Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Real Win-Win!

Our talented hoof trimmer, Rachel Chao, is also a speech pathologist for Easter Seals. Rachel has coordinated a monthly visit to the ranch for the clients that she works with. Tuesday was the second visit from Easter Seals and Rachel was able to provide permission to post the photos from this as well as last month's visit (hooray! I've been dying to share!).

It is such a pleasure to get to know a bit about each individual and to see them interact with the animals, as well as to watch the animals enjoying the attention. The horses get heavy eyes and their lips twitch with appreciation when the groomer gets just the right spot.


Tom visits with Max and Bernie

John holds the newest girl, Grace

Handsome gives Lisa sweet kisses!

Marcellos poses with the Dolly Mama

Quyen brushes Spike while Anthony observes his technique

Steven gave Daisy a great grooming!

Goodbye, Rachel!


Bob gave Tank a thorough and attentive grooming

Steven did another great job on his pal, Daisy

Kim picked Dolly's feet

John gave Daisy loving attention

Bob and Marcellos give some loving to Spike

Steven greets Pinky

Kim single-handedly (literally!) groomed two horses!

We feel honored to share our passion with these kind friends and look forward to next month's time together.

Good Times, Bad Times...

Lots has been happening here at "the ranch" over the last few days. We've had lots of visitors and love and fun have flowed abundantly!

Sunday morning we were able to coordinate a trail ride for our wonderful friends, Kolece and James, who brought along James' sister, Trisha, her husband, Ira, and three of their (truly!) charming children, Reilly, Taylor and Mason.

Mason has autism and was previously (very) afraid of all animals, but he soon was riding like a PRO! Sincerely, I was struck by his incredible sense of balance and complete lack of fear. Mason was a complete natural on the back of a horse, which helped his Mom to relax. Yeah, gang! It was a lovely time. Kudos, too, to our gracious volunteer, Margaret, for hand-walking Big Cloud on the ride - he was having a complete breakdown at the idea that his dear Daisy was leaving his side (she does have an angelic glow in the above photo!)

Buddy REALLY enjoys a new toy from his Aunt Joannie in Washington ~ THANK YOU, Aunt Joannie! I'll post photos of the horses enjoying the yummy berry treats soon.

Harmony always knows how to stay cool during the long weekend work days with Poppa. Those two will stay outside from morning until dusk in 100 degree heat grooming pastures, fixing fences or sprinklers, or whatever else needs attention. Yes, we count the hard work in our "Good Times" as there is great satisfaction in a job well done and in serving the needs of the animals.

The world's best Beagle, Bojangles, is staying at A Chance for Bliss while his folks are out of state. He fits in perfectly (he is a senior himself), he is a pleasure to have around and really enjoys the food, of course!

Saturday afternoon, our Myotonic (Fainting) Goat, Horseshoe, was certainly not himself. He showed sign of bloat, which is basically gas trapped in their rumen (first stomach) and not uncommon for goats, so I began the regimine to ease him through his predicament, prepared to undertake the more serious steps if necessary. We thought to ask our friend and animal communicator, Jane St. Croix, to peek into the matter. Her insight showed that a corn cob was stuck, but that it would pass with some helpful massage. For those who doubt: We gave the goats corn cobs for the first (and last) time last week. Her visions are always on target and so helpful.

This photo was taken just hours before we decided that Buck needed our assistance in leaving this world behind. We had just four months with this truly gentle and lovely girl. Her breathing was becoming very labored as a result of congestive heart failure and, as much as she enjoyed food, her overall quality of life was already compromised due to her additional lumbar vertebrae and unusual gait. We made our decision and called Jane St. Croix for additional insight. Jane's vision revealed that Buck's energy was growing thin, that angels were waiting to help her along and that she was surrounded by a pink energy. Woody and I stroked her and spoke to her softly through the entire process, tears quietly falling. As the overdose of sedative was injected, I softly whispered to my husband my observation that the euthanasia serum is pink.

Friday, July 25, 2008

July is Flying By

I have no big events to report but a few nice photos to share.

On the fundraising end, we've opened up one more small avenue for feed money ~ Guy and I are posting my CDs on eBay, sometimes singly, sometimes as an "instant collection." It's an interesting process and proving to be a bit more profitable than taking them to a store. I must have near 500 (without parting with my beloved Elton John and Dwight Yoakam complete collections), and they're all loaded into iTunes on the computer, so we're hoping to raise a small but steady amount by selling off the discs in manageable weekly lots. So far, nothing has expired without being purchased - that's a good sign!

I'll start with a nice shot of Eddie, who is always happy to greet any visitor to his pasture. He is a pleasure to have around.

I have to admit that I have fallen head over heels in love with Jackson, the decrepit old goat. He gets regular attention from me throughout the day and I always bear a snack. He loves fruit especially. Today, for instance, he had a banana, frozen mango, applesauce, corn on the cob, carrots, sweet potato and several small portions of senior horse grain fortified with Pawier, ground flax seed, joint supplements and corn oil. He is filling out already, which I love to see.

