Saturday, December 19, 2009

Checking In... ~ Deanna

Woody and I, along with our unbelievable circle of support, are truly overwhelmed with gratitude. We've also been busy with fundraising and holiday events, routine care and maintenance, coupled with the inevitable surprises inherent in our work.

Answers to the biggest questions are coming very soon ~

* I will wait to update our thermometer until Sunday's Fun Run and Dog Walk is closed.

* Woody has been working on the mortgage situation from a couple of angles and will provide an update no later than Tuesday.

On a personal note, I view it as a statement about our society that there have been a few ~ a SLIGHT few ~ that question the integrity and intention behind our curent situation. Outsiders not taking the time to get acquainted with our history posting comments sans their names. Upon exploration, these few leave many comments on a myriad subjects and their viewpoint is dark in nature. I truly have empathy for them. In the absence of darkness, however, we would be unable to appreciate the light. And so is life.

On that note, I am going to share a Christmas letter written by Woody's Mother, Suzanne Brintzenhofe. Mom has made it a tradition to share a snapshot moment each year that illustrates the holiday spirit, as opposed to a rundown of the annual events. It is my pleasure to share this wish for each of you.

Finding Love in the Strangest Places

On my way to the blood drawing lab in Germantown, I wondered if there would be a long line of people in the hall leading to the waiting room. I hoped not!

When I arrived, there were a few patients waiting in the hallway and I took my place in line. I didn't stand there very long before someone vacated a seat in the waiting room and the person at the front of the line offered the seat to me. I guess it pays to be a senior with white hair after all!

I was seated next to a beautiful woman with a small child in her lap, about one year old. The toddler climbed down from he mother's lap and started to go around the room to meet and greet the seated adults. She even wanted to sit on some of the adults' laps. She obviously hadn't been walking for very long by the looks of her unsteady gait.

During her "meet and greet" expedition around the room, another mother and child came into the waiting room and walked to the front desk to register for their lab work. This child appeared to be about three or four years old. The child was facing into the waiting room and standing quietly by his mother's side.

"Miss Congeniality" made her unsteady way to the front desk, looked directly at the boy standiung next to his mother, held her arms straight out, walked up to the boy and wrapped her small arms half way around his body.

There was a simultaneous chorus of "Awwwwww!" by every adult in the room.

May each of you experience the wonder, joy, and pure love of a child {or pup!} during this holiday and in the new year to come.


They say the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree... Our parents mean much to us.

Bug is recovering nicely from her surgery and Sunny spoons with one of us each night. For the most part, everyone else is well.

More soon... with heartfelt appreciation and gratitude.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

They Arrived

On December 15, 2009 we (Easter Seals Superior California-Help to Recovery program) were visited by Deanna & Lydia from A Chance For Bliss. With them, they brought Doc the horse, William the goat (better known as Billygoat) and Jilly the dog. Hector affectionately calls her Chili-dog. The clients paid $1for a picture with the animals. Prem did a lovely job of printing all the pictures that she took.
Deanna & Lydia also visited the Holiday Shoppe. They were surprised with all the inventory. They made plenty of different purchases. Deanna even thought the youth in Asia joke from Hector was funny.
It felt great to have Deanna & Lydia here to visit us and see all the hard work & effort we are putting into the Holiday Shoppe. We at Easter Seals are doing all we can to keep A Chance For Bliss open. We would be lost without having the animals to visit. It is the one tangible thing we can do to show we are good for something.
Remember to take a tip from the dogs. Don’t judge us by our intellectual challenges or our developmental disabilities. Sniff our feet and you’ll know if we have a good heart. You see, dogs don’t care about intellect; only good hearts.

-Lisa & Hector
Easter Seals Superior California
Help to Recovery Program

A Quick Note ~ Deanna

I've been way underground on the public front. Things are going VERY well, but routine work coupled with various events leaves little time to talk about it. Suffice to say, Gods and Godesses are coming out of the woodwork and Woody and I are aware that this is no longer "OURS" ~ we're just in for the ride. Sacramento and Company called... But today is all about my brother and his kids.

Took Doc to Easter Seals for photos at the Holiday Shoppe (which is going GREAT this year!) Rachel Chao, on our BOD, worked there as a speech path, but has found a larger calling. Hector, you might recognize from our blog, told me that on a recent visit, Rachel spoke with him about her work ...with euthanasia ~ you know, the kids in China? His delivery is priceless... Brain injured, sure! In fact, I just now saw his blog post. I wish I could share everything with all of you.

We appreciate your patience as we juggle an enormous load.

Bug is having her remaining eye removed tomorrow. Sunshine and Odie are obviously slowing. I expected this from Odie, not Sunny. She is our best all around girl and I want to spend every possible moment with her. Emotional highs and lows out here.






Thank you for your support and understanding.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Stores Open

On December the 8th, 2009 the Easter Seals Superior California Help to Recovery Program had the grand opening of their annual holiday shoppe. It was a very festive occasion. There were so many customers and entertainment by the carolers from the California Retired Teachers Association. They had everyone engaged in singing along with them. Everyone was in the holiday spirit afterwards.
Our cashier was Al. Steven worked the café. Lisa, Linda, & John did gift wrapping. Tony was our greeter. He did even better than the Wal-mart greeters. Les & Hector were selling raffle tickets.
You see, there are many raffle prizes to choose from. They include: a gift certificate to Cheesecake Factory, another gift certificate to Safeway, & many other prizes. The drawing will be on the seventeenth of December 2009. Tickets are only $1. That is some kind of deal!!
On the first day of business; according to Al, over $400 was sold. There are still many nice gifts available. So, please come visit if you can. All proceeds will benefit A Chance For Bliss.
Remember to take a tip from the dogs. Don’t judge us by our canes or walkers;
Sniff our hands first. We’ll know if you like us. You don’t have to wag your tail.

Lisa & Hector
Help to Recovery Program
Easter Seals Superior California

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

One Nation for Tuna ~ Deanna

Admittedly, when we've run out of canned cat food, I've tried to entice Seinfeld and Beau with a can of tuna. Heck, I adore the stuff and couldn't get enough growing up. For whatever reason, our boys don't like the stuff, which baffles me.

Our new friend, Sockington, shares my passion for Tuna. This is one cool cat. In fact, he not only has his own website, he has a Twitter account with an astonishing 1,433,268 followers. He also has his own Army who also Tweet.


This fabulous new feline friend from the East Coast gave our little ranch a shout out today. Woody was surprised this morning when he logged into e-mail and found 30 donation notices from PayPal at that point. By the end of the day, we received $1,295 as 48 individual donations from 21 states in the US, as well as Israel, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. And just look at what it did to our web stats!

SOCKS ROCKS!!


I am pleased to see that our new buddy also uses Flickr to share galleries of his famous mug!

It was a busy (and freakin' COLD) weekend here in Northern California and I owe everyone a donation update. Tomorrow we visit the Easter Seals Holiday Shoppe with a pony AND we need hay and grain on top of regular duties. I'll get a true tally up by Wednesday morning. For now, I am increasing the thermometer by $3,571: $450 from Aunt Cynthia's event, $450 from the Cronan Ranch Benefit Ride, $166 from Margaret and the Travelers Christmas Craft Faire, $560 from the mail, $650 in assorted PayPal donations and $1,295 from the Socks Army. That is an enormous sum of money from a short few days.

To say that we feel loved is completedly understated. Trust me, we pass that warm fuzzy feeling onto our kids. I went out tonight near midnight to drop another round of hay to the horses. It's COLD out there! I am honored to do so. Thank you for all you're doing so that we might continue to treat these old kids with the care they so deserve.

