Chaldon Animal Sanctuary
It seems only yesterday that we were thinking of Christmas crackers and already Easter eggs are in our minds.. and hopefully tummies !! As you know, last year was a great strain for us both but your support was fantastic and yet again, you didn’t forget the family at Christmas. From your cards, to messages, to gifts and to cash, all were so appreciated. We are still receiving well done notes from you and your good will messages don’t go unnoticed. Thank you all for your kindness, not forgetting many new friends via the internet.
We had our usual quiet Christmas, something we love as we can spend more time just cuddling the family. Having lost so many a month or so before, we did spend some time remembering our missing family members and the gap they had left...our hearts will take somewhat longer to accept they have gone. We are now well into the new year and our boundary fence has been completed, it looks so smart compared to the old one that was falling down. Thanks to you all we have been able to plant a selection of trees and bushes near the fence to prevent ( in time ) our neighbour being able to look over the top and spy on us. Thanks to some generous friends on the internet, we have also been able to lay some concrete paths on our most used muddy routes around the sanctuary. This is Trubshaw inspecting some of the fencing when it was delivered and put in his field ..he wasn’t impressed !!!
It’s early March and time for us to try to put the next newsletter together, so pen and paper have come out on our afternoon dog walk, which is just after 4 o’clock today. The time varies but now the days are staying lighter for longer and the sun has been bright as well, but bitterly cold wind and forecast to be minus 3 overnight. We’d all ( dogs and cats as well as us ) would much rather have it like this instead of wet, grey and gloomy. Dogs are pottering and playing as I sit in our woods, while the cats are gathering in the warm kitchen waiting for tea. Our woods are looking much tidier since we’ve had “our men” ( Purley Fencing ) here as the trees had not had any proper attention since the great storm of 1987 which was before we moved here. It’s always been low on the list of "to do" jobs but had got to the stage were there were many dangerous branches etc that needed sorting. Add to that the new fence, plus the trees, shrubs and some primulas etc, as well as a couple of little flower beds we can see from our kitchen window and we are looking rather smart. This year we reckon the nettles will not win the battle here - you may remember last year they grew to 6’ and it depressed us on top of the court case hassles. Somehow I seem to have digressed from telling you about bouncing dogs - every so often they come and see what I’m doing and then take off on another lap round the woods - oh, there go Purdey and Granville, with Brogan and Fiddler in hot pursuit - what a sight as Brogan is a huge German Shepherd and Fiddler is a little Yorkie x whose legs are going like pistons, and he can just about keep up to !! Well, they are keeping warm with all the running around but my hands are getting colder and colder, so think it’s time for me to join them for another lap and then we’ll all go indoors and I’ll join the cats in the nice warm kitchen while the dogs snooze in the lounge before dinner.
In the last three months, seven more of our family have left us, three cats, two dogs , Chance our cow and our little Soay sheep Chop. Chance had been getting thinner and after talking to our farmer friend where she came from, and our vet it was felt that it was age related which doesn't normally happen when animals go for slaughter so young, but she had made the grand age of nearly 12 years. We were not surprised one day when she laid down and didn’t get up again. We called our vet who confirmed our fears and so Chance went to sleep where she lay in her house, a very peaceful ending. Poor Trubshaw let out an enormous bellow as Chance passed from this world, it was quite traumatic for all of us. It was obvious he knew his wife of so many years was no more and as they had been inseparable, we dreaded what his reaction would be during the following days. He started off calling for her but as the days passed by, he gradually quietened down and allowed his sheep companions to comfort him. Sadly, a short time after, Chop the sheep died of old age too, and our field now has only two babies left in it, Trubshaw and Albi the other sheep. The grief has taken it’s toll on Trubshaw as he now looks an old boy too ( he had his 13th birthday in January ) and he has started to drop weight quite noticeably now too, so we treasure whatever time we have him left with him. Cindy & Humbug, two of our dogs also sadly left us. Cindy was 16 years old and came here 9 years ago after her owner tried to strangle her, she was such a nervous little soul not surprisingly who gradually found her feet here. Humbug was a beardie collie cross who was always saucy, life for him was one big laugh and he certainly kept a smile on our faces. At 14 and a half years old, he suddenly and without any warning had a heart attack in front of us while we were watching TV. It was unbelievable as he hadn’t shown any signs of anything so final, just a bit of back pain and a few creaky joints and even had an appointment with the acupuncturist the following day. Our three felines, Bonnie and Samuel both 15 years old and Polka 16yrs, left three more holes in our hearts. Polka you may remember had radiation treatment to cure her over active thyroid some 6 years ago. She was so fit for so long and only recently started to be unwell, sleeping the days away more. After a few weeks of getting quieter and gently fading she left us, having been given an extra 6 years of life, she really did make the most of that extra time and would still go hunting, even with no teeth and bring her dead rodent prey back to us. We have so many golden oldies now that we fear this year is going to be a bad one for losses. As you will see, new friends still continue to arrive.
