Author Archive

so ali sent me a message…

Posted: October 9, 2019 at 9:59 pm

please blog.

so i have been thinking..why is blogging so difficult for me now?
there are literally thousands of blogs here…going back way to the almost beginning. some days i could quickly whip off 2 or 3 in a day without even thinking. its not like that anymore so i was wondering why?

i think it is a bunch of reasons.. one being i am tired. i know i supposedly retired from nursing in May, but even if that officially happened, in reality it didn’t. i am working just as much as ever and frankly work has been insane for the past several months.
i also don’t have that much to say anymore.

when i first started saints 2 things consumed me..1. was bringing these animals to life. i wanted people to see how utterly interesting each of our crippled crew were..some were amazing, some were down right pain in the asses, but all of them incredibly cool and real personalities and i wanted to share that about them with you. and 2. there was a real purpose in what i was trying to accomplish here. i was not just your average warm and fuzzy crazy cat lady/puppy hugger accumulating animals with gigantic sob stories. the purpose was to acknowledge not only their existence but also their intrinsic value that deserved respectful and intelligent care. i also used this blog as a bit of a sounding/venting was like a mental health release valve…esp on my more crazy days!

i am happy to say…mission accomplished on all three fronts..our staff and volunteers, our supporters, donors, and fans all get it…every single one of these animals are incredibly important. and i have weathered the various storms and am not certifiably insane.

so much of the past blogs were about my own struggles along with the animals struggles too. it is full of sad stories, angry stories, triumphant stories, funny stories and a few oh my fucking god, heart and mind breaking stories too.

the things i am struggling with now in comparison are mind blowing boring. i am focussed on preparing for saints future which means getting all of our miniscule and yet frustratingly many, ducks in a row. and while this part of my responsibility to saints is critical (and fucking mind boggling)…it actually bores me to tears.
i am also 61 now..i have mellowed emotionally somewhat..altho not everyone would actually agree! but i actually expect shit to go sideways, not too much surprises me anymore..its taken a very, very long time but i finally get it…NOTHING is ever freaking easy.

now i spend a lot of time thinking, planning, plotting,,anticipating problems before they occur. now i can pretty much toss any rock in the pond and predict the ripples fanning out from there to here.

so i know there are still a few folks who like to read this blog, even if few of them ever comment…(hint, hint, ahem.) but i am not sure what i have left to passionately share about…i have probably sprouted off about everything possible over the years. i will try to blog a little bit more often for the few die hards left out there…

maybe when i get back from this trip of a lifetime in a few weeks, i will rediscover the joy in blogging?

photo added for interest (just in case this blog is boring!)
this is mad max..he is an asshole. but he is also adorable and he makes me laugh…i have no idea why why someone has not fallen in love with this tiny tazmanian devil..he had me the very first day.

Saint Swizzle-Stick has passed away

Posted: September 15, 2019 at 4:09 pm

here is her foster mom’s memorial video.
best ever.
RIP swizzle stick..hugs anne!

keeping it all in perspective.

Posted: September 1, 2019 at 7:42 pm

there has been a lot of talk over the years in the rescue community about having a mentorship program, or a professional oversight or regulating body to ensure certain standards in rescue/animal welfare are maintained. the problem of course is the diversity in the populations of people involved in rescue. and with that diversity comes a whole lot of differing beliefs, differing experiences, differing goals in what folks hope to achieve.

its not really just about knowledge or experience…anyone can read a bunch of books or internet sites and develop a bunch of opinions…really it mostly comes down to personal values, personal character, to common sense and effective problem solving and even more so…to actual commitment.
i am really not interested in someones cup that is overflowing with knowing it all at any given moment. i am more interested in someone whose cup still had room to continue to learn and grow, that allows for self learning and insight into what motivates us to move forward by accepting our limitations, our mistakes, owning them, taking responsibility for them in order to do better.

there is no doubt that i am far better at rescue now than i was 20 years ago. 20 years ago. everything was much more simple, more black and white. it was easier to accept some things without looking too closely behind some stuff. 20 years ago we used to lose more cats to infections, to fatty liver, basically to high stress because we didn’t know better how to effectively deal with feline emotional meltdowns. now we know, we have processes in place to help them safely get thru the transitions during a terrifying time in their lives. cats are far more delicate than other animals..but back then we didn’t know this. it was a hard and painful learning road but we learned those lessons well.
there is nothing like an unnecessary death to make us learn how much we really don’t know. and we carry those unnecessary deaths forever in our souls.

