Chaldon Animal Sanctuary
It's early one May morning and I've just opened the back door and stepped outside.
It's one of those very still mornings - no wind, no sun yet as it's too early and too much cloud cover. First impression is of silence and stillness - but stop..and listen.
The dawn chorus is singing away - lots of voices and tunes together, and not being any good at identifying bird song, all I can say is that we see the usual here - blackbirds, magpies, crows, pigeons, robins, various tit species and all of it with a background accompaniment supplied by our cockerels crowing.
Standing still and listening is a joy.
Wait - movement out of the corner of my eye and it's "Morning Mrs. Fox " as she comes to check if there's any crumbs left from last night. She has cubs at the moment so I give her an extra handful to help her out with her growing family - shouldn't be long now before she starts bringing them to the evening meal we put out at bedtime.
More movement and in our field there is a gentle ambling of our herd who've just got up to go and start grazing. There is still a mist about and the shapes slowly disappear as they move down the field. Softly calling out "morning " to them, I get answered by a low moo from Trubshaw our bull and a baaa from Dylan our eldest sheep, before they resume the important job of having breakfast.
Breakfast - there's a thought, cats to feed and put the kettle on for a cuppa for me, but no matter what the rest of the day throws at us, I've had a lovely ten minute start to my day.
And there is no doubt that the month of May had a lot in store to throw at us !!
We've had more losses, but sadly two of them were unexpected which increases the shock that accompanies the grief of losing any of our furry family.
One of our dogs "Kodi" suffered a gastric torsion when the stomach twists on itself, and although we rushed him to the vets and they operated immediately, he wasn't able to be saved.
We had another dog "Rosie" many years ago suffer with these, she had four in her life and survived them all, so although we know it is a life threatening, often fatal condition we hoped, perhaps even expected, that Kodi would also survive. He was a very gentle dog and we miss him.
Our next loss was dear little Griff who you will remember from our previous newsletters. One of the things he loved to do was carry a toy at the start of our walks, and as it kept him from barking, it seemed a good idea. Unfortunately he decided to chew it and swallowed a piece that caused no end of trouble, with him having surgery to remove it, but there were complications and he died on the operating table. We feel so cheated that just as he was finally finding his feet and being his true happy little self, it was not for many more years that we were able to share it with him.
We were still reeling from these traumatic events (within two weeks of each other), when Ellie (14 year old Staffie X), refused dinner one evening and had a dangerously high temperature. Treatment began to bring the temperature down, followed by blood tests and x-rays the next day. Then into surgery for her as she had an enlarged spleen, which was removed although we did not know if it was cancerous or not at that stage. After a worryingly slow recovery for a few days, she has picked up well and is now out of the woods and thoroughly enjoying herself again.
That was the end of the month and into June, and the second week of June was relatively straightforward, but the following week we lost one of our little cats "Rambler" who had come to us as a feral twelve years ago. Her health had been failing for a while but she had been happily enjoying cuddles and purring still, until the day she stayed in bed and faded away.
As this is written (end of June) we have another poorly dog ( Soda ) undergoing tests to find out what is the matter with her. Sadly many of our dogs and cats have reached a good age and we seem to be going through a rough time of worrying about them all as their health starts to deteriorate - our calendar is plastered with appointments to the vet, the chiropractor or the acupuncturist - no room for us and the doctor or dentist!!!
THERE'S ALWAYS AN ALTERNATIVE.
When it comes to our animals health and happiness and if conventional medicines can do no more, we are great believers in alternative therapies. Whilst we don't believe in keeping an animal alive just for selfish reasons, quality of life, not quantity is our motto.
We have used homeopathic remedies for some years now, sometimes in conjunction with treatment from our vet and sometimes on their own, to great effect, especially after surgery. As our dogs get older, arthritis often rears it's ugly head and painkillers are the first line of defence often with one of the natural products such as glucosamine. However, after some time on the prescribed drugs, the effect can deteriorate and lameness, lack of appetite or grumpiness may follow.
We have had great success with a local chiropractor and to see the improvement in our older family members is heart warming. Our vet will see our animal first to make sure nothing more sinister is going on and then an appointment with Marisa, our local Mc Timoney chiropractor, is made to see if she can help. In most cases her "magic fingers" can identify the problem site and then start to work on the painful area. It isn't a permanent cure, old bones can't be rejuvenated after all, but with top-up treatments the results can be amazing and give quality of life back to the patient.
Recently one of our dogs Soda didn't respond to Marisa's treatment and Ian our vet, suggested that acupuncture might help. After only one session with Jill, there was a marked improvement in the pain level and general demeanour and so now we have yet another string to our bow in the fight against pain. Usually either treatment starts with two or three sessions and then top-ups as required. 13 year old Humbug a Beardie X, thinks he's still only 3 years old so requires more visits to see Marisa than some of the more sensible patients!!
These two ladies have given some of our family an extra span of life for which we will always be grateful and after the awful start in life that most of our dogs have had, they deserve the best.
