Flowers For The Living

Every time my late Grandma was given a bouquet without fail she would say “flowers for the living”. Of course, what she was reminding us in her gentle way is that you can’t smell them once you’re gone and be sure to give them to your loved ones whilst you still can.

I recalled her words whilst taking a quiet stroll around Efford Cemetery in Plymouth where on the notice board the following was posted.IMG_0774 I didn’t think that this boded well for the deer, which no doubt would have been grazing there long before the land became the big cemetery it is today. I’ve always enjoyed a leisurely walk around the old graveyard steeped in history and a haven to many wildlife, appreciating a moment of reflection in this unquiet world in which we live.

As I wandered around I noticed workmen had left bags of cement on top of memorials,cemetery 007 there were various old tombstones in disrepair and evidence of fly tipping in the oldest part of the cemetery. It would also seem that because many people don’t want to walk further than they absolutely need to some were rather disgracefully reversing cars across burial plots in an endeavour to turn around. It occurred to me that the two legged visitors were probably responsible for more damage that a few deer would ever be.

If I could ask my Grandma, who is a resident of this particular cemetery, what her thoughts were regarding the wildlife guests I’m sure I know what her answer would be.

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Rescue; It’s Not Just a Verb It’s A Promise!

Milo & I wanted to wish you all a very happy & safe weekend from everyone here at Dyson Abbey and also to remind you how rewarding fostering can be. Writing posts about wildlife and our precious four-legged friends is always such a labour of love for me but the photography not so much hence I’ll be saving the shameless photobombing selfies of our feline family for another day. I have a renewed respect for the patience of all of our photography blogging friends and it’s completely true what they say about working with children & animals (well bored felines anyway).

With most shelters overflowing with unwanted and neglected animals what can be more worthwhile than saving a life like Milo? If you’re on Twitter why not help by an RT which might just find an animal on the euthanasia list a home. And to remind you just how fulfilling either adopting or fostering a rescue animal can be, I’ve posted this touching verse which never fails to reduce me to tears. Hankies at the ready!

There I sat alone and afraid,

You got a call and came to my aid

You bundled me up in blankets and love

and when I needed it most you gave me a hug

 

I learned that world was not all that scary and cold.

That sometimes there is someone to have and to hold

You taught me what love is, you helped me to mend.

You loved me and healed me and became my first friend

 

And just when I thought you’d done all you do,

There came along not just one lesson but two

First you said “sweetheart you’re ready to go,

I’ve done all I can and you’ve learned all I know”

 

Then you bundled me up with a blanket and kiss,

Along came a new family they even have kids!

They took me to their home forever to stay.

At first I thought you’d sent me away,

Then that second lesson became perfectly clear,

No matter how far you will always be near

 

And so Foster Mom, you know I’ve moved on,

I have a new home with toys and a lawn

But I’ll never forget what I learned that first day,

Is that you really never give fosters away.

 

You gave me these thoughts to remember you by,

We may never meet again but now I know why.

You’ll remember I lived with you for a time,

I may not be yours but you’ll always be mine

 

Barb Lieberman

 

Public Service Announcement From Milo

Public Service Announcement From Milo

Animals Never Dump People

My heart broke a little this week when an acquaintance of ours from a family of supposed dog lovers informed me that his sister had decided to rehome her nine-year old beagle which she’d had from when he was a tiny puppy, whilst she was in hospital awaiting the birth of her first child.

I have long since realised that everyone’s interpretation of being an animal lover is different and this particular family have all shopped from dubious breeders, which frankly have been little more than puppy farms found through random adverts and then wondered why their dogs have developed behavioural issues and serious health problems.

I do appreciate that sometimes there are extenuating circumstances when no matter how distressing an alternative safe home is sometimes necessary for the welfare of the animal. However, when you have treated your dog like a substitute child with little or no socializing, discipline or exercise and discard without a backward glance because you now have the real thing demonstrates a total lack of conscience.

Furthermore to advertise your loyal friend on a website “free to a good home” and then abandon them to a complete stranger you know little or nothing about because further details would just “upset you” is just downright irresponsible and immoral.

