Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Can you say Happy Birthday?

I've written before about how much courage I think it takes to run a sanctuary. The endless hours of heavy work, the frustration at the never ending requests from people unable or unwilling to keep their animals for life, the fear when a loved animal resident becomes ill, the worry about where the money for vets and feed and property maintenance will come from, the difficulty recruiting and keeping reliable volunteers.

Hard work?? But we're so CUTE! 

And I KNOW that most of my readers get it - most of you came here to follow stories of the critters because you, too, are animal lovers. And, as animal lovers, you probably recall that a few weeks ago the Cowichan and District SPCA had 24 potbellied pigs surrendered to them, several of which were pregnant.  Sadly, finding homes for potbellied pigs is next to impossible - hence the massive numbers that end up in farm animal sanctuaries, and specifically pot bellied pig sanctuaries, across North America.

And yet, you'll also know how intelligent and funny and strong-willed and loving pot bellied pigs are. At least, you'll know that if you followed the stories I wrote way back at the beginning of this blog when I fostered two, then twelve, potbellied pigs for Hearts on Noses Sanctuary, a not-for-profit registered charity now located in Mission, BC.

Did foster mama bring us some treats?

A month ago, I wrote about transporting three of the SPCA pigs to Hearts on Noses.  Janice Gillett, who runs the sanctuary had kindly agreed to take them in.  She named the mama Rainbow, and the two babies Plumb and Tierra.

Rainbow in transit

Janice welcomes Tierra and Plumb

She took them in even though she has forty pigs there already and  struggles financially. She took them in even though she has a heart condition and needs heart surgery pretty damn soon. She took them in even though slogging through rain and snow and mud and blazing sun to feed all those pigs, to make sure they all get turns in the pasture, to scoop their poop and fix their houses and bring them straw for their beds and water for their dishes and feed for their bellies is hard work - darn hard work!

She took them in even though she knew she was somehow going to have to raise at least $1500 for their spays, in addition to the monthly costs of feeding three more mouths.

I hope this place has enough food for us!

One anonymous donor offered to pay for one spay. Several others have donated to raise another approximately $500 online at For the Love of Pigs, on Fundrazr.

In another month or two, the babes (and their mama, who is barely more than a babe herself)  will be ready for spaying, and we still need to raise at least another $500 - preferably more, as there are always more costs....medicine, unexpected emergencies, ongoing costs for growing piglets, alterations to the shelter and fencing.

An adorable house sits by the edge of Hearts on Noses' driveway,
waiting to be moved and fenced for the new piggy residents

And I know you get tired of being asked for money. Many of you are facing challenging financial times yourself. But if your good friend was celebrating a birthday, would you find a couple of bucks for a card? Maybe even buy them a cup of coffee, or spend a few dollars more on a gift, or a dinner, or a bottle of wine?  Would you?

Birthdays are meant to be CELEBRATED! 

Well, today is Janice's birthday!  If you appreciate the hard work she does for the animals, if you are thankful that there is a place piggies can go to live out their lives, knowing they are safe from abuse and neglect and abandonment,  perhaps you might think of her as a friend. So take that money you'd spend for a card and stamp, that money for the drink or the fancy cupcake you might buy her, and instead donate it to Rainbow, Plumb, and Tierra's spay fund.  Let's see that figure rise as the birthday wishes pour in.
Rainbow, Plumb and Tierra

Or go to Canada Helps and donate to Hearts on Noses there - you can add a message to specify it is for the spays of the piglets.  You'll even get a tax receipt.

Two dollars, five dollars, twenty dollars......whatever you can afford, whatever you might scrape together to wish your friend, your very courageous pig-loving friend,  a very happy birthday. Let's make this a birthday to remember - the birthday when the gifts didn't arrive in gaily coloured paper but instead arrived in the form of money for spays of three more rescued potbellied pigs.

Janice,  thank you for all you do for the pigs.  Thank you for adding Rainbow, Plumb and Tierra to your already large family.  Happy Birthday, my friend.  I'm heading to Canada Helps now.

Let's all head off to make a donation!
(Plumb front, Tierra rear) 

Again, here's the links for two ways to donate to Rainbow's, Plumb's, and Tierra's spay fund, the best birthday gift you can give our pig-loving friend:
Canada Helps
For the Love of Pigs

(Confession:  Some of the photos in this post were stolen from Janice's own page, since I'm too far away to get new photos.  I'm pretty sure she won't mind). 

Friday, June 9, 2017

A Letter to LAPS, from Allie (now Maggie)

Dear friends at Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS),

Remember me?
I was called Allie, but now I'm Maggie!

Thank you for taking such good care of me in your shelter. You have a very nice place there, but I have to say I like it at my new home much better! I have been here two weeks now, and my new mama says I am settling in well. My mama likes to take lots of photos, and most of them are of ME! She said I can use some of them for this letter, so you can see how I'm doing and where I live.

C'mon - I'll give you a tour! 

