Emotional Distress

Posted: July 11, 2019 at 6:53 am

One of the biggest challenges to Skye finding a home was his chronic and irredeemable cribbing (this is besides his older age and significant arthritis issues.)
Cribbing is a really destructive and unhealthy habit of horses grabbing onto any wood surface, chomping down hard and ripping the wood off with their teeth. It wrecks fences, gates, and wooden barn stalls, it is also really bad for their gut and their teeth.
Horses crib for various reasons including pain, boredom and anxiety. It is a coping mechanism for horses in some kind of emotional or physical distress.
Skye was in pain when he arrived, he was also an emotional mess.
Dealing with his pain issues was easy, it was a matter of giving him appropriate pain meds.
And in the end eradicating his emotional distress was easy too…Skye needed access to friends.
He doesn’t really care if it is horses or donkeys, he just doesn’t like to be alone.

In meeting this emotional need for him, we noticed a marked decrease in his cribbing. Now that he is in the barn at night with the other horses or free with them out in the field, he has pretty much completely stopped cribbing. Except when Rudy died. When the truck arrived to pick up Rudy’s body, Skye went straight to a fence and started cribbing. He was distressed at Rudy’s passing and went back to his old stress deducing strategy. It lasted for a few hours and once he settled himself out again he was done with the cribbing.

It is important to me to speak to the issues of horses cribbing. There are anti-cribbing collars available and muzzles for horses, we can put metal bars on the windows and metal strips on the tops of fences and gates to protect the sills and wood from ongoing damage…but none of that actually solves the problem. Something is causing the horse physical or emotional pain. Maybe it is boredom, grief or loneliness, maybe it is anxiety and feeling unsafe, maybe it is ulcer or arthritic pain. Emotional pain is as distressful as physical pain..sometimes it is even more.

I wonder how much more distress it causes them to wear the collar or muzzle, to put metal everywhere to prevent them from engaging in this coping mechanism? It makes me sad. A horse stands before us and tells us he is unhappy and our solution is to stick some kind of uncomfortable and unnatural apparatus on his face or neck to manage the symptom but not address the problem.
There are many in the horse world who may disagree with me, and i will admit I could be totally wrong. But Skye was suffering physically and emotionally, we allievated his most pressing problems and he cribs no longer.

Our much loved Rudy passed gently from this life today.

Posted: July 6, 2019 at 3:23 pm

The staff, volunteers, our vet and even today’s large double tour groups all in one way or another paid homage to the end of life for this wonderful old horse.
The other farm animals were aware of what was happening and Dixie, Raven, Skye and Emily were all upset at his passing. His human friends stood by his side and whispered their love to him in their goodbyes.
He was surrounded by loving care…he was surrounded by many different loving spirits in many shapes and sizes, some with 2 legs, others with four but all of them there for him at the end

when an animal passes from here, it is not just the humans who grieve, many of the other animals also mourn.

We are a family, we celebrate together and we share the sadness of loss too.

Rudy was a great horse, he was kind, he was gentle, he was beautiful too. And he had a bit of a sense of humor.

the vision of him in my head that I will forever carry is Rudy ready and waiting to go back into the barn for supper. Standing by the gate was never quite enough to get real and FULL attention so to ensure that he really got his important point across..that it was dinner time NOW…..Rudy would put both of his feet on the bottom rung of the gate, then he would move them both up another rung and there he would stand, tall and dignified impossible to miss or ignore.

Rudy, you were truly an awesome and one of a kind horse!

fly free sweet boy.

The Almighty Dollar.

Posted: July 4, 2019 at 10:54 pm

Do you know what I hate about rescue?
I just don’t think that the almighty dollar should be any kind of consideration when helping helpless sick animals..or people for that matter.
And do you know what truly bugs me about money?
Its not real…it is just flimsy paper with numbers and pictures that we made up to be something important.
But it is all make believe, we built our entire world, enslaved almost every living life in the search of monopoly money.
Do you know what is really real?
People, Animals, wild and domestic, Insects, ButterFlies, Birds, Fish, Turtles and Bees, Trees, Plants, The layers of earth beneath our feet, the oceans, the rivers, the lakes…the earth upon which we live and breathe.

I hate worrying about paying the bills. I hate the endless juggling each month to balance the books. I hate animals being held hostage for how much money they are worth and conversely losing their lives once they are deemed cost ineffective and virtually worthless.
Some smart person said that money is the root of all evil…I think I agree.

