Category: “General”

i will get a post in here while i can…

Posted: January 16, 2018 at 10:31 pm

this computer is groaning and freezing and arnie thinks it is something us all, computers get old and worn out too. I will try to be patient as it limps along but somedays it just refuses to work!

I wanted to talk about shyla…she is quite a fascinating dog.
last evening a few of us went to hear Leif Cocks speak about the Orangutan Project, it was really interesting.
he said orangutans are persons because they think and feel and plan, they store memories and retrieve them as needed.

I have always said that the animals here are persons..not people as in humans, but persons as in unique individuals with personalities, needs and wants.

by necessity, I spend a lot of time with shyla…I have become her anchor in the storm.
she is a bit neurotic, certainly anxious, yet highly intelligent…I get a great deal of satisfaction watching how her mind works as she forms various plans and plots.
when she first arrived, there was no doubt that she was a flight risk. when I finally let her outside in the front yard on a long line, I watched her size up the fence, check out the gate, inspect the waste container half shed. I followed her eyes as she measured the distance from the ground to the top of the container and gazing even further up to the top of the fence.
and I knew that little buggers plan as soon as she was loose was to run to the gate, jump up on the container and fly over the fence. she had her entire escape fully planned.
and so she stayed long lined for several weeks until this place became her safe place and she no longer wanted to leave.
finally the day came when I knew she was home, off came the long line..she was free and she chose not to flee.
I gave her a bit more time and then I decided it was time for her to start going out for walks.
this part is interesting…
shyla does not get too far from the driveway when suddenly she decides she is too far. then she gets nervous, she cowers, or hugs her walkers knees, she clearly is uncomfortable being too far away from where she regards safety.

shyla spent her entire 8 years of living chained up. she had 3 litters of puppies before she was surrendered and sent down south. shyla hates look at koji and she seriously thought he should die. she also truly dislikes small children, we keep her away from them so that she doesn’t bite. she is afraid of anyone in winter coats, heavy boots, wooly hats or hoods, and she is afraid of large men. she guards food and water bowls from other dogs too.

this tells me a lot about she probably couldn’t get away from her puppies even when they were a bit older and driving her nutz, she probably really resented competing with them for food, she probably was occasionally bugged by children and couldn’t escape from them too, and most likely in the north, esp in the winter…heavy coats, boots and hats obscured her ability to identify nice from not so nice people.
chained dog, trapped dog, vulnerable dog.
that had to be difficult for a dog as smart and as sensitive as her.

I have become her anchor in the storm. and she goes to great lengths to keep me as close as she can. if I sit down, she will take the shoes right off my feet and lay on top of them in her bed. if I get up to leave, she will wrap all four of her legs around my lower leg, trying to stop me. her newest trick is if I lay on the couch to watch tv, she will lay on my head. she watches me closely, waiting for me to move. when I come home she stands up and puts her paws on me and stands there silently in a hug.

a few years ago I read an article about how survivors of the holocaust and victims of genocide, and the conquered aboriginals suffered deeply from PTST and how it actually changed certain proteins on their DNA. these changes in DNA were passed down to the next generation making them more susceptible to PTST in future generations. it was actually natures survival technique to protect those living in dangerous times and their offspring to be more reactive to danger, so they could survive.

so I am also thinking, that maybe all of my assumptions of why shyla is like this could all be wrong. maybe shyla’s life wasn’t great, but maybe it wasn’t horrible. maybe she is the descendent of a distant traumatized dog.

I won’t ever know because she can’t tell me. but whatever goes on in her messy little head…I know two things A. she is astoundingly intelligent and B. she is incredibly loving and loyal with me.
I hope this is enough to one day find her the perfect family who will love and protect this very special little dog.

noelle! (by erin)

Posted: January 12, 2018 at 10:12 pm

Look who moved into permanent foster care today! Noelle is a 16 year old palliative cat who was signed over to us after her original owners took her to the vet to be euthanized (the vet refused). A few weeks ago Susan and her son came through for a tour, and fell in love. They know she’s senior, they know she has cancer and they took her home anyway. How awesome is that?!? Yay Noelle and your new family!

first come, first served.

