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Day 7 of Volunteer Week – meet saints weekend warriors Michelle and Jennifer (a popular name among volunteers)

Posted: April 12, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Its the final day of Volunteer Week. We have introduced you to a few of our volunteers over the week and yet there are many more that I would also like to thank and recognize for their service to saints. It takes a small army to keep saints running, clean the animal areas, care for the animals, bath & groom them, keep up with the laundry, respond to public inquiries, do our accounting, manage our pet finders, website and social media accounts and of course we are always raising funds. The work is 365 days a year 24 hours a day. Our dedicated volunteers come in on their days off of their regular jobs and sacrifice time with their own families on holidays to help out. We are very grateful to have such an incredible group of volunteers. As you have heard from them, it is a lot of work but it is so very rewarding.

Here are our final two features:

Michelle is Carol’s neighbor, finding SAINTS two years ago when she bought the lot across the street.  This busy lady is not only building a house, running a small business, raising 5 children with her husband, a new grandson, and a dog and cat, but also comes to help with the barn and MP room at bedtime. Michelle describes herself as hard working, caring and eager to please.  She truly LOVES everything about SAINTS and wishes she could find more time to be there. It is the feeling that it might be a small part in the grand scheme of the world, but it is the privilege to be part of something as great as SAINTS as it is our animals’ world.  Being part of Gracie’s birth to the pot belly pigs is a great memory for Michelle. She has the utmost respect for Carol, the volunteers, and most of all- the animals!  Michelle says that SAINTS has taught her so much.  She has a deeper understanding of the animals’ differences, their personalities, their gratitude for the place they call home.  “I had never really looked into a pig’s eyes before I met Ellie Mae, or felt how one can mourn for another after a passing of a friend.”   One SAINT who touched Michelle’s heart was little Liam, the black lamb.  “He never stood a chance, but he wanted so much to love.  He would lie and eat greens from my hand, but he just could never hold his head up. He sadly passed after only a few days.”  Michelle describes SAINTS as loving, comforting, and heaven on earth for them all!

ellie mae (1)

Jennifer is one of our newer house volunteers and has been with us about three months now.  She found SAINTS via her time volunteering at the SPCA.  It was there that she fell in love with a very large spirit residing there; that spirit is named Capone.  Upon finding out that Capone and Riley had been moved to SAINTS, an email was sent, a tour occurred, and Jennifer and family fell in love with ALL the animals and SAINTS!   Her Sundays are rewarding.  She loves to be greeted by Benny and Odie with Squirt chasing her feet, stopping to pick up Salty, cuddle Capone, and you know it is going to be a very good day because having the opportunity to help those that are pure in heart, and they cannot help themselves. Capone will always be here “favorite” and he has her heart as he is such a “sweet, big, cuddle monster.” Three words to describe this weekend warrior would be compassionate, honest and strong.  But that strength waivers when she watches an animal deteriorate due to illness and age; it is heart breaking.  However, she like the rest of the volunteers, come back every weekend because she does it for the animals, this is their home.  She sums up SAINTS in these words: Compassionate, Caring, Amazing.


A special volunteer weekend warrior shout out to Shawn

Posted: April 11, 2014 at 9:17 pm

I would like to give a special thank you to Shawn. In addition to her full-time job, after school activities, caring for her own dog crew (one is a former saint) and her many other volunteer duties, Shawn has been putting in extra time over the last few weeks to work with many of our volunteers to write all of the wonderful features for Volunteer Week. As well, tomorrow and Sunday she will be bringing coffee and treats for our weekend warriors to enjoy in the MP building after their hard days work. We are certainly luck to have her  on our team!