But here is the reality of this world and rescue…it constantly costs money.
So there we are forced into the role of perpetual beggers….asking for handouts over and over and over again just so we can pay the bills for our rescued animal friends.
People say we are saints or angels because we care for our animals so well. They applaud us because we treat our animals with great care and even greater respect.
And do you know why we do it? Because it is right. There is so much wrong with this sometimes dark dreary world…being kind, responsible and respectful to senior and special needs homeless animals, brings in a little more light.
We really care about them, we really try to do the best that we can and we do this because somehow or another, we actually can.

But we are not heroes for what we give to these incredible beings, of course we should be caring for them..this should be completely normal, we used them to get whatever it was that we wanted so of course we should pay them back with kind and responsible care. But we are heroes in one regard… because day after day, year after year, decade after decade we do what we hate more than anything in the world…we perpetually search for that flimsy paper with pictures and numbers that honestly is not even real…just so we can pay the bills which in this utterly weird and twisted world, are frankly somedays heart stopping real.

( i like this photo of what’s really real much better!)

Floating Hope

Posted: July 2, 2019 at 8:28 pm

Part of what we do here is learning to keep hope optimistically floating while still looking at what might be reality straight in the eye.
Rudy is not well. He is 33 and a half years old, that’s pretty old for a horse. He lost one of his eyes last year but recovered from the surgery well. And he has been dealing with a melanoma and arthritis for many years now but has been able to keep happily trucking on.

Last weekend Rudy suddenly went down unexpectedly, he was out flat and we thought he might never get up. He did get up a couple of times but then went right back down again, it didn’t look like a colic so we had no idea what was going on. We called out the vets on an emergency visit and discovered that Rudy was bleeding internally. We think he may have a tumor that is intermittently bleeding out. But there is also a slim possibility that Rudy is having a GI bleed from his arthritis meds. We did some blood work that has confirmed that he has been bleeding unbeknownst to us for a while. We started him on antibiotics and ulcer meds and are holding his arthritis meds to see how he does.

Rudy hasn’t gone back down again so that is good, and he is no longer passing blood clots in his stool. His appetite really hasn’t picked up much, through out the day he is only eating a few handfuls of food.
He doesn’t seem to be suffering or in any kind of distress, he is a little slower than usual but still is interested in going out to the pasture and hanging out with his friends.
Thursday the vets will come back to repeat his blood work and see if his blood cells are improving. Until then we wait and watch for any signs or clues on how Rudy is feeling.

We don’t know if this is a life ending event with cancer hiding inside, or if this is just a bump in his road with a treatable bleeding ulcer.
We hope on friday when the blood results come back that the vets tell us he is on the mend. But we know that this may not be what they tell us, they may say that Rudy’s life is coming to an end.
We truly hope that hope floats knowing that it might also be about to sink.
But whatever happens later this week, one thing we know for sure, we will stand beside him for as long as he needs.
Love you sweet boy.

The First Saint

Posted: June 28, 2019 at 8:31 am

There are so many stories here, past and present and many more to come in the future. But one story changed the world for a thousand animals and that was the story of Wee Hopeful Bug.
I can’t even share an actual photo of her with you, my computer has crashed so many times and so many absolutely precious photos have been lost so you will have to use your imaginations to see the true face of this sweet tiny cat who meant so much.

Many years ago a litter of kittens were rescued, unfortunately the babes came down with distemper. Only two survived, Hope and Romeo but they did not escape unscathed. Both were afflicted with chronic and severe Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Every possible avenue of treatment was explored and tried but the kittens remained incontinent and leaked feces all over the place. The original rescuer was unable to manage this and so she turned them over to another rescue which at that time, i happened to run. When they arrived they were both about half grown, romeo who was less affected was of normal size but Hope whose bowels were totally destroyed was the size of a 2 month old and hence the name change to Wee Hopeful Bug. In the end this rescue also could not manage them, one day the volunteers said to me that the disgusting mess these two made was not fair to the volunteers or the other cats. They were right of course but once Hopey and Romeo had been “saved” as tiny babies, what was to be done with them now? No one was going to want them, no one was willing to take them on so what were we supposed to do?

You really can’t go knocking off half grown survivors who were happy, affectionate, playful and interactive just because they made a terrible mess so I bit the bullet and took them home. And yes they were terribly difficult to live with but they were cheerful and happy and I fell in love but…. my family did not and who could blame them?
I watched them mature, Romeo became a regular sized cat, Hopey grew very little. At full growth she was the size of a three month old kitten which made me love and want to protect her even more. I watched her chase leaves across the patio, and twist ties across the kitchen floor. She tolerated me bathing and combing feces several times a day from her sparse and unhealthy coat. I would wrap her butt end in towels so she could cuddle up on my chest…I loved that little broken cat with a fierce mothering passion.