So it’s no surprise that I enjoy Animalcouriers’s travels which detail the extreme lengths that some owners will take to avoid being separated from their four-legged companions and on really bad days when shocking animal cruelty floods both the media and social networking sites it warms my heart and reminds me that there remains kindness in this world. I love reading about their adventures transporting lots of different animals around the world although my favourite posts are about all the work they do with a Greek rescue called The Filozoikos Shelter and the special collars made with love in each stitch by one of the volunteers which are given to them when they depart for their new homes and new lives. Rest assured if I ever need to transport our brood Animalcouriers would be the only option for us because of the personal care they give to their passengers which is beyond priceless and who wouldn’t want their four-legged or even feathered family to travel with the very best. In fact, as they seem to travel to the nicest places and meet the kindest people I would probably want to ride shotgun as well.

Adopters, fosterers and donations are always needed by the shelter so if you are thinking of getting an addition for your family please adopt don’t shop and consider giving a home to one of the many treasured dogs from the Filozoikos Shelter enabling them to provide a home for another street and abused animal.

Enjoy your weekend my friends and here’s some delightful pictures of Animal Courier’s charming passengers (the Filozoikos Shelter dogs) with those adorable collars; bet they make you smile too!

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter

Like many of you I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.  Whilst, I think that it has certain advantages for keeping in touch with family & friends located in faraway places and as a writer it does have obvious benefits but for many it’s a bit of a dual-edged sword. Too often I have come across inappropriate posts and videos which in my opinion have no place on a social networking site. It is alleged that this week Facebook have failed to remove a video of a helpless & vulnerable kitten being deliberately doused in fuel and set alight; what purpose does that video serve? I also fail to see why you would want to give the sociopaths that committed this heinous and cowardly act their fifteen minutes of fame. Furthermore, you have to ask yourself why certain Facebookers would feel the need to “like” this type of post. Whilst Facebook insist that they had reviewed the clip, which they insisted had met its guidelines, by simply doing nothing are they green lighting other evil-minded individuals?

Surely there has to be a more stringent policy where pictures of extreme cruelty are removed in a timely fashion and by timely, I mean immediately. Derogatory pictures and borderline slanderous statements that will obviously cause emotional distress to others also have no place. I have personally fallen foul of an anonymous user, who superimposed my head from my profile picture, along with several other girls onto the bodies of girls in stills from adult films accompanied by crass taglines and my complaint wasn’t upheld, subsequently, Facebook refused to remove them. Imagine the distress that this caused me and my family and likewise for all the other girls. It is inconceivable that some malicious individual could randomly target your profile picture in this way because they are not regulated. It begs the question that if any of us had been celebrities would Facebook fearing legal reprisals have taken a different stance or were we simply not important enough to merit their protection from internet trolls.

You don’t have to be a public relations expert to determine what is right and wrong most of us learn that as children but one wonders sometimes whether integrity is an out-dated principle for many multi-million organisations.  So if you’re listening Facebook you need to man up and grow a set along with some morals; your users will love you for it!

The world is a dangerous place to live. Not because of the people who are evil; but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?

Most of you will know that the garden and the old fella’s allotment are wildlife havens although my Dad has had to install deterrents for the Herons arriving to lunch on his Koi carp. Anyone on either two or four legs is guaranteed a meal at Dyson Abbey, even the birds eat A La Carte on the rare occasions when any of my mother’s homemade baking is left to go stale.

So one unbearably humid evening last week as I was trying unsuccessfully to grab some sleep before my alarm clock woke me at 5am, I heard this rather loud snuffling sound coming from the garden directly below me. I thought it might be one of the cats being ill, as we live in the countryside and it’s not uncommon for cats to fall foul of rat poison that farmers have distributed to eliminate the growing vermin population.

I grabbed my trusty old Star Wars torch (another classic birthday gift from the old fella) I reluctantly left the comfort of my bed to pad downstairs and opening the patio doors I crept into the garden. I quickly scanned the garden with my light sabre to determine where the noise was coming from and whether I would be making a mercy dash to the local veterinary hospital.

I refrained from switching on the industrial security lighting which my Dad had installed mainly because it had enough power to light Wembley Stadium and I didn’t want any low-flying aircraft mistaking our lawn for a runway.

To my amazement there was a mother and baby hedgehog eating the remains of Hobo’s supper. To our intense frustration Hobo insists on dining al fresco during the summer months and I’m guessing with the lack of rain that we’d had the soil was probably rock hard preventing the little folk from foraging. My Dad is always pleased to see a Hedgehog who after all is a gardener’s friend and it may well have been that this adorable duo had been visiting our garden for some time completely undetected.

