Friday, 30 September 2011

Favourite image of the week

This piccie is of two of a litter of eight puppies rescued a couple of weeks ago by an RSPCA inspector. Four went to the Warrington Branch and we had the other four. We've found homes for all of ours, and here is a piccie of two of the lucky ones.

Now tell me this isn't adorable! They are crossed with Doberman and are going to be big! They are only 8 weeks old this week!

Monday, 26 September 2011


Cleopatra came home from the vets last Thursday afternoon, seemingly over the worst of the gut stasis. She perked up once back in her familiar environs and seemed to be doing well until yesterday afternoon.

Cleopatra had been with us since the 7th October last year. I remember the day she came into our care so well because we had travelled all the way to North Yorkshire to collect her. We had gone with the intention of collecting 20 rabbits and guinea pigs from a very large multiple animal case and came back with 27 instead. They were all what we call 'case animals'; having been seized from the owner for neglect with a view to prosecution.

There were a total of 433 animals removed from the one home; Cleopatra being one. She was a standard Rex of show quality, we know this because we had a ring removed from her leg. What I know even more was what a wonderful rabbit she was - elegant, intelligent and able to run rings round anyone.

When the case was eventually concluded we were able to place her up for adoption. She had lots of interest in her but what followed was a number of failed bonding attempts, seemingly she was too used to having been kept in solitary confinement and perhaps scarred from being used (and abused) for breeding.

Cleopatra settled in really well to 'our place' and was genuinely a happy rabbit who had almost everything a forever home could give her. She ate for Britain and did golf-ball sized poops (they were so large that they really caught our attention!) and so when she eased up on her eating last week we knew she wasn't well in an instant.

Today, we took her back to the vets. She had lost more than 10% of her body weight in just a matter of days. Upon examination a mass in her abdomen was found; most likely a tumour. The only decision was taken.

I opted out of being with her whilst they put her to sleep. Selfish, I know, but I just couldn't face it. My sadness for her imminent loss was just too much for me to cope with. I gave her hugs and kisses goodbye but just couldn't stay with her. (To be honest, she wasn't in a good way so I don't think it would've made much difference to her.)

I loved that rabbit and so did many others of us at the branch. But, I am at peace with her passing because I know we gave her a life worth living. I just feel terribly sad by her loss.

It is for her and all the other rabbits that are kept in inferior conditions in homes up and down this country that we will continue to champion the highest rabbit welfare standards that we can. We don't have them for no reason, so please, I urge you to ask yourself - does your rabbit have a life worth living? Can it travel up to 5 miles a day should s/he choose? If not, please take a moment to learn more about a rabbit's needs.

(Thank you to Darlington and Durham RSPCA branches for all their support.)

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


I have a quarterly newsletter to write and I have been trying to find inspiration as to what to write about. When I arrived home this evening, after yet another long day, I suddenly found myself asking what do other people find up-lifting, a mood-picker-upper so to speak.

Two things have kept me vaguely 'up' the last few days, which have been turbulent to say the least what with Cleopatra bunny going into gut stasis and developing colitis (she's still in the vets being intensively nursed) and Roxy the rotti and her x-ray, but more about that in a bit. My two things have been my house-bunny Domino and the colour of his chops after consuming a homegrown (yes, home grown!!!) beetroot - he ate it with such great relish that it stained all his face and down his bib and the shocking pink colour stayed for a good day or two. The other was the resurrection of Simon and Garfunkel's Live in Central Park album. It was a much cherished memory from my childhood that was unearthed to ease my swelling anger with the world. I'm pleased to say it worked, after several repeat plays whilst driving around with the animals. But I still can't shift that guttural panic I feel inside each time a bunny goes into stasis.

Today I have been preoccupied with that sinking feeling. It started this morning with the closure of the Urmston charity shop due to staff sickness. The shop is likely to stay closed for a few days longer yet as other shop staff are ill too so we have no cover. The loss of income sets me into panic mode but thankfully these problems are rare. The day continued with other animal worries and new admissions but above all it is Roxy that has spurred me to write.

When I was searching for themes for our newsletter one stood out above the rest. This year, more than any other time before, we have had dogs come into our care that we have not been able to rehome because of profound health problems. Sometimes the problems have been insurmountable, sometimes unaffordable and other times it has just been a combination of things amounting to an inevitable feeling of failure. I don't know where Roxy fits in to this all yet but what I do know is that it's not bloody fair.

Roxy is pictured above. She is beautiful in every which way. She is only just 1 year old and by my calculation we will likely be her fourth stop in her short life. She was removed by an RSPCA inspector from someone who had only had her 4 months and was keeping her outdoors with out adequate shelter. Aside from how awful that is it suggests she had a home before, and, logically a home where she would have been birthed in too. Therefore, making our care her fourth stop.