Shawn has been with SAINTS for two and half years now.  Shawn cannot write this in the third person….I am Shawn and I am writing this as well as the other bios as I was asked to help with Volunteer Appreciation Week.  I have gone from being just an MP room volunteer, to helping Nicole find new volunteers, to helping Carol with maintaining animal files, and now to helping recognize all the amazing volunteers.  Why do I do it?  I love SAINTS and everything it stands for; it is truly my happy place!  Always being an animal lover and looking for a place to donate my time, I found SAINTS and came to an Open House.  When done the tour, I dropped off my application in hopes of volunteering.  I am a full time teacher at an Abbotsford Middle School, I coach throughout the year, I love to golf and tennis, and garden as well as spend time with my new husband (I got married in August) and our three dogs- Bosco, Otis, and Norm ( our SAINTS adoptee). My most memorable moment was when I heard fellow volunteer Jamie call to me, “ Someone is waiting on you to go home.”  I saw Norm ( who was then called Charm) sitting on some rocks staring into the space I had just left.  He stayed there until I came back to pet him yet again.  What can I say?  He had me at hello…even if he is blind and deaf!  I could bring Nom home, but the ones I couldn’t that touched my heart will never be forgotten.  Manny, who would look at me with those eyes, almost embarrassed but so grateful, to ask for help up.  Black Buddy tottering around and so happy to be in a home where he felt loved and cared for.  Current laundry room resident- Owen has a piece of my heart now, he wants nothing more than arms to hold him and to be petted ( his tongue comes out when he is happy). There are many more that have touched my heart, and Carol knows I am a complete softie and I would take more home if Kevin would let me.  Of course, the losses rock me to my core and often people ask how do I do it?  For a short time, a long time, or an in between time, SAINTS gives these guys a home- a place to feel loved, to be fed, to have a soft bed, and to have their needs met.  That’s why I do it….for Carol…and for the animals.  My three words to describe SAINTS: Community, Rewarding, Awe-Inspiring.

me and norm

Stayed tuned tomorrow for more volunteer features.

For more information about volunteering with us see:

Check out more of our volunteer features here:

Day 6 of Volunteer Week – Meet our weekend warriors Priscilla, Brenda, Emily and Penny

Posted: April 11, 2014 at 5:46 pm

It’s day six of Volunteer Week and we’re continuing to bring you features of some of our amazing volunteers.

A unique opportunity for the residents of SAINTS is offered by four year volunteer, Priscilla.  She offers Reiki (a form of Japanese energy healing) to the animals.  She finds great reward in offering this hands-on therapy with our animals whether it is to calm them, to help them with their transitions, or to help them with healing.  In addition to helping animals anyway she can, Priscilla has many other interests as well, including sports, music, movies and spreading the Buddhist Dharma; did you know that she is a Buddhist nun?  What she loves about SAINTS is the commonality amongst the volunteers- “they all love the animals and want what is best for them.”  She believes the animals here at SAINTS can teach people many things and she has learned a lot from them.  However, Priscilla finds hardship in not knowing when the animals will make their transition.  Sometimes, she doesn’t come for a week and upon returning to SAINTS, finds that a few of her friends have passed.  But if she has been there to help, it is still difficult but at least she finds relief in knowing they are free of pain.  What stands out in her mind is the horses she worked with coming together to thank her for Reiki.  She remembers Lucky, Jewel and Al when they made their transitions.  The friendships she developed through the course of her Reiki will never be forgotten.  A few friends that have touched her heart in particular are Esther, Rose, Al, and Bambi…this kind passionate and dedicated volunteer wishes she could have adopted them.  Priscilla’s three words for SAINTS: love, second chance, respect.

lucky (9)

