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P.E.I. residents continue to take positive steps

P.E.I. native Susan Stevenson shows three of the dogs she rescued in 2019 off the streets in Bahrain and re-homed in Canada through Rays of Hope. The organization is run by Emtinan Zidany.
P.E.I. native Susan Stevenson shows three of the dogs she rescued in 2019 off the streets in Bahrain and re-homed in Canada through Rays of Hope. The organization is run by Emtinan Zidany. - Sally Cole

Whether they’re rescuing dogs from cruel or inhumane situations, creating designer cards or training for the 2020 Dance World Cup, 2019 will be remembered as a year of action for at least three Islanders that The Guardian wrote about over the past year.

In her annual update, reporter Sally Cole will check in with Susan Stevenson, Arlene Giddings or Charlotte Byrne to find out where all their activity has taken them.


PAWS TO HELP 

Susan Stevenson has a heart for hurting dogs.

In the past two years, she has rescued 400 canines from the streets of Bahrain and found them good homes in Canada through Rays of Hope.

“I feel there’s a bigger plan out there that I’m not even aware of,” says the P.E.I. native.

For example, when she was going to pick up Leona, a husky, from the breeder who no longer wanted her, she was heading to his door when another dog suddenly appeared out of nowhere.

“She ran in front of me and sat in front of the door, where Leona was waiting on the other side, and put her head down, as if to say, ‘It’s my turn.’ ”

Looking down at the dehydrated pitbull terrier, her skin covered with mange, Stevenson started to cry.

“It was like she was saying to me, ‘I’ve got to go somewhere and you’ve got to fix me up.’ ”

Realizing the sick dog was a priority, she told the breeder that she would be back the next day to take Leona.

“It was seven o’clock at night and there were no vets opened. So, I’m driving around for two hours crying, with this dog in my car with mange, calling everyone I knew.”

Eventually, a veterinarian agreed to see her.

“So, I wrapped the gentle little soul in a blanket. She just kept staring at me as I took her in, placed her on the table.”

After having a quick look at her, the vet determined that she was contagious and needed to be put under quarantine for six weeks.

However, Stevenson could visit.

“So, I gowned up, put gloves on and I held her face and said, ‘You are a little treasure.’ And I don’t know where you’re going yet, but you’re going somewhere.” 

The dog has recovered and is waiting to be placed in her forever home.

“I don’t feel like I’m doing this work. I’m just a conduit; enabling it to happen.”

Anyone interested in volunteering with Rays of Hope (being a flight buddy, fostering or adopting a dog) is asked to call Gillian Darte at 902-393-6836


WORKING HARD

Charlotte Byrne of Peakes has been keeping a hectic schedule since moving to Ontario to train with the World Performers Canada national dance team in October.

Besides travelling into Toronto once a month for two-day intensive rehearsals with dancers who, along with her, will be attending the Dance World Cup in Rome in June, she’s got a full-time job.

“I’m training anytime I’m not working,” says Byrne, who works in the horse barns known as Endless Journey Farms in Peterborough, Ont., each day from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“I love working with the horses.”

Then after-hours and on weekends, she practises routines on her own and takes a ballet class for technique.

Charlotte Byrne of Peakes is currently in Ontario training with the World Performers Canada national dance team in preparation for the Dance World Cup in Rome in June. - Guardian File Photo
Charlotte Byrne of Peakes is currently in Ontario training with the World Performers Canada national dance team in preparation for the Dance World Cup in Rome in June. - Guardian File Photo

But what’s keeping her motivated is focusing on her goal – performing in the Dance World Cup in June.

“I’m so excited. Right now it feels like a dream.”

The biggest challenge is being away from home.

“Part of being out here, working day after day, sometimes you feel a little lost. But when I’m there on the stage in Italy, seeing competitors from all the different countries it’s going feel like it’s all been worth it and I did the right thing. Hopefully that’s what I’ll be feeling.”

Bryne is also enjoying living with cousins in Peterborough.

“It’s been good for me; great to have a family out here supporting me.”

For information on the Dance World Cup, go to dwcworld.com.


DESIGNING WOMAN

A day after the story about Arlene Giddings and her one-of-a-kind holiday cards appeared in The Guardian, her Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts started making noises.

“I received a huge amount of responses as people shared the story. I also got some card orders out of it,” says the Summerside artist.

Islanders were requesting Christmas cards for next year and general greeting cards.

“Some people are even asking me to do pictures they can frame,” says Giddings, who enjoyed a successful holiday season.

“It was a lot of fun. I had a lot of custom orders this year that pushed me out of my comfort zone, but, I was pretty happy with how they turned out.”

With the holidays behind her, Arlene Giddings is making Valentine’s Day cards. This is one of the Summerside artist’s newest designs. - Arlene Giddings/Special to The Guardian
With the holidays behind her, Arlene Giddings is making Valentine’s Day cards. This is one of the Summerside artist’s newest designs. - Arlene Giddings/Special to The Guardian

For example, someone asked her to do one with a Dungeon & Dragons theme.

“All I had to work with was a flaming skull and the words, happy holidays. And they left it up to me to figure the rest out.”

Another request involved creating a card for P.E.I. Lt.-Gov. Antoinette Perry with images of Tignish, an Acadian Flag, a church and an organ.

“It was a lot to work to put into a Christmas card but, in the end, I was really happy with the way it turned out.”

These days she’s working on Valentine’s Day cards and planning for the future.

“In 2020, I’m hoping to expand my business so I can offer both prints and originals. (I also want to) fill orders quicker. I realize I need to have something on hand.”

Arlene Giddings can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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