Chaldon Animal Sanctuary
I had a lovely, pleasant and peaceful couple of days at Christmas time but apologise to those who received late thank you notes as the lead up had been rather hectic and I ran out of time. I think the animals were as tired as me as they all crashed out quietly too - but only for two days and then they, and me, were back up and busy again.
As always, the post each day was a joy to receive cards, letters and messages as well as many donations which are so gratefully received and help enormously. It’s lovely to hear your news as well as receive your good wishes and support.
We had a lazy time, reading, eating, watching television etc and the dogs mostly ignore it although there might be a bit of interest if it is a wildlife programme and the cats might take notice if its birds. But at Christmastime when I sang along to a carol programme, there were a lot of unimpressed faces looking at me - no doubt wondering why I sounded so bad! Chico was on my lap and the look of disgust he gave me was so severe, I ended up in a fit of giggles - he succeeded in what was no doubt his objective of stopping me singing !
So far the winter weather has been mostly wet, wild and windy rather than freezing but as I suspected, Albi didn't manage another winter. As the weather changed, so did he as he stayed in his shelter more and more. He had done incredibly well since his teeth had worn down but it was inevitable that age would win in the end, and he had a very peaceful ending on his straw bed - so different from what his short life might have been on someone’s dinner plate.
When I filled in the paperwork to close the chapter of Chaldon having a herd ( goats, sheep, cows & pigs ) I was amazed to discover that I had lost a year and Albi was actually over 16 years old, the last three being on his own since losing Trubshaw. Albi was mostly a gentle lad although it was his head butt that gave me concussion a couple of years ago. I do miss his chatty baa’s that used to greet the dogs, me and visitors when we were out and about.
The field will soon be fully open to the dogs again as it used to be many years ago - it’ll be strange not to see that end of the field kept grazed short this summer but there will not be any more large animals coming due to the amount of work they take, but Chaldon continues to help cats & dogs, with a few hens & couple of ferrets too.
A friend mentioned how there is sometimes no time to properly grieve for one before another loss hits and that was certainly true just before Christmas when not long after losing Albi, I lost two dogs in two days, which had happened the previous New Year when Drummer died on New Years Day and Parker the day after. This year it was Dale and his girlfriend Gypsy who both had very short unexpected illnesses ( cancer. )
Yes, it is part of my life but losing family friends is never going to be ‘just’ what happens but it is a sad reality and very true that sometimes I get a bit ‘bashed about’ with emotions when they happen. I’ve been aware that there were a lot of losses pending because of the average age of everyone and last year, it certainly arrived with a vengeance and so far looks set to continue this year too. It seems no matter how many times I attend a sad little burial in our graveyard, that there is still someone else waiting in the wings having been diagnosed with something serious and I know we’re running out of time together.
And using the word graveyard made me stop and think it could perhaps better be called the exact opposite - a love patch, as that’s what it is full of - loved ones and it certainly is not a yard but a beautiful ( if overgrown ) green area within the peace of the Sanctuary. As I write this ( early March ) the daffodil shoots are showing and I look forward to a lovely display of yellow in the next few weeks, a flower of remembrance and promise of another year to come.
There were losses of another kind in the high winds with shed roofing plus a very large tree from the front of our property on Christmas Eve. Thankfully although it blocked the lane, it fell away from the bungalow as it could so easily have fallen in the other direction, and compared to the horrors so many people have suffered due to the weather, I’m really not complaining at all as we were incredibly lucky.
Thankfully Andrew was able to come and cut branches off so that the access to the lane was clear, and then in the New Year he finished safely removing the whole tree as well as repairing the shed & shelter roofs. This is the sort of thing that is an unexpected expense but thanks to your ongoing support, I was able to get the work done.
