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THANK YOU - you all never cease to amaze me with your continued and generous support.
The weeks leading up to Christmas were a wonderful time with beautifully chosen cards, letters plus Amazon gifts arriving ( more about Amazon further on ) and we had a marvellous time opening them all. Mention was made of enjoying the Christmas photo special newsletter which I’m pleased about. I wonder if anyone noticed that when I titled our ‘flowers’ in plant pots 'Sweet Pea' Sparkle and Mayon 'Ginger Mint' that as the other two photos were of cats, I called Nikki ( dog ) Nepeta - which is catmint of course !
It was lovely to hear from so many friends and I hope those who sent gifts and donations anonymously or said no acknowledgment required, read my thanks here - it’s so very much appreciated. If you’ve received a posted thank you note from me, you may have noticed the pretty card or paper used. This isn’t me spending money on fancy new paperwork you’ll be pleased to know, but exactly the reverse. We were donated various craft items and they were either sold to raise funds, or as is usual here, we re-purposed and recycled so used it to save buying paper.
Sadly there was news of friends no longer with us, both human & pets, but also mention of Jacky from those who have been with us since before she died ( now seven years ). I sometimes think what would she recognise here as changes happen, with improvements like the cat pen. While there are still many faces here Jacky knew, there are also new friends she didn’t meet, but what does continue is the desire to help troubled furries that find their way to Chaldon - it’s thanks to you all, our supporters who ensure that it is possible.
It was a hectic time before Christmas as it usually is, but we had a lovely quiet couple of days, no emergency vet visit needed and no new arrivals until the New Year, more about them further on.
As you will see on the photo on page 3, everyone’s “just a little” has as always, added up to a most amazing result, not only your monetary donations but also gifts. It turned out the Amazon wish list was very popular, so much so that at one point I needed to add items to the shrinking list.
Here’s what the cats & dogs had for Christmas ... lots of boxes ...
... filled with goodies, including the table they are on, what an amazing spread !
Wrapping all the toys & bones individually wasn’t really an option and it was far more fun for the dogs to pick and chose, so before the boxes were recycled, they served another toy filled purpose, here all packed and ready.
Heidi, Maple, Nikki and Phoenix investigating. Polly & Taxi ripping into them.
Taxi says “got it”
While others settle for a chewingly good time Maple, Emily, Crusoe, Fiddler & Nikki.
I’ve not taken photos of everything received - disinfectant, food and treats, bowls, toys and lots more but as you can see, we really enjoy receiving the extra goodies from the Amazon Wish List and thank you all so very much for your help. P.S … the list has been updated if anyone wants to know - thank you in advance.
There were photos I didn’t get, those little moments of magic - Maple choosing a piece of soggy cardboard, Crusoe picking a box up and walking off with it, Polly in a box, Phoenix pawing a toy out or Radar with a boomer ball bigger than his head. They were so very good and it was fascinating watching them all, from those who sat and chewed bones or boxes, others who played with new toys, and those who are squirrels and kept collecting more.
And at the end of a fun filled day, I cleared up !
It was easier to photo the cats partly because they didn’t chew their boxes, but getting the following sequence of the ‘hokey cokey’ ( Wilson in, Wilson out ) did take a bit of patience.
But mostly “I fit, I sit” though Tootsie did go fishing >>>
In the last newsletter I referred to a new dog arrival and you may have noticed I’d not mentioned her name which is because it was undecided at that point. Giving a new name is part of their new beginnings, a new identity without past memories but it is not always easy to find something that fits them.
With a dog, I generally avoid names starting with S as it can be confusing for all the dogs in other circumstances - sit, stay, stand etc. Likewise, vowels are generally too soft a sound for them to easily pick up on, especially if it’s at walk time when everyone is excited. By the same token, a strong sounding letter can be useful for a strong character dog with a softer consonant for a milder temperament dog or cat.
