Chaldon Animal Sanctuary
It seems that summer has arrived with a vengeance and as Wimbledon fever abounds, the temperatures have soared and I have the perfect reason to sit quietly to work on putting this newsletter together.
I’ve been asked how I get ideas or decide what to write in the newsletters and in times past, Jacky & I used to struggle with what to write about when a newsletter was due as we didn’t remember all the little happenings, but gradually we found it was much easier to jot ideas down that we could then work from when we needed to.
Nowadays I try to write a draft of an idea when it occurs and the idea can come from all sorts of places. I usually have some things I want to say, such as after Christmas or about losses and new arrivals, plus updates on any of the particular pets mentioned previously and well known to you. Some times it’s something I’ve heard or someone has said that sparks an idea, some of it’s going off on a tangent as I tend to or just general ramblings. There’s not usually much of a plan as to where it goes but it is then a question of hoping there’s a good few pieces mostly written and then filling in the gaps, updating our latest news and tying it all together.
The idea for this little bit of rambling occurred to me whilst in bed, unwinding after a busy day and thinking of what’s been done today and what tomorrows plans are - including a trip to the chiropractor for Phoenix and the wholesalers to collect trays and trays of cat food.
My apologies as the last newsletter had a few hiccups because some went out with muddy paw prints from not so helpful felines, and then Max ( rottie x ) decided to eat a couple of sheets of paper as they came out of the printer which didn’t help either ! Added to that, I managed to miss a chunk off the online one so please go and catch up on that if you read it online, thank you.
The list of supporters who now read our newsletters online is growing and thank you to those of you who have given me their e-mail addresses as it does save postage as well as printing costs and avoids muddy, eaten pages of course! If you would like to receive an e-mail to read it online instead of a paper copy posted, just let me know.
The Caterham Carnival stall was a great success thanks to an incredible amount of work by various friends, both beforehand with sorting all the items donated, plus all the helpers on the day too - thank you all very much.
We had a good day and were very lucky with the weather as it seemed to be the first really nice day of the year which no doubt encouraged families out, rather than being too hot and putting people off. The incredible total at the end of the day was £615 profit, and that increased with late donations plus online sales later of some items, to an unbelievable total of £705
Suzy & family also supported Chaldon with a Garden Party Bazaar and raised a massive £450, thank you for all your hard work resulting in another wonderful total.
Thanks also to Rosemary who has been doing a great job of sorting stamps and as there was a backlog, it was a huge job but this ended up raising a helpful £140 from their sale. Then a further £260 was raised by Iryna selling more, some online. I know it is harder to collect used stamps nowadays as so much is franked, however look what a worthwhile result they still provide - as ever, they all add up.
What a difference all that made to the funds in June, making all the hard work very worthwhile I’m sure you’ll agree. It meant on top of the regular expenses, I was able to place a bulk order of dog food - not just enough to keep the dogs fed for a few weeks at a time because that was all finances would allow, but to take advantage of a cheaper bulk purchase price and have a pallet load delivered - what a wonderful sight that was in the food shed.
I received an e-mail asking for help about a troubled border collie and before I had chance to reply, there was a follow up e-mail with the news that it had been suggested Tansey ( as she was then ) should be put down. Now, you all know how Chaldon works and while there are the odd dogs that may be the right decision for, it’s very few and I thought it was worth seeing if this could be avoided.
When chatting to the owners, who love the dog but knew they couldn’t give her what she needed, it became apparent that being a collie meant Tansey had the brains to get herself into trouble. This was a relief later on when she finally came here as I used her intelligence to teach her right from wrong behaviours.
A lot of work and phone calls went into trying to find Tansey a home who could harness her incredibly high energy and stress levels as I felt here wasn’t the best option for her, partly due to her high prey drive and our cats. Eventually a place was found for her to go into kennels but the following day there was a flurry of manic phone calls as Tansey was deemed unhomeable and due to be euthanised that afternoon. I said just get her saved and I’ll take her and work out what to do afterwards, which is how an extremely wound up dog arrived thanks to a friend driving up to London to collect her, thank you Janet.
I changed her name to Taxi because I couldn’t re-use the name Tansy from my little ex-laboratory beagle some of you may remember, and I thought Taxi was similar enough to be easily be changed if in due course new owners wanted to revert.
Well, Taxi was a nightmare and the first five days were incredibly, unbelievably hard work as I showed her every little thing she needed to think about - this was life in general really, and the couple of days in kennels definitely didn’t help. Thankfully this is where her collie spirit worked in my favour as she quickly decided I was safe and not to be snapped at and that she’d quite like to please me and do what I was trying to show her. It’s going to be a long road ahead with her but already in a few short weeks, she is such a happy girl and quite a sweetie. Will she stay or not - I don’t yet know as I wonder if a working home who does agility etc would suit her, not that she’s unhappy here by any means ! Oh and the cats - she’s fine with them now too.