There are always repairs & maintenance work needed but a large project that needs to be tackled soon is to re-roof the bunny barn. Some of you may remember Jacky & I buying a large barn shed with adaptations for our family of rabbits & hens - but that was a lot of years ago. The roof was starting to leak but the winter weather has finally finished it off so the project needs to be done this year. The barn is now a much needed storage / tool area and current fundraising will be towards that project.
I hope all of you were able to keep safe and warm without any major damage from the gales and flooding that continued into the New Year.
On a happier note than losses, although Chaldon does not usually rehome, there have been a few cases these last few months where that is exactly what I’ve been able to do. I had a young pup ( 5mths ) who came as an emergency one evening and after a few weeks, he went on to a super home and an experienced family now have a lovely young dog.
Then another dog came for a few nights to save her life as she was going to be put down due to family issues, and she went to a re-homing group who know her breed and will do a great job of finding her a new forever home. Plus two cats that I knew of - one who came here as an urgent case but didn’t need to stay permanently & one from a friend, have also been homed to another friend of the Sanctuary. It’s pleasing to be able to help other animals that are all very happily settled in their new homes.
LILY POSTER - PLEASE HELP
A friend was recently sent a bouquet of flowers that included lilies. Thankfully she knew that lilies are poisonous to cats and disposed of them before her cats came anywhere near the danger, and I also know another friend whose cat died after touching lilies. It is so easy to unwittingly put our pets at risk and so I have included a poster about this, intending in particular for it to go in vets waiting rooms, florists and pet shops. Please help spread the word and give the poster out to help save cats lives. If you are online, it is on our website to download and print or I can post you one or two if you send me an SAE ( 8" x 6" ) Thank you.
I love watching the interactions between the animals and one morning, Phoenix was sitting by the lounge door looking up to the field because his mate Max was still out and he was waiting for him. As soon as Max had come back in, Phoenix took up his other duty, of guarding me or feeling safe I’m not sure which but as he has grown in confidence, he now often lays on my feet, which is a very GSD breed trait which he previously didn’t do. One evening Phoenix came back into the lounge after getting a drink and wandered over to me, just touched his nose to my leg and then went and laid on the bed he fancied, reassured that I was where I should be and hadn’t escaped without him noticing. This is a dog who was so unable to interact calmly when he arrived and it’s a little thing in many ways, but shows such progress and leaps forward in his happiness and security levels to be able to behave like that.
Funnily enough later the same evening, something else happened that showed progress from another dog in a different way entirely as I was snapped at ! While I was waiting by the door for Kismet to come back in, Taxi was laid upside down on the settee and I asked her if she would like a fuss and she said "NO" - ie: snapped, which was just a warning and fine. But when she arrived, she didn’t use to relax enough to lay upside down anywhere and certainly not if I moved around the room, never mind anywhere near her, so pleasing progress again as she feels much safer than she used to - though I don’t think tummy tickles will ever be something she wants.
One morning, Max suddenly started racing up and down the lounge and as it’s quite long, he could get up a bit of speed, so he raced up and down, bounced at Kismet standing at one end who waved his paw at him each time before Max was off again. I sat watching wondering what was going on as it was a new slant on their usual games and then I realised what Max was up to. Each time he went back up to Kismet, Kismet came forward a bit more and this continued until Max felt he could pop round behind him to take the toy he wanted hidden behind his friend ! When he succeeded in getting his prize, he raced down the room & landed on one of the mattress beds on the floor in triumph - and then left it to go and get a drink after all his exertions and Kismet just strolled over and picked it up and walked back off with it. It did make me laugh to see how nicely they played together and the efforts Max went to, to achieve his objective, clever lad.
Another morning when it was apparently playtime - ( I thought it was my coffee time ! ) - and Phoenix picked up a tugger toy and came and deposited it on my lap, another thing he didn’t use to do, play with toys or me and I’m not sure if I’m referee or team mate sometimes!
