Back to newsletters
Hello and lovely to be back in colour with this newsletter.
Where do I start after the strange situation we’ve found ourselves in this year, other than the most important - that I hope you are all keeping well and managing with life’s challenges.
The last newsletter was printed by me at home, so it was basic black and white, without photos. I have squeezed an extra page in for you this time, thanks to the wonderful Caterham Harestone Rotary who have generously donated the printing and postage costs again - thank you so much. Considering that they, like all of us, have been affected by the lack of usual summer fundraising activities, their support is particularly appreciated.
In some ways life didn’t change much here at the sanctuary - the residents still need caring for regardless of what else was happening in the wider world.
What also didn’t change was the contact, donations and letters from you, our wonderful supporters, to help us keep going through these difficult times - we could not continue without you.
Vet visits have been different but we’ve always been able to get help when it was needed and I thank the vets for their continued care and support.
If we go back chronologically a little, last winter had been a hard one with flooding but we were lucky as the trees and fences at the sanctuary remained standing, unlike the devastation many suffered both locally and across the country. The stream that suddenly appeared across our land was something that thrilled some of the dogs such as Pique & Wizard - this ‘photo’s caption is to be said in whispered David Attenborough tones -
“On the other bank of the river, we see the unlikely pairing of a saluki and german shepherd, peacefully snorkelling in the fast flowing water “.
Our obsessive water loving border collie Taxi also had a splashingly good time, while others were not impressed and tiptoed through the water in dismay !
In January, there was reason for celebrations as Wilson passed another anniversary on chemotherapy - he was in remission for an incredible four years. That is four years of playing with his brother, sleeping with his friend Twiggy and just getting on with his life.
A few of you may remember Amadeus who also had chemo successfully for four years. It is so important to give quality of life but a sad update is that Wilson has now peacefully passed away - - you’re missed lad.
In February, another anniversary ( 9 years ) of Jacky’s passing came and went, and what did I do on that storm Dennis day? The usual caring for the furry family of course, but also a rather lovely bit of yin and yang or serendipity if you prefer.
A friend needed my help with her poorly pet, and other friends helped me achieve this. By working together, often behind the scenes, the give and take of friendship and support enables the sanctuary to continue helping animals in so many ways.
Sadly I do have to say no to many requests for help, as the sanctuary is just not suitable, or I can’t take more on without detriment to those already here. However I can sometimes assist in other ways with the aid of other friends in rescue and through a network of connections. A little pregnant cat that had been thrown out of her home, unexpectedly arrived on my doorstep and I passed Paws into safety with someone better able to provide what she needed. ( 4 healthy kits were born and mum and little ones did well and went off to new homes - thank you Maggie ).
Others helped include another pair of ‘free on Facebook’ guinea-pigs who went to Ashtead Guinea Rescue, plus a stray ferret a kind stranger picked up and he lodged here until he went to Ferret Rescue Surrey.
A little dog a friend had rescued from a bad situation was now causing trouble in his foster home. So off he went to Elaine of Arundawn Dog Rescue who found the lovely new home he needed. And a starving stray cat came here for a few weeks, before going to Animal Protection Trust and on to a new home as restrictions began to lift. It is a team not just me as a singular that enables all this to happen, as we help each other and the animals out.
I - -
- - can’t make a difference for all animals but
WE - -
- - can make a difference for some of them
As March and lockdown arrived, so did that amazing weather, where even if it was not actually sunny and warm, it was mostly dry. While that may not have been appreciated by those of you who garden, I however loved how clean the dogs were keeping ( dusty rather than muddy ) and how much less floor mopping was needed after they’d been outside.
The pets here have loved having so much of my attention as I wasn’t rushing around as much as usual. There was little passing traffic and no visitors so I enjoyed having time just sitting in the garden noticing some of the changes during these months. The difference in noise and sound levels was very noticeable, as although I am fortunate enough to be in a lovely little corner of Surrey down a lane, it was still an absolute joy to hear the silence.
