A group of volunteers founded the Winnipeg Humane Society in 1894 and are vital to our success today! With the help of volunteers, we can provide care, love and attention to our four (and sometimes two) legged friends until they find their forever homes. The MVP (Monthly Volunteer Profile) will recognize the work and get to know these special MVP’s in a spotlight each month that includes an article and photo shoot. MVPs will receive a framed photo and gift card as our thanks!
Is there a volunteer you’d like to nominate to be MVP? E-mail us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell us why you think they should be an MVP!
MVP: Bea and Las Fabo
Story by Brian Kozak, photo by Jim Harvey
In December 2008, the Winnipeg Humane Society’s foster coordinator approached dog walkers Bea and Las Fabo with what turned out to be a life-changing request.
‘Why don’t you try fostering?’ the foster clerk asked. “There are these two six-week-old puppies that only need two weeks of care.”
So Bea and Las gave it a shot.
And they’re still going.
Fostering, according to Bea, means “bringing a dog along to where it’s comfortable in the world.”
As they near their 10th anniversary of fostering all shapes and sizes of dogs, Bea and Las have lost count of how many pooches they’ve cared for. “But it’s over 200,” Bea said. “And every time we get a new one we learn something different.”
They may have lost count, but they probably remember a little something about each dog they’ve spent time with. The Fabos have two photo albums to share their memories of each dog under their care, beginning with Jessie and Rambo – the first two from 2008.
Resident dogs Spike, Fudge and Pepper assist Las and Bea’s efforts. Spike is nine years old, from Churchill, and his mom was a purebred Canadian Eskimo dog while the father was ‘a mystery.’ There’s also Fudge, a ten-year-old husky/heeler cross and Pepper, an almost seven-year-old male pointer/Lab cross.
“Pepper took a while to get used to us,” Bea explained. “He was a supremely active dog in adoption and just had a huge amount of energy. We were doing dog walking when we saw him and it would take 15 minutes to get the dog harness on him.
“We took him into foster and started working with him, and now he’s enrolled in a couple of classes. He does agility every second week and sheepherding every second week. He and Fudge alternate.”
The dogs are close. Las says Spike and her sisters were fostered days after Fudge’s puppies were taken to the WHS for adoption. “When she heard the crying from the three of them in the garage, Fudge would not come in the house until we brought Spike and his sisters in as well. We took a chance and she took them under her wing like they were her own.”
“Do you think she regrets that?” says Bea with a chuckle.
Bea and Las refer to them lovingly as ‘foster fails,’ but anyone who has met Spike, Pepper and Fudge would attest to their lovability and social skills. The dogs are with the Fabos to socialize the foster dogs and keep the pecking order in place. In addition, Spike is a WHS ambassador, attending children’s birthday parties and similar events while the dogs will attend events (such as canine handling activities) on behalf of the WHS.
Spike also has a rescue dog story. His little sister Luna went back and forth between the shelter and the Fabos for about 10 months before a fellow in Elmwood adopted her. “He was cycling with the dog when somehow Luna got away from him. She was terrified of humans.
“We got a call from the Humane Society. There were Luna sightings at the Elmwood Cemetery and she had even crossed Henderson Highway on her own,” Las explained. “She wouldn’t respond to people. Behaviour Manager, Catherine McMillan remembered that Luna would respond to Spike. Spike was back at the shelter at the time, so he was loaded into the van and set out on a rescue mission. Catherine and Spike tracked Luna down and Spike actually got Luna back and she was returned to her owner.”
“Catherine was in the van and would chase her and just when she got close Luna would take off again,” Bea added. “Then, she saw Catherine playing with Spike and just came flying over.”
The Fabos say they are part of a community and everyone deserves credit for helping these dogs.
“This is not an individual effort,” Bea said. “The help and support of family, friends, neighbours, different departments at WHS and the co-operation of other agencies makes what we do possible.”
Las is quick to pass kudos to Spike, Pepper and Fudge. “Our dogs do so much of the work, showing the fosters how to behave and how to interact with each other and with people.”
So after a decade and more than 200 dogs of every shape, size, personality and medical condition, would Las and Bea do it again?
In a word, yes.
“It would be wonderful if what we do wasn’t necessary,” Bea said. “But until that day, we will continue for as long as we can.”
WHS staff and volunteers appreciate their dedication. “Over 200 animals have had a new start because of the Fabos,” said Michelle Hedin of the Foster department. “They have helped train certain hard-to-train dogs that Behaviour works with and will come over at a moment’s notice to help.”