Author Archive

Squirt has passed peacefully away.

Posted: March 11, 2019 at 6:02 pm

Squirt came to SAINTS Feb 15 2008, we believe he was a puppy mill survivor. We guessed at his age..4? 5? 6? not a youngster but not an old fart either.
For the first while, Squirt hid in his crate in the corner of one of the back rooms. We gave him food and water in his crate and it took time for him to soldier up a little bit of courage to explore.
Eventually, with a lot of time and patience Squirt became a very good friend to staff and volunteers but if strangers were in the house Squirt always retreated to his small crate and would wait for them to leave before he would come back out again. We used to tell folks not to be concerned when Squirt stopped hiding at their arrival and started nipping at their heels as he chased them out the door. This was always the very last step in Squirt accepting them as a new friend. Getting ankle bit from our little man was a very good sign that a new friendship was forming.
When Squirt first arrived he was beyond terrified but with one tiny step at a time he sometimes became a little more brave. Below is one of SAINTS favorite stories of Squirts very first attempt at braveness.

Posted: March 4, 2008 at 12:48 pm

Setting the stage:

midnight…Maudie asleep in the laundry area oblivious to the closing of the gate. The characters will speak in human voices so you can actually understand them.

The Gate

2am all is quiet but the watchers are watching.

Suddenly an intruder is detected at the gate to the sleeping areas of the privileged. Sir Cuddles springs into action, leaping from the bed and sounding the alarm. General Albert Spice joins him and together they hold off the intruder.

“GET BACK YOU BEAST” shouts Sir Cuddles to the frantic and gate climbing husky.

“The Gate is closed, go away” orders the general in a tone that brooks no argument.

“please, please….” begs Maudie, “please let me in, I need to be in there, please open the gate!”

“NO!” they both scream “THE GATE IS CLOSED! YOU CANNOT COME IN!”

Maudie loses her mind, and despite the two mean and unfeeling poodles, she starts to climb the gate.

” Send reinforcements! the bitch is scaling the gate!!!”

Suddenly out of the darkness appears Squirt (who apparently is sometimes brave) and he joins the other two in holding off the intruder.

The battle is fierce, the little trio stand their ground, refusing to give an inch.

Finally Maude sinks to the ground in defeat, still on the wrong side of the gate.

She begins to sob, “oh…will no one help me, will no one let me in???”

And in the darkness, a figure appears in a very ugly bathrobe. The tiny army respectfully gives way, the gate swings open and Maude dashes past to her bed, finally safe at last.

As the silence once again falls and peace reigns again, the poodles grumble to themselves…
”she woke HER up again, that’s why we lost”
”yes, but did you see how brave was the little Squirt?”

Squirt was euthanized at home by one of our most trusted vets, he was not afraid. Today as he was slipping off into a deep sleep on Renee’s lap, Tang came up to him and gave him a gentle head butt, they had been trusted friends for many years. Squirt had many friends not just amongst SAINTS people but with his SAINTS animal family too.
Squirt has been so well loved here for more than a decade by all of the staff and volunteers. We were his family and this was his home and Squirt was happy here.
Rest in peace our dear little friend, the kitchen will never be the same but we will all carry you in our hearts forever.

We hope Benny, Odie, Cuddles, Albert Spice and all of your other past friends who you loved so well will greet and cuddle with you on the other side…(maybe even Maude if she has forgiven you for obstructing her that fateful gate night!)

mo’s roxy has passed away

Posted: March 8, 2019 at 6:55 pm

she wasn’t technically a saint but in reality she was. roxy had been coming to saints with mo since we opened in 2005. every weekend she would join the saintly crew out in the barn, in the fields, at our picnics and work parties she has been a fixture at saints for 14 years.
i watched mo with her these past few months as roxy began the slow but steady slide towards the end of her life. and what i saw was such a soft and gentle kindness, a deep and rich caring as mo helped roxy navigate the difficult waters of extreme old age.
i will remember roxy in her kick ass youth completely owning and embracing her weekends at saints. and i will remember watching mo gently guide her old and sometimes bewildered best friend, hand feeding her the best of treats to make sure she got enough to eat.
i know mo’s heart is broken over the loss of her dearest friend, but i also know that roxy had the very best life that any dog could have been given.
rest in peace roxy, you were a truly great dog and hugs to mo who carries so many memories of loving this very special dog.

