Defender Radio and The Switch
Episode 411: Pooches, Perception, and Compassion

If you see a dog sit down and pant, are they smiling, or showing anxiety? If they roll on their back, is it submissive, or simply an ask for a belly rub? And what, possibly, do these questions have to do with how we communicate messages of greater social change?

A conversation on dog behaviour and our perception of it – namely, focused on the upsetting incident of a polar bear killing a dog around the same time a video of a polar bear touching a dog at the same location went viral – was the original purpose of this week’s Defender Radio episode. A discussion of critical thinking, dog behaviour, and perception is, of course, where we started. But in talking with Joan Watson, a dog behaviourist, owner of K9 Shrink, and Animal Behaviour/Ethics instructor at Durham College, a bigger picture started to form.

Could the way we perceive behaviour in dogs, and how we start to understand what our canine companions really need, help us foster compassionate change in other arenas? Could the experiences of learning to exercise empathy in dealing with non-human animal issues show us clues into having better conversations on policy and social reform?

In this last Defender Radio episode of 2016, you’ll find out just how much we can learn from our canine friends, and how Joan Weston helped us ask the right questions that may lead to a better 2017.

Direct download: 2016-12-19_DefenderRadioPodcast.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 3:21pm EDT

Episode 410: Doug's Story

Jaclyn Penney’s family is in mourning. Their beloved dog, Doug, who had been with them only six months, died in front of Jaclyn’s mother from the unrelenting crush of a snare trap in November. While out for a walk on their dead end, residential street near Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Doug wandered only several feet from the side of the road when he activated the snare, quickly killing him.

It is a trauma that no animal should endure. But that day, Jaclyn had to find a way to tell her young son why his friend wasn’t waiting for him when he came home from school.

An interview with the CBC, and hundreds of emails from supporters of The Fur-Bearers, got the attention of the province’s Minister of Environment and Conservation Perry Trimper, whose office reached out to Jaclyn to set up a meeting.

Jaclyn joined Defender Radio to share what was discussed in that meeting, as well as how her family is handling the tragic loss of Doug and trying to move forward.

Direct download: 2016-12-12_Complete.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 3:11pm EDT

Episode 409: Finding Shelter

The Rowels family was trying to find a home. But when they arrived in a tiny town in southern Bulgaria, they found their calling: finding homes for street dogs.

The heartwarming story began with Diane and Tony Rowels looking for a change in their family’s life. The couple moved themselves and their children to Rudozem, Bulgaria, where they hoped to perhaps open a café. Instead, they became protectors of street dogs, opened a shelter, and help rehome hundreds of dogs across Europe.

Their story, with its ups and downs, loss and beauty, is told in a documentary directed by a long-time supporter of The Fur-Bearers, Erin Parks. Finding Shelter, the story of the Rudozem Street Dog Rescue, is available now on the iTunes store, with proceeds going to help the dogs. To share with us insight into the Rowels’ family story, the impact they’re making for the dogs, and how wanting to tell the stories of various animal rescues around the world led to focusing on this very special family, Erin Parks joined Defender Radio.

Direct download: 2016-12-05_DefenderRadio.mp3
Category:Season 04 -- posted at: 6:06pm EDT