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Hello Friends

As always, lovely cards, notes and donations were received from you during Christmas time. As I sat replying ( with thanks also to the ‘no reply’ needed, ) I’d smile as I read each one, remembering who you are, maybe how we met through a friend, spouse or - most commonly, a pet; feeling gratitude for all your wonderful warm wishes and generosity to help the animals for the forthcoming year.

I’m pleased to hear that you enjoy the newsletters, and you feel as if you know many of the residents. This is lovely to hear, as then it’s not only me that remembers past pets. The sanctuary population changes of course, over time, and that includes our human supporters as I also hear of sad losses.

It is said that money can’t buy happiness but it depends on your definition of happiness ! When looking at the difference your donations make to the animals that arrive here, it is beyond what simple pounds and pence can buy. Here, money can buy the wag of a dog’s tail who was terrified to have hands near, but now wags as I stroke them; and saved the cat that was labelled as an attack cat, but now chooses to purr when I stroke them - and the smile of relief from this human when the vet bill comes in and I know I can pay it. These moments are happiness, these moments are because of your donations - I thank you. 

  Here are just some of the Christmas essentials and treats received, and due to your Christmas donations and the further easing of the financial situation ( more below ), I also bought bulk orders of both cat litter brands, which pleases the cats as well as the poo scooper ( me ! )

Thank you to those who have supplied logs for our fire ( glances at Wizard & Muffin laid in front of it as I type ). This has been a wonderful addition to general pleasure as we all, cats, dogs and human, enjoy spending time watching the flames - as well as the practicality in reducing our central heating and tumble drier costs.             

 Elm kittens on my lap, Rosa on my feet.

Below, some of the cats pose with the lovely cheque of £557.20, donated by Chaldon Fete, as the furries add their thanks for the help it is to their home.

I always say that it is you, our longterm friends, that are the backbone of the sanctuary without which we couldn’t function, and I know you will be delighted to hear that we received a generous bonus donation to the sanctuary work from an unexpected direction. The news came too late to be included in the last newsletter but Ricky Gervais, comedian and animal supporter, raises funds for animal charities and rescues when he tours his comedy show, and we were incredibly fortunate to be one of the lucky recipients to benefit.

Our patron, Peter Egan, is friends with Ricky and put the sanctuary forward to be considered, and I am thrilled and grateful to announce that Ricky supported us with an amazing donation of £45,954.48 

I was speechless when I heard the news, and when Peter rang with his  congratulations, he asked “ how are you?” and I stammered back “in shock” which made him laugh ! While I am naturally thrilled at Ricky’s kindness, this wouldn’t have happened without Peter and I am incredibly honoured by his help and belief in the sanctuary. A few words from Peter below.

I am proud to be a patron for Liz and Chaldon Animal Sanctuary.

From the moment I first met her many years ago, I could see that she had a magical and compassionate relationship with all the animals in her care. I am so pleased this has been rewarded by a donation from Ricky Gervais from his platinum ticket fund.        I know that the money is needed and will be well spent. 

Well done Liz in all of your great work.

You can appreciate just how much it costs to run the sanctuary: ever rising day to day costs, on-going essential maintenance and an ever present ‘one day when funds allow’ list. This ‘one day’ list has jobs that gradually move to the top of the list as time, finances and priority decree. I have been able to accelerate the cat proof fencing to the top of the ‘to do’ list with this wonderful extra chunk of money from Ricky.             

While our field fencing has already been dog secured by a generous benefactor, we have had a learning curve to find what works - or doesn’t - to keep the cats safe within our three acres. We have tried various methods but this means we now have refined a system that - dare I jinx it - seems to actually do the required job and is now currently the priority work in progress keeping Andrew very busy.   

Looking but no leaping over !

 I’m writing this a few days before the anniversary of Jacky’s death, and it is hard not to have that in my mind. By the time you receive this, the years without her will have reached teenage duration as it will be 13 years since she died. The first large legacy that provided a cushion over and above running costs, arrived shortly after Jacky’s death and I’ve always felt that it was her stirring the energy up a bit with “I’m not there physically, but I know you can do this, if you don’t have to worry about money”. The yearly running costs of the sanctuary are covered by you, our loyal supporters, and Ricky's generous donation would not meet that, but it will allow for more of the ’to do’ list to be completed for the benefit of the sanctuary residents.

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Cats would occasionally be waiting at the kitchen catflap if someone else was on the other side, so I decided an extra portal was needed and here’s the progression of events.

 

They now use either flap, in and out - but cats now sit in front of both of them, while they decide which side they want to be on !

After dinner, Nikki sometimes stops for a nibble of cat biscuits as her dessert, and as age has reduced her appetite, it matters less what label is on the food - it’s more important that she eats. Here she is joined by Iris at another bowl.

Nikki and Taxi now have cognitive decline ( old age dementia ) which doesn’t worry them but does mean I have to keep an extra eye on them ’getting lost’ up the field, suddenly changing direction in front of me etc. They have both been started on supplements / medication to see if that helps, but it’s early days yet.

Dear old Muffin has been here just over a year now, and he wasn’t expected to last this long. He sees the chiropractor from time to time to help with his rickety old back and legs, but is very happy to potter about at his own speed.

