Near & Far, An Animal Welfare Community Challenge

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Well, there is a collection of 100 dogs making their way to Nova Scotia, Canada, from California, USA, to be placed into the animal adoption / fostering / rescue system here. At first glance most folks will think that is a good measure on behalf of the rescuers involved in this project. But is it helpful to the immediate animal welfare community here? Is it really necessary at this moment in time considering our current adoption / fostering needs here in the province for animals waiting for homes.


Whenever you have a particular system which is experiencing a high taxation on it’s internal resources, it will not be of any benefit to add to that strain of resources. It’s the practicalities of economics. Don’t push when pushing will tip the scales unreasonably and not in your favor. The animal adoption / fostering community here is, more or less, always in a sensitive state of being over burdened. It’s an unfortunate normality for the rescue community. Why make it worse?

These 100 dogs are going to require 100 potential foster parents / forever family adoptees to apply for them. These same persons would have looked at potential adoptable animals that are CURRENTLY in the local fostering / adoption system. Every SPCA branch, every shelter and rescue in this province just lost that connection to the 100 potential applicants.

The solution is rather simple – adopt / foster local dogs. Only import possible adoptions / fosters when and only when the system here has an agreeable level of vacancies in the community – ie when the SPCA branches, shelters and rescues aren’t packed with animals. The animals en-route have no pre-arranged adoptions or fosterings as of yet so they will be placing an immediate burden on the adoption / fostering community here.

So who will shed a tear for the 100 animals currently in our communities who will be stuck in the system for an undetermined length of time because they just moved down the list quite a bit in regard to public awareness and priority? Who will adopt one of the many large breeds currently in the system when there are several cute and cuddly smaller breeds on their way here?

Having said all the above, I am myself a dog lover as well as an animal rescuer and would prefer to see each and every dog get a loving home. But I am practical about this love that I have for the larger dog community. I perceive it to be more effective to adopt locally.

What if this becomes a trend where upon every so often large batches of adoptions / fostering are being fed into the province and the current population of adoptions / fosterings here will suffer more so. Another way to look at this point I am trying to make is to consider the feral cat population. Rescuers are doing their very best to help deal with this growing problem but what if they started to ship rare and cute cat breeds from California in large numbers? The attention that would have gone towards dealing with the feral cats may be side tracked and focused on the imports. Then we are left with a worse problem then when we began.

What about the funds obtained from monetary donations, as well as donations of supplies that are now going to reroute to these imported dogs and will not be available for current cases of need? The animal welfare issues that a particular locale / population faces is just that – it is their responsibility to address. In my humble opinion these dogs should have remained in California and the good folks of that State should be addressing their needs / care, etc. On the flip side of the coin the people involved here should be helping to address the various issues we have ongoing in our local animal welfare community.

We are a small province who just happens to be one of the poorer provinces in this great country. Every region has financial burdens, every animal welfare community has a very limited / finite base of resources to work with. California is, in comparison to Cape Breton, a larger population as well as a wealthier population then we have here. They have easier access to certain resources then we have here.

After all is said and done our passion to help animals, our compassion to do the right thing, and our reasonability in carrying out these things effectively and efficiently needs to remain balanced and in check with current local needs. A misguided gesture soon becomes an undesired burden.

The Blood, The Mystery, & The Confusion.

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A month ago I set out on a quest of a lifetime, for someone as geeky as yours truly. I have always had an interest in history and now it was becoming personal for me. I was beginning the journey of discovering my roots. I was raised to believe that we were English but both my paternal surname (Verge) and maternal surname (Hawco) linguistically are of French Norman origins and tied to the Channel Islands according to historians. Hints lay everywhere that we were Acadians, Huguenots and so forth. My recent ancestry is connected to the Eastern coast of Newfoundland, a cultural unique region of Canada and North America. It is a hodge podge of various European cultures, predominately British, Scottish, Irish, French, and German,

My goal is to find the cultural bedrock that lays hidden in my genes. I am attempting to find out where in the world my ancestors lived the longest and contributed the most to the cultural composition of the region to which they were tied. Of course we all originate from Africa and from a very deep ancestral origins there is no mystery there. I was seeking something more specific then that.

My quest began with me piecing together my family tree. That in itself was a challenge but a year later I am fairly certain that I have been able to put together my paternal line going back to Christchurch, England, 1660s. After that, nothing. Well, nothing to date. There  were two brother in the mid 1660s living in Christchurch for whom it appears almost all Verge’s in the United States and Canada are descendants of. Nicholas and Jarman are known certainties but, and this is a big BUT, no genealogical researchers to date have been able to trace who their parents are. There are no records whatsoever in existence to state who were the parents of the two lads. There are variations of the Verge name, or we think they are connected, in France at that time – De La Verge, Verger, Verges, Vergier, etc. Are they connected? Who knows at this point.

