Monday, October 31, 2016

Canadian Mental Health

Who among us has not struggled with mental health at some point? If anyone is lucky enough to never have experienced any invisible, heavy, smothering stress and pain of mental health troubles, then you most certainly know someone who has, who is, who will, so to may you in the future.

Mental health conditions are among the most stigmatized health conditions people face. Please donate to the important work that the Canadian Mental Health Association does-- provision of support and advocacy.

I, like many who will see this, have had support from CMHA. They save lives every bit as much as ER surgeons do. We need to ensure CMHA has the financial support needed to continue the breadth of service provided.

You are not alone. We are not alone. Thank you, CMHA.




All about grief and suicide support groups with CMHA-Edmonton.

Please donate.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

PLAN Canada


PLAN Canada is an amazing charity that helps under-resourced areas build capacity in ways identified by the areas being supported. They do more than child sponsorship (which is, though connecting individuals for communication, not designating funds specific to the child, but to their community,) and are the only charity of its type in Canada that does not have a religious missionary bent.
PLAN Canada is involved in crisis response as well as on-going projects. They have many opportunities through their Gifts of Hope program for donors funds to be matched by anonymous supporters (some of you will have received Gifts of Hope from our family at times in the past.)
It is a charity that does amazing, strength-building, capacity-building work and has a major section of it's work dedicated to increasing support for women and girls.
I love PLAN Canada. Please consider a donation to them through the CanadaHelps.org link on the blog sidebar or on their webpage, where you can choose a specific campaign, a Gift of Hope, or make a general donation.



All about PLAN Canada, including the Because I Am a Girl campaign.

Please donate.


Friday, October 28, 2016

Kids' Help Phone


In my mid-teens, Kids's Help Phone kept me alive. I heard their advertisements on the radio. The sing-songy announcing of their phone number worked; it stuck. I can still tell you the full number without hesitation.
I didn't have a therapist. I didn't have someone to whom I could talk. I was alone. Nameless, faceless volunteers at 1-800-668-6868 had time and support and care for me.


I can't thank them enough.

All about Kids Help Phone.

Please donate.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

NOTICE

Posting lengthy tracts is incredibly time consuming and for the most part duplicates information available on the websites of the organizations I'm featuring.

From this point on, the organizations' logos, website, and donation location will be provided daily.

I love all these organizations. Maintaining this as I have been is almost a full time job with the back end work on the blog, communication with organizations and individuals... and it's emotionally draining to spend so much time on being aware of how much need there is EVERYWHERE in our society, EVERYWHERE across the globe. It hurts. Not like the people experiencing the pain. As an autistic person though, I feel the intensity of pain, immediately, concretely, in my body. Not the same as living it. Incredibly difficult nonetheless.

Thank you for understanding.

Amnesty International




I first became involved in letter writing with Amnesty International in my teen years when I heard the story of a young man, unjustly imprisoned, tortured in horrible conditions in India. He was there doing volunteer development work; he was thrown into jail without trial for being a terrorist.

He had immigrated to Canada previously, to Edmonton; his story made the news. It was, in 1988, for me, my awakening to social justice. I joined Amnesty and a letter requesting his release was my first social justice act.

I've since had the pleasure to meet Amarjeet Sohi. He was released. He returned to Canada. He became a city councillor, working to make his city a better place.

He is now an MP in our Federal Government, a Cabinet Minister. He is The Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

We had sushi together last summer: me and the person who was, unbeknownst to him, the catalyst of my social justice work and my political awareness. We talked about this and both teared up. I haven't seen him since; I can only imagine how such a massive change of circumstances in a few decades must feel. We thanked each other mutually that day, for what each had done for the other.

I continue to support Amnesty International because there are countless people in prison internationally, held against international law, held without evidence, killed, focus of discrimination. Not everyone will be released. Not everyone will become a major political force. I certainly will not, 27 years after writing a letter, meet each person for whom I have written my support. I don't support Amnesty International for me or the potential of sushi with a lovely man!

Everyone deserves basic human rights. THAT is why I support the work Amnesty International does.

Please donate.