Max came to see what his mate had and they enjoyed a game of grab it if you can, with Max chasing it around as it hung from Phoenix’s mouth but never quite quick enough to catch it. Then Max stopped and thought about it, turned away and went up to Taxi and said "fancy a game?" - so Phoenix went to join in and dropped the tugger - and yes, you’ve probably guessed it, Max shot round behind him and picked up the tugger in triumph and bounced off down the room. Brains wins over brawn again !
One day on a walk, Taxi was enjoying one of her usual pursuits of digging, her trench continues to be enlarged so that no grass now grows in that area. Anyway, she apparently dug up a treasure as Max leapt on something with glee and when I asked him what he had, he showed me his prize with pride. Was it treasure I hoped - well, he thought so as he presented me with - a rusty fork !
I laughed recently another time because although Taxi is much better with her obsessive behaviour of chasing trees, she & I have agreed she can have one tree to herd, which includes her jumping up it and biting one of the branches. One day as another dog was passing the tree thinking no dogs were about, Taxi let go of the branch and dropped down next to the poor startled dog. No harm done but we’ve heard of raining cats & dogs but don’t expect to literally see it, and their expressions were priceless.
One early morning when the weather was bad and the kitten teenagers were playing indoors, three of them were charging around playing a mixture of hide and seek and tag and through this blur of frenetic black & white energy, strolled at a leisurely pace, dear old Charmer who while also black & white is at the other end of the age range ( nearly 17 ) although I think he’s been an elder statesmen type all his life. It was lovely to see that not one of the flying youngsters got near to knocking into him but carefully managed to swerve or leap out of his stately progress as he limped through the middle of their game, Was it just to keep an eye on what they were up to or to remember when he could move like that or to tell them that you’ll be old one day - or was he just on his way to the kitchen as it was nearly breakfast time !
I was without a phone line for nearly a week and one day found me standing on a shed roof with Andrew & his mobile phone to get a signal to make a call. It gave quite a different view point to the Sanctuary & surrounding area - and the cats expressions when they could hear my voice talking and they suddenly worked out where it came from was very funny ! Thankfully, none of them tried to climb the ladder to join us.
I often go to the supermarket early in the day as the one local to me opens at 6am - ideal for me to go shopping and be back before the dogs get up just after 7am. One morning as I was driving home down our lane, I saw a roe deer in front of me which is not that unusual. I stopped and waited to give her chance to decide which field or hedge she’d go through to move off the lane - but she gently wandered on the same way I was going. We reached a junction and I go left and hoped the deer would go straight on towards the woods and more fields but no - she turned left. So I repeated the watch and wait for her to move off the lane - it’s a single track lane and I wasn’t going to drive too close and scare her. At the next junction we can turn left or right and again she went my way instead of out of the way. I again followed at a distance as she prettily wandered along and she finally turned off at what appeared to be a well known and well used gap - and I arrived home just a few yards further on, thinking what a lovely way to start a day.
Benson cat was sound asleep on my lap and I was gently trying to waken him so I could get up. I very lightly stroked the top of his head - no response, no purr, no movement so I repeated it, just a featherlight touch as I didn’t want to startle him awake.
Still nothing appeared to have penetrated to Benson - except for a tiny giveaway movement of a couple of toes that couldn’t stop themselves from kneading in pleasure ! So I pretended I didn’t know he was awake for a few more strokes and moments before saying, "Come on, the game’s over and I know you’re awake" - but it was so sweet how relaxed and safe he felt.
Benson has been on tablets for an infection and he’s not a typical cat as he’s very good about taking tablets. On this one occasion, I opened his mouth, went to drop the tablet in and he obligingly swallowed but the tablet had remained stuck on my finger. So he was expecting and swallowed a non existent tablet - until I did it successfully next attempt, what a good lad. And Chico has been having shoulder pain, not related to his earlier broken legs but he does have a liquid painkiller quite often, but he finds it pleasant and comes eagerly when I call ’metacam’ and then he licks it up eagerly from the dosing syringe.
