When a farewell party for Allison Dube was announced on Hope for Wildlife’s Facebook site, followers not knowing of her departure reacted with desperate wails.
“Allison’s leaving? What are we going to do?” one posted, and that summed up the general cries of agony.
What anyone close to the organization realized was that while founder and director Hope Swinimer is the well-known face of Hope for Wildlife, Dube, for eight years, has been her main worker bee. She was a major factor in the society’s rescue and rehabilitation success, especially in the last four years as its only full-time employee.
Dube married last summer and she and her husband are moving to Scotland, but her time at Hope for Wildlife helped shape its future. According to Swinimer, it was Dube’s work that convinced her the organization’s work could continue if she could no longer lead.
“She taught me that there are people out there like myself who feel strongly about what we do and why we do it, and understand our mission. She gave me faith that it could continue on,” Swinimer says.
Dube’s dedication to wildlife allowed Swinimer the freedom to travel North America filming episodes of the Hope for Wildlife television show. Like her boss, she was comfortable doing a 3 a.m. emergency response, then leading a group tour of the rehabilitation centre five hours later.
Her time with Hope for Wildlife coincided with its growth from a local volunteer group to an agency lauded both nationally and internationally, but in the beginning it was nothing more than “a cool summer job.”
“You always get the cool summer jobs when you’re in university, trying to figure out what you want to do when you grow up, and I was really lucky enough to keep that cool summer job for a number of years,” says Dube. “I went from being a kid to being a grown-up at Hope for Wildlife.”
Like Swinimer, Dube found that in working with injured and orphaned wild things, there can be no separation between job and private life. Few people, however, would take that cross-over as far as she did.
“I got to release an owl at my wedding, which was pretty cool. There was a barred owl that was ready for release at the time that I got married and it was an outdoor wedding at my parents’ place in Lake Echo, so we combined the two,” she says.
This coming autumn, Dube and husband Andrew Smith will, if the desire is strong, be able to reconnect to happenings with the birds and animals in Nova Scotia from their new home in Edinburgh. The Hope for Wildlife television series is now being shown on British television.
Ray MacLeod is a freelance outdoors writer. He lives in Waverley.