shyla as an onion is up for adoption

Posted: March 2, 2019 at 9:58 pm

onions are my favorite analogy for pretty much everything. i used it not too long ago at a conference as an example: pet overpopulation being the whole and all the contributating factors (poverty. culture, available resources etc) as being the various layers (but still an onion too.)

so today i am using the onion analogy to describe shyla.
shyla as we see her and know her is the whole onion but she has many layers too.
here are the contributing factors:
layer one…whoever bred a husky to a border collie was astronomically stupid! i remember from science class that if you added 2 positives together you got a negative…hah shyla in a nutshell.
husky’s are smart, fantastically athletic, big thinkers and problem solvers in their own right and border collies while totally different in many ways… in these particular respects are exactly the same.
breed one of each of these greatly positive dogs together and you get shyla…a hyper anxious neurotic genius!
layer 2…shyla chained to a dog house for most of her life. oh freaking yay..plenty of time for her to feel frustrated, fearful, anxious and problem solve all sorts of not very good solutions.
layer 3..force breed an already shy, anxious, fearful and powerless dog and keep her chained while she is stuck and unable to escape from 3 consecutive litters of lets not be surprised that she totally hates any and all puppies and thinks they should die.
layer 4..don’t feed her enough, keep her thin..she thinks she is starving and now all food belongs to her and she is not willing to share.

and then there are the layers of shyla herself…shyla is the whole onion with multiple layers of not so great shyla stuff.
layer 1 is the aggressive dog who wants to charge at people she doesn’t know well and bite them if she can, (she is not allowed to and in her defense she does use her front teeth and has decent bite inhibition to prevent breaking the skin)
layer 2 is the under socialized bully who sucks at making k9 friends and totally goes freaking ape-shit if she thinks they are anywhere near her…like walking past her window!
layer 3 is the fearful/terrified dog who cowers or runs at unexpected noises or movements or if she gets yelled at when she is doing something really mean…like screaming at rocket or vinny and scaring the crap out of them when they are sleeping!
layer 4 is the master manipulator who with a delightful yet devilish twinkle in her eye intentionally acts submissively sweet to get you to laugh and play with her.
layer 5 is the sneaky trickster who steals your shoes off your feet and lays on them to prevent you from leaving the room.
and finally the core of this dog…an adorably smart, funny, sweet, freaking jerk who totally and completely worships the ground you walk on…and i bet she is manipulating me in this regard too!

all 6 layers are shyla thru and onion in all of her glory.
as you peel away the layers, your eyes will sting and tears will flow but her overpowering essence adds some weird kind of intoxicating rich flavor forced down your throat and deep into your soul.

a total freaking nutcase….. very well loved but geez i wish she would get a very great home… somewhere else!

the new castle

Posted: March 1, 2019 at 8:09 pm

i struggle with so many things in rescue…my responsibility to the animals is always first and foremost..but then there is saints itself and it too has needs to remain healthy and move forward.
and this is true of any organization be it business or of a charitable persuasion. and while i can direct and control myself and my own actions…the rest of the human component remains a bit of a gamble.
we have been burnt a few times in the past now i try to avoid us getting burnt in the future.
so what do we do?

i think we surround ourselves with the very best people, we learn to not only recognize value, but are clear on what values are important. For me they are committment, honesty, altruism, insight, courage and caution, critical thinking and problem solving skills, pure, simple common sense with a good dose of rational dedication to justice. These are the character strengths that will see SAINTS safely into the future. And ultimately nurture and protect the vulnerable animals we all hold so dear.
So many rescues go by the wayside due to infighting, lack of vision, politics, ego’s, slippery ethics to name a few..basically an inability to forge a strong and trustworthy foundation to protect it not only in the present but also into the future.

in this regard i count myself, the animals and saints as a whole as incredibly lucky. over the years we have gathered an incredible group of people. some have been here since the beginning, others have joined us along the way. all of us have grown into better people as we met each and every challenge of each new day.
but the one thing that still worries me is myself and my mental and emotional strength. its not that i am super human..or maybe sub human. i have felt every bruise, every beating, every wound inflicted from the outside or inflicted by myself. i have shed more tears, bled from my soul more often than i care to count. i have accepted it all, the good and the bad and sometimes even the truly awful and i still get up.
i wouldn’t know how not to…that’s how much this place and these animals mean…they mean far more to me than me.

