Sunday, 27 January 2008

Pensioners in love!

I forgot to mention that Honey the foxhound has gone to the shelter which takes on problem dogs.I am waiting to hear how she is doing there.I still feel upset! It will be good once I know she has settled and even better to hear that she has been rehomed.I know in my heart she had to go once she started showing an interest in sheep, that would have literally been the death of her if she stayed here.Lucas the lurcher has found a home , cant believe that he has gone so quickly , he has gone to someone who took a 17 years old cat on a few months ago and today she rang to tell me the dog is doing fine. Thats great news, I think all shelter staff worry when their charges leave the safety of the sanctuary, its such a hit and miss affair, animals can react so differently according to their environment.
The sun is shining today, what a difference it makes to animals and humans, everywhere looks brighter, there are cats lying about the yard enjoying the respite from the seemingly incessant rain.The pigs are pottering about happily and the two old collies Monty and Tara are sunbathing outside the office.For once the horses are not waiting to come in to their stables so early in the afternoon, some have gone up the top fields and are out of sight, others are nodding off enjoying the warmth on their backs.
Above is a photo of dear old Noddy with his girlfriend Maggie, they really have formed a close bond now and share a stable together.The old couple are pictured coming in for their evening meal last night.Noddy has always been a hard one to photograph as his deformed legs can make him look very odd indeed, this funny little pony is an absolute treasure whom we all adore.I take it quite personally when people comment on his rather unusual appearance.I think he is gorgeous!Maggie also with her funny little box feet is a sweet little shetland.We call them the Lovers.
Its been a quiet weekend for rehoming animals, although the last of our kittens have now gone, perhaps people are enjoying the change in weather too much to visit us.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

A letter of appreciation means a lot.

Its been a very busy few weeks, the manager of Liverpool shelter has left after working for Freshfields since its very early days.Ive been backwards and forwards to Liverppol interviewing potential managers.A new manager will start Monday with 2 deputy managers and I am very hopeful that the new team will work well together.If this happens I will feel a lot easier in my mind, I seem to spend more time worrying about things happening at Liverpool, than I do the shelter here in Wales.I need to get back to setting this shelter on the map! When I started this charity 30 years ago, it never occurred to me that I would have to spend so much time doing paperwork and administration, to be honest had I thought about the effect running a busy animal shelter would have on my life I am sure I would have run a mile!
Anyway here I am all these years later struggling with the paperwork and the responsibilites, theres nothing glamorous about this work! I have to admit I cant imagine doing anything else which would be even half as satisfying.
On the way back from Liverpool I stopped at a village near Mold to collect an old cat whose elderly carer had died. Melvyn the son of the deceased woman had telephoned me to ask if I could take Moses the old stray his mother had been feeding for many years(he thinks he may be as old as 17) He was unable to care for him as he lived in an upstairs flat in Liverpool and Moses had been used to a rural lifestyle.Moses had been an outdoor cat all his life but was very affectionate and gentle and I gladly brought him back to the shelter.
When I returned I settled the cat in his new quarters and read the letter Melvyn had given me (along with a welcome donation)It was incredibly moving - I quote from the letter.
" Moses has been badly abused in the past and does not trust people though he longs for affection and kindness,I am so grateful to you for giving him the chance of this for once in his life.I dont know why my mother never found him a home or allowed him in the house though |I think it was because she knew she did not have long herself (she was in her 80s)Knowing he is finally going to be happy and receive the love and affection he so desperately wants has given me joy and hope"
It is rare for people who hand over pets to write such a moving letter and it really made me feel that this job truly is worthwhile, not just because many animals are rescued but also to know that we have brought peace of mind to a very caring kind person like Melvyn and others like him.
Already Moses is worming his way into our affections, he is an enormous longhaired cat with a shy but gentle character and he does not look his age.If I dont find him a home he could very well become a permanent resident here.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Changes ahead for Freshfields.

Pictured are two of the [pygmy goats we have been asked to rehome.Dorothy and Marmite had been childrens pets, however the children had lost interest and so the goats were due to be sent to market! They went straight to "foster parents" who have fallen in love with them and have offered them a permanent home(along with 4 Freshfields ponies)We are often asked to take goats but they do need very secure homes as most would escape from Alcatraz! I think many people take them on when they are cute little babies but like all animals they grow quickly and then all of a sudden the cute little kids are butting people with their hard little heads and horns and escaping from every paddock they inhabit! I remember my sister taking on two rescued (horned) pygmy goats and they proved to be a real handful, frequently knocking her flying, and believe me she is no Kylie Minogue (no offence Sandra, I just meant being 5ft 10 tall)
Today 2 cats went to homes and someone is coming next weekend all the way from Cardiff, South Wales to take Sparkles a little cat with a deformed paw who needs a safe indoor home.It is great when special needs animals find homes, it always makes the job seem worthwhile and makes up for the many sad events which occur in a rescue centre.
Dave , The manager of the LIverpool shelter is leaving after working alongside me at Freshfields for a long long time (on and off) since it first started all those years ago. so it has been a time of great stress, trying to find a replacement.Dave knows the shelter so well he will be greatly missed and I cant imagine what it will be like once he has gone, it is the end of an era and I have to remind myself that nothing stays the same forever and think ahead to the future of both shelters, Liverpool and Wales.Im sure he will feel a sense of relief to be no longer working under the inevitable pressure running a rescue centre brings but Im equally sure he will feel a gap in his life for some time afterwards.I cant imagine myself leaving although obviously at some time in the future I will have to hand over the reins to someone younger - not just yet though, I still have a fair amount of vitality left!!!!

