Omar's family

Featured on Episode 10

Freelance journalist and writer, Omar Mouallem's relationship with animals continues to change.

Currently, he shares his home with his wife, Janae, new baby and their two cats, Darwin and Orwell. Both kitties are rescues from the local humane society.

Omar is a National Magazine Awards winning writer whose stories have appeared in The Guardian, Wired, Rolling Stone and Maclean’s

He co-authored the national bestseller, Inside the Inferno: A Firefighter’s Story of the Brotherhood that Saved Fort McMurray (Simon & Schuster) with Damian Asher. It's an action-packed, on-the-ground memoir of the Fort McMurray Wildfire and the courage, resilience, and sacrifice of the firefighters who saved the city.

He writes about lots of things but he's also written a bunch about cats including the book Amazing Cats.


[Images courtesy of Omar Mouallem]

The Quran + Companion Animals

Featured on Episode 10


Dr. Ayoub M. Banderker, a Cape Town, South Africa-based Veterinary Surgeon teaches and writes extensively about the animal welfare in relation to Islam.

You can read his article Animal Abuse and Welfare in Islam on the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' site, Islamic Concern. 

In it, he debunks several of the persisting myths about animals and the Muslim faith, including:

  1. The Qu’ran does NOT forbid the ownership of a dog, although it's not considered hygienic to allow a dog into the home. 

  2. The Qu’ran does NOT prohibit the touching of a dog or any animal. If the dog's saliva does come into contact with you or your clothing make sure to wash place it touched.

  3. If a Muslim owns an animal, regardless if it is for agriculture or work or as a pet, the animal must be given proper shelter, food, water and veterinary care for their animals.


If you have any questions about animal welfare in relation to Islam, please let me know and I will put you in touch with Dr. Ayoub M. Banderker. Just send me an email at:

Jessica Scott-Reid's animal advocacy

Featured on Episode 9


Writer Jessica Scott-Reid advocates for animal welfare.






She's shares her thoughts in a variety publications on topics from veganism, to chaining dogs up outdoors, the transport of animals in food production, and more.

She discusses her opinion piece about pet abandonment, featured in the Globe and Mail, with Pet Sounds.

You can read the column here:

Canada’s dog dumping is a sign of bigger problem
The Globe and Mail

You can read lots more from Jessica here

You can also follow her on Twitter


Saving + supporting senior dogs

Featured on Episode 9


The Grey Muzzle Organization was created in 2008.

They're commited to helping support the work being done for and with at-risk senior dogs.

It educates people about senior dogs, their needs and the resources available to assist in the health and care of the companion animals as they age.

The organization also provides funding to programs across the US devoted to bettering the lives of elderly dogs. Thus far, they've given one-million dollars out via grants to animal shelters, rescue organizations, sanctuaries, and other non-profit groups committed to bettering the lives of senior dogs.

The grantees include:

  • C.A.R.E.: The Companion Animal Rehabilitation Emergency Medical Fund (Arizona)
    The goal of this program is to bring otherwise unadoptable companion animals to an adoptable condition by providing emergency medical funding and assistance to local shelter pets.

  • Advanced Canine Education (Virginia)
    They provide a Shelter Dog Swim program to give senior dogs a chance to exercise in the water - to prevent or minimize pain on their old joints.

  • Council on Aging in Knoxville-Knox County (Tennessee)
    The grant dollars goes towards the Seniors for Seniors Adoption Program. Pets adopted by Knox PAWS participants are given an initial medical exam, vaccinated, microchipped, spayed or neutered, and provided with six months of heartworm and flea prevention medication.

 You can find out more their various grant recipients here

The top places to be a pet

Featured on Episode 9


Different countries have different laws around animal treatment. 

These rules help to inform how animals are treated in the culture.

Canada and the United States pet owners are only required by law to provide food, water, shelter and medical care when needed. Animals, both companion and those in food production, are seen as merely property.

Many other countries go well beyond North American's approach to animal legislation. It recognizes animals as "sentient beings". They don't consider animals as property. 

The countries with the extensive guidelines for animal treatment and making them the best places to be a companion animal.

They include:

1) Austria

They recognize animal sentience and the importance of animal protection as a societal value within the country. There is government support for the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare, prohibition of cruelty and protection for different categories of animals.

2) New Zealand

At a policy level, The New Zealand Animal Welfare Strategy outlines how animals are sentient. The government acknowledges animal welfare as a responsibility of its citizens and as a critical issue across industry. 