Monday, October 17, 2016

BLOG AND DONATION CAMPAIGN ARE SUSPENDED FOR MOMENT

Anyone following can see posts to FB event provided by my partner. Thank you.

JTMF West


Jen wrote this post as well, about JTMF West, a memorial fund into which our dear friend Joyce LaBriola pours her heart and soul:

Today's organization is one Kim and I love and support in large part because it is the heart-child of Joyce LaBriola - If you don't know Joyce, I feel sad for you, because she is one of Edmonton's biggest powerhouses. She makes amazing things happen, everywhere she goes. She is a gorgeous light and we are lucky to call her a good friend.
JTMF West came to be because Joyce lost someone to complications from the AIDS virus. And she turned that loss into a major fundraising initiative that supports agencies who, in turn, support street involved youth and other communities at increased risk of exposure to the AIDS virus.
Here's more info about JTMF West and where you can donate, if this is your cause. http://www.jtmfwest.com
Also, they have a SUPER FUN event coming up and you could support them, and have a BLAST by buying tickets, here:https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/art-in-excess-tickets-285972421…
More about the event here:
Little known fact: Kim and I had our very first date at a JTMF fundraising event. The rest, as they say, is history.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Canadian Cancer Society




My wonderful partner Jen did the post for me on the Canadian Cancer Society too:

The Canadian Cancer Society - This year Kim and I lost too many people to this asshole disease, and anything you can do to make sure fewer suffer and those diagnosed suffer less, well, we'd appreciate it.

Please donate.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers



My thanks to my lovely partner for having shared this charity on FB.

The Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers has been one of the leading agencies in welcoming Syrian refugees to our city. They are tireless. The work they do makes Edmonton a better, richer, safer city for so many.

Please donate.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Tiger Family Fund- In Memory of Shannon Zwicker



Today is October 14, 2016. It is Shannon Zwicker’s birthday. It was Thanksgiving Day the year Shannon was born. I know that I am not alone in being thankful that Shannon was the person she was and did all that she did. Shannon is someone whose full reach and impact can probably never be known; there are people in many places, in many organizations, that have been supported by Shannon’s work but who don’t know that she was responsible for it.

Shannon was a fundraiser, a donor, a visionary, a person who believed that great things could happen. She was an inspiration to many and was behind the financial beginnings and the sustainability of several of the charities featured in my 40 Days of Giving.

I was lucky enough to cross paths with Shannon several times, all, not surprisingly, at fundraisers. Much of the public, especially people who worked with her professionally, will remember her fundraising legacy most prominently when they think of her.

Personally, I think of her first as a mother, because that is how I first came to know of her.

Shannon’s sister, Heather, was one of my favourite professors in my undergraduate years. I took a class on literary theory taught by Heather; it was amazing how often Heather could fit loving anecdotes about her nieces and her sister into lectures on Althusser, structuralism, Derrida, postcolonialism… She even borrowed Lego from her nieces, noting her sister’s generosity in the loan, to illustrate something (sorry Heather, I remember the Lego and nothing whatsoever of what you did with it.) I recall her saying she demonstrated her idea to her nieces (who must have been toddlers at the time) and having laughed about it with her sister.

Shannon’s way through life, her philosophy of “love is the answer” and her positivity in the face of what would make many people crumble, was amazing. Her philanthropy, her fundraising, and her personality all made me like her from the moment I met her. (I met Shannon through my partner, not through Heather, but immediately knew they were connected. I said to Jen, my partner, "If she looks like a Zwicker and she walks like a Zwicker and she talks like a Zwicker, she must be a Zwicker. Is she related to Heather?”)

Her mothering is what I have heard much so much about, a couple of decades ago and recently, and is what I admire most, what inspires me, and from all I have heard, what motivated her. Her children meant the world to her, as did she to them.

Today, I am featuring the Tiger Family Fund. The Tiger Family Fund existed before Shannon died. She and her husband Josh set up the Tiger Family fund in 2009 to engage their children in philanthropy. As a family, they selected a cause to support each year. The Tiger Family Fund is a legacy for Shannon’s children and for our society, as the ongoing selection of causes and contributions continue.

