Know your limits

Posted: January 19, 2020 at 9:03 am

Why can’t we help every animal who needs us? What is one more? and one more? and one more? and one more?
There is always one more, ten more, 100 more, 1000 more..endless more.
And if rescues don’t learn to say no, the rescues cease to be rescue and become something terrible.
SAINTS works to its max…we help every single animal we possibly can and then we say no.
We struggle every day to meet the needs of the animals in our care, to give them clean beds, full bowls, enough safe space and proper medical care.
We are not magicians that can wave our magic wands and make money appear to pay our bills or conjure up a bigger and better place.
We make every inch and dollar stretch as far as it can and when it has stretched to its maximum we acknowledge this.

However, let me tell you a story about an animal we had to say no to. Because it is not always just rescue that can step up and help an animal, sometimes individual people can too.

Several months ago SAINTS was asked to provide haven for a 35 year old horse named Tucker. Raven was still alive then and SAINTS had no room. Tucker was at the end of the road, homes for 35 year old horses are few. We knew this when we said no but there was nothing that we could do.

Except…
Three of our SAINTS volunteers with their own money, on their own time, stepped forward to help this ancient horse. They pay for his boarding at a stable not here, they pay for his food and his shavings, his bowls and his winter coats. In about 3 months he has been with them, they have paid about $4000 in vet bills to address his health issues. Later several more SAINTS volunteers came out to Tuckers stable and helped dig out his muddy paddock and wheelbarrow in new clean dry fill. Its been a tough road for them all, the weather, the mud, the mouth surgery, the colic, working to make Tucker more comfortable. Tucker could have come to SAINTS when Raven died but choices have to be made and Snowman needed us more. Tucker was safe.

SAINTS can never help every animal that tries to enter our gates. But sometimes individuals can work together to find a way.

Tucker spent several days in the vet hospital, the first time for dental surgery to relieve a very painful degenerative condition affecting his incisor teeth, the second time for nonresolving colic in the middle of that terrible freezing weather. HUge Thanks to Agwest vet group for taking such great care of him in his time of need.

Tucker is not a SAINT but he does have a few angels looking out for him.

We lost Ben today

Posted: January 13, 2020 at 11:18 pm

Two days ago he was sucking on Erin’s fingers as he drifted off to sleep, wrapped up in his blanket. He was safe, he was loved, he was happy.
48 hours later he was gone and we are left reeling from his sudden loss.

Benjamin was a frenchie, bred like other bull dog breeds to have pushed in faces, cork screw tails and massive chests. Along with that designer look came a host of health issues, elongated palates, too small respiratory passages, spina bifida, weak hearts and Ben had them all. For a year now he has been fully parapalegic, yesterday he went in respiratory distress and this morning he died in critical care of cardiac arrest.

Ben loved everyone, Ben loved his toys and his blankets and his treats. He went for walks in his wheelchair and in bad weather in his stroller with lynne and the other volunteers. he had many friends who loved him dearly and really enjoyed hanging out with him. Ben was a horribly bred dog, who never stood a chance for a normal life. But Ben had a huge heart and a generous soul and he lived the best life he could with what he had.

Rest in peace Benjamin you are dearly loved sweet, sweet dog.

Our deepest thanks to Boundary Bay staff and vets for trying so hard to save our boy.

Once Upon a Time…

Posted: January 10, 2020 at 6:00 pm

A puppy was born and she was an adorable puppy with the sweetest face and startling intelligent blue icy eyes. She came into the world safe in the care of her mother and the warmth of her brothers and sisters, innocent of the hardships awaiting her.
A dogs life is never their own, it belongs to their masters. A dogs life is never secure, it floats on the tides of human whims.
By the time this puppy was one year old her body was chained and that chain encircled her mind with frustration and fear.
It takes not long for a human to destroy the mind and spirit of a helpless animal.
After eight long years of living chained in anxious uncertainty, Shyla found her way here.
We will never undo the damage done to her, she is not a boat motor that with new parts can be easily repaired.
But for all of her quirks, her peaks and valleys, angry and anxious moments, and the shadowy way she views her world, we will love her.
because once upon a time she was an innocent puppy before she was broken into sharp jagged pieces in a careless world.

whatever it takes.

Posted: January 4, 2020 at 8:30 pm

several of our guys have gone out to foster or adoptive homes:
spenser, mick, ginger and peanut all won the home of your own lottery this week. as always there is a trial period but fingers crossed they all succeed.

snowman’s blood work came back, he is positive for cushings and has started treatment.

no new incomings for now. we have space but money for vet bills is concerning. our medical bills for 2019 were over $200,000.00 and our christmas donations this year were not as high as previous years. it is a bit of a worry. we are doing what we can to reduce costs around here without affecting the care of the animals we already are responsible for. better to tighten our belts before we hit a crises, a boy scout (and a rescue) must always be prepared.

and here is the thing, i don’t remember any time in rescue when worry wasn’t a part of every day living. some days are worse than others for sure but in rescue there are no guarantees on anything. it goes right back to the ripple in the pond or peeling the onion thing..there are layers to rescue that most folks can’t even conceive of. its a complicated and inter related series of untangling strings. if anyone ever tells you that the solutions to problems in rescue are easy, feel free to tell them, they are freaking crazy!
we are the proverbial beggars with a tin cup and every penny counts that comes in because it all adds up. but all the pennies going out add up too.
and the problem with tin cup begging is you never know how many pennies will be tossed in…might be a lot or maybe not. trust me, trying to run a rescue this big is fucking scary.

all i can say is that for 15 years, we have some how managed to make it work. 2020 might be starting out a bit tougher than usual but we will find ways to deal with it.
because here is the most important thing..we have to, we promised.
and we have kept our promise to all of them, in 2020 we will do the same, whatever it takes.

