Posts Tagged ‘rescue’

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.


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.


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.



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When adopting Ronda, the owner and manager of the Rescue explained that dogs meet a horrific end in Eastern Europe.  He would not go into details, but said that he brought dogs over to the UK so that he could have them humanely euthanased even if he could not find them homes, as that was so much kinder than the death they would expect back home.  Interestingly, he mentioned that the countries that adopt the most of these dogs are Germany and the UK.

So when looking for our second dog we looked at various Romanian Rescues.

We went to meet one dog who was very sweet but because of her experiences was rather nervous and dominant (they have to fight for their lives in the public shelters in Romania):  Ronda ended up frightened by this dog and begged at the door to go home, so we reluctantly decided against adopting that other young girl.

Back to the websites and I found a dog whom I thought might be a good match both for us and for Ronda: a male,  quieter, who loves other dogs, rides in the car, walks well on the lead and has been fostered for a couple of years already so is used to living in houses etc.  Unfortunately, he is quite a lot older than we hoped for at nearly eight years old, but we are assured he still likes to play.  Although Ronda wants to play and bounce we felt that for the sake of her legs we would need to adopt a dog who would play but would not excite her or bounce around more than was good for her.

Eddie, the name of this potential adoptee, was four hours drive away.

So arrangements were made, and we and Ronda went downto Norfolk to meet Eddie.  We all had a walk in the forest together and they were fine: they ignored each other for the most part but there was no agression or anxiety on either side.

Eddie was very ‘backwards in coming forwards’ as we say around here: ie he was very self-contained and disinclined to interact with us or Ronda but had the sweetest expression. index.jpg eddie in pub 1

My husband was not won over at all and expressed considerable misgivings but I relied on the assessment of the fosterer and pushed to adopt him: so we did and brought him home, with both dogs riding side by side on the back seat in their dog harnesses.  They were not bosom buddies but they behaved well and neither tried to take advantage of the other.

Eddie’s background is even sadder than Ronda’s.  Someone has chopped his tail off leaving a six inch stump:

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it was clearly a very fine Collie-type tail before that time.


Someone has also bashed him on the top of his nose with an iron pipe or bar totally crushing his nasal passages which has left him with a slight drip to one nostril and a lot of snorting and snuffling.  And someone else caught him in a dog-snare and left him for days without food or water, causing great trauma to his hips.  Finally he pulled the snare clear of the stake and was found wandering round with its end hanging, with the loop completely embedded in his flesh and bone.



He has a huge indentation round his body which is obvious when one runs a hand over his hips; his rear end is deformed where he has physical bone and muscle wastage and he has suffered considerable damage to his rear leg muscles.  As far as we can ascertain his internal organs are OK but time will tell.


He is very sweet and undemanding and I hope that gradually he will come out of his shell and get to love life.  (We had one cruelty case many years ago and it took that dog two years before he would wag his tail.)

Day 2 with a bone:

 eddie 1 001

But after two weeks Eddie loves Ronda and she loves him.  Today I found them both curled up together in the same dog bed, only when I went to take a photo they moved.  Sorry about that.

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They are both undominant and submissive dogs and have bonded into a little pack with us.   They now come to their names and my dog whistle and dried black pudding plays a huge part in both their lives as a training aid!

My admiration and thanks go out to the wonderful people in Romania who spend their time, money and love, on trying to cope with a really difficult stray dog problem in a country with limited resources.

PS  Today Eddie began to wag his little stumpy tail!!!!!  Progress:)

Today I took this photo of them both on  a duvet on the landing.


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We did not set out to adopt a dog from Romania.

We knew nothing about European Strays.

We went to the local pound and found that the dogs we liked were now too large and strong for us at our advancing age, and, in this part of the country, the others were mostly Staffie crosses: very sweet but my husband does not like how they look.

Appearances should be irrelevant but we both need to be happy with our choices.

I decided I would like to go back to having a couple of dogs as we used to and that since we could not manage a large dog I would like to adopt two medium sized ones.

After hours spent trawling the internet and visiting local pounds and shedding many tears at the judgements we were making when we did not adopt a particular dog, we travelled a few miles north to Barnsley to meet a young dog, just under two years old they think, whom I felt might be a good match with us.  She was at Royston Animal Rescue near Barnsley: a rescue which looks after both local and foreign dogs although I did not know this when we first made contact.  It appeared that this dog, called Ronda, was a stray rescued from the streets of a city in Romania.

As soon as we met her I knew she was the one.  I felt I knew her already, like meeting an old friend after a separation.  She was very smiley with a real twinkle in her eyes.  We had taken some dog treats and she sat down  for one and then rolled over to have her tummy tickled.  Leaving her there while we went home to await our home inspection was really difficult.  She sat in the door of her kennel grinning and looking after us as we left.