As I mentioned, today is Shannon’s birthday. I admit that I rigged this particular date (in consultation with her sister) because of the somber coincidence that this is her first birthday since dying and it falls in the period of a fundraiser I’m running, motivated in part by Shannon. Her belief in giving back, in doing what she could, in just jumping in and trying something, and infusing her mothering with passing on all that love for the world to her children encouraged me to just go ahead and try this when the idea struck. It seemed apropos that the Tiger Family Fund being one of my selections, I should feature it on Shannon’s birthday.

I want to mark her birthday both to honour her memory and legacy and to celebrate her. I hope donations enable a small part of the mothering she did to continue, to help her children have the funds to continue the philanthropic ideals she was helping them develop, to ensure the living memory of Shannon, their mom.

On that note, I have been given permission to share something else of Shannon’s legacy of mothering. It’s something less serious than all I’ve written to this point. Shannon wrote a poem for her children that one of her daughters shared at the celebration of Shannon’s life. I think her whimsy, playfulness, and fun need to be remembered today too; those attributes are inseparable from the fundraising mom who always said, “love is the answer.”

Please read her delightful, silly poem and join me in donating to the Tiger FamilyFund. And this evening, please raise a glass to the incredible person Shannon was and to the legacy of love and caring that lives on in her children, her parents, her sister, her husband, and her sister-in-law as well as the countless lives she touched. My thanks to her family for allowing me to share this poem with you and for their kind words offered with their consent to feature the Tiger Family Fund today.


Twenty-Five Cats Named Sam
By Shannon Zwicker


Did you know Andy Warhol had twenty-five cats?
Well, it’s true – or at least it’s been said.
We can’t ask him to count them or verify facts,
For, alas, Andy Warhol is dead!

But when he was alive (and had so many cats)
An amazing young artist was Andy.
His print-makings, paintings, shows, drawings and films,
Made him famous, which no doubt was dandy!

His art was so strange, it created a stir.
It was weird; it was fresh; it was new!
And just as his fame and his fortune increased,
So his feline collection, it grew.

Do you think having twenty-five kitties is odd?
Well, I’m telling you truly, I am,
That the craziest, zaniest, makes-no-sense part
Is he named every one of them Sam!

Sam was the Persian with sea-foam blue eyes,
And Sam was a loud Siamese,
Sam the orange tabby and Sam the Maine Coon
Sam the Blue Purebred Burmese.

White cats and tortoiseshells, long hair or short,
If they meowed, they were Sam, one and all.
When their dinnertime came, it was simple enough:
Just “Sam!” was all Andy need call.

I do wish that Warhol were still here today.
I’d grab fifteen minutes of fame,
To have a Last Supper with him and his cats
And give every pet a new name.


One I’d call Campbell, another one Soup,
There’d be Pop Art and one Light Fantastic,
A black one named Velvet and one Underground,
One Inkblot, one Exploding Plastic.

Eight Elvises, yes! And four Marilyn Munroes,
Silver Cloud and a Platinum Wig,
Tainted Tuna (a tabby, I really do think)
And a calico Fiesta Pig

How many is that now? I think twenty-four.
I have but one name to assign.
What shall we call that one? I have an idea!
Don’t you think the name Sam would be fine?



TO SHANNON! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation




The Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation was founded in 2001, though had been active long before, to raise funds for the Stollery Children's Hospital. Named for the Foundation's founders, the Stollery aims to provide superior healthcare to very ill children and to children with unique health needs.
Our children see more specialists at the Stollery than I can count on my fingers. Like me, my biological children are autistic. Being autistic is not an illness but it can present some challenging co-morbid conditions and some needs that require specialized attention (if only anesthesia for examinations.) Between specialized paediatric dentists and specialized paediatric neurologists, MRIs, CAT scans, the Stollery has helped our two youngest in numerous ways. But they are not sick.

