Wednesday, May 11, 2016

If Not For You ...

Before I get into the heart of our February Campaña we have an appeal.
The Cuban Institute of Veterinary Medicine permitted us to double the amount of our critical medications for entry into Cuba. 
This, wonderful development, left us with a budgetary shortfall.

If you can, please donate to keep work in Cuba alive.
If you are not able to donate at this time ....
PLEASE SHARE this posting.
Tell a friend.

In the first seven days of our appeal we realized 18% of our goal.

Help Cubans help their animals.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Love is patient, love is kind ...

It has been over two years without a major sterilization campaña.
While we worked through the process we never lost hope.
Our love for Cuba's animals and people sustained us.
The love they showed for their animals never allowed us to give up.
Now that regular entry of our medications is assured, 
all our programs are back and running.
Sterilzation Clinics for Pets
Deparasitizations for horses
Education Programs

It is fitting that our first full day on this trip would be Dia del Amor.

Our  casa particulares (accommodations) fronted on our clinic.
This morning we were created by Nina the Pero de la Casa.
She is the resident dog.
Also, a number of cats are resident and feast on the garbage bins located on the corner.
After our breakfast at La Marina we headed to our appointed meeting place for our ride to Mantanzas.
But that was not without some excitement.
The day before our arrival Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill had a meeting at the Havana Airport.
This was the first meeting in nearly 1000 years between a Roman Catholic Pope and a Russian Orthodox Pope.
The first words from Francis to Kirill were ...
"Finally! We are brothers"
That meeting lasted three hours. 
Pope Francis flew on to Mexico and Patriarch Kirill remained in Havana.

 Our casa particulares were located around the corner from The Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Our Lady of Kazan Cathedral. 
Security had now set up a perimeter for blocks leading to the Cathedral and our appointed meeting spot.
Vehicular traffic was blocked from this area of Habana Vieja.
Kirill was giving a Divine Liturgy and President Raul Castro was in attendance.
 After we finally connected with Susana and Guillermo we were on the road.
Havana - Matanzas is 170km so we needed fuel and chocolate.
Why were we heading to Matanzas?
To meet Dr.Hanoi Dominquez of APAC - Varadero and to pick up cat traps.
APAC is doing great work in Mantanzas Province.
They have partnered with resort hotels to set up Cat Cafes and provide humane population control.
They also hold regular spay/neuter clinics for pets.
We had a dozen traps on loan to APAC.
They in turn loaned us their traps for our campaña in Havana
On the way back to Havana I requested we stop at a road side cafe. Specifically the one over looking Cuba's longest and tallest bridge.
During the round trip we had much time to talk about the plans for our World Spay Day Week.
We had this lead time to finalize details before our veterinary teams arrival.
It was to be a busy one filled with highs and lows. 
Many of which will be detailed in the next few reports.

During the roadtrip Susana presented Dairne and I with very nice cards and a gift.
A Valentine Puppy for me.
Once we had the cages stowed away in our clinic it was time to visit  HQ.
Our "headquarters" in Habana Vieja is Terracotta 4.
It is the studio-gallery of ceramicists Amelia Carballo and Ángel Norniella
HQ is a home away from home for the Spanky Project team.
Once we enter we can never leave without being feed and watered.
Their love and caring extends into the animal community of Habana Vieja.
 They are always caring for a sick or injured cat or dog.
They also manage a colony of cats in a park across the street from their studio.
When other Colony Keepers are not able to tend to their own Amelia & Angel step in.
Next we headed over to Amagura where Amelia has been filling in at feeding time for another Protectora.
This location is adjacent to Danza Teatro Retrazos .
This street will be the site for our
 mass deparasitization of pets on the last day of our World Spay Day week activities.

This was Dia del Amor or as some call it Valentine's Day.
(I like to see you happy)

A day when love is celebrated.
A day that should be a year long.
A lifetime that should be free of violence and abuse for both men and women.

On Calle Carlos III, near the University, we came across this billboard.
It promotes the Eres Mas campaign.
ERES MAS - Campaña por la no violencia hacia la mujer

The campaign for non-violence against women.

I leave you with this.
Let your love be defined by more than flowers, chocolate and words.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Critter Cabs

Last week, returning to Picton from Toronto, I stopped in at a highway service centre to check email and get a snack.
I pulled in beside a vehicle that had a sign on the side

 I tracked down the driver, Laurel. 
She filled me in on the great work they are all doing.

