Chaldon Animal Sanctuary
AND SO TO SUMMER
The last time we wrote to you Easter had just passed by and now here we are into Summer; where do the days and weeks go to?
Spring was good as there was little rain and so all the animals (and us) took advantage of it.
Sadly during this time we lost one of our pigs, Chipolata. Her legs became weak and she could barely stand up, so we had to say goodbye. Her brother Sausage didn't appear to pine and in fact he and his mate Fritter, now just boys together, live in harmony now that Chipolata isn't about to boss them around.
It was a very sad day as in the evening we also lost Jitzu our 17 year old terrier who finally succumbed to old age. She was a feisty little girl who didn't give in until right at the end. It was the right thing for both of them but nevertheless our hearts were heavy that day.
Then in May, Webster another of our dogs lost the battle with cancer, so all in all a sad time for both of us.
On a brighter note you will read later of our new arrivals, at least they put a smile on our faces.
Many of you will remember Polka who had radiation treatment for her thyroid. She is now 13 years old and so very well, we are sure she wouldn't have survived so long without those awful 3 weeks away from us being cured. So our thanks to all of you who paid for her treatment and have given her 3 happy - and healthy - years so far.
The work inside the bungalow is virtually complete and just a few small jobs remain to be done. We are waiting to cover our concrete floors in our bedrooms, which is the last big job to be finished.
Our beautiful new bathroom - FOR OUR USE ONLY - didn't last long as first one fox needed to come indoors and then another!(see following article)...followed by a poorly puss. We have a heated light in the bathroom and all were in need of it. At the moment OUR room is empty of beasties, but we're sure we'll have to share it again. Oh well, that's life here.
We have four resident foxes that can't survive in the wild for various reasons, and of course they are all different in their responses towards us.
A little while ago we took Fanta to our vet after noticing that what had appeared to be a wound was now showing itself as a couple of lumps with a third one found when tickling her tummy.
As she had been hand-reared (before she came to us) she is easy to handle and was taken in a cat basket (a large one) and picked up and examined easily, much like a cat - in fact we have worse behaved cats!
Surgery to remove and biopsy the lumps was advised and that was done - again with no problems handling her for the anaesthetic.
As the wounds could have pulled open with too much movement Fanta was confined to a small pen for a few days (in our bathroom for post-op recovery), and we were relieved when the biopsy results showed there was nothing to worry about.
We then found Cameron needed investigating as he seemed to have a nasty tail wound, so out with the catcher. As you may know this is a pole with a noose for restraining animals that don't take kindly to being handled and bite - we only have two animals who need it - Cameron and Rebecca his mate.
In our fox pens they have a variety of housing to chose from, all except one are accessible to us - so which one was Cameron in - silly question!
It is a wooden dog kennel with just the one hole in the front - and Cameron saw us coming. First he grabbed the noose and chewed it - we're supposed to be in control of the noose and grab him - hah! Being restricted by space we could not get the noose - when he gave it back to us - over his head, so we tried tipping the kennel and when that didn't work we tried to use a towel to lure him forward enough to use the noose.
He obligingly grabbed hold of the towel and pulled - Jacky tried to ease him forward and out - Cameron pulled harder - and the towel ripped.
We tried again, with Liz poised with the noose - Jacky offered the towel and Cameron played the game again - we had now been trying for 10 minutes to catch him, and the sight of this tug-of-war between fox and human reduced Liz to a fit of giggles - you have to see the funny side of things with animals.
Eventually we succeeded in outfoxing the wily lad, with perseverance and patience, and when caught were able to get him antibiotic treatment..and finally put the kettle on for us. What fun and games we have!
Now, what a surprise...we have a confession to make - our numbers have increased by 30... yes, that's right...30, but what can you do when you hear of distressed animals living in squalid conditions and needing a home in the country.
We reacted as we hope you would want us to by saying "there's a home for you here".
