Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What Is It?

On our evening walk along the Avon, I was startled to see a lady with two small dogs who appeared to be pulling little carts behind them. On closer examination and in discussion with Pat, their owner, I discovered these were not carts, but rather "doggie wheelchairs". We listened fascinated as she shared her story about the dogs who appeared strong and very capable of giving their mistress quite a run!

Haricot, 9 years old now, had come to her from the French Bulldog Rescue Centre. He had been run over by a car, and his owner had been so negligent that as he dragged his paws behind him they became raw, infected and were constantly bleeding. Loving care at the rescue centre and from Pat has brought him back to health. He has leather shoes for his back feet as he has some limited use of those legs and was constantly working himself out of the stirrups.This enables him to "walk" as he is able, but in a very supported manner.

Pearly is a more recent addition to Pat's family. She had been so badly abused in a puppy mill, that she has no use of her hind end. The rescue centre called Pat to see if she could take her right away rather than having her first adjust to the centre and then later to another home. Pat readily agreed. The wheels support Pearly's body so she can move quite freely. She craves affection and is very protective of any human who bestows love. As my friend was petting and playing with her, a large dog came by, and she seemed quite ready to attack if necessary to defend us all.

It is amazing the lessons one can learn while walking the Avon. Tonight it was a lesson in human love, and in the animals' determination to survive and to enjoy life to the fullest.

This article also appeared in Helen's column AROUND TOWN WITH HELEN HARRISON in Your Daily Source. September 8,2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Fond Farewell

Summer 2010 is quickly drawing to a close. September 1 marked the final date for the Stratford Concert Band's series of outdoor concerts held in Upper Queens Park every Wednesday during the summer.

The venue could not have been more perfect. After the current heat wave, it was extremely pleasant to sit basking in a lovely evening breeze. Mare's tails strewn across the sky made a perfect backdrop for the gulls who soared overhead as if in time to the music. A large audience had come out to enjoy the concert sitting on the benches provided by the park system or spread out across the area in friendly conversation groups on lawn chairs brought from home. The Stratford Police Pipe Band was featured during the halftime break. There is nothing quite like the strains of the pipes wafting across the evening air, especially when they choose to play some of one's favorites.

This was not only this season's final outdoor concert, but for maestro Nigel Evans it was his final stint on the podium after guiding the band for the past nine years. He took advantage of this concert to bring us many favorites from his time as director. Stratford and the Concert Band will certainly miss Mr. Evans but, as he pointed out, we have a treasure in the band and they will continue to bring us joy over the coming years.

It looks like there is a wonderful series in the works for the coming year. Why not consider buying a season's ticket and cast your support behind this enjoyable part of Stratford's cultural life?

writer's note: Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me last night. These photos capture the essence of the concerts in the park, but were not taken at the farewell concert.