it takes character to accept our personal flaws and to live with our mistakes. it takes strength to stay with our toes to the line and not let our personal feelings and agendas knock us off course and over into the sloppy sidelines.
rescuers have one job only to provide the animals within our care a safe, respectful, comfortable and appropriate day to day life. our job doesn’t end on the day they are rescued, or even the day they are adopted, our job continues should they need us until their life ends.
this is why i have no patience for rescues who do not take their animals back when in future need, or the ones who place animals inappropriately and refuse responsibility, a job half done is not a job well done at all.

and rescue is not just about rescuing animals and finding them a good home. that’s the easiest part of what we do. it is the constant battle to bring in enough funds to pay the bills. it is about not wasting time or energy swimming in circles. its about seeing the problems, the issues, the roadblocks and finding effective solutions to move on. and above all..rescue is not personal. it is not a popularity contest. it is a real job with sometimes uncomfortable situations and difficult days that still need the job to get done well.

i don’t know how we can regulate that, or even mentor that. when the going gets tough either the tough get going or we toss in the ball and go home. i suppose we could have standards of care for all rescues but even that is a slippery slope that needs to be taken with a grain of salt. the newest thing in animal welfare is capacity to care…this basically assigns certain amounts of space, staffing levels, and other resources minimally acceptable to each animals care. however when dogs 0r cats are kept in singular kennels vs in a communal environment…we need more space to house them alone, more staff to exercise or enrich them individually than we do when they are running and playing freely as a group. so capacity for care differs depending on how the animals actually live.
maybe there is a middle line here but sometimes it is hard to find that happy medium when minds are closed to discussions.
which brings me back to that cup of knowledge….we don’t want it empty and we don’t want it too full. it is hard to keep our minds open and be willing to think about things in different ways to keep learning new knowledge and skills.

i may not be the best rescuer out there but i will say that not for one single moment have i ever stagnated and stayed still.
rescue is a journey. the road is before us on both rainy and sunny days, the road is still there even if our knees hurt or our heads are screaming in pain, that road stretches out past the horizon without maps or signs to guide the way.

20 years ago i never in my wildest dreams caught even a glimpse of today’s saints. and yet by keeping our eyes on the ball and putting one foot in front of the other, look how far we came.

so can we teach this? can it be regulated?…maybe. these are just my airy fairy thoughts tonight but maybe the real answers lie with the folks who took this journey with us and others…25, 20, 15, 10 yrs, 5 yrs or newby…what brought them into the world of rescue? what makes them stay?

3 more SAINTS lost…it has been a terrible weekend.

Posted: August 25, 2019 at 10:39 pm

lilo out matriarch bunny passed away yesterday. she suddenly became ill and had spent the night in the ER and came home with meds but she passed away early in the morning. huge thx to roane for spending hours in emerg with her so she wasn’t afraid.

wicket died yesterday, his new family rushed him into ER in cardiac failure. So very sad they did not have more time together but they wanted wicket to have a great home for whatever time he had left. and they gave him that, hugs to his family and thank you so much for being brave enough to give him a home at his end.

and tonight we lost diesel. he has been sliding downhill for the past several weeks, multiple med changes could not stop the downhill slide. this weekend he was having really difficulty breathing so he was taken into the ER and with an ultrasound a pleural effusion was discovered. this most likely was the result of an unknown and hidden cancer and the vet said there was no real hope for him. luckily andrea (the love of his life) was with him so instead of a highly stressful, fighting/biting enraged diesel end…diesel was a sweet marshmellow and passed peacefully with andrea’s gentle and loving hands upon him.
rest in peace were a kick ass dog and all of us loved you, even when you tried to bite us!

HUGE thanks to The Animal Emergency Clinic of the Fraser Valley for taking such kind and expertise care of our most vulnerable and precious lost souls.

Cinnamon passed away yesterday

Posted: August 23, 2019 at 12:57 pm

Initially she made the adjustment to SAINTS really well but one day suddenly she was laying in a litter box hissing and growling. This was so uncharacteristic of her that we rushed her into the vet thinking she had a UTI or a stone. Nothing showed on the blood work, the urinalysis, or the xrays so treated her with antibiotics and pain meds just in case. She did settle down and went back to her sweet normal self but continued to be problematic to feed, eating less and less, hiding and sleeping a lot. Another set of antibiotics and a switch to other pain meds but she continued to fail. Yesterday the vets agreed that there was really nothing left to try for her and it was time to let her go. Cinnamon was a very sweet 15 year old cat and we were so sorry to lose her.

saints welcomes…

Posted: August 15, 2019 at 9:12 am

maeli…FeLv positive (currently) we will re-test in a few months. super friendly and fun little cat, tons of curiosity and character. she is living up in the suite.

romeo…stunning tabby boy whose owner has passed away. romeo has made his home in the Mp building.

rodney the rooster was an unclaimed stray. he has been hanging out at chilliwack CARE for a couple of months..roosters are really hard to place.

rosa…picked up as a stray, senior horribly matted dirty old dog with severe arthritic pain issues and a tumor on her hip. she is LOVELY, sweet dog, looks like a smaller version of our past and much loved benny.

i can’t stand it any longer, i need to come clean.

