Love Always Wags Its Tail

Demanding clients and long working hours had left me weary and grumpy with a headache so I decided to take young Ruby for a quick stroll as even though it was overcast, it was still very humid. Having left her for an hour and half that morning to do the shopping run, I was dismayed when I returned and she’d managed to open the cleaning cupboard and destroy a packet of wet wipes and tumble drier sheets not to mention a Yankee Candle diffuser. So I thought a short walk when the dark destroyer and I could cool off would be the order of the day

As we strolled on one of my favourite walks along the country lane that runs past the cemetery, I came across an elderly gentleman who I frequently met on his way to the graveyard with a bunch of fresh flowers in his shopping bag when we always stopped to say hello. He had confided in me the day before that he’d just adopted his little Bichon Frise from the local animal sanctuary. The pint-sized dog, now called Max, had been seized by the RSPCA from a puppy farm.  You could tell he adored this little dog sporting a brand new harness and sparkling collar. He proudly told me how when he went shopping the little dog was always waiting for him on his little blanket on the sofa right where he had left him and after Ruby’s adventure that morning I couldn’t help but feel a little envious.

He sadly confessed he’d lost his wife earlier in the year so had taken his new friend up to the cemetery to introduce them both to each other and also to let her know that he wasn’t on his own anymore so she didn’t have to worry about him.  He was also thrilled that he’d seen and met so many people since walking the little fella and I suspected like many elderly folk, he had felt isolated and lonely since his wife passed.

Did angels have a hand in bringing these two souls together, I’d sure like to think so. As I waved to the companions walking home alongside each other my day suddenly didn’t seem quite so grey as I was reminded that there are good people in the world and sometimes just sometimes there are happy endings too.

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I’m Home

Yesterday was one of the saddest days ever as my big beautiful black boy, Hobo at the grand age of 14 made his journey across rainbow bridge. As he featured so much within the pages of this blog I felt that it was only right that I shared it with you. Life is sure going to be different without the big lumbering panther lounging around the neighbourhood and I know many will miss him.

I remember well the moment we met at the rescue centre when he was six months old and had already been returned several times.  He swaggered into our lives much like Thomas O’Malley from the Disney film The Aristocats, charming everyone that met him and spent much of his time visiting all the houses in the neighbourhood; many where he had a basket awaiting him and a meal!  Whilst he didn’t have much time for other cats unless they were kittens he adored people and would lie in the sunshine waiting for a car or van to pull up outside the house so he could greet any visitors. In fact one unsuspecting carpet delivery driver realised he had a stowaway only when Hobo awoke half way through the journey across the Tamar Bridge into Cornwall. His stubborn ways have both amused us and caused exasperation in equal measures particularly when we had a cat flap installed and discovered that he was simply “too posh to push”; trust me 3am wake up calls which increased in volume if ignored were vexing to say the very least.

I am without doubt a little lost right now as thirteen and half years is longer than many friendships last and he was the very best kind of friend; one that kept your secrets and was never dishonest. Without doubt he definitely chose us and if anyone is thinking of adopting an animal please don’t overlook the shy ones, the odd looking ones, the ones abandoned because of allergies or not enough time. They’re often the ones that so deserve that chance and I think Hobo would like that because I wouldn’t have missed the last thirteen and half years for a heartbeat.

I’d like to think of him up in heaven sprawled across the garden furniture in the sunshine as he so often did keeping the old fella company whilst he drank his cuppa and read his newspaper. RIP big boy & give the old fella a kiss for me x

Hobo

Heartbeat At My Feet

I think it’s fair to say that since the old fella passed I’ve lost my way a little stumbling around like a lost soul but I think he’d approve of me becoming self-employed which is my first step in moving on. Bereavement without a doubt, leaves a gaping hole in your life and I vowed that because of the poor experience which we had with Dad’s care that I would make something positive come out of a bad situation; so meet Miss Wigglebum.

