Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Moving On Up!

Is there anyone still reading this? If so, kudos to you!

It's been pretty apparent that this blog has mostly been abandoned at this point. It makes me a little sad - I ran this thing for almost 4 years! Admittedly it was sporadic at times, but still. We've received updates, donations and adoptions through this blog, so thank you to everyone who ever read and offered support!

I'm still at the shelter, up to my elbows in rabbits as always, and I still want to bring more attention to the oft-overlooked little guys. So, that said, this blog isn't really ending - it's moving!

You can now find out about TAS South's small animals at:

Tumblr is more off-the-cuff, which means I can just quickly post a photo and some facts, rather than having to sit down and write a complete entry. I'll still be posting available animals on there, as well as updates! I know there are several adopters who have sent me updates over the last few months that never got posted - they will start showing up on the Tumblr, I promise!

In summary: thank you everyone! If you've stuck around to the bitter end, I am much impressed, and I hope you check out the Tumblr!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Seeing Spots

I will never understand why shelters get "trends" of certain animals. We'll go through months where we get tons of brown tabby cats, or all black rabbits. There's no rhyme or reason behind it, but it always happens.

 Right now it's spots!
The Room is full of spotty rabbits right now. They're not Easter rabbits (that rush hasn't started yet), so I'm not sure why they all look the same, but it's pretty cute. That brown and white girl is Lavender, a six-month-old foster baby who was transferred from Scarborough with her slightly-less-spotty mom Dottie.

Dottie and Lavender are unfortunately a bonded pair. I always try to separate kits from their moms at a young age, before a proper bond can form, because pairs are so difficult to adopt out. We tried to separate Dottie and Lavender when they arrived at the shelter, but Lavender showed signs of depression, so back together they went.

 They are pretty cute together. Luckily, they've been taken off our hands. The Cambridge OSPCA contacted us asking for rabbits, since they didn't have any for adoption. They didn't mind taking a bonded pair, so Lavender and Dottie are off to Cambridge, where they will probably have a better chance than in our crowded Room.

Clover here is another spotty transfer from Scarborough. You can see from the tufts behind her ears that she's got some Lionhead in her. She is not nearly as shy as the pair. Actually, she has a bit of an attitude. I like her personality - she's sweet to an extent, but she's also not afraid of letting you know when she's had enough.

It can turn people off when rabbits grunt or flick their feet at you, and obviously I understand that. But if it's done as a warning, rather than out of fear, and there's a reason behind it, I think it's a great quality. With rabbits who don't make obvious 'leave me alone' signals, you can't always tell how they're going to react. With Clover, you're both on the same page.

And finally we have Cleopatra, a recent run of the mill stray. She's a lovely Rex rabbit with the typical satin-y fur. She looks a bit like a cow. She's an outgoing, confident girl, and she'll be a good first-time rabbit for someone. We almost named her Scorpio, actually, because the markings on her back look remarkably like a scorpion:

I suspect this spots thing is going to keep going. The Easter rabbit rush tends to involve a lot of white rabbits with spots. At least they're good-looking!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


This little guy was named Nimbus, and was only about 5 months old. He was transferred to the shelter from Etobicoke, where they can't keep small animals. Rabbits, like most animals, are not fully mature the instant they are weaned. People understand that puppies and kittens have different needs than adult dogs and cats, but for some reason people seem to have a hard time understanding that young rabbits have special needs too. Rabbits don't actually completely finish maturing, physically or mentally, until they hit a year old.

Because of this lack of understanding, most young rabbits that arrive at the shelter are skinny. People don't realize they need Alfalfa hay when very young, or that they need more food and more variety in order to develop properly. Sometimes, young surrenders are very skinny, and because of this, they are a little lethargic. Typically we feed them properly and they perk up in a week.
When I went to take Nimbus' photo, he was pretty quiet and inactive. I could feel that he was on the skinny side, and when I gave him a mint leaf he practically inhaled it, so I assumed he was one of the many underfed youngsters we get at this time of year. But that's not what this blog post is about.

When we went to leave the shelter a few hours later, I noticed Nimbus hunched over oddly. A closer inspection revealed that he was breathing heavily. My friend had come to the shelter to drop off a foster animal, so I sent her to fetch a staff member.
Before she got back, Nimbus began to have some sort of fit, stumbling into the walls and crashing around his cage in a panic before collapsing. Nicola, one of the staff members, arrived and she and I wrapped him up in a towel. We discussed euthanasia options but before we could do anything, Nimbus' little heart slowed to a stop and he died in my arms.

