Sunday, 27 March 2011

Perfect Weather To Fly

After a timely week off and a trip to Barcelona I had an enormous 'welcome back slap' at ten past eight on Monday morning.......

Betty was a case cat who had been cared for by our wonderful foster parents Clare and Darren. After 6 months of looking after her the case had finally reached the first court hearing. However, Betty was knocking on 19 years of age and those years had suddenly caught up with her and on Sunday night she was admitted to the emergency vets and placed in an oxygen tent to help her breathe. When I turned my phone on and got a text at 8.10am Monday morning telling me I had to collect Betty at 8.30am I knew then that there was going to be no way back from this; old age had caught with her. The heartache of taking in case animals struck again, as a stressful day played out.

You see when we look after a 'case animal' they remain the 'property' of the owner, which means we cannot do very much veterinary treatment-wise without the consent of the owner. It's a complex one to explain but essentially any veterinary treatment that is deemed invasive, e.g. neutering, general anaesthetics, operations etc cannot be done without consent. It's something that I have learned to work with and accept but it nonetheless can cause frustration and delay. It ultimately means that we have no 'control' over decision making, which asthea self-confessed control freak that I am, it makes it hard to contend with.

Betty's owners thankfully made the decision to put her to sleep and they went to say their goodbyes to her accompanied by an RSPCA inspector. Now, whilst I have no issues with this myself, it did cause a number of others consternation for obvious reasons. It also meant that the people who had loved and cared for her for the last 6 months lost any 'claims' to her (if you get my drift) and were unable to say their goodbyes.

It really rocked me that I couldn't allow her foster parents to say goodbye, and really cemented in my mind that taking in case animals is perhaps something I'm not emotionally capable of doing any more. The rollercoaster ride that it creates and the possibility that the animals might have to be returned is just too much for me and I don't mind admitting this weakness. Up until this point I had still had the niggle of a sense of 'duty' but now I just can't help but feel I just don't have the emotional capacity to cope with it all, which is incredibly selfish but of late we've had such a turmultuous time with the animals that a bit of damage limitation and self preservation feels quite essential. Maybe in a week or so I'll feel differently, but for now my cup it overfloweth!

There have, however, been some rather wonderful events happen this week, which I am still extremely excited about. But, rather than tempt fate, I'm going to sit on them until my next blog, just to make sure it all pans out as I hope it will. But just to say it could involve lots of happy endings for lots of our cats, a dog and rabbits.

But there have been a few other wonderful things that have also kept me going this week, which I can share, and they have been updates of our rehomed animals Dennis, Rico and Micah. The former two you'll be able to see on our website soon (just in the process of seeking consent from the adopters) but I have permission to share with you all about Micah, pictured above.

Now let me tell you....I first became acquainted with Micah's owner when I took a call from her one day after she had come across the blog and 'lost' two hours reading it and felt compelled to call and let us all know what great work we do. I know, how awesome is that! The lady was also looking for a companion dog and so we began chatting with one another. I told her all about Mikey, a true gentleman collie who was abandoned by his owners when they returned home to Romania. Well, the rest is history, as they say, and Mikey became Micah and I have received the most wonderful regular updates on him ever since. They enchant me so much that I sought permission to share with you the delightful updates I have been enjoying. I hope you are charmed and warmed by them as much as me; happy endings really do happen!

1. First meeting

We had a great time with Mikey this morning. He is as charming and bright as you said he was. We fell for him hook, line and sinker – he is just so perky and has tons of potential.

We’d love to have him as part of the family and look forward to hearing from you re the homevisit. Hope to speak to you very soon with more good news!

Thanks for letting us spend time with him – it was lovely.

2. Homecoming bulletin from Micah (formerly Mikey).

NO problem in the car. Once out of the car he had a guided tour of the garden and met Fennel and Eric our chickens who pecked him on the nose. He responded in a very dignified manner!

Indoors he met Pete and Fudge the cats who both happened to be in the kitchen when we walked in – Micah just looked and walked past them both – they have since been in the living room together with no problems although Fudge has not yet touched the ground.

Then he met Oscar my nephew who fell in love instantly. I think they may be doing Play Station later.

Then we had a mooch for ages –– he was so inquisitive. He helped fill the dishwasher and went to the bathroom with Janet.

Then ……… ball in the garden – we started off on the lead but soon decided to try him free – and he was brilliant.

Now we are resting.

Thanks so much for letting us have him. He is going to be such a great companion. Big country walk tomorrow. I don’t know when I’m going to fit work in!

3. In the early days

The only word that adequately describes Micah is EXUBERANT!!!! We love him to bits and it seems as if he has been around for ages – so settled and no problem with routine.

He is relaxed around everybody, eats well, tells us when he needs to go out and is getting the hand of walking nicely with the gencon although he is clearly afraid of traffic.