Seven years ago, Brenda found SAINTS while reading an article in Modern Dog magazine.  She immediately called Carol and hasn’t looked back since.  Brenda travels from Hope every Sunday come to the place she describes in these three words: Carol, unconditional love, a gift.  Brenda is a gift to SAINTS….her love for the house animals and for volunteering is apparent in all she does and the kind words she has along her way to clean up, care for, and look after the animals.  Brenda finds satisfaction in knowing all the house animals have clean beds, food, water, and lots of love.  When she isn’t at SAINTS, Brenda has worked with mentally handicapped adults for 27 years.  She supervises a group home in North Vancouver that includes three ladies.  Her other interests are her dogs ( one from SAINTS), camping, gardening, and anything outside. Brenda loves SAINTS, and it is apparent in all she does.  She loves what Carol stands for and appreciates the fact that she does not have special criteria for who she takes in, the animals are not crated, and volunteers can have relationships with these animals.  “Carol likes a challenge and gives every animal a chance for love.”  Brenda remembers her first visit to SAINTS and Carol gave her the tour of the house.  Laundry was piled up (washing machine broken) roof was leaking, and the house smelled of wet dog, poop, and urine…Brenda thought, “ This is the most amazing place I have ever seen.” Dogs, cats, pigs, and she was hooked!  Squirt, our tiny kitchen friend, has a special place in this volunteer’s heart.  She was there the day he arrived. He was scared, quivering, and terrified.  Now he is Brenda’s lovebug…but don’t let Mac (Benji Max) know.  Mac found his way into Brenda’s heart a year ago and all are so happy with this situation. To be honest, Brenda wasn’t sure she could do this whole SAINTS gig….she worried that her heart couldn’t take it.  It turned out to be the opposite for her.  She finds it a happy, uplifting, positive place.  There are sad, heart breaking moments that make you realize it is the end of the line and Carol has done everything she can; can ones heart take this?  Brenda can….she finds it uplifting, happy, and positive because she knows that for some short time, some animals found a life, a home, and love.  In Brenda’s words, “ I am always humbled when I leave SAINTS after my shift.  It is an honor to be a very small part of something so great!  Brenda, you are a such a huge part of this greatness, and we thank you!


Emily is in love with everything about SAINTS and is one our newer volunteers.  At just 16, she exudes a maturity and kindness to all our animals that is unbelievable. Emily started volunteering 5 months ago in the MP room and the house after a friend of hers took a SAINTS resident named Bo home.  Emily works hard at school, volunteers, and is involved in karate and kobudo martial arts.  At SAINTS, Emily enjoys talking to Shawn about the many animals, the cats who are so friendly, and the bigger dogs in the house who are so gentle and sweet. She admits her favorite is Jazzy, and she is “just misunderstood.” Emily says as long as you know all of the animals’ personalities, they are all awesome! Her words to describe a perfect day,” I find the happiness of all the animals when you are there with them, bright happy faces, wagging tails most rewarding.  Just being able to contribute to a new fantastic way of life and to help with their recoveries is great.”  Her most memorable moment so far is an issue in the MP room when Jazzy was oblivious and Pepper was apologetic; clearly, this young lady “gets” SAINTS. Unfortunately, our young Emily finds loss as well. The buddy who is left without a partner and an animal mourning…how do they recover?  Emily keeps coming back to SAINTS because of the animals’ bravery, her excitement, and her need to help people understand.  If she could describe SAINTS in three words: Fun, Interconnected, and Friendly.

jazzy (3)