I mentioned Chico’s shoulder pain and he had an x-ray recently to check what was going on and he has early arthritis, so some days he’s fine and other times he’s a bit stiff and slower. While he was x-rayed, his chest was also x-rayed to check on that because as you know, he was diagnosed with heart failure 18 months ago. Pleasingly, he seems to have stabilised on his treatment and continues to enjoy himself, greeting visitors and keeping an eye on the Sanctuary happenings.
When washing cat litter trays one day, I thought it wasn’t such a bad job really - because I use the dog bath for them. You may remember I used some of the sale price from Jacky’s car to buy a proper dog bath and it’s been an absolute joy in many ways. It used to be back breaking leaning over the human bath or even washing things at the outside tap, but those days have passed with the raised bath - and it’s jolly good for bathing dogs too !
Phoenix who thought it was a monster the first time I introduced him to it, now comes into the bathroom and takes a flying leap to get in it, which is a particular relief as not only is he a heavy lad to lift into a bath, but because of his delight in playing in the mud, he needs more rinsing down than all the other dogs put together !
When a friend and I were chatting one day, I mentioned the deer antlers that our dogs have to chew which are collected from deer shedding their antlers each year, so a sustainable and ethical supply which I like and the dogs love them, helping to keep their teeth clean too.
My friend asked another friend if they could get some antlers next time they went to Scotland and in confusion, the friend thought I wanted a full stag head still attached to the antlers ! I’m not sure if I laughed more at that, as if I’d have one of those grotesque things on the wall or the thought of some of the animals reactions, cats sitting atop it and can you imagine what Max would make of it !
We will be collecting items again ready to hopefully be attending the Caterham Carnival this year on 14th June - another thing I must get on and do is book that. So same as last year, if you have items you’d like to donate, can I ask you to please ring me so that I can give you Gail’s phone number as she has kindly offered to store the items again, thank you.
I’d like to thank Lily’s Kitchen pet food supplies as they contacted me last year and wanted to donate some food to our cats & dogs. The animals here have thoroughly enjoyed the quality food and treats, and Lily’s Kitchen have been good enough to send to us on more than one occasion - thank you.
Lily's Kitchen PO Box 59287 London NW3 9JR Click HERE to go to Lily's Kitchen
As you will have noticed, this newsletter is printed properly instead of the home ones that I usually do during the year, and that is partly because as always, the printers have been very good to us with their costs.
Printmeit. Unit 11a Morrison Industrial Estate County Durham DH9 7RU Click HERE to go to Printmeit
Also the e-mailing list is now almost as many as the printed readers so the expenditure of not only the money on printing at home, but also the poor quality and my hours and hours of time trying to print something half decent are better spent in other ways I’m sure you’ll agree. Also, to those of you who kindly give me less to do by saying no acknowledgement needed when sending letters / donations, or enclosing an SAE - thank you.
I try not to pick out too many individuals for thanks as there are so many of you quietly continuing to support the Sanctuary. To each & every one of you, the thanks are not glib words but each one is a heartfelt emotion that I pass on from each animal that you help and from me for enabling this much needed rescue work to continue.
It was good to hear so many of you comment that you enjoyed the latest Christmas Photo Special newsletter. When Jacky died I was quite unsure how they would progress without her as we composed them together, but I think I’ve found my way forward with them - and with the invaluable proof reading from my brother & sister, thank you both.
It’s now three years since Jacky died and though certainly not always by any means easy, the Sanctuary is still here and doing what we always did,although in smaller scope by obvious necessity. Yes, there are times when it’s pure hard work and I struggle but like anything worthwhile, it doesn’t ‘just happen’ but takes effort, determination and belief.
Thank you all for your belief and being part of the continuing Sanctuary story.
Bereavement unravels, like a piece of cloth, the fabric of your life..
Over time you will be able to reweave your piece of cloth,
but the cloth will have a new pattern...
Liz & the Furries
Saving one pets life won’t change the world...
but it will make a world of difference to that one pet.