In our last newsletter just a few weeks before Christmas, we mentioned that a new dog was due to arrive soon from Spain. We had seen his ‘photo and been told about him by our friends Brian & Loraine who had rescued him as a pup, but not met him of course. Now as we write to you this Spring, Ollie has been with us for three months and is now named Harley ( was far too similar and confusing as we already have Polly ). When Harley arrived we were not happy with how thin he was - although his type of dog doesn’t usually carry a lot of weight, he was like a walking toast rack, every rib showing and hip bones sticking out and very little stamina and easily tired. He went onto four meals a day until Harley started reducing them himself and now is looking quite a bit better, although still has a way to go. However, he now hares around at top speed and his very short coat is sprouting and we’re not yet sure how long it will get as his condition continues to improve. When we go for our walks in the rain, the weather doesn’t bother him at all, whereas Cristal ( who came from Spain a year ago ) is a real sun lover who dislikes the rain intensely, but doesn’t mind if it’s cold. Harley runs around our field and woods with the other dogs, with a stick or toy or just on his own at top speed - being a lurcher it’s lovely for him that we are fully and securely fenced and he doesn’t have to be on a lead but can sprint whenever he wants to.
Harley was rescued off the streets as a young pup so spent his puppy hood in kennels and of course, at least he was safe but it does limit the puppy stage of what they can get up to - so now he’s here in an ( almost !! ) normal home, he is being cheeky and naughty, just as he should be and it’s a delight to see. He appears to be a laid back lad whereas in fact, he retreats into himself and a quiet corner if he’s not quite sure of something - well, at least, he did more so in the early days. Now it’s quite likely to be him looking for mischief. Only yesterday evening he decided he’d like a clean piece of vet bed ( doggy bedding ) so went and took a piece of the pile, carried it into the lounge and curled up on it, not something anyone else has ever done...who’s a clever boy. Another time we found an envelope on the floor with teeth marks in ( we don’t leave important post out, just in case !! ), and everyone looked innocent. However later that day we walked back into the lounge just in time to see Harley drop it and pretend it wasn’t anything to do with him how it got in his mouth ! He’s a dog that makes us smile as we see him grow in character and we’re delighted he’s joined our family.
We’ve had some new cats arrive for various reasons. There’s Cracker, so called because he’s a bit of a firecracker who will “ light up” and hit out for no apparent reason, but he was living on the streets and has no known background until a family took him in, but with his dodgy temperament and children it was a rather explosive mix. Cracker is a handsome ginger boy of unknown age and until he’s settled down a bit more, we’re not looking in his mouth to try and "guess-timate" an age from his teeth, but certainly a mature adult - perhaps around 8yrs or so. Just before Cracker arrived, we helped a good friend out with one of her boys. It was a very hard decision for his owners but Sorrel ( was Colin ) was being a dreadful bully to the other cats he lived with, and although their garden was fully fenced for safe playing and exploring, it was felt that he would be happier with more to do to occupy him, so the space of our 4 acres should keep him out of mischief. Sorrel is a lovely affectionate lad with people and shortly after Cracker arrived, we put him in with Sorrel to see how he would be with another cat. They have paired up very happily, even sharing a bed sometimes which is lovely to see. Hopefully now the bad habit of bullying has been broken, Sorrel will soon want to start exploring here more as at the moment he’s happy watching the world go by. Then there’s Smokey ( yes...grey & white ), a sweet little old lady whose owner has gone into hospital and sadly, won’t be coming out. As Smokey is now at least 13 years old, all she wants is a retirement home and she’s made the move very well and is a chatty cat who enjoys a good conversation.