I’m sitting at the computer working on this and Fagin has just wandered across the lounge, picked up one of their Christmas bones and trotted off to a bed with it. Five minutes later, he’s repeated this; and continues until he has a veritable graveyard of bones surrounding him - what fun ! His brother Bumble now gets up in the morning and waits for me to give him a fuss and stroke instead of avoiding my offer of a morning greeting.

Fagin and Bumble, like many of the dogs that arrive here, had bad associations with brooms / sticks etc and were terrified of them - we can only imagine the reasons why. But now, when I’m mopping the floor they will just gently potter out of my way without fear or panic.  Wizard remains quietly asleep on a bed, and Pique on an armchair, while the mop passes within inches of them and neither move as they are confident that it is safe and no longer to be feared. These are the little  moments that make me smile - as does this photo of Fagin and Iris saying hello to each other.

I don’t ‘obedience train’ my dogs nowadays beyond the basics of sit, come, out, etc .. that make life understandable and easier for them. At bedtime, the dogs go in the garden, and then into our bedroom and their beds - mostly the same beds chosen each night with a spare for any swapping. I then go into the kitchen for the last cat round duties, then off to my bed.

During this time, the dogs can hear me moving about, chatting to the cats, and know roughly how long I’m likely to be. They snuggle down and go to sleep … except Jeeves ( collie ) who will lay quietly in his bed, but still on alert until I’m ‘safely’ in my bed too. However, after over three years here, I recently noticed that he now also is dozing by the time I go to bed - and that isn’t something you can ‘train’ as a behaviour, but something that comes from the security and safety he feels living here.

 Sunrise spent most of her life living on extra time. Firstly when she had limited care for her first three years, and narrowly avoided being put down when expensive surgery was needed. She arrived here instead and thoroughly enjoyed life for the next eight years. Her extra time bonus continued during her last years with me, as she refused to let the health legacy from her early years, be an issue. One day while she was halfway through eating her breakfast, she just stopped eating, went and laid in a bed - and  didn’t get up again but drifted gently off to sleep forever.

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  I’m sure I’m not the only one who goes “ I’ll just go and do that job” but then sees two or three others that need doing as well …. and then gets delayed even managing one of them ! As I went to take the recycling out to the bin, there was a long tailed tit on the bird feeders, so I stopped still until s/he finished. With temperatures minus 5 the previous night, the birds needed all the help they can get - and their water unfrozen again too, obviously. I find using the pet snuggle microwaveable products very useful for this, re-heating them morning and evening. Put underneath a metal dog water bowl ( which doesn’t break when cracking the ice ) and with warm water in the bowl, it stays unfrozen for hours.

  This frosty morning walk was enjoyed by Jeeves & Zeena who are frequently together - Zeena gains so much from having other dogs to lead the way.

  Then Taxi leads, with something to say, and here’s Wizard trotting up behind her to see if anything was going on that he needed to know about !

  Meanwhile Muffin patiently waits for me to stop taking photos and go pottering up the field with him !

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Last year in spring, I was thinking of having hens again, but instead responded to the need of the Elm family of feral cats who arrived and moved into Cluckingham Palace. This year I was happily ( as in this apt cartoon ) - -

   - - focusing on all the work around here.  However, the universe had other ideas ... !                       

I received an urgent request to help a group of feral garden cats whose caregiver had died. In the depths of winter, they were now without food and shelter ( which was shockingly advised by the national large animal rescue charity ) with unpleasant neighbours causing problems as well.

So Andrew and I cleared out the old fox pen that was being used as general storage ( cat carriers, dog crates, spare food bins etc ). It’s a place of safety and food ... and the Bexley bunch arrived for fostering. Thankfully a local branch of Cats Protection had them all neutered last summer, and their lovely trapping lady spent hours and hours, re-catching them all and delivered them to us, a round trip of nearly 70 miles each time.

  They are used to being around humans as the food and shelter providers, but not to being stroked. Some have already been placed into new outside homes such as stables. At the time of writing this, there are still some waiting to find the right outside b & b’s where someone will keep an eye on them, provide two meals a day, and safe shelter. These are not domestic house pets, but if you have suitable outdoor accommodation, and would like more information to be considered as a home ( minimum 2 homed together ) please do get in touch.    

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Looking forward towards summer fundraising events this year, we will be at - - -

Caterham Carnival on 8th June, 12 - 5.30pm  

Chaldon Village Fete on Bank Holiday Monday August 26th, 2 - 5pm 

We would be very grateful to receive pre-loved or new pet items for our stalls please, as this has proved to very popular and we are low on items. Anything a pet owner needs, from a collar or coat your dog grew out of, or the bedding or bowl your cat refused to use, would help raise funds for the sanctuary residents while being useful to another pet.

  The stamps you continue to send ( thank you ) still raise funds with the latest sum being £58.87 

  Easyfundraising continues to help us through your online shopping. It really does all add up and make a difference as the total is now over £800, thank you.

  The Amazon delivery driver certainly came to know his way to us over Christmas, as you kindly continue to use our Wishlist, thank you.

Your monthly standing orders / Paypal, ad-hoc donations and ongoing support, is always appreciated as I hope you know.

As I finish writing this letter to you, my tin opening duties await as it is time to give the cats their tea, and I know their cupboard is full. Likewise, an hour later, dog bowls will be filled …. and this is all because of you.

With enormous gratitude and purrs and woofs from all of us,

Liz & Furries

     

   All images used, are either my own ( photos, logo ), are credited or available freely on the internet.