Chaldon Animal Sanctuary
YIPPEE....SPRING IS HERE
As we write Christmas was a few weeks ago but will not be forgotten in a hurry here.
Every year you overwhelm us with your wonderful cards full of good wishes to our animals and us. They do mean a lot so we would like to say thank you.
We must also thank everyone for their generosity as money and gifts arrived for our animal family (and chocolate and biscuits for us as well!) especially as some were anonymous or not on our mailing list with an address to reply to.
You made that the lovely part of Christmas, but unfortunately the rest of it didn't go smoothly - between the animals and us we were dogged by health problems.
We had Brogan still poorly after major surgery (read about him further on); also Cowley recovering from surgery. We lost Kylie (burmese 17 years) with kidney failure a week before Christmas and several others with ongoing health problems were deteriorating, with us unsure if they would even make it to Christmas Day.
Both of us went down with one of these wretched stomach bugs that were around, which knocked the stuffing out of us. No Christmas dinner for us, but our animals still had their treats with our dogs and cats having chicken for dinner which they thoroughly enjoyed.
With Christmas over we looked forward to the New Year; we shouldn't have.........
On New Years Day we lost another of our elderly cats (Holly), then our lone turkey (Parsley) - at least she had lived through another Christmas. Oxo our Pomeranian was next, followed by Pipkin puss - a long time resident here, and then Tazz, one of our Welsh puppy farm Labradors had a sudden heart attack.
It really was a very sad time when we felt we couldn't take any more pain of losing anyone. Yes, we know it's part of life, but oh, it hurts so much to lose so many. One is bad enough but grief on top of grief is unbearable; still we soldiered on, and then the snow arrived!
We do love it when it snows and the ground and trees are covered, but here it continued for nearly two weeks.
Areas around us had little or no snow, but as we are on top of the North Downs we had very heavy frosts at night which kept the existing snow frozen and then snowed on again and again.
The dogs loved it and would charge out and thrust their noses under the snow making a furrow in it. Snow balls also were a great favourite. The cats, however, were more discerning and would venture out for a short while and check outside, and then return to the warmth of the bungalow quite quickly.
The outside animals took it all in their stride but did enjoy their Mums arriving with a pail of warm drinking water. Life has now returned to "normal" - well, for us - and we're looking forward to Spring which seems to just about have arrived with longer days, and trees and plants showing their colours once again.
As we've already mentioned Brogan had surgery just before Christmas - in fact on the anniversary of his coming to us. Little did we know on the 20th of December 2002 that this scared stroppy youngster would be having major surgery two years later - just as well we can't see ahead isn't it!
Brogan has occasional tummy troubles with bouts of diarrhoea that soon settle down with a brief fast and then a few days of smaller rations than usual. However this time he decided he was hungry so he would add to his diet - let me explain.
We went to bed as usual Sunday the 19th but only had a couple of hours sleep as Brogan kept going in the garden trying to be sick. First thing in the morning and straight to the vets to be seen. An x-ray of his intestines soon confirmed everyone's suspicion - part of at least one tennis ball clearly visible and obviously causing problems so onto the operating table to open him up and remove the foreign body; however, he hadn't just swallowed one piece - 11 half balls in all were inside the daft dog!!!!!!!!!
Surgery went well and, while he was recuperating and out of action, we cleared our fields and woods of all balls - not easy finding muddy balls in wet leaves - well, Brogan could obviously find them easier than us as the evidence showed!!
Recovery for him was slow as he has some infection and a high temperature afterwards which finally settled down. It was nine days after surgery before he was back to himself again and now we just have to feed him up to get the weight that he's lost back on.
So for the time being we do not need tennis balls as we can't risk this happening again - perhaps in a year or two when he's grown up a bit - but perhaps not, we'll see. For the moment we are using the large kongs (dog toy) as a replacement toy - hopefully much safer for him.
Living as we do in the country we have many birds who visit us briefly, or stay all year round. The crows, pigeons and magpies are permanent residents. They all know when and where food is fed to the pigs, sheep and cattle and keep a close watch to avail themselves of any spare crumbs. However two of the magpies have brains beyond belief.
We have told you before how they will ride on the pigs' backs if the ground is wet and muddy, then swoop to pick up a crumb and fly off to enjoy it in a branch of a tree.
It would seem two magpies in particular had noticed that in the winter high winds had blown a huge branch off a tree. It left a flat platform about two feet from the trunk of the tree.
So these clever little souls "relieve" the pigs of an entire pig nut (about 2 inches in length) fly up to the platform where they pound it into little pieces with their beaks and enjoy every last crumb. It's now a daily occurrence so obviously not a fluke, but two birds with extra intelligence showing us just how bright they can be.
Whilst they have no fear of the pigs, a visit to our chickens to help with the mixed corn is a different story.
As the crows and magpies strut around trying to help themselves to a tidbit or two, the chickens have none of it and gang up to "see them off". These are our ex-battery hens who before coming here had so little in life and now protect their home and food at all cost...it's a funny world.
POLKA & BUCK
Many of you will remember Polka - our cat with an overactive thyroid who with your financial help went away four years ago for radioactive treatment, which was 100 % successful.
Recently she had a few bouts of being a bit "off colour" and our vet has found that she has heart trouble.
Fortunately the tablets we give her twice a day have helped buck her up.Polka now sleeps quite a lot but she is otherwise well and happy, but it is worrying to realise that she is now an old lady however,as the photograph taken recently shows, she is still a beautiful girl.
An update on Buck, our ex-feral cat we told you about in the last newsletter.
He has had a wonderful winter - indoors. Occasionally he uses the cat flap to go out for a while, but he happily goes days without venturing out at all, preferring to use the indoor toilet facilities (litter tray) and spending his time eating and sleeping.
With the weather improving he is now spending more time outside but is still indoors at bedtime, after a little supper to keep him from getting hungry!
On Christmas Day when this fat and friendly cat miaowed "hello", had a cuddle and a chicken dinner, we couldn't help but wonder at what his last few Christmas' were like - but we know how he'll spend them for the rest of his life - safely here.
Do you know anyone, anywhere who has won anything in the Readers Digest prize draw ?
Well, you can boast now and say that you do as Liz has just been a winner!!!!
Now, don't get over-excited, she wasn't exactly the big winner, but a winner she was.
When the envelope arrived with Readers Digest prize draw cheque enclosed, we just scoffed at the idea. We expected a mock cheque with "specimen" stamped all over it.
But no, with trembling hands Liz read the amount - big drum roll- £25.
Not exactly a fortune, but at least something in return for the twenty-five years continuous subscription.
As a trip to Barbados seems out of the question, she's wondering if a weekend on the Isle of Wight is possible!!
As we sign off, our thanks to everybody who help the family in so many different ways. Every one of the animals is here because of you supporting us, so there's a 150 thank you's from grateful feathered, furry and human residents of the Sanctuary.
Jacky and Liz
Here's a 'photo of Finn,Ben & Julie.