Penny, our lovely bunny volunteer, has been with us almost 3 years.  She was hooked after a tour with a Laura which began in the bunny room.  Penny is retired from Human Resources at Rogers Sugar and is loving the freedom, and we love having her volunteer every Sunday. When she is not occupying her time at SAINTS, Penny enjoys gardening, reading, long walks, antiques, friends and family time, as well as trying to find homes for stray cats.  But when she is at SAINTS, Penny finds working in the bunny room peaceful and calming and the rabbits are quiet, gentle and affectionate.  Penny has the innate ability to see each rabbit’s personality and unique qualities! Volunteering allows Penny to feel that she is making a difference in some small way.  It is the feeling she gets when her Sunday shift is over and she sees  that the bunnies are clean, groomed, fed, cuddles, and sleeping…it is a feeling of safety and content.  When Penny was asked about her favorite memories, she had two answers.  She adores when a shy, scared, abused cat finds the trust to come out of a hiding spot for some cuddles and hugs; it is unforgettable. Secondly, the Open House is her favorite time.  It is so great to see how many people appreciate what SAINTS does.  “It’s wonderful to see the children learning about the animals and hopefully, gaining new respect for them.”  But the hard part of volunteering?  The losses, especially one that was extra special to her.  Even though it is tough at times, Penny, like so many other weekend warriors keep coming back.  She keeps coming back because of the animals, the friendships, and the social interactions with other volunteers.  Penny speaks very highly of her fellow volunteers who give themselves so selflessly, as does she.  She put it very well when she said, “ No matter what out backgrounds, we all have the deep love of animals in common.”  One animal that had Penny’s love is Princess Leia, a bunny that recently passed away.  Penny felt a real bond with her; her personality and attitude captured this volunteer.  Princess Leia would make sure that Penny said hello to her first- she would sit up on her hind legs and stretch to rub her nose on Penny’s hand, waiting for ear strokes.   Thank you Penny for finding something in every bunny to love!

princess leila bunny (3)

penny and thumper rabbit (2)

Stayed tuned for more upcoming volunteer features.

For more information about volunteering with us see:

Check out more of our volunteer features here:

Martin makes a statement?

Posted: March 20, 2007 at 12:48 pm

Hi.  I’m Martin the alpaca that lives at the gray-haired lady’s place near SAINTS.  I have lived here since I was a cria (that’s a baby alpaca), probably about five or six years.  The people that first brought me here abandoned me and I’ve lived under a tree ever since.  Sometimes the various people who rented the house gave me some hay and sometimes they didn’t.  At some point, some one stuck a Canadian flag on the trail near my tree, marking my home for all to see.  I’ve never touched it.  Until last night.

Last summer, the nice woman moved into the house.  She arranged for me to become a SAINT so I would never be abandoned again.  Ever since then, I’ve had lots of yummy grain and local hay and fresh water, and sometimes I will go into the barn when it is cold or raining.  The nice woman leaves the barn door open, though, so I can leave at any time cuz I don’t like being closed in.  But it is a good life.

Then last night, she came out to have a chat with me.  She told me that she has been talking with some people who would like to offer me a forever home.  She says that since she only rents this property she can’t guarantee that she will always be here, and since the SAINTS barnyard is full it is important to think about forever arrangements for me.  She says I would have be nootered (whatever that is) and then  go for a long ride in a truck, but I would get to live with other alpacas and I would be loved and well taken care of.  But she also said she would be very sad to see me go cuz she’s grown fond of me and I make her laugh. And she could be living here for years still.

I let her know I had heard her, cuz this morning when she took her dog for a walk in my pasture she discovered that  I had removed my flag, torn it into shreds, and dumped it on the other side of the field. I watched her pick up the pieces of the flag and stand quietly looking back at me.  She’s not sure whether I’m saying I’m ready to go or whether I’m upset. And I’m not telling.

In fact, I have to think about this for a while.  And so does she.



An exercise in futility?

Posted: March 17, 2007 at 5:48 pm

I’ve noticed for a long time that whenever I scoop up my own yard, my dogs immediately initiate it all over again.  Like the chicken and egg argument, it’s hard to figure out what comes first – the pooping or the scooping.  It seems to be a vicious cycle.

And I’ve commented before on how Tunie, as we clean the stalls, will go around the barn and leave her little deposit in each one.  Scooping and pooping.

Today as I scooped the pasture I observed the same  behaviour. As fast as I was shoveling it up, the barnyard creatures were creating more.  For someone like me,  who’s a bit of a perfectionist, this can be a BIG challenge – getting every last poop scooped before another hits the ground.  Kinda like when my kid was little and as fast as I washed the dishes or wiped the sticky fingerprints, more appeared. 