MEOW!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Reflections on a fabulous evening ~ Woody

Wow!

That best sums up the evening that Dee, Moose, Max, and I had last night. The sanctuary was the guest of honor at the annual Friends Caring and Sharing Ornament Party. This is an amazing group of ladies who for 30 years have been helping a wide array of local charities with their annual event.

Each year the group selects a people based charity and an animal charity, and then holds a wonderful dinner, complete with raffle and wish list items for each charity. All the raffle proceeds go to the charity, along with the wish list items that have been brought to the event.

Since we work with both animals and people, we were the sole charity to be honored, and got all of the attention. Dee and I brought along Max and Moose, and the four of us arrived at the Roseville Elks lodge and right when we walked in, again, Wow!

The room was magnificently decorated, buzzing with energy and excitement, and filled to capacity by the time dinner was ready to be served. The leaders of the group, had asked us earlier what items we needed, and we gave them our wish list. Off the side of the room was an 8 foot table that was heaping with items from that list, along with a basket that was filled with checks and gift cards. Wow!

The boys were a huge hit, my bride looked marvelous, and we got to spend the evening with more than 100 amazing women sharing the joys of what we do the sanctuary. It was a magical, wonderful evening.

I was asked to give a talk, and was honored to share about our history, our current challenges, and the blessings that have been found amongst them, along with our great hopes and dreams for the future. We extended an invite to all to come and visit the sanctuary, and were told that many plan to attend the December 12th Open House.

I would add a special Thank You to the leaders of the group; Kathy Timmons, Jonni Spehar, Ruby Shoemaker, and Linda Norris. It was they who made the choice of our sanctuary being the charity of choice, and as many know, it could not have come at a better time.

The event raised more than $2,200 for the sanctuary (not including the value of the wish list items), and the four of us drove home feeling like our tanks had been filled to the brim. We were floating, and will never forget the evening, the new friends we have made, and the kindness that was extended to our sanctuary.

Wow!

Monday, November 30, 2009

I Am So Grateful! ~ Woody

As I write this blog, I am feeling very thankful, literally bursting with appreciation, and since I am not one to keep things to myself, I thought I would share.

We are, of course, in the midst of some challenges and when we focused on that, it literally kept us paralyzed. But as soon as we made our situation public, a stream of support has flowed in that has been overwhelming, and as we have changed our focus, it has energized and renewed us. Very much like the scene in 'It’s A Wonderful Life' when the community comes together to save the Building and Loan, and Jimmy Stewart, realizing his life is meaningful, stands in his living room, speechless as neighbor after neighbor comes in to donate. Wow!

The feeling has been the same for Dee and me. We have received help from many we know, but even more help from those we have never met. People of every possible social category have come together to support the work we started 9 years ago. The reach of the sanctuary has now gone well beyond Dee and I, and is beginning to gain extraordinary momentum, and with that, starting to effect real change in the way our world views animals at the end of their lives.

We have raised more than $41,000, and are more than half way to our goal, and with each day there is more and more energy that is building. The sense of kindness and goodness is palatable, and even when that energy has not yet manifested in some concrete event, you cannot help but to feel it at the sanctuary. The animals feel it. Dee and I feel it and visitors feel it. It is a marvelous thing to behold and witness.

And so I am grateful. I am thankful, and I am hopeful.

And I am so for all those who have come into our lives to help us continue to serve animals that no one wants, and treat them with the dignity and honor they deserve, and allow them to pass when they chose, and in doing so, offer them A Chance For Bliss.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Woody


Photo or Woody & Nelly courtesy of Crystal Showalter

STR Update #5 from November 16

(I apologize for the delay in getting Lydia's amazing work on our blog)

I think Andrew Lawson sums it up best about Dee and Woody: "They are very special people that have chosen a very special path and could use a bit of help right now."

Thanks to all of you, we're almost at the halfway mark....

A Chance for Bliss on Channel 10
Ann Makovec did a wonderful and thorough report on the situation at the Sanctuary. Pass this one around:
http://www.news10.net/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=70258

Current and Upcoming "Fun-Raisers"

Yummy Candy Grams - now through November 30th
Tiffany Malone of Easter Seals is the Program Director of the Help to Recovery (HTR) Adult Day Healthcare Program. Their clients are adults who have suffered brain injuries and participate in the program to build the necessary skills to hopefully one day be able to return to the community setting. The HTR clients come to the sanctuary once a month to work with the animals:

"The HTR clients have decided to do a November fundraiser for A Chance for Bliss... Attached is the flyer for our Candy Grams...anyone can place an order to purchase a Hershey's bar wrapped with a thankful note, telling someone in their life they "make the world a sweeter place." The wrapper also has the website for and proceeds going to ACFB. Please let everyone know about our fundraiser...they can contact us to place their order and/or purchase the candy grams. They will be available all month." Awww... shucks - you can't get any sweeter than that!

Doggie Massage - Friday, November 27th
Tom Wilson of A Chance for Bliss and Carole Baird, owner of Creekside Pet Resort, Sacramento
"We're going to massage animals as a fundraiser on November 27th, the day after Thanksgiving, (and maybe some that weekend). Clients who leave their animals for boarding will be given a option to have an acupressure massage for only $35; all proceeds will benefit ACFB. Carole will extract hard expenses such as stamps, envelopes, labels - all out of pocket expenses - all of the labor is free."

Crab Cioppino Feed - Saturday December 5th
From Kory Murphy: "The first weekend in December we have an annual Crab Cioppino Feed (150+) for my company and this year on our invites we will turn it into a Fundraiser for ACFB and asking for donations at the door. My co-worker Kathy Michalis will help me put on the event. "Crab Cioppino" Fundraiser @ KrisKo Farms, Newcastle. OPEN HOUSE 4-8. More details to come!"

KrisKo Farms Mandarin Sales
$12 for 10 pound bag and half of the proceeds will go to ACFB. (fliers and logo will go in each bag sold) have all interested contact me via email @ korylynnmurphy@yahoo.com

Doggone Fun on Sunday, December 6th, 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Aunt Cynthia's Bed & Biscuit in Loomis is having their grand re-opening called "Yappy Hour." There will be lots of activities and fun galore at this event! Details are on the flyer on our home page of our website.

Now through January 5, 2010
Let me help ease your Holiday stress! I'm a licensed Massage Therapist and besides offering a nice discount, I will be donating 20% of my proceeds. So take advantage of this special and help the sanctuary at the same time. If you need a team of therapists for a corporate event, do have your company representative contact me. Email me (Lydia) for a flyer: ltpatubo@gmail.com

Mountains of Nickels for A Chance for Bliss - Now through January 10, 2010
Shop at Whole Foods Roseville, bring your own bags, and tell the cashier that you want your nickel per bag to go to A Chance for Bliss. It doesn't get any easier than this!

Thanks to our new friend, Jen Stiling, who has lots of great ideas for future Fun-Raisers that we definitely will keep in mind for the future.

In the recent ACTHA fundraiser, Jessica Bugge, winner of the Open Division gave us a most pleasant surprise. Well, really, a second surprise, as she generously donated back a portion of her cash award. Jessica heads up the Sacramento Horse Meetup Group, and together they are working to host a Poker Ride to benefit ACFB. Details to follow!

Linda Bagnall of Sun City/Lincoln Hills gave us some great news:
"As far as a Chance for Bliss Sanctuary, SCOOP (Sun City Organization of Pooches) has decided to hold a silent auction at our Holiday party in December and all proceeds will benefit them ... Others are donating baked goods, art paintings, etc..."

