This past year has been met with a lot of challenges. We wanted to shine the spotlight on the animals in our lives who have kept our minds occupied and our hearts full during isolation. We asked you to share your Tiny Animal Stories with us — local stories of your beloved pets, creatures in your neighbourhood or at the park. You delivered.
Here are some of our favourite submissions:
A family of squirrels moved into our walls, broke into the bathroom vanity, and ate most of a tube of toothpaste – maybe they wanted cleaner teeth? – Onion Honey
Walking down the street in KW when a hawk was sitting on a pole, He kept flying to the next pole as we walked by. He got upset that he had to keep moving, and grabbed a pine cone off a nearby tree and dropped it right in front of us to go away. It was so amazing to have this interaction with such a beautiful bird. – Erika
I was sitting on the boardwalk beside Silver Lake watching the geese, when a lady pushing a stroller walked by with her husband. “Isn’t the water beautiful?” he asked her, thinking he knew the answer. “No,” she barked, “all the geese shit in there,” I laughed, to her displeasure, and continued to watch the geese swim, flap, float, and yes, shit, in the water. I agreed with the man. Later when I went to the park washrooms, I was curious, and so I examined the signs on the doors. There was no bathroom for the geese. – Anonymous
Ollie-mo, the golden boy, You learned real quick unwilling arms were no toy. From the KWHS to the streets of Mount Hope, You went from being at the end of yours, to dutifully respecting your rope. You taught me patience, you taught me care, You showed me how much concrete collects dog hair. We chased concrete stairs, all around, And basement halls as rains came down. Camping trips and cottage swim, You fill life with love right to the brim. I wish I’d had more chances to give, But I’ll be sending you my love, as long as you live. – Andy
I arrived at 5:30am to a community path in Kitchener, to photograph a beautiful coyote family that frequented the area. By 6, I had seen the mom, and her me, 10 feet away. This wasn’t the scariest part of my morning. I took several pics and got up to find a new angle in hopes of getting the pups coming into the open field. Out of nowhere, I hear a high-pitched call and turn just in time to save my head from a red-winged blackbird. Wings touched my ear. Walking with coyotes and I’m afraid of the attacking blackbird. -Michelle Graham
Curled up against the vent, one paw slung out in the ecstasy of winter slumber. Uneven snores greet me to our cozy uptown Waterloo home. This holiday won’t bring the cat sitter or visits to Ipperwash or Buffalo. I approach. He jerks awake, inquiring green eyes peer out of velvety black fur. I unwrap my purchase. Comforting purrs turn to a low guttural growl. Whiskers flick. This is no catnip treat. He stands attentive at my feet. Click, his collar goes on. I press the button; red, green, and gold lights flicker from his new Christmas tie. Oh the indignity. – Anna Fleet
I never would have guessed that an overlooked senior cat riddled with health issues from the KW Humane Society would take up so much space in my heart. We got to spend seven years with the world’s sweetest cat through highs and lows, milestones and loss. Our little Molly was a source of light and companionship through our time with her, but especially during this pandemic. She made my mental health better on my worst days just by being herself. Following us from room to room, unbothered by everything and loving everyone. I’ll miss your place in our home, dearest girl. – Emily W
My dog is helpless. He fears the kitchen floor. He believes if he touches the floor, he’ll slip into the endless abyss. Fortunately, he has developed a clever strategy to deal with the bottomless void. If he can’t see the kitchen floor, it doesn’t exist, therefore it’s only safe to cross while walking backwards. It was funny to watch for a while, but then it just became sad to watch. That’s why we constructed a bridge so he can safely cross the endless abyss in peace. In other words, we put a bunch of mats on the floor. – Warren Kocher
Lily is a red toy poodle who has endless energy. To keep her active during the pandemic we have been taking lots of walks through Victoria Park. Her favourite part about the park is when she gets to see all the animals there. The first time she saw a goose, she stood on her back hindlegs trying to get a better look at it, she was quite surprised when it hissed at her. These days she still loves her walks through the park, she just keeps some space between her and the geese. – Lily’s family
Meet Toast. A kitten with massive round eyes, soft grey fur, and the flattest face. He has a special effect on people, he brings joy to everyone who sees him. I made Toast an Instagram in hopes of sharing the happiness he gives us with everyone else, and it worked! He now has fan art, and friends at the Princess cafe who love him. Even our wonderful veterinarian at Buck Animal Hospital said that he was so sweet, she and the staff didn’t want to give him back. Other than always trying to steal my fries, he’s pretty much purrfect. – Elise
ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Cara Vandermey illustrated our Tiny Animal Stories by reading through the submissions for inspiration. In the past, Vandermey also created our essential workers cover, and TCE Horoscopes. For more of her art, check out her illustrated column Haru Noon.