now having said this and knowing how difficult it has been some days to carry keep moving face the next victory or defeat…to live and know that while i am not worthy…that i am truly not good enough and still keep going….trying to do the best that i can, even when i know i haven’t…how do i expect others to do the same? because the fact of the matter is..rescue is not all that pretty, it certainly is not much fun…it is full of second thoughts and painful self doubt. in many ways caring for saints is the same as parenting…except your kids never actually ever grow up.

do you understand what this means? that saints has to be strong enough to safely and with integrity weather whatever comes… with or without me? eventually the buck will not stop here when i am gone.
so where will it stop?
does it scare you?
it should because it fucking terrifies me.
i trust in us individually but individually will soon not be enough. saints has to build strong and immovable walls of all of us holding each others hands, standing beside our animals now and in the future. not to protect them from the fickle fingers of fate…but to protect them from ourselves. because if we break the chains of solid values that bind us in nurturing our animal friends, in respecting them, protecting them…then they are lost.

so i am asking, all of us who love this place and her animals with all of our hearts…how do we build the new and improved saints castle walls?
can we become one and do it together?

Ethical decisions for ducks

Posted: February 27, 2019 at 6:38 pm

Rescue really isn’t all that simple. Some days it will boggle the brain. Even things that ought to be easy..aren’t really all that easy.
Take for example caring for ducks, in fact just one particular duck named Tiny Tim.
Tim has been here for what…3 or 4 years?
It’s been easy..give him a nice clean, dry, and warm home, a safe outside yard, a special friend,(Edwina,) feed him well including snacks and treats and most importantly a clean pool of water to swim and bathe in and Tiny Tim was happy!
Until last week.
I don’t know if you know this but male ducks are sex fiends…it is top of their big Three list…sex, eating and swimming…in that order and amazingly they can do all three things consecutively without a second thought!
So last week Tim participated in his most favorite activity one time too many and his penis prolapsed.
I would have felt sorry for him but he kind of deserved it. Too much of anything is not a good thing.
But being dutiful duck caregivers we took him to the vets and he had surgery to poke it back in with sutures to hold it.
Even tho we set him up in a recovery pen in the shop, it came back out so we took him back in and repeated said procedure.
And out again it popped. Arghhh!
Unfortunately we were left with no choice, either euthanize ( it was starting to go necrotic from being stuck out) or amputate his tiny little penis of which he really was very fond.
Now I also don’t know if you know that duck’s penis’s are strictly for reproduction, they don’t have urethra’s so passing urine was not going to be a problem.
The answer seemed simple, amputate the problem and then Tiny Tim could get on with his life penis free.
Except…just because his tiny overly friendly appendage is gone, doesn’t mean that Tim is not going to miss it. He is still going to want to be a sex demon, he just no longer has the right tool.
I feel badly for him, he is going to really want to do something that he is no longer capable of doing and there is no way to explain this to him.
I am not feeling badly for Edwina tho..she is not really all that into sex. When she lived with Floyd she used to fake headaches for weeks and hang out in her nest so he would leave alone.
I am pretty sure that Edwina will have a party once she realizes that Tim has lost his favorite toy.
However, she is actually lonely because Tim lived with her and during his recovery she is now all alone. Edwina is not happy about this.
AND…Tim can’t go anywhere near her for at least 6 more weeks so he has time to develop scar tissue because being near Edwina will get him aroused. This is apparently a no-no when recovering from a penile amputation.
So many new things that we really don’t want to learn.
Anyway, we are reconstructing Edwina’s pen so we can temporarily move Floyd next to her to keep her company so she is no longer lonely. Floyd can’t go in with her because many years ago he actually accidently broke Edwina’s leg because he too is a sex fiend and he wouldn’t stay off of her (Floyd is a very large duck.)
Are you seeing how complicated these damn ducks can be?
Tiny Tim had his 5 day post op check today, all is well, but he has to stay on the oral antibiotics for another 9 days, have you ever tried to pill pop a duck? He gets his sutures out in another five days but the really good news is that finally Tim was cleared for a bath!
I don’t know if you know that ducks hate to be dirty, personal hygiene is really important to them (probably because they have sex so much!) A dirty duck is not a happy duck so 2 weeks of no bathing was a real trial for Tim.
Today, Tim finally got a bath and that made him really happy..baths will now have to be his most favorite thing and I am conflicted..sad for him, happy for Edwina.
I don’t know if you knew this before now but ethical duck care is emotionally draining.

we lost balto today.

