Chaldon Animal Sanctuary
Hello again, certainly a few weeks have passed since Christmas came upon us but your kindness to our animal family has not been forgotten. You always make Christmas a special occasion where all the animals and even ourselves, have a Christmas treat...or two !!!
The generosity you all show, is so heart warming especially in these difficult times, we do appreciate that for many of you, finding extra pennies is not easy. Even if your way of showing support is by sending your used postage stamps, it really does all help.
Not only that, but your lovely cards and messages to us, raise our spirits even when we’re going through a dark patch of losing family members.
We were delighted with the response to our little Chaldon calendars we offered for sale in the last newsletter. Many thanks to you all for your rapid requests which came flowing in, as that really helped us out at a very busy time. Apart from them selling well ( and we hope you liked them ) you were so generous in adding extra donations so a huge thank you.
We’re also pleased so many of you commented on the Christmas Photo Special newsletter and are glad you enjoyed seeing some of our family that you all help.
It’s January and a freezing dog walk - literally as it was minus 5 overnight and hasn’t yet risen to 0, never mind any higher. The last of the snow from a couple of days ago is still on the ground , enough to look pretty but be dangerous and icy. Apart from the risk of us falling over, we also can’t have a nice brisk walk to keep us warm & moving because of Brogan’s bad legs - more on that later. We have just had a slow amble round our woods and what a joy - the fallen autumn leaves are dry & crispy, crunching under foot & paw. You’ve heard us moan / comment on soggy leaves for quite a few winters now and to have scrunchy leaves in January is quite a treat. This time last year our new fencing was being erected and Andrew & his team were sliding and struggling in torrential rain and deep mud.
We’ve now walked into our field and Merlin who you met in our Christmas Newsletter is having a wonderful time as he has taken off at speed and is leading the others a merry dance of chase - there goes Harley, Purdey, Granville, Frisbee, Bingo & Fiddler....what a lot of puffed dogs and wagging tails. We are so lucky to be able to walk our dogs on our own land in safety for them as we wouldn’t be able to walk most of them off leads in a public park due to their various "problems", which is mostly lack of trust in unknown people. Merlin spooks and runs in panic if he sees someone in the horse field next to our woods and wouldn’t be safe off a lead and that would be sad not to see him run and play as he does here.
February and day 1 of the heavy snow which fell overnight The South East seems to have largely ground to a halt and it certainly makes life harder here. As you know we have less outside animals and are glad of it in this weather - buckets of warm water for all of them used to be a Herculean task. We had lots of snow which our dogs thought was great but it disgusted our cats who did a good job of pretending to hibernate - next to the radiators of course !!
This winter Jacky has been a bit poorly and couldn’t get out for a couple of days, and life was pretty awkward with the paths being dangerously slippery but as the lane started to clear, we rang Andrew ( the boss of our wonderful firm who did the fencing ) and wondered if he was able to get to us for some path clearing. Thankfully the next day he and his merry men turned up and set to with shovels and broom and the paths wonderfully reappeared. This is the reality of your fundraising for us as we have never been able to pay for a few hours work before but as we don’t owe our vet ( or anyone else ), we could do it. And what a difference it made to be able to safely go out with our dogs as well as drive our car out from it’s snowed in position. The postman didn’t reach us for 6 days although we were able to get out after only 3 days.
A couple of our dogs during this snow have needed an emergency haircut ( we do them ourselves ) as they become "snowbound" with legs and feet covered in frozen snowballs and needed standing in the bath with a warm water shower to melt them off. So a bit of a short back & sides on the lower body ( tummy, legs etc ) and they were soon scampering around in the snow drifts again.
Finn, our little cairn x came to us with a history of not coming if called. Now he loves to be first to Mum, always with a waggy tail. He loves to play a game on occasion where as Jacky is walking through the gate into the kitchen, he darts through and charges out of the cat flap. He is always just waiting outside ready to follow Mum down the side of the bungalow and out the back where he meets his brothers & sisters for their walk.
Last week was different though, he charged through the gate, started to go through the cat flap but changed his mind and reversed back indoors. "Strange" thought Jacky,"something is certainly not right" and on opening the back door, discovered Lotus, one of our friends Daphne's cats, blocking the way.
Now Lotus Blossom, unlike her name, is not a sweet girl. She is a dark tortoiseshell who loves to terrorise anyone if she is upset and Finn definitely had upset her !! Finn obviously realised this so flew out of the back door, round the corner and started down the narrow path to safety, only there, sitting in the middle of the path was Lotus...just sitting as if she’d been there all afternoon!!