That's how our family welcomed 30 poor, ex-battery chickens. They smelt, were terrified, were very thin and all of them had bare backs, bald bums and no tail feathers, the result of living in totally unnatural conditions and pecking one another.
At first we agreed to take 12 little souls, but 15 arrived and when they made themselves at home, the chicken run still looked empty, so another 15 were given shelter here.
After their initial introduction to their night-time sleeping quarters the door was opened and cautiously the hens found what was waiting for them - freedom, but in a safe enclosure.
They pecked at the ground, scratched at the earth, sunbathed and then had a good old dust bath, just what all chickens should be able to do.
We found ourselves watching them with a huge grin on our faces as there was no doubt that they were more than happy - and we were too.
At the moment they have been nicknamed "the vultures" as any sign of food being given makes them charge across to us and descend on the tit-bits as if they haven't been fed in ages.
As they are now being given proper food regularly - goodness only knows what they were fed before from the state of their droppings - we know that the name will be dropped.
Our resident chickens made us laugh too as a definite "them" and "us" situation developed. The residents took up their position on one side of the chicken enclosure and the "thems" on the other side. If one side went too close a little pecking battle broke out and then both retired to their chosen side. Hostilities have now ceased and all is well with "them" and "us" as they have become "one".
The new girls are now very much at home and all of them are starting to grow new feathers in their bald places. Soon we won't be able to tell the difference between the "them" and "us" as they all become "one".
You may remember us telling you about Webster - a dog who arrived with a bad reputation and the nickname "Devil Dog".
We didn't know his age, certainly not a youngster, but was probably about 10 years. He settled in extremely well with us and never tried to bite us or our vet.
Just before Christmas a small lump appeared in his mouth on the gum line so it was removed and we hoped it was non-cancerous and wouldn't return - sadly it did.
A further difficulty for Webster was his back legs which were getting progressively weaker with muscle wastage - no pain, but limited control over him knowing where his legs were.
As his legs worsened and the cancer in his mouth re-grew, he remained cheerful, enjoying his walks and his meals, but spending more time sleeping until he started to show signs of it being an effort managing life - time to say goodbye and let him rest in peace.
He had two and a half years with us - every day a bonus that he made the most of, after so nearly having it snatched away from him when he faced euthanasia as he was labelled unhomeable.
He was quite a vocal chap on walks but once his obsession with tennis balls was discovered, they kept him happy and quiet.
One of our German Shepherds "Drummer" became great friends with him on our walks as he is also fanatical about playing with balls.
The pair developed their own game of swapping balls - they used to watch each other, chase each other and tease each other about who had the best one - great fun to watch them together.
If Drummer had a stick in his mouth Webster would grab it for a tug of war and although he was the smaller dog he would invariably end up the winner with Drummer cheerfully letting him have it. The best stick games were when the stick broke and they both had a piece and both thought they'd won!
Webster would collect balls and place them in a pile, going back to check on them or add another one, while Drummer would just fit two balls in his mouth at the same time - or one ball and a stick - the only dog I've seen do that.
The first walk without Webster had Drummer totally confused "where is my mate?". He trotted around searching for him. As this is written just over a week since losing Webster, Drummer has yet to really enjoy a walk without his friend. Today was the first time he could be encouraged to play with his ball. He has been so lost without his playmate and been showing his grief at losing him - in time he'll regain his pleasure at playing, but it is sad to see him at the moment.
So many of our animal family not only touch our hearts, but those of other animals who became their special friends.
P.S. It is now a month later and Drummer has stopped looking for Webster and is playing again, although he has yet to find another friend who is such good fun to play with.
As we come to the end of another newsletter we thank all of you who support our family financially, donating bric-a-brac, stamps, newspapers, towels and blankets. All are much needed and help us to continue.
Our thanks to Keith for giving us his time and helping out, to Fred for his fundraising, to Janice for typing the newsletter and to Roger for printing it.
We don't forget Ian Dibble our vet for his patience and caring, no matter what the problem or sort of animal.
Until next time, happy holidays,
Jacky & Liz.