An interesting note from last night's doggie dinner: When we removed the pan from the oven and set it on the counter, it completely shattered. We never expected Pyrex to do that and are grateful that we had lined the pan with foil for ease of cleaning. Otherwise, the meal would have been wasted and we would have had a mutiny on our hands, since most of the pups gather in the kitchen to await dinner once they smell it cooking. :o)

Finally, the nieghbors' grandchildren came to play today in our most recent Craigslist score ~ an easyset pool that Guy and I splurged on (a whole $50!) Even though their teeth chattered, the kids stayed in there for more than an hour! I doubt Guy and I will ever get as much enjoyment out of this silly little pool as these kiddoes did today. I found it comical that Ferdi is in the background.

Thanks for your interest in our little piece of Penryn. Lickery kisses from our canine kids.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Long Time, No Blog

It has been far too long since I've written, but it is not for lack of activity! The ranch is a bustling place. Let me see how much we can catch up on tonight.

Before we move on to recent events, I need to clarify that DeeDee has made her transition. I mentioned this just briefly, but haven't written at length. She was a dear little girl, especially close with me, and a part of me has gone with her. Her loss added to the pain of an already difficult time with Hope still missing and the recent financial contraction. DeeDee passed away in her sleep on June 30. She was very peaceful during her last few days and received a lot of attention. Many tears spilled as I whispered in her ear how much she was appreciated and what a beautiful little soul she (still is). The Baby Deeds lived her life as we should all strive to - happy for every small thing and moving through upsets quickly and easily. She gave her love so easily and made many friends along the way. She was my very best girlfriend and I will miss her always.

DeeDee with Aunt Brooke taken by Scott Macon ~ October 1, 2006

Fort a complete turnabout, let me introduce you to our newest resident: Jackson is an elderly La Mancha goat from the Newcastle/Ophir area. His Mom is being forced to leave her ranch and broken-hearted at having to find a new home for her long-time friend. Jackson is at least 12 years old, with the average life expectancy for a goat to be between 12 and 15 years. He is an absolute love and I am spending time one on one with him to help him adjust to his new life here. He really enjoys applesauce!

We have had many volunteers since I last wrote, but I am going to mention one in particular today as she drove from Pleasanton and intends to do so monthly! Kathy Leon has been a long-time supporter of Boston Terrier Rescue and also spent time working at an Arabian horse ranch in the past. In September 2006, Kathy drove up to meet Wanda Jewell (from American Boston Terrier Rescue in Texas) in person as Wanda flew out to attend our wedding. Kathy came Sunday morning with the intention of bonding with Tank, but instead found a natural friend in Dusty.

Being an angel of service, Kathy also helped to transport a needy pup on Sunday. She picked up a little fellow in Sacramento and delivered him later in the day to Wonder Dog Rescue in San Francisco. We had heard about this little fellow and were THRILLED that we got to meet him. He is known as Radar and you can follow his progress through Wonder Dog's web site. He is so small and happy, affectionate and playful. He had our whole household at attention! Much love goes out to the little man on his new journey and kudos to Linda at Wonder Dog for taking care of his needs.

We had a few more adorable volunteers exchange chore time for ride time this week and Dolly and Daisy were ready to oblige. Our good friends and neighbors have grandchildren visiting from out of state who are excited to spend some time around the critters. Next time, Grace and Lilly Ann want to hit the trails at Traylor Ranch ~ no more simple rides around the front pasture for them! These ladies are true cowgirls at heart. Little brother, Isaac, is just happy, no matter what!

HOPE NOTE: We received a call Monday afternoon from Animal Control in Auburn that there was a BT that could possibly be Hope. When we checked the message, there was 25 minutes to get to the shelter and we didn't make it in time, so I returned this morning. Without going into great detail, I'll just say that the pup was not ours, but I still came away uplifted after my conversation with Barbara and Becky at the shelter. They really do care and shared more inspiring stories of animals being returned after lengthy stints and long distances. I feel like we have friends in Auburn who know our story and are holding the faith.

I will close for now with a photo I shot last night in the back pasture while sitting on the ground, visiting with Jackson. I've not been taking enough photos lately, which I miss. I need to formally introduce Grace, still, and add her photos to Flickr. She arrived four days before Hope disappeared, which has made it more difficult. Soon... She is a unique little Boston who deserves some time in the spotlight. For now, happy horses with mist from the pond fountain.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

We Stand in Need

Our financial situation has become critical and we are earnestly seeking assistance in keeping the animals fed. We have depleted our reserves and utilized all available credit in an effort to survive this economic slump. If you are able, a tax deductible donation to the sanctuary would absolutely mean the world to us.