Many children who enter the Stollery are very sick. The Stollery was still new when I, as a child, was prepared by family and friends for the death of the child who was then my best friend. Her illness was a mystery; it was the early 80s and there was speculation of AIDS, then hepatitis... but tests came back negative time and again. Despite negative tests, she deteriorated. And, as inexplicable as her condition was, so to was her recovery. We were both 10 years old; she didn't die.

Those who know my family know that my oldest biological child and youngest stepchild participate annually in the Hair Massacure, a fundraiser that benefits the Stollery and other organizations that support sick children, primarily focused on children with cancer. We became involved with Team Aaron through his aunt. My stepson had already participated in Hair Massacure; we came to know of Aaron when he was 8 and had been declared in remission. He had been through treatment for stage 4 neuroblastoma. Unjustly, unfairly, having been diagnosed at 4, he had two declarations of remission after a full year of being cancer-free each time. Unlike my friend who did not die at 10 years old, Aaron did. He spent most of his life in and out of the Stollery and fundraising whether he was in a cancer-free period with as much devotion as he had from his hospital bed at what would be his final Hair Massacure. The Stollery was there for Aaron and his family at every turn.

So many stories of children who have entered the Stollery and never left or have entered the Stollery and left with clean bills of health could be told. What matters is the care received while there. The Stollery Children's Hospital supports children and their families with exceptional heathcare and care at some of the most difficult times of their lives.

There is no monetary value that can be put on what the Stollery does. However, there are financial costs to the operation of the Stollery, to in patient and out patient programs, that are in dire need of support.

Please join me in donating to the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation, the organization that provides that needed funding, to ensure that all children in the hospital get the best care possible and that through funded research, more and more children leave healthy, having entered sick.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hope Mission


Hope Mission provides programs and services to people at site across Alberta. The offer holiday meals, a mobile support unit for people in crisis, shelters, assistance and wraparound support for long-term housing, addictions supports... the list goes on.

Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, and Wetaskiwin all have a Hope Mission presence. I've served dinner at Hope Mission; the name really is eponymous. Hope fills the air; people who are the most under-resourced and struggling with multiple, debilitating barriers, offer smiles and welcome.

I've said of other inner city agencies; those who have the least materially and know pain and suffering the most intensely are so very often the ones who are the most generous with what really matters: genuine human kindness.

Hope Mission fosters hope and resiliency. Though it has a religious foundation, Hope Mission does not require religious affiliation or turn away people who practice a religion different than their own. (I'm, as my Nana lovingly says, her little heathen, and I've never been greeted with anything but respect and love at Hope.)

A number of charities supporting homeless and street-involved people are on my list of 40 charities. Each and every one is a gift to this city (and in the case of Hope Mission, to others as well.)

Please join me with a gift for Hope Mission to celebrate my 40th birthday. Financial gifts can be made here (as with all other charities hosted by CanadaHelps.org, please scroll through the list I've assembled to locate Hope Mission.) Many volunteer hours are needed and in-kind donations are likewise desperately needed; whatever you are able to give-- time, money, clothing, toiletries-- all are graciously accepted.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Refugee Child


I learned about Refugee Child from a friend in London whose friend is the organizer of this initiative. On a regular basis, volunteers from the UK take much-needed basics to refugees camping in areas outside of walls, barriers, and blockades preventing their entry to certain nations in search of protection.
The focus is on helping children; no child chooses to be orphaned, homeless, nationless, starving. No one at all does; the group focuses on children but assists everyone in the areas they visit with supplies. From food staples to a defibrillator, Refugee Child has been helping young to old exist as they wait for a safe haven somewhere, anywhere.

Please donate to the ongoing efforts of Refugee Child as they head to areas most impoverished in their wait for safety.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Egale Canada



Egale is a national LGBTQ2+ organization that focuses on advancing human rights for the LGBTQ2+ community across Canada through research, policy development, education, advocacy, and community engagement.
Since its inception in 1995, Egale has been active across the country, working to improve the daily lives of sexual and gender minorities so that our lives are free of oppressive and discriminatory barriers impeding success.

As the only national organization working on LGBTQ2+ human rights, Egale brings together a diversity of voices from all regions of Canada to inform programs, services, education, and direction.