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

A timid lurcher arrives.

It has been a particularly busy day on the phone with people wanting homes for animals, most oif them have been for dogs and cats but I have had several calls about horses and 2 about pigs and goats.This is when I wish there was more land here, more money, more staff etc. There is only so much to be done with the amount of grazing here but the need for a sanctuary in this part of the Uk becomes more obvious as each day goes by. I feel frustrated and inadequate at the number of animals I am able to help and can only hope that one day in the not too distant future this shelter will have beter facilities and more land.The farmer next door has land to sell but at such a price it is inconceivable at the moment.It would be wonderful to be able to extend Freshfields with that additional acreage, maybe I should set up an appeal?
Like so many others I have been distressed at the case reported in the papers about the neglected horses in Buckinghamshire.I cant help wondering why these animals are allowed to get to the point of death before anyone intervenes though I have heard that neighbours had reported the owner over the past few years,If that truly is the case, someone , somewhere needs to take responsibility for the mishandling of the situation.
It seems there is another wave of kittens around, 2 beautiful litters have arrived along with their 2 pretty tortie mums, Im sure it wont be long before they are all snapped up by potential owners.The cats are moving quite well, I| know you shouldnt have favourites but I think we all do and Sunny a handsome young ginger who has been here a long time has now gone to a home where I hope he will not be too unsettled.I always worry about the timid ones because they are so fearful going somehwre new though I know eventually it is for the best.I really loved Sunny so I will be anxiously waiting to hear how he is.
Lucas, a young black lurcher(photo above) was found shivering in the rain and very distressed, he has now been neutered and is sharing a pen with Sally and Pal our longterm collies.Lurchers can be quite nervous dogs but he seems unduly so, he is desperate to make friends but to scared to allow a cuddle.Hopefully we will soon win him over!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Zorro and Munchkin find a home

I have been away in Liverpool for a few days. Its funny how I am always desperate for a lie in bed(impossible to get here at the shelter)but when I am away I have the opportunity to do so, yet I feel I HAVE to get up!!!I suppose the body clock takes time to adjust to a different routine.I enjoyed the break from routine and the humour and wit of my fellow Scousers, but whilst I have a great loyalty to Liverpool and its people, I am always glad to be back in rural Wales. I have become used to the quieter lifestyle and the wonderful scenery where I now live. I can see the sea on one side and the mountains on another.Beautiful!
Whilst I was away several adult cats including 2 inseparable pairs have been found homes which is great and a possible home may be on the cards for William and Walter, two of our younger shetland ponies.I have had several people contact me with remedies for Williams fear of loud noises and I will be trying all of them starting with the Bach Rescue remedy.its good to know people are concerned and interested enough to get in touch.
Rambam the new sheep is now esconced in the old dog kennels where he will have to remain segregated until his skin condition clears, he seems fine and is now eating well and is a lot brighter than when he first arrived.
Today has been a day to catch up on emails and messages,, it is now turning dark, the trees are shaking with the strong winds and I fear that William may be due for another scary night.Oh Happy Days!

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

A new sheep.

Meet Rambam (pictured above). This little ram was found lying on the side of a road, he was suffering from a severe skin condition and was very thin and distressed.A visit to the vet confirmed he has Sheep Scab, highly contagious to other sheep but thankfully not to other animals.He will need a course of injections to clear the infection which is covering his entire body his coat is literally hanging off him and undernesth his skin is cracked and covered in open sores.Poor little chap.As soon as he is well enough he needs to be castrated but right now he needs to get better, after that we will either find him a home or he will stay with the 3 pet sheep already here.
Im having trouble with William lurcher who has always been terrified of fireworks and loud bangs but has now developed a fear of high winds and whenever there is a particularly wild night outside he cannot rest, he keeps me awake all night with his trembling and terror.I think he may be needing sedatives for such times though I am averse to using these longterm.I think its time to have another read of my herbal/homeopathic books and try to find a natural remedy.Its upsetting to see a dog so filled with fear, the strange thing is that this has only started occurring recently, mind you the weather here is getting wilder and wilder so perhaps it did not sound so loud and fierce before now.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Not the best weekend ever!

