Posted: March 22, 2019 at 9:56 pm

Do you know who these eyes belong to? I dont mean who specifically (though huge bonus if you can name them ;)) I mean what species do they belong to?

Pretty easy right? But, do you know why they are so different?

Cats eyes are built to maximize depth perception because evolutionarily speaking they ambush their prey at night. Theres all these studies that show vertical pupils maximize blur so cats are more efficient at hunting. But, did you know big cats like tigers have round pupils? They are chasers, not ambushers so they dont need to judge distance so accurately. 

Prey animals on the other hand need to have a panoramic view so they can see danger coming. This is also why their eyes are on the sides of their head, not on the front like a cats. But, did you know that some animals with horizontal pupils actually rotate the eyeball as they raise and lower their heads to keep the line of the pupil the same as the ground? So the eyeball is always level regardless of the position of the head. Isnt that crazy? Its crazy! I am so gonna film a horses eye just as soon as I can. 

Fun fact: Not long ago I got an email from a lady in the film industry. I had to read it a few times to understand what she was asking me. She wanted to know if she could bring in some tigers to film on our property. No I am not kidding. Yes I thought about it, who wouldnt want to see tigers! But relocate our animals while they filmed? Or keep them safely on the other side of the fence? Ummm, Im gonna go with no, thats not in their best interest. And dont even get me started on using animals for entertainment purposes! But, it was an interesting email, a welcome break from the norm. So when you are at SAINTS next, take a look around the barnyard and think of tigers 😉 Oh and try to guess whose eyes these are! 


Posted: March 20, 2019 at 7:13 am

The SAINTS aviary is home to four pairs of birds. 

Charlie and Annie took awhile to really get close, Charlie only had eyes for Chickie and I am sure losing her was hard for him. He and Annie have since bonded, they are a couple now. Annie lays an egg almost every day. I feel guilty when I take it, but I cant leave it, we are not in the business of making more chickens. The other day it was Charlie that had been sitting on the egg. Imagine how shitty I felt taking that egg after he wandered out to eat. I felt like a monster! An egg-thieving meanie. What the hell do you do?

Paris has been with us for many years. When Janelle found London, it was like fate was stepping in. Paris took some time to accept London and all his advances, but she has and they are a pair. London often brings pieces of straw to Paris to help build a nest, which is really cute, but again, we do not want baby birds. Luckily for me, Paris only laid eggs once. Now they go through all the motions of courtship, or maybe they just truly love each other and it doesnt matter that no babies are going to come along. 

Oslo and Lisbon are best friends. Pretty sure they are brother and sister too. Now that Liz can fly, they go all over the place! These two are content, happy, friendly, ringneck doves, who love each other just the way they are.

Blueberry and Jack lived with us for years, until Jacks passing in 2017. Blueberry was devastated so Carol quickly called around to other shelters to see if anyone had a lone budgie. Pi came along, and soon these two were inseparable. The go everywhere together. The odd time they arent together, they are in constant communication, calling to each other. Usually they go from perch to perch, room to room, one after the other. Definitely a matched pair.

The aviary is like the rabbit room, such zen spaces. If you take the time to get to know even the smallest Saints, you will be amazed by them just as we are. Everyone needs a friend, and we have tried really hard to make that happen for our animals, offering them the best life possible.

Luck? Or timing?

Posted: March 18, 2019 at 6:15 am

Cats and their diseases! Or…not?

We took in Ariel, believing her to be a Feline Leukemia kitten. She tested positive early on, so we took all the precautions and treated her as such. Ariel lives with the rabbits, no other cats. As she got a bit older, we retested her prior to her spay surgery. The test was negative. Negative! Not getting too excited, we waited another couple of months. And we retested, again. Guess what? Negative! Its official! So, how can this happen? Ariel’s mom could have been FeLV+, and passed down some of the virus but over time Ariel was able to fight it off. Ariel could have been exposed to the virus at any time prior to being surrendered to the New West shelter, therefore would have tested positive until she had time enough to overcome the infection, which can (and in her case did) take many months. Very lucky girl! 


If you know me at all, you know that I believe everything happens for a reason. On Friday I decided to do a blood sugar curve on Shadow and Zoe, the two diabetic cats in the medical room. Zoe was due for a curve as her insulin level had been bumped up recently. I dont normally curve on a Friday but for whatever reason the stars aligned and rather than push it to early this coming week I elected to just go for it. Zoe checked out still slightly high, but its to be expected as shes fighting an infection as well. But Shadow…I could have killed him had I gave him insulin that morning. Doing an insulin curve means the first reading is prior to giving insulin. Shadows first reading of the day was low, it was the reading of a non-diabetic cat. Had he gotten his scheduled injection he would have gone hypoglycemic and potentially died. See what I mean? Luck? Timing? I dont care, I am counting it as a win. Andrea and Carol have been checking Shadow on and off all weekend, his blood sugars are stable and he has not received insulin in 3 days. He is reversing! How does THIS happen? Its the type of insulin we use. Carol prefers Lantus for cats, its what we have used for as long as I can remember. Tinsel is another one of our diabetics who reversed and years later is still in remission of her diabetes. Yay Shadow! 

