I just returned from the Urban Animal Strategies 2014 Summit at Lake Louise Canada. What a wonderful event – something we (pet food consumer and pet lovers) need more of. The highlights and some of the life altering people that I met.
Fellow pet food consumer advocate Rodney Habib got me invited to this event (if you are not following Rodney on Facebook – you should be – he’s fabulous. Planet Paws Pet Essentials.). In fact, Rodney got me nominated for an award of Pet Owner of the Year from Urban Animal.
The Urban Animal Summit was mostly for Canadians. The event featured the pet related work of many rescue and shelter organizations, as well as several that work along side of ‘urban animals’ to make the world a better place. Day 1 of the Summit was meeting these people and learning of their work.
Each and every presentation was wonderful. Folks from Ontario SPCA shared information of their adoption campaigns. Boreal College shared of their shelter medicine program and collaborative work with the area SPCA. A dynamic special education teacher (of children) shared her work – Prince Street Puppy Project – of bringing dogs into the classroom assisting struggling children. There was information shared on projects to help financially challenged to pay for veterinary care of their pets, programs to teach dog park etiquette, programs to provide new pet owners basic information for better care, as well as information of a animal aquatic therapy pool that helps animals heal and recover from various disabilities.
But there was one presentation that touched us all. Medric Cousineau and his dog Thai. His organization – Paws Fur Thought provides service animals for those suffering from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Medric approached the podium with his dog Thai beside him. As he explained his years of challenges due to PTSD, Thai began to tug her leash (held by Medric). You see she is trained to notice when Medric is becoming emotional and her job is to ‘pull’ Medric away from the stressful situation. He would try to settle Thai, and would begin to speak again. Again this gallant dog would tug on her leash, trying to pull Medric away from the situation – telling him ‘you need to stop – I’m trying to protect you’. Medric continued, though at this point the room knew. We knew that getting up in front of the room to share his story was a challenge for Medric. But he bravely continued.
He told us what help Thai provides him. She wakes him up from nightmares – often before they even begin. She allows him to go in public again, being by his side and protecting him from stressful situations. As Medric continued to share his story and his work to provide service dogs to others suffering from PTSD (everyone from veterans to sexual abuse victims), Thai continued to be concerned for her partner. She kept trying to pull Medric from this emotional situation. And when she jumped up with her feet on his back – trying to physically push him away from the stress – the entire room was in tears. We were so fortunate to witness first hand the love this dog has for her person – and the team that they are. (Please visit their website and their facebook page.)
My thanks to Rodney Habib for his help in getting me to this event – and to the Urban Animal Strategies folks who host such a powerful way to bring those that work with or for animals together.
And lastly – Rodney won the award for Communicator of the Year (well deserved!) and I am honored to say that I won the Pet Owner of the Year award (thank you, thank you, thank you for all that voted for me!). It is an award I don’t take lightly. It will be my continued goal to advocate for pet food consumers – we are just beginning to fight!
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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