As Finn drew near to her, she bushed out, looking several times her normal size, hissed and slowly moved to one side so that he could get out of her way !! The look of disgust that she gave him had to be seen to be believed as it left him in no doubt that she was totally in charge of guarding her plot without any help from her silly canine cousin !!!!
Choo Choo !!!
No doubt many of you have used the "choo choo" to feed a young child or perhaps you were an aeroplane with the spoonful of food "flying" towards the mouth to encourage them to open up and eat. Well, as we’ve said before, animals and children can be very similar !!
One of the treatments for heart problems are tablets to be given an hour before feeding and Drummer has been on them for a couple of years now and they have undoubtedly helped keep him happy & active. Although he is very good and can have tablets pushed down his throat, it’s not very pleasant and so the capsules get put into some soft cheese - the really cheap and cheerful tubs but the cheese holds it’s shape when the capsules are pushed in - ideal.
A few months ago the vet put Mungo on to them too and he happily took his tablets seeing them as a treat and then Brogan also went onto them for his heart failure. For some reason as I approached with a little sticky "parcel" of cheese wrapped capsules, as he watched and waited to see what I had - I started the "choo choo" ( in a singsong "train" voice!!!! ) and Brogan opened wide and took his tablets ! Goodness knows why or how this started but it became our game that he enjoyed each evening - for some reason, never for the morning tablets though !!
Drummer despite being a big and you’d expect greedy German Shepherd is surprisingly fussy about food so when the capsules were changed to palatable tablets that are supposed to make life easier for owner, Drummer refused to eat his "treats" and so it was back to the tubs of cheese for all of them !!
Moving up the lane to Trubshaw & Albi, if we have a couple of slices of bread left over, the "boys" get offered it. One afternoon they’d had their tea of hay given and then were offered the bread - Albi ( sheep ) came and took his slice with enthusiasm whereas Trubshaw came and sniffed it and quite clearly turned his back on it and went back to his hay - much to Albi’s delight who had the slice.
Next time there was some bread for them, it was offered before the hay was given - Albi came and took his while Trubshaw came and sniffed it and then opened his huge mouth ....and waited.so I "posted" the slice in as if he was a giant letter box !!!! He happily ate it, such a huge creature and yet so very gentle but still getting what he wanted ! So now we know...bread "posted" first and then hay afterwards.
It’s been over a year since Trubshaw lost his lady friend Chance and he has adjusted to being without her but he shows there’s still life in the old lad. The field he ( and Albi ) are in has a fence across it so they have one end and we walk our dogs the other end. The dogs don’t take much notice of Trubshaw & Albi grazing but just occasionally they'll have a woof if they are close to the fence.
This particular day Trubshaw had "Spring fever" as he came right up to the fence, well that was too tempting for a couple of our dogs who bounced and barked at him!! Trubshaw turned and raced up the field as if he was being chased, kicking his heels in the air and then turned and did a very impressive "charging bull" racing back down to the fence. Our dogs had turned and come away but this was too much so they went back and woofed at him again so Trubshaw trotted up and down his side of the fence, prancing, shaking his head at them and quite deliberately winding the dogs up and thoroughly enjoying himself. It’s difficult to explain properly in words but it was such a wonderful and funny sight - you could almost see Trubshaw sticking his tongue out and saying "you can’t catch me" !!!!
Goodbye & Hello.
Brogan was badly bred - we used to joke that he had most of the GSD health problems in the one dog !!. We were lucky that his skin wasn’t a problem, nor his temperament which although he had every reason to be difficult from his early days, was in fact accepting and he was a big gentle giant. And he was big, not overweight but he did weigh over 100lbs ( average weight for his breed, 70 - 80 lbs ) as he was a big boned boy which didn’t help his leg problems he was cursed with through his life.
All four legs had something hereditary wrong - his hips with HD ( hip dysplasia ) that thankfully were not much of a problem to him until the latter days of his life, but his elbows had two of the three major defects and caused trouble all his life. Most of the time they just were stiff and awkward when he moved and he was comfortable on a mixture of painkillers and natural remedies but every so often they would flare up causing a lot of pain and trouble. Brogan rarely complained but took himself to bed until the cocktail of drugs the vet gave, kicked in and had Brogan up and about again. Often before we felt he should be back on short walks Brogan would insist on coming by eating the bedroom door or putting his head out of the catflap in the other door - he hated being away from his pack unless he was really poorly.
We suspected he wouldn’t make old bones but it is one thing saying that as the months and years roll by and altogether a different matter when at just over 6 years old, you realise you are staring the situation in the face and he won’t get better this time.
