has gone from two pounds to 4 1/2 pounds!
But to be able to get some photos of Buttercup looking beautiful and Bobby looking intelligent -
it will be worth the weight!

Coyotes killing cats in Bedford - and Jessica Simpson's Dog!

So it seems that singer Jessica Simpson's beloved dog Daisy was snatched this week by a coyote in Los Angeles California. When I heard that, I couldn't believe it. I could not believe that in a place as crazy as Los Angeles, that something like a coyote could take something as protected and coddled as a malti-poo of a famous singer from her backyard. Really, it's unbelievable - but it's true. I feel very bad for Ms. Simpson, she must be devastated by the inexcplicability of the story.

And then today - here in Halifax - a news story comes out about coyotes snatching cats from our own city - in the area of Bedford - the news story is posted below. Cats are disappearing from that area, and they think coyotes are doing it.

It reminds me of a story the ladies up in Antigonish were telling me when I went to visit them last month - of a bald eagle's nest that fell to the ground near where they live - and the fact that THIRTEEN cat's collars were found in the nest.

So perhaps not just coyotes can be blamed for missing pets when you can't find them - there are other predators that you have to watch out for - if you have bald eagle's nests in your vicinity - you should watch from the air too! Because you know - a lot of cats DON'T wear collars - so how many cats were plucked by that bald eagle family who weren't wearing collars? You have to wonder.

Just one more reason to keep your cats inside, eh? And keep a close eye on your little dogs, too - I would be devastated if something picked up Bobby by it's talons.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Super Duper Dog Movie at the Atlantic Film Festival!!

Local Dog Blogger - Heather Young, who writes the blog "For the Love of the Jowl" - a blog about her very photogenic dogue de bordeaux - it turns out, is also a film-maker!

She has a short film that is going to be at the Atlantic Film Festival next Monday September 21st - this is what is on the Facebook site about the film -

Dog Girl is a short film written and directed by Heather Young. It is playing in Atlantic Shorts IV at AFF with 5 other short films.

Tickets can be purchased at the AFF box office at Parklane and at Video Difference on Quinpool.

Dog Girl recently won the Norman McLaren Award for best overall student film at the Montreal World Film Festival.

Here is what the NFB had to say:
"Dog Girl is a realistically filmed drama, intensely evocative and sensitively acted, a story of adolescence in an underprivileged suburb, where hope can rise from despair."

Brittany is fourteen and lives in a public housing neighbourhood with her single mother. Despite her bleak environment she is outgoing, trusting, and optimistic. When she is dumped by her boyfriend, he starts an odd and embarrassing rumour about her that causes her to make a decision to take control of her identity.

The movie is being screened with 5 other short films at Park Lane 8 September 21st at 7pm - you can find out more or buy tickedts at the Atlantic Film Festivals website or join the Facebook's event page.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My fabulous new sewing machine

So I have bought a new sewing machine - and this is the first thing I've made - I also hemmed a pair of pants, but maybe that doesn't count. I was very selfish and didn't make a dog thing - I made a bracelet. One of the things I want to do is to make bracelets - or you could maybe more accurately call them - "cuffs" - out of old belts that I think are really neat, but my old sewing machine wouldn't go through them, but my new sewing machine will go through them no problem!
This is my new machine! It's an antique singer sewing machine called a "Singer 15-91 or a 15J in Canada", and it's really beautiful - bought on Kijiji from a lady in Kentville. In beautiful condition - it was made from the 1930's to the 1950's - so it's at least 60 years old and works beautifully.
These are a couple photos I took on September 11th of the big dogs being cute. This is actually Charlie yawning. Doesn't he look fierce half way through a yawn! haha!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Where WERE you on September 11, 2001

The things that happened on September 11th, 2001 around the world affected me a lot. I know exactly where I was. I was at home that day, taking a vacation day. I was working on finishing up a quilt, and my husband called me from his work to tell me to turn on the television, a plane had hit a building in New York City, and a couple seconds after I turned it on - the 2nd tower was hit - and from then on that's all I did, was quilt and watch the tv.