I have no idea what happened. Sometimes things happen and rabbits die. He's certainly not the first rabbit to die at the shelter and he won't be the last. I always write a blog entry when one dies, but I don't really know why. What does that accomplish?
I think I always want to write something because I want these guys to matter to somebody. Nimbus was not a member of any family when he died. He wasn't someone's beloved pet - he never got that chance. He's just another number in a records book. But he was a sweet young rabbit who never did anyone any harm, and it seems like his passing should be noted. So consider it noted.
Rest in peace, little guy.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Top of the Morning

I am just the worst blogger ever, aren't I? It's been another two months without a post!
On the upside, I did a holiday photo-shoot for the first time in over a year. It ended up being a pretty small shoot, for the best reason - I had to stop and help with an adoption in the middle! It was a great adoption, and in the end I still got some hilarious photos for St Patrick's Day.

This undoubtedly being one of the best. Look at his face!
This is Charles, and he's actually the best-natured rabbit in the world. He is a dwarf mix, however, and he has inherited the squished-in face of many dwarf rabbits. Thanks to that, he is spectacularly good at disapproving faces. And he is judging you for your St Patrick's Day activities. 
When I did the hamster photos, my camera decided it no longer liked the green background, so the colours turned out a little day-glo. The shelter recently took in 11 hamsters who were abandoned in a local park. Galileo here is probably the shyest, but he was not shy about taking the peanut I hid in the shot glass. 
Petunia here is a recent transfer from Scarborough, who makes hilarious faces in almost all of her photos, holiday-themed or not. I enjoy the hangover-ish look here. I think she might be the one Charles was judging in that first photo. 
Petunia can be a little skittish, but once you start petting her, she falls right asleep...even on a pile of plastic shamrocks.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


When I arrived at the shelter today, I was planning to spend all my time with the cats. There was one new hamster in the Room, but otherwise the Room was pretty calm, and I wanted to do a photo sweep of all the cats. To my surprise, however, there was a sign on Adoption Room 2 declaring it was "Closed".

I asked the staff if there was a sickness going around - the typical reason for closing an adoption room. 
"No, they're healthy." The staff replied. "It's a bunch of cats from Etobicoke...they're semi-feral."
"What, all of them?"
"They're not really feral." The staff amended. "But they're super shy and scared out of their minds. They need a little time to cool down before the public gets at them."

I decided to do their photos anyway, so they'd be all set once they were opened to the public. The staff weren't kidding - most of them were incredibly shy, but they were also mostly sweet, and the photos didn't turn out too wide-eyed. 
This pretty girl was the first one I did. Her name is Ayela and she's a year old. She was huddled in the back of the cage, but she's not really that shy. She was very vocal about wanting me to stop with the photos, though!
 Barry, on the other hand, was just as scared out of the cage as inside. He is a lovely boy, but so very scared. He was physically shaking while I took his photo, which is a first for me. I took the shot quickly and left him alone; hopefully some time will put him more at ease.
Lizzy is not actually that shy, although she wasn't a huge fan of the camera. She was really affectionate, especially in the cage where she felt safe. She's a big fan of head scratches.
I have no idea where Benji came from, because he is not shy at all. He must have a really fabulous personality to come from the same situation as the others, yet maintain such a loving, outgoing attitude. This guy just wants to curl up in your lap.
He looks a little stoned here, but in his defense, I think that's just the way he looks. It's a style.
And then sometimes, in groups like this, you have surprises. Goldenrod here was completely hidden beneath her blanket in the cage. I thought there was no way I was going to get a decent photo, but I had time and figured I might as well try. I put her on the chair and she immediately calmed down and happily accepted head scratches and rubs. She's scared of the shelter, but she is completely comfortable with people.

There is this perception that a cat has to be perfect to survive a public shelter. There is some truth to this. Cats get the short end of the stick simply because there are so many of them. As a shelter that is required by law to take every cat given to us, TAS South has to make decisions, and a hard-to-adopt cat is going to be more at risk than a hard-to-adopt dog or even small animal. 