I can only begin to imagine what it is like to share one’s home with multiple dogs and cats, many of whom are incontinent.  Poop ‘n scoop n’ pee ‘n mop ad infinitum.  Gives a whole new meaning to the concept “Waste Management!”

And, just like life with a little kid, Ellie was being “helpful” by standing right over the manure rake just as I wanted to lift it, pushing against the full wheelbarrow until she tipped it over (twice!), chewing on the wheel barrow handles when I wanted to push it to the next spot, and (of course) trying to beat me through the gate whenever I wanted to empty the barrow on the manure pile.  Life with a 150 pound toddler!

Now why was I tempted to call this post “The sh*tty side of life at SAINTS”? 🙂

Goodbye donkeys; hello little calf

Posted: March 16, 2007 at 5:18 pm

I arrived at SAINTS today just as Jenny and Winston were being loaded into their trailer, with the aid of a few apples as bribery.  Gideon, Swinger and Spritely lined up at the fence to watch the procedure and then quickly took off once the donkeys were in – I think they realized there was room in that trailer for one or more of them also, and they weren’t leavin’!

 The sheep and Miss Ellie also kept an eye on the goings-on, though I think Miss Ellie was more interested in the people than the donkeys. 

Good luck in your new home, Jenny and Winston – the barn feed was very quiet tonight.

But I did meet our newest little SAINT and what a sweetheart he is.  I got to feed him his giant-sized baby bottle of warm milk substitute, curled up with him in his little shed with its comforting smell of fresh shavings and straw.  He reminds me of a small doe – but he has a surprisingly big and deep MOOOOO!

I can’t wait to go back tomorrow morning for more fun and games with pigs and dogs and horses and one little calf with a cute white splotch on his forehead.

Fun and games in the barn

Posted: March 12, 2007 at 8:34 pm

Well I was going to write this after the barn feed yesterday, and then got swept away (a little too literally) to Hearts on Noses to help with the flood.  So tonight’s tale is really about last night’s barn antics.

Last night all the barnguys ‘n gals decided to play silly games.  Ellie had been left in her stall for a while before I got there – can’t remember why, the weather maybe? – so Carol asked me to let her run around in the barn for a bit before putting everyone to bed.  When I reached the barn, Ellie was carrying on with crying and squeeling as only a baby pig can.  I let her out of her pen, fed her some strawberries and melon, and then left her to explore the other stalls while I slipped into Tunie’s stall to give her some salad stuff too.  Tunie was NOT in a good mood.  I guess listening to a baby pig carrying on in the next stall would get on anyone’s nerves.  She swore and grunted and complained, but it was clearly directed at Ellie and not at me. Her face was pointed straight at the wall between her and Ellie.  She was muttering under her breath and telling me just what she thought of the situation.  Finally she heaved a sigh, turned to me as if to say “see what I have to put up with?” and with resignation accepted the fresh fruit and spinach salad I offered her.  But…

Just to make her point, she smacked her lips LOUDLY with every taste and said something that sounded suspiciously like “nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah!”  which immediately caused  Ellie to come running to the stall door and began a full blown temper tantrum. 

“MINE!  It’s MINE!  I want it.  Don’t give it to that fat pig, I want it!!!  No fair!  It’s MINE!”

The only way to keep the peace was to fix Ellie’s dinner and put her back in her pen where she happily chowed down.  And then I went in search of the others. 

Winston and Jenny decided to go into their stall very nicely and we had a little chat as I brushed them and gave them apples, saying my goodbyes to them (or so I thought – as it happened I went back to do the barnfeed again tonight, so we did it all over again!).

The sheep went in nicely, too.  And Carl came right in, looking for his carrot as usual.  But the horses were nowhere to be seen. 

So out I went – in the torrential rain – looking for three lost horses.  I looked to the right.  Looked to the left.  Went around to the pasture.  Looked down at the lower meadow.  Checked by the manure pile.  Called and called and called.  No horses anywhere. 