That in itself causes me a deep amount of anguish. And what evident betrayal by mankind that dog has experienced. Yet she is the most wonderful dog you could wish to meet. Admittedly a wee bit simple, but that's probably been her saving grace. But what is so upsetting for us all now, is that her likelihood of being rehomed is so remote.

Roxy was x-rayed today because she sits oddly. We don't usually jump to doing x-rays because of the cost implications but after 3 weeks of observation we really were concerned. The x-ray revealed two things. She has been born with a considerably shortened right back femur, which is already beginning to show mild signs of arthritis, whilst her left leg has signs of hip dysplasia.

The poor girl. Talk about the odds stacking up against her.

Roxy will need glucosamine and chondroitin tablets for life now and in later life, as both conditions degenerate, she'll need anti-inflammatory pain relief. But because this now a diagnosed condition it cannot be insured against so who is going to adopt her now?

I really do feel despair. But none of us want to give up on her so we really want to do all we can to try and find her that special home. It must be out there somewhere. She is so deserving and so utterly lovable and loving.

In the meantime we've been told that she would benefit from hydrotherapy but with us now only being able to afford a budget of £150 per animal for treatment (and it's been spent on x-rays and consults) we just can't afford it.

Miracle time please! I know. I ask too much.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Cattery Wishes Come True

I am very keen to express our immense gratitude to everyone who has responded to our appeal for equipment and toys for our cattery.

We have received a really fantastic response and I cannot tell you all how much it means to us, but most importantly the cats in our care.

I got this text from one of our staff this morning, hopefully this aptly sums it up....

"I'm at the cattery.It's just one huge play pen here. Everyone this morning is enjoying the new gifts."

Whilst pictures may say a thousand words Catherine's text just made me beam.

Thank you everyone who has helped to enrich our cat's lives, especially Ben (pictured above in full play mode). I mentioned in my last blog. He has been with us since 10th June and will not doubt be with us a whole lot longer because he is black and very 'playful'. The toys and equipment means that Ben's life (and the other cats') will be far better whilst he waits for that elusive forever home.

Thank you so much. You know who you all are.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Little Big Man

It would be fair to say that Damien wasn't overly enamoured at being crowned the winner of 'Rabbit Romeo' this week. Damien is such a typical Netherland Dwarf and is quite territorial, doesn't like being treated like a teddy, and kinda has a bit of a chip on his shoulder in that 'little-big-man' kind of way! But to be fair, he does look like a teddy and fits in the palm of your hand!

When I placed his prizes (from our supporter Jemma) in his enclosure he was furious and threw the toys out of his way in disgust. This just made us all laugh because we are so used to him. I can honestly say we all love Damien but it seems there aren't that many neddy fans out there as he's been waiting nearly a year now for a new home.

The Rabbit Romeo competition proved really productive; out of the 5 boys that were in the running Burt, Ira and Shady were reserved! We received even more interest in our other bunnies and at the beginning of the week a total of 9 were reserved. Unfortunately not all will be successful rehomings because so many are dependent on 'bondings' and home visits but we will keep ever hopeful that our bobtailed ones will find their forever homes one day.

The good news continued this week with the most wonderful response to our 'cattery wish list'. We have had so many pledges of new toys and beds and activity centres and we are soooo excited! Some items have already started rolling in and Catherine came back from the cattery on Friday very excited to tell me how much of a hit the new things are. We are especially excited about a huge activity centre our supporter Jacqueline has ordered - it's got Ben cat's name on it!

Ben is a magic, bonkers black cat with plenty of feisty play in him. He has been with us a couple of months now and is struggling to cope. He's an active, cheeky, full-on feline and certainly not for the feint-hearted - just my kind of cat! But sadly not many other peoples' cup of tea; he's just got serious cattitude! But the new activity centre will be brilliant for will follow, and probably a whole lot sooner than a home for him.

We've had new dogs arrive in the last week and so whilst there are only 2 listed for adoption it doesn't mean that we aren't busy caring for the woofs. We have a few in need of rehabilitation and one that desperately needs fostering, but in a home with no other pets or children, which we just don't have. If anyone can supply us with a miracle we'd be most grateful, and so will Smudge.

Our favourite doggy news of the week is that Benny has been reserved. You may remember him from a previous blog? He is a collie x that weighed just 9kgs when rescued. Benny will be going to his new home on a fostering basis next week. Everyone wants to take a cautious, measured approach, as he still has a long way to recover but we are truly grateful to the family that are offering him this chance.

We've spent the end of the week gearing up for three new forthcoming events - the launch of our 'Best Bunny Buddies' competition, our Teddy Bears' Picnic on 17th and our annual Mutt Strutt on 18th. Talk about busy! My head is positively spinning and not been helped by some of the furries having inconvenient illnesses late on Friday afternoon and over the weekend. But hey-ho, that's just the way it goes sometimes. And today, we have 4 puppies arriving - squeal!!!!! They are just 6 weeks old so won't be up for adoption for another 2-3 weeks but I can't wait to sniff and cuddle them! Why do puppies always smell so good?