Three days later we were inspected and passed albeit with the requirement that we install a dog proof gate beside the steps leading up to our hard standing: this was duly done.

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We were warned that Ronda had never lived in a house before, therefore was not house-trained, nor was she car-trained or used to walking on a lead.  Also, the kennels had just noticed a limp in one of her back legs and had decided to have that investigated before she left them.  We were not worried by any of this after meeting her, but it might have made a difference if we had known beforehand!

Two days later we went to collect her.  Well, I did not go as I was in bed with a virus, but a young friend/unofficial daughter, her partner and my husband went to collect her from a local vet because she had been having an anaesthetic that day while she had X-rays to check out her back leg.  Unfortunately, the results are not good.

It appears that life has not been kind to this young stray.  She has been hit at least once by a car/s: her pelvis has been deformed by one accident when young, and one back leg has been broken and had a metal plate and wire implanted, rather badly I’m afraid, which means that the leg sticks out at an odd angle and has suffered nerve damage.  She limps after the slightest exercise, which for a young dog is very sad.  It also turns out that she has very bad hip displasia in both hips made worse by her lifestyle and diet.  We do not know the prognosis yet or what may be physically or financially possible.

However I rang the vet whose video you can watch on my earlier post of January 25th ‘A Ray of Hope’.  Their practice is many miles away but I knew they had considerable orthopedic experience.  They said they would give me a free electronic consultation if my vet would email the X-ray results to them: they will say what they might be able do for her, and whether there is another vet nearer to me whom they think could offer the same expertise.

Meanwhile, Ronda, the dog in question, has settled in like a dream.  Given that she was not house trained and had never been in a house before, she has been no trouble at all. (Photo taken on first day here after a bath and a good brush I hasten to say, as she smelled dreadful when she first came!)

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She does like to tear her bedding to shreds to make it comfy and is always on the look-out for plastic boxes or bags to investigate for food, but hey, she grew up a stray so these things are only natural.  We love her to bits and she has my husband wrapped around her littlest paw.  We just make sure to take her out every four hours during the day and shut her in her dog crate at night, and there are no ‘accidents’.  We have had to acclimatise her to riding in cars and by cars passing her in the street, but the judicious use of dried black pudding has done wonders for her confidence in these area.  She does pull on the lead but we are working on that: however, she HATES to be held by her collar: we are told this is typical of Romanian strays, because being held this way was always the precursor to pain and trouble.  So we walk her on a harness and that obviates the problem.

She is the smiliest, happiest, sweetest dog, attentive to our every mood and intonation: we have to go very gently with her training as she is a sensitive girl.

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If you raise a hand or foot, flap a tea-towel, fry fat in a pan or unwrap some aluminium foil she cringes to the floor and rushes to her dog crate for cover.  Even a stern ‘No’ sends her crashing to her stomach to crawl away. It is so sad and makes one feel like a brute.

But this week, after five weeks with us, she learned how to play for the first time.  She ran after a ball and brought it back.  She has a rope octopus which she flings in the air and carries around.  And she lies at our feet with a bone exuding happiness and contentment.

The Rescue asked us for photos of her as she settles in to send back to her rescuers in Romania.  These wonderful people gather pathetic scraps from the street or the ghastly public shelters, nurse them back to health and then send them off on trains to other countries and do not always know what happens to the dogs they cared for.  The least we can do is send them some photos:)

I understand from the Manager of the Rescue that he tries to bring as many strays over as possible: he knows he cannot find homes for all of them, but he would rather have them kindly and humanely euthanased over here than face the barbaric and horrific deaths awaiting them back home.

Interesting fact: apparently Germany and UK take most of the dogs from Romania.

However our girl got here, she has enriched our lives beyond measure already, and I hope we can do the same for her.

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The week before I left for my study week in Durham was quite interesting.

The week began with strange noises in the night which saw me in my pyjamas and wellingtons out in the road, passed through days with time spent with an American Handbell team, quite fantastic, and ended with a lost chicken, a rugby tackle and a huge mistake!!

It began during the night after my birthday: we had spent the day getting the hay crop in, interspersed with a birthday picnic in the field.  It had been very hot (by our standards) and tiring, so after all the guests left we were grateful for an early night.  However, I was woken up at about 12.46 in the  morning by a loud screeching which sounded like a magpie in the mouth of a cat or fox, fighting for its life!

I rushed out of the house in my pyjamas and wellington boots to find silence reigning in the countryside.  However, the horses were charging about their field so I wandered up the lane to see what I could find.  I stood and waited at the field gate and suddenly two young badgers came charging down the field, did a ‘handbrake’ turn round my feet and one went charging back down the lane claws clattering on the tarmac, while the other reversed and fled back up the field.  Clearly two youngsters were beginning to fight for territory.

The horses were still agitated so I stayed with them for a while until they wandered off: but one still had his ears up and was listening intently.  Then I heard a great thrashing about in some undergrowth and the badger who had retreated up the field came into sight, having decided to try to make his way around me and cross the field just above where I stood.

