Author Archives: Tim Battle

What inspires us? What sustains us?

Many years and several careers ago, I came across this picture in a magazine; for some reason it resonated with me, so I cut it out and put it in a thrift store frame and hung it on my wall. Something about that lonely, hungry animaFranz-Marc-_The-White-Dog-also-known-as-Dog-in-front-of-the-World-_l overlooking the beautifully chaotic landscape spoke to me, though I couldn’t say exactly what.

The Dog in Front of the World by Franz Marc stayed with me through many moves and jobs, and when I took on the role of directing the education program at the Alberta SPCA 18 years ago it naturally took its rightful place on my office wall. I often looked at it for inspiration, just like the white dog seemed to be looking for something beyond himself (as dogs often seem to do – isn’t that why we love them so much?).

With the broad mandate of providing an education program for an animal protection agency, I set out to try to satisfy that poor dog’s longings. Drawing on the work of pioneers in the field – most notably my predecessor Elizabeth Gredley and our long-time president Joy Ripley – it was tremendously satisfying to work in this field as I saw so many teachers who willingly accepted the core values of humane education – teaching that inspires kindness to animals, people and the earth we share.

While the desire to see people treat other creatures and humans with more compassion was my inspiration, it was the dedicated teachers and enthusiastic students that sustained me. The teachers going out of their way to instill humane principles in their students, those who often take in strays or teach respect for wildlife and the environment, and those who understand that both the bully and the bullied need a compassionate response to break the cycle – all of you provide hope to others in a world that often seems less caring as the days go on. I’m sure each of you holds ideals that inspired you to start your careers in education, and are sustained by the growth (no matter how incremental) you see in your students.

Meeting with teachers from all over the province has given me a unique opportunity to hear the concerns faced by teachers in all regions of Alberta. It’s a privilege I never took for granted, and am most grateful to have enjoyed for the past 18 years. I had some amazing coworkers, met numerous incredible volunteers who always gave from the heart, and many dedicated professionals working in the veterinary, academic, public education and law enforcement fields. Of course, our own Peace Officers who head out day after day to investigate calls about animal neglect and abuse provided have always had my admiration.

As retirement looms and I step down from my position at the Alberta SPCA, I am confident that the programs I had led will not only continue, but will thriimage1 (00000002)ve. Under the direction of Melissa Logan, my colleague of the past ten years, the school program will continue to expand and reach new heights. With the pet safekeeping program now being led by Patricia Mamak, this too will expand in area and scope to help more domestic violence victims seek safety. Our board of directors, who have always been a source of constant support, I know will continue to support these programs.

I now have an additional piece of artwork – this original drawing of my dog Lucky in front of the city and nature (every living thing) – a thoughtful and much-appreciated gift from my coworkers. This is now at home on the wall beside the dog in front of the world, and will sustain many happy memories of my years in humane education.


Speak up for humane education in the new provincial curriculum

Albertans have until June 2 to provide input into preliminary draft documents of the new curriculum being developed by Alberta Education. Now’s your chance to voice your opinion about including humane education, animal welfare or other topics related to kindness to animals, people and the environment. Here’s some tips to make it easier. Before you…Continue Reading

Alberta’s New Curriculum – an opportunity for leadership in humane values

The current review of provincial curriculum – being conducted by Alberta Education in partnership with the Alberta Teachers’ Association – provides a unique opportunity to incorporate positive, effective changes in our schools to help students’ character development through humane education. Indeed, we can become the first province to explicitly include humane education in the provincial…Continue Reading

Announcing the Alberta SPCA humane awards for teachers and students

The Alberta SPCA’s education department is happy to announce our humane awards – open to all Alberta teachers and students who inspire others to show compassion for animals, people and the environment. Teachers who incorporate humane education principles that foster empathy and respect for all living things are eligible for the Alberta SPCA Humane Teacher…Continue Reading

It’s spring – get outside and… learn!

As the days get longer and temperatures return to the plus side of zero, Albertans naturally start spending more time outdoors. Along with the newly budding leaves and flowers, field trips and environmental activities seem to flourish in spring. Our Kindness Calendar lists many events with educational components – often global in perspective but with…Continue Reading

9 Lessons Learned in my Backyard this Summer

Bird feeders are great for attracting songbirds. But they sure are messy – those birds drop lots of seeds!   Proper maintenance is important. Broken shed doors that don’t close are just inviting squirrels to move in. It’s important to clean out old nesting material from a bird house. Preferably before wasps make their home…Continue Reading

Humane Education – another way to prevent cruelty

Albertans are once again horrified to hear of another young person charged with animal cruelty. The case of a dog and cat found dead in Calgary last January, both with their mouths taped shut and suffering from numerous injuries, recalls other events in recent years: Princess the cat, cooked to death in a microwave by…Continue Reading

Reflecting Back and Looking Ahead

Many things about teaching – about our whole society in fact – have changed over the past 15 years since I joined the Alberta SPCA. When I started here in 1999 a large part of my job involved mailing VHS tapes on loan to schools (for those too young to remember VHS, ask your parents…Continue Reading

Blog posts represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of the Alberta SPCA.