Our cats are very lucky where we live as we are down a quiet country lane with no next door neighbours and plenty of land for them to explore. They have free access to outdoors to come and go as they want, and can always tell when the weather is bad and they stay indoors to play - or glare at us that it's raining as if it's our fault!! So, it's a pussy paradise round here but it does mean we have to keep an eye on everyone turning up at mealtimes.
Last year when our friend Daphne's cats moved in with us, we had a "bit of bother " with one of them. Daphne's cats had for some years been house cats with a large enclosure in the garden to play in so they didn't have full freedom but could still go outside. Obviously when they arrived here they were restricted and had a large run so that it was similar to their old home for them. As they gained confidence and settled, we gradually let them out and about. We have lovely memories of Daphne visiting last summer as we would sit outdoors with a cuppa and her cats would come running to see her -we know how much Daphne enjoyed those afternoon visits too.
Anyway, I've digressed so to the point of this - there's always one who likes to be different and in this case it's Lewis, a very smart black and white puss of Daphne's. One morning a motorbike roared up our lane and at teatime there was no sign of Lewis, presumably hiding up somewhere we thought, but as he was still missing the next day, it was obvious he had been scared off and got lost. To cut a long story short, it took nearly 5 months before we found him - he'd had a busy summer moving around the local area but was fit and healthy and only slightly underweight.
When I went to see if it was him in someone's garden, I called his name, he looked up and came running down the garden into my arms - we were all delighted to have him home, safe again. However, this seemed to have given him a taste of wanderlust, although he had originally been a stray many years ago before he went to Daphne, so perhaps he was always prone to doing his own thing. He disappeared a few weeks later and took only a week to arrive back at the same house, and did it again a third time another few weeks later.
All this time we had been chatting with Daphne about what to do about this. None of us felt we could re-home him elsewhere and have him doing the same thing, so the decision was taken to erect a large enclosure attached to the house for him. Keep him safe but still give him the opportunity to go and sunbathe, chase moths etc. This was not a decision we made lightly as keeping cats confined is to us, against a cats natural instinct to have freedom. Certainly we have many cats that don't go out much, or go far but it is their choice, not us dictating it.
Lewis in his new run.
Lewis spent winter indoors quite happily and as he loves the dogs, he would wander around our lounge with them. As the weather improved we were so pleased that Brian & Lorraine, two of our volunteers, took on the task of erecting an outdoors Lewis pen. As Daphne's cats now lived here, the panels from her garden came here for Lewis so we had the materials for the job. It took several hard weekends work to make the run, as we wanted it as large as possible and sturdy enough to last many years, which it is thanks to a wonderful job by Brian & Lorraine.
Lewis loves his run - shelves to sunbathe on, grass and plants for shade, branches to climb and scratch up, he took to it from the word go and has never tried to escape….we are relieved that he is so happy in it. He now also has company as earlier in the year we took an ex-feral cat in and Harvest is coming on well, he loves to be stroked but swipes his claws at your hand when you stop though!! However, due to his previous home, he is an agoraphobic feral - yes, feral usually means outdoor cat, agoraphobic usually means scared of outdoors!!! When Harvest moved in with Lewis in the indoor pen, they quickly became friends as Lewis's confidence rubbed off on scaredy cat Harvest. When the window was open for access to the outside run though poor Harvest was so terrified that he literally shook without even going to look out of the window.
Gradually he would peer out and look around from the safety of indoors and many, many weeks later he followed Lewis out.He now loves being outside and we dread to think how he would have coped without the outside run to give him security when he started exploring, so we have another reason to be grateful to Lewis forcing us into the decision to have the run built.
Fundraising is always an ongoing battle and we thought you'd be interested to know of one of our more unusual fundraisers recently.
When one of our supporters (Lorraine from the cat pen) said that her son's girlfriend was one of the tv programmes Holby City cast and she would see if she could persuade Kelly Adams who plays Mickie Hendrie to donate a souvenir from the show, we were delighted. Kelly gave us a signed photo of all the cast and a nurses tunic also signed by all the cast. Kelly modelled the tunic and was photographed wearing it so that when the item was sold on the internet, it raised a massive £102 and the photo raised £25.
Kelly asked if she could visit us - no problem, of course we said. It was lovely to meet Kelly who is a genuine animal lover, and we enjoyed being able to show her our family, so that she could see those she was helping. Thanks so much Kelly, a great boost to the funds.
We appreciate all the help from all of you. No matter how little or how much, it's all gratefully received to keep the family happy.
Please continue sending your stamps, we have just received another £50 from the sale of those, so they really do help. As usual, towels, blankets, goods for sale are all welcome.
Thank you to our new friends on E-bay (online auction site where we sell our donated items) who have supported us so generously.
We now have sanctuary notelets - - - no longer available.
Our best wishes and thanks from
Jacky & Liz.
Here's a picture of Tinsel.