Happy New Year.

Posted: December 31, 2019 at 8:42 pm

New Years Eve and I am alone with the animals.
That’s how this all started 15 years ago, just me and the very first saints animals.

We did not stay alone for long, others joined us and some like Mo and Sheila are still with us.
And Tang, Tang is still with us. He was with me at the very, very beginning and he too is still here.
AND… he still sprays!

So many lost and wounded souls behind us, so many yet to come.
Each tomorrow becomes a new day…each new day turns into a yesterday.
5475 saints days lived, some with joy, some with sorrow, many with doubts and fear.

and we are still here.

My wish for the New Year and all of the years to come is…
never to forget the animals. each old or wrecked heart has its own song.
They sing for compassion, they sing for respect. They sing for acknowledgement of their value and very existence as unique and worthy beings.
And their songs help us to forge our commitment and courage in our vow to become better people, better humans, better souls, worthy of them.
My wish for SAINTS is to be all that we can possibly be so that in peace and safety the animals can be whoever they happen to be.

we love bad dogs

Posted: December 28, 2019 at 6:35 pm

so shyla got out into the yard when robbie was out there and she bit him. now its not like robbie has not bitten his fair share of dogs, cats and people. but this time shyla bit him! and this was a big deal. he had to go to the vets and get a staple in the back of his neck and she bit his back leg too. he was very upset. he was completely crushed. he was convinced he could have been killed.
(actually he was right about this…she could have killed him but luckily staff was there so she didn’t.)
however..robbie was not quite convinced that he was in fact not dying so for 24 hours he laid on his side, not moving a muscle except he was moving his eyes (and wagging his tail when someone stopped by to sympathize because he couldn’t help being happy when someone noticed his impending death.)

i am telling you it completely broke your heart to see him laying there, convinced he was dying even tho you knew he wasn’t.
he did finally get up and have some lunch because food is far more important than playing dead (and it was just one single (kind of big) hole in the back of his neck.)

shyla on the other hand did not give a rats ass that she had caused him so much trouble. she is such a total and complete unfeeling hag that is convinced that he deserved it simply for living and being within reach. shyla’s motto is..bite first and don’t worry about any questions.

and here is where dogs and people have things in common. many people like robbie are not nice to others but man they get upset when the tables are turned. and many people are just like shyla who think it is their job to police the entire world.

but many more people are like the people here..who see and know robbie, know he is a dickhead and love him anyway. and many people here know and see shyla the absolute total bitch who unpredictably likes to bite many and still love to rub her belly when she is in a good mood.

interestingly enough i had a hard time finding many photos of either of them and this would be because they are both biting jerks so many (smart) photographers avoid them!


here is a pic of what looks like a nice dog surrounded by flowers…except it’s max and he is also a biting douche canoe.

i have decided all of us, human and dog… are totally insane!

Hazel passed away today.

Posted: December 25, 2019 at 2:28 pm

She was not herself yesterday but perked up a little later in the day. This morning I found her splayed out on the floor, unable to get up. I moved her to the carpet area to see if with better grip it would help but she crashed even further, laying there, unable to raise her head.
I took her to Boundary Bay Emergency, she perked up on the ride and was able to lift her head. By the time we got there she was a little bit scared and slipped around on the exam room floor wanting to get away. I think the adrenaline was peaking because she started shivering..not from cold but because she was scared. In speaking with the vet it looked like she was having small strokes that when added to her already existing dementia was increasing her feeling afraid. The vet felt with her vision loss, her confusion, her weakness, her very advanced age, that quality of life was becoming an issue. We decided that it was in her best interests to help her let go, hopefully to a more peaceful place.
Once she had her sedation, she went right to sleep and no longer was afraid, from there she was able to pass peacefully away.

Hazel was a very old dog who had lived a not always easy life. In the past few months she has had quite a few big medical challenges that she had to work thru and like a trooper over time, she was able to. However as sad as I was to let her go, I am glad she is now free from any further pain or challenges, they just seemed to be adding up on her, one after another, never ending.
I hope you now rest easy Hazel, you were a very sweet girl.

Raven has passed away.