I have been slowly learning about life here on the island. Did you know there is a beach just a block or so from my new house? We go there almost every day on at least one of our two daily walks - oooooh the great smells on the beach!

This is one of my favourite places -
we see herons and eagles and otters and shellfish!

I can lie here for hours!

There's also lots of fun places to hike, and I've been to two of them. Last Friday I had my first hike at a place called Swallowfield with Mama and my new friends Pat and the Poms (no, that's not a singing group - it's my mama's human friend and her two Pomeranians). And on Monday I did my first hike to Crofton Lake too!

This is me at Swallowfield.
That's the Chemainus River behind me,
heading to the estuary.

And this is me at Crofton Lake.
I sure love hiking!

It's so pretty here.
My mama is always taking pictures! 

I also love Mama's back yard and like to spend lots of time out there lying on the grass or under the bushes or even on the back porch. Fortunately, mama has work to do out there so she can hang out with me.
Hey, Mama, I'll pose for you! 

Every day we do at least one new thing - walk a little further, meet one new person, practice one new behaviour. Yesterday it was raining, so my new thing was wearing a raincoat for my walk - I didn't mind a bit! And when we got home, we played with a toy that dispenses treats - I don't quite have the hang of it yet, but when Mama nudges it with her paw - er, foot -  to make it wobble, goodies fall out!

Okay, I do have a few challenges. Mostly with cats. I am very obsessed with the cat who lives here (her name is also Allie, which is why my mama had to change my name), but Mama puts a leash on me and ties me to her belt when I get too nosy or when I chase her.! 

When I am calm around the cat I get lots and lots of treats! And I am learning not to pull Mama off her feet when I see cats during our walks. Treats are also involved there! Because of my allergies, I get dried kangaroo treats and they are DELICIOUS! So it is all good.  Allie the Cat isn't very happy (she even peed and pooped on the rug twice - oh my!) but she is calming down now that I am learning to ignore her. Sometimes I sense her scowling at me when I am trying to nap.

Is there something watching me?

My other challenge is new people. I don't mind meeting nice well mannered dogs, but people are just plain scary. I run to the furthest part of the yard and hide when someone comes to the gate while Mama and I are in the back yard.  

Stranger Alert! Stranger Alert! 

Even after hiking with Auntie Pat and the poms, I wouldn't let Auntie Pat touch me, though I did let her walk beside my mama. More treats! And whenever we see a human on our walks, Mama gives me another treat before we even get to them. So maybe humans are okay.

What else can I tell you? I love car rides, but Mama won't leave me in a car when she's running errands so I only get to go when it is ALL ABOUT ME. I wear my seatbelt, and mama is teaching me to use a crate instead (which I Do Not Like!) because it is safer. Crate training involves treats too!

At first I hated being in the house  except at night, and paced continually, but now I am getting much more relaxed about it. I have claimed Mama's bedroom as my den - I sleep on her bed or sometimes in my own raised bed on the floor, and I like to help her when she makes the bed in the morning.

I'm such a good helper!

Mama fixed up the baby gates so I have access to my our bedroom when she goes out without me. Yes, sometimes she leaves me behind when she goes out (can you believe it!), and at first I howled like a husky when she left the house - she could hear me all the way out to the road! But she kept popping in and out several times a day for just a few minutes, and gradually lengthened the time away, and now I can stay by myself for two or three hours without getting upset. Treats are involved with that, as well!

I met my new vet and even though I don't like strangers I was a very good girl. I had some goopy eyes so I got some drops for that. My new vet was the  one who recommended the kangaroo treats so she is my new best friend.

As you can see, things are going well and my mama loves me to bits. And you should hear her laugh when I do my happy dog dance and play bow at her. I also love to get belly rubs from her so when we play I roll over lots and wave my paws in the air until she tickles my tummy.  Hahahahahaha - that is so much fun! And after showing my happy spirit, I get more treats!

Life is good! 

Well, that's about all I can think of to tell you. Thank you again for my three weeks with you, and matching me up with my new mama. I'm loving life and getting braver every day!

Lotsa love,
Maggie (formerly Allie).

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Welcome home, Allie!

My Life with the Critters welcomes....Allie!



No, not you, Allie Cat.  This sheltie is also called Allie.  That's what her previous mama called her. And now she has come to live with us.  Isn't she sweet?


I don't wanna hear this!

Dear Allie-the-dog,
Welcome to our family.  I am so very happy that Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS) chose me for your new mama.

How fortunate it was that my friend Deb Strong of Cat n Mouse Designs brought you to my attention a couple of days before I was to transport some potbellied pigs to the mainland - perfect timing! She is so clever - did you know she matched me up with my very first sheltie, Belle, and later with Sadie too?

Ha ha, that's pretty funny.
I guess she's your official Matchmaker! 