I was totally enchanted by these fascinating creatures and even more thrilled when I opened another small tin of cat food and the baby, obviously very hungry, boldly ran across the lawn to dine on chicken and vegetables. Mum who was three times the size, was a little more reticent and hung back until I made my way inside the house.

Since then I’ve noticed that they arrive regularly every night to dine at the four star Dyson Bistro and arrive in crocodile formation walking the same route up and down old railway sleepers and eventually onto the patio to partake in the evening’s menu. As our rescue bunch who as strays were accustomed to scavenging bins have developed champagne and caviar taste since coming to live with us, we always have a substantial amount of surplus cat food and can usually accommodate the most discerning palates.

The past few evenings the little folk have out foxed me by arriving at different times but the other night I noticed that there were four of them so clearly our reputation as a four star wildlife catering venue has reached the rest of the local hedgehog community. We’re not complaining though as there’s something very special about hedgehogs and its a privilege to be able to share our time on this earth amid such enchanting creatures.

The earth has music for those who listen – William Shakespeare

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Happiness Is Having A Scratch For Every Itch

One of the chores I detest most at this time of year is applying flea treatment to the cats. As we live in the heart of Devon’s glorious countryside, a monthly application is required and our cats detest it. Contrary to popular feline belief spot on flea treatments are not barbaric torture rituals although the SAS would envy the avoidance techniques applied by both Chloe & Hobo. Once the tin foil packets are unwrapped our beloved pets are MIA, so it was with a sinking heart and scars barely healed from the last application that I reluctantly agreed to help my Dad with the dreaded task in hand.

Mother at first was a little reticent about the assignment until she’d checked that the premiums had been paid on my Dad’s life assurance policy and that I’d had my tetanus booster jab. Once she’d established that we were both covered we were cleared for take-off and despatched with a cheery wave.

Armed with the tools of our trade, oversize bath towel, First Aid kit, gardening gauntlets, safety goggles (for us not the cats) and a large can of Red Bull (minus the vodka which would come later) to replenish my depleted energy reserves as this would be an epic capture and release mission, one which would require stealth, cunning and the quick fire reflexes of a cheetah. To encourage our elusive four-legged family into the garden where the covert operation was being carried out, we had decided to feed them their breakfast al fresco on the glass table top of my mother’s new and treasured patio set. An irresistible breakfast of lightly cooked fish had been lovingly prepared by Mum and the pungent aroma wafting around the garden would be sure to entice our little cuddle bunnies into the awaiting trap.

I should just mention at this point that in addition to our own two; “One speed Hobo” and “Chloe Hellcat” the menopausal nightmare, the foster “Miss Thumbs”;we also have a new addition of a rather large timid male tabby who’d obviously been living rough for a while and had taken shelter in our garden.

The New Lodger

The New Lodger

At first Dad had insisted that we didn’t feed him, as he’d probably go home when he became hungry, which lasted all of half a day before he inevitably caved in. After asking around we discovered that he had belonged to family renting a house further down the street who had moved out leaving no forwarding address and their family pet. So then there were four!

First up was Hobo who has never been able to resist an al fresco running buffet for cats; at least that’s what he thinks a barbecue is! As he jumped onto the table I had the towel ready and quickly secured him or so I thought. Hobo managed through sheer brute strength (he’s a big boy) and determination to out-manoeuvre me but I was up and running after him. At the privet hedge I headed him off at the pass and took him down WWE Smackdown style sitting astride him whilst waiting for my partner in crime to hand me the required medication. The low howls and growls emitted attracted the attention of many of our neighbours, who I’m sure were contemplating phoning the RSPCA to report us for animal cruelty. Dad who had been distracted by the World Cup commentary on the radio was a little slow off the mark and had forgotten to remove the cap from the little pipette which I had to do with my teeth. Regrettably whilst I was using one hand to restrain the struggling big fella I accidentally swallowed a mouthful of the solution and hoped that there were no adverse effects for humans as I didn’t want to be spending the following week marking my territory and sleeping in next door’s apple tree. I also made a mental note to gargle with vodka a little later just to be on the safe side, you understand.