I returned to the barn, thinking to toss the donkeys some hay to keep them happy while I went to break the bad news to Carol that the horses were missing….and there in their stalls, as quiet and serene as could be, were the three miscreants.  Don’t ask me where they had been hiding – I suspect flattened against the wall of the barn, slipping around each side just ahead of me so I couldn’t see them, no doubt chuckling quietly to themselves as they went. 

And they also thought I wouldn’t notice that Gideon and Swinger had switched stalls – I’m not that dumb, guys, get back where you belong! 

Tonight they were suitably well behaved, with only Ellie trying to trap me in Tunie’s stall by bashing hard against it as I was trying to come out with her food.  Oh, and Carl decided to be a jerk and keep Gideon outside until I got his grain and carrots.   And Gideon, dear sweet Gideon, decided his stall door was not open wide enough for his liking and so WHACK! opened it further with his head as he passed me a look of annoyance that I should expect him to open his own doors.

Why anyone ever rents movies or watches TV is beyond me.  All they really need is a barn full of animals and they will have nonstop entertainment.

Awesome video of SAINTS

Posted: March 6, 2007 at 6:13 pm

If you didn’t catch the 6:00 Shaw cable program “The Express” tonight, catch it again at 10:30 – about  five or six minutes into the program is SAINTS.  It’s just a short bit, about three or four minutes, but it was great!! 

I did make arrangements to have someone burn it to a DVD for us, so if you aren’t able to see it, Carol will have a copy within a few days.

When I am old, canine-lovers’ version

Posted: March 4, 2007 at 7:41 am

A friend sent me this variation of “When I am old I shall wear purple”  and it just begged to be shared here. I like this version even better than the original! 
Hmmmm…there’s something familiar about the images it calls to mind….….we don’t need old age to be like this! LOL

When I am old…

I will wear soft gray sweatshirts and a bandanna over my silver hair….
and I will spend my social security checks on wine and my dogs.

I will sit in my house on my well-worn chair and listen to my dogs’ breathing. I will sneak out in the middle of a warm summer night and take my dogs for a run, if my old bones will allow…

When people come to call, I will smile and nod as I show them my dogs…
and talk of them and about them…
the ones so beloved of the past and the ones so beloved of today…

I will still work hard cleaning after them, mopping and feeding them and whispering their names in a soft loving way.

I will wear the gleaming sweat on my throat, like a jewel, and I will be an embarrassment to all…
especially my family…
who have not yet found the peace in being free to have dogs as your best friends….
These friends who always wait, at any hour, for your footfall…
and eagerly jump to their feet out of a sound sleep, to greet you as if you are a god, with warm eyes full of adoring love and hope that you will always stay.

I’ll hug their big strong necks… I’ll kiss their dear sweet heads… and whisper in their very special company…

I look in the mirror… and see I am getting old…
this is the kind of person I am… and have always been.

Loving dogs is easy, they are part of me. Please accept me for who I am.
My dogs appreciate my presence in their lives… they love my presence in their lives…

When I am old this will be important to me… you will understand when you’re old…. if you have dogs to love, too.

~Author Unknown

Miss Ellie is a multi-talented piggy

Posted: March 3, 2007 at 5:41 pm

As I contentedly sat in the stall with Petunia today, singing to her and feeding her strawberries, melon and baby spinach in her plush bed of straw, I heard what I thought was Ellie playing with a squeaky toy in her stall across the aisle.  This was accompanied by deep gutteral oinks and grunts,  periodic whooofs of air, and the occasional dull “thunk” of wood on wood.

My curiosity got the better of me – I was dying to see what toy she was playing with.  I cautiously peered over the solid wood on Tunie’s stall ….to see Miss Ellie with her snout sticking through the rails of her own gate, making all those musical sounds herself.  Multi-toned squeaks, deep grunts, breathy releases of air, voice ever changing. 

Who would have thought that a little pink pig could become an entire symphony orchestra and vocalist to boot?