Around 60,000 – 100,000 years ago (psst it was a very long time ago as a cultural species goes) our ancestors started to leave Africa in pursuit of greener pastures where survival would not be as difficult as it was at that time in that hotbed of daily struggle. As each migration occurred out of Africa it would give birth to a different haplogroup that would leave their unique genetic DNA identity where ever that group travelled. Part of the mystery is to find out which Haplogroup you belong to.

To get the ball rolling I decided I needed to get my DNA profiled so went in search of a company who had the resources to give me the data I sought. Without diving right now into this separate and just as interesting topic, I went with the company with the largest DNA database and the best reputation for this kind of thing – ftDNA – Family Tree DNA.

The Haplogroup that I belong to is the R group which pertains mostly to Western Europe so without any doubt I am significantly Western European. Case solved. Well, not really. Western Europe is a large area with a diverse range of cultures based in that global region. So I am on pursuit to find out which “country” in the Western European cluster I belong to. To date, it appears that the race is on and that I am associated to either England, France, Scotland, or Ireland, although it is too soon to discredit any locale.

I have had my Y DNA 37 markers tested which is a good start. It gives a persons a starting place but to truly grasp the tiger by the tail you would have to test up to either the 67 markers level or better yet go for the biggie – 111 markers.

Y DNA will only offer one piece of the puzzle as it pertains specifically to paternal bloodlines. To get a more complete picture I will need to test my mt DNA as well which pertains to my maternal line. I have just ordered that so the excitement as to what that will show is building.

The next step for me, depending on the results from the current tests, will be to increase my Y DNA markers count up to 67, do a deep clade test, and so on. The prize is out there and I am getting closer each and every day as I develop a better understanding of all this genetic stuff. Crossing fingers and toes.

Shedding a little light on the Dark Ages

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As some of you would know by now, I have been somewhat saturated in the task of researching my family history. In doing so there are any number of topics I have found myself having to become familiar with so that I can better understand the times and cultural contexts pertaining to certain individuals who belong on my family tree. Names and dates are nice for placing when and where these persons may have lived but it doesn’t give us an understanding of why they may have been where they were and while they were there what were they doing to pen out an existence. I guess for those of us who have an interest in genealogical matters it is like having a craving to watch the soap opera of our genetic roots.

One particular term that I find interesting regarding history is that of the Dark Ages and that is what I will very briefly chat about here. Two simple words that have a somewhat mysterious and sinister connotation to them. They suggest difficulties, disease, famine, war, intrigue and any number of subjects belonging in a good late night novel or movie.

Around the 5th century the almighty Roman Empire started to experience a drop in popularity and power. It was the beginning of the end of one of the Western world’s most influential cultural engines. Even now much that makes Westerners, well Westerners, come from none other then the Romans.

The Fall of Rome was unfortunately not an isolated event but more so a slow ripple effect of death right across the known civilized world, more specifically all of Europe but we shouldn’t exclude the Middle East and of course Africa. Each had a part in the grand game that we call Rome.

Every aspect of daily life was affected, be it economy, religion, agriculture and so forth. Neither was this a short period of death and struggle but a long drawn out period of tragedy and small triumphs. The Dark Ages roughly pertains to the period of the 5th Century to about the 11th Century, give or take a few centuries.

In time historians would come to refer to this extensive period of human struggle as the Dark Ages, in part due to the fact that we know little about certain facts regarding what was going on at that time. Written material is one of the primary sources for historical data and this we are in short supply of regarding this time period, hence the appropriate reference being made to it being a Dark Age of history.

If there is an absence of light, of clarity, we are in darkness, a vague state in which we cannot ascertain what is around us. Somewhat appropriate regarding what was going on during that time. Archaeology may answer certain questions but frankly we would find personal accounts and records to be better suited to answer our questions regarding that age but that is something we are sadly denied.

The Dark Ages was a period of suffering and a constant battle to keep Death away from one’s door, or at least pawn Him off on your neighbour if at all possible. Most of the populace were in a constant state of starvation, suffering from a wide range of illnesses and disease, as well as illiterate and unaware of the bigger picture of what was going on in their world. Put these various elements into a cultural stew pot and you get a lumpy and distasteful meal of barbaric rulership and chaotic culture clashes. Caste systems fell and invading hordes became the norm. When Rome fell so did the armies and magistrates that gave a notable degree of order to those who lived under the Roman banner. They may have not been the best of masters but they did give the populace a sense of what was expected, how to live up to the expectation and what would happen if you were found wanting in regard to keeping up your part.