One morning, I was up early and started morning jobs while waiting for the kettle to boil. It was after the long dark winter mornings so some of the cats were already out and about because it was light plus it was the kittens first spring which they were enjoying. Little Popo came in through the cat flap, not realising I was up as no lights were on - her expression was priceless as she saw me and then flung herself across the room to come and have her good morning cuddle, so sweet and a lovely start to the day - for both of us.
Later that day her sister Toto was trying to come through the cat flap dragging a stick longer than her. She couldn’t get it all the way in, so came in, turned round and continued pulling but the cat flap had now come down and therefore held the stick in place. Toto eventually just sat and looked at it so I went and pulled her treasured stick in for her - which in true cat fashion, she then pretended she didn’t want anyway !
The boys Wilson & Mason are typical lads and more likely to be ambushing each other or playing tag although they are both very gentle youngsters who love a cuddle from me though they vanish to avoid visitors.
I’ve enjoyed watching them all with everything new and exciting … birds flying across the sky, wind rustling in plants, undergrowth to hide in, so many games and mysteries for them all and a constant source of delight when I’m watching from the kitchen window while washing up etc. Kittens are such fun.
Sitting in the field one very cold but thankfully dry and bright day over Easter, Phoenix the troubled German shepherd suddenly stopped and I thought he was about to ‘see fairies’ as I call it when he has a moment of his obsessive compulsive behaviour but oh no ....
He had actually seen real life wood pigeons in his field and was having none of it. He took off at a good canter, flushed the first pair into the air and wheeled round in a large circle and accelerated to chase the rest of them up, up and away into the sky. It gave me particular pleasure as one of his problems when he arrived was seeing imaginary birds in the sky so to see him doing something that is natural for dogs, is a great sight. Likewise, Taxi arrived herding trees - they of course ignored the daft border collie and didn’t behave like sheep and move! Gradually Taxi noticed other things of interest such as dogs digging and has progressed from trying to catch the earth as others dig, to getting stuck in herself with digging. Only slight downside is that in true obsessive collie fashion, there are now crater sized holes with her enthusiasm and the ground looks as if it’s been excavated with war trenches as she tries to dig to Australia!
When the weather warmed up enough to have the lounge door open so the dogs can potter in and out, the three youngsters ( Max, Phoenix & Kismet ) were chasing each other up the field and then came charging indoors to check I was still here - I was. There had been a shower of rain while they were out enjoying themselves so as they came in, they all shook and much to the disgust of the cats on my lap, we all shared the indoor shower of rain!
I have a retractable clothes line outside and when I unhook it to let the spring retract the line, I used to carefully hold the end as it reeled back in but the cats have persuaded me otherwise. They have the greatest fun as the line snakes back in, especially if it still has a few pegs attached and they race after it and just as they think they’ll catch it, it flies up and disappears. It makes me laugh to see them having such fun with such a simple little pleasure.
When out with the dogs one morning, Mungo appeared from the bushes with an attachment of bramble to his leg feathering. Mungo is now 15 and his legs aren’t that steady so I had to be quite careful as I removed if without him falling over - mission soon accomplished. Then as he moved away, he walked straight into the rest of the brambles he’d pulled out with him and became even more ensnared. So, I removed that tangle of bramble runners and as I went to pick it up to put it safely out of the way - turned round to find Phoenix now had the first bramble attached to his tail and as he came to me, he managed to wind it around his legs too.
I untangled him and took that one to join the rest of the nuisance brambles, and couldn’t get it to let go of me as I’d put gloves on to protect me from thorns while untangling dogs. I took the gloves off and promptly got stung by nettles as I threw the brambles out of the dogs way. Life’s always interesting with pets isn’t it!
I wrote about Tootsie and her balance problem last time and am delighted at how well she has progressed. Her head still has a slight tilt but it doesn’t bother her which is all that matters. As she improved, she started wanting to go outdoors again, which I allowed under my supervision and as she gained confidence, we both fell into a routine of when she would go out - or at least have the option to go if she wanted to, as she became a very good barometer cat.
Sometimes when the weather appeared to me to be reasonable, Tootsie would surprise me by preferring to stay in ‘her’ bathroom and sure enough, the weather would turn wet within a couple of hours. Other times it was grey and I thought she’d stay in but out she’d go with the weather brightening up in due course, clever girl.
Possum or ....?
You may remember me mentioning the kittens hunting prowess of leaves etc in the last newsletter - predictably enough, things escalated. They then bought pine cones indoors along with their other trophies and then there was the dreaded day when I found Toto playing with a deceased shrew - however ...
I was outside and Katrina came running to me with ‘that’ chirrup cats make when they have a mouthful of a successful hunt and sure enough, she had a dead shrew. She came trotting over to me and laid it at my feet but her chirrup had alerted Toto who obviously recognised the sound and came charging over to try to take and lay claim to the prize. So all may not have been quite what it seemed if she’s a thief !