Thanks for Continuing to Spread the Word

Rene Bender, Fell Legend Farm
... please write Ellen and Oprah about the A Chance for Bliss and the wonderful animals they help."

http://ellen.warnerbros.com/show/respond/?PlugID=234
https://www.oprah.com/ord/plugform.jsp?plugId=216

Denise LeBeau, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary"I work for Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and we have an online outreach website called the Best Friends Network. The Network is comprised of various Go Local communities and we've added the call for donations to our California Go Local for Chance for Bliss Animal Sanctuary. We were emailed the story link from one of our Members and went ahead and posted it."

Here's the link to their article:
http://network.bestfriends.org/golocal/california/13576/news.aspx

Debbie Fuller, The Biscuit Foundation
It's so nice to make new friends! " ... I went on your website today and I love what you're doing. I cried and smiled at the same time. You have your hands full but I know you have to love what you are doing for these pets. ... Keep up the good work!!!"

Andrew Lawson
"I am just spreading the word about this wonderful place ... A Chance for Bliss, is a last stop for a long list of wonderful animals that have been given up on. Everything from horses, goats, cows, pigs, dogs ..." He and Christopher Brown also spread the word to: Bank of America, Sutter Health, William-Sonoma, and Hartford corporations.

Felice Hussa
" Amanda and Susan put flyers in the Auburn Library, the Echo Valley Feed store on Nevada Street, and one of the Vet offices in Auburn last week ... I spoke at length to my sister-in-law, Ileana, who lives in Florida ... my brother and his wife have been active in animal rights for years ... Anyway, Ileana forwarded my email to around 50 of her animal friends around the country."

Reverend Ann Whitfield
"A Chance for Bliss is very dear to my heart. Please consider it as one of your charities ... My son, Dru, has sent the letter out to many people that are affiliated with larger corporations in hopes that you might receive some attention and donations through them also."

Ann also wrote a wonderful story about A Chance for Bliss that I will be posting.

Judi Fibush
"Both David and I and our friends the Ewings have written Ellen and Oprah. We sent David's letter out to about 30 friends who said they would write to these shows ... "

Kory Murphy
"I have 6 Straw Bales a Metal horse feeder and some bags of piggie food to bring you. I have a few people that have said they were going to donate ... I am telling everyone I know and what the situation is out @ ACFB. And asking people to spread the word to investors and business owners to donate what they can."

INTERNET SHOPPERS
If you haven't heard about iGIVE or Goodsearch, let me have two of our supporters tell you about them - such an EZ way to shop and fundraise at the same time!

Suzi Johnston for iGIVE:

1. RAISE A PENNY PER SEARCH WITH iSEARCHiGIVE & THE IGIVE TOOLBAR
http://www.iSearchiGive.com

With iSearchiGive, you can raise a penny (or more) when you search the web! Use it to find coupons, products, stores that help your cause, and much more. And did you know...your iGive Toolbar will automatically track donations for your cause, anytime you shop at one of the 700+ stores in our network!
To learn more about your iGive Toolbar, visit: http://iSearch.iGive.com/FAQ.cfm#toolbar

2. YOUR $5 BONUS DONATION AWAITS
Make your first purchase (through iGive!) within 45 days of joining, andwe'll add a $5 bonus* on top of the usual donation to A Chance for Bliss! Find stores, donation rates, and coupons at: http://www.iGive.com/shop/merchants.cfm

3. SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT $5 BONUS DONATIONS AT iGIVE
Earn hundreds more for your cause by inviting your friends to join iGive.

4. GET CREDIT (DONATIONS) WHEN YOU SHOP -AUTOMATICALLY!Remember to start your shopping at iGive.com, or use the iGive Toolbar, and a portion of each purchase will be donated to your cause! It takes 10 days (on average, after shipping) for your purchases and donations to be credited. Occasionally, it can take up to 30 days. Track your earnings through searching
(iSearchiGive) and shopping at: http://iSearch.iGive.com/totalraised.cfm

Robin Zabala for Goodsearch
"I started using Goodsearch last year to benefit my daughter's school. This year she changed schools and her new school isn't on Goodsearch. I started looking for another charity to benefit at about the same time I heard A Chance for Bliss was in trouble. I found about Bliss from Lynn Willingham. I'm a bookseller and I'm out at Lynn's every week buying from her. My daughter's girl scout troop took a tour of the sanctuary and we were all quite moved by the place. Anyways, I found this on Goodsearch:"

EMAIL YOUR ORGANIZATION'S SUPPORTERS
"Tell fellow supporters how they can raise additional money just by GoodSearching. What if A Chance for Bliss earned a donation every time you searched the Internet? Or how about if a percentage of every purchase you made online went to support our cause? Well, now it can! GoodSearch.com is a new Yahoo-powered search engine that donates half its advertising revenue, about a penny per search, to the charities its users designate. Use it just as you would any search engine, get quality search results from Yahoo, and watch the donations add up! "

"GoodShop.com is a new online shopping mall which donates up to 30 percent of each purchase to your favorite cause! Hundreds of great stores including Amazon, Target, Gap, Best Buy, ebay, Macy's and Barnes & Noble have teamed up with GoodShop and every time you place an order, you'll be supporting your favorite cause. And if you download the GoodSearch - A Chance for Bliss toolbar, our cause will earn money every time you shop and search online - even if you forget to go to GoodShop or GoodSearch first! Add the A Chance for Bliss toolbar at http://www.goodsearch.com/toolbar/a-chance-for-bliss


THANK YOU, THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROUS DONATIONS:


Alice Aho, Karen Ahrns, Wendy, Andreotti, Joanne Andrews, Betty Abuer, Denise Draper Bays, Caroline Bering, Malia Bervar, Laura & Greg Bisi, Elizabeth Brandt, Jessica Bugge, Becky Buljan, Norma Carson, Catharine Ching, Merrilee Cichy, Ann Collins, Rhonda Cordano, Carol Crimmins, Wanda Critchfield-Guidi, Ursula Devere, Sandra Devin, Joseph Elie, Carol Emerson, Susan Farmer, Kathy & Greg Fellers, Susan Fischer, Diane Flice, Martha Florey, Libby Kelson Fulcher, Gary Gallawa, Deborah Gibbs, Carole Goldberg, Janet Hudson, Emily Jacobson, Sharon Jacobson, Alan Kim, David Kintz, Margaret Krause, Jan Krueger, Joanne Lee, Kelly McCusker, Paula Davis Magrath-Hambrick. Randolph Mayes, Lynn Mazie, Deborah Morris, Charles "Ben" Mundy, Laura Nasatir, M.D., Ellen Nakata-Harper, Kris Neustadter, Joan O'Brien, PPASTS Foundation - Patricia Irish, Suzanne Paoli, Vicki Perry, Karen Raasch, Miguel Rivera, Daniel Roberts, Michael Satterlee, Scooter's Pals, Linda Scott, Crystal Showalter, Sandra Silberstein, Janice Stone, Nadia Sureda, Sharon Thorpe, Nancie Watte, Sally Morgan Welch, Marsha Wilson, and to all our generous donors who prefer to remain "Anonymous."

We have connected with so many loving hearts and minds during this time. Thank you so much for your love and support - we can't do this without you.

Sincerely,

Lydia T. Patubo
Volunteer/Marketing & Development
A Chance for Bliss

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

We're Back..

On November 24th we made our visit to the sanctuary. Anthony drove the bus. Theresa and Prem rode shotgun. It was a fun ride; but, Hector talked all the way, as usual. While we were there, Rik and Al gave baths to seven (7) dogs.