Well, perhaps silence is not accurate as I’ve been listening to the magpies cawing in the trees, garden birds singing to each other from one direction to the other, and even heard the beat of a wood pigeon’s wings as it flew over the garden - that is a novel sound normally unnoticeable. Pique dog was a jolly good distance away from me, but I heard her ears flap as she shook the dust off herself after rolling on the dry earth.
It’s not only what I could hear clearly, but the delightful absence of what I was not able to hear - no planes flying over which also meant the sky was a glorious clear sight without the vapour trails crossing it. That has given me huge pleasure to see, even though I’m desperately sorry for all those have been affected by job losses. There might be the sound of something in the distance, perhaps someone cutting their grass, but there is no drone of the motorway which is normally a constant in the background, even in summer when the leaves are on the trees and mute it slightly.
Possibly you’ll recognise that some days you have the ability to take on the world and power through quite a few outstanding tasks, which means I have managed to catch up just a little. Unexpected vet visits continued, as during early lockdown there was a nasty shock when dear Maple ( Golden Retriever ) suddenly became unwell warranting several vet visits. Only six days later, this beautiful girl fell asleep forever with heart failure, in her bed at home. A wonderful way for her to go where she felt safe and happy, but it was so sudden and this gentle girl is sadly missed.
Some days doing no more than care for the furries and then chilling with some light and fluffy television was the order of the day to re-charge my batteries a little. I thoroughly enjoyed relaxing in my armchair with a lapful of cats, quietly snoozing dogs and a cuppa, while virtually attending concert pianists performing in their own living rooms around the world via the magic of the internet.
There were stage musicals released online such as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats plus theatre stage shows to explore, meaning I virtually visited events at Glyndebourne and Bristol Old Vic to name just a couple - it was a most enjoyable antidote to the Covid stress in the world.
Now as lockdown is easing and the world is starting to pick up pace, please continue to take care of yourselves and stay safe.
When the sanctuary began in 1991, the internet and World Wide Web was not in day to day life as it is now, and contact with you our supporters, was through pen and paper which I still enjoy and know many of you do too.
As the internet grew, Jacky & I discussed this as many organisations were creating an online presence with daily or weekly bulletins. However apart from the logistics and lack of time, we felt, as I still do, that those of you who are not on the internet and have been with us since the early days, are not going to be sidelined and so the printed news is posted out several days before the online, instant access website one.
However, during lockdown and due to the lack of the usual summer stalls, we were grateful for the alternative of some online fundraising through donated items plus an auction, thanks to Carmen & Sarah among many others, who supported them. You really did make a difference, as you also do when you use our Amazon wish list, many thanks.
Each day there are little moments that make my heart smile, and they help a little to offset the sad times ( further down the page ).
I was in the kitchen with my back to the catflap and suddenly all I heard was “ker-flap” “ker-flap” “ker-flap” so I glanced out of the window and the sky had darkened as the rain clouds rolled in, so the cats came racing indoors before they were caught in it.
“Has it stopped yet?” wonders Jovi - - Half an hour later, it cleared over and the sun peeked through and the flap was soon “flapping” again as many cats popped back outside.
It’s similar with the some of the dogs when I open the door for them to go out if it’s raining. While some dogs peek a nose out to look first and then decide they can wait, others race out and then come skidding to a halt with a look of surprise that they are getting wet, and head back into the dry.
We all know pets have their own individual little ways but I admit to being amused by a couple of the new cats ( introduced further on ) .
After they have finished their meals of wet food and wandered off, I clear it away ready to go out as scraps for the hens. Apparently however, that makes it suddenly become tempting food again as Jovi & Juliette in particular, re-appear to “thieve” what was ignored on their own plate only minutes earlier !
Here are Jovi & Cinders waiting for tea.
A while ago I mentioned that new hen accommodation was on the to do list and I’m pleased to say they are now in residence in Cluckingham Palace !
