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I have posted before about our two Rescue Romanian Dogs.  I have also mentioned the plight of one of them, little Eddie who was abused and tortured: he had his tail cut off, was hung from a tree in a metal snare and left to die

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and then hit on the head with a metal spike, to kill him.  This missed his skull but made a hole in his nose through which a bone and tissue destroying bacteria has entered, destroyed the inside of his nose and is now in the bones of his skull, giving him a life threatening disease: we are crowd funding to try to raise money to pay for life saving veterinary treatment for him.

 

We are being supported by a local charity who are helping by circulating information: all their Trustees are donating and trying to raise his profile.  Two local Newspapers have run stories on the dogs including with photos of me, which I am not keen on but they wanted them, so there we are.

(My recently dyed hair to celebrate my 70th birthday is showing up well!!!)

Now a UK author, Milly Johnson, has joined in and is holding an auction on ebay giving bidders the chance to name a character in her 15th book and to liaise with the author about the character development, receive signed copies and a hamper of goodies:

so if you like her books you might like to go over and check it out at

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/172832677119?ssPageName=STRK%3AMESELX%3AIT&_trksid=p3984.m1558.l2649

Several of you kind readers have already donated and I am so humbled and grateful by your support and that of people locally who know about poor little Eddie.

Given the awful things happening all round the world I sometimes question whether I should be trying to raise money for one little dog rather than for other charities, but as has been pointed out to me, this gives some people a focus, an idea of something practical they can do to right some terrible wrongs, and raises the profile of stray dogs in Romania.  It also makes people feel happier knowing that a fairly simple gesture will make a huge difference to another sentient being at a time when a lot of us feel powerless to help millions of other animals and people.

At the risk of boring you silly, I will once again leave the link to the crowd funding page at the end of this post for those who have not visited here before, and will end with a photo of Eddie sending you all lots of licky kisses:)

 

https://www.leetchi.com/c/money-pot-eddie-22587947

 

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I have just seen this trailer for a new series by Jane Goodall and it looks wonderful.

Although it seems dreadful to utter the C word, we have had our first Charity Catalogues come through the post already so I might as well put it out there that I would like this Series for my present this year:)

https://www.masterclass.com/classes/jane-goodall-teaches-conservation?utm_source=Paid&utm_medium=YouTube&utm_term=Aq-Prospecting&utm_content=Video&utm_campaign=JG

Then I can go back to enjoying our wet, Spring-like August and praying for an Indian Summer through September and October to give me some kind of harvest this year.  It was too cold, wet and windy to plant out early, not really until late May, and it has come back in July, making for such a short growing season on the top of my hill.  The shortest I have every known.  I have just germinated some more French Beans and Sugarsnap peas because the last lot have not done well: these will need a couple of days to harden off and then I will plant them out, probably with fleece, to see if I can possibly get a bit of a harvest for the freezer.

Yesterday a photographer from the local paper came to take photos of me and Eddie:  he behaved like a pro but I was not very happy about having my own photo taken.  The photographer was a lovely young lady who said it made a change from football matches!!

Today I have been clearing piles of papers from several years ago and researching suggested supplements online for therapeutic ketosis and immune support.

Life has thrown us another curveball in that a house we have long had in the back of our minds for our old age has just come on the market.  But we cannot bear the thought of leaving our present home for at least four or five years.  So what to do?  It is unique, as our present house is, has even better views than we do and is just on the edge of the village instead of down the lane in a small hamlet.  The last owners of this other house have been there for 35 years so if we do not take the plunge now, will we lose the chance?

It is very expensive which might just take the choice out of our hands; we are having ours valued on Monday.  This other house is modern, smaller, and we would want to spend quite a lot and make some substantial changes, but it is on fairly level ground, five minutes from the bus, ten minutes from the doctor and shops, yet has a paddock which would take the geese and ponies, a stable and huge workshop garage, garden shed and is fully dog proofed.