"Critter Cabs Animal Rescue Transports is a Transport Co-Ordination Group whose purpose is to safely transport rescue animals within Quebec and into Ontario. People in this group are volunteers who give their time, gas and use of their vehicle to help death-row animals get from life-threatening situations to the safety of rescues."

On March 30 I did my first run.
Actually, I accepted this run after a cancelled run.
This run would normally have been done in a few legs with various drivers and vehicles.

Quinte Humane Society - Belleville
to John Street Animal Hospital - Markham

The Spanky Project has come full circle.
In 1995 QHS was the shelter where we met and adopted Spanky.
This is where it all began.

Once inside the doors, and awaiting my travel companions I came upon this...
"Angel in a Dog Suit encourages kids of all ages, cultures, creeds and abilities to discover that even the most challenging times can become triumphs. Ruby's story proves that in adversity there is always an opportunity for growth and that if we don't give up on love, life gets better!"

How wonderful!
The cover reminds me of a young Spanky

As a "Critter Cabbie" you sign for the transfer ..  

.. and receive the records for your passengers.
Then it's out the door.
Gidget and Benson were being transfered
to help out QHS.
Helped by a rescue group so as to free up space for new surrenders and intakes.

The ride was uneventful and Gidget and Benson will find a new life in Markham.

I now have a way to help animals here at home

Thank you Critter Cabs!

Earlier in this post is wrote"the Spanky Project has come full circle".
In actuality, and something that was discussed on our February campaña in Havana.
The Spanky Project is traveling more of a Möbius strip...

 ... a metaphor for the twists, turns, and reversals in our work.

You encounter people, groups and institutions on your journey.

With some, you may never have a meaningful interaction.
They just fall off the edge.

Some you may have that meaningful interaction, then you part.

Some you have that meaningful interaction and they are with you forever.
If you do part, as the twists and turns of the journey progress, you know they are always with you. 
Your journeys forever intersect.

Thank you to those that are with the Spanky Project on our journey.

Thanks to those like Critter Cabs for allowing us to intersect

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Get Me Outta Here!

A big thank you to my dear friend Sandy.
After parking at her place I was given door to door service.
Thus the light weight wear on what would be the coldest day of the year.
Once inside the terminal it was good to see our flight was on time.

I sat myself down to await my travel partner flying in from San Francisco.
Dairne Ryan, a Board Member for  Fix Our Ferals was with us in 2012.
That was when we held Cuba's first mass TNR for cats.

Fix Our Ferals is a community-based non-profit organization that promotes trap-neuter-return (T-N-R) to humanely reduce outdoor cat populations in the San Francisco East Bay.
Dairne is also the Latin American Program Director for Animal Balance.
Animal Balance does wonderful work on islands around the world.
As on two of our other Havana Campañas Animal Balance are
our invited guests.

A big thank you to Air Canada for having a generous baggage allowance on their Havana route.
I packed a 23kg bag for each team member flying out of Toronto

Well that "on time" status did not last long.
We finally departed at  9:09 PM on the coldest night of the year...

 .... arrival 12:18 AM - Sun Feb-14-2016
Perhaps next time I should check on-time performance for flights.

AC 1598 On-time Performance Summary

  On-time Performance
  Delay Statistics
On-time Arrival Performance for this Flight

Very Late
Total Flights

*Due to rounding approximations, values may not add up exactly to 100%

AC 1598 On-time Performance Rating Details

Overall Rating
0 of 5
Very Poor
Avg. Delay:
54 min
FlightStats Rating is a merit measurement considering both on-time performance and delay severity. The score, 0, shows that this flight has on-time performance characteristics better than 0% of all other flights in the FlightStats database.

On-time Performance
0 of 5
Very Poor
This flight has an on-time performance of 31%. Statistically, when taking into consideration sample size, standard deviation, and mean, this flight is on-time more often than 0% of other flights.

Delay Performance
0 of 5
Very Poor
Avg. Delay:
54 min
This flight has an average delay of 54 minutes with a standard deviation of 65.51 minutes. Statistically, when taking into consideration sample size, standard deviation, and mean, this flight has delay performance characteristics better than 0% of other flights.

*This flight has an average delay of 54 minutes with a standard deviation of 65.51 minutes. Statistically, when taking into consideration sample size, standard deviation, and mean, this flight has delay performance characteristics better than 0% of other flights.