I saw a secondhand shed / kennel on offer on Facebook and expressed an interest, but with cancelled summer fundraising this wasn’t budgeted for and I made an embarrassingly low offer. The lovely people made me an even lower offer which included them taking it down and delivering it to us - there really are some smashing people about, thank you Philip and everybody.
Andrew modified and re-built it, added their outdoor area, and this is the end result of their new abode with the old ladies Cloud and Chuckles in their garden.
I saw a lovely cat statue on Freecycle and it certainly caused some interest from the residents when I brought it home !
Juliette trying to out stare it - - - while Pandora glared at the “thing”.
- - -
Twiggy investigated -
- - thought about it
- - and made friends !
To give you an idea why I am often behind with the paperwork - earlier this year, I had vet visits on five out of eight days - and one of those days had two separate visits - there wasn’t much day left after that !
However, there have been more sad losses to tell you about as they fly free from this earth.. The amazing Bosnian street stray Zora, had aggressive mammary cancer. This little girl taught me so much about patience and perseverance, and touched my heart deeply when she decided that I was a human she could trust and turn to when she needed help. Zora had been reunited here with her son Crusoe, and it gave her so much joy as he showed her how to play and enjoy life - we all miss her ever watchful presence.
Her loss followed on only a few weeks after another of the family you will know from the newsletters and that is dear little Fiddler. He had a very short illness as his kidneys failed and in spite of treatment, he died gently at home in his bed less than 48 hours after being taken ill. For me it was a shock although I knew he was old and frail, but for him, a blessing. He was one of our “surgery specials” who had been taken to be put down when only 7 months old, and while he had his quirks from his early upbringing, he was such a happy chap in the security of life here.
Dear gentleman Dennis ( cat ) also died of age related problems but had enjoyed many years with us contentedly watching the world go by, after he’d been rescued by friends from a rough life on the streets.
Another loss from old age, was guinea-pig Oreo who, when he had lost his brother, had a new rescue girl ( Whirl ) join him to keep him company. Later when Oreo died, poor Whirl was very unhappy and I contacted my friend in guinea rescue - she had just the boy who needed a particular sort of owner !
The next morning the handsome lad I named Aero joined us, and he nearly leapt out of my hands when he heard Whirl squeak a hello. I have never seen two guineas meet and greet with such happiness. The first tea time, Whirl didn’t come flying to tuck into the greens as usual, but stopped, turned and went up to Aero and quite plainly said “come on, follow me” and led him to tea, it was so very sweet to see.
The number of residents here continue to reduce while still being a lively thriving community of residents as I do also still say yes to those I feel need what I am able to offer, which is why Bumble & Fagin, Rosa plus the Sheffield 9 and Jeeves have joined the furry family.
One new arrival is because I saw a little dog in rescue with a friend, and she reminded me of my naughty, loving little Radar who I lost last year, as this little girl had the same sadness in her face. She is a French bulldog cross and has the breathing problems bull breeds are known for ( and why a particular home was needed ). She may need further surgery in the future but is currently snoring n her favourite spot sharing my armchair - welcome Rosa.
As you know, the wonderful animal ambassador Peter Egan is our patron and I am proud to have his support. Earlier this year Peter phoned but it wasn’t just for a catch up chat but “I wonder if you can help please Liz? “
These two brothers had their lives saved by the same rescue Zora came from in Bosnia, and had been safe in kennels but weren’t making progress due to them both being extremely nervous and one of the lads being a fear biter. They went in to foster care but after some months needed to be moved again, however with their temperament problems, a life in kennels looked likely as biting people really isn’t a good answer to put on your CV !
It had been six weeks since I’d said goodbye to dear Zora and I felt that she had taught me so much about very damaged street strays, that perhaps she would like me to offer them the safety and peace she found here. Two very challenging boys arrived and thankfully are realising that life isn’t quite as scary as they thought, especially when treats are on offer. They have made friends with others here and I can now stroke both of them, though grooming still provokes a fear reaction from Fagin, while Bumble just tries to move out of the way - little steps but we have the rest of your lives boys.
