Chaldon Animal Sanctuary
I hope you all had a good Christmas however you spent it, as I know it can be a challenging time of year for many. As ever, you think of our furry family and from a busy postman to parcels left at the door our Furries were definitely thought of. You are truly friends in the heartfelt meaning of the word, Friends of the Sanctuary sending wonderful cards, many with kind, thoughtful words which really do mean a lot to me.
During the lead up to Christmas I received a catalogue in the post and browsed it while having a cuppa. It occurred to me that everything offered was being displayed to encourage purchasing - the first dozen pages were supposedly ‘must have’ trinkets and trash that meant it just wouldn’t be Christmas without them !
I’m absolutely sure that I’m sending this to many of you who also groan at that time of year as every shop bombards us, wanting our money. We have done over 20 years of our little newsletters with stories both sad and glad and I can only think of a few actual appeals for specific reasons ( sponsored events or vet bills for an individual pet ) and yet you have continued to support the Sanctuary with your donations of stamps / goods / time as well as financially.
So yet again, although you were undoubtedly attacked from all sides with pleas to send something to various appeals, you as always, remembered the Chaldon Furries, and we all thank you for every penny and pound.
Many of you kindly said no acknowledgement which was a tremendous help at such a hectic time of the year, but there were a couple that didn’t have an address so I was unable to send a thank you letter. My apologies if that was you and I hope you receive our newsletters and accept belated thanks from the Furries & me.
Your donations helped buy treats for everyone, as well as essentials: even I was included, so apart from buying cat, dog and ferret treats & toys, I visited my favourite online sweetie shop. And I wasn’t too greedy but put the rest of your Liz donations towards a second-hand camera that I was interested in. Many of you mention how you enjoy the newsletters, particularly the Christmas photo special and the montage on the back page and it’s great to share the Furries with you all, and so you can meet those you help.
However, during the summer there was a lovely sequence of photos that I tried to take but my previous camera died after two shots so I missed the scene which was very frustrating, but with this camera that shouldn’t happen so I look forward to taking photos for the next Christmas newsletter. As a taster, here are a couple of shots to whet your appetite !
Rosetta on a bench waiting for warmer weather.
And Harley and Schui keeping warm in bed together.
Some more Christmas thanks go to Lily’s Kitchen for again sending a wonderful bumper selection of boxes of their natural food for the Furries, which they
thoroughly enjoyed munching their way through.
Lily's Kitchen PO Box 59287 London NW3 9JR Click HERE to go to Lily's Kitchen
This year I actually anticipated Christmas in spite of a tooth abscess leading to extraction just days beforehand. However on the day my sister and I shared it so I had a bit of fun putting decorations up and then on Boxing Day I had a second festive day of fun and games with the Furries - and treats all round both days.
Thanks to a generous donation plus online fundraising and some of your Christmas donations raised the funds needed for the Bunny Barn roof repair that is so badly needed. Thank you to all who contributed as the roofing has just been bought and now we need a bit of time and reasonable weather for the work to be done, which will hopefully be fairly soon.
I really must get used to calling it a tool shed not Bunny Barn but old habits die hard as it was bought and for very many years did house rabbits and chickens, but it has been empty of those and converted into a really useful shed for allsorts - chicken wire, fencing, DIY bits and pieces etc.
There is another shed here well past it’s useful life that I store spare bedding and towels etc in and in spite of the roof being patched up last year, the shed itself is rotten. Thanks to a generous donation we now have a new, solid and dry shed that is already in use, though I’m waiting for some good weather to finish emptying the old shed - I think it’s the stuffed full contents that are holding the walls up!
There is sad news of more losses that I avoided mentioning in the last newsletter to try and keep it festive and it is with a heavy heart that I tell you some names of Furries that you may recognise. Chips, Finn & Ben as well as Sundae & Phoebe over the last few months have been laid in our graveyard.
Also after over twenty years of having a variety of chickens, turkeys etc, a fox defeated the security one night in December and I took the decision to no longer have hens anymore. Perhaps oddly, but I don’t blame the fox for doing what it did anymore than I do when a cat hunts - I don’t like it at all but it is
nature. Obviously it was very distressing the following morning when I discovered what had happened, but on a practical note, it’s one less daily task.
You may remember a very poorly kitten arriving one bonfire night a few years ago, hence her name Sparkle of course. One day I was getting some pebbles from a bag outside here to go in a vase to weigh it down before standing a couple of sparklers in it as a display at Christmastime. Sparkle was very ‘helpful’ - rolling around in the bag so I couldn’t see what I was doing, head butting my hand and then the vase, tipping the gravel out so I had to start again - Sparkler helping me with a sparkler vase just seemed so appropriate though … little things that please !
One afternoon we had a very impressive hail storm and then snow which was just as I had opened the door for the dogs. Half of them had already gone out, the rest put the brakes on and stayed indoors as the others came racing back in. However Max then wanted out and played in it all on his own like a giant puppy, bouncing and biting the falling snow and it was so funny and sweet to watch …. another little moment to smile at.