Tido has found his perfect home! Told you it would happen for him! Staff member Janette took Tido home for the weekend to see how he fit in with her crew. Chai (Janettes other dog) is still being a bit standoffish but she will come around. Chai loved Snickers, and Tido is such a gentle soul it will take no time at all for her to fall for him just as Janette has. Exciting! Congratulations all! 

A letter from Michelle about her beloved Spot

Posted: March 17, 2019 at 6:47 pm

Spot became a Saint on October 26 2015. He and Magee were transferred from Mission’s Animal Control that day. Less than two months later Spot moved into his forever home with Michelle and her family. Sadly Spot passed away late last week. Michelle (Spot’s mom) sent this email:

     Hi Carol, It is with a sad and heavy heart I am writing to tell you we had to say goodbye to Spot last night. We knew his time was getting closer and yesterday he let us know that he was ready. Spot was a one-in-a-million dog. He was smart and funny and LOVED puppies which earned him the nick name “Grandpa Spot”. I only wish our paths had crossed sooner and I hope Spot knows how very very loved he was in his last few years with us.He is leaving a huge hole in our world, but he will be in our hearts forever. Spot passed peacefully surrounded by the people and dogs that loved him and he loved. May his beautiful, special soul rest in peace. Until our paths cross again…Love always to my very special boy.

Michelle, we are so very sorry for your loss. Spot truly was a lucky boy to have found his way to you.


Brooklyn gets a home

Posted: March 14, 2019 at 8:07 pm

Sometimes (but lets be honest, not often) an animal comes into SAINTS and we think, Oh, Theyll get a home no problem, just a matter of time. Tido and Theo for example. Genuinely lovely animals anyone would be lucky to welcome home. Theo found her forever home, and we just know Tido will too. Other animals…well, we figure they will live out their lives at our sanctuary. Brooklyn was one of these animals. 

I was there the day Brooklyn came in. Remember I told you I deal with incoming animals from the public? Yeah, Brook was one that came in through me. A bulldog with skin allergies, owned by an elderly couple who were starting to drop the ball on her care. Other family members tried to help but skin dogs need such a tight, specific care plan, there is no room for dropping any kind of balls and not doing it. The meds had been stopped and by the time Brooklyn came to us she was a mess. She was all kinds of gross, eyes, ears, mouth, skin, everywhere was infected. It took us awhile, but we got her under control. Brooklyn in good health is still a mess. Still had plenty of roadblocks to steer away most folks. Bulldogs are just bred weird! Her jaw is misshapen, doesnt really close properly, teeth stick out to the sides like an alligators. Her shoulders and hips are arthritic, she hardly likes to walk far enough to go outside to pee. So here we have a dog who needs a special diet. Daily medication. Baths. Has mobility issues. Pees in the house. Snores louder than the TV. And along comes this family. 

Brooklyn won the lottery none of us even knew she had a ticket for! We are all in awe of this family, they think she is wonderful (she is!) and we think they are pretty wonderful themselves. They saw Brooklyn for who she is. They knew she could be a valued family member again. Roadblocks? Nah, not to them. We are still early in the trial period, but so far, so good!

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.

A day in the life.

Posted: March 7, 2019 at 8:33 pm

Look at this picture. Really look at it. 

Can you imagine living in there? That is a rabbit hutch. It is split down the middle so the two rabbits who lived there could not actually touch. One rabbit lived on each side. 

Day after day those two rabbits lived in that hutch. No outside time. No vet care. No contact with each other. Very little contact with people. In the baking heat of the summer. In the freezing cold of winter. They knew nothing outside of their boxes. They would have known the other was there though. Did they communicate through the wall? Did they know each other inside and out even though they had never met? 

7 years.

84 months.

364 weeks. 

2548 days. 

I cant even wrap my head around spending one hour in there. With enough room to turn around, but not much else. Looking out at the world through the wire. What did they see? Children playing in the backyard? Lawn chairs and butterflies and sunshine? Did they huddle against the back wall during storms? Did predators stalk them in the night? This is not a life worth living. 

Why is SAINTS so important? Why do we pull together and involve more people, more donors, more volunteers to help sustain us for the future? Why do those of us involved with SAINTS feel it, right down to the bone? Why do we lay awake at night, worried about this one, or that one? Why do we take such pride in our little 3 acre sanctuary? Why does being involved with SAINTS become part of who we are? Why do we give it everything we’ve got? Because the Dumbledores and Snapes of the world need us to. Who else would willingly take in two senior rabbits, both of whom needed immediate and extensive vet care? Who else would commit to these two rabbits for the rest of their lives, knowing they would have little adoption prospects and having that not matter? 

We saved their lives. THATS what we do. We dont just provide food, and vet care, and a roof. We provide a life worth living. And that…is everything. 

Snape and Dumbledore have that, now. Thanks to you.


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 puppies..now 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 thru..an 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 on..to keep moving forward..to 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?