Posted: February 21, 2019 at 6:22 pm

he was one of my bedroom crew.

i don’t think balto ever had a great least not until he came to saints. he decided my dogs and by…were his true love family.
balto came from the was a hard life. he was eventually rescued by the NWT SPCA. they asked us to take him but we said no…balto was not good with male dogs and we were already full. They found him a foster home but a year and a half later he had to go back to the shelter so they asked us again. he was like a bad penny showing up on our radar again.
this time because the only male dog in my room was boomer and he was small, we decided to say yes.
balto fell in love with mystic, june and luna, and since boomer was already there, he was ok too.

after a while we sent balto out to foster but he started hiding in the closet and peeing and pooping in the house. he obviously wasn’t happy so we brought him back home. every once in a while someone would inquire about possible adoption…i kept saying no…i wanted him off the adoption list because as far as i was concerned, balto had already chosen his home.
i can say without a shred of doubt that balto not only felt safe and secure here…he was happy. he loved his little canine family (but still was an utter jerk to any other male dogs who lived here except his chosen brother boomer and eventually..keats) He loved hanging out at the barn, taking a dip in his pool or the pond and he even loved me and all of the staff and volunteers too.

he really was a quiet and very sensitive soul. At night he would lay full out next to me enjoying me rubbing his ears and stroking his fur. whenever i stopped he very softly and minutely would shift his position to remind me he was still there if i wanted to continue.
balto was old and he had some really significant arthritic issues but between gabapentin, tramadol, meloxicam, cartrophen injections and twice weekly in home laser treatments with Laurie (he LOVED those too!)
we kept him pretty comfortable.

yesterday he vomited a few times in the morning, but he kept his lunch down at noon, his back end was a little weaker and he looked like he wasn’t feeling well. when i got home from work..i wasn’t sure..should we wait until tomorrow to see how he is or should he go in to one of the clinics. i had one of those niggling suspicions that something was not good. so i packed him up and took him in. Thank you to Coastal Rivers for seeing him so late in the day. Xrays, ultrasound, bloodwork…all with bad news…possible cancer, severe spinal arthritis, kidney disease and the kicker..diabetes..his blood sugars were 33.
Old dogs can have more than one thing what was making balto sick..the possible but not confirmed cancer…the kidney disease..or for sure the way too high blood sugar?
his last blood work in Sept was normal in all respects except a sl. elevated calcium which MIGHT be a cancer indicator. we decided to hospitalize and try to get his blood sugars down because he was becoming ketotic.
Despite 24 hours of IV’s, insulin, and antibiotics, balto was getting worse. I went over to the clinic as soon as i was done work…i think he had pancreatic cancer, i don’t think he was going to get better, i made the decision to let him go. balto passed peacefully away and is free of all suffering now.

but this is what i know about this…balto sleeps with me every single night..i did not miss anything. the staff did not miss anything. balto was not letting anything inside him interfer with his happy life. yesterday it all caught up with him and today we lost our beloved boy. and every single one of us should celebrate balto’s happy life. he is so very lucky to have found a place that he felt was his own true home…he loved his life here, he loved his chosen dog family and he loved all of the people here too.

rest in peace balto, you had such a very sweet and gentle soul. you are and forever will be, so greatly missed.

Huge thx to NWT SPCA for rescuing him and to Coastal Rivers Pet hospital for so compassionately and expertly caring for him last night and today.

such sad news…miley has passed away.