When the buildings started collapsing - that was when I started getting freaked out. Buildings are constructed so that they won't collapse - they are built so that they will last until you tear them down. Especially skyscrapers that are made from steel - if you can't depend on that - what can you depend on?

And then in the following days - the 911 calls, and the reports of people jumping from the buildings - those were the things that really began to affect me. There was one man who was on the phone to 911 on one of the upper floors - screaming for them to do something and come and help him - just as the building started to collapse - so you hear him being demanding and then all of a sudden you hear "Oh my Gaauuuuuu......" - and you know he is turning to dust with the rest of the building. That 911 call haunted me for weeks.

At the time I didn't know it, but I was pretty sick - and it was only 5 months later that my 14 year marriage broke up - and I think that the events of September 11th helped to move it along, for sure.

Life is so fleeting. And short.

I know exactly where I was on September 11, 2001 - in more ways than one. I really wish I could say the world was a safer and better place now, but I don't think it is, unfortunately - which is too bad. But personally - I think I'm in a better place. I dread going back to a life like I had back then. Thank dog for dogs. And fathers. (He might get pissed off if I didn't thank him too, and it's not good to piss off the father!)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Looking for a sewing machine....

Even looking for a sewing machine can dig up dog people. I sent out an email to a local Yahoo group called "HRM Community" - asking if anyone had any suggestions about the best place to buy a sewing machine, because I want to sew some heavy fabrics, and my current sewing machine is not able to do what I want - and I got some great replies.

I got emails back from people about a store in Bridgewater that looks like it sells exactly the sewing machines I'm looking for - Bridgewater Sewing Centre - they sell new and used domestic and household sewing equipment. There's also "Kelly's Creative Sewing" over in Dartmouth that sells different lines of sewing machines and also has classes to teach sewing. And then there's "Marlene's Sewing Bee" out in Lower Sackville that sells and services lots of different kinds of sewing machines - which is where I'm going to take an old sewing machine my Dad gave me that will probably work beautifully after getting a good cleaning.

But I also got a couple emails from people who had super suggestions too - one guy emailed me who actually collects antique sewing machines and really knows his stuff and he said that someone had just posted a really good used machine on Kijiji - so I emailed the ad - and I'm going to buy this person's sewing machine on Saturday.

When I told her what I wanted the machine for - to make dog collars and leashes - she said she knits dog sweaters - and has a website, and she emailed her site - and WOW - what beautiful sweaters! The website is at http://www.eagletreedesigns.com/ and the sweaters are at http://www.eagletreedesigns.com/dogsweaters.htm

I got another email from a lady who had a couple suggestions on where to get a sewing machine, and she also has dogs - and a dog website with her husband selling dog gear. She's also a reader of this blog and said that she pictures "a nautical themed collar with a mini buoy bling hanging on it" being produced by my new sewing machine.

That sounds like a really good idea to me! Her website is at http://www.dogsingear.ca/

So wherever I go - I always run into dog people, which is great! And I also get new links to share the love on my Charlie loves Halifax site too!

The real difference between Calgary and Halifax

This is a snapshot of where some of Calgary's off leash spaces are - there are 138 of them covering more than 1,275 hectares.

I got an email in the last couple of days because the The HRM Off Leash Parks Strategy Committee will be hosting a neighbourhood meeting between local residents, ball team officials and off leash proponents to meet and discuss off leash issues at the Robert Drive Ball Diamond over in Dartmouth on September 23rd.

That ball diamond had not been being used as a ball diamond so had been deemed usable as an off leash space last year during the off leash strategy "testing" phase - and one thing that set this spot apart from every other legal off leash space in the HRM is that this spot was completely fenced in - and word got out about that fact, so this became quite a popular spot for dog owners who wanted to exercise their dogs off leash but perhaps weren't quite sure that they had a perfect recall for their dog, or didn't want to have to interact with bicyclists and joggers and things like that - so the park got a lot of use - and in the spring - the turf was pretty much all chewed up, and guess what happened?