Even though we were not supposed to tell… Les broke the grinder. You see, Les & Hector were grinding flax seeds. They had ground a whole bucket when Les broke the grinder. If not for Deanna’s mechanical aptitude the grinder may still be broken.

Deanna reminisced with us about reading Stephen King novels and the different levels of reincarnation. While she was doing this; Jim was feeding the pigs. While he is there at the sanctuary; he is different as night and day. Kim and Ron groomed horses. Kim showed extreme patience; as usual, while there.

As you know, we have been raising funds through our candy-gram drive. So, we delivered a total of $323 to A Chance for Bliss. Next month we will have more money for them. We will have our annual holiday shoppe and all the proceeds will benefit A Chance for Bliss.

Remember to take a tip from the dogs. When you see our wheelchairs; don’t prejudge us. Sniff our feet first. Then, you can growl. (If you want.)


-Lisa & Hector
Easter Seals Superior California
Help to Recovery program

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Life on the Ranch ~ by Deanna

The ACTHA ride is thankfully behind us, but we're still catching up on communications prompted by our grassroots effort to build our support network. Admittedly, volunteers have been given little attention yet, but please don't give up on us. We're making progress.

I wanted to share that we've been struggling with a few animal issues, as well.

Baby, our favored diabetic Pom, was certainly not feeling well late last week, so went to the vet for testing. He suffered from a bout of Pancreatitis and Ketosis, which whe was treated for, but there was also a huge spike in blood sugar. At first we suspected Cushing's, but it turned out to be thyroid. He is feeling MUCH better, but he had us worried Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

On Sunday, both Bernie (19 yo Boston) and Moose (our newest old Pug) experienced seizures. This was not Bernie's first, and while short, it was intense. At his age, this is not unexpected. Moose's was rather light and we'd hoped it was a fluke, but he had another episode today, which looks more like a stroke. Moose is listing a bit and has difficulty walking without weaving. He is still happy and doesn't appear to have any pain, but our dear boy is simply changed. He has been here for such a short period and we adore him so, this is bringing us real heartache.

Woody and I were recently introduced to the concept of Compassion Fatigue through the HSUS publication Animal Sheltering. While this life is always filled with challenges like those described above, the incredible stress brought about by our current situation has us pretty well exhausted. Recognizing this and being aware of coping mechanisims will help us to regain our balance. We are not without support. But there is much more to do than time allows. We'll do the best we can to direct our energies wisely.

Thank you for helping us through this most interesting time. I believe that we will somehow survive and even thrive, but there are moments that simply must be spent loving animals as opposed to attending to other matters. Moose will follow me from room to room no matter how compromised his gait. He deserves to be recognized, coddled and hugged.

Thank you for your patience as we push through. It's time for me to go snuggle some old guys.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

SAVE THE RANCH UPDATE #4 - by Lydia

THE THERMOMETER IS OVER $23,000 and CLIMBING !!

There are Heroes Everywhere !!

Because of YOU, word has been spreading and there is so much to be thankful for in this newsletter. But first, it's important to talk about three heroes that truly stand out in this effort to Save the Ranch:

Margaret Andrews
'Mags' was the very first person to join A Chance for Bliss over a year and a half ago. She loves all animals, especially equines, and has been of invaluable assistance to Dee and Woody. Margaret is always at the ranch, pitching in wherever she is needed, no matter what - her 'elbow grease' is amazing! More than that, she is a true friend and her dedication to the sanctuary is unrivaled.

Lynn Willingham
This philanthropist extraordinaire has earned her wings many times over. For the past 20 years, the book sales she has held at her home in Penryn have generated over $425,000 for local, non- profit animal organizations. At the sale this past weekend, she set up a special area with a donation jar and pictures of our residents, and the money started pouring in... over $800! Lynn is truly a singular woman, and it is an honor to know her.

Linda Bagnall
This Sun City/Lincoln Hills resident and a newcomer to A Chance for Bliss, rallies her neighbors through their Yahoo! group. Linda has been a blessing to this effort, and we are so grateful for her support.


Please Join Us on Yahoo!

Please join the Yahoo! group for A Chance for Bliss - it only takes minute to do. It's small group right now, and we would love you to be a part of it. When you join the group, you'll be part of a forum where you can 'connect' to other like-minded members with your great ideas.

Kory and Shawn Murphy have hooked up with Kevin Wilkinson from Scott's Corner Hay & Feed in Newcastle to coordinate some run-in shelters, but we sure could use more materials (and we're not picky!) If you are able to donate building materials, do join the Yahoo group to work with them.


Since the Last Update

A HUGE THANK YOU to the ongoing monthly supporters of A Chance for Bliss. Their regular donations help defray the day-to-day expenses at the sanctuary. A thousand thanks to the Fibush, Sweeney, Reeves and Thorpe families.

We gratefully acknowledge our most recent donors:

Lynn Aiani, Judith Amor, Gene Anderson, JoAnne Andrews, Margaret Andrews, Judy Bacich, Tom Bailey, Nancy Ball, Carolyn Bartley, Joan & John Bartley, Bernell Bennion, Ann Bjorklund, Beverly Brown, Casey Brown, Jessica Bugge, Anita Bunter, Susan Call, Catharine Ching, Kathleen Cicairos, Janel Connell, Maria Cornelius, Charlene Cota-Leatherman, Sheree Courtney, Jeremy Couzens, Curtis & Janice Covington, Katherine Cunningham, Edna Dager, Cynthia DeBord, Robert Delucchi, Susan DeMartile, Deirdre Dement, Sandra Devin, Denise Draper Bays, Rita & Jack Drinkard, Alexis Durham, Joseph Elie, Paula & Mike Ewing, Jennifer Fatkin, Judi & David Fibush, Susan Fischer, Dennis Forbes, Nancy Fox, Scott Freitas, Pamela Fulmer, Gary Gallawa, Ann Gardner, Diane Glueckert, Natalie Granchukoff (again!), Domenic Gulino, Ron Hanson, Tony Held, Julie Hersch, Jeanne Heschele, Sandra Hesnard, Jerri Hildebrand, Birgit & Kurt Huffman, Shelley Jacobson, Donna Jenkins, Patricia Johnson, Carol Johnston, Suzi Johnston, Joni Jorgensen Risk, Sunny Jung, Doris Keyes, Kathryn Keyes, Alan Kim, Heidi, Cali & Alex Knost, Sarah Kopy, Carmen Kouhestani, Margaret Krause, Liang-hsuan Kuo, Joanne Lee, Kian Lee, Felicity MacGrain, Maria ManzanillaOwen, Lisa Marshall, Karen Mason, Katherine Masyn, Nancy McKee, Marnette Meaney, Vicky Meyer, Ellen Nakata-Harper, Beverly Nanez, Christian Nielsen, Vicki Oberg, Lenna Ontai-Grzebik, Caryn Parmalee, Ashley Pelia, Misty Pellow, Vicki Perry, Pat Pitts, Candace Primrose, Marilyn & Rex Railsback, Ann Ranlett, Katherine Reschly, Susan Reynolds, Robin Risser, Vicky & Dr. Miguel Rivera, Betty Rogers, Karen Rogers, Sara Rusmisel, Lana Schultz, Vickie Shaug, Lois Shawver, Paula Skelton, Janice Slone, Erik Smith, Melodie Smith, Peggy Smith, Susan Stack, Janis Stanfill, Kelly Swallows, Colleen Sweeney, Carley Sweet, Jetta Tatom, Gary Thomas, Elise & Paul Thompson, Sharon Thorpe, Marysue Tiffany, Sarah Tomaszewski-Farias, Robert Tsuk, Kathleen Vanstory, Julia Velson, Melanie Walker, Nancie Watts, Dana Westmoreland, Ann & James Whitfield, Lynn Willingham (again!), Masako Yeager, Friends of Placer/Tahoe Vista Placer County Animal Shelter, Furman Properties, LLC, Midwest Boston Terrier Rescue and NoFleaz.com.