3) UK

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 (in Wales and England), Animal Health and Welfare Act 2006 (for Scotland) and the 2011 Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) recognizes all vertebrates as sentient beings.

Find out more about where different countries rank in their protection of animals.

Maisy's (& her humans) cancer journey

Featured on Episode 8


From cancer diagnosis to treatment

Maisy's medical care journey happened over many months and in multiple places with her humans, Andrew and Karyn, by her side.


She's spent time at the University of Guelph's at the Ontario Veterinary College and in the USA at the University of Wisconsin's Veterinary Care.

You can see Karyn and Andrew's photo album of their time with Maisy, as she received medical care for her cancer in Madison, Wisconsin, over a month.


Remembering Maisy with a pin

Featured on Episode 8


Karyn and Andrew had to let Maisy go when her health began to go down hill rapidly. 

In the beloved dog's memory, they designed and created a little enamel pin. The golden brown and white pin features Maisy balled up, comfortably snoozing. 

Maisy is still remembered (and forever missed) by her humans, plus the shop staff and customers at The Workroom

Pop & pet culture in tattoos

Featured on Episode 7



knows tattoos.  

He's up the ongoing evolution of tattoos and how pets are finding their way into the art form and are an extension of the counterculture.

Shane Turgeon has detailed the emergence of Star Wars and other geeky tattoos with two coffee table books:


Both are hardcover, full-color, coffee table books with 300+ pages of more than 1000 photos telling the individual stories of different Star Wars tattoo collectors and artists from all over the globe.

The books are an extension of Shane's passion for tattoos and pop culture, which he inspired him to start the tattoo art website in 2002. This led to Shane working with Lucasfilm’s Celebration conventions to lead discussion panels on various Star Wars collecting subjects.

In 2003, he founded the Edmonton Collectible Toy and Comic Show (ECTCS), which was one of Western Canada’s largest pop culture collectible events. Partnering with the director of the Calgary Expo, Shane co-founded the Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo in 2012. 

Shane also owns a collectibles shop and tattoo shop, Shades of Grey.

Tattoos of pets

Featured on Episode 7


Companion animals are being captured in tattoos.

On the latest episode we hear from two people who have got inked with the likeness of their beloved pet.

The Timber Tattoo's Shawn O'Connor created the Mickey image on musician and record producer, Nik Kozub's left bicep.  Although they aren't the only tattoos Shawn does, he usually sees one to two clients per month to create pet portraits.

Myke Peters at Lucky Strike inked music librarian, Arianne Smith-Piquette, with an image of her companion animal, Frieda. Arianne and her husband adopted the small dog from CaliCan Rescue, to come join the family's cat, Astrid. The next tattoo Arianne got was of Astrid, the cat as an owl cat. 

Pet Food Banks

Featured on Episode 6

Homepage Images - Pet Food Bank without text.jpg

Food banks aren't just for people.

The Inner City Pet Food Bank, featured on Episode 6, is a volunteer-run program aiding Edmonton community members to feed their domesticated partners. The program provides dry and wet, dog and cat food as well as cat litter, animal treats, and toys.

There are initiatives like this one all over the Canada, the US and elsewhere, including these ones mentioned on the podcast:

  • Charlie's Foodbank (Vancouver, BC, Canada)
    The program is named in memory of a dog that was intentionally starved by his owner. Charlie came into BC SPCA's care in critical condition and despite the best efforts of the Animal Hospital staff, Charlie passed away after three weeks of intensive care.
  • SPCA for Monterey County Pet Meals
    (Salinas, CA, USA)
    It's a collaboration between the SPCA and local Meals On Wheels organizations. It ensures that people receiving delivered meals no longer feel the need to share their food with their pets as companion animals get meals too.
  • North American Pet Food Bank Directory
    Folks who access these services often take food home for their companion animals. But it's human food which isn't always the best option for cats, dogs and other pets.


We also heard about the Alberta Helping Animals Society, launched by Dr. Connie Varnhagen to help every pet to get veterinary care, regardless of whether or not the owner can afford it. The non-profit provides access to veterinary care and education for the companion animals of vulnerable people in Edmonton and surrounding communities.

Pet/human bond research

Featured on Episode 6

Homepage Images - pet and people.jpg

Dr. Connie Varnhagen knows how important companion animals are.

She's got the research to back it up.

As a psychology professor, she and her Research on the Human Animal Bond students have designed studies to understand the impact our pets have on our well being.