Bumble & Fagin say “woofs and wags, thank you Peter”.
Another phone call from another friend ended up with the arrival of Jeeves ( was Sid ) who was on death row in this country and had run out of time and chances. He was first taken to the vets to be put down when only 7 months old - an untrained border collie pup and a houseful of children was a recipe for disaster and biting incidents. My excellent friend Elaine helped but then sadly humans let both her and the dog down, so he ended up in an appalling situation where his already unpredictable behaviour, worsened. Elaine was approached to see if she could help again and at this point, I’m going to ( with her permission ) let Elaine take over what happened next as she put the following on her Facebook page to her supporters.
“Sid spent some weeks in RSPCA kennels where it was apparent that his behaviour had not changed and his anxieties had increased in many ways.
The sad fact was and is that Sid is reactive, unpredictable and unrehomable!
There was only one person who I thought I could ask for help from that I trusted 100%. Liz Underwood takes in and lives with dogs and cats who are unable to live in the 'Real World'. She has an amazing 'knack' which I have seen first hand on two occasions. Liz already has two Arundawn dogs .. both very different but both with their own problems. I made the call and only minutes after Sid arrived back with us, Liz arrived and was in his kennel and 'making friends'.
An hour later, after she had made her own initial assessment of him she left with him. How she did? .... I am still in awe and have no idea. I love that we all have skills and can all continue to learn. Her approach to his behaviour and understanding of how to work with it was just inspiring.
And so - to the ending! This morning I received a message to say that he can stay ... He is getting on with her other residents and although he is testing Liz and will continue to .. She has his measure and can live with him.
I cannot tell you how grateful we all are! “
Elaine has a wonderful ability to place dogs where she sees they need to be, and Jeeves hasn’t bitten me, as he learns to let go of his previous attitude of “I’m scared so will bite before you hurt me” - - poor dog, what have humans done to him? Welcome to safety Jeeves.
How to explain the Sheffield 9 - let’s start with the fact they are cats and it wasn’t supposed to happen how it did ! Someone had posted giving their cats away free on Facebook with the best of intentions, but without being aware of the dangers for the cats, as there are some very nasty people about - I’m not going to elaborate and give you nightmares. The appeal came to my attention ( thank you Sarah ) and I became involved as a back-up to another rescue group. They then had problems with transport issues and the owner was out of time, so Andrew volunteered to drive up to Sheffield to bring them here - yes again, Andrew to the rescue, thank you.
It took a lot of preparation, planning and work but on the day, all went smoothly and everyone safely arrived in late November. The aim had been to wait until after Christmas and then find them homes with the help of other rescues, however it didn’t quite work out like that due to their health issues and my vet’s advice. So they have slotted in to our existing family and are thoroughly enjoying our woods and all the space here, with the exception of one lad who has gone to a friend for rehoming as he needs a more specialised home than I can provide.
Due to Covid 19 our choir moved to online rehearsals but it gave the animals a chance to be involved as well ! Most importantly I found the mute button on Zoom so if the postman delivered during practice, I could mute the dogs from joining in ! Cats made regular appearances as they strolled on to my lap or over the music but this face from Juliette during rehearsal had me laughing - she clearly expressed just what she thought of the noise I make ( I don’t disagree ! )
Another time I got the giggles was while we were warming up and as we sang the words “my dog can do the can-can” - Wizard rolled on his back to demonstrate the dance move !
Here’s a beautiful sanctuary visitor who came for breakfast for several weeks.
Each and every animal has their own story and life to lead, and we give a few of them a helping hand along the way - supported by all your helping hands in whatever way you support the sanctuary.
Thank you from many hearts and paws.
With enormous gratitude and purrs and woofs from all of us
Liz & Furries