The City closed the park down because they said that dog owners were abusing the park, there had been complaints and ONE ball team had signed up to use the park. I talked about the facts in a post at http://dogkisser.blogspot.com/2009/06/how-many-complaints-does-it-take-to.html

So in other words - when tax paying dog owners in the Halifax Regional Municipality find something that actually works for them - the city closes it down.

It's interesting, because right now the city of Calgary is reviewing their own offleash strategy - and in October 2009 they'll be presenting their final report to their City Council - they talked to, get this - THOUSANDS OF DOG OWNERS, asking they wanted for their tax dollars and licencing fees. Wow. It was the most comprehensive dog ownership survey in history.

As a result of this study - Bill Bruce will be asking for MORE OFF-LEASH PARKS - NOT LESS. (Note here - I am quoting from a newspaper article from the Calgary Sun that I will be putting at the end of this post).

And what's really amazing is - parks that are overused - are a SIGN THAT MORE OFF LEASH PARKS ARE NEEDED IN THAT AREA - not that dog owners are abusing their privileges.... can you imagine! Here's a quote from the Calgary Sun article that's at the end of this post - "Nora Tuckey, president of the Southland Natural Park Society, is hopeful the call for new dog parks will finally be heard. "It's been badly needed for many years, especially to relieve the pressure at places like Southland," she said. "It's been pounded into the dirt through overuse." "

So to me, it's quite glaring what the real difference is between Calgary Alberta and Halifax Nova Scotia when you compare our municipal governments attitudes to it's tax paying dog owners - one government wants to work with, cultivate good relationships, make good use of space, realizes that the dogs are NOT going away - and neither are their owners, and are an income stream that could become lucrative if they worked it correctly in a positive way - and another municipal government obviously thinks of dogs and their owners as something that is a waste of time, does nothing but spoil the environment, every owner is bad and should be lucky for what they DO have, only wants the City to spend money they don't have, and generally just wants to create an adversarial relationship so that maybe the tax paying dog owners will go away and all the dogs will die of old age and the owners will be so devastated they won't replace the dogs and the city won't have any more of those awful things that just get fleas, shit and piss everywhere anyway. Yuck.

So anyway, if you're interested in off leash spaces - or at least the Robert Drive Park off leash space - there's going to be a meeting to talk about the possibility of maybe reopening it - it was supposed to be reopened in September, but I guess that's not happening since the meeting is September 23rd, and the meeting is about "the possibility of reopening it" - I love Halifax's bureaucrats. You should show up at the meeting.

Thank dog Halifax is dog friendly DESPITE City Hall. Just go out and live your life - that's what I do, and that's what 1000's of other dog owners do. And it's pretty good. No one bothers you. Because do you know what? Just about everyone loves dogs - and I'd say that anyone reading this blog has good dogs that are lovely to be around, so don't worry. It's all good.

Here's the meetin info - The HRM Off Leash Parks Strategy Committee will be hosting a neighbourhood meeting on Wednesday, September 23 from 7:00-9:00 pm at the East Dartmouth Community Centre, 50 Caledonia Road to discuss the reopening of the off leash field at Robert Drive. This will be an opportunity for local residents, ball team officials and off leash proponents to meet and discuss off leash issues at the Robert Drive Ball Diamond.

Here's the article from the Calgary Sun

Dogged demands
Survey shows Calgarians calling for more off-leash areas

An off-leash park within walking distance of every home -- such is the utopian demand of those sharing their home with canis familiaris, better known as the family dog. Whether that shaggy Shangri-La vision of a dog park for every community is realized will ultimately be up to Calgary's aldermen -- but the people have spoken, and a lot more room for Rover and Rex is what the people want.

"We have a good database to take before city council, to say 'this is what the public thinks, and this is what they want.' And it's pretty safe to say what they want is more parks," said Bill Bruce, head of Animal Control and the city's chief bylaw officer.

A "pretty good database" is an understatement, after the bylaw department spent the last year talking to thousands of dog owners, asking what they want for their tax dollars and licensing fees.

And so, new off-leash parks for the Calgary's 100,000-plus dogs will top the plan when it's presented to city council in October. That's when the full results of the most comprehensive dog-ownership survey in history will be released to aldermen. Council ordered the study last year, after concerns were raised about overcrowded dog parks and the management of existing sites.