Posted: January 12, 2018 at 9:20 pm

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over the years one of the oft times most repeated question that people ask is…
“if you spend 5 or 10 thousand dollars fixing one many other animals could you have saved with that money instead?”

that’s a hard question to answer….if each dog needed $1000 in medical care, then i guess you could save 5 or 10. but if the dogs didn’t need much at all…well then i guess you could save many.
however…(there is always a however…)
when an animal seeks help here…we pretty much look at one single thing…can we manage whatever issues the animal brings?
if our answer is yes..then the animal comes in.
our responsibility is to the animals in our care…not to the many who may or may not seek our assistance in the future.
so when miley wracked up $15,000 and brat wracked up $16,000 in medical bills in less than a year, each with multiple specialized surgeries, it was our responsibility to pay their bills. some animals just cost us a general blood panel, a neuter and a dental…others end up with meds, diagnostics, and occasionally surgeries that can cost A LOT of money to help them feel well again.

if we blow our medical budget and can’t afford to take in new animals because we just broke the bank on animal x and we can’t afford to add more costs to our vet bills (and this has happened a few times in the past) then we do put a hold on admissions until we get caught up again. saints is never empty…we run at full capacity almost constantly. the few times we let our numbers go down a bit to give us both a financial and emotional break…we still never drop our numbers below 100 on site and 50 or 60 still out in permanent foster care. so we still are caring for many even if we have temporarily closed admissions to more.

so my point is this…the animal standing in front of us needing not responsible for those who may come later. he deserves an answer from us based on what he needs, what we are able to do, not because we are hedging our bets just in case more “less” expensive animals may show up at our gate some day soon.

from day one of doing rescue, so very many years ago..i pledged that our decision making regarding our animals’ wellbeing would not be dictated by a dollar sign. our decision making is based on the animal’s needs, the animal’s quality of life, the medically reasonable outcome expectation…. a blind dog will see, a paralyzed dog will walk, a cat with a mouthful of abscessed teeth will soon be pain free. that’s how we make decisions..not on what if 10 more need us, or how many slices should this pie be expected to feed. decisions are based on what that animal, currently in our care at this particular moment, currently needs and are we currently able to meet those needs?

maybe life would be easier and less stressful for us if we did place a dollar limit on each animal’s care but i don’t think we got into rescue to do what was easy..i think all of us get here to do what’s right for each individual animal in meeting each animal’s unique set of needs.

animals live in today…if they are in pain, in distress, in need today..then our job is to remove that pain, reduce that distress, meet their need today..not to make excuses based on what may or may not happen to others in need in some imaginary future.

plus on the practical side of this back and forth argument…we don’t have space for 10 more anyway…it’s a moot point. whether we help that expensive animal or not…10 “cheaper” others will not able to fit into that single/solo space.

we may rescue many in the long run, but in reality…we rescue them one by one, individually.

me, myself, and i.

Posted: January 12, 2018 at 7:18 am

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rescue can be a very egotistical enterprise. and there lies within this..many very fine lines.
you do require a very strong sense of self..knowing who you are and what you believe and what you will truly stand up for.
but keeping rescue from being mainly about yourself is a struggle.

if i were to go back thru this blog..i will find far too many instances of rescue being about myself….blah, blah, blah..rescue is so hard, poor little me…no one really understands how difficult this is for me…i am mad, i am sad, i am hurt, i am bad.
do people think i am i crazy?
i am not crazy.
yes, maybe i am.

it has taken a very long time but i think these past couple of years i am finally done with all of that.
my focus has changed because i am actively working towards removing myself from the equation of rescue and saints.
i pretty much don’t give a shit about myself right now..i just want to get this job done well so saints can happily and healthily move into the future.

there is a freedom in this, removing my strong yet fragile ego. right now, seriously looking towards the ever shrinking time before me… at this very moment everything i think and do is about saints and our animals moving forwards minus both my personal strengths and limitations.
the important thing to know about this is…i wish i had learned this and gotten to this point sooner.

i have said it for years, but i finally not only understand it..i am finally in a place of practicing it…rescue is not about me..i have simply been one of many tools in helping senior and special needs animals find dignity and safety.
well built shovels while useful, are not all that special or irreplaceable.
and they don’t worry about folks thinking they might be crazy either.