Just a week ago our latest new friend arrived - Milly ( to be re-named as we’ve had the name before ), a very Old Age Puss of around 16years. She is a free spirit who turned up in someone’s garden a few years ago in a dreadful state, accepted some hospitality until she felt better and then Disappeared - and this is what she continued to do, use her new family as a B & B when it suited her. Milly also laid the ground rules of how much fussing and handling she would accept - she’s not feral or wild at all but she is a typical feisty tortie temperament !! So far we don’t seem to have overstepped the mark as she’s been fine with us - early days yet though !!
All four have yet to have or want their full freedom but are happy to eat, sleep and watch the goings on in their new environment. Hopefully soon they’ll take the next step and join Lewis in his pen with attached outside run, and then from there, go exploring the rest of what we have to offer here, although being OAP’s, they may be quite content with that as enough for them..their decision, it’s up to them.
One evening last summer, a couple were taking a walk around Chaldon when they heard someone in the distance, calling for help. They couldn’t decide where the cry was coming from and so called the police.
The police arrived and also couldn't decide where the cry was coming from and so requested a helicopter, we actually saw the helicopter overhead and joked that they were after us, but the real joke was that the perpetrator of the crime was Trubshaw our bull. He had been bellowing and apparently from a distance sounded like someone in distress. We’re just glad that we didn’t get a bill from the police and for a helicopter search.
The moral of this true story is, if you go out for a country walk, do check the local bull first !!!!!!!!
As you know, we take in dogs with unpredictable temperaments - they are not aggressive or "unsafe" but react towards those who have mistreated them, often men or children, sometimes through lack of training or sensible ownership. We’ve now had a couple of pups arrive - only 7 months old whereas it used to be the "terrible two years old" that we’d be asked to help. Assume the pups were ( hopefully ) still with their Mums until 8weeks old ( or even 12 weeks although perhaps unlikely ) and it means the new owners ruined the pups in a very short time - just 5 months to turn a pup into a neurotic, jumpy so called "evil" youngster. Pups aren’t born bad - they may be born with strong instincts that need understanding training but no dog is born vicious, although any dog will, sooner or later, react against bad ownership. A human baby is not born a murderer or even a nasty person, but becomes it without guidance as a child or in response to what happens to them during childhood - so it is with dogs and cats.
If anything can be done at that stage to "turn them around" depends on what has happened to the dog and yes - it’s breed tendencies, but to blame the dog, not the owner is wrong in our opinions. We’ve all seen some horrific attacks and tragically, even deaths reported in the news, but when you find out the facts behind the sensational "news" reports, you find dogs that shouldn’t have been in the situation where a tragedy could and would occur - guard dogs, big breeds in a small garden with no exercise or training etc.
Dogs are wonderful creatures who put up with us humans and cope remarkably well with what we ask of them, but to ignore the fact that they are dogs and should be treated with respect, understanding and love, is asking for trouble.
I’m sitting in our field ( again !! ) as I write this surrounded by dogs romping and playing - and none of them would cope with living in an "ordinary" home because of what has happened to them - and none of them have ever bitten anyone since coming to live with us, plus most of them would have had their now happy lives ended prematurely if we hadn’t taken them.
So from Parker, Frisbee, Fiddler, Bingo, Drummer, Flight and all the other dogs and cats as well....
Woof, purr, miaow and thank you for keeping the sanctuary going.
We’d like to thank in advance, those of you who have been good enough to include the sanctuary in your will, we really do appreciate being remembered like that in such a useful way.
Please keep the used stamps coming too as they are a regular source of income, we’ve had another £60 since Christmas and although you may feel that your few stamps don’t help, combined with others they soon add up to another boxful.
Grateful thanks to Keith, Brian & Loraine, our good wishes to Fred as he awaits his knee replacement operation, and to Elaine & Desmond for sorting and selling the stamps on our behalf.
Our thanks to Andrew & Nathan of Purley Fencing for all their consideration when working around our animals, and willingly turning their hand to any jobs that we need doing.
As always our thanks to all of you who support us in such a magnificent way.
Our best wishes and thanks,
Jacky & Liz.