Hobo shot off like the hounds of hell were in hot pursuit and sulked for a few hours after that before hunger pangs got the better of him and he returned for tea but made sure that we were all aware of his displeasure.

Miss Thumbs was a perfect little lady when it came to apply her flea treatment (although her table manners could use some work) and whilst a little miffed, the latest addition grudgingly allowed us to apply her medication before she slunk off to take refuge in the shrubbery where she spent the afternoon licking her wounds.

As expected Chloe Hellcat was something else altogether! Streaking into the garden like a high-speed train she leaped onto the table to be caught mid jump in my gauntlets; clearly I had a future with the England soccer team as a goalie.

Chloe Hellcat

Chloe Hellcat

As the littlest and lightest of all four cats one would expect her to be able to offer the least resistance but as a former feral cat she clearly wasn’t going down without a fight. With the disposition of a deadly Asian Hornet, she scratched and bit her way through my gauntlets and I wondered not for the first time why we didn’t have a tortoise instead of cats.

As her rear claws sank into my wrist and my blood seeped through the gauntlet I had no choice but to hold on for grim death and as she and I tussled and crashed to the ground I tripped over the leg of the table. As if in slow motion the glass table top shattered into what looked like a million pieces and I knew that the old dear wasn’t going to like that very much. My Dad had a more practical approach and headed off to the shed for a tube of superglue but I secretly thought there was not enough superglue in Devon for this particular job! Looked like he was going to be needing that life cover after all.

When the remnants of the patio table had been swept up and deposited in the dustbin and my war wounds bathed with antiseptic, he turned to me and said in all earnest “So when do you think we should worm them then”?

Final score Cats 1 Humans 3 and to borrow a phrase from the television commentators of the beautiful game “They think it’s all over, well it is now”!

The Hellfire Club

The Hellfire Club

P.S. Be Happy!

To our darling foster four-legged friends both past & present

We never intentionally set out to foster any other pets, in fact, we were content to be a two cat, one dog family but desperation, hunger, shelter from the storms or possibly fate drove you all in through the cat flap and into our home at one time or other.

Teddy

Teddy

You all must have been so frightened and hungry to sneak in past Hobo and Chloe Hellcat each night to steal a mouthful of biscuits.

We will never know what unimaginable horrors you faced living on the street when you outgrew your cuteness factor. How confused you must have been when the ones you loved and relied on the most were no longer there to protect you when they realised the extent of a lifetime commitment or surrendered you for the price of a couple of bottles of wine. We endeavoured for months to find out whether someone was missing you but all to no avail which was all the more distressing as we couldn’t understand why someone would let you go so easily. Each of you had your own very different problems but we overcame them in the end, with patience and time which was the one thing that this family has in abundance. With a cupboard full of pet food and a roast chicken each Sunday, another hungry mouth to feed would always go unnoticed in our household. Although we aren’t animal behavioural experts, we’ve learned from all of you as I hope that you have taken away from us that not all humans are untrustworthy and mean.

Hobo The Boss

Hobo The Boss

Even old Hobo, who’s now ten, has endeavoured to share with you the joys of playing with an old piece of washing line or has sat alongside you for hours whilst you struggled to come to terms with this new bewildering world.

We promise ourselves after each heartbreaking occasion when we reluctantly relinquish you to your new loving families where we know you will each have the lives you deserve, that this will be the absolute last time but we also know that we won’t be able to resist another four-legged friend who steals in through our door on a stormy night. We are truly grateful for the help of every animal charity that has assisted us with finding and carefully vetting your new devoted families who won’t abandon you at the first hurdle. Thank you for choosing us and the privilege of allowing us to share a little time with you. We wish for you only the very best of things; a warm bed, plenty of good food and above all a lifetime of devotion, dear friends.

With much love from the Dyson Family x

Little Miss Thumbs

Little Miss Thumbs

Fostering a dog or cat isn’t a lifetime commitment, it’s a commitment to saving a life.

One Single Act Of Compassion Could Have Made A World Of Difference

Many of you like me will have been saddened by the unrelenting decision by Copenhagen zoo to publically shoot Marius the giraffe in an attempt to prevent inbreeding. Allegedly not responding to offers to rehouse Marius including one from Yorkshire Wildlife Park where they have a state of the art giraffe house because the zoo’s scientific director felt that the park’s space could be better used by a “genetically more valuable giraffe”. Anyone else feel uncomfortable with this reasoning?