Posted: August 13, 2019 at 1:37 am

i was asleep but i just woke up and the first thing that popped into my mind was the brownie sitting in my fridge.
soooo i got up to eat it.
and while i was sitting in the computer chair enjoying my late night treat i was casually watching the horses thru the cameras.
and that’s when i remembered that i previously posted something totally untrue.
i had posted previously that skye was no longer cribbing. but there is skye, tonight in the camera cribbing away in full view.
i did not intend to lie or spread misinformation, esp. in making us sound pretty darn wonderful in curing him when we didn’t.
but here is the worst part..i said what i said not to mislead but because i really believed it and did not know i was actually stupid.

here is what happened and how this occurred…
unbeknownst to me the staff switched the horses…skye went into dixies stall and dixie went into rudy’s which i thought was now skyes.
both horses are brown and in the dark barn with very dim light the horse who i thought was skye and not cribbing was really dixie not cribbing because dixie never has cribbed in her entire life.
and do you know how i eventually discovered my mistake?
i said to mo one day…you will think i am crazy but dixie is growing, she is way taller.
mo laughed and said that is because dixie had like a foot of shavings in her stall and that is why she looked so much bigger.
and i thought this was funny so i told ali the story and she looked at me like i was insane and said you do know dixie and skye switched stalls right?
no i did not. so all along i was looking at the wrong horse.
i am stupid. and i told a lie but because of that brownie i have now confessed.
sooo..dixie is not growing and skye is still cribbing and i probably need to get my eyesight checked.
everyone does tell me that skye is cribbing less but we didn’t cure him like i originally said.
sorry for being so utterly dumb.

Leaders in Animal Welfare.

Posted: August 8, 2019 at 8:17 am

In many ways rescue has been at the forefront and a leader in animal welfare for many years. We were the ones that first started adoption applications and home checks. We were the ones advocating for improving options to euthanizations for the more difficult to adopt, or animals with shelter borne virus’s like ringworm and kennel cough. We were also the ones who started shelter communal housing for cats. I remember the days when we were looked down upon because of concerns regarding infection control and traditional shelters individually caged all of their cats. We were also at the forefront of recognizing due to scientific research that FIV cats were not as contagious to other cats as originally thought and could live with unaffected cats as long as they were spayed and neutered and there was no direct blood to blood contact.

Since starting to provide shelter care for cats, I have always followed the communal model. Cats are happier and less stressed and because of this actually remain healthier. However none of our cats are ever released into communal living without first being tested for feline leukemia, I think most rescues who manage communal shelter cats do exactly the same. And I think because of this we are seeing far less feline leukemia than we did a dozen years ago. Part of this is because rescues and shelters are no longer exposing healthy cats to this disease while in shelter care and then inadvertently adopting them out to the public unknowingly. And part of this is of course due to spay and neuter, and TNR programs.

We used to have an active and thriving feline leukemia area for affected cats. Over the years we learned how to keep them as healthy as possible while accepting that ultimately they were palliative too. But that area eventually became empty as the cats passed away and no new ones found their way here.
Last year we took in Ariel a young kitten who had tested positive to FeLV, we set up a separate area for her and a few months later we re tested several times to find that she had fought off the disease and was now negative.
FeLV area empty again.
We have a new FeLV cat coming to us in the next week or so. The FeLV area will be opened again and we will keep her as healthy as we can including re-testing in case she reverts back to negative at some point.

Even chronic FeLV cats who must live separately from healthy cats can live relatively healthy with a good quality of life if they are cared for responsibly and appropriately. SAINTS is happy to enter into a commitment again to the cats affected by this disease. Even tho we see far fewer FeLV’s now than we did in the past, we feel it is still important to try to help them as best as we can.

Gone are the days of automatic euthanizations of FeLV affected cats, SAINTS and others like us have stepped up to offer more options for caring for these cats longer term…the cats really appreciate that!

Not playing favorites

Posted: August 2, 2019 at 9:14 pm

We can love all animals but maybe dogs are at the top of our list. We can love rabbits or horses first but still get a stab of loving delight when watching our aviary of birds.

Making SAINTS multi-species was an intentional decision. A dog has no more value than a cat, a horse has no more value than a goat, a turkey has no more value that a turtle. Multi-species rescue means All Lives Have Value.

