Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Where have I been?

I have been at the most recent seminar by Speaking of Dogs in Toronto, Canada, just a short 6 hour drive away. It was excellent. If you ever have an opportunity to see Gina Phairas (of North Carolina) and Shannon Cummings (California) teach, go for it. Day One was about "assessing your dog assessment" and hours of insight into decision making at animal shelters as well as dog behavior and assessment information. What was most remarkable about these two trainers is they made many parallels between dog behavior and human behavior. Because training a dog also involves teaching the owner to help train the dog, I came home with all sorts of insight into communicating with my cat adopters, and even people I interview for work. This wasn't just a seminar about "dog training" was a seminar about communication.

Some attendees brought their well-behaved dogs. They fidgeted less than I did.

Before I left on Monday, I mentioned I was interested in visiting some shelters and asked the conference coordinator if she knew what time Toronto Animal Services shelters opened. She insisted on escorting me straight to two of their shelters --East, and South (they have four). The staff were extremely friendly, and the shelters were clean and spacious. At both shelters, cats were housed either in large-sized traditional metal cages, or runs where buddy cats shared a chair, comfy cat beds, and toys. East had more traditional housing (except that some of the cats enjoyed dog-sized runs) and South had large glass fronted rooms in additional to more traditional cages.

I am a sucker for tubby cats, and this lady knew it. I can only resist the animals I visit at shelters because I know I have almost 20 at my place looking for homes as well:

Aisles were very wide, brightly painted, and quiet. The staff joked about how they had so many dog walking volunteers, the dogs sometimes didn't know if they were coming or going. Two dogs were picked out to be transferred to rescue while I was there.

I would have liked to have visited more shelters and other agencies, but I had to have the car safely back at the Corning/Elmira airport by 6, so had to leave Toronto around noon.

Ontario has a Dog Owner's Liability Act that essentially includes a ban on pit bulls An appeal was heard last week.

As usual, a big thank you goes to Donna and Tim, who looked after the cats while I was gone, and all the people who hung out at the house. Donna is now off volunteering with a shelter in Kentucky and had to drive through that awful windstorm to get there. I hope her drive home next week is uneventful, and she has a rewarding experience!

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