Posted: February 13, 2019 at 7:00 pm

miley who broke our hearts over and over again as we tried to surgically repair her leg 5 times without success. miley who broke our hearts one last time when we finally had to amputate her leg.
miley who made our hearts soar when she finally scored the absolutely best gift of all…
not just a home of her own but the very, very best and perfect home of all.
miley spent the last few years swimming in her very own lake, snuggling into soft beds and blankets and wrapped up so warm and safe in the hearts of her family who completely adored her.

miley out of the blue crashed into massive life ending liver and kidney failure, the vet thinks it was some kind of weird autoimmune attack on her system. her family is devastated and we are so very sad for their loss.

but…miley for the past few years had it all. great medical care, an amazingly loving and caring family, and a ton of fun.
she was a very lucky dog.

rest in peace miley, we will never forget you.
our deepest condolences to your grieving family for the heartbreaking loss of you.

skye’s no limit

Posted: February 11, 2019 at 7:26 pm

we absolutely have to rescue with our heads….. it takes intelligence, knowledge, problem solving and critical thinking skills, it takes common freaking sense.
so when the email came thru last week about a horse wanting in..the obvious answer was no…there was no way to squeeze another horse in here…our barn horse crew is full.
it should have been an automatic “no.”

except..erin had a feeling and needed confirmation so she passed it on.
my thoughts room but better go look just in case.
so we planned out the options we could offer…temporary financial assistance…referring to another rescue…if worst came to worst..offering to help with a peaceful at home euthanization.

there was no way i was going alone because there was no doubt if i did, we would have another horse…i am a big marshmallow weenie and i tend to be impulsive. so…
we gathered the horse knowing skeptical keep saints sane and janette knew we had no room and they also knew we did not want an old and wrecked cribbing horse, our rescue plate was already really full.
(cribbing horses can have big health issues plus they can COMPLETELY destroy anything wood including barns, gates, doors and fences.) on the way to see him, we went over the possible options to offer as far as help was concerned.

well prepared to figure this out sensibly we went to meet skye..a 23 yr old, underweight, hard to keep, lame, cribbing thoroughbred gelding.
ALL of our heads knew the right answer…no freaking way.
and then we saw him and where he was. we saw what he needed and wasn’t getting. we saw a broken, useless, destructive, anxious old horse that no one would want for lots of reasons..and tomorrow or in a month or a year from now after getting passed around over and over, he would be on the truck to slaughter. guaranteed.
screw the smart thinking heads…all three breaking hearts said in one single voice..we are not leaving him here.
so we said we would take him. they were grateful.
i got on the phone and arranged boarding and hauling for the next day. then the windstorm hit and it was too dangerous to trailer. the plans changed to getting him on monday.
sunday afternoon we get a text…skye found a home.
i was suspicious..who in their right mind would take on this horse…the cribbing alone made him a phariah…the underweight, hard keeper..the definitely lame..the old horse with absolutely nothing left to give to anyone. really? who was this angel who could actually provide for him properly and magically showed up suddenly in one single day?
in any case..he was ours..we bonded, we worried, we tied ourselves up in knots, we were 150% committed to ensuring he never suffered some shitty fate.
all of us were freaking that he was going to slip thru our fingers to some gawd awful future fate.

freaking out never gets you anywhere…we had to find a solution so we entered the fucking reality of the horse trading world and offered to purchase.
erin ran off to the cash machine to chip in for the purchase. rick, where we were planning on boarding also offered a donation towards the purchase.
we offered $500, a little over his eventual slaughter price.
the owner accepted and skye was ours but had to be gone by the next day.
so despite the snowy roads, rick and janette pulled out the trailer and went to get him.
michelle, jane and mark came to help out here at saints because with janette gone we were now short staffed.
and then the next text came…skye is in the trailer and on his way.
all of the staff and volunteers gave a sigh of relief…yay he was safe.

it is impossible to rescue just with your head…we need heart and guts and courage to sometimes take risks. and when someone really needs us..we absolutely have to find a way.

i went to see him after work tonight at his new temporary boarding home…he hasn’t even been there a full day and yet he looks less stressed, more content, almost happy with the change.
the vets will come see him and give him a full going over next week.
The SPCA called today to follow up with him..unbeknownst to us they had been checking on skye and issuing was the day they were checking that the orders had been fulfilled. they are happy he is with us…case now closed.

he has a beautiful view of the mountains and a safe and dry walk in and out stall and paddock. he is making friends with his new neighbor viktor.
he will eventually come to saints when we have space.
tonight i told him…you will never, ever have to worry about anything ever again.
you might be a totally fucked over and good for nothing horse but you are now OUR horse and that means you are absolutely perfect in every possible way.
we love you skye and we will love you forever.
welcome sweet boy, our new satellite saint.