Next week is shaping up to be a very hectic one and I'm knackered just thinking about it. It will be a seven-dayer with many early starts and late finishes. But it's all worth it for our animals. I say that, but if we have torrential rain at the Teddy Bears' Picnic and/or Mutt Strutt I may just give up on outdoor events altogether. Every event we have run or attended, with the exception of one, has seen awful weather and proved less than great on the fundraising front. Indoors has to be the way forward!!!

Listed above are some of my favourite images of the week. The best one has to be of Ronnie dog. We've been able to put him up for adoption this week, which we are all delighted about. If you look at our website and read his history you'll see why this is such a great moment for us all. Let's hope his age doesn't put people off from adopting him, as he really is a special gentleman.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Ruby and Rio

Ruby and Rio pictured above were little miracles we took into our care in August. They were found dumped in a communal recycling bin along with 2 other kittens in July. They were all desperately ill, 2 didn't make it, and Ruby and Rio took two weeks to recover from their ordeal at the RSPCA vets.

We then faced the struggle of rehoming them because they are seemingly deemed less desirable because they are black. But, they (and us) got a lucky break at the end of last month and were given a forever home by the Jachim family who were won over by our policy of rehoming kittens in pairs. (We only rehome single kittens if there is another cat in the home).

Today we received the most wonderful update in our email inbox that I simply had to share with the world!

"Thought you might like an update on Rubes & Rio and their progress!

Firstly they were very quick to settle in - in fact they were purring in the carry case when we picked them up from their foster mum! They've really adjusted to their new life and are sunbathing on the windowsill as I write this!

We expected Ruby to be very shy and for Rio to be the bolder cat, but in fact Ruby was much more curious than Rio in exploring the house - and even more surprisingly she eats more then him too! She is very loving and really enjoys to be around people. She will often follow me around the house purring until I pick her up; she's a very sweet little girl with a lot of character.

Rio causes the most trouble. One of his favourite hobbies involves sneaking along the kitchen counter and retrieving sweetcorn husks, banana peels and so on from the food waste bin. He chews fingers and still suckles on Ruby - she doesn't seem to mind - and he is the baby of the two definitely. Whilst Ruby is quite happy to be independent of Rio, Rio will harass his sister and bother her until she agrees to curl up with him. Rio has a toy giraffe who he adores and he loves to lie on his back on a lap and have his tummy rubbed whilst he chews a finger or two!

Both of them love chasing each other round the house and fighting. Despite his definite size advantage, Rio is often the truce caller as Ruby is incredibly agile and persistent. Then they're quite happy to clean each other and march around looking for trouble or a different sort!

They're expert footballers (they play it with a ping pong ball) and they're very confident. We can't believe how much fun two kittens can have together, and we love having two sneaky little creatures running around. Thank you so much for entrusting us with them, they're very much spoilt and loved by all the family!"

It's moments like this that make everything all worthwhile. Thank you Jachim family.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Wish list

A wee while ago we mentioned on Facebook that we are in desperate need of new cat toys. Well, our wonderful friends Jemma and Lucy from Furry Feet Pet Care spent their own hard earned money on kitting out several of the cattery pens. Awesome, or what! Thank you so much ladies.

Around the same time I asked our new staff member Debs to write a 'wish list' and she got really creative on me and sent a beautifully illustrated doc to me whilst I was on leave. It hasn't quite translated to the blog but the pics and words give you a flavour. I just had to share!


Multi platform scratch posts like the one recently donated BUT big enough for an adult cat. Most of them are a bit small, they are still fun but most of the cats can’t fit in/on them, think they are designed for kittens really but something like these would be dandy. Nothing too complicated or closed in.

DANGLIES! Apart from the couple of dangly sticks recently donated, most of them have seen better days, thanks to Ben and Gideon! The ones on an actual stick with either a ball or feathery thing on the end go down the best, the string ones tend to break quickly and can easily wrap around the cat.

RADIATOR BEDS are really great if they are sturdy. Because they have to hook onto the mesh the material which holds the bed together has to have holes made in it to be able to hook it over, if the bed is sturdy the cats love it!

CAT TENTS or soft material houses to go on the floor in the cattery would be nice as a lot of the cats like sleeping in the corners on the floor but as its tiled it’s very cold. Just something comfy and warm that can easily be cleaned would work.

SMALL STOOLS or little chairs would be nice in the cat pens if they didn’t take up to much room. The cats could sit on them and hide under them and then visitors and staff could use them so the cats could sit on knees and have a proper fuss rather than sitting on the floor."

We need to kit out 6 more pens so if you have any items that your cat doesn't use then please can our rescues have them?