Chaldon Animal Sanctuary
It’s Boxing Day as I pick up a pen and start to write - I mostly still write longhand and then type it into a computer for the newsletter. There are plenty of other jobs to be done but I’d like to write this now while it’s most appropriate rather than later in Springtime when December 25th is a distant but happy memory.
I wasn’t looking forward to this Christmas, the second without Jacky but the flood of cards and letters from all of you told me once again that I’m not on my own and to my surprise, Christmas went well this year. Also in October a group of online friends contacted me as they wanted to organise a Christmas for Chaldon and this meant me having fun sorting out a Santa wish list for the furries and then one for me too.
The next few weeks after the newsletter was finished and sent out was busy receiving lovely cards, letters, parcels and donations from all of you which cheered me no end in the busy days leading up to Christmas. On the 25th, I enjoyed unwrapping gifts for us all - dogs, cats, ferrets, hens and Albi sheep - toys and treats; useful items including litter trays (clean and empty for a pleasant change ), to biscuits and lovely things for me too.
Add to that, two unexpected but welcome visits from friends, and Christmas was a better day than I feared even though completely different from how Jacky and I used to spend them - and perhaps that was the secret of its success. So, as ever. I felt supported by people who care - you, the Friends of Chaldon and me - thank you all x
I am lucky enough to be included in some of the gifts and donations which is a lovely thought from so many of you. There are messages of "treat yourself to something you’d like" and that’s what Jacky & I used to try to do, and this year, I had a bit of a brainwave - well, I thought it was even if my waistline didn’t !
There is an online old fashioned sweet shop, full of the sweets of my - and perhaps your, childhood - Black Jacks, Fruit Salads, Rhubarb & Custard, Gobstoppers, Curly Wurly, Sherbet Fountains, Love Hearts etc. It is a wonderful site that I look at and have used to send gift vouchers to family & friends, and it’s also easy to find gelatine ( or sugar or gluten ) free sweets - as a vegetarian I do try to be careful about the hidden ingredients in food. So in the New Year, I went online and had a wonderful wander down memory lane choosing some delicious goodies from their site - and ignored putting on a few pounds as I reckoned I needed the extra layer during the winter snow !
And yes, we did get snowed in again this year but thanks to Andrew managing to make it up the lane, with a bit of sliding up the worst part, I would have been able to get to the vets had an animal needed it. Thankfully it wasn’t necessary so we hibernated for a week, without postman etc but a good number of books along with catching up on some indoor jobs that I’d been putting off. Some spring cleaning ( being optimistic during a frozen January ! ) both physically of the bungalows nook and crannies plus I spring cleaned the computer which was stuffed full and needed organising. There’s always plenty to do here!
One very noticeable side effect of the snow was how much less cleaning there was to do - the obvious floors and surfaces of course but also in particular the dogs bedding - not having wet muddy woofers made a huge difference to how many loads of washing I did a day. Eventually I went out in the car for the first time after 9 days and that was to collect some bits from the vets that were needed - and I did a little shop for fresh fruit & veg for me although there was still plenty of food in the freezer. Then after a night of rain, the snow had gone & the washing machine was back to working hard.
Chico was the stop press in the last newsletter with a diagnosis of a heart problem but I’m delighted to be able to report that he is responding well to his treatment and has stabilised. Of course it is an ongoing concern and could become a major problem at any stage, but in the meantime, Chico is making the most of life and trying to continue as much as normal - and I’m trying to follow his lead.
One day when Chico was still confined indoors, he was in the bathroom along with Lace, a dear little stray cat that arrived last year who was receiving treatment for an eye problem. Chico is a shadow chaser and as Lace walked away, Chico had great fun chasing the shadow of her tail. Lace didn’t notice so wasn’t bothered and Chico had a lovely time, one of those little moments that make you smile, especially as he’d recently been so ill when first diagnosed with his heart condition.
And as you may remember, Drummer ( German shepherd ) was diagnosed with a heart problem when only 2 years old and not expected to make old bones, so every Christmas with him was an extra special bonus, but eventually time ran out for us. I said goodbye to the dear old ( nearly 12 years ) chap on January 1st and he’s left a huge hole here as you can imagine.
Many friends knew him and all visitors heard him as he took his self appointed guard duties of me and Chaldon, very seriously - and loudly. He stayed for 5 months after the arrival of Phoenix, the GSD I introduced in our last newsletter, and in that time, Drummer did his best to show Phoenix how to be a GSD and what his duties should be. The day Phoenix found his voice after being taught by Drummer’s example was a joyful one as he hadn’t been heard barking in kennels - but then he probably hadn’t met a sheep as it was Albi that Phoenix first barked at and then extended it, which showed he felt truly home here and wanted to protect Chaldon.
Another sad loss was dear little Parker, the elderly Jack Russell who arrived many years ago instead of keeping an appointment to be put down. He had a few issues with life in general but was a happy chap here with limited expectations put on him. He became an old dog at a relatively young age for his breed and died just short of his 14th birthday, the day after Drummer.