The beauty of working with animals is no single species is universally privileged. Dogs may be valued pets in North America but in Korea they are food. Esther the pig may be wearing a dress, but millions of others suffer in factory farms, horses may be a little girls dream but they are still slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands.

We can’t save them all…shit, we are not even a drop in the bucket. But at least here their intrinsic value comes not from their species, not from their color, not from their fur or their feather..not from who I like best but from one simple place…their life.
There is a life force inside all living things. Call it soul, call it spirit, call it consciousness or energy. I don’t care what you call it but it is what separates all of us from a rock. It is in the brains whose neurons fire millions of times in an hour, it is in the hearts that beat inside every chest. It is inside living things that have neither brains or chest, like a jelly fish which is most certainly ALIVE.

We may all have favorites but that is just a personal preference..just like i prefer plain chocolate to cookies and cream ice cream. I also prefer yoga pants to wearing blue jeans.
But personal preferences have a definite line..I may be a self avowed dog person here but I better deeply give a shit about the well being of a crippled dove. I better be looking at a turtle or a rabbit with the same level of concern for well being that i look with at a dog.

We can’t fix all of the absolute horrors in this world..mankind is universally far too proficient at causing devastating pain. But within these gates, on these far too small 3 acres, we can care for our multi-species animals exactly the same. They are not to suffer here. They are not to live with irredeemable physical or emotional pain. They are not to be ignored, unseen, not thought about.
We made a conscious decision to provide safe haven to multi-species domestic animals because each species has value, each individual within each species has value, every animal inside or outside of our personal preferences has great value. And here at SAINTS we all have an equal opportunity to get to know them, to discover the magic that each of them carries inside.

All of them are welcome, each of them deserve a home and good care. We don’t look at their species, we don’t care if they are homely, or if they’re sick, or anxious, or angry or scared. What we see is a being who needs help, who needs to be acknowledged, who needs to find some kind of comfort and peace, who needs someone to just freaking care.

I was once just a dog person then I fell in love with a cat. Next came an amazing rabbit, then a phenomenol horse, then came the goats, the ducks, the sheep, the pigs, the donkeys, the llamas, the chickens, the turtle, the contented cooing of doves. Last week I failed to save a dying crow who had been mortally wounded by a car.
All Lives Have Value Here because that is the way we built it. We built it for them..not for me or for any other human being. We built it for them and they are the multi-species, incredibly diverse and individually unique Saintly animals who live here.

Entitlement in Rescue

Posted: July 25, 2019 at 5:48 pm

Its hard not to feel entitled in rescue. You literally hand out decades of 24/7 service, compromising your privacy, your financial security, your physical/emotional health while you watch others donate a few hours a week, maybe for a few months or even years, without much difficulty or sacrifice at all. You watch others collect paycheques, accolades, new social activities and friendships without the constant demands or the ongoing headaches, without being the bad guy or the butt of private jokes..and sometimes you do feel like what the hell, how is this even remotely fair or equitable?

and lets face’s not.

so as a rescuer, as the founder, the current “boss” of a fairly large and successful rescue endeavor..I can honestly say that SOME days it all wears a bit thin and uncomfortable and that’s when I struggle with preventing a sense of entitlement from slipping in.

There have been well over a thousand animals thru here and I will hazard a guess 2-3x’s more than that in people…staff, volunteers, visitors, donors, adopters, fosters, surrenderers….

I can’t say any of it has been easy, very little of it actually fun, and none of it has ever been safe or relaxing..just one series of challenges after another.
I used to think if we just had enough money, if we just had enough people, this wouldn’t be such a struggle. But it is true that the more you have the more you grow…and holy smoke man have we ever grown!
But the one thing that never happened was..I never became an angel, I never became a saint. I stayed one single, stubbornly flawed human being with far too much on her plate.

If anyone ever asks me about how to get going in rescue..I always tell them the very same thing…don’t. just. don’t.

Its not that I don’t want people rescuing these animals that need us so badly..its just that to do it well, to do it right is to stand at the end of the line with every animal’s need, every other human’s need placed before you. This would be fine if you were a hero, if you were phenomenal, if you were so very perfect that you yourself actually didn’t need anything.
well…that’s not me, no matter how much I want it be.

Most days I get it…I made choices, I gave freely,and i did it without hanging on to a bunch of strings. I am good with it all…most days But some days I do get tired and that spoiled entitled child wails with wanting inside me.
The truth of the matter is…the rescue world is not for entitled little babies….the only option is to silence the wails and face the biggest challenge..reminding myself on the bad days that those of us who choose to rescue have no entitlements…only a responsibility.