Posted: December 23, 2019 at 10:05 pm

The barn will feel so empty without this kind and gentle soul.
Raven came to us quite a few years ago. He was an SPCA cruelty seizure from a terrible place. Raven was old when he got here, he was underweight and had really bad teeth. Over the years he has had many dentals to help him stay healthy and keep eating. Raven would very occasionally have seizures but on the whole he did very well. This year however has been tough on him, he lost his best pal Rudy and his arthritis was taking its toll. We had Ray on the maximum dosage of pain meds plus we recently had our vet start acupuncture in an attempt to keep him as comfortable as possible. The arthritis had invaded his spine, his hips and the joints in his hind legs. The other day his front knee filled with fluid from a major arthritic flair and Raven was lame on three legs now and in a lot of pain. The vets came and gave him IV anti inflammatories, a steroid injection directly into his knee and we gave him more pain meds at bedtime. By 9 pm last evening, Raven was still in pain. This morning he was better probably because the steriod injection had kicked in but the vet said his relief from pain would be short lived, it would be back as soon as the injection wore off.
Raven passed peacefully away surrounded by many who dearly loved him.
He was somewhere between 35 and 37 years old.
Ray was greatly loved by all who knew him, he was an incredibly kind, gentle and sweet tempered horse.
Raven we love you and will miss you. We hope Rudy is waiting for you and both of you will forever run free.

Home of the Brave

Posted: December 22, 2019 at 9:42 pm

Milly came to us from a youth correctional facility, she was once part of a rehab program but the kids lost interest and she became forgotten, left alone in her outdoor hutch. Milly is elderly and blind, she had a chronic ear infection and she passed each day the same as the day before, alone. One of the corrections officers took pity on her and asked if she could come here and hopefully live a better life.
I was a bit worried about how she would cope in going from quiet isolation to busy shelter life, especially due to her blindness and advanced age.

Initally she had to live in the house, far away from the other rabbits. She needed 2 weeks of complete rabbit isolation to ensure she did not bring the RHD virus to our other bunnies. Those 2 weeks were rough for a socially isolated and blind little bunny. She lived in an isolation cage in the back cat room because we honestly did not have a single space to put her that would have been better. And while the cats did not bug her, she knew they were there because she could hear and smell them. Every night I could hear her alarm thumping as she detected a cat or two passing by. I felt so bad for her, trapped in a cage in an unknown place, surrounded by animals that she could not see. It felt like it was a really unkind and uncaring thing to do to her. However it was time limited and eventually the 2 weeks were up and she could join our rabbit crew.
I was worried about this too, how would a blind elderly rabbit feel surround by other rabbits that she couldn’t see? Our rabbit staff person Roane was great. She slowly intro’d Milly in with Dumbledor and Snape, our 2 elderly dwarf bunnies.

At first Milly hung out in small spaces, tucked away where she felt safe. But now I frequently see her out in the middle of the room, snacking and hanging out with her little friends, sharing a snuggle or two.
I am humbled by this old and blind rabbit who patiently lived in isolation and has had the courage to step up and put herself forward to engage in life again.
When you think of animals that represent courage and bravery, probably a little broken bunny is not the first animal to come to mind. And yet Milly has shown incredible courage in meeting some really difficult challenges in life.
Welcome to SAINTS Milly, you are the perfect addition to this Home of the Brave.

live and learn

Posted: December 19, 2019 at 12:33 am

i was talking to someone last week who asked me how to go about starting their own rescue. i am always torn about this question. i know the animals need more people in rescue. but i have seen rescue gone wrong and how devastating that is to those animals. and i have also seen rescue done well and what that costs too.
rescue is one of those things where everyone has an opinion. everyone has their own idea of how things should be done. its like this giant, endless kitchen with a thousand individual opinionated cooks all trying to make their own special rescue soup.

i have been a nurse and a rescuer for about the same number of years. nursing is far easier.

i never encouraged my kids to become involved in rescue, its too full of all of the things that i never want them to have to go thru. i always say that rescue is not personal. it is about doing a job that needs to be done. however even tho it is not personal, it is still personally difficult. which is a bit of a conundrum.
this is not an endeavor with a lot of personal choice, many times it is filled with days of just slogging thru the crappy stuff.
i have been on many pedestals and i have been knocked into the mud. i have been defined good and evil by others opinions and judgements.
sometimes it is uncomfortable, sometimes it down right hurts but you do learn to live with it….
by repeating over and over…. it’s not personal (even when it feels like it is.)

but how do you tell someone that if they go into rescue they have to personally be able to live with whatever comes their way. you can and will be the good guy and the bad guy in the very same day. you will be lauded and sneered at, you will trust and be betrayed. and you will always be alone because every single person around you can leave if they choose to but you will always have to be that last person who stays.
at some point in order to survive in rescue, you have to build walls.
now those walls can be a prison or they can be a cathedral. you use the same stone.
i think as we grow in rescue we are like the little pigs and learn that houses built of straw and sticks do not survive strong winds but good solid stone walls will.

this is why i am so determined to move saints beyond me…saints has always been about how we care for our animals. saints stands on our everyday actions and the work we do. saints is not a person, it is a purpose.

the next time someone asks me how to start their own rescue i think i will say….build the organization first, let the organization plot the path, take the risks and do the hard work. organizations aren’t personal. no one can really hurt an organization that does good work.

all these years into this and i just figured out…i did it all ass backwards…to keep rescue from becoming personal…build the organization first.
oh well, live and learn.