With that behind us we did arrive happily on ..
 El Dia del Amor y Amistad.
My love affair with La Habana, it's animals and people continues.
We had a smooth entry thanks to the wonderful preparations by collaborating 
Cuban structures namely....
Oficina del Historiador
Instituto de Medicina Veterinaria
Grupo Exportación e Importación - Oficina del Historiador
Cooperación Internacional - Oficina del Historiador
Sociedad Patrimonio, Comunidad y Medio Ambiente

Aduana was ready for our arrival.
They had all our paperwork lined up. 
It was great to see Spanky's face at Jose Marti Airport
Once we were cleared it was off to Habana Vieja and our Casa Particulares in Guillermo'sVW van.
Susana, Spanky Project's fabulous coordinator, arranged casas for the whole team 
on the same block as our clinic.

Our MASH Clinic by night.

The days ahead will bring TNRs, spay/neuter of pets, rabies vaccinations, and deparasitizations for  dogs, cats and horses.

This would be a trip of highs and some very low lows.
I will be honest.
 This was to be the first time I returned from a Campaña and was not totally filled with joy.
Perhaps when you realize, as I did years ago, that you can't save them all ... that takes it's toll.
Then, you beat yourself up for not "saving" just one more. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Dogs never die ...

In December 2003, after the passing of Spanky, a new dog came into our lives.
We spotted "Franny" on the Planned Pethood website.
After a near 1500 km road trip, to and from Maumee Ohio, Skeeter was home.
Her age was pegged at 8 months so we gave her a May 5th birthdate.
Cinco de Mayo.
A Mexican thread seemed to run through her life.
I will explain that in a future post.
 After losing a furry loved one we are often reminded of the 

Stephanie Evers, a Spanky Project FB Group member, sent this little known commentary to me ....

 Some of you, particularly those who think they have recently lost a dog to “death”, don’t really understand this. I’ve had no desire to explain, but won’t be around forever and must.

Dogs never die. They don’t know how to. They get tired, and very old, and their bones hurt. Of course they don’t die. If they did they would not want to always go for a walk, even long after their old bones say:” No, no, not a good idea. Let’s not go for a walk.” Nope, dogs always want to go for a walk. They might get one step before their aging tendons collapse them into a heap on the floor, but that’s what dogs are. They walk.

It’s not that they dislike your company. On the contrary, a walk with you is all there is. Their boss, and the cacaphonic symphony of odor that the world is. Cat poop, another dog’s mark, a rotting chicken bone ( exultation), and you. That’s what makes their world perfect, and in a perfect world death has no place.

However, dogs get very very sleepy. That’s the thing, you see. They don’t teach you that at the fancy university where they explain about quarks, gluons, and Keynesian economics. They know so much they forget that dogs never die. It’s a shame, really. Dogs have so much to offer and people just talk a lot.
When you think your dog has died, it has just fallen asleep in your heart. And by the way, it is wagging it’s tail madly, you see, and that’s why your chest hurts so much and you cry all the time. Who would not cry with a happy dog wagging its tail in their chest. Ouch! Wap wap wap wap wap, that hurts. But they only wag when they wake up. That’s when they say: “Thanks Boss! Thanks for a warm place to sleep and always next to your heart, the best place.”
When they first fall asleep, they wake up all the time, and that’s why, of course, you cry all the time. Wap, wap, wap. After a while they sleep more. (remember, a dog while is not a human while. You take your dog for walk, it’s a day full of adventure in an hour. Then you come home and it’s a week, well one of your days, but a week, really, before the dog gets another walk. No WONDER they love walks.)
Anyway, like I was saying, they fall asleep in your heart, and when they wake up, they wag their tail. After a few dog years, they sleep for longer naps, and you would too. They were a GOOD DOG all their life, and you both know it. It gets tiring being a good dog all the time, particularly when you get old and your bones hurt and you fall on your face and don’t want to go outside to pee when it is raining but do anyway, because you are a good dog. So understand, after they have been sleeping in your heart, they will sleep longer and longer.
But don’t get fooled. They are not “dead.” There’s no such thing, really. They are sleeping in your heart, and they will wake up, usually when you’re not expecting it. It’s just who they are.
I feel sorry for people who don’t have dogs sleeping in their heart. You’ve missed so much. Excuse me, I have to go cry now.
- Ernest Montague
 There will be no more road trips and no more tag days.
 Adiosito mi Niña
  Ms.Skeeter Mudhen
2003 - 2016

"Dogs never die"

Earth Cries ... Heaven Smiles!
You will never die!