we will all sleep better tonight.
it took a village but the village ensured that skye is safe.

the significance of insignificance

Posted: February 2, 2019 at 7:53 am

take a bee for example..the size of my thumbnail yet it can terrorize me if it is too close to me because when it stings it hurts. more importantly tho, if (when?) the bee becomes extinct…the entire planet is toast.
this got me thinking….how important are we individually and/or collectively?
as a single human entity, even in my insignificance to the larger scheme of things, i have the potential to cause great harm or great good depending on the choices made by me.

ask shyla who for the first time in her life feels safe in a room, on a couch, within a few feet of me.
or ask the 2 dogs erin and i are going to see with probable cushings and a mouth full of rotten teeth and the other, an elder lost in a fog of bewildered upside down, unsure of anything.
we should ask them in a month or two how significant today’s visit and our ultimate decisions will be to them.

what is that saying?..”i can’t save them all but i can save this one.”

we have some truly great animals here…granted they are kind of worn and tattered and might not be around forever. maybe they have a few quirky things about them that make them less than ideal.
trixie is a great dog, mr. T is one of my all time favorites. Boomer 2, a 4 yr old cat is pretty obese but he could lose a few inches in a home of his own that was committed to his well being.
and sure they are all relatively happy here so maybe a home of their own is not of huge significance to them might make a great deal of difference to another lost or sick elder soul who is waiting to get in here.

there are days i wonder…. what’s the point? honestly does the universe even care as one after another unwanted imperfect animals finds their way here?
probably not… but the thing is…i do care.
what saints does has been significant to almost 1000 insignificantes out there.

i just hope the bees can hang in for us and for all of the other innocent insignificant beings everywhere.

exploiting the exploited.

Posted: January 23, 2019 at 8:11 pm

One of the biggest battles i have engaged in over the years is protecting our animals from at least the most overt forms of exploitation. These guys have been exploited by humanity up the yinyang.
lets be clear… all animals that have anything to do with human beings are exploited. we exploit them for food, for profit, for companionship, for therapy and assistance, for entertainment, for teaching opportunities, for feel good warm and fuzzies. we exploit them to stoke our ego’s, to engage in control, for power, for righteousness*(the proverbial hero vs the asshole.) we want to be the best animal whisperers, the most fantastic furry guru’s, with a click and a pocketful of treats, a jar of coconut oil, and a fridge full of raw food we are animal cure-all’s. when we use them or their stories to further our own personal or professional or social or rescue related ends…we are using them. lets call a spade a spade.
we need to acknowledge that we all do this in one way or another.
omg, the weight of even our rescue expectations in animal relationships is crushing.\
thank god they don’t know they are being exploited..they are really nice and trusting in that way.

and i guess they in turn exploit us too…they sure suck half my dinner and most of my bed out of me just with a yearning look in their eyes. they have the staff and volunteers jumping backwards and forwards to meet their physical and emotional needs in every possible way.

but here is the thing..shyla in her most manipulative posturing pose to get something she wants out of me…is doing it solely because she thinks she needs something from me.
what i try to protect her from is not from humans using her to fulfill some deep seeded maternal nuturing need (me) or to fulfill some even deeper seeded do-gooding or social justice need (also me,) my job is to protect her from anyone trying to use her or her story to personally impress somebody.

i live with these guys. they are not pure magical lights. they are as messed up, as tattered, as selfish and self serving as we are in mankind. the difference being..they are vulnerable, they are victims, they have absolutely no personal power unless we in our almighty-ness decide to give it to them.
now what IS magical about animals (and very small children) is what they help us to feel.
that gentle warm rush of softness that enters thru our eyes and slides into our spirits.
no one else may at that moment see it, or feel it and they don’t need to for us to still feel that gift.

in order to stop exploiting animals to simply benefit how other people see us…we need to understand this. animals exist for their very own purpose. just like i exist for my own purpose.
we may travel along together, for awhile. but their purpose is not to improve my purpose and i can’t possibly improve their purpose which i think may be to bring such a warm and gentle surge of softness into my spirit.
but their real purpose is to be themselves..and the real purpose for me is to be a better person myself.