And so began the very thorough application process:  a telephone interview the day before I left the island, a face-to-face interview and time spent with you while I was over there, a written application that included some interesting questions asking how I would handle certain scenarios, an opportunity to walk you on the trails through the woods on the shelter grounds, and  a few days later a phone call approving my application.  We weren't done yet, though - first I needed to return to the mainland to spend more time with you while you awaited your final vet visit. Two more days walking trails and relaxing in the meadow so we could bond, three more talks with their adoption counselors to make sure I understood your health issues, your temperament, and the recommended techniques for helping you feel secure.  And finally, this Thursday afternoon, we were on our way home to the island.   

However, there is a wee problem.  You see, there is already an Allie in our family - and she has been here for sixteen years, which is more than twice your seven-year-old age.  And while I know you lost everything familiar when your mama was no longer able to care for herself  and was moved to a care facility, I am about to ask you to also give up your name.  We shall choose something similar, and you and I shall take a few days to think about it.  

I know you  and Allie-the-Cat  will have some adjusting to do, but LAPS says you are good with cats.  Okay, that hasn't quite proven true as you do seem to obsess over Allie-the-Cat and chase her every chance you get (and, yes, that is why you are attached to my belt with a leash whenever you are both in the same room).  But I'm sure Allie-the-Cat will soon put you in your place.  In fact, she already tried, and I heard you yelp when she swiped you.  You do seem a little more cautious around her now. Don't fret,  I'm sure both you and Allie-the-Cat will soon adjust to your new family circle.
You've got to sleep sometime!

So let's take a few days to chill, to let you familiarize yourself with the house and yard, and then the town, and later you can gradually meet some of my human and canine friends. I know you are very timid around strangers and that you don't like dogs without manners, so we'll take it slow and build some confidence first. Maybe one day you'll be brave enough to go hiking!  

I like your garden -
can we hike in the garden?

So welcome, Sweet Sheltie Allie, welcome to your new home, your new life, your new family.  I am so very happy you are here.

Love, your Mama Jean
(and Allie-the-Cat, who isn't quite so happy). 

I don't know why you couldn't have just stuck with this guy!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Crazy times... and a lovely hike

It's been crazy times around here, with a massive intake of more than two dozen pot bellied pigs by our local (Cowichan and District) SPCA.  With the Cowichan SPCA not set up for farm animals, and with all the female pigs (including a number of six month old babes) being pregnant or nursing, a scramble to find appropriate foster homes ensued.  Hearts on Noses offered to take one of the nursing moms with two babies permanently into their care, so I transported those from the island to the mainland.  I'll be blogging more about this shortly, including info on the fundraisers for their eventual spays.
Because of this, and other things going on in my life,  photos are piling up, with no time to edit the larger pool of photos taken on a recent camping trip - but I shall get there! Meanwhile, I offer you this set of photos which I posted on Facebook last night - taken yesterday on my customary Monday hike with my friend Sally, this hike at Colliery Dam Park in Nanaimo.  Enjoy!

There are two lakes at Colliery Dam Park, with easy paths around them, each with a loop trail around them.  There are also many other trails made by mountain bikes, and a somewhat misleading map at the trail head, so for the second time we missed the unmarked trail head for the second lake and spent some time on mountain bike trails before redirected by a friendly hiker.  Though the day was wet, it was still a very pleasant hike.  

This interesting combination of ramp, bridge and stairs
crosses a narrow chasm at one end of the second lake.

Dogwood - BC's provincial flower - were in bloom around the lakes

An angler's gear on the lake shore.  

There were many colourful fungi in the almost rainforest habitat

This paved path is part of  Nanaimo's extensive Parkway Trail
system, which passes through this park.

While a hiker mentioned a cougar in the area, and an angler/photographer showed
us photos of an owl and her babies and pointed out their tree, the only wildlife we
saw was this squirrel. 

My favourite photo of the day was this one - an elderly angler sits fishing,
amid reflections and raindrops.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

While you are waiting.....

I'm still sorting and editing the hundreds of photos I took on a short camping trip on the southern end of Vancouver Island.  But just so my faithful followers don't think I have dropped off the face of the earth again, here's a few photos from a hike Pat and the poms did with me at Swallowfield (between Chemainus and Crofton on the island) last week. Though it's less than ten minutes from home, I hadn't been there for quite a while - and it was just as beautiful as ever.

Chemainus River near the estuary

Channels of water running into the sea

Cosmo loves to swim - though in this photo
he might be watching for fish! 

Lexi isn't as keen on swimming as Cosmo, but will
paddle out  chest deep.

Tranquility, reflections, and beauty on the estuary

Naked trees dancing on the bluff.
Surely it is spring time by now?

There was birdsong all around us, including the distinctive call of the
red-winged blackbird.

Pat wanted some new photos of the dogs in bluebells
(we last took some here two years ago).
Lexi was quite cooperative, Cosmo not so much.

I think the dogs have been looking at
Norman Rockwell paintings.
Cosmo needs a pitchfork beside him.

Finally got one of the two of them that isn't
quite so stern!