Eventually I moved on from that rescue for various reasons, but I was cognizant of the fact that Wee Hopeful Bug and Romeo had No place in this world where they could really belong. They did not fit into a family home, they did not fit into a rescue or a shelter. Were they destined to be unwelcome and unwanted where ever they went in this world?

And so SAINTS was born to give a home to a tiny little cat who constantly leaked liquid stool out her bum. SAINTS was the home she belonged to, SAINTS was the home that she always deserved, a home that no one could ever say was not 100% hers.

Wee Hopeful Bug died within a couple of years after SAINTS birth. She died in her sleep, I never saw it coming, I never had a chance to say good bye or give her that last final kiss. She is the only SAINTS animal buried here, underneath an ancient tree in the bottom field. She is and always will be the spirit of SAINTS that moves us and guides us. She was a gift to me and to all of the animals who have come here since.
This is the only picture I have left of her, a painting I commissioned after she passed away.
here you can see Wee Hopeful Bug, the very first Saint.
She was tiny.
She was mighty…
and she changed the world for 1000 broken animals and made it a better place.

The Big Picture

Posted: June 22, 2019 at 8:01 pm

For the past year I have been talking to the staff about “the big picture” in rescue. The Big Picture is thousands of tiny puzzle pieces that all have to fit in one particular and unique spot to create the whole. You can’t just shove a bunch of shit together and think it will work cuz…it won’t.
This week we had 3 dogs go in for eye enucleations, 2 at the shelter and one from foster. We had little Dynamite at Boundary Bay Specialty Hospital for both a mass and bladder stone removal because his heart is so terribly bad. We still have to get Hannah in to see the specialists too…her insides are so mixed up and deformed and she is needing a spay surgery which is going to be really difficult. Almost all of the animals at SAINTS or in foster care have ongoing medical issues that need ongoing and continued follow up plus daily care..diabetics, IVD’s, dry eyes, glaucoma, skin issues, debilitating arthritis, cardiac, kidney and liver disease..just to name a few. Plus we have the behavioral animals..the grumpies, the terrifieds, the ones with messed up heads, they need special care plans, medications and their environments controlled and adjusted so they can be as good as they can be as much as they can be too.

So those are some of the puzzle pieces, each animal with its own unique and individual shape that needs something(s) very unique and specific to each and every one. But the puzzle pieces don’t stop there..there are the buildings and areas they live in that must be not only clean and comfortable but appropriate to each one. There is the equipment they need, collars and leashes, halters and muzzles, pill poppers, stretchers, wheelchairs, xpens, raised beds, orthopedic or cooling beds, hip lifters, gates and fences, air conditioners, dehumidifiers,fridges, microwaves, washers, dryers, tractors, wheelbarrows, stall forks, fans, fireplaces, furnaces and extra heaters. Along with this are decisions to be made, when to repair something if broken, when to toss away and replace. And lets not forget the utilities, hydro, water, electricity, internet, the roofs on all of the buildings and sheds and the fields that provide grass for the grazing animals, the gravel roads that provide access for the large delivery trucks of hay, shavings, feed and supplies too and really important…how are we going to pay for it all at the end of the day. There relationships to be fostered with our service and supply providers, our vet clinics, the municipality, our neighbors, our lawyers, our accountants, and insurence folks, our volunteers, our staff, board members, adopters, fosters, surrendering families, donors and followers.

Each one a single special puzzle piece in the picture of SAINTS.

I know people around here get tired of me insisting some things be done certain ways, I am sure my pickiness about tidyness, straight lines, not wasting stuff, or avoiding having to do things over and over drives everyone at some point insane.
But here is the thing that we must never forget….we made a promise to these animals that in rescuing them, we would make their lives better. And as very important as each and every one of them are..and how they are the real center of SAINTS…all of the other pieces hidden in the background are what gives them what they need at SAINTS.

There are literally thousands of pieces to SAINTS, and if just one piece is missing, lost or destroyed, we end up with a flawed picture with a very noticeable hole.
Each animal here is important.
Each person has an important and irreplaceable role.
Each tiny and annoying or ignored detail has the ability to create a big black hole.
The responsibility can be crushing and overwhelming…but we absolutely need to focus on both the big and the small and keep going.
There is a Big Picture out there where animals are vulnerable and at risk because humans don’t really consider their care and welfare, their lives and their feelings, as important as our own. We want it to be all about the warm and fuzzy not so much about the down and dirty and oftimes heartbreaking hard work. We want them to make us feel good without having to risk the painful, the inconvenient, the boring, seemingly inconsequential or difficult bits…and yet all of that is part of the bigger picture too.