However, it has street lighting which I hate, a busy road running past, and is semi-detached which we are not used to.  Oh dear, this is so very hard.  I know what I would say to someone else, but it is quite different when it is your own home you might have to leave, which you have loved and rebuilt over 40 years and where all your pets are buried and which has all the plants and trees from friends and family now deceased.  Here we just walk out of the gate onto a lane with trees all round, where we feel totally safe, comfortable and at home.  But good sense suggests that we think extremely carefully about our decision as in all the years we have been here, we have never seen another house, except for the one now for sale, which has things that we both need and want.

We went to look at it yesterday: it is not surrounded by trees as we are here.  When I went to bed last night our owls were hooting and chatting in the big trees outside the bedroom window. Our pheasants and badgers creep over the fields and through the undergrowth and the hedges we planted 30 years ago and wait for us to feed them every evening. How can we leave them?

But, if things go badly for me healthwise in the next little while it would be much easier for me to manage in this other house, and if I die before my husband, he could actually continue on in this new house whereas he says he could not manage here alone.  Oh, how hard it is to grow older physically but stay young mentally.

You have to admit that life on this hill is varied!

 

 

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So . . . . the longest silence from this site?

What’s been happening?

As ever with life, good things and bad.

A lovely short break in Paris (view from my tiny courtyard studio  flat)

DSC02167where I was lucky enough to meet up with blogger friend Chlost for an afternoon and evening meal with her and some of her family.  That visit was full of memories to treasure.

A wedding in Scotland of two gay friends: small but perfect in an old stone House on the edge of the water in Oban.

Image result for manor house oban

Staff who were thrilled to cater for their first ever gay wedding and threw themselves into making the experience wonderful.  A super trip but I was ill on the way home which began a series of medical encounters, of which more later.

A 70th Birthday party to keep close to the heart.  Two years in the planning.  I hired a boat on Lake Windermere in the Lake District: with balloons, cake, farm food, Ceilidh band and magician and . . . well 80 friends and family members from all part of my life.  To spend two and a half hours in a room where every face took one back to fond memories from one’s life was an experience too huge to put into words.  But perhaps a post with photos to follow?

And then the biggie – a diagnosis of malignant cancer.  Always a heart-stopping moment. Apparently I have a rare lypo-sarcoma.  It has been growing for two years, misdiagnosed four times.  But most General Practitioners in the UK never see even one in a lifetime, so hardly surprising.  The final diagnosis came all in a rush with hospitals and doctors ringing me at home and general panic ensuing on their part.  Then a rushed appointment in London to see a European expert in this type of cancer.  An interesting diagnosis: huge tumour, but low-grade.  Unlikely to metastasize at the moment, but could change its nature at any point. No help from chemo, radiation or immunotherapy; only extensive, radical surgery.  Prognosis: scar minimum of 12″ with the likely removal of a whole major muscle mass.  It sounded like brutal surgery from the 1970s.  May prevent me from walking again.  Likely to return every two to three years with repeat surgery each time to remove it.  Little research done because it is so rare – fewer than 400 a year in UK.  Healing – a problem: large hole, drains, infections, etc etc I will not bore or disgust the faint of heart with the gory details but they made for ghastly listening.

That sent me into retreat, hermit mode: no wish to share.  I refused immediate surgery as I needed more time to process all this.  It took a great deal of digesting.

Finally I and the surgeon came to a compromise: I insisted on continuing on with a holiday I have planned in October this year to China, while I am still mobile. He agreed to postponing surgery until November this year as long as I have MRI scans to monitor the tumour.

I’m still not sure I can face the surgery.  I have terrible sensitivities/allergies to all known antibiotics, pain killers and anaesthetics with the least reactions being agonising migraines, continuing through to hallucinations, fever, infections and complete collapse.

So, the first thing I did was go on a 19 day water only fast.  Then I have been eating a ketogenic diet.  Just in case these regimes might at least help shrink the tumour a little.  Let’s face it, I have nothing to lose but weight and possibly some benefit to gain.  But the surgeon warned me against offers of help, which will be useless, and cost a great deal.  Nothing like proffering hope;)

More on this topic if I can face it and if anyone is interested in my journey, wherever it may lead.

