Back from the dead…
Sadly this post has nothing to do with zombies (Sorry Amy).
I’ve been away from the blogging scene for quite a while now. I had checked out mentally months ago when we found out we won two free tickets to Ottawa and arranged to head down in mid August. Combined with the stress of dealing with my usual clients, working 25+ shifts at the animal shelter and making the rounds as Iqaluit’s newest social bee I quite literally had no desire to blog.
That’s all changed now that I’m sitting on a nice breezy balcony watching the a few willowy cotton ball clouds slowly float across the tree line. Trees! I forgot how much I missed them until I got back here. People take them for granted. I can’t say I’ve actually been longing to see them but it’s kinda one of those things you really don’t pay any mind to till it dawns on you. While Iqaluit has many breathtaking sights and sounds nothing quite beats watching the rhythmic sway of trees as their vibrant green leaves rustle like pom poms in the wind. It’s therapeutic… especially after the past month I’ve had.
I’m not a big “we gotta do something while on vacation” sorta guy. I hate planning. I’m all about let whatever happen just happen. We spend so much time plotting and planning in our everyday lives why would you want to do that on your time off? I didn’t plan on blogging today. Hell the biggest thing on my agenda for the day is sorting out what to have for dinner later. I’m blogging because for the first time in months I’ve felt like it. Didn’t feel obligated. Didn’t feel pressured into it. Just felt like running my mouth. Unfortunately, yet again, I’ve neglected blends and blikes in my absence. I apologize for that. I’ll probably play catch up eventually.
So what have I been up to?
I got set up with the Twitter a couple of months ago. The jury is still out on that. Can’t say I’m a fan of it but I have been using it more than I thought I ever would. Interesting depot for dumping random thought and anyone who knows me well knows I have plenty of those. I still find it to be an incredibly clunky way of communicating but there’s no denying how quickly news spreads (if you can sort through the tweetspeak gibberish). Cheers to all of you twits out there who actually try to use proper grammar. It’s a seemingly lost art form so thanks for keeping it alive.
Let’s see what else… oh yeah I shut down a puppy rescue and made women cry. It wasn’t my intention, mind you. Seriously. I like animals more than I like most people. Everyone knows that. Unfortunately I started working at the shelter at the wrong time and I have a mouth like a bear trap. I know I mentioned a while back that I needed to start offsetting my goody-two-shoes deeds as of late but I never saw this bit of potential infamy on the radar.
Those who have kept up with the Nunavut blog know I’ve been doing quite a bit of volunteering at the Iqaluit Humane Society. For those who don’t know the back story in a nutshell its Nunavut’s first and only animal rescue shelter. To put that into perspective crack open Google maps or a look at a globe and see the area the territory of Nunavut covers. That’s a huge claim to fame. It’s been around for over 5 years now and has rescued the lives of more than 1200 unwanted, abandoned or abused pets in that span. It’s a pretty remarkable feat considering it’s a non government-funded, not for profit organization run entirely on volunteer manpower. They’ve always teetered on the edge of collapse because of this but always managed to pull through.
That was until Big Bad Ian came along.
When I burst onto the scene my wife and I discussed getting involved with some of the volunteer efforts up here. Coming off the heels of the Mighty Rolf Rescue we made right before coming up here, it seemed like a natural fit for me to help out at the shelter. As a new jack with fresh energy I came into the organization with high expectations and a bevy of ideas. The IHS had a potential for greatness but the fact it seemed mired in its own inability to move forward irked me. The deck was stacked against the society in more ways than one. The city and territorial legislation provide no protection for canines, there’s an overwhelming lack of public knowledge regarding responsible animal care, the volunteer pool was insufficient, the dog population is on a steady unwavering rise, and even our own bylaws were flawed. There was no way the shelter could keep up with the ever-increasing demand for services because it was not geared towards sustainability. It was kind-hearted volunteers and a super dedicated board of directors pouring their hearts and souls into a bottomless well.
I ended up donating web space and a domain name to them so that I could construct a website for the shelter. I felt in my heart that they weren’t taking advantage of the vast pool of support out there by not having an online presence. Months later, after establishing a website, a somewhat successful Facebook page and a Twitter account I thought we were on track to break that elusive threshold of public anonymity. Volunteer contribution was hitting rock bottom due to the transient population so I committed to an obscene amount of hours working there in an effort to push the organization over the hump. I couldn’t remain silent about the factors that were working against us though. My intention was to push the society to change with the times and grow along side the city.
The society ended up having to face the sobering reality of the situation at hand. I, along with several other core volunteers, were slated to leave on holiday around the same time and the shelter literally didn’t have the people to come in and do what it takes to keep that place up and running. We needed to restructure our gameplan and treat this operation like a legitimate business instead of just a volunteer effort. It was unfair to the territory, city, community, animals and even ourselves if we couldn’t provide the kind of consistent care needed therefore the board decided to shut down operations on August 9th.
While the prospect of restructuring was welcomed with open arms by all the volunteers we joked openly amongst ourselves how “Ian killed the shelter”. I felt kinda wretched at first. I put on a happy face and played up the “lighting a fire under us” aspect but deep down I was stressed out beyond belief. While we were thankfully able to get our current shelter residents shipped out to responsible and caring no-kill rescue shelters in the south, every day we remained closed meant a disturbing amount of dogs were going to be put down. You see as I mentioned before, Nunavut is the only province or territory in Canada where animals aren’t protected by the law. In a city where the stray dog population is disturbingly high and majority are put down in the local landfill it makes having a humane society a vital resource. One that I aided in getting shut down. I was of the Spock mindset that the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few… or the one. I felt that the sooner we could get our shit together the more we could save and continue to save unhindered.
Easy to say but hard to deal with the consequences.
Thankfully our ridiculously cool mayor heard of the closing and brought the IHS before the city council the same day we officially closed. We pleaded our case for having a better facility, actual staff members, funding and training. They acknowledged us as a vital city resource and pledged to help us however they can by establishing a work group to coordinate with us on all of our points of interest. We, as a society, decided to revisit our own way of operating and have begun reconstructing from the ground up forming committees to handle the many aspects of running the society. Since the time we closed there has been an unprecedented amount of media and community interest, the latest being a news broadcast about our plight.
We have roughly 3 months to get our plan into relaunch squared away otherwise we will remain closed. That’s a helluva burden I feel weighing on my back every single day – even while on vacation. Some of my pit crew chums (that’s what we call the dedicated guys and gals who bust their humps walking, feeding and cleaning up after the pups every single day) tried to thank me for pushing so hard to make these changes happen. Only time is going to tell if my being a unyielding pain in the ass is going to be for the good. If the shelter ends up reopening and becomes the self-sustainable city resource I know it can be, then I’ll be happy to have done my part for making it happen. If not then I could possibly be the one of the most hated people in the city.
Nothing like a bit of pressure, eh?
I’ve never done anything for the society with the intention of receiving praise or accolades. I could care less about that. I love animals. I love people who love animals. It honestly just tears me up inside knowing what happens to these creatures on a daily basis. I just want them to be cared for and given the fair shake any animal down south is allotted. We can’t do that if we can’t dig our heels in and be the institution we need to be. The first and only animal rescue shelter in Nunavut. That’s a lot of responsibility. We’re in the public’s eye more than ever now and have the means and opportunity to push forward like never before. It’s just matter of getting that monstrous ball rolling down the hill.
I always say it’s always better to do something and risk failure than to do nothing and guarantee it.
Time for a shot of Maple whiskey. 😉
Love, peace and hair grease peeps.