They had been good friends, often laying together with Parker tucked in between Drummer’s legs until his legs worsened and Parkers sight failed and they could no longer navigate and cope with each others close proximity.
Parker took to sleeping on the armchair above the bed Drummer favoured in the lounge, and often would literally, blindly jump off and land beside or on Drummer who accepted it, knowing it was his friend and he wasn’t under attack.
Barney ( also known as Grub as he never looked like a Bichon but did enjoy life ) Lockett & Ginger ( cats ) were all sad losses during December, with Barney being a particular shock as he was only 3 years old. All the months of watching and worrying about the oldies here and out of the blue, he became seriously ill and in spite of giving him every chance, his little body couldn’t survive and he died in my arms one evening.
They are all much missed and as a friend said "that is as it should be" - which I think is a lovely thought.
I found this reference recently when researching about teeth in old sheep -
".. an extremely aged sheep, from 8-12 years of age."
It made me smile as Albi has recently celebrated his 15th birthday. Sadly he is of course showing his age, and during the last few winters and when shearing him every Spring, we wondered if it would be the last one and sadly, it now looks as if this will have been his final winter.
He has lost a little weight due to his lack of teeth but is enjoying his extra rations in the form of molassed goat mix but this is only a stopgap to help him while he’s still managing. However at the moment he’s enjoying life, with his particular pleasure being dog worrying - yes, that’s right, not sheep worrying as he’s never worried !
He stalks up and down his side of the field fence until the dogs can’t ignore him anymore with the particular ‘culprit’ being Phoenix the GSD, who races down the field to woof at Albi - who stands there in great delight teasing him, head butting the fence, dancing backwards and stamping his feet - it’s quite funny to see, and Phoenix thinks it’s great fun too.
I was about to do some sewing one day - on a dog collar, not heaven forbid, human sewing, but Benson cat was determined he wanted to get on my lap - and I was equally determined it wasn’t safe to do so as I was just about to get a needle out.
I said to Benson "I don’t want the needle stuck in you" and as an afterthought I added - "..or in me for that matter either!. It made me smile to see who took priority, after all, if I stab myself, it’s my fault anyway !
You may remember me introducing a little stray cat who arrived late one evening last year with her new born kittens, one who needed bottle feeding. Jasmine has now gone to her home which is in fact back to the family who rescued her. Jasmine had a number of health problems delaying her leaving here but she’s settled happily now. In the meantime, her kittens are growing up well although still with health problems, possibly due to their mum’s poor condition from being a street stray without vaccinations and proper care.
Also Tootsie cat ( mother of Mason & Wilson ) has been a concern with her health as it appears she had an inner ear infection which affected her balance. She is now improving but her head remains tilted on one side and she’s lost her confidence around the other cats so is not yet out and about. Hopefully that will change this summer as the weather ( possibly ) improves and she feels she can cope.
I’m delighted to say that the border collie who came last November has gone to his new home with a family who adore the breed and him, giving him plenty of exercise, company and love of course.
One morning after our walk, I was working on this newsletter and messing around with the printer which wasn’t co-operating, when I became aware of a dog standing quietly by my side, so I put my hand out to stroke him as you do. Nothing remarkable in that you might think but when I remember the nervous and panic striken dog that arrived, it’s a HUGE thing for him to be so relaxed around hands approaching. I’m talking of dear Merlin who you’ve met in previous newsletters, an ex-gypsy dog that was left behind when they moved on. It took a lot of time and effort for him to be befriended enough to be caught, food and patience being the eventual winning factors. His natural instinct being a lurcher is to run anyway and add to that his survival instinct of running from people when trying to survive life on the street - you can see why it’s such a great joy when he comes and asks to be stroked.
He nearly hits me in the face when he tries to play by rearing up and thrashing his front legs in the air as he waves at me. Wonderful to see even if I do sometimes think I’d like a crash helmet and visor !
Another time recently, he came and uncertainly pawed at my leg as I was sitting in my armchair with a cuppa - which I quickly put to one side before it got knocked over me. As I put my hand on him to stroke him, he - melted - is the only word, onto my lap for a cuddle and then shuffled in a bit closer - such trust and such a delight.
Is it a bird?........ Is it a plane?..........
No, and it’s definitely not Superman to misquote from the film ( which although I’ve not seen it, we all know this quote ). So what am I referring to - in short - ask kittens !
It’s an absolute joy to have youngsters in the house and they do make me laugh. There is a different feeling with the treasured oldies here who are very happy to have their ‘pipe & slippers’ so to speak and enjoy their retirement - they have a gentleness about them and with life in general.