But on the other hand, the staff know cats. This group from Etobicoke came from a hoarder situation. They're shy and scared and not particularly socialized, but they're not aggressive. I think a lot of people would assume that these cats wouldn't stand a chance in the shelter, but that's not true. The staff deal with situations like this all the time. They know they need a day to calm down after the transfer; they know that they need some TLC to bring them out of their shells. They know that there are good pets in there. I think these guys are going to be fine.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Christmas Carol

We had a bit of an odd situation over the holidays at South. Five days before Christmas, some Parks workers discovered that someone had been living in a shed owned by the city. The shed was abandoned before they found it, but four pet mice had been left behind - two males and two females.
 One of the females, sadly, had an injured eye and a frostbitten tail. She was in very poor shape, and had to be euthanized. The two males, Calvin & Hobbes, were put up for adoption and found a home together a few days ago. 
The last female was on pregnancy watch of course, and did not disappoint. On Christmas morning, the staff were greeted with this sight:
Christmas pups! The fourth mouse, Carol, had given birth to seven little ones on Christmas day. I took her home that day for foster care. Carol is an excellent mother, as you can see above. That white band on the pups' tummies is the "milk band" and it's visual evidence that they are well fed. 
Of course, it's been over two weeks now and they are much less gross-looking these days: 
We don't get mice very often at the shelter, and this is certainly my first time fostering a litter. It's interesting! 
They're  similar to hamsters, yet very different in their way. The pups are currently at the 'flea stage', an age which is definitely living up to its name. They can hop out of your hand without any warning!  As well, they seem to be much more bonded with their mother than hamster pups. I suppose this fits - mice live in colonies and Syrian hamsters are solitary. Unlike the hamsters, when these guys are old enough, they will be divided into pairs and trios, so that they are never alone.
It's also surprising what a difference a tail makes! They are still very unsteady on their feet, and as they climb over your fingers, their little tails whip back and forth to help them keep their balance. They are clever little fellows. Hamsters are lovely but pretty slow. With mice, even at this age, you can see them figuring things out and carefully learning their way through the world.
After she was so unceremoniously dumped in a city shed, I'm glad we can help Carol and her little ones, but they do present a problem. Why couldn't we get a boatload of those cute fancy mice? Eight pink-eyed whites are going to be a challenge to adopt.

For a few more days, they can keep growing and learning at my house, but by the end of this week, Carol's family will be in the Room, and hopefully on their way to homes of their own.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Year, New Start

Wow, it's been over six months since I posted. Oops!
I could go over the million things that have happened at the shelter since July 27, but what's the point? Animal rescue is an in-the-moment business. Animals come and go, and there's no point in dwelling in the ones already adopted, because there are new ones in need.

I almost just gave up this blog, but you know, I like having a place to just ramble on about rescue. When I post on the Facebook page, I have to be polite and professional, since I am (unofficially) representing TAS. But here I can post whatever I like!

So for 2013, the blog is back - but I am going to change things up a bit. There's going to be more cat posts, more small animal care info, and some wildlife stuff too. That's the idea, anyway. We'll see how it goes!

I always assume no one is reading this, but I recently met three different people who told me they read this blog. Surprised the heck out of me! So if there is anyone out there still reading this, first, I am impressed. Second, I apologize for the long boring absence. And third, I hope there will soon be plenty of new, interesting posts!

Happy 2013!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Extreme Makeover: Cat Edition

These days, I do cat photos almost every time I go to the shelter. I never post them since this is a small animal blog, but this week I've done about 40 different cats and I had to post some. Since it's kitten season, we are inundated with kittens of all ages, plus the usual suspects - teenagers, long-termers, adults, strays.
My favourite thing about doing cat photos is comparing them to the intake photos that are already on the website. Cat intake photos are quick snapshots the staff take when the cat arrives - their only purpose is to show the basic look of the cat, in case someone recognizes it and claims it. In an ideal world, the cat would get a nicer photo when they move into adoption, but the staff are far too busy to re-do all the photos. Which is why, if you have a camera and a good eye, you should always volunteer your services to a local shelter!
So here are some of the more recent 'before's and 'after's:
 Pumpernickel here is definitely my favourite 'before' and 'after'. He's such a mess in the old shot! This sweet, shy guy was not meant for the streets, and clearly arrived at the shelter in a rather roughed-up state. He's got a little scar on his nose to show for his troubles. He's a scared, gentle guy who would do great in a quiet, indoor home.
 A really common issue with kitten intake photos is that they're normally of the whole family, when they first arrive. This means that by the time the kitten is old enough for adoption, their photo tends to be of either newborns, or a whole group, and they get lost in the shuffle. Looking at Ollie's old photo, for instance, his orange sibling is taking all the glory.
I love this guy! Blaze is an incredible sweetheart. He's one of those cats where it was difficult to get his photo, not because he was trying to escape, but because he was so determined to crawl into my lap and get head scratches.
Humphrey here, on the other hand, definitely fell into the other category for being difficult to photograph. This guy can. Not. Sit. Still. He is completely nuts. You'll note that I never did get an in-focus photo. If you're looking for a kitten with energy to burn, this guy or his equally crazy sister fits the bill.
 And rounding it off, we have Marilla, a recent adult stray. She's an independent girl, but she's quite affectionate and determined to get your attention. She also posed very nicely! The number one rule for shelter photography is eyes - if the animal looks into the camera, then someone browsing the website will be more likely to connect with them.