Then the last few days we have been in the south of the UK visiting the Supervet, a specialist vet, with one of our little Romanian rescue dogs, Eddie, who is written about in the post on 1st march 2016.  When we adopted him we did not know about his current wound problems.  He has suffered much abuse in his life and now we are worried about the wound on his nose.  He had his tail chopped off, was hung from a tree by a metal snare round his waist and left to die, Capture

and finally someone tried to kill him by hitting him over the skull with a metal bar with a spike on it.  They missed his skull and hit the top of his nose instead, hence the hole.

DSC02352

He was rescued, put on a lorry out of Romania, got to the UK and then us.  Of course we insured him, but predictably the insurance company will not help us as they say everything is a pre-existing condition.

Our local vet knows no-one who can help – hence our visit to the Supervet. We were met by a delightful New Zealand surgeon who sat on the floor with Eddie, and began by saying that everything was possible, for a price.  (I wish my cancer surgeon had that attitude!!)  Eddie stayed overnight and underwent some procedures and now we await the results of tests but we have been warned that reconstructing his nose will cost from £2,000-£6,000.  Now,  we try to be responsible animal lovers, so we will do what it takes: if we have to take out a mortgage on the house we will.  The nurses who all loved little Eddie immediately said, “Go Crowd-Funding” and the surgeon said that he is a very deserving case.   Now I know nothing of such things but they were insistent that I give it a try.

DSC02351

Do any of you know about crowd-funding, what it is and how to go about it?  My immediate thought is that it sounds like begging, and that is anathema to me.

So, lots going on here.  Some lovely, some dreadful, life’s rich tapestry really.  I’m never too sure what to post because I would hate to depress anybody: I’m not depressed myself, just rather unhappy and over-whelmed at the moment.  But if people would like to follow any of these stories I am happy to write about them.

Over to you folks.  I will follow the directions suggested by any comments:)

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It has been a hard few weeks: poor Minstrel has left a huge void.

Three weeks ago I scattered his ashes along with those of Spot, his earlier amd most beloved companion.  We had planted a tree for Spot in a place where he loved to rest and I scattered the joint ashes around this tree in the little spinney.

But we now have little Chester/Jester who has come to keep lonely Saxon company: from the same animal sanctuary.

chester-2016-010

As you can see he is a Shetland.  He came on trial but has fitted in well and is a very amenable chap although not backward in coming forward!  As our vet said, “He is a leader isn’t he?”  And that is just what Saxon needed: they got on well from the beginning.  As Chester/Jester was unloaded and came into the field he just took off and inspected everything with no qualms, basically saying, “Come with me or not, it’s up to you but I’m going this way.”  Saxon looked bemused at first but then followed on behind and now they are inseparable.

chester-2016-003

We prefer the name Jester but as we have not yet been given his Passport we can do nothing about that.  He is a rescue from the Shetland Isles, as yet we do not know his full back story.  He is 12 years old and 35 inches at the shoulder, only 2/3rd the size of Saxon.  In fact when he stands in front of Saxon he looks as though he could almost stand under Saxon’s tum!

The temptation is to treat him like a large dog but we need to remember that he is in fact a large horse, just in a small body.  He now whinnies at me when I go out to the field and seems very sweet but it is important that he knows who is boss.

We had the vet out last week to file down Saxon’s teeth which were giving him trouble.  Our vet, Chris, has had Shetlands for many years.  At Easter he had to have his two put down, they were 34 and 36 years old respectively.  He was heartbroken.  He said they used to wander wherever they wanted, often coming into the kitchen.

So he went and adopted seven Shetlands from the Sanctuary that Chester/Jester and Saxon come from.  Chris and his wife began taking the ponies into Old Peoples’ Homes and to Schools for children with special needs.  But because of Health and Safety rules the ponies have to wear socks and horse nappies.  Two of the ponies did not enjoy this so they were left at home to graze peacefully, but the others loved it.  One old lady spent her last months knitting socks for the ponies: when she died Chris asked her family if they would like her favourite pony to come to the funeral.  They were overjoyed, said yes at once, and the pony led the cortège.

One particular incident which moved Chris profoundly was when a boy of 8 who was deaf and blind was shown one of the ponies. The lad felt it all over and then just leaned over the pony’s back with his arms around its neck, feeling it breathing and stayed there for ages, at least forty minutes.  The pony remained still the whole time.