Brogan had been diagnosed with a heart problem six months earlier and sadly it worsened, plus one of his legs flared up just before Christmas. Then we had a couple of weeks when everything seemed to be settling down but before we had chance to breathe a sigh of relief, he went rapidly downhill with his heart and everything else started to fall apart too.
The day we said goodbye in February, Brogan insisted on coming outside a little way to lay and watch his friends playing, and then later, being cuddled on his bed, he went to sleep forever. It was a pleasure to know and have such a wonderful dog and he is sorely missed, not because of his physical presence but because of his character. Our other dogs were very subdued, particularly his best friend and partner in mischief, Purdey as well as our other GSD Drummer.
Sleep in peace handsome boy, sadly gone in body but never in spirit.
And onto news of our Christmas Eve "Surgery Special" whose owners didn’t know where else to turn with their little problem as they didn’t want him put to sleep but with 5 year old twins and a biting dog - something had to change.Fortunately the vet they saw who had been treating Murphy’s sore skin, realised that the steroids he was on were adding to the food possessiveness and felt he could be rehomed in the right situation - cue ‘phone call to us !
Murphy is a great little chap ( only 11" high ) but is a typical terrier who thinks he’s the boss. Thankfully he was very happy to accept a change in role when he arrived and is now a cute and happy - and non biting lad. As I write this in our field, he is running around with a huge stick three times his length in his mouth. He’s good with the other dogs, quickly learnt if he wanted to stay on my armchair he had to share with the cats and sneaks into bed under the duvet overnight as well if he can !!
As I stand at the kitchen table preparing the cats breakfast, the cat flap is being rattled - bang, scrabble, swing, click clack and then a pause - and again it happens - and again and again !! By now you’re perhaps wondering why I haven’t gone and opened the back door for the poor unfortunate cat that must be stuck unable to manage a simple cat flap! You can almost see the other cats raise their eyebrows in disgust at the performance, they also know who it is of course.
Finally, the flap lifts ( again ) but this time it’s followed by a head and then a body - "hello Cobble, made it then have you lad". Cobble is a beautiful big lad who is perfectly capable of using the cat flap but does seem to like to announce his imminent arrival - if he were a human in days of old, you can imagine him being correctly addressed as "Sir Cobble" !!!
Later while standing waiting for the kettle to boil, I see "squirrel cat" on his latest favourite position. Gershwin gained his nickname when Jacky saw "something" on a distant shed roof...the "something" had a fluffy twitching tail, appeared grey in colour and looked like a squirrel. It wasn’t until he moved it and showed who it really was and we’ve now both spotted him playing squirrels from his vantage point, hence his nickname.
Also visible from our kitchen window is a neighbours field which usually has a couple of horses in it, but it’s amazing what else we can see while waiting for the kettle to boil. Foxes will cross the field and melt into the hedgerow and birds of all sorts will peck around or be seen flying in to the trees - magpies, blackbirds, crows, wood pigeons, various tits and even an occasional jay or two...and of course squirrels are seen too.
We do know how lucky we are to have such a wonderful view and as we were both "townies" living in ordinary houses and streets, we never take for granted what we have now - a place to enjoy surrounded by nature.
When walking up the lane to our field to see Trubshaw & Albi, as long as the weather is dry, there is an accompaniment of cats - not sure if they think we’d get lost and need to show us the way as they parade in front with their tails up, or weave up to us for a fuss, rolling over at the last moment and nearly causing us to trip as we rapidly sidestep to avoid them ( a particular favourite trick of Chico !! ).
Phoebe likes to chat about the days events - what she’s seen, done or planning to do - she is a genteel lady who says her "bit" and waits for a reply before continuing with another sentence. The car was driven a little earlier and presumably the engine is still warm as Mister is laid on the bonnet and Spice is on the roof watching the world go by. The days are not yet warm enough to see sunbathing cats sprawled about as they need to keep out of the wind or keep moving to keep warm.
Abi, like the youngster she is ( in comparison to most of our cats who are definitely Old Age Pensioners ), usually rushes around, chasing leaves - real or imaginary and then scats up a tree. The highlight is if a piece of binder twine comes off a bale of hay and instead of being carried to the skip, is dragged down the lane like a big orange snake they must catch and kill - what fun as they pounce and leap on it - as long as it’s not what is then served up on their plates for tea !!!.
We started the newsletter with talking about Christmas but we’ll end with Easter and wish you a happy Easter weekend. Thank you all for supporting the animals, by sending stamps or towels or donations etc, they all mean a lot and help to keep us going.
Our best wishes and thanks,
Jacky & Liz.