The fourth year seminar/lab is for University of Alberta students in the Companion and Performance Animal Health Sciences major in the Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Nutritional Sciences.

One of the studies included a survey on bondedness, here is the questionnaire they developed. The research found lower-income people are more bonded to their animals than wealthy pet owners. 

Dr. Varnhagen says it showed:

"People who are low-income, disabled, or on social assistance, they're more highly bonded then people who are able to pay for the vet by themselves."

Meet the cats

Featured on Episode 6

We meet Natalie on Episode 6. She tells us about her two cats, KitKat and Sheba that she is able to care for, thanks to the Boyle Street Pet Food Bank.

Here are cards she gave to the Pet Food Bank thanking them for helping her to care for her beloved companion animals. 


Meet Red

Featured on Episode 5


Meet Red. 

Red was raised in a home with dozens of cats.

His human couldn't take care of him - they weren't able to give him the care and attention he (and the other animals) needed.

Red had an infected eye and an upper respiratory infection. 



Lucky for Red, Zoe's Animal Rescue heard about the property and offered to help with the high number of animals.

The property owner was open to the assistance for a little while but soon changed their mind and revoked access - but not before Red was taken into Zoe's care to live in a foster home. 

Red has been in foster care since early 2018. He is getting well and ready to be adopted to a forever home very soon!

The animals remaining on the property haven't been forgotten. Zoe's Animal Rescue continues to reach out to the owner and hopes to assist more of the animals in need. 

What is animal hoarding?

Featured on Episode 5


Animal hoarding is a compulsive need to collect and own animals.

The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium outlines four pieces of criteria for someone who engages in this type of behaviour:

  • Abnormally high number of companion animals.

  • Fails to provide minimal standards of food, shelter, vet care and cleanliness. 

  • Unable to see they're incapable of providing the minimum care and the impact of that failure has on the animals, the household as well as the human(s).

  • Gets more animals despite being unable to take care for the existing pets.

© Wikicommons

© Wikicommons

The internationally-recognized manual for identifying mental health conditions, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) listed hoarding as a subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder (or OCD) for many years. 

But there are some big differences between OCD and hoarding: 

  • People with OCD collect objects but then can forget about them, even ignore them.  
  • Medications generally effective for treating OCD don’t seem to really work for people with a hoarding disorder.

So in 2013, the DSM’s governing body reclassified hoarding as its own thing, with animal hoarding being a subtype.

Then, just last year, a study was released, suggests the animal hoarding is different enough from all other kinds of hoarding that it needs its very own classification of mental disorder.

© Rabbit hoarding image by Stefan Körner

The many lives of Emmah

Featured on Episode 4

Homepage Yellow - Emmah.jpg

The dog with 

3½ names 




Her name has been Becka, Babe, Emma and then finally a "h" was added to the end of the name. 

Evaluation form from the rescue

Evaluation form from the rescue



She was found in a rural area in Alberta, Canada in the summer of 2006, with another dog believed to be her brother.

Taken in by the Safe Haven Animal Rescue, she was vetted and given the name Babe.

Over the next few months, she was fostered for a by a person who decided Babe didn't suit her.

Instead, she was then given the name Becka.

Jody adopted her that same year and renamed her Emma.

In late 2009, Jody asked me to take care of Emma for six months while she found a place that would take dogs, for her and her newborn son, Chance to move into.

While in treatment, I was given an assignment to paint - what gives me hope. I didn't know Emma yet.

While in treatment, I was given an assignment to paint - what gives me hope. I didn't know Emma yet.


This was just after I'd completed treatment, got a job and had my own place.

I thought about getting a dog. A mutual friend of mine and Jody's, mentioned this to Jody. I thought it would be great trial run.

I picked Emma up and took her home with me to my one-bedroom basement apartment. I was terrified. How was I going to take care of this creature?!  


It was accomplished one day at a time, one walk at a time. 

Six months came and went but Emma stayed with me.

Once it was decided I would keep her, I decided to add the "h" on to the end of her name because I'm her human and she's my dog.

Emmah and Sarah (that's me!) have been together for nearly nine years. 

Top 10 albums with animal cover art

Featured on Episode 3

Animals have been featured on many, many album covers. 

Here are some of the most notable over the years:


Veedon Fleece
by Van Morrison



Taming the Tiger
by Joni Mitchell



Bringing It All Back Home
by Bob Dylan



by Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson





by Fleetwood Mac



by Ratatat





by Beck



by Carole King 



Some Old Bullshit
by Beastie Boys



Pet Sounds

by The Beach Boys



There's the album detailed and featured on Episode 3:


Wild Lines
by Mike O'Neill


There are the albums by Amy van Keeken (the musician featured on Episode 2)

Let us know what albums you think should be included on our list!