Chris confirmed that, unlike most horses, Shetlands can live out in the worst weather because they have two coats of hair, rather like water birds have with down and feathers.  The base coat is very dense and soft like down, with the longer coarser hairs making up the top coat.  So we have bought Saxon a new, very thick, padded winter coat with a cover which goes all the way up his neck to his ears and fits round his neck so that he can stay outside more in winter with Chester/Jester.  But Jester will just have to come in and spend the night in the stable if the weather is too bad for Saxon, even though Jester gets bored and wants to be out and about.

Image result for horse rug

(This is not Saxon’s new coat, but gives the idea.  His is navy blue with green edging.  This photo comes from Google images.)

So there we are, the continuous circle of life moving onwards.  Sometimes comforting, sometimes feeling rather cruel when we might rather get off and take time out.

But it is a great blessing to have two happy ponies once more grazing in the field behind the house: to look out at empty fields would be desolate.

 

chester-2016-002

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They came to take Minstrel’s body away yesterday.  I remembered the day 20 years ago when he came to us.

I had driven over to Matlock to fetch him in a horsebox which had an open internal body so that the horse could see the driver and vice versa (my choice).  There was only a short partition between us meaning he could lean over, just, to us. He did not like the journey much and was shivering with stress so we stopped early on in the journey at a Newsagent to buy him some mints: horses usually LOVE mints.  Minstrel certainly did and my companion fed him polo mints all the way back to our house.  Minstrel’s stomach always ruled his life!

Saxon our remaining pony was adopted from a local animal sanctuary when Spot our first and oldest pony died.  Spot had been Minstrel’s companion and when Spot went blind Minstrel became his guide and security, leading him around the fields and standing guard over him when Spot lay down to sleep and rest.  When Spot died at the grand old age of 32 Minstrel was beside himself with grief: it came off him in waves so tangible that it affected all who came near him.  Before that I never knew that horses could shed tears.  Minstrel became iller and iller with grief, hence the adoption of Saxon.

Now Saxon is left alone.  He does not appear to be grief-stricken as Minstrel was all those years ago.  We left Minstrel’s body in the field for 24 hours so that Saxon could come to terms with what had happened and so that he was in no doubt that his friend had not just left, but had died.  For the first day and night Saxon stood beside Minstrel’s body but after that he drifted around the field.  After Minstrel’s body was taken away we brought Saxon into the stable for the night: the place where he felt secure.  But yesterday afternoon and today he has been standing at the top of the field looking for – what?  Something.  He is constantly scanning the horizon.  Is he looking for Minstrel or any horse/pack that he can find?

Saxon has always been a nervy pony and clearly hates being alone: in the horse world this means that he is vulnerable to attack by predators.  Some horses can cope, some cannot.

So what to do?

Husband resolutely states that this must be my decision.  However, he refuses to let local farmers run other animals on our land, which would provide company for Saxon.  He also refuses to let anyone else come and pasture and stable their horses with us, which would have also helped.  He suggested getting a pig or a goat, but they would be lots of work and more vets’ bills.  If I were younger I would leap at the chance but having a gammy knee is not the time to take on more work.

This appears to leave two alternatives.  One is to return Saxon to the Sanctuary.  But he has been here for over 12 years and is at home here.  He is also bonded to us.  I rang the Sanctuary today to find how they were doing and it appears that things were so bad this summer that they were one month away from having all their animals put down.  The last thing they can manage is yet another animal.  So that one is off the agenda.  Of course there are other sanctuaries but it seems hard on Saxon who is an old horse (27) with not many years left to him.  The second choice is another horse.  The lady at the Sanctuary said that they have a 12 year old Shetland pony who is beautifully natured and will get on with anyone.  He was abandoned some years ago on Shetland itself.  Forewick ChesterI don’t know much more about him yet.  He is only 35 inches tall at the withers (about 8.75 hands) so would, in theory, be easier to manage than a large horse.  Saxon himself is only 12 hands.

Also it appears that Shetlands are good-doers, hardy and easy to care for.  Tick, tick, tick.