Another stumbling block is existing names in use at the time - too many with the same sound can be confusing - Cristal & Crusoe I got wrong, though Cristal mostly ignores me anyway now she’s getting hard of hearing. So after all that, what is the new girl’s name - Jinxy - as approved by her wagging tail.
I’ve had a holiday - no, not that sort, don’t be daft ! - but we had three and a half weeks without a vet visit being needed which was a welcome break, and I can’t remember when or if, that has happened before.
However sadly there were losses before Christmas as we said goodbye to sweet gentle Disney ( cat ) and hectic, happy Frisbee ( dog ). They had both been ’surgery specials’, who had nearly lost their lives as youngsters when taken to the vets to be put down for behavioural issues, but instead enjoyed 13 years here at the Sanctuary. There was also a sudden sad shock recently with one of our sponsored dogs, Emily who after a short illness, was diagnosed with lung cancer. She was a gentle and loving girl who had two and half years of peace with us. To be able to give a quality of life but know when to give them rest is always hard, but it’s doing what they need, not what we humans want.
Wilson has celebrated his 2nd anniversary ( photo below - balloons and banner at the vets ) of being on chemotherapy and it’s wonderful to see him still enjoying life as you saw in the Christmas boxes photos. He visits the vet every 6 weeks for a couple of injections so it’s very straightforward for him, then he gets on with life - out and about or with his brother Mason who is pleased that he still has his mate to play and cuddle with.
Bingo was diagnosed with liver failure last year but he still enjoys life too on his supportive medication. He was another ‘surgery special’ taken to the vets as a 7month puppy monster and being a terrier, he’s remained a lad with attitude all his life but a happy one. One of his favourite occupations is getting covered in mud up the field as he carefully lays his kong toy down and rolls on it, no matter how wet & muddy the ground is.
Even after all these years, it never ceases to amaze me how observant we need to be around our pets, particularly those with troubled backgrounds. Many of them, particularly but not exclusively dogs, arrive here very hand shy to the point of being terrified or aggressive of being stroked or touched. With time and patience and love, they learn I am safe and ask for fuss which is so rewarding of course. And then autumn arrives and I start wearing gloves when out and about which hide my hands - yes, a simple change like that worries them and means they now need to learn it’s still my safe hands inside.
We know animals read body language which is important visual information long before we speak or touch them so when I injured a toe and was limping, you’d have thought I’d grown an extra head the way some initially reacted, while others completely ignored it, other than trying to make me hop by treading on it !
Serendipity - ( fortunate or happy unplanned coincidence ) is such a lovely word, especially when it applies to the animals. Sadly when Squire ( cat ) died suddenly and unexpectedly ( vet suspects it was a thrombosis ) it left Cassie, his lifetime partner, absolutely bereft. Siamese as you may be aware are quite strong characters but little Cassie is brain damaged and relied heavily on him. I hoped that she would find a new friend amongst the others she shares the cat house with but within a few days it was obvious that wasn’t going to happen. I wasn’t sure what to do - was she missing Squire in particular or was another Siamese, one of her own breed, going to be the answer to help her grief.
I sent an e-mail to my friend who is involved with Siamese rescue and to my amazement, received a reply that said “ I was going to ‘phone you because I wondered if you could help with this little fella”. There was an Oriental who loves other cats but doesn’t like people at all ( very aggressive ) just like Squire used to be and he was never trustworthy with anyone other than myself. So a few days later Cornish arrived and was introduced to Cassie and that has gone very well so they are now happily a team together - serendipity.
Another piece of serendipity is with our hens when KFC was left on her own after Bob died, which left me with a dilemma. Chickens are wonderful creatures but also territorial and can be aggressive which results in bullying and injury, so the thought of introducing some new youngsters to keep KFC company was a worry, but leaving her on her own when she was plainly not happy as they are a flock animal - what to do. The following morning I had an e-mail from another friend saying would I consider giving a retirement home to her middle-aged hens - serendipity again as she didn’t know KFC was now on her own.