Please join me in supporting Egale today. More info on all they do is on their website.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Safe and Caring Schools and Communities


The Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities describes themselves best:

Who we are:
Safe and Caring is a centre for knowledge that fosters effective networks and partnerships to improve the quality of life for all Alberta children.

What we know:
1 in 3 adolescent students in Canada have reported being bullied recently.
47% of Canadian parents report having a child victim of bullying.
1 in 3 Albertans think that “bullying is just a normal part of growing up.”
Children and youth learn more effectively when they feel safe and included.
Bullying, violence and sexual exploitation can have traumatic and long-lasting impacts.

Our shared vision for Alberta:
89% of Albertans agree that bullying prevention should be an urgent priority for their community.
84% of Albertans agree that bullying prevention should be an urgent priority for the provincial government.
Alberta’s Social Policy Framework, the Children First Act and the new Education Act highlight the importance of students, parents, school boards and community partners working together to support the safety, well-being and development of children.



Whether a parent or not, who could not want a better world for the generations that come after us than what we have now? Safe and Caring is a relatively new organization in Alberta with big goals. I like the quote, "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." (I disagree with those who suggest this means we should be happy with not achieving dreams; rather, it says that if we try and put energy, resource, community, and heart into our goals, we may end up in a place we didn't anticipate, but it's still going to be a good place.)

So, help me help the Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities aim for bettering our world. All that can happen is... a better world!

More about Safe and Caring is on their website.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Zebra Child Protection Centre


The Zebra Child Protection Centre provides support to children who have suffered abuse that has been reported to the police. From psychological counselling, play therapy, court support, Zebra provides a huge range of services.

Zebra aims to assist children in telling their stories on their terms. They also aim to support the healing process of recovery from abuse (all forms of child abuse.) Zebra works with a huge variety of community organizations to ensure the specific needs of each individual child is addressed.

No child should suffer abuse. The sad reality is that a huge number do. Zebra is there to help.

Please join me in donating to Zebra Child Protection Centre, a one of a kind organization. (Please scroll through the list to locate Zebra.)

To learn more about all they offer- services, community connections, supports, therapy- please visit their website.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts

Where to begin? The Nina, or Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts, as it is officially known, is a place unlike any other.
The Nina operates on the (sage, wise, TRUE!) assumption that developmentally disabled people are intelligent, able, and most of all, in terms of what The Nina does, artistic. The Nina provides studio space, show space, and a venue for sales to artists who are developmentally disabled.
My family, for those who don't know us, is blended. My biological children and I are autistic. Our entire blended family loves art. My oldest stepson is in his third year of a fine arts degree. My partner's dear friend's recently deceased sister (watch for the Tiger Family Fund to be featured to learn about an amazing woman gone far too soon) was a founding supporter and fundraiser for The Nina. My partner and I are going to The Nina's annual fundraiser as our anniversary and my birthday outing. In our world, all roads lead to The Nina.

That's my attachment to The Nina. The Vision Statement provided on the Centre's website elucidates The Nina better than I can:



Please join me in donating to The Nina, (scroll through the list to find The Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts) a centre for the arts with no equal, a place where people with developmental disabilities are treated as equals. Such treatment is rare. Such an organization is rare.

Please also visit The Nina's gorgeous website. There's so much magnificent art to see and so many ways to support the artists.

I am madly in love with several pieces for sale right now (I bought a glass piece for my partner last year for Christmas.

For a sampling, if you've not got time to visit the site, here are some stunning pieces. I have fallen in love with them (the work, not the artists. I haven't met the artists. Just clarifying!)

Dragon by Jaymee Howarth

Lobster in the Sea by Desiree McCook

Silver and Black by Kim Hung Ho



Please also consider joining us for The Nina's annual fundraiser on November 2nd. Details are on the website.

Once again, thank you for celebrating my birthday with me!


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Edmonton Food Bank




Did you know that almost 20 000 people per month receive hampers from the Food Bank?
Did you know that over 500 000 meals per month are provided by agencies who get their food from the Food Bank?
Did you know that over 40% of food recipients are under the age of 18?