Our vets recently had someone book an appointment to have a young cat put down that the owner couldn’t keep for various reasons, one of which was that the cat needed expensive surgery. Johnny ( vet ) of course would not have put the cat down and looked around for alternatives and the same as Ian Dibble ( who is now also at the same practice - Kriek & Gibson in Banstead ) he rang me as due to the expense, other places approached were unable to help. However going off on a tangent ( as usual ) you may remember a few years ago we had our friends Sylvia & Franks cats come to live with us when they both went into care, and unknown to Chaldon, they had left a legacy which has now been settled. So rather than asking you all for help, I could think of no more fitting thanks than letting Sylvia & Frank save another cat and pay for this little cats treatment.
Johnny donated his surgery time & skill, so it was the cost of the anaesthetic / medications etc that needed to be covered which still came to £1,000. I felt that is exactly what the legacy should be used for and it turns out that the surgery needed was the same as my dear little Romeo needed all those years ago ( 1992 ) and that was our first appeal where we asked for your help to raise the funds. As we now know you always do, the response was wonderful and paid for Romeo’s surgery at the Royal Vet College in Potters Bar.
Like Romeo, the condition for this sweet cat has progressed to the stage of her having a head tilt, probably permanently but that doesn’t bother her fortunately. She is a lovely girl and settling in well though she’s only been her a few weeks and this photo is not long after surgery so not at her best yet but welcome to Sunrise ( new beginnings ).
This is of course where your continued “it’s not much” letters and donations from so many of you over the years or a legacy makes so much difference. Whatever the amount it quite literally means being able to buy food and vet treatment and helps continue the work you believe in and support, so that I needn’t fret about saying “yes” in this sort of situation.
Another instance where I felt able to say yes was when our friends saved a family of cats in Spain. There had originally been five cats but life on the streets was sadly taking its toll - and their lives, as the family shrunk to three survivors who were already being organised to come to safety in the UK .
I mentioned last year that a dog that I had said yes to that was taken to the vets to be put down, was now living with friends. These are the same people who rescued the cat family and it worked out better for my friends to take the dog and me to take the cats - I think I got the easier end of that arrangement as he’s not a straightforward dog but has made huge progress with their dedication and help.
The Spanish cats ( individual names are Momma, Suza and Jasper ) are doing well and accept being stroked in spite of not being used to being handled although they still prefer to avoid the potential of feeling 'trapped' though I do now get purrs from them. They've had a while keeping themselves safe on the streets so not without good reason are wary, but time is helping.
It is another angle of what happens here at the Sanctuary which is not easily recognisable and that is the importance of giving time and not expecting a ‘cure’. Fiddler ( yorkie x ) was taken to the vets to be put down when only 7 months old and he arrived as a very unhappy and scared little dog. To look at him now 10 years later as an apparently confident furry strutting around the place, you could easily be forgiven for thinking he’s forgotten his past - however as we know, looks can be deceiving. I know a lot of dogs don’t like the car or vets but when he needed a vet visit recently, he shut down into a little dog I barely recognised - tail tucked between his legs and unresponsive to being reassured or jollied along. When we came home, he was into the middle of the pack with his tail up and wagging and back to the little lad I normally live with but it was a stark reminder of how he was when he arrived.
A beautiful cat arrived last year with severe aggression issues - for a supposedly domestic cat, he was more like a wild cat. I’ve handled a lot of cats over the years but I had to sharpen my quick reactions to prevent him sharpening his claws and teeth on me ! Over many hours and weeks spent with him, he gradually started to approach and you can only imagine my delight when he began to trust me, started to purr and then asked for strokes and a fuss.
He moved into the cat pen in my bedroom with attached outside run and coped happily with that - until the day he was outside and I showed visitors around. He completely freaked out and had no idea what to do with himself, I offered him a fuss to reassure him and would have lost a finger if I’d gone any closer. The visitors kindly backed off and waited until he’d moved away and shot back indoors to hide and a short while later I went to see how he was doing - the
answer from him, was “touch me at your peril”. He’d completely reverted to the panic struck puss he’d been in the early days though this time fortunately it only took him a couple of hours before he settled and was again talking ( rather than swearing ) at me.
So another one who is doing very well and learning to cope with little changes and challenges but is not ‘cured’. Some animals take change in their stride, some can be taught and others can’t - those are the ones that live here.
Another instance of adapting and changing but this time for me, because of the changes in the pet. The dogs sleep in my bedroom overnight, in their own beds though - and there are spare to allow for choice as some dogs pick a bed and keep it for life, others move around and vary which one they sleep in. Frisbee chose his bed 7 years ago and has never varied although he quickly told me he didn’t want much bedding in the bed as otherwise he just threw it out. So all these years he had a light cover rather than a snugly blanket in his bed by his own request. One morning I saw him in another bed which is completely unheard of and the only difference other than it’s position, was the snugly blanket in it so I tried one in his bed again and yes, sure enough, that is what he wanted.