Thanks to so many who have written to the The Ellen Degeneres Show, including: Jeanette Patterson, Judi and David Fibush, Julia Velson, Doris Keys, Elizabeth Faherty, Becca Davis, Christina Watts, Cynthia Dibor, Kay Cunningham and Eileen Thornton. Here's the link again: http://ellen.warnerbros.com/show/respond/?PlugID=234

Here's a great example of a letter from Judi Fibush:

"Here's what I did for the Ellen show. I filled in my name etc at the top of the form including a (required) picture of Handsome (attached). In the 'story' I wrote this:"

"This is about the marvelous people who run an animal sanctuary for all kinds of domestic animals who have been abandoned, dumped, starved, beaten, left to die, etc. by giving them a home and care and love until they pass on. David (Woody) and Deanna are in a terrible financial crunch to keep this place going. Please go to their website at http://www.achanceforbliss.com/index.html and look up the RESIDENTS and see their pix and read their stories. (My favorite is Handsome, the pony who was born with a club hoof , they had surgery done and he is normal now and very handsome.) they are also a 501(c)3 #261452047 charity so all contributions are deductible. Please help this cause as Woody and Deanna are an unselfish, passionate and caring people as you can find..."

Wanna write Oprah? https://www.oprah.com/ord/plugform.jsp?plugId=216 Let me know when you do!

Dan Turner wrote to KTXL Fox 40 ! Thank you, Dan!

Thanks to so many of you for requesting copies of the flyer, "At the Heart of the Matter", including: Tom Wilson, Rene Bender, Mary Hartwell, Sharon Jacobson, Kory Murphy, Linda Bagnall (Linda also wrote to the Lincoln News Messenger), Dr. Gerald Djuth, Lynn Willingham, Suzi Johnston, Ronda Belka, Tiffany Malone, Heather Ireland, Christina Watts, Shawn & Kory Murphy, Felice & Gregory Hussa, Birgit Huffman, Cory Bertoglio, Cynthia McCoy, Lynn Willingham, Jajuan Francis, Emily Jacobson, Tish Eccleston, Ann Ranlett, Carl Brunberg, Pamela Gorman, Heather Olson, Theresa Magee, Carole Baird, Diana Ramirez, Vicki Rivera, Frances M., and Tana Symons. A link to the flyer is now on the home page: www.achanceforbliss.com Thanks to all of you for spreading the word!

Diana Himes
Our new friend to A Chance for Bliss wrote to her Sun City/Lincoln Hills Yahoo! Group: "This is a worthy group. I have been to their place and met ALL of the animals. It is a wonderful, clean, and caring home for older animals that have no other option but death. Some of these animals are there because they have lost their elderly owners. Others are there because of neglect or abuse, and no one wanted them. They are now living out the rest of their lives knowing only kindness. This couple has devoted their home and property to this and now this is in jeopardy. Check out their website and please consider sending a donation if you can..."

Felice Hussa
Thank you for posting the flyer and for recruiting a friend:

" I have put up posters at Blue Goose Produce, Wild Chicken Coffee, Christensen's Tack, Main Drug, and Raley's Loomis. Also Newcastle Produce. I added tags at the bottom with achanceforbliss.com ... I'm going to make several posters that are two put together so they can go in a window with the tags on the poster inside the building."

... Pat Brown is a wildlife rescuer who specializes in ducks and geese. She works occasionally at the Folsom Zoo. She will download some flyers and go to these places to post them tomorrow: Folsom Zoo, Bayside Veterinary Hospital, Douglas Ranch & Supply, Raley's on Folsom Auburn Road."

The Railsbacks (friends of the Fibush family) delivered a cash donation and blankets to the sanctuary.

K.D. Beebe
Hey, here's an idea for your sorority girls or fraternity guys!
"In San Francisco I was friends with girls in sororities and they often told me about their philanthropy work. Have you considered contacting any sororities or fraternities at Sac State or even UCD? They're basically perky little armies who do their own fundraising ..."

BK England
I am doing my darndest to contact people, and hope to have Woody on the KAHI Corral ... I love those guys!!!

Reverend Ann Whitfield
"Hey Dee: If you liked the story of Summer, would like me to keep writing animals stories for you ... to help raise awareness and funds? ... This is one thing I can do for you. My husband, Jim is sending you a donation via your website."

Somehow God will work this out for you. Have you tried the Bill Gates Fund, which is focused on kids and education but you have disabled kids come to the ranch ..."


FUN-RAISERS FOR A CHANCE FOR BLISS -
MARK YOUR CALENDAR !


CAFEPRESS.com
A Chance for Bliss t-shirts are now on sale online through Café Press. Click on the donate button on their home page: www.achanceforbliss.com and you'll find the link to Café Press. There are many styles to choose from (I better order mine today)!


TOM WILSON, PhD. of A CHANCE FOR BLISS
and CAROLE BAIRD, OWNER of CREEKSIDE PET RESORT (Tom teaches animal classes at the sanctuary, including Craniosacral, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Tui Na, Acupressure, Reiki and more!)

Acupressure Massage at Creekside Pet Resort
5441 Hackberry Lane, Sacramento

"We're going to massage animals as a fundraiser on November 27th, the day after Thanksgiving, (and maybe some that weekend). Clients who leave their animals for boarding will be given a option to have an acupressure massage for only $35; all proceeds will benefit ACFB. Carole will extract hard expenses such as stamps, envelopes, labels - all out of pocket expenses - all of the labor is free."


EASTER SEALS HOLIDAY SHOPPE
TIFFANY MALONE, MSW, ASW, PROGRAM DIRECTOR

"... a group of our clients here at Easter Seals volunteer at the sanctuary once every month. Our clients from the Help to Recovery Program are adults who have suffered brain injuries and are participating in our program to build the necessary skills to hopefully one day be able to return to the community setting. Deanna and Woody were so generous in offering us this volunteer opportunity over a year ago, and I can't describe the degree to which it has positively affected and changed these clients.

Each year, our program hosts a Holiday Shoppe in December. It is strictly stocked with donations from Hallmark and other donors, and the items are sold at reasonable prices to encourage people to shop for friends, family, co-workers, etc. It's also a venue for the participants of our other adult day programs to shop for each other and their loved ones. Our clients select an organization to donate the proceeds each year; last year they selected ACFB, and we were able to donate over $1,000 to the sanctuary. Immediately after wrapping up the shoppe, the clients decided they wanted ACFB to be the recipient again this year. I don't have dates yet, but hopefully this will be something you can eventually add to your flyer. As soon as I have the details, I will forward the information to you. We are usually open 6-8 times throughout December (Monday-Friday). I just wanted to give you a heads-up.

Thank you for keeping us posted on everything that is going on. We appreciate all of the information and will do everything we can to help."


GET YOUR VITAMIN C!
Krisko Farms in Newcastle is taking advance orders for their Placer-grown mandarin oranges. Half of the proceeds will benefit A Chance for Bliss. A 10 pound sack is only $12! Thank you to Terri Dudgeon (Kory Murphy's mom) !