We have been caring for senior and special needs animals since 2000. With over 15 years experience in mortgage, Woody has experienced a great deal of success and, until this year, we have privately funded this passion and continued to grow our “herd.” There is certainly no lack of needy critters. We initially thought to become a non-profit primarily for the tax deductibility, not expecting to rely on outside donations, though they would be helpful. Today, they are absolutely necessary.

Mortgage has been very good to us. We could not foresee the current national crisis. Never did my husband expect that his loan production would drop off almost entirely. For several years, his closings totaled over 100, making him a top producer. Woody is unusual in that he didn’t employ the usual marketing tactics nor did he choose to “woo” Realtors into sending him business. He has been able to rely on referrals and word of mouth as he is truly exceptional in his field. For this reason, he has primarily focused on refinance loans. Herein lies a large part of our current challenge with the mortgage industry. Declining values make refinance nearly impossible as large numbers of people owe more than the house is worth. Even people with impeccable credit wishing to move from a 30yr to a 15yr loan have no available options. We have no regular foundation for purchase transactions. I believe Woody’s loan production for the first half of 2008 can be counted on one hand.

In late 2006, our good friend and CPA approached Woody with a proposal for Woody to join him in his growing business sales and acquisitions company, The Independence Group. This is hugely promising, but slower in developing than we all would have hoped. Woody has obtained his broker’s license in California and will soon also obtain licenses in Utah and Arizona. There is great hope for the future. I am grateful everyday that this opportunity has presented itself and am confident in their ability to make this work.

However, we firmly believed that mortgage would sustain us until The Independence Group was firmly established. We never imagined the current set of circumstances.

Some of you might be aware of Woody’s commitment to giving. This certainly plays into our current situation. For many years, Woody has practiced his own brand of tithing, believing that all giving is good and that it didn’t necessarily have to go to the church. Interestingly, he began slowly in the early 1990s, giving 2.5% at first, then up to 5%, 10% and so on. We have documentation illustrating that as his tithing grew, so did his income, almost perfectly in sync. He believed he had found the key and felt that he could not “out give” the universe. In 2005, Woody and I gave 25% of our gross income to others. There is not a Boston Terrier rescue organization across the nation who does not know his name, but he also gave to family and friends in need, as well. He LOOKED for opportunities to give.

Now back to the animals. You cannot imagine the satisfaction and joy from giving an old, tired, sad dog a happy new life. It is simply magical and we have witnessed many an amazing metamorphosis. Until now, we have not spared an expense for the cases that called for special care. On Monday, we lost our dearest Chihuahua girl, DeeDee, who survived more maladies than most could conceive and is likely our most expensive pup to date, with around $5,500 in medical expenses in just over two years. If you met DeeDee, you would understand why she was worth whatever was needed ~ she loved life and everything in it. Faith came to us with a bladder FULL of stones and died from cancer just five weeks after we got her. Five weeks with that sweet soul was worth the $2,500 investment in her care.

This last quarter, however, has forced us to take a hard look at costs and I am proud to say that we have been able to reduce our feed bills for the horses and livestock significantly – 22%. We’re driving a bit farther and the quality is not quite the same, but the animals are still fed well. Their individual dietary needs are met. We still cook for the dogs, though we now shop at Winco and are able to buy beef at less than $2 per pound.

A long time friend of mine, Guy Sutton, has been living and working with us for almost a year now, and we pay him a meager salary. There is a great deal of work around the ranch and Guy is too invested in what we do to go away. He gives much to our cause.

With the current number of residents and the associated care, it is not practical for me to return to the work force. There is no sense in running an animal sanctuary if the animals do not receive the care they need. Most days are 14+ hours and we don’t get away much. Opening up to the public as a sanctuary has added a whole new level of responsibilities and tasks.

Response to the sanctuary has been extremely positive, though total donations since our Open House on May 17 are less than $1,500. Even with our new buying routine, it costs close to $3,000 monthly to simply feed and give basic care (hoof trims, etc.) to our crew.

We have all been giving sincere effort to surviving this without asking for help. This asking is not something I’ve done before, which is likely why I feel such a need to explain ourselves so thoroughly. We have sold various items (saddles, etc.) on Craigslist, held a “yard sale” at the local auction yard, cold called local businesses seeking support, donations from companies that we have been buying from for years, and listed our spare ranch truck and Guy’s boat for sale. I would honestly sell my own car if I thought it would bring much (I drive a 1977 Celica). I’ve given up luxuries such as having my nails done and for more than a year, my hair has been done at a discounted rate done by a woman who gave up her old dog to us and a good friend who needed a guinea pig as he practiced hair for the first time. I’m at a loss for what more to do.

We are asking only for food for the animals. As animals die, as DeeDee just did, we will not replace them until things change. All unnecessary medical care is postponed until the Independence Group starts producing regularly and/or we can build a regular donor base.

Every little bit helps.