The big picture starts with a promise to do better…and then it grows and grows, and grows into something so very much bigger.

Made it!

Posted: June 20, 2019 at 8:28 pm

Both Phoebe and Kyah made it through their eye surgeries! Whew!

And more super awesome news…

Gus went home with staff member Tabitha today! 


Its a high stress week.

Posted: June 19, 2019 at 7:15 am

We lost our sweet cat Boots on Monday. She has been steadily declining in weight and while we knew about her kidney disease we did not know the other problems that showed up during the diagnostic testing we had done. Boots was just beginning to feel crappy, we caught it early but there was nothing left we could do for her. She was quite possibly the loveliest cat, and she passed peacefully. Boots was only with us for a few months, but it was a few months of a happy life, a life worth living. And that’s why we do what we do ♥️ I am very sorry.

Yesterday we accepted an 18 year old cat who lost her home due to litter box issues. She is booked in to the vet already for an exam, bloodwork and urinalysis. We dont care if she pees on the floor, but there could be a medical reason for it. Her name is Murphy-Lee and she is beautiful. 

Fancy has had her bladder stone removal surgery. She is unhappily locked in a pen during the healing period. I told her its for her own good and she will be fine but she still wants out, her sunny seat in the window beckons her 🙂 

We had to make a critical decision yesterday regarding Phoebe. She has many MANY issues, kidney disease, heart disease, pancreatitis, painful glaucoma in her only eye, and now infected anal glands. We have elected to give the enucleation surgery a try, after some shuffling by our vet clinic, they were able to squeeze her in two days earlier than was previously booked, she goes in today. So if your vet ever calls you, a client, and asks if you would mind rescheduling your pets surgery because there is another animal in need of the spot, think of little Phoebe and how hard the staff at Eagle Hill worked to fit her in as soon as they could. Keep her in your thoughts today!

Tomorrow we have another risky surgery. Kyah has to have enucleation surgery too, she also only has the one eye. Kyah has severe heart problems and is NOT a good candidate for surgery. We do not have a choice. The pressure in that eye hurts so bad we have to try to take it out. It is a very real possibility that she wont wake up. Or that her heart craps out immediately after. Renee will be staying with both Phoebe today and Kyah tomorrow until they are completely sedated just in case they do not wake up again. 

This is scary. It sucks. Part of our commitment to these animals is that we will make decisions the best we can, to do what is right by them. We are trying. 

This weekend is our annual Open House!

Posted: June 14, 2019 at 6:49 pm

It is also our 15th year anniversary since the beginning of this oftimes crazy journey of providing safe haven to more than a thousand crippled or broken souls.
Every year is challenging in some way or another. Every year has at some point brought me to tears, filled me with doubts.

And yet every year we pull up our socks, deal with what must be dealt with, face the struggles, find the solutions and keep going on.
We have to, we have grown past the choice to stop.
We have proven that the work we do here is immensely valuable to the senior and special needs animals who fall thru the cracks in traditional animal welfare. Unadoptable used to mean death, now it means something different like thinking outside the box. Incontinent, elderly, sick, even palliative or misfit homeless animals now have a chance at a good quality of life being valued for who they are, what they have survived, what they continue to struggle thru.
They no longer have to be close to perfect to be worth saving, in fact they can be totally wrecked, they can cost thousands of dollars in vet bills, they can be deaf, blind, crippled and leaking with maybe not the sunniest personality, we don’t care. They have incredible value to us because of their valuelessness,

All my life I wanted a fair world…none of us are perfect and many of us are really messed up in lot’s of ways…so why do the animals have to be perfect..why do they have to be cute, or healthy, or even all that nice?
Why do they have to be more perfect than me or you?

Here is a photo of Mocha, little Miss incontinent bark at everything face with no eyes and Mr. Humpy, incontinent Ben with useless back legs..I think they are perfect..all of us at SAINTS think they are perfect..despite it all, with some love, respect, and good medical care..they both are happy and have survived and continue to live a very good quality of life..

15 years we have been at this, more than a thousand rescued souls.
The Open House is our annual celebration of a job very well done for the unadoptable animals of this world..

Thank you!

Posted: June 13, 2019 at 6:33 am

THANK YOU! A great big shout out to Julie, Moneca, and all the volunteers that made the plant sale a smashing success…again! 

THANK YOU to all the donors who made the plant sale possible by providing these lovely people with beautiful plants to sell!
SAINTS, Elizabeths Wildlife Center, Fraser Valley Humane Society and Mission Community Foundation will split the proceeds of the plant sale, over $9000! Amazing!