AUNT CYNTHIA'S BED & BISCUIT - GRAND RE-OPENING! YAPPY HOUR!
Sunday, December 6th Time: 1:00-5:00 p.m.
3190 Swetzer Road, Loomis (near King/Taylor intersection)
Activities Planned: wine tasting, munchies (for humans and dogs); Pet Portraits with Santa; Grooming Demo; Obedience Training Demo; Tours of the Cat Nap Inn and four large living rooms for cage-free boarding; large play yards, raffle (several items, including a week at a time share anywhere in the world) and a short dedication ceremony in Memorial Garden."
(BTW, Aunt Cynthia's is now able to care for cats in my new building! It is called "Cat Nap Inn". I also can care for other exotics...such as bearded dragons, birds, hamsters, etc.)


ANN RANLETT - GET YOUR HOLIDAY SHOPPING DONE HERE!
The irrepressible spirit in this woman continues to come up with new ways to support the sanctuary:
". . .on Etsy, I always have a number of items in my shop with a portion going to A Chance for Bliss (from $1 - $10). Here's the link for those items: http://bit.ly/AnnEtsy Maybe folks can find some holiday gifts there or in Barking Dog Blanket's shop and help Bliss in the process :) I also have stuff on Bonanzle with a donation to ACFB: http://bit.ly/AnnBonanzle "


GARAGE SALE ANYONE ?!
We've been gathering items from gracious donors for a garage sale, BUT, we don't have a location. We've got the stuff and the volunteers, but no place to go. If you know of a place where we can have a garage/yard sale, do drop me a line.

As I mentioned, this is a long newsletter because we have SO MUCH to be grateful for. Thank you for spreading the word and for your generous donations of time and money, but most of all, for your belief and love that together we can all SAVE THE RANCH.

Love and Blessings,
Lydia Patubo
Volunteer/Marketing & Development
A Chance for Bliss

Friday, October 30, 2009

Important Clarifications by Deanna

There are two areas of concern for some that need and deserve further explanation. Thank you for your patience as we move through this most trying time; we are striving hard to become more efficient with communications. Many people are putting forth real effort on our behalf and we want to honor all who are supporting us.

The Fate of the Animals

It is not true that ALL of the residents face possible euthanasia. This misconception was erroneously conveyed to media contacts by a supporter who has passionately made saving the sanctuary their mission and was unclear on the actual possible outcomes. It was done from the heart and not as intentional hype. We weren't aware of the information being presented until after we got a media response.

Apparently, Woody and I still did not manage to sufficiently convey the actual possibilities to Neda Iranpour. In speaking with Neda, I pointed out that a horse like Jake, a Mustang with bi-lateral stringhalt, would be euthanized by any of the area rescues that we're familiar with. That's what makes us different.

The truth is, should the foreclosure proceed and force us to leave our collective home, the horses could be housed. Over half of them are on neighbors' properties already. They are not in danger. In exploring options, we contacted a large Northern California sanctuary for farm animals and were sadly denied. A good friend has a large parcel in Lincoln that has been generously offered should it be necessary. Splitting the animals up so would create a myriad of challenges, but could be done.

The dogs might be a different story. Of course we would place as many as possible, but realize that many of them have already struggled to find a place to call home for various reasons. I can barely bring myself to begin thinking about the fate of certain pups if forced to move.

Thankfully, and I continually look for new and better ways to communicate our most sincere gratitude, the support and feedback have been nothing short of astounding. It keeps me breathless, the phone calls, e-mails and note cards... there are simply not enough hours in the day right now. Donations are flowing in. The future looks brighter by the day.

The LAST thing we want to do is separate our kids. They have buddies in their respective packs and predictable routines that their contentment is founded upon.

How Will the Money be Used?

The donations are currently accruing in a savings account. We are a 501c3 charity and must conform to the IRS rules and regulations. This is our life's work and we would do nothing to jeopardize the integrity of what has become so much larger than us. We have given all that we personally have but remain true to a life that we know is worth much more than anything else we've known.

In the unlikely event that we are unable to formalize a loan modification, the funds will be used to seek another facility.

In the event that we're able to stay, the money could be applied to the mortgage through a formal lease agreement with the non-profit leasing the property from us. We would also welcome the possibility of the house becoming property of the non-profit. We cannot predict what will happen with the mortgage company. Personally, we have already lost everything. We're upside down in the Sequoia, own a 1977 Ford with a blown head gasket, possibly worse, and my 1977 Celica that has taken a beating between the blind horse being let loose by a well-intended volunteer and escapee goats playing king of the mountain. Still, we're fighting to continue to simply serve the animals.

From My Heart

I am beyond tired. These late nights have proven to be the only real productive computer time since the days are filled with activities and distractions. There is much happening and we're all doing our best to manage the unpredictability.

Bug here is almost completely blind and deaf, which means that touch is important. Otherwise, she's alone in her world. She sleeps on the pillow next to my head at night. My sleeping much less than usual means that she is alone even more. She barks when she has a need ~ normally the usual potty-water-cookie. Lately, however, she barks pretty forcefully even after all three needs have been met. She is seeking that touch. Bug has been on the computer chair beside me tonight so that she isn't sleeping alone. She's wrapped in a towel from the dryer because it takes her a while to warm up after a trip outside. I want her to feel loved even though I am experiencing extremely high demands on my time.

The feedback that and support that we're receiving is beyond anything I could have imagined. This senior, special needs, hospice work strikes a stronger chord than I ever realized. If we could take our message farther and wider, we could expand to help more animals and more people. We are in a prime position to seek help from someone such as Ellen DeGeneres, a true animal advocate. On the "Be Part of the Show" page of her website, there are two options that we would be suited for:

Do You Know Someone Who Could Use Some Cash?

Could You or Someone You Know Use a Big Stimulus?

Please take a moment to write. A visit with Ellen could create amazing possibilities for animals like ours. Woody loves to talk, ESPECIALLY about our kids, and is comfortable in front of an audience ~ who better? Surely she can't ignore a plethora of messages about A Chance for Bliss.

Thank you on behalf of all of us.

Update #3 from Lydia ~ Great Things Are Happening!

Hello Everyone:

By now you have read the email from Dee and Woody that almost $8,000 has been raised to Save the Ranch. This important email also talks about the history of the sanctuary from its inception to the predicament that it is in today. Do take the time to read it. Thank you.

I have received many emails about fundraisers. Do let me know when your event will be and I will be sure to include it in a future update and on Facebook. To help with your fundraising efforts, I will be sending, under separate cover a flyer titled: "At the Heart of the Matter." This flyer has pertinent information, including how to donate. When you receive it, feel free to forward, or copy and distribute.

Thank you everyone for telling your friends, family, co-workers and organizations, and for posting on Facebook and other websites. We are grateful to have all of you on board, and have made many new friends in the process!

Based on the emails I have received, I would like to offer the following thanks and comments:

Do tell your Facebook friends to become a fan of A Chance for Bliss. Simply go to their fan page and click on "Invite People to Join" and follow the instructions from there. I got about 75 of my own friends to join, and it's so easy to do!

Lori Kim Polk

The most amazing news I have received is Lori posted a blog "In the Spirit of Giving' to over 160,000 of her Active Rain (the largest real estate network) friends to help the sanctuary. Do read what wonderful Lori wrote here.

Lynn Willingham
Our one-woman wonder is corralling her friends to come to the sanctuary's monthly open house held the second Saturday of every month. We'll see them on Saturday, November 14th, and we're looking forward to making new friends!

Heather Olson
Our wonderful CAD designer is working on a possible fundraising event in Loomis.