When there are no armies then trade routes start to decline and / or shut down because traders and caravans would be unable to travel safely from point A to the waiting arms of point B. If you should happen to live in an area that was less agriculturally developed then others, and depending in part on the trade routes for food, seeds, medicines, clothing, and tools, well you most likely would starve when the armies were no longer present.

If there were no armies, then in turn there is no trade, and as a result the economic foundation of a region begins to crumble. Financial institutes collapse, monetary value ceases to exist, or at least looses the former value it had and commerce comes to a surprising halt. Greed is a universal trait in the human species. If we can’t feed our greed we become a very annoyed bunch of naked apes and eventually someone decides that the best route to forget that we have no armies, no trade and no money, is to get a bunch of the lads together for a hearty local skirmish as a decent way to past the time. Invasion and pillaging became a new hobby for the various Nations once controlled by the almighty Eagle. Oh Rome how we missed you.

No matter which side of the fence you were on you would most likely find someone ruling over you, demanding much of your life and in return giving very little back, if anything. It was indeed an Age filled with spiritual, economic, and medical Darkness. Hence the second reason why we call this period of time the Dark Ages.

If there is anything that the Dark Ages can offer to us now is that we should remember the lessons of history and strive to not repeat them. It is the foolish and ignorant who learn nothing from the mistakes, trials and tribulations of their forefathers.

True Spirituality

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That is me, more or less. I find that if you want to connect to a natural and wholistic spiritual life then you cannot isolate yourself from nature. The ebb and flow of that which makes all life unique is found there, not any set of books, not any speech given by man, not any idealism shared by a group. Walk outside, listen to the wind, feel the breeze on your face, observe the circle of life all around you – that is divinity at it’s purest. Buildings and books are filled by what we care to put there. Nature is filled with what we need to learn.

Waitin’ for the Woods

We have been having a fair bit of cold, cold, weather here as of late and it has left me feeling a wee bit starved for the serenity of the deep wood. Even Harley, my gold German Shepherd mix seems to feel the withdrawal a bit as well. Come the first bit of decent weather we shall once again embrace the sounds, smells and energy of the bush. There is something about the woods that once it takes hold in your heart you can never loose it. At times it may go alittle dry and have only a trickle while at other times it drowns you in the need to immerse into the deep wood flow. But it is always there. It is the proper place for Man and Dog.

Harley & me bikerfest 2

Being Empowered Via Social Technologies

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How times have changed, and technology and our uses for it as well. In my youth the big thing when it came to socializing with people, who lived elsewhere, was to participate in a pen pal program. This involved writing regular letters back and forth between yourself and someone who lived in another country. For children this was an exciting and unique thing to take part in. It gave them a mild form of exposure to a much larger world.

Then as I went into my teens the craze switched over to CB (citizen band) radio. Almost all of my friends either used a CB unit in their parent’s car or, like myself, they had the small, portable, walkie talkie type cb that was great for listening to traffic in the nearby region.

In time would come the early forms of cellphones in which a simple screen gave you the option of sending a brief text message. This would eventually evolve into on-line chatting and now. Well, now we have a wide assortment of options to stay in tune, on-line, connected and updated.

At first people go into a state of excitement whenever a new form of technology falls into their hands. They drown themselves in the new mediums involved with these new tools until the excitement wears thin and what was once new and shiny becomes normal and not so glittery.

When we become climatized to these stages we have an opportunity to grow, due to the clarity that comes from seeing the situation for what it truly is. We have a chance to embrace a bigger social picture, to open up ourselves to a wider range of knowledge and skill sets. When we become addicted to them we cripple these opportunities and have to deal with obsessions.

How will you embrace the social technological wave? Will you ride it or drown in it’s depths?

Bushcraft Beauty

This image is sooooooo deliciously bushcraft beautiful that it almost brings a tear to the eye.

source: http://ravenlore.co.uk/html/arctic_trip__2012_report_part_.html

Pets need to be indoors during cold weather

During the winter, it is the responsibility of animal owners / caretakers to keep indoors their domesticated pets such as cats and dogs. Most dog breeds no longer retain the biological mechanisms necessary to survive in the bitter coldness of winter, unlike other wild canines such as wolves, foxes, and coyotes. Cats need to remain inside the home that offers a constant shelter to the elements in which they have no defence against. Be considerate and compassionate and realize that they may experience the cold just as you would.

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So Long, Farewell and How Do You Do…

Harley & me bikerfest 2

I have spent almost half my life in the emergency management / security / life safety sector. It was a difficult career but I did my best and some would say I was quite good at it (municipal / provincial / federal accreditations, etc…). I have held the titles of Security Guard, Security Officer, Security and Life Safety Officer, Security & Life Safety Supervisor, Security & Life Safety Manager, Life Safety Coordinator, Emergency Task Force Executive Member, Emergency Management Specialist and International Ambassador for various NGOs and Faculties related to functions associated with Emergency Management and Life Safety.