So far his second favourite thing is lying on the settee (I know I said I wouldn’t allow it but ……) with Oscar whom he adores (see pic above).

His very favourite thing is playing ball on the lawn. We do this at least ten times a day – usually starting at 6 a.m. before breakfast and ending immediately before bed. Good job we have lighting outdoors. I’ve developed ball skills I didn’t know I had and we will soon be competing internationally!!

At tea time he does half an hour of cat games – the three of them zoom around having a rare old time – we just stand back and watch in amazement.

The only thing he won’t do is go in his basket – he hardly even looks at it so I don’t think he is suspicious of it – perhaps he prefers the floor. Pete and Fudge have decided to make good use of it in turns.

4. Settling in

Micah has had an invitation to “meet the Vet” on Tuesday which will be good and he has two play dates booked for the week after next with Cuthbert the border terrier and Tess my former foster dog.

Today he jumped into the back of the car without hesitation – last week I was having to physically lift him in – which is great progress.

Thanks for all that you do – we really do know how much you care and how you always go the extra mile for the animals in your charge.

5. Paws under the table

Micah has been to the seaside today. A great day – car full of dog sick (although he waited til we got to Blackpool before he threw up), tide completely in – more completely than I have ever seen it - AND I was so keen to remember all his stuff (items for every eventuality) that I forgot the flask!!

BUT he had a whale of a time – we found a strip of sand and he was away – fetching his ball, stones, shells, bits of wood, disgusting unidentified objects, rolling in the sand, eating it, chatting to other dogs (including David the poodle), strolling along the prom as if he owned it and just being glad to have the sun on his back and the wind in his fur. He was like a child on the way home – two hundred yards of looking though the window and then completely zonked out for the rest of the trip – and no vomiting. This evening he confined himself to Mastermind and Gardeners’ World sprawled on the settee followed by a small skirmish with Pete which took up most of the house but caused less damage than the one yesterday.

I just love this dog!

For me, it has been an absolute pleasure to receive these wonderful updates on Micah. It has given us a rare and priveleged insight into the settling in period of one of our rescue animals. I can't thank Micah's family enough for their generosity and kindness; we have found dear friends in them all and a magnificent new home for Micah, I'm sure you'll agree.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

I'm very lucky indeed

This week has been the longest on record in such a long while. Monday really feels like a lifetime ago.

It hit rock bottom this week with the loss of Queenie (above) and Moragh (below).

Some of you may remember Queenie came into us 3-4 weeks ago in a starved and ailing state.

Queenie hated the kennel experience and barely coped - not even a walk or a play in the paddock eased her anxiety. It seemed to us that she was very unfamiliar with the outdoors, so it led us to speculate that she had likely spent her life incarcerated in a room, used for breeding.

Much to our sadness further health complications arose with Queenie and I felt that it was time to end her suffering. Her health problems were insurmountable with our resources and so we gave her the peace she needed. Whilst she marked another battle lost against animal cruelty we took heart in the fact that she was not enduring a miserable existence any more.

But the next day, Tuesday, was incredibly cruel and we received the most painful, devastating news, which still brings me to tears.

Our beautiful girl Moragh, who had spent 4 months with us being brought back to health was to undergo one final treatment on before leaving us to live with her new family, except she didn't, because she couldn't.

Moragh had gone in to have what we all thought was a simple polyp removed, only it turned out to be far more sinister and hiding even more worrying problems. The blow was devastating. Both Catherine and I broke down in an instant as the vet told us we had to let her go. Sheer disbelief at what was going on and Catherine and I just sobbed.

I called Mel so she could join us in saying goodbye to Moragh and we all cuddled and fussed her until we felt able to let her go.

The vets were absolutely amazing with us and left us to spend all the time we needed with her and their sensitive handling of our grief made it all the more tolerable.

But it felt such a cruel, bitter blow after all she had been through and having found her a home to spend the rest of life in. We all really loved that cheeky little girl and she brought so much joy to our lives. We all shared very fond memories of our time with her and as I let everyone know of her departure they too shared their favourite memories; long walks around the water park, endless throw and fetch games, being smothered in kisses and leaping into our laps for cuddles. She was our Moragh.

I learnt a lot this week, specifically about the meaning of some of my feelings. You see, most of the time when I have to make the decision on euthanizing an animal I feel deeply despairing, frustrated at having failed another furry, but at the same time I feel I am able, to some degree, spare everyone else from that responsibility of the decision making. But with Moragh it was different. With her I wasn't shouldering any 'blame', so I couldn't spare anyone from grief. I couldn't make it any better for anyone. It was sheer grief. Painful, harsh, grief. This time I couldn't make anyone feel better about her loss, there was no 'at least she wasn't....', it was simply horrible, gut wrenching grief for us all.