The upshot is that Chester, for that is the name of the Shetland, is coming on Sunday morning to see how he and Saxon get on.  Of course this will be explained by husband to family and friends with uplifted eyes and a deep sigh, as being my choice:  I suppose it is, but only because all other avenues were closed off to me!

I hope that this will help Saxon to be happier, give Chester a good home and help the animal Sanctuary.  Nothing will fill that particular hole in my heart though.

(Husband has just come in and said that he dislikes Shetlands! OK but what does he want to do?)

As for me, apart from the internet I am holed-up and taking some days off away from the world.  I cannot speak to anyone yet without breaking down and it is taking all my energies just to get through at the moment.  Minstrel was cremated today and his ashes will be coming home in a few days.  I will scatter them along with those of his oldest and greatest friend, Spot, whose ashes I still have.

I have asked for a tiny piece of his forelock to keep in a drawer because it still smells of him.  These animals, they do so get into your heart.

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Life has been complicated lately: I have had a couple of accidents, nothing in themselves but the accumulation of trauma has caused an old injury on a knee to re-assert itself.  So I have not been able to sit, lift or drive.  Walking is compromised and going to the loo is cause for imagination and extra dexterity!!

Husband is not himself either, so all in all, we have had some weeks of abnormal home life.  At  least, I insist that it is abnormal and not the beginning of new ‘normal’ around her.

I have had to cancel a couple of trips to see close friends, one in Ireland and the other in Oban, much to my disappointment.  And also had to cancel our appointments with the Supervet to take our two dogs for consultations:(

There is another trip planned which I will tell you about in another post, so fingers crossed it will come to pass.

But I wanted to share a short video with you of the most inspiring and wonderful person who has helped me enormously this year while I was feeling so helpless and desperate.  I identify so much with her and regard her as a role model.

I hope you enjoy this too:)

 

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“A scapegoat is a person or animal which takes on the sins of others, or is unfairly blamed for problems.”  From:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scapegoat

Well, this post introduces the Scape-rabbit!

Every Tuesday morning I have a flute lesson.  In fact it is a dual flute lesson as I go along with a friend who also plays the flute.  We have a joint lesson during which we do the usual: some sight-reading, some tonal exercises and some duet playing.  All great fun.

However, we are two ladies of ‘a certain age’ which carries along with it certain responsibilities.  This means that we often find that fitting in our practice takes some doing: there are always elderly neighbours, young grand-children, husbands or other family members needing our attention etc etc

We are past the stage in our lives of using the excuse that ‘the dog ate our homework’.  Usually we just explain quite honestly what prevented us putting in the work during the previous week.  But this morning my friend explained that she had not been able to practice because she is looking after her son’s house rabbit, called Watson.

 

( Photo:By Aznseiteki at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20975823)

Apparently whenever she tried to play her flute, he dashed under the table in the dining-room, which has a wooden floor, and thumped vigorously and loudly with both his hind feet, frantically signalling to all and any rabbits in the area that danger was afoot.

Next photo and text from: petnaturals.com

https://i1.wp.com/petnaturals.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/6757941_l.jpg
“Thumping doesn’t go quite the way Disney would have us believe, right? Instead, it looks a bit more like a donkey kick. Rabbits stand on all four feet in a tiptoe fashion and lift just their back feet to pump them against the ground. The thump is a warning to all other nearby bunnies and humans: something dangerous is here.” – See more at: http://petnaturals.com/blog/why-does-my-bunny-do-that/#sthash.XeEt0zPU.dpuf

Even when my friend climbed her tall Victorian house and played in the high attic, he still heard her and the loud, echoing, thumping reverberated throughout the house.

Being of a kindly nature she disliked upsetting or worrying Watson so clearly she had to refrain from playing at all last week.  Hence, no practice.  And of course, it was all the rabbit’s fault.

Our flute teacher fell about laughing.  This was the first time a Scape-rabbit had been presented to her as the cause of a pupil not working:)

 

By Xoxi at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7484047

 

I actually have no idea what Watson looks like, I was laughing too much to ask, and have no photos of him, hence the borrowed photos on this blog post.

 

 

 

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