It's been a crazy summer but - dare I say it? - the cats actually aren't too bad right now. The Room, on the other hand, is packed to the brim. It seriously is the Year of the Guinea Pig - four more have arrived in the last week.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Turn-Around

We've had a slew of adoptions lately! After a very slow couple of months, it's been a whirlwind of good news over the last couple of weeks.
First, Sir Nigel was adopted to Pawsitively Pets, a kid's camp where he will serve in an educational role, teaching kids how to properly care for and handle chinchillas. He has a nice three-storey cage and will be treated very well.
Then a few days later, Leonard, our goofy nine-month-old boy, got adopted to a wonderful home. They were rabbit experienced, with a good vet and Leonard will live in a nice big pen.
The day after Leonard went, we had three rabbit adoptions in one day. I think that's a new record! First, Whisper was adopted as a young girl's first rabbit. Whisper is a quiet, easy-going young rabbit and I think it was a very good match. And then, much to my utter astonishment, Honey and Mochaccino were adopted - together! Never in a million years did I think they'd get adopted together. They went to a very rabbit-experienced home, and basically won the lottery in terms of adopters. 
And just to cap off a great couple of weeks, Olive was finally adopted over the weekend. I was beginning to think our grumpy girl would be stuck with us forever, but she was adopted to a family that had had rabbits before, and presumably knew what they were getting themselves into.

We've also had some transfers, as Cornelius and my dear Abeline were sent to Rabbit Rescue. Cornelius was adopted immediately (someone had wanted to adopt him from us, but he'd already been transferred), but unsurprisingly Abeline is still waiting. At least she's in a foster home now!

Of course, surprise, surprise, we have new rabbits (and birds), but at least we have space for them now!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Walking on Sunshine

I love statutory holidays at the shelter, because there are no visitors to distract you from the animals. It's always a nice opportunity to spend quality time with the latest inmates, getting to know them and letting them have extra attention or exercise. I spent Canada Day there, and since it was such a lovely day outside, I took the rabbits out on to the grass.
Usually when I take the rabbits out, the reactions are 90% fear and maybe 10% enjoyment. I still think it's worth while for them to be distracted from just sitting in the shelter all day, even if they're just distracted because they think they're going to be eaten (I'm not terrible though, the scared ones don't stay out long). This time, however, everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves.
 Maxine is not an energetic girl in the slightest, but she seemed to like the sun. She immediately sprawled out in the grass and spent the entire time relaxed and comfy. She's a sweet girl, I think she'll be really good for a family that wants a less active rabbit. 
Beatrix, on the other hand, decided to take full advantage of her time outside. She is such a quirky rabbit. I thoroughly enjoy spending time with her, she's very in-your-face. She explored, she dug in the dirt, she pulled up grass and chomped down on dandelions. I lay down on the grass beside her and she bumped against me, hoping for attention.
My mum came along with me, which allowed us to take the rabbits out in pairs and get more done. This is the mystery pair from the last rabbit post. It's Circe and Zeus, my old fosters. They've been returned, although from the sounds of the adopter, that's not a bad thing. Their own post is in the works, but in the meantime, I've been trying to spend extra time with them. Circe remembers me and it can't hurt to see a friendly face. 
I took the two of them out on to the grass and while they were a little nervous, they seemed to have a good time. I also ended up getting the most hilarious photo of Zeus:
 Talk about a grumpy face, sheesh.
Of course, Circe is capable of making her own hilarious faces:
Circe and Zeus are our only bonded pair at the moment (thank goodness). We took the others out in twos, but we tried to keep them away from each other in order to avoid any unnecessary conflict. We took out Honey, the giant girl, at the same time as Mocha, the adorable Lionhead, and they seemed determined to meet each other. We tried to stop them, but it's hard to say no to this face:
They managed to get to each other, and much to my utter astonishment, they loved each other. It was an instant bond, and they were immediately grooming each other and nuzzling. I couldn't believe it. Talk about the cutest, most odd couple ever:

They were so thrilled to be with each other, I felt bad separating them when we went back inside. But bonded pairs are hard enough to adopt out, we don't need to create any more. There's no chance of them getting adopted together but it was the sweetest thing. Rabbits can surprise you!