But what I did see (and not for the first time I might add) the most amazing tenacity of my staff Mel and Catherine, who commit to their work and carry on for the animals. They come back to work the next day with ever more gritted determination and unfaltering belief in what we are trying to achieve. I admire them so greatly, cos let's face it, how many people would stick at and contend with the heartache and trauma that we deal with on an almost weekly basis. I think they are both amazing.

This week's blog is in memory of Moragh and Queenie but also in celebration of the staff and volunteers around me who come back to do this troublesome work week in, week out and all because they care so much. I'm very lucky indeed.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Says it all for me

I hold my hands up! I've been avoiding my blog. To be honest I still don't want to be doing it now but it's like a commitment I've made to myself and now, having neglected it for nearly two weeks, I cannot hide from it any more!

There's only ever two reasons why I don't blog - I'm on holiday or I'm so damn well overwhelmed by everything that outside of work I just need to switch off and box it all away. Unfortunately it has been the work one that has caused me to not blog, and I'm feeling worse than ever if the truth be told.

Uppermost in my mind at the moment is the last, outstandingly horrible thing I dealt with, which was a continental giant rabbit yesterday. The words "unimaginable suffering" have been floating around in my head for the last 24 hours and I'm still feeling pretty teary about the state she was in. Now, I'll be the first to confess that my feelings are worsened by the fact that I am a rabbit obsessive and a giant rabbit obsessive at that, but even so, what that girl must have gone through is simply awful.

We called her 'Posh' and she had been found in a paddock in Cheshire. The only way she could have got there was by being thrown over a 6ft fence. How she was still alive, and not been eaten by foxes, is a miracle and suggest she wasn't there long; she had paralysis in her back legs (most likely neurological related) so she couldn't run away. If that wasn't bad enough, she had to weight bear on her front paws that had abscesses the size of plums. She had chronic mites and her ears were stripped bare and bleeding and she had puss truly dripping from her left eye. Her back paws were bald with thick scabs and coupled with the lack of urine scalding (rear end paralysis results in that) led us to conclude she had been kept on a bare mesh flooring for a long time. Mesh flooring is most commonly used when breeding.

The pain that girl went through each time she raised herself up off her belly must have been unbearable, and she had clearly been like that for some time. I really hope that whoever did this to her will reap what they sow one day. Making her suffer like that is revolting in itself but to 'throw her away' is so horribly cruel too.

Even though we only spent a short while with her, Posh was a lovely natured rabbit. Despite being severely disabled and not even knowing us she was up for attention and actively moved towards us whenever she could to get it and then sat there very happily whilst we stroked her. Needless to say we euthanized Posh, and whilst it was unequivocally the right thing to do, I remain deeply affected by her level of suffering. I just don't understand why people don't get that rabbits deserve better.

To lighten the mood I can tell you that Queenie, the desperately thin staffie featured last time, is doing very well and looking more and more healthier by the day. Her weight gain is steady and she is settling into the kennels and her personality is beginning to come out. We have, hoverer, found that in the paddock she gets distressed and wants to go back inside and out on walks she isn't much better, which does lead us to question whether she had been kept indoors an awful lot. A combination of patience, treats and a DAP collar is helping her to learn to trust us and we shall keep persevering!

Our rehoming figures for February were great once again with 25 animals finding new homes, admittedly it was mainly cats but now we have reopened the kennels after closing for a couple of weeks due to signs of kennel cough I'm hopeful we will be able to rehome more dogs this month too - like Mikey, who is going to his new home on Wednesday and was snapped up after only being listed on our website for half an hour! That is a record. Previously it had been one hour - how awesome is that! (Pictured is Riley the cat, formerly Sam, in his new home - he left us in January and we got a wonderful update about him this week, which is possibly the best bit of our job! In fact, we've been lucky enough to have quite a few lovely updates recently, which has been a very much needed motivator).

I'm also pleased to say that we are doing well on the small furries front too. We have just rehomed the last of our guinea pigs from the 433 animal case we helped out with last year and we have reserves on two bunnies too (we rehomed 3 in Feb and would have been more if 'bondings' had gone well). We are finally down to 14 small furries on the rehoming side, which is nearly back to our normal numbers - never thought I'd see the day!

But what has been really troubling me, and having me hide away, is the news that a case has fallen through and the owner will not be prosecuted and that the animals belonging to the owner that we have in our care have to be returned.

Words cannot be found to describe how we feel about this. We have looked after these animals for the last 4 months.

Some of us have had them in our homes, whilst a team of us have cared for them in one place. We have spent all that time undoing the sickening level of neglect they had suffered. One bunny alone has required 18 vet visits and racked up bills amounting to £500. We have loved and cared for these animals like they are our own, like we love and care for all the animals that come through our doors. So I can tell you that words really do fail me, fail us all, as to how we have ever found ourselves in this position and how we can conceivably return animals to the suffering they once came from.

'Reeling' is perhaps the best description I can give to how everyone is feeling at the moment. I really am sitting here 'reeling', as I once again have to entertain this notion of returning these precious animals.