I am deeply, deeply sorry that rescue didn’t come soon enough for Marius and horrified that children were invited to watch particularly when they will discover soon enough that this world can be a horrible place. I was raised to respect all living things and I fail to see what lesson will have been shared with those witnessing this truly appalling grisly event.

There’s something a little mercenary with an organisation that is quite happy to so ruthlessly destroy something when it’s passed its usefulness in the name of conservation but at the same time was happy to exploit this living breathing creature some eighteen months’ ago when it was born and clearly the subject of inbreeding wasn’t as important as generating extra ticket sales.

When one is so dependent on the public for funds was it really a wise move to ignore such vehement public opinion; only time will tell. I do know one thing it was not the proudest day in this zoo’s history and unfortunately the world will always remember Copenhagen zoo as the one that mercilessly slaughtered a gentle giraffe in a public arena and fed it to their lions.

The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world

marius

No Good Deed Ever Goes Unpunished

I think it’s fair to say that this week has been full of trials and tribulations for us and today was no exception. Unfortunately, on Thursday my Dad suffered his second stroke but despite being waited on by a bevy of lovelies at hospital, who even woke him at 6am on Friday to wish him Happy Birthday with a cup of tea, he decided he wanted to come home for the weekend. Clearly, the strong medication had rendered him immune to my impeccable driving skills.

As my Dad likes to read a daily newspaper I stopped at the local newsagent on the way home from the hospital, as I entered the shop I noticed a small black cat curled up by the door and having seen it there all week assumed it belonged to one of the local villagers. When I mentioned it to the shop assistant he informed me that its previous owners had been the tenants in the flat above the shop but had done a moonlight flit leaving their pet behind to fend for himself some four weeks’ ago. Whilst some of the villagers had left scraps out for it no one had come forward to offer it a home leaving the poor defenceless creature exposed to all the elements.

I couldn’t resist stopping to stroke him on the way out as he cowered against the wall and noticed he was a very young cat so made the decision there and then to return home for a cat box hoping to drop him off at the local shelter. The terrified & hungry little boy offered no resistance as I scooped it up into the carrier and with my Dad riding shotgun headed off in the direction of the rescue centre.

When we got to the reception area at the shelter I was dismayed to find that there was no room at the inn and furthermore, I was advised to return him to “where I had found him”. This was never going to be an option for me and we drove homeward bound with our new friend.

As I unloaded the car I was dreading my mother’s inevitable lecture which would start with “Deborah, the trouble with you is that you don’t think”. Sadly ‘tis true as we all know I do all my thinking with my heart and deal with the consequences later. Whilst I was bracing myself for the verbal onslaught, one of my elderly neighbours, Geoff hailed me enquiring about my Dad’s health and commented on my new little friend trembling in the cat box. I told him the sad story and said that I hadn’t been able to secure him a place in a rescue centre but assured him that I would find the kitten a good home.

Geoff and his wife, Muriel had been married to each other for many years and had lived in their current home for over forty. Muriel had once confided in me they had never been blessed with children but had made the best of being favourite “aunty & uncle” to many generations of village children. I have never understood why some people who would make the most magnificent parents frequently aren’t whilst some that couldn’t responsibly raise an ant farm are bestowed with the precious gift of children.

Muriel and Geoff had given every spare ounce of love to their various beloved rescue animals over the years and had been devastated earlier in the year when their much-loved cat had succumbed to a fatal illness. They had felt then that they would be unable to ever replace him and had donated all his bedding and toys to a local shelter. I remember saying at the time that some small creature would find a way into their hearts when the time was right and a home was needed.

Somehow I wasn’t surprised when they both turned up at our door a short while later saying they’d come for our new lodger; just like that the little boy had found the best home in the world. We rushed around finding bedding, cat litter and packets of food for the newly named little “Kismet” and the last time I saw him as I left their home last night, he was sleeping curled up on their sumptuous duvet. I could hearing him purring as I climbed all the way down the stairs and as I strolled home the world seemed a brighter place knowing that some fairy-tales did indeed have a happy ending.

The thing about rescue animals is that they rescue you right back

Meet Kismet

Meet Kismet