Tireless advocate for animals had many gifts

Ruth Roumillat Canady helped husband James Canady run the pulley to assemble logs for their Adams Run home, says daughter Ginny Canady.

'Summerville Lady Mans Dog Pound," the newspaper headline said. A story in the July 12, 1972, News and Courier was describing Ruth Roumillat Canady's efforts to save the lives of 16 dogs found in unsafe and unsanitary conditions. They were living in a facility owned by the Dorchester County Dog Control system. County Council had cut funds for the system about two weeks earlier.

A member of Canady's community knew of her love for animals and tipped her off about conditions at the dog pound. Canady called on family and friends to help her hose down the pound, raise money to feed the dogs and find homes for them.

Canady, who died June 11, always was passionate about animals, art and life in general, says her daughter, Ginny Canady. When she passed at 82, she had been the widow of the late James "Punky" Canady for 16 years. He had managed a Summerville Piggly Wiggly, owned by his father, Leland Canady, their daughter says.

Within a month of cleaning the dog pound, Canady had led the way to forming the Dorchester Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, named in honor of her friend, Frances R. Willis, and was serving as its first president. During her adult years, Canady usually had 20 or more dogs and cats she rescued living at her home, says Ginny Canady.

People would see animals lost or mistreated, call Canady and she would rush right out to get them and either keep them or find a good home for them. Ironically, it was something she could not do as a child because her mother believed that animals belonged outside.

Ginny Canady, also an animal lover, tears up while recalling her mother's love and compassion for animals. She recalls a case when a woman called her mother to say her son found a dog alone and in bad shape. The son, the woman said, would not leave the dog because he feared the animal would die if it were left alone.

Canady went to investigate and found the dog could not stand and could barely open its eyes. She took the dog home and would help him

to stand each day. Eventually, he learned to stand, but for quite a while would just fall down within seconds. Canady continued those exercises daily, and the dog learned to walk again.

There also was an artistic side to Canady, who ran a gift shop in the Piggly Wiggly her husband managed. She was an artist and crafter whose images appeared on a series of note cards, at least one church cookbook and a calendar.

But she also was known for her amazing dollhouses.

She built some from scratch and some from kits. Others she built into existing furniture. Still others were renovations of dollhouses found at flea markets. Some were as large as 6 feet wide and as tall as an adult.

She also made the dolls, furnishings and animals for the dollhouses. If a dollhouse had a pottery room, she made a kiln for it; an art studio, she carved little ducks for it; a quilting room, she made quilts for it.

And, of course, they all included animals, so she made animals for them.

When a washing machine didn't work, she'd turn it over and find out why. If a television tube went out, she'd pull it, buy another, then install the new one herself. When she and her husband decided to build a log home in Adams Run, she helped operate the pulley system to raise the logs.

Not everyone can operate a table saw, band saw, drills, belt sander or other tools, but Canady could. It never occurred to her to think that she couldn't. And she was proficient at operating them all.

Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705 or wminis@postandcourier.com.