judgement day

Posted: January 11, 2018 at 7:39 am

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in rescue (well…actually in life in general) you cannot get away from judgements for or against you. judgements are actually helpful if somewhat annoying little hits that should keep you practicing insight and internal evaluation to avoid wandering too far from your mission.

dear murphy was a perfect example of this. he once was a tortured skin dog living with a family who thru the fickle fingers of fate were far, far too sick themselves to actually care for him.
he came to saints and we fixed his skin. and then we adopted him to a family with a solid plan on how to continue to manage him. they quit following the plan and he was entering tortured existence again. we took him back and fixed his skin. we adopted him out a second time with not only a solid plan but with very strong cautions not to screw around getting creative with him. but they then became suppliers of some type of super healthy fix everything k9food and they started getting into au naturale and murphy’s skin went deeply south. when they phoned me he was ripping himself into bloody shreds, they were convinced it was emotional and requested permission to euthanize him.
we took him back.
no one was happy with us..this was a good home with rescue friends.
and then the judgements began…people in rescue telling us we were beyond cruel in allowing that poor dog to suffer. he should be allowed to be forever free from all of his suffering.

which we did…we fixed his skin yet again and murphy was happy and torture free. that is when i decided murph would remain a permanent sanctuary dog. we knew how to manage his skin issues and we stuck to the plan despite the growing consensus with a few judgemental rescues that we were in fact still torturing this very sweet dog.
i really liked murphy…he was a couch potato and a bed hog. he loved napping at every opportunity..just like i do!

eventually i caved and let laura take him was a big loss for me but a great gift to murphy who everyone loved. laura used to bring him back to saints during her volunteer hours here and murphy at some point would disappear from all the action to sneak in a nap on my bed or one of the couches until she was ready to head home again.
laura and jody loved murph to bits. they kept his skin in good control so it never tortured him again.

sometimes the folks looking in from the outside don’t always understand everything going on within. and in making negative judgements, they aren’t being evil..they are just missing some important considerations. however, every rescues responsibility is to ensure the very best care for every animal that they take in. we knew we were doing right by murphy, we knew he had and could continue to have a great quality of life as long as his skin issues were managed and controlled.

in this case the judgement that murph should die was way off base and completely wrong. murph had almost 10 years with a family who loved him, who cared for him, who kept him safe and feeling well.
i think he is grateful for a long life that he lived so very well.
he was a truly great dog and he has touched deeply the hearts of all who knew him.

RIP murphy..hugs to laura and family.

previous saint murphy has passed away (by laura)

Posted: January 10, 2018 at 9:15 pm

Well back in March 2017 when Murphy was diagnosed with cancer the vet said 2-3 months….Murphy wasn’t listening. Murphy passed peacefully today at the age of 15 wrapped in our arms & smothered in kisses…but best of all to him an A&W burger in his tummy…like a good lab he adored food.
I’ve had many dogs over the years but I can honestly say Murphy was the Best Dog Ever!
I still shake my head when I think people thought he was tormented by his skin and should be euthanized.
Thankfully you, Mo & Saints were there for him. Then despite you saying he was now a permanent Saints dog….I’m forever grateful you entrusted him to my family Dec31/2008
Murphy was truly loved and will be deeply missed. RIP dear boy

our deepest condolences to laura and her family for the their loss of this wonderful soul. he was a very lucky dog.

saints welcomes…

Posted: January 7, 2018 at 11:26 pm

mia…a senior shy cat with some possible litter box issues. she has had crystals and cystitis in the past so we are hoping with some medical care to get her sorted out.

pugsly and emma…2 senior pugs with housetraining issues.

welcome to saints everyone!

an open book

Posted: January 6, 2018 at 8:25 pm

every animal has a story that they need to tell us.
its not where they came from or the good or bad things that happened to them.
it’s who they are now and maybe who they can become.
and sometimes it is just simple what they want and need…right now.

listening to animals is hard. our logical and knowledgeable brains speak over top of them and their voices get drowned out.
animals really aren’t voiceless at all..they just live surrounded by deafness in the human world because we don’t listen all that well.

