The importance of pets

Naeila El Shatir considers her cat Sherry to be part of the family. (CBC)

Naeila El Shatir considers her cat Sherry to be part of the family. (CBC)

Thanks to Tim Gueguen for the heads up. Naeila El Shatir, a Syrian refugee, was very happy to be going to Canada, but she also had a great need to ensure another refugee made it with her, her cat Sherry.

“This cat suffered as we suffered in the war. He was always afraid,” she explained. “He spent a very difficult time with us. He always looked at me to ask, ‘When will all of this end?'”


For El Shatir, who counseled refugee children with psychosocial issues, taking care of Sherry became a form of therapy and a way of honouring her sister’s memory.

In February, El Shatir and her elderly mother were accepted as government-sponsored refugees in Canada, but pets were not allowed.

“There is no chance,” El Shatir said. “There is a big list of what you can bring and can’t bring. I can’t bring cats or plants.”

El Shatir was torn over whether to leave Sherry behind. In the end, she entrusted Sherry with her brother who promised to complete the extensive medical screening and paper work required to ship a cat to Canada.


“I thank Canada, its people, its government for giving the Syrian people a chance to restart our lives again. To have a chance to live in a normal way and a safe way. Also for giving my cat another chance to live.”

There seems to be a prevailing sense that any refugee should be damn glad to be out of a bad situation, who cares if they are treated like human beings floating about. It’s good to see there are people who do understand how difficult it is for refugees, and something like a beloved pet can make all the difference to a person, especially one who has been subjected to ongoing trauma. You Canadians are serious nice.


The Grackles are back. I look forward to this every year, I’m very fond of grackles. They are astonishingly beautiful birds, with a metallic rainbow hidden in that black. They can look wonderfully fierce and raptorish, but they are endearingly clumsy, and there’s that fabulous puff ‘n’ whistle business. Grackles are always shy at first, as they tend to be high on the enemy list here in farm country. The last couple of years, there’s been an increase in leucism in grackles. There’s one leucistic grackle in particular, I call Pye, and I hope he is back again this year. (The last shot is Pye, from last year). Click for full size.







Thank you, Rats

File this one under: FFS. My apologies to PZ, for pestering him unnecessarily. I’ve had to change things in my studio lately, to accommodate all the ratlets, and didn’t realize the rats could get up on the computer station. Even more stupidly, I left an admin page open, and left my keyboard on. In their usual mysterious way, they hit a perfect storm of keys, and borked everything here. It’s all fixed up now, so all you wonderful people who commented today, you’ll have to do it again, I can’t figure out how to move comments (if it’s even possible – the rats could probably do it.) For your trouble, here’s Ville, one of Violette’s boys, named after Ville Valo, because of the wicked cute.