Well what a weekend! talk about manic! You know in this kind of work I meet many lovely people but also many not so nice and some downright odd! I have always considered myself to be rather odd, after all nobody sensible,rational and normal would even consider living this life. Would they?It most definitely is not conducive to maintaining relationships.nevertheless there are times I think I must be normal because others I meet make me appear quite conventional and dull! Without going into it in detail suffice to say that this weekend I have had my patience stretched to the limits by one such person, a person I tried to help but who is now causing me immense grief and aggravation.It is almost always the owners, not their pets who cause the problems at shelters, I speak regularly to other shelter owners and they all say the same, animals are relatively easy and straightforward to deal with in comparison to some of the people with whom we come into contact.So there is the Odd character and the not so nice award this week goes once again to my next door neighbour, the person whose sole reason for living seems to be to make the lives of others HELL.having stopped Freshfields from taking in dogs, his attention is now centred mainly on the people on the other side to him.
On Sunday morning they were in trouble, their elderly horse had fallen into a ditch.They asked our mutual neighbour for help to pull him out with his tractor, in no uncertain terms he told them where to go!!!! Later when the Fire Brigade arrived he was rude to them also. A delightful person with no end of charm!
Meirwen,Alison(our newest staff member) and I ran over and helped keep the terrified animals head above water until help arrived.After an hour which seemed more like 3 hours, another neighbour arrived with a tractor and with the Fire Brigade wrapping straps around his body, the old horse was finally pulled to safety. He was tired and cold after lying the stream for such a long time but otherwise none the worse for his ordeal.The lads from the Fire station were amazing, I have the utmost respect for them and their kindness to the horse was wonderful.So the decent folks outnumbered the others , good conquered evil and some lovely people offered homes to cats and kittens which is always a morale booster.

Friday, 4 January 2008

A most difficult dog.

Well this is the start of the 6th year Freshfields has been in North Wales.looking back there have been many times I have seriously wondered if I had done the right thing by trying to set up an animal shelter in such a predominantly farming area.So many farmers display such a callous attitude towards animals and finding support in suchg a community has proved very hard.Nevertheless - support we have found, the past year has brought us more supporters,. nmore volunteers and also more charity shops.The shops are our only regular income and are also a good way to raise the profile of the shelter.We now have 3 in Powys plus the two local to the shelter, in Caernarfon and Porthmadog.We have also received a grant from a charitable trust which has enabled me to purchase a couple more mobile stables for the horses.The weather is so very cold now and its such a relief to know that our horses are all going to be warm and dry this winter. In order to extend the stabling facilities I have had a hard standing and small yard built round two of the field shelters and also a turn out paddock which will be used in the spring for those ponies which need to have restricted grazing(those with laminitis).Once we have replaced the old stable which had to be pulled down due to structural problem, the horses facilities will be almost complete and then I need to turn my attention to the cattery which badly needs refurbishing.So lots to plan for this coming year.
It has been a quiet Christmas though the weeks leading up to it were hectic, it seemed as though everyone in Gwynedd (and other areas)wanted to part with their pets! We managed to take in all the cats we were asked to home and also to find homes for several of the dogs though there are still several needing homes.Although we were prepared to take in the 4 horses from the family in Cheshire and had aranged transport, nothing mnore has been heard from them! This happens a lot, we receive desperate calls, rush round organising everything and then No response from the people who instigated it. Often several weeks or months later another call will come through from the same people with the same problem and sometimes then we do not have the room, it can be very frustrating.
The dreadful hurricane type winds a few nights ago caused me a sleepless night worrying about the possible damage to the animal buildings but fortunately we survived, however friends in the village lost several of their animal houses though thankfully no animals were hurt.Its so exposed here high winds are a constant concern.
Honey the foxhound is still with me and I am struggling to deal with her behavioural problems. she is possibly the most difficult dog I have ever known! I feel a failure becasue with all my years of experience I am unable to make headway with her.Another shelter has offered to take her and I may have to accept the offer though I hate to give up on any animal and I also dont like to pass on a problem to someone else.The most worrying habit she has is that of chasing sheep and I am surrounded here by sheep so that is a major problem, she does not want to harm them but farmers will ask no questions, they will shoot first ask questions later.I wonder what her past history is. no animal is born difficult,Honey is no doubt a product of her background, |I believe she may have been originally from a hunting pack and has had to fight for food, hounds are not fed individually and the strongest nmore dominant ones will get to the food first.Her greed is amazing and she will thieve and fight to get even a small morsel of food. I am in a quandary about what to do with her though my common sense tells me one thing, my heart tells me another.