Christina Watts
Thanks to Christina's efforts, she got not one, but two television stations to come out! Channel 13 was here Sunday morning, and the segment aired at 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Channel 10 was at sanctuary Monday morning to do a segment for Hero Central. Christina would also like have a garage sale fundraiser - can anyone help her out?? Wonderful Christina is also a volunteer at A Chance for Bliss.

View the Channel 13 segment.

Tom Wilson
This amazing man is taking the 10 friends x $60 = $600 challenge one step further. Tom will be asking his 10 friends to reach out to 10 more friends. He hopes to raise $6,000.

Emily Jacobson
Our Emily is also a volunteer at A Chance for Bliss: "I have forwarded the email to my friends and family, and several have donated already. My mom (a fellow animal lover) has forwarded the email at her work and has asked for donations, which are matched by their company... I am hoping and praying that we can pull through for Dee, Woody and the animals!

Suzi Johnston
"I'm so happy people are really coming on board. By the way, last night, through tears, I wrote to Oprah Winfrey, Bonnie Hunt & Ellen DeGeneres. OMG, how WONderful would it be to get some PR from ANY of them??????"

Vicki Behringer
"I was on the phone with an attorney who wants to use one of my courtroom art drawings on his new website. He said several artists were just letting him use the images for free, then some took the $150 he was offering and others were having it donated to their favorite charity. I had decided earlier that I wanted to donate my money, with you being the recipient..."

Judi Fibush
"Thanks for the update, Deanna. Neither David nor I are on Facebook... But I love reading all this. I am trying to give you $500 by the end of December."

(Rockin') Ann Ranlett
A friend of mine volunteers at Placer SPCA and she forwarded your initial letter to the volunteers there. She'll also be sending a check for $60."

also from Ann:
Just another thing to add to the fundraising arsenal. Not great in the short term, but eventually it'll help out. I told Dee about it, but don't think everyone knows, so when you have a chance you could spread the word."

"Some time ago, I added ACFB to the list of charities on www.iGive.com People join and specify that a percent of their on-line purchases go to ACFB. Then they make their purchases by going to merchants through iGive's site. Quite a few merchants are part of the system, they each determine the percentage to be donated."

"Each person's account has to reach a $25 minimum before the money is sent to ACFB. I think I have about $13 in my account now, so it takes a while. But obviously larger or more frequent purchase will add up faster."

Again, thank you to everyone who has committed to raising $600.

Facebook Friends: Take the time to send a letter to Ellen Degeneres!First off, become a fan of The Ellen Degeneres Show on Facebook. On her Facebook page, go to "Be on Ellen." Then click on "Do You Know Someone Who Could Use a Financial Stimulus?" Then, fill in the blanks on the page. Write your heart out. Let Ellen know that A Chance for Bliss needs help! Write your heart out, folks !!

I believe I included everyone who had emailed me after Update #2. I sincerely apologize if I left anyone out.

Do keep me posted on any new developments you are involved in, and I will continue to send out regular updates.

Dee and Woody and the animals are so grateful for your continued love and support.
A thousand blessings to everyone.

Lydia Patubo
Volunteer/Development Associate
and Marketing for
A Chance for Bliss

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Save the Ranch Update, and a little background… by Woody

I am so grateful to report that to date we have raised $7,865 toward our goal of $65,000 that is needed to keep the ranch from being foreclosed upon and sold at auction. That’s an impressive 12% in 12 days. There is a lot of action being taken by a great many people, and I, along with Dee and all the sanctuary residents, are so very appreciative for all the support. We feel passionate about what we do, and firmly believe that the existence of the sanctuary serves both the animal residents along with a great many human beings, as well.

For those who do not know why we are in the place we are, and wonder what happened, I thought it important to explain.

When Dee and I started caring for senior animals in the fall of 2000, we never dreamed it would be come so large and serve so many and so varied an array of deserving animals in need. From the beginning, through about the middle of 2008, we had been able to fully fund sanctuary operations almost entirely with personal funds, thanks to a long and very prosperous career in the mortgage and business brokerage industries.

Beginning in 2007, both of these industries began a steep and steady decline, which saw a corresponding drop in our personal income from excellent to meager. During the last year we have not been able to make a property payment, have qualified for food stamps, and found ourselves stuck in a tough financial position. A year without a mortgage payment is unheard of, we realize. Ongoing, though fruitless, communication with the mortgage company, combined with workout package submittals and pursuits of additional income channels kept us hopeful that something would give. Certainly it would be in their best interest to work with us. We plan to be here forever and aren’t looking for a free ride, just some help, such as extending the terms.

We have been able to keep the residents fed and cared for through contributions and five small grants, but regular duties and chores take 12 + hours a day from each of us and leaves precious little time for the important work of PR and fundraising. As our income dropped, so did our ability to have paid help, which is why I spend much of my time here at the ranch. We have a great but small core group of volunteers, without which neither of us would be able to leave the property for any appreciable period of time (hours, not days!)

We have reached a point where our backs are against the wall and we need help in a big way. The sanctuary is our home and encompasses all parts of the property. There is no part of our lives or belongings that does not serve the sanctuary residents. Our home is the animals’ home, and thus all we have belongs to the non-profit we formed in January of 2008 (i.e. as a 501(c) 3 public charity). I mention this since while we are also raising money needed to keep the property, I am also working to present another package to the lender in an effort to modify the current loan so that we do not find ourselves in this position somewhere down the line. Also, I am applying for as many grants as we are qualified to and continue to make requests of anyone I can imagine so we raise enough money to accomplish the primary mission, but also to build a reserve that would handle the mortgage for the next 12 months.

Please realize that it is not the actual house that we’re concerned about. We’ve considered that there may be someone out there willing to donate land or a place… but this lot of land is special, not just for its beauty and ability to calm both human and animals who come here, but because the people who surround us here are truly unbelievable. Our lot is just 2.38 acres (Stop! Try to picture that with 21 horses, 2 steer, etc., etc.), but three generous neighbors allow horses to live on their land, and those neighbors AND MORE are fighting HARD to keep us here. What we have happening right here is truly special and supporters have said that you simply must visit the sanctuary to feel it and understand.

We will do everything we can to save the sanctuary and give thanks in advance that we will be able to continue this work for those we serve.

I’ll close by acknowledging the saints and saviors who have been sending donations, large and small. There is love behind these contributions, people who would love to do what we do but cannot. This sanctuary belongs to all of you, all of US.

THANK YOU! Arbor View Veterinary Clinic, Baker’s Nursery, Dana Allen, Margaret Andrews, Caryne Anglin, Marta Anguiano, Ronda Belka, Tami Benton, Carl Brunberg, Vicki Capstaff, Bernice Chin, Neva Chonin, Sharon Connor, Sue and Doug Cooper, Denise Cutrell, Dana Edlund, Evelina Fata, John Fletcher, Kristy Fox, Agnes Frank, K V Girard, Renne Grace, Natalie Granchukoff, Margaret Grella, Healing Arts Institute, Janet Hudson, Laurie Huff, Felice Hussa, Erika Jewell, Robin Johnson, Juarez-Grix Foundation, Hope Justice, Suzanne Lamberg, Stephanie Lanning, Nancy Laskow, Mary Lawrence, Erin McLaughlin, Lisa Michell, Sally Morgan Welch, Trina Nguyen, Noreen Nys, Barbara Orr, Tiffany Owens, Sharleen Oxendine, Jodie Radakovitz, Kay Rodrick, Lloyd Rose, Melanie Schweitzer, Joan Spurling, Jane St. Croix, Michelle Stevens, Gay Teale, Kristina Towner, Kathleen Wagner, Joelle Yuna, and Donna Yutzy.