Sometimes what I did made a huge difference in peoples lives, depending on the situation. Sometimes it was swept under the rug due to controversial issues associated to my assignments. Sometimes I was restrained from sharing what it was that I was doing and for whom I was doing it for. Sometimes becomes a burden when it becomes an every time.

I have participated in projects that helped change how the municipal, provincial and federal authorities and various corporate organizations deal with emergencies here in Canada. I have helped those who had nothing get the assistance they needed to change their lives. I protected the weak from those who would take advantage of them and prevented them from being harmed. I showed the lost the way back to civility. I secured and restrained those who would violate our freedoms and safety. I did what I felt was right for me, my family, friends and my Nation. My influence is there for those who were aware of my participation. I didn’t seek fame and glory. I simply tried to do a good job and make a difference in the immediate world I lived in. It in part made me the person I am.

When I left the rat race struggle of Toronto and came to Cape Breton Island two years ago I was heading toward a more constructive and peaceful lifestyle that had more heart in it. Being on the front line in which it is your task to be the deterrent for the bad things that lay in the dark waiting to take from us our security, safety and sanity, does wear at the soul. Most of us know good decent people in the nursing, policing and even the teaching field who work hard and long to do a decent job and to make a difference but the System tends to chew them up and spit them out. There is a reason for why depression and suicides are so evident in these groups. Its no different for the field in which I worked.

Back to the Now. I am fortunate as I met Tammy and found the woman of my dreams. We started a home together sharing it with our three dogs, my folks, my in-laws and extended family. Its been a turning point for me. Now I am leaving behind my former profession and taking on a new approach to life. No more confronting people with negative intentions, no more late nights spent on designing operational guidelines and procedures, no more frustrating executive meetings, no more management – union arguments, bye bye Kevlar vests, gloves and boots, so long hand cuffs, and the list goes on and on.

Now I am focused on living for me, my wife and my family rather then the Machine. Whatever may come, my objectives are to grow, to learn, to love, to laugh and to live. The journey was filled with the good, the bad, the sad, adrenaline, exhaustion, and opportunities of growth and challenges. Now I am moving onwards to something new. Thank you to the old me and hello to the new me.

A Definition of Bushcrafting

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Bushcraft is the application of knowledge and skill sets so that the person can acquire adequate supplies pertaining to their survival in a rural setting. These supplies /equipment are derived from various natural resources present in the rural setting and include rocks, trees, plants, animals and so forth. This may also include acquisition of water and purification of same, creating a fire / heat source, construction of appropriate shelters and tools to make survival / life in the rural setting possible.

An essential component of bushcrafting deal with the usage of skills and knowledge for the purpose of food acquisition. This may include foraging, fishing, hunting and harvesting. Foraging involves understanding what is and is not safe to consume as well as an adequate knowledge of the local plant species. Hunting may involve being able to create primitive weapons and proper usage of same to kill whatever livestock may be found in the rural setting.

A person requires adequate will power and the proper application of bushcrafting to survive but bushcrafting is not only applied for survival but also used in typically less stressful situations such as hiking, camping, and foraging. Survival is the continuance of life during and after a crisis or disaster. It can be physical, mental, emotional and spiritual or a combination there of.

Survival depends on bushcrafting, bushcrafting does not depend on survival.

A Breath, A Step, The Journey

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Someone dear to me was experiencing a great deal of stress in their life as circumstances required the life that they were very familiar with to suddenly change. This change affected their ability to provide for themselves, for their family and gave them a sense of isolation and that the universe was not supportive to their well being.

Without going into the full extent of my chat with them I did provide the statements below which when I reread it later I thought may be applicable to other situations of difficulty that some of my friends may be facing. Here it is for your pondering:

The reactions you are having are normal for the level of stress you are dealing with. What matters is to learn from it, respect the situation for the lessons learned and move on. Don’t allow the stress to control you but control its influence.

You carry on by learning to remember how to truly breath. From the moment we are born until the last seconds of our lives we breath. It is the rhythm of our existence. As long as you can breath then you can learn to manage life. Nothing in life is as bad as being unable to breath. While you have that then you aren’t without possibilities.

Life is filled with cycles, things come and go. You take what you can from the moment and move on. Nothing lasts, all things experience change, including ourselves and the lives we live. Keep the good moments, discard the bad and embrace the unknown tomorrow as if its a journey with opportunities to expand, learn and discover.

You have a ticket to a new segment of the journey of your life. Where will you choose to travel? What shall the map of this new quest look like? The first steps are difficult and filled with nervous tension but they are the first steps to something better.

Peace & love,
Geo