It all started with a recipe.
The dog biscuit recipe was developed by Jackie, the daughter of a resident at Fox Ridge Care Community in Brantford. Fuelled by Jackie’s love of animals, the recipe made its rounds at her catering business, drew crowds at the Brantford Flee Market, and was eventually published in a cook book.
Her father, Leonard, told Caroline Casey, a program aid at Fox Ridge, about the recipe. Together they developed a plan to make the biscuits for the local SPCA animal shelter.
“Sadly, Jackie passed away, and it’s very emotional for Leonard,” Caroline said. “He’s very honoured to be able to do this in her memory… We discussed [making the bones] in November. The day we’re making the cookie bones is actually Jackie’s birthday. Leonard said it would kind of be like an honour to her, our doing this for the animals at the humane society, because one of her passions in life was to help animals.”
The only problem was Leonard no longer had a copy of the biscuit recipe, but he did remember the book it had been published in. Caroline was able to track the book to a local store. When they heard Leonard’s story, they photocopied the recipe and gave it to him free of charge.
But Caroline wanted to take it further, to do even more. She made plans to involve the entire care community in the project, and the end result is a true testament to what is possible if everyone works together.
Caroline spoke with family and staff. One family member said that she grew catnip in her back garden, and would be happy to dry some and bring it in. Help also came from a hymn singing group who come into Fox Ridge every week. One of the men in the group told Caroline that he made clothing for impoverished children, and that he’d be happy to donate material for them to make catnip sacks.
Residents were happy to make the sacks during a craft session — meanwhile, team members organized themselves for a cupcake-baking extravaganza. Fox Ridge’s industrial-sized ovens were commandeered to bake the cupcakes. Later, residents sold the cupcakes in the lobby.
Posters were also put up around Fox Ridge, asking family if they had spare bedding to donate, as the SPCA had identified that as one of their needs. Caroline said one family member in particular went above and beyond by placing an online ad looking for bedding, and then driving around the city to collect it all. It took them two trips to bring all the collected bedding to Fox Ridge.
Within a month, Fox Ridge had collected not only 48 of Jackie’s dog biscuits, but also: 170 home-made catnip sacks, 13 garbage-bags filled with bedding, 132 cans of cat food, 25 cans of dog food, 24 rolls of paper towel, four large containers of wipes, assorted dog toys, and $45 in cash and gift cards.
Caroline said that her contact at the Brant Country SPCA was “amazed and so thankful” for all they had done. Additionally, Brant Country SPCA posted a thank you to Fox Ridge on their Facebook page, saying “A special thank you to Fox Ridge Care Community for raising money, baking dog treats, sewing cat nip toys and gathering items from our Christmas wish list! We greatly appreciate the care and generosity from all the residents to help animals at the shelter!”
In return for Fox Ridge’s generosity, the SPCA brought a dog in to see the residents.
"It was a lot of fun and we enjoyed doing it,” said Christine, President of the Residents’ Council. “We all love animals and we were glad that we could make a difference,".
Caroline was recently told by one of the residents that, “we have to get away from thinking the [outside] community always has to help us… we need to start thinking of how we can help the community too. We’re capable of doing so many things, and just because we’re in our home here, that doesn’t mean we can’t do things for other people,” she said. It was part of what inspired her to start looking for ways Fox Ridge could give back, and also what eventually led to her conversation with Leonard about the dog biscuit recipe.
“We have to give all the recognition to Leonard,” Caroline said. “Because it was his idea, and his recipe — his daughter’s recipe, and without that it wouldn’t be so meaningful.”