This is unacceptable. In a nation with such abundant wealth, in the 5th largest municipality in the nation, we have the resources for people to be fed.

Hampers can be collected once a month and are intended to last for 4-5 days. The Food Bank can't meet the demand. 25-26 days people using hampers have to find other means to eat.

Food, clothing, and shelter are considered the most basic of necessities for life (there are others- safety, health, etc.) Food should not be conditional. People need food to survive at the most basic level.

My family supports the Edmonton Food Bank regularly. Above is a photo of our daughter donating food (including a turkey, to her delight) for a Thanksgiving meal using half the money she received as a birthday gift.

She, my stepson, and I volunteer annually at the Heritage Festival, collecting food and financial donations for the Food Bank. Both of them have requested gift cards for grocery stores as gifts so they can donate to the Food Bank.

Our children inspire me. They have been volunteering and donating for years, since both were in elementary school. I suggested volunteering once and they have asked for the rest.

If children can see the need and act on it, so can we all. No one should go hungry. Please join me in donating to the Edmonton Food Bank today. (Scroll through the list for Edmonton Food Bank.)

For more information on the invaluable service the Food Bank provides to our city, please visit their website:
http://www.edmontonsfoodbank.com/

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Elizabeth Fry Society of Edmonton



The Elizabeth Fry Society of Edmonton works with women and girls who are, or are at risk of, becoming criminalized. They have amazing staff I've connected with (in past work) to provide assistance to women and girls facing barriers and stigma around criminal records or suspicion of such.

They offer programs that range from court support to reintegration, empowerment for girls to employment services programs. There is no organization like "E Fry," as they are known, in the city. For women and girls connected to or potentially connected to the court system, corrections, incarceration, there is E Fry and no one else. E Fry does amazing work, so thank goodness that if there is a one and only it is them!

Please support this vital organization. As a friend I met in prison once said, "We were all little girls once with dreams. None of us dreamt of growing up to be drug addicts or prostitutes or murderers." (I'm paraphrasing, as but the point is there.)

Our society fails so many people, perhaps those who end up incarcerated are failed the worst of all.

Please donate with me today.  (This is a list of charities who will be featured in the lead up to my 40th, please scroll down to find Elizabeth Fry Society.)

Also, check out the E Fry website. There is a bottle drive for the month of October. If finances are tight, consider taking your empties to them!

http://www.efryedmonton.ab.ca/

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Wharf- Whitecourt Homeless Animal Rescue Foundation


WHARF is an animal rescue dear to my heart and that of my family. It is run by two wonderful sisters with whom we've become friends over the years. We have adopted five animals from them. Our sweet Kisses had some huge medical obstacles thrown in his way after his adoption, a very, very rare condition that required surgery (twice, as a veterinarian I will not name botched the first surgery; a second fixed the botch and correctly performed the necessary procedure) and not long after his recovery, he fell ill with a common feline virus that, very sadly, in his case, once again rare, proved to be fatal.
But this is not about sad. Kisses lives in our memories and his ashes along with Forrest's (our cat who lived to almost 16, but died on Christmas Eve last year) will be put in the soil beneath a new tree in our yard in the spring, becoming part of the cycle of life.

We have four living (and entirely healthy!) wonder pets adopted from WHARF:

Salty:

Salty is our 4 year old feline furball. He was born to a mother who had been found in a hoarding house. She and her sister were healthy enough to survive; she birthed Salty and his siblings after being rescued. He was an older kitten when we adopted him but retained the spunk of a young kitten. To this day, he is full of goofy kitten vigour. He runs top speed at a wooden beam in our kitchen, leaps, rebounds off it performing a remarkable mid-air backflip, and then saunters away as if he has done nothing special, just happens to be strolling past.