It seems to be a sign of him changing as he ages, which is not particularly visible as he is still a springing bouncy Springer spaniel, but he is now virtually deaf. This isn’t usually a huge problem here as our dogs are on our own land for walks so the worst that happens is they don’t hear me calling so come when they feel like it, but are safe from wandering off into danger.
However, Frisbee arrived as a fear biter ( another vet surgery special who was going to be put down ) although he’s never bitten me. Now that he’s deaf however, it is noticeable how it’s affected his confidence as he can’t hear my approach or reassuring chat so it means I have to be more cautious and aware of the possibility of him startling and snapping. And so I see the years going by and measure it by changes in their behaviour as well as the more obvious changes of population as old faces leave and new ones arrive.
Another change is that I took the decision to try and restrict the cats free access off our own land, there is approximately three acres here for them so they don’t need to go wandering further afield with the associated risks.
The risks they face when doing so were highlighted when Mickey ( cat ) went missing for nearly four weeks. In spite of leaflets, phone calls etc to try and find him, it wasn’t until Mickey walked into someone’s house and the kind person took him to the vets who scanned him and found the microchip, that he safely came home. What a huge relief and Mickey was as pleased to be home as I was to have him back. I was unsure of the benefit when microchips were introduced all those years ago and still am if it’s viewed as a ‘cure’ for all problems of pet ownership, but I do think there is a use for them as without it, Mickey wouldn’t have come home.
Although we are down a dead end, pot holed country lane, it is still incredible the speed some people drive up and down and when one of the older or slower or deaf cats is on the lane, it is frightening trying to keep them safe, especially if they decide to sunbathe in the middle of the lane and they are camouflaged by being a similar colour to the lane ! So at the moment, the fencing is being reinforced with a supposedly cat proof barrier on the top and while it works for lots of the cats, there is still a ‘gang’ of determined Great Escape felines that have yet to be thwarted.
It is worth mentioning that although it is not a legal requirement to have cats microchipped, next year ( by April 2016 ) it will be a legal requirement to have all dogs microchipped. I have my reservations about the success of that scheme as those of us who are responsible dog owners and have it done, with details kept updated are not the back yard breeders or people with out of control status dogs, so I suspect it will be a similar situation to car tax etc - those who abide by the rules will - and those who don’t won’t.
For the same reason, I don’t believe having a dog licence will work if ( when ! ) it’s re-introduced - it didn’t all those years ago when they were in force. When I had my first dog I still remember proudly getting his license but even then, there were many people who didn’t get one and there were many so called ’dog problems’ - caused by the dog owners. So it will be another case of the rest of us paying for those who break the rules and cause the problems in the first place. Sorry, rant over but some thing just don’t seem to get sorted while the innocent ( dogs and owners ) pay the price.
Kismet is a sighthound and although he is very good with the cats, chasing is something I watch for, but at mealtimes, he’s having a slight crisis about his breed reaction to cats at the moment. Recently Sparkle cat was playing outside and came charging through the catflap in the kitchen, just as Kismet was eating his dinner. Sparkle raced past him and on to the nearby work surface as he was eating - at which point he ran away ! This was the final straw apparently as a couple of weeks earlier, one of the oldies ( Echo ) had slipped on the work surface and knocked their dinner plate which nearly landed in Kismet’s dinner bowl.
However while typing this in the lounge, he’s come over to me for a fuss and I have a lapful of cats, but the kitchen is also where scary visitors arrive. So now I’m trying to reassure him that he is not under attack from any cat that moves while he’s having his meals - I think he needs the Wizard of Oz’s courage !
Hopefully we will be attending the Caterham Carnival again on 13th June ( I pm start ) and are in need of donated items / bric - a- brac to sell please. Gail is again storing the goods so if you have her phone number, arrange delivery with her, otherwise give me a ring, thank you.
We are as always, still collecting used stamps and thank you to all who continue to send them as they do help with fundraising - almost another £100 was
recently received so a great help as you can see.
By the time you receive this, anther anniversary of Jacky’s death will have passed ( four years ) and I couldn’t begin to envision the direction or how the Sanctuary might have changed without her. However I’m delighted to say that I continue what we always did - sometimes directing callers to other numbers, other times bringing someone in to join the Chaldon family.
So yes, the numbers are less as the golden oldies fade away, but there are still quite enough for one person to be kept busy giving a new secure and loved life to those who so desperately need it.
Purrs and woofs of thanks
Liz & the Furries
My apologies as I’m late finishing writing and posting this out and it seems likely that Easter will have gone by the time you receive it.
STOP PRESS - huge thanks to the Printmeit team who are doing this as a rush job so you should get it in time.
Printmeit. Unit 11a Morrison Industrial Estate County Durham DH9 7RU Click HERE to go to Printmeit
Saving one pets life won’t change the world...
but it will make a world of difference to that one pet.