However the youngsters I was lucky enough to have arrive & stay with me last year are a wake-up clarion call to us all. I have had to be far more aware of being tidy of anything & everything that kittens will take & run off with, play with or generally enjoy - and that even includes letters waiting to be posted. I used to leave letters on the shoe rack so I’d remember to pick them up when I went out, but one day I went into the kitchen and found a shredded envelope & note - and apparently innocent kittens looking the other way!
So back to my opening title - early one murky winter morning when I got up, I saw a fuzzy ‘something’ on the lounge floor and thought it was a deceased shrew. However when I put the light on, I found the brave warrior kittens had bought home their catch - of a piece of conifer!
As I swept each day I logged their offerings, and they also bought in a ‘venomous viper ‘( stick ), bigger ‘shrews’ - bigger conifer pieces and I’m not sure what the laurel leaf represents, but they enjoyed shredding it all the same.
I couldn’t decide if to laugh or groan when I went into the lounge one day and found Frisbee ( springer spaniel ) with a Christmas card - or what was left of it, in his mouth. I had been part way through replying to the post and though I realise donations are sent to help feed the furries - I don’t think eating a cheque is quite what was intended ! Thankfully I had already put the cheque into safety so it helped feed Frisbee the conventional way by buying dog food. I later discovered he had in fact eaten some cheques and embarrassingly I had to apologise to the kind donors, and he also had some of the mailing list pages so my apologies if details are not updated or wrong, please let me know. I am now even more careful to tidy away and shut drawers - and yet I can leave my dinner tray unattended for a couple of minutes without problems from any of them, cat or dog!
Further to my mentioning earlier about a group of online friends arranging a Christmas for Chaldon fundraising, they have also made Chaldon their project for 2013 and are aiming to raise £1000. They have set up an online fundraising page at Charity Giving and already the total is nearly halfway - astonishing and I’m enjoying using the funds for various projects around the Sanctuary rather than day to day running costs.
The website ( link above ) is able to accept donations from anyone, including tax paying donors who wish to Gift Aid a donation
if anyone would care to use that method to donate.
Thank you all.
Also we are having a fundraising stall this year at the Caterham Carnival and I can now confirm the date on 8th June at Westway Common, Caterham.
Can I ask for your help - with donating items (anything good quality - clothes, toys, books etc ) which are all gratefully received. Also we desperately need one or two good sturdy tables ( not paste tables ) that we can borrow, and the loan of a small gazebo would be great for if it rains if anyone has one please.
If you’d like to help, contact me ( Liz ) and I’ll pass Gail’s ‘phone number on as Gail is happy to store items if you can deliver to her in Caterham. As Gail doesn’t have transport, helpers on the day are also needed please - to take Gail & goods, plus help to run the stall - perhaps you can spare a couple of hours morning or afternoon, thank you for any help you can give to make this a success.
News of me was asked for at Christmas and I’m happy to report that I’m fine after last years health hiccup. Also the second anniversary of Jacky’s death has now passed and there is a difference I feel. Jacky always said I’d be alright when she’d gone & I now believe her faith in me was justified as I have proved to myself and others, that I can run the Sanctuary - not on my own in many ways because of all our friends & supporters, but on my own in the day to day, year by year running of it.
However, in another way Jacky was completely wrong as our 30 year friendship will not be something I ever stop missing or "be alright" with. I’d have her back ( in good health ) in an instant, as I dare say, many of you who’ve lost someone special also feel. Having said that, if my Mum ( another special lady ) hadn’t died, I wouldn’t have left home and moved in with Jacky when she was looking for an animal loving lodger all those years ago. As the saying goes - when one door closes, another opens.
Life is not the way it's supposed to be .. It's the way it is .. The way we cope with it, is what makes the difference.
Once, in a small pond, in the muddy water under the lily pads, there lived a little water beetle in a community of water beetles. They lived a simple and comfortable life in the pond with few disturbances and interruptions.
Once in a while, sadness would come to the community when one of their fellow beetles would climb the stem of a lily pad and would never be seen again. They knew when this happened; their friend was dead, gone forever.
Then, one day, one little water beetle felt an irresistible urge to climb up that stem. However, she was determined that she would not leave forever - she would come back and tell her friends what she had found at the top.
When she reached the top and climbed out of the water onto the surface of the lily pad, she was so tired, and the sun felt so warm, that she decided to take a nap. As she slept, her body changed and when she woke up, she had turned into a beautiful blue-tailed dragonfly with broad wings and a slender body designed for flying.
So, fly she did! And, as she soared she saw the beauty of a whole new world and a far superior way of life to what she had ever known existed.
Then she remembered her beetle friends and how they were thinking by now she was dead. She wanted to go back to tell them, and explain that she was now more alive than she had ever been before. Her life had been fulfilled rather than ended.
But, her new body would not go down into the water. She could not get back to tell her friends the good news. Then she understood that their time would come, when they too, would know what she now knew. So, she raised her wings and flew off into this joyous new life!
Fly free Our Friend
Liz & the Furries
Saving one pets life won’t change the world...
but it will make a world of difference to that one pet.