Ruby:


Ruby joined us on a trial basis a year and a half ago. Tessa, one of WHARF's founders, exclaimed, "She is the perfect dog for your family! I was thinking of you when she arrived!" when I called to inquire about the dog who sounded good on the website.
Ruby has been found wandering in rural Alberta; a family took her in and hung Lost Dog posters in their community. After a month, they realized no one was looking for her and contacted WHARF. On arrival she was skinny, the veterinarian who examined her said she had birthed one or two litters, had no microchip, no identifying tattoo, lacked evidence of vaccination in her blood, but was a purebred English Labrador. Ruby was presumed to be a rejected dog from a puppy mill.
We weren't sure how Salty and Forrest (then still alive) would respond to her, nor were we sure how our children would, especially our youngest. Salty and our youngest child, each in his independent style, demonstrated no interest whatsoever in Ruby. The other children and Forrest thought Ruby was the greatest thing ever.
It didn't take the trial period to know she was the dog for our family. The older children adored her and didn't balk at poo pick-up or daily walks. Ruby learned basic commands quickly (sit, stay) and how to walk on a leash. She deferred to the cats and the children, allowing all of them to make first moves, even when, head averted in submission, her tail was wagging too fast to see more than a black blur. Very quickly, Ruby and Forrest became friends.
Ruby had demonstrated in her first few days that she wanted a kennel to sleep in. In her last few months of life, Forrest joined Ruby in the kennel nightly. They developed a routine in which Forrest entered the kennel and lay down right at the front, leaving Ruby to delicately step over her and take up the rear of the kennel. On nights when Ruby arrived at the kennel before Forrest did, she waited for Forrest's arrival. We urged her to go in so she didn't have to climb over Forrest (her grace in stepping over the cat was quite an effort on her part, given her size and Forrest's immovability once settled) but Ruby awaited her friend to grant her first entry every night. Inside, they curled up together, Ruby grooming Forrest and Forrest purring. It was a beautiful relationship. Ruby's grief when Forrest died may have been close in size to my own; she searched the house for weeks, clearly trying to locate her best friend.
Salty and our youngest child eventually accepted Ruby too, on their terms, of course. Ruby recognizes and accepts those terms.

A few months after Forrest died, I was ready for a new feline friend. Salty is a source of great entertainment and is a wonderful cat, but he is not a lap cat, not a cuddler, as my Forrest had been all her life. We decided a kitten would be a good idea; trainable, more likely to be accepted by Salty (ha!!!,) and hopefully interested in the cuddles I missed so intensely from my Forrest.

Thing One and Thing Two:
Thing One
Thing Two
Brotherly Love

I took one of our children with me to meet a kitten, a kitten I thought from the description would be the one for us. Unfortunately, that day the kitten I'd intended to meet and her siblings were getting vaccinated at the veterinarian clinic. These two kittens were at WHARF (actually, WHARF is a foster-based rescue society; some of the animals spend time at Food Dish Wishes, a gourmet pet food bakery and pet needs shop operated by the sisters) though. They were awfully cute. I hadn't told our child that we were visiting with an eye to adopt; we often visit just to visit. She asked to hold one of them. When she did, the other kitten cried. She put him back and they immediately curled up together, purring and grooming each other. Our daughter then picked up the other kitten to snuggle. The one left behind cried, as his brother had previously. They both cuddled with my daughter and with me; they licked our noses. I texted photos to my stepson and my partner asking, "what about TWO?" It seemed unimaginable to separate these strongly attached brothers. Each was exactly what we wanted: young, cuddly, and already litter trained (win!)
My story is getting long and the above photos show that adopting both was what happened in the end. They remain, several months later, strongly attached. They still groom each other multiple times a day, sleep curled and twisted up in each other as if one, and cry if separated (Thing One has a habit of getting himself trapped behind closed doors.)

That's our story of WHARF adoptions. WHARF fosters and adopts out so many more animals than live in our home. They participate in a program that flies dogs from shelters in Mexico to Canada where the dogs' chances of adoption are higher. They foster animals who might not be accepted elsewhere: animals with injuries that need expensive veterinary care (they get that care for the animals,) older animals, animals who have behavourial issues that need addressing... it goes on. They are upfront about each animal's history and love them all as if they were their own (both sisters foster many of the animals.)

Please join me in donating to WHARF to support the amazing work they do. I know they are always seeking foster homes as well as adoptive homes, so if fostering is something you've considered, there is need!