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Photo by Kelsey Sunstrum.

Pets and a garden party: The Ottawa Humane Society honours Chef Kurt Waldele

By Kelsey Sunstrum on August 13, 2014

Where can you pet a furry friend while munching on bites of five-star cuisine? Ottawa Humane Society’s (OHS) Summer Harvest Garden Party, of course!

On Sunday, August 10, from 2:00 to 5:00pm, animal lovers gathered indoors and outdoors at Jean Pigott Place at City Hall for the organization’s 14th annual party, honoring the late Chef Kurt Waldele.

Once hosted by Chef Waldele, the OHS has continued the tradition since his passing in 2009. Executive Chef for the National Arts Centre for over 30 years, the renowned Waldele was a great supporter of animal rights, raising thousands of dollars for the organization in his life.

Founded in 1888, the OHS is a refuge for Ottawa’s abandoned, sick, and injured animals, primarily dogs and cats. The OHS also educates Ottawa on responsible pet ownership and animal care.

Not only is the Garden Party a great and worthwhile cause, it is a bonafide foodie event. Twenty of Ottawa’s top chefs, many trained and mentored by Chef Waldele, delighted with a veritable plethora of tasty treats. From pulled pork nachos courtesy of El Camino, a stunning salad featuring edible flowers created by Algonquin College, a spread of vegetarian options including a delicious faux-egg salad and crackers from the National Capital Vegetarian Association, and decadent gin cocktails from Fresco Bistro, the event was a culinary success.

The bustling gathering boasted a silent and live auction where guests could bid on prizes, such as wine, art pieces, or foodie packages, to name a few. The lovely musical stylings of Roxy Swan were enjoyed throughout the party.

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Photo by Kelsey Sunstrum

A definite highlight of the event was the Parade of Animals, which took place after a warm welcome from the OHS President, Linda Barber, and the Ottawa Citizen food journalist, Ron Eade. This introduced the crowd to feline and canine friends who participate in the Brightening Lives program, which brings animals into the community, usually to retirement or nursing homes. Animal contact has shown benefits such as a reduction in loneliness, and improvements in communication and self-esteem. Afterwards, a few of the dogs were brought out to socialize with the crowd, which was yet another high point of the afternoon for me.

There are many ways that you can support the Ottawa Humane Society. Donations can be made on a one-time or recurring basis. If you’d like to get involved yourself, they are always looking for volunteers and have a range of opportunities for many different skill sets. Not to be forgotten is the enormous impact you can make on the pet community simply by exercising responsible pet ownership and encouraging others around you to do the same.