They arrived only three days later and it was lovely seeing the excitement from KFC when she first saw them and started chatting away, perhaps telling them all about their new home and they are now a merry flock of three - we love serendipity. The two new hens ( the brown & grey with KFC head in the front ) don’t have names yet so I thought I’d set a Chaldon Challenge. If you fancy thinking what you would call them though don’t waste a stamp telling me unless you’re writing anyway, or send an e-mail, it’s just for a bit of fun (and although I didn’t name KFC, I don’t choose human names so no Ethelbert or Beatrice’s please ).
Yet one more piece of serendipity was when I was able to help a friend with her rabbit and guinea-pigs - the rabbit went to a good friend with other rabbits. As I’d long been wanting to have ’piggles’ again ( used to have them as a child ) I happily kept the guineas, who arrived on Jacky’s birthday so I like to think she had a hand in those events and timing.
I had already been planning a new hen run so, as ever here, the plans are now adapted to include a summer guinea area which means an ’avarium’ ( yes I made it up - aviary + guineapig-arium ) is now added to the list of a hundred ( or is it thousand ) and one, other jobs for Andrew. There is no doubt that having Andrew’s abilities and willingness to take on yet another challenge, really does help to improve the animals lives as he adapts or builds what ever is needed.
There was also a perfect ‘pets are for life’ moment when I was able to help two young rabbits. The owner’s children had lost interest, so the owner made the right decision to rehome, and the rabbits now live happily with other friends. And it’s not just “dogs are for life” - so is our sponsorship scheme of dogs and cats who can be helped anytime of year, for any occasion. http://www.chaldonanimalsanctuary.co.uk/sponsor.html
Taking a look back on the winter weather which was a mostly wet one, until the snow arrived … Tootsie wasn’t impressed by gaining white spots and that was before it got deeper. As always this time of year, the pet food was well stocked, and there were only a couple of days where I avoided driving and spent time working on this newsletter, generally catching up plus a bit of hibernating.
The day and night time temperatures were well below freezing with spring hidden under the snow but thinking ahead to the summer sun I’d like to mention the Caterham Carnival stall in June. We will be grateful for donations of bric-a-brac items ( bits & pieces, nic-nacs, jigsaws etc but no clothes ) plus books which can either be dropped off at the Sanctuary, or Gail will be collecting from April, thank you. If any physically fit people could help Andrew setting up in the morning ( June 9th ) for a couple of hours, with shifting heavy boxes of items / putting tables up etc, I’d love to hear from you please.
A reminder to gardeners to please be careful that what you plant is - or more importantly, is not, safe for our pets. Not forgetting if you buy a bouquet for a cat owner, not to include lilies which are highly toxic to cats, even the water in vases. Also with the weather warming up, the temptation increases to take your dog to the shops and leave them outside “just for a moment”, but local Police have issued a warning against this as dog theft is a very real and worsening crime. Keep your dog safe and away from the risk, you don’t want to know some of the horror stories I’ve heard of what can happen to them. Also keep sheep safe from dogs too as I’ve also heard of a rise in sheep worrying by out of control or unattended dogs. It’s not fair to anyone so please be thoughtful, it’s in a dog’s instinct to chase so even if you have a good recall, don’t give them the chance - keep them on a lead anywhere vaguely near livestock.
If you sent stamps and have lost a small, possibly a filing cabinet key - let me know and I’ll return it.
If you were the kind knitter who sent some lovely items for our stall, forgive me thanking you via the newsletter but I don't have your details.
I’ve been asked for our bank donation details by those without internet access to our website with the information, thank you.
Barclays, 10 The Square, Caterham.
Chaldon Animal Sanctuary account: 30497797 Sort:202464
Plus the good ‘old fashioned’ cheques are still appreciated of course, payable to Chaldon Animal Sanctuary, thank you.
As ever, from all of our residents, purrs & woofs -
and squeaks and clucks of thanks,
Liz & the furries