I must have remained in the warm night for about three-quarters of an hour before all was still again.  Leaving two relaxed horse I made my way back home: clearly the fracas was over, and the badgers had returned whence they came.  As I climbed back into bed I heard the rain begin: up again to close the windows.  The forecast had been right and we had got the hay made and stored just in time.

The next evening we went out to hear a Handbell Team from the US, Strikepoint, who were on a UK tour: the tickets were a birthday present from a friend who plays the English handbells.  To be quite honest, I was not really looking forward to a whole evening listening to handbells, it is different I’m sure if you are an enthusiast.  The team come from Duluth which I gather is in Minnesota.  http://www.strikepoint.com/

Apparently the Strikepoint is the point on the bell which produces the purest sound and the truest pitch.

Here they are playing in two video clips:
Wizards in Winter-Strikepoint

More Videos & Games at FamFamtv.com

Strikepoint: Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy

More Videos & Games at FamFamtv.com

But, I was blown away.  Tables were laid out with some huge bells on them and then suddenly we heard bells ringing and the team came in, literally running, already playing a piece of music and they kept perfectly in time despite running!  They took up their places and continued to play, alternating several different bells each.  It was a vibrant piece of music and very show stopping on lots of different levels: I think the way the team worked together was the most amazing.  As one person put down a bell, another would pick it up: some turned music for the person next to them whilst still ringing: others moved behind one or two neighbours to place bells ready for them, literally only one beat before the bell was needed, and then ran back to pick it up again.

The speed, accuracy, and vigour had to be seen to be believed.  Then suddenly they began to hit their bells on the table, rather like a tap dance, to give a different tone and rhythm.  Then they began to alternate ringing, with banging the bells, and hitting their bells with wooden sticks.  The changes in tones, as well as pitch, and the different types of rhythmic effects were stupendous.

At one stage they asked us to click our fingers to sound like falling rain and at the end of that tune they places the sides of the mouths of the bells in bowls of water to bend the notes: a fantastic effect.  In another tune the children in the audience were given soap bubbles to blow on the audience and asked to run around blowing them over us.

Then there was a tune about a party and we were given beach balls to throw around and asked to make loud party noises and hoot and wolf whistle and anything else we could think of to sound like a rather inebriated, happy crowd.  It was a fun-filled, life affirming, energy giving evening.  I was so impressed that I bought a couple of their CDs and found out that they were giving one more concert here in Sheffield the following day.  In the morning I rang friends to let them know about it and arranged to take my grandson out of school, it was only two days before they broke up for the holidays and he plays drums in a marching band and I thought he would like this.

He did!!  He and the rest of us were allowed, at the end of the next day’s concert,  to pick up the bells, some of which were huge, and try to tap, bang and ring the bells.  Now he wants to join a handbell ringing team but I had to admit that English handbell ringing is a more conservative and less exciting method than that from the States.

A day later husband came in from walking dogs and mentioned that a hen was pecking around in our field.  It was a little silkie.  We used to keep them and knew that they are quite delicate.  We assumed it had just wandered down from a neighbour and would take itself back by bedtime.  However, the next morning, it was still around, this time in the road, and looking very wet and sorry for itself.  We two and a neighbour decided to try to catch it and carry it home.  I took a bag of corn with me to tempt it: it was indeed very hungry but the three of us could not catch it although we managed to herd it off the road and back into our field.  The neighbour had to leave, so I and husband slowly herded the hen over the field and managed finally to persuade her to head up behind a field shelter.  Husband went to one side of the shelter and I went to the other: being very cautious and slow because I did not want to alarm her I gradually crept closer and closer and finally did an inelegant rugby tackle and grabbed the poor thing.  I hid her head under my jacket so that she would be in the dark: this always helps birds to calm down.  Then we walked up to the farmhouse belonging to the neighbour who keeps chickens.  He was out at his day job but we went up to the hen house.  However,  this was a small delicate chicken and all the ones I could see were large breeds.  No way was I going to put this ball of fluff in with those bruisers!  I found a separate pen, gave her water and corn and we departed feeling well pleased with ourselves.

Our neighbour rang later to thank us: a few days later I discovered that the hen had not been his at all!!  He had been too kind to mention it at the time.  So we had infiltrated a completely strange hen into his carefully arranged runs and pens.  Thank goodness I had put her in a run by herself or she might have been killed as a stranger by the other birds.   As a postcript to this little adventure, I discovered later that our neighbour had taken the hen to other poultry keepers quite a distance away, assuming her to be theirs, only to discover in his turn, that she did not belong to them either!!  However, they said they would keep her and look after her.  So no one knows where she came from or how she arrived in this area.

All this in a week when I was meant to be catching up with household duties and packing ready to go away.  Life is never dull.

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