Thank you, also, to our steadfast support team ~ family, really. Margaret Andrews, Lydia Patubo, Tom Wilson, Christina Watts, and Becca Davis. Their blood, sweat, tears, and hearts are here.

Baby can't "bear" the thought losing home cooked meals

Sunday, October 18, 2009

An Appreciative Update ~ Deanna

As of Saturday evening, the donations we have received total $3,640. The response to our situation is more powerful and far reaching than we could have imagined.

Our deep and sincere gratitude to Fayann Barclay, Martha Barclay, Chad and Laurie Chase, Laura Daggett, Dianne Dalton, Steven Deeley, Patricia Deeter (Ruud), Chad Evanson, Elizabth Farr, Carol Ann Frei, Stacey Galvin, Eileen Gillis, Sandra Haliburton, Francine Harvey, Nicole Hatley, Loch Henson, Nancy Jensen, Kathleen Kerr Coad, Linda Klinger, Emily Kruger, Avinal Maharaj, Briana Martin, Erin McLaughlin, Melody Lea Lamb's Art, Nancy Morrison, Lily Nguyen, Victoria Perizzolo, Ann Ranlett, Teresa Reichart, Sharon Roseme, Veronica Selco, Ann & Fred Smallwood, D.R. and Julie Ann Stringham, Julie Swain, Judy Swauger, Eileen Thorton, Jeannette Williams, Mary Williams and last, but certainly not least, Lynn Willingham.

Before I go on, it must be said that we have the absolutely best neighbors possible. We tell this to visitors regularly, but have not acknowledged these friends in writing as we should. Not only do they lend us use of their land, they tolerate strange noises, dust, flies, parades of animal accupressure students and bustling second Saturday tours, escaping four-legged visitors at any given time of day or night and constant requests for baby-sitting or equipment repairs... they are actually fighting hard to keep us here. Above all else, I find this supremely humbling.

Ann and Fred Smallwood, along with Danny, Jo and DJ Turner, not only provide pasture for three horses, they feed them, groom them and love them. On top of that, their garden has taken every bit of manure and wasted hay that we have produced for going on three years. We dump, they drag and the vegetables grow. And should you visit, you would see that there is virtually no smell and no flies in this area (the flies prefer the horses).

Ron, Marianne and Jessica Stovall's pasture has housed sanctuary horses for three years, as well. Big and mostly flat, our younger herd can get a real steam up flying around over there, bucking and snorting and acting like horses. They put up with my mucking into the darkness and the dogs that follow Woody and I wherever we go, teasing poor Abigail with their freedom.

Steve Geraldsen deserves a blog or book all his own. Not only can he SERIOUSLY fix ANYTHING, he does so with grace and tutorials. At this time, he is allowing Ferdinand and Manny to run free on half of his parcel, as they enjoy head-butting the old boats that will some day soon be disassembled anyway. A real playground for bored steers.

In addition, we owe much to Nippy & Jim Feltl, Jean & Jayme Feltl, Cathy & Sam Norris, Laurie, Chad, Cody & Catie Chase, Dawn & Dale Sloss, and Vicky & Miguel Rivera (Homer's other home).

Yes, Willow Brook Lane is very good to us.

Moving Forward

We realize that the financial goal is lofty, so we are attempting other angles, as well, in hopes that our lender will work with us with less cash-in-hand. We've been gathering testimonial letters to illustrate that this little ranch means a great deal to many. The letters are coming in and they are powerful.

As we know more, we will share our progress.

In the meantime, we're focused on illustrating the abundant good works that take place here. Admittedly, it will be tough to convey the feeling that is so much a part of the ranch. This is a place of healing ~ mutual healing. We help the animals and they, in return, help all of us.

I tried my hand at Windows Movie Maker... I've taken lots of video that needs editing and the files must first be converted, so for now, a slideshow. I started a YouTube account for the sanctuary. Wish me abundant time to share the goodness and goofiness of our critters.



Thank you for supporting us in our endeavor to follow our hearts. There are so many more that could be served.

Namaste

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

An All Out Effort

I have faith. The people who surround us and KNOW who we are and what we do could not be more supportive. The last thing I want to do is call upon our existing circle for more. We need media attention. Please help us tell our story.

What we do is unique. It feels so natural to Woody and I, but the feedback can be breath-taking. I look for the beauty everywhere I can... Had we not experienced this financial downfall, we would not have opened our place to the public. Through that door have walked an incredible number of empathetic, caring and fascinating friends.

On Labor Day, we were visited by several veterinarians from across the country who were attending the National Hospice Symposium at UC Davis and discovered us through Tom Wilson's presentation. I would never have imagined such interest and their insights and comments were humbling. It served to drive our passion to do more.

Donations have kept the animals cared for and Woody has strived in several arenas to get our personal income flowing again. The sanctuary has not paid for the mortgage or electricity, etc., as many/most organizations do. Everything you've given us has gone to them. However, there is nothing here that is not utilized for their care. Further, as supporters can attest, the days here are laborous and long since we have lost our ability to support paid help (that had come from us, not donations).

There is another sanctuary that does work very similar to ours ~ roughly 80 animals, mostly horses and dogs. After an appearance on The Today Show, their annual donations reached 1M. Our ultimate vision is to create the Shriner's of the animal world, but the world needs to know what's already happening here. Animals transform here ~ they blossom and thrive before they leave. This is about the animals. Their stories need to be told, so that people can understand. We do this for them.

If you can contribute a note or story about one of our kids, please send it to deanna@achanceforbliss.com and I will post them to the blog. There are 40 kids who have passed on and I have not made time to post to the website, but EACH of them has a special story. They are why we have given everything we have.

In the meatime, here are a couple of special stories that did get some web time.

DeeDee ~ We would choose not to subject our kids to chemotherapy again. DeeDee was our teacher in so many ways.

Trixie

Note: I am overwhelmed by the efforts of our friends on our behalf and blown-away by the creativity. We've submitted our outline to Ellen and others are reaching out to those they know. A Chance for Bliss has a life of its own... Woody and I simply work here. Thank you for your support in allowing us to serve these special creatures.

If I am slow in responding, it is due to the tremendous outpouring ~ AND the mess outside that the weather has caused.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More Changes ~ by Deanna

Last week was crazy for many reasons, but of note were the passings of the sweet Miss Piggy and our own "Gruru", Grace ("Face like a Teddy" her Poppa would sing to her.) The goodbyes are not easy and we are grateful for the time we got to spend with each of these little ladies.

Ah, Mud in the August Heat

Breakfast on September 6

Grace with Tamara in April

Grace with Vince

On a lighter note, I'll introduce our newest resident, Paige, who arrived last Wednesday and until now has been a "house-pig." Paige is not so sure about the other piggies ("What are THOSE!?), but is a sweetheart with people. Today Paige discovered a drippy faucet and made good use of it.



Thanks for stopping by...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Homer by Ann Ranlett



On September 13, Ann Ranlett surprised us by visiting our booth at Woofstock bearing a remarkable gift ~ the first print of her freshly completed rendition of our one and only Homer.

This beautiful piece can be purchased through Ann's website and you can see the reference photo on Ann's blog.

Ann, we're grateful that you saw Homer's true inner beauty! :o)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A true gift ~ Windsong ~



One recent Friday, I received a call at work from Deanna, “Are you sitting down?” She was excited to tell me about a horse she had heard about that was in need of a new home. Windsong was her name and her owner had recently died of cancer. Well, there was no need for a long discussion, we had to get her! So Dee and Becca went and picked her up and brought her home. When I met her, to say