last week we moved keats over into my room. he said that shyla was stressing him out in the computer room and he did not like living with her.
keats doesn’t like change so moving him could have become an issue.
the day that we moved him and were setting up my room to suit him, he said he didn’t like the way it was set up.
he wanted his good bed in the far corner but the bed that was there totally sucked.
we didn’t want his bed over there because we were afraid the other dogs would run over top of him.
but keats was very clear…he wanted his bed there. so we put it there.
and he laid down, settled right in.
keats likes it when we listen to him.

each animal has his or her own story but every single page of that story is different. the pages flow together, each one following the other and creating the whole.
but if we don’t take the time to read each of the pages, then their true story never really gets told.

last week keats spoke about where he wanted his bed. the next day I watched him as he lay there, looking out the windows and enjoying the unobstructed back yard view.
and I clearly heard him say…yeah, this is pretty cool.

download #2…pay close attention and listen to what the animals tell you.

the bigger picture

Posted: January 5, 2018 at 9:37 pm

we all have this birds eye view of rescue..seen from our own perspective, defined by our own experiences and we can be myopic to much of big picture in rescue.

over the years I have spoken about the multi-layers, the ripples in the ponds, the nitty gritty details…from keeping grass growing for grazing animals because grazing animals are born to graze to the intricacies of rescue politics and how they affect the animals in rescue’s care, to following the tangled threads of animals stories that are so entwined in messed up human needs. knee jerk reactions, mob mentalities, harsh and unforgiving judgements against a backdrop of loving and caring deeply for animals and trying to meet their needs. there are liabilities, insurance policies, and bylaws…CRA, WCB, ICBC accounting/audits, mission statements, mandates, policies and procedures, staff, volunteer, supporter, donor, adopter, surrender’er expectations to meet. and there are bills to pay..medical, maintenance, supplies, hydro, water, cell phone, internet..the list goes on and on.

I have spoken about needing eyes facing forward, eyes looking back, eyes peeking sideways and eyes in the back of our sometimes aching heads. I have spoken about anticipation of problems and pre-planning to avoid them if we can and problem solving effectively the issues that do present themselves without adding in paranoia or mentally or emotionally going around the bend.

to really do rescue requires the willingness to stretch ourselves beyond our limits, to expand our borders past ourselves and view rescue as an entire connected world where one thing can positively or negatively affect another, where ABCG and Z are interconnected, where roots stretch far and wide on a healthy and vibrant rescue tree and how each of us together in various roles are responsible for the whole bundle of rescue’s everythings.

yes it is most importantly about the animals, individually and communally but in order for them to be safe, secure, well cared for…. the big picture requires focusing on an incredible amount of other big and small things.

we make mistakes but we learn and grow and grow and grow until it all got so much bigger than we thought it would way back when. and one day all to soon we see our 60th birthday approaching and we think, holy shit…where did all that time go?

its time to download the stuff that has taken up residence inside my jumbled up head…
holy crap batman..i shouldn’t have peeked inside there tonight…
the enormity of it all….its like I am a rescue mind hoarder.
now I have to sort it, organize it, toss out the crap and pass on the good stuff so it can be useful and recycled again.
so here is the first installment in a very concise nutshell…
pay attention to the big picture (and all of it’s tiny pieces!)


Posted: January 3, 2018 at 6:55 pm

power went back off yesterday briefly but is back on all day today.
shyla had her spay surgery..good thing too she was just starting a uterine infection…whew dodged that bullet!
angel had her dental and most of her teeth removed. she is on good pain meds and should feel much better soon.
koji-bear puppy is moving into foster care with Sheila and Leila to help get him ready for adoption. I love him..get to splurge on baby nurturing so I am really going to miss him! means pogo and buddy can come back to bed with me without worrying about crazy puppies!
little bear had his repeat cushings test..awaiting results.
big bear had his needle biopsies..inconclusive so he needs to go back in for deep tissue biopsies.
Zoey has been moved into the medical far so good.
keats has been moved to my room with my dogs..shyla was stressing him out too much.

as of Jan 1/18 it is official…SAINTS is very pleased to announce that Renee is now the new manager of SAINTS and Erin is the new assistant manager. they will be taking on more and more things over time as we work towards saints transitioning towards my eventual retirement. (and no my departure is not imminent..we have a lot of work to do for me to get there…one step at a time)