The final report is still being compiled, but the headline to follow can easily be drafted weeks in advance: Fur Flies at City Council. It's bound to be a contentious subject. Surplus land is in short supply in Calgary, yet 100,000 voters are pretty hard to ignore.

Having reviewed thousands of responses to the still-ongoing study -- there were nearly 5,000 when summer began -- Bruce said dog owners have made their desires clear.

As a result, he'll be asking city council for more off-leash parks.

"More parks would be my hope -- the goal is to end up with more," said Bruce.

"We absolutely will not end up with less."

Though he'll be up against the space demands of sports groups and developers, Bruce said overcrowding in large parks like Southland makes for a compelling argument.

One solution might be adding smaller, neighbourhood parks to take the pressure off the big off-leash zones.

Bruce said owners would rather take Fido for walks without a car ride first.

"People want the parks closer, so they don't have to drive so far, and that makes sense for environmental reasons," he said.

The remaining requests are fairly basic, says Bruce, including fences for safety, and more garbage bins.

And, said Bruce, dog owners want the parks to themselves, instead of sharing with cyclists and other humans.

"They want a segregation between dogs and other uses, because they feel mixed use is a recipe for disaster," he said.

Along with surveying the mutt-owning masses, the bylaw office mapped the concentration of dogs in Calgary.

The deep south is by far the most canine-crowded end of Calgary -- yet the only sizeable dog park is Southland, beside the Deerfoot.

Ald. Linda Fox-Mellway, whose ward covers the deep south, says she needs to see the full report before committing to new off-leash parks.

"I know there are a lot of dogs in the south, but I have to see the report first."

The plan for new off-leash parks already has at least one supporter on council. Ald. Ric McIver, whose ward contains Southland, said it was an issue he raised in early 2008.

"Council wasn't ready to act then, so maybe when they're armed with this new information, they'll be ready to add off-leash areas," he said.

McIver wants the city to include off-leash areas in the blueprint for every new community, much like sports fields and playgrounds are planned now.

Nora Tuckey, president of the Southland Natural Park Society, is hopeful the call for new dog parks will finally be heard.

"It's been badly needed for many years, especially to relieve the pressure at places like Southland," she said.

"It's been pounded into the dirt through overuse."

Monday, September 7, 2009

Some Photos from a lazy Labour Day

So everybody today was resting after a busy long weekend - which is something that everybody here does really well -
Daisy especially likes to "rest"!

I'd say the breed of rottweillers are probably known as being very good at laying down and not being particularly very interested in getting up if they don't have to - that's why so many of them end up having backs very similar in appearance to coffee tables - of which Daisy has worked very hard to emulate. She's lost some weight recently, but in the past - she was very true to her breed standard.
I have recently moved the dogs beds around - so Buttercup has a new cushy bed into one of her favourite spots, so she's pretty happy about that.
A close-up of Bobby with his favourite thing in the world, shaking the shit out of a toy
And a close-up of Buttercup watching Bobby shake the shit out of a toy. She's never very impressed with that - she thinks she can do that much better than him - and truly, she can - she's so beautiful when she does it. He's merely enthralling.
Charlie taking everything in, and letting his hair blow off him so that it can accumluate in humungous dust bunnes everywhere so that I look like a very bad housekeeper, but making me very thankful that I own a dyson vacuum cleaner.I was taking a couple photos of a travel blanket that I'm donating to an auction coming up - and Bobby thought that it needed a model - so he stepped right into the middle of the blanket and laid down
I thought that was very nice of him!
This is Buttercup waiting for her "grandfather" to come home so that he could take up the other 3/4 of this chair
This is Jackie out in the kitchen waiting for his piece of cheese that he gets at 8pm - he lets me know - starting at about 7:45pm that it's "cheese time" - he has an internal clock that's amazing.
Daisy trying to maneouver her way through the small dogs so that nobody notices her. All small dogs are evil as far as she's concerned and she tries to stay as far away as possible.