👇 Add your suggestions in the comments below 👇

Why we love pet photos

Featured on Episode 3

Capturing animals in photos hasn't always been about cute cats and goofy dogs.

When photography started back in the 1800s, photographers were focused on strong and fierce animals. 

University of Toronto professor, Matthew Brower, who researched the long tradition of animal photography for his book, Developing Animals: Wildlife and Early American Photography, says it was more like sport hunting, capturing the image of a wild beast.

"Earlier iconography around animals, there's an emphasis on a kind of masculinity - virility of animals. One of the things that really drove photographic technology throughout the 19th century was the desire to photograph animals."

In 1872, the former governor of California, Leland Stanford, a businessman and race-horse owner, hired Eadweard Muybridge for some photographic studies of his horse.



Now our attentions have turned to cute photos of critters.

Just look at the popularity of cats, Nala and Pudge as well as Marnie the dog on Instagram.

We are drawn to imperfection, sweet and gentle images of non-threatening animals.

Brower suggests this is because we are searching for hope and whimsy in a chaotic world. 

"We've started to add value to a whole bunch of animals, in terms of to their proximity to us, they're proxies for us in how we negotiate the world. They seem to play into a certain set of desires about how we want to see the world."  

The Animals of Mike O'Neill Albums

Featured on Episode 3


Mike O'Neill


a cat 




Wild Lines 

album cover.

It wasn't the first release the musician choose to have animals on - it goes as far back as the early nineties. 

It started in Kingston, Ontario, Canada back in 1992. That's where Mike met drummer Dave Ullrich, while attending Queen's University. They started a band called The Inbreds. Mike performed lead vocals and played bass in the duo.

Mike put out his first solo album in 2000 after The Inbreds broke up in 1998. He kept up with having animal cover models.

Then came the Fruitjack album cover.
Here's the original photo and the second photo that was taken of Mike and the cat.

Listen to a cut from the album below.

Listen to the latest work by Mike - it's with the band tuns

RIP Fruitjack

He passed away since this interview was recorded. 

The music + pups of Amy van Keeken

Featured on Episode 2


Amy van Keeken,


an accomplished



She's based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where she welcomed Pet Sounds into her home on Episode 2. 

On the show, she talks about her music-making and how her doggos engage with it. They get lots of chances when her band comes over for practice and she teaches youth in private lessons out of her home studio. 


> Her solo work

> Mysticeti

> The Awesomehots

> The Secretaries


Amy and her partner Darren have two dogs. When we recorded our interview, it was Nabby and Daisy.

Daisy, Amy, Nabby and Darren out on a walk

Daisy, Amy, Nabby and Darren out on a walk

Since then Nabby died. The sweet little black dog had a good long life and passed away at home. There will always be a Nabby-shaped hole in their hearts. 

Bernie in all his glory!

Bernie in all his glory!


After many months of mourning the beloved pup, Amy, Darren and Daisy wanted to honour Nabby by rescuing another pup.

That's when they met a goofy guy named Bernie.

He loves his fur-sibling Daisy, maybe a little too much at times (Bernie can be an annoying little brother to Daisy) but as you can see, Daisy and Bernie have really bonded. 

Animal vs. human hearing

Featured on Episode 2


Human hearing isn't close to as good as many animals' auditory abilities.

Veterinarian Dr. Elaine Degrandpre explains what humans and our pets can hear.

"If you compare (animals) hearing to humans, it's very sensitive. Dogs and cats have a different range in frequency than humans," says Degrandpre, the Senior Medical Officer for Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT)’s Animal Health Program


It's measured in Hertz.

Hertz are the unit of frequency - one cycle of sound wave per second. The hertz symbol is Hz.

Degrandpre outlines the range of frequencies heard by humans is 20 to 20,000 Hertz, while dogs hear from around 67 Hz to 45,000 Hz and cats can hear 55 Hz up to 79,000 Hz. 

Here's a breakdown of hearing abilities of animals:



Not only that...



Cats have added hearing gear.

It's called the pinna.

It's the external ear which can be rotate up to 180 degrees. It's like having a satellite dish for ears.

It allows the felines to zero in on a tiny sound, undetectable by us humans. 



Play this video to find out what you can and can't hear.