One day I had been out with the dogs and when I came in and went to put the kettle on, there was a snake in the kitchen! It was about 14" long and looked very unwell - practically dead in fact. No cats were in sight laying claim to the dastardly deed so I swept the poor thing up. Not being sure what sort it was, although I knew it wasn’t an adder I took some photos and then thought I’d leave it quietly in the animal food shed so it wasn’t pestered while it expired.
Then I went online and searched snake identification and discovered it was a harmless grass snake - sigh of relief that I didn’t have to try and find if a cat had a snake bite. However, I read on and discovered something else - reference the title of this piece ... yes, they play possum when threatened.
I charged out to the shed and sure enough, nothing - gone, vanished into the depths of a rather overfull shed. While being very pleased it wasn’t dying, I didn’t relish the job of trying to find it so left that up to Andrew when he came. Predictably, it was under the last sack to be moved but it was then safely relocated.
Strange though as we don’t have a pond or habitat that the online information suggests they prefer, and I’ve thankfully not seen any more and hope they move away from the danger of predators here. Most (sadly not all) of my cats do not hunt but it’s a first to have a grass snake as an unwanted present’.
It never ceases to interest me watching the behaviour of our animals, especially when we have a new arrival. Our dogs are of course fairly used to someone unknown arriving and invariably, the last one in who hasn’t yet been through the routine of a new dog arriving, is the one that is the most jealous - same as a human family when the youngest child ‘moves up’ when a sibling arrives.
When Taxi arrived, it created all sorts of interesting behaviour and not just from her. She was very worried when she arrived after a scary couple of days, plus wasn’t good at mixing with other dogs so for everyone’s safety, I put her in a crate by the side of my armchair in the lounge - then I let the other dogs in from the garden one at a time to meet her. They approached the crate, were snarled at by Taxi and you could almost see them shrug with "fine, we’ll ignore you" as they walked away and left her alone. I was very pleased with them all ... well, nearly all of them, there had to be one and no surprise to say it was Max !
He approached, Taxi snarled and Max did a double take and said "WHAT" and proceeded to give an ear splitting few barks back at her. This naturally meant Taxi responded with another ferocious snarl & Max replied again. This went on between them for the next couple of days before Taxi twigged she was safe and didn’t need to snarl and now they even play happily together.
Another thing that made me smile was when Taxi was out of the crate as she gained confidence and started joining the pack, because Purdey and Max would go in the crate and have a few laps from her water bowl - not to mention Chips & Fiddler taking her bones or chew toys out naturally. Thankfully, Taxi soon didn’t need the crate as she became one of the group.
The last of our ex-battery hens that Jacky & I rescued 3 years ago was Hobnob and sadly she has now died, leaving the 3 Tea Ladies as our current hens. I’ve spoken before of how many oldies there are here at the moment, with a scattering of youngsters and while it is always sad to lose them, it is part of the natural way of life - and death.
Some of you may remember two little feral, wild kittens Spirit & Sprite that came to us and while they were already past the ideal age for taming, they were threatened with euthanasia and I took on the challenge of helping them accept humans. They retained their wild nature and preferred to spend days outside, but they also became purring bundles as they curled up on my bed for a fuss to sleep every night - the best of both worlds for them.
When Spirit stopped grooming herself, off to the vet we went with me thinking it was perhaps bad teeth, but unfortunately investigations found it was something terminal and I said goodbye to her under the anaesthetic - only 7 years young.
Those ones catch you off guard and are unexpected losses and we know life isn’t fair but it still rankles, same as it still does about dear Barney dog last year before his 3rd birthday. What is scary is when I see others the same age as Sprite & Spirit and think "you’re too young for me to be expecting troubles" yet for them, as it was for Spirit - the years keep passing.
And sadly, so have some of our friends and supporters passed on. It is always hard to lose old friends and these have been long term supporters of very many years to our animal family. The relatives often asked for donations instead of flowers and those collections were well supported with over £250 raised in their memory. Grateful thanks at a time of such sadness for the spouse and families as that’s a lot of food for the furry family here.
Also a couple of our deceased friends had thought of the future of the Sanctuary being able to continue and left a legacy to Chaldon which helps the finances enormously, whether it’s used for a needed purchase that we couldn’t afford or to the general running and security of the Sanctuary. Thank you to those of you who have also made similar arrangements, it’s so very much appreciated and they really do mean a lot.
Thank you to all who send donations, monetary or otherwise (stamps, towels etc) or who send a cheque, set up a Direct Debit, send donations via Charity Giving or sending with Gift Aid added. Due to the continued belief in what Jacky and I have been doing all these years, we have continued to be here to help those like Taxi and so very many others.
Due to all of you, Chaldon is able to keep going and thank you is not said lightly, but with sincere gratitude.
As always, heartfelt thanks to you all.
Liz & the Furries
Don’t forget, we are at Chaldon Fete on 26th August, Bank Holiday Monday.
Saving one pets life won’t change the world...
but it will make a world of difference to that one pet.
UPDATE - I missed putting some of the chat on the last ( March ) newsletter when I copied and pasted, sorry but please go and read the now added part in italics ( click on blue writing below ).