I thought long and hard about becoming a fosterer before completing the application form for a small rescue and when they announced they were coming for a house inspection it somehow made it all real. Truthfully I was expecting to foster an older dog whose owner had passed away so when I had a call unexpectedly one Saturday morning concerning an emergency rescue I didn’t have time to think too much about it. I had no idea that my new houseguest was a ten week old springer pup who when handed to me was yellow from being sat in her own urine. Having not had a baby in the house for some time I don’t think I was quite prepared for the puppy devastation whirlwind. We’ve baby-gated for England (in fact if I ever write my memoirs they’ll be called “Babygate”) and because we are Miss Wigglebum’s third home house-training is a bit of a marathon. I often wondered why with three cats and little experience in the puppy raising field the rescue chose me to be her fosterer but maybe they had few options as they tell me it’s getting harder to recruit fosterers.

As a rescue she is not without her problems; underweight with severe guarding aggression are just a couple of them but our puppy trainer reckons it’s because she left mum too early and then lived in a shed on her own so she’s told me to take one day at a time. On the days when this cute puppy transforms into the “Bride of Chuckie” I’m left wondering what the hell I’ve done but I’m determined not to give up on her and I know that I have enrolled the best help I can. I met Jenny her trainer as one of the judges at the fun dog show at a local rescue and she took pity on me and awarded Cujo a rosette for “waggiest tail”. She must have noticed my look of sleep deprivation and despair so we got chatting and I discovered that she was running a local puppy class. Jenny as a breeder of springer spaniels calmly reassured me that there is no perfect dog and added there is nothing she hasn’t seen before so fate had once again stepped in and provided us both with a saviour.

We have met some amazing people as part of her journey and accidentally meeting up with a group of dog walkers at 7am every morning has given her the socialization she was lacking. Dogs of all ages and breeds are teaching her manners and their patient owners understand this; in fact, she has a better social life than me!

Now Ruby, as we have renamed her is fourteen weeks old and it feels like she has been here forever; the training is one step forward and frequently two steps back but I am determined not to give up on her as I will be the one who failed her if I don’t do all I can to ensure that she is a happy, healthy and well-behaved family pet.

As the old fella often remarked when I would whine about some insignificant minor inconvenience, “life doesn’t always give you what you want, it gives you what you need” and somehow I think he would approve.

Miss Wigglebum

The Cost Of Love

Our 2016 remained bitter right up until the very end after old Hobo was attacked by another cat whose owner had irresponsibly failed to neuter their pet. After four weeks’ of unsuccessful treatment at the local vet we were referred to a veterinary ophthalmic surgeon (the eye Supervet) where he has undergone an operation and ongoing treatment with the bill currently running at £2,000; financed solely from my much-needed new car fund. Even with cutting edge technology it’s uncertain whether he will regain full sight in his eye but I know the old fella would have wanted us to try. On one of my many visits to the surgery I sat listening to the receptionist answering calls from other pet owners in the same situation as myself and at £120 initial consultation fee many deliberated on whether to proceed with treatment once they were advised of the cost.

For many the charges are way beyond what they can afford and there are very little alternatives for those having no access to the finances required. I wanted to save old Hobo’s sight so I have made my peace with driving my ropey old Renault Clio until it makes its last journey to the junk yard in the sky but at least I’ll do so knowing that I did my absolute best for him. You see we made a commitment eleven years ago when we brought him home from Woodside Animal Sanctuary that we would take care of him for the rest of his life; even if it bankrupts me! However, it troubles me that in the twenty-first century we still live in a world where the level of care and healthcare available for those we love is determined by the size of your wallet.

When we sought care homes that would accommodate my Dad, a very insensitive and inexperienced social worker told us that you “get what you pay for”. It troubles me that the most vulnerable in society have their care dictated by their family’s personal funds. Having lived in Turkey I am all too aware that there are countries with no free healthcare and the limited options for people who don’t have the funds available for treatment are heartbreaking.

