Who’s Who: Nahleen Ashton
By Mike Butler
Animal lovers out there (and I know there’s lots), let me introduce you to someone very special: Nahleen Ashton! I grew up without a pet, minus a plastic fish named Dolores, so being introduced to Nahleen has been a wonderful experience. This Who’s Who is literally for the dogs!
Nahleen was born in Montreal, but her younger years were spent in the Laurentians in Quebec. Totally enveloped in a French culture, she spoke mostly French with her friends and neighbours but went to an English school along with her brother and sisters. Life in the country offered a freedom likely not granted to some city kids and she always had many animals at home.
“Caring for the dogs and cats that shared my life, as well as the neighbours’ horses, was a great focus of mine, which probably started my passion for animals,” Nahleen says. “When I was 14 my mother became involved with a man in Nova Scotia. After some time, my mother, my brother, myself, and our dog Nipper (my best friend) all made the move to NS to become part of his family. I returned to Montreal but always in the back of my mind I felt I would come back to NS. That time finally came about 15 years ago when I moved to Bridgetown with my husband and our animals to start a grooming and boarding business.”
Nahleen’s passion for animals was always there, showing up in various ways as she cared for her own pets as well as volunteering for local rescues and shelters in Montreal. Eventually she couldn’t disregard that special feeling and connection so she started boarding dogs in her home. She really enjoyed caring for other people’s pets and assuring they were be safe and well cared for while they travelled.
“I had a friend who was a groomer,” she says, “and watching her piqued my interest enough that I eventually took an intense grooming course in Montreal so that I could add that to my services as well. I also took reiki, TTouch, and homeopathic first aid. I started all over again building a successful kennel boarding/ daycare and grooming business in Bridgetown. Throughout the 13 years there I have met many wonderful dogs and their people. My talents increased and I took more courses, all to benefit the dogs in my kennel and in my home. I went to shows to improve my grooming skills and worked with trainers to improve my dog speak. I also worked closely with several rescue groups, fostering over a hundred dogs both in the kennel and in my home.”
Nahleen’s dedication to animals is infectious and inspiring, and, she points out, “caring for another and being responsible for an animal that depended on my dedication to make sure it was safe, fed, and well really gave me a sense and purpose I had never had before. Over the years that has carried through and today I still feel the very same whether it be one of my own dogs and cats, a dog that I am grooming or a foster who is living with us until the day when it’s ready to find its very own home. I use a comprehensive view when sharing time with any animal, always respectful of their needs and capabilities.”
Nahleen had been fostering dogs for more than 15 years and over time her heart really began to focus on the special needs of the dogs, so five years ago she created Misfit Manor Dog Rescue. She says, “Misfit Manor is a NS rescue focused on dogs with health needs, seniors, and compassionate care cases. Since its debut, Misfit Manor Dog Rescue has taken in over 200 animals. Many of these dogs would never have gotten the extensive care needed for them to overcome the medical issues they faced without the support of Misfit. As a registered charity, we rely on the generosity of the public to help fund the care as well. Because we are dedicated to extreme cases, we remain a small rescue so that each dog in our care can receive whatever they require for their specialized issue. Issues such as major medical orthopedic surgeries, diabetes, Cushing’s disease, Addison’s disease, and physical disabilities. As you can imagine, the daily organizing of vet visits, fundraisers, surrenders, foster homes, supplies, transports and all other details surrounding the rescue take up a lot of my time but we love what we do!”
When there is time to enjoy other pursuits, this area has lent itself well to Nahleen and she loves everything it offers. She fully embraces the cultural and social activities and also access to shopping and restaurants. She is a food lover and vegan so finding fresh local ingredients as well as restaurants that could accommodate her lifestyle was part of the deciding factor to stay. Both Nahleen and her husband also wanted somewhere that they could incorporate their businesses and so far, so GREAT!
When Nahleen is not putting her full attention on puppies and kitties, she has found so many new hiking trails since she moved here. And professionally and personally she is constantly looking for new things to learn: “I have a long list of books on the sideline covering healthcare, training, working with senior dogs who have canine cognitive disorders and other subjects that will help me be a better human to the dogs that I meet.”
If you have any questions or need an extra set of hands and big heart to care for your fur babies, give Nahleen a shout! She has become a strong voice for the animals and a very special component of our community.