The world is a different place since I posted my last blog. The virus known as Covid-19 has created a world-wide pandemic. Many businesses and schools are closed. Those who can are working from home, while many others are facing devastating financial difficulties.
However, in this unsettling time, there have also been countless examples of kindness. Such as, neighbours offering to deliver groceries to those not well enough to do so, expressions of gratitude to the front line workers who are put themselves at risk to support and care for others, and those who continue to help the many animals in need.
I hope this lovely story of kindness brings you joy during this difficult time in our history. Knowing that people like Eleanor Ann Peterson are doing all they can to make the world a better place for animals gives me hope. Hope that not only will we get through this pandemic, but perhaps come away with new found insight about the importance of letting animals live as they are meant to—wild and free.
This is something Eleanor has always believed—that animals deserve to be loved, respected and treated with kindness. She has devoted her life to helping as many animals as she can.
Eleanor was born in Ottawa, Canada on Christmas Day! Her mom was a single parent and couldn’t take care of Eleanor and her two sisters, so the girls moved in with a French family who lived in Orleans, about 17 km from Ottawa. Eleanor grew up running after wild animals hoping to make new friends. She often brought home pigeons and other injured animals, and Maman never complained. Eleanor would nurse them as best she could—feeding them, tending to their wounds and keeping them safe from predators, including their own family cat. Not all the animals survived, but those who did were released as soon as they were fit to go.
Eleanor fondly remembers spending her summers waking up early, having a quick breakfast, and then rushing outside wearing only her shorts. She’d head straight for the swamp and played there all day. Eleanor discovered many things—including bullfrogs hiding in tree stumps by the river and a turtle with a head injury. Wanting to help the turtle, she plucked off all the bloodsuckers, then watched as the turtle went back into the river.
Eleanor finished high school when she was sixteen. She moved to a small town in Quebec and rented an apartment that was owned by a veterinarian. Eleanor was thrilled! Like many animal lovers, she wanted to become a veterinarian and was delighted to be able to help the vet whenever she could.
Eleanor learned many things about animal care at the clinic, but unfortunately her family couldn’t afford to send her to college, so she never realized her dream of becoming a veterinarian.
However, Eleanor didn’t let that deter her passion to learn about and help animals. She now lives in Italy and is an author and illustrator of children’s books. This allows her to share her love of nature and animals with her readers. In addition to writing about animals, Eleanor continues to rescue many animals.
Walter was one of the many stray cats Eleanor rescued. He was about two months old when she found him at the side of the road.
Soon after, Miguel joined the family. While hanging laundry outdoors one day, Eleanor heard a feeble cry come from the bushes in the woods. When she finally found him, meat flies were everywhere. The mother had been killed by a wild animal. Eleanor brought Miguel to the vet for a checkup. He didn’t have worms. Instead, there were fly larvae that had damaged his tissues in his behind. Without a mother licking him clean, the flies took advantage of the helpless kitten. Miguel lived a pretty long life with Eleanor, until he was infected by FIV, a virus, which is similar to AIDS in humans.
Knowing he had found a loving home, Walter wanted to share his good fortune with other cats. He found Macchia roaming around the backyard, and soon Macchia followed him into the house. Lucky Macchia was adopted by Eleanor and her family in 2013.
It appears word spread about Eleanor’s compassion toward animals. Willy was left at her door in a cage with food, a hair brush, and a note saying “my name is Willy, I’m sterilized,” and that they would bring more food for him. Willy became part of Eleanor’s family as well.
Blacky joined Eleanor’s family in 2015. He was one of four puppies born to a 14 year-old dog! At first, Blacky was a happy puppy, eating slippers or chewing on anything he could find. Then, he suddenly had epileptic seizures. Eleanor later found out that the vet had given him the wrong shot. He was afflicted with distemper. He was given other medications to help, but they didn’t do much. Poor Blacky could hardly walk by the time he was five months old. His knee caps were out of place. Not ready to give up on Blacky, Elaine slept with him all week, making sure he didn’t move too much. Then she sewed a sort of harness that held his hind legs above the ground so they could go on short walks. From there, physiotherapy began, where he would walk a few steps at a time on all fours.
Two months later, he was good as new. He ran and played with a ball. Even though he still has seizures now and then, he has a happy life where he and Eleanor are practically inseparable
Eleanor and her family have opened their homes to other animals too. Given her love for animals, it’s not surprising that Eleanor has instilled this love for other species in her children.
In 2014, her son found a sweet rabbit roaming the streets of Arquata Scrivia, Italy, and little Birru was welcomed into Eleanor’s family.
Not to be outdone by her brother, Eleanor’s daughter brought home a hedgehog, who was found in downtown Genoa. The vet had said he didn’t have enough fat to survive the winter months. Eleanor’s family adopted him and named him Gigi. Because of their love and care, he grew big and strong—so strong he was able to be set free after seven months.
Eleanor saved Attila, an Eurasian Jay, from a hungry cat. Poor Attila had hardly any feathers. Eleanor fed him with tweezers every two hours even at work. He lived with the family for five years until other jays began to visit his large cage. Eleanor noticed that Attila was getting nervous and anxious to get out. She realized it was time for him to join his feathered family. When she opened the cage to feed him his worms, he swiftly escaped, sat on the railing, and stared at her as if to say goodbye. Eleanor tried to go near him, but he hopped further away. He would come back now and then for a snack but eventually no longer returned.
Eleanor misses him. Attila could mimic the squeaky sound of the clothesline and the phone ringing. When Eleanor would set the dinner table, he would call for her husband.
Sadly, not all rescue attempts have happy endings. People who help animals, know this can happen, but that doesn’t stop them from trying.
One day, Eleanor heard her dogs barking. When she went outside to see what was going on, she saw a beautiful Roe deer walking toward her. The deer’s nose was bleeding, so Eleanor picked her up and fed her goat’s milk. Eleanor contacted a vet, who told her that she couldn’t keep the deer and had to contact the Provincial Police. In Italy, people need a permit to keep a wild animal.
Eleanor phoned the police and an officer came by to pick up the deer, whom Eleanor had named Lola. Though the officer promised Eleanor that Lola would be okay, sadly this was not the case. Two hours later, when Eleanor called the Wild Animal Care Center to see if Lola had arrived sound and safe, she was given the devastating news. Lola hadn’t made it.
Though there is always the chance of heartache whenever you give your heart to another being, Eleanor still believes in rescuing and helping as many animals as she can. She says the best part of rescuing an animal is “the love they give back and the trust they have in you.”
When asked the one thing she would change in the world, Eleanor says there’s actually two. “Abolish hunting and intensive factory farming. If people insist on eating meat, they can breed their own chickens or calf in their backyard. I very much doubt they would kill them once they realize how human animals are and that they have feelings, dreams and fears like humans.”
Today, Eleanor shares her home with five animals— three dogs and two hens. Though Eleanor didn’t achieve her childhood dream of becoming a vet, she still found a way to help improve the lives of many animals. I’m sure each and every one are grateful for her perseverance and especially the kindness she has shown them.
If you would like more information about Eleanor, please visit her website.