The constant worry and sleepless nights when our loved ones are sick are increased tenfold when we know that we just don’t have the resources available to be able to pay for the best possible treatment or care. So tell me then do we love any less by simply not being able to pay our way or do those we cherish pay the ultimate price for that?

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A Piece Of Our Hearts Is At Rainbow Bridge

For the past thirteen years my Dad’s constant companion and shadow has been an old border collie called Sonny who was rescued by the old fella when he came across him being thrashed by an impatient farmer for failing to nip the heels of the sheep but clearly no amount of beatings was going to change this poor dog’s submissive behaviour. My Dad being a canny old fella knew there and then that the fate of this young pup lay in his hands as most failed sheepdogs are usually despatched with a bullet from the farmer’s gun so waving his walking stick in the air he approached the farmer saying “Now then fella m’lad, that’ll be enough of that” and promptly took the young dog off the farmer’s hands right there and then without any further argument from the farmer.

My mother was less than impressed when this fairly bedraggled and smelly dog was brought into her pristine kitchen but had become accustomed over the years to my father bringing home various waifs & strays so begrudgingly set about finding something to feed the poor animal. After an overly-enthusiastic bath and groom the bewildered animal settled at my father’s feet, which is more or less where he has been for the past thirteen years. We often joked that Dad probably loved the newly named Sonny more than the old dear. It took some time for Sonny to gain confidence even the cats knew he was a complete pushover and whilst the farmer had not appreciated his kind temperament everyone who met him was charmed. I am always amazed by the good nature of animals in spite of the poor treatment they receive from those that should know better. Sudden movements and loud noises still frightened him and the fact that he never barked were signs of his former abusive life but the old fella loved him dearly.

In fact they were seldom apart, every time I cycled up to the allotment Sonny would be contentedly laying on a blanket in the sunshine watching his master with adoring eyes, who would be toiling amongst his beloved dahlias.

The saddest thing is that as both old boys have fought their health own battles they have been separated when they when both needed each other’s comfort the most. It’s been hard watching them both deteriorate and I’ve come to terms with the fact that the old fella will never be coming home as the brain damage is just too severe for him to cope with the smallest of tasks. I’d also been in denial over Sonny so with a reluctant heavy heart made the decision to help him take the journey to Rainbow Bridge where he passed away in my arms as the person he loved the most on this earth could no longer remember his name.

I truly believe it’s possible to die of a broken heart but I am comforted that Sonny will be waiting just on the other side of the bridge to walk the old fella home when his time comes.

Sleep well bonny lad

Sadly the only pictures I have of Sonny and the old fella have been lost or damaged so I thought they’d both approve if instead I posted a picture of Handsome Benny who Blind Dog Rescue UK are trying to find a UK home for as regrettably his other one fell through. I sure would appreciate it if you could share beautiful Benny’s story so he can find his forever home just like the old fella’s boy.

 

Benny

A Camera Is A Save Button For The Mind’s Eye

When it comes to photography I am no Rhonda, Gunta, Rebecca, Marianne or Madhu. I’d hoped that over the past four years some of their skills would have rubbed off on me but regrettably the photography fairy has failed to sprinkle a little pixie dust on me. I’ve been privileged to work with some of the very best WordPress photographers on joint projects but I still lack the fundamentals when it comes to capturing a great shot.

In honour of Pet Fostering week I thought I’d snap a couple of photos of Milo one of our failed fosters to help promote how worthwhile it is taking an animal in to provide them with the best possible chance of finding their furever home. I mean, after all how difficult can it be photographing your beloved pet, my blogging friends Animalcouriers do it all the time!

Two hours later, I’d broken out in a sweat, got through two bags of cat treats, a stiff glass of wine and still hadn’t managed to get a good shot of Milo; well one that didn’t make him look like yellow fang evil psycho cat. Eventually my perseverance paid off or either my subject was tiring and decided to submit gracefully to my bribery. You can see Milo’s close up here in which he’s a great ambassador for rescue cats and we succeeded in getting our message out there that fostering saves lives.For those interested in fostering head over to your local rescue where I’m sure a warm welcome awaits.

I have a true appreciation for the talents of all my photography blogging friends and their endeavours to provide the sleek glossy pictures that regularly grace their blogs but I realise that a lot of work goes in to providing the completed article. So I’m curious, tell me what’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve done whilst trying to capture that perfect shot?

"Enough already"

I’m the reason my family couldn’t put out the nativity scene this year as I ate the three wise men – Milo”

I drink out of the toilet - Hobo

I’m not ashamed that I drink out of the toilet – Hobo

I steal the neighbour's Koi Carp from his ornamental pond

I steal the neighbour’s Koi Carp from his ornamental pond – Chloe Hellcat

This is me after I stole a bag of cat nip & I'm too stoned to move

This is me after I ripped open a bag of cat nip & I’m too stoned to move – Charlie

Keep Your Coins They Need Change

As most of you know I’m an early commuter to work each morning and I am always intrigued by my fellow travellers that I meet en route. One of those is a homeless girl, about the same age as one of my nieces, who I often bump into on my way to pick up a newspaper. There’s very obviously a pretty girl under all those tatty layers and in another time & place she would be planning nights out with her friends or buying make up. We always exchange pleasantries and I always stop to pet Billy, her beautiful Staffordshire bull terrier who like many homeless companions is probably better cared for than many pets. Occasionally, I’ll pick her up a cup of tea when I collect my first coffee of the day.

Last week she told me that someone had given her the money to purchase a coat for Billy as he didn’t like the cold and I nodded as like many cynical souls thought the money would probably be spent on booze or cigarettes. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I next bumped into them to see that Billy was proudly sporting a very nice fleecy lined jacket and looking a lot happier for it

The other morning, however, she was quite distressed and said that another homeless person had stolen their tent and contents including the dog food. “Can you believe stealing from the homeless? It’s not like I’ve f***ing got that much in the first place” and I could have wept as she shyly showed me a sweater she’d discovered carelessly discarded next to one of the litter bins.

I was deeply touched by her plight and like I know many of you would have done, I bought her a few items from the shop just to keep her going. As we shared a McDonalds breakfast, I tried to reassure her by telling her that life wouldn’t always be this bleak for her but from someone who’d never been hungry or homeless a day in their life, I’m sure my words sounded hollow. The daily grind of finding somewhere to take safe shelter out of the bad weather for the night and just getting through the next day to start the drudgery all over again. It’s no wonder that many turn to drugs and alcohol to blot out the harsh reality and at the end of the day who I am I to judge them. What do I know about sleeping fitfully just in case you’re attacked, asked to move on or have your entire world stolen from you. Like so many of us I know nothing about being so cold and hungry that I don’t know whether I will make it through the day let alone week.

The fact is whatever city or country we live in there are always going to be insufficient safe accommodation for the amount of homeless people who live on our streets whilst our governments spend billions in foreign aid. I see many homeless on my way in to work many being moved along by retailers as they open up for the day; have we really become that desensitized to those in need on our doorstep?

A conversation with our grocery delivery driver, who also confided in me that he had also been made homeless after the break-up of his marriage, made me realise that we are all only one step away from finding ourselves in the same situation. The loss of a job followed by eviction is an all too common tale. Don’t believe me? In a heartbeat you can find yourself on the same downward spiral as many others before you and it may take several years to turn your life around; some just aren’t that lucky and will end their days on the streets. Try securing a job without an address and then tell me how easy it is.

So in the true spirit of paying it forward this year the very next time you pass a homeless person at the very least spare them a smile because that really could be you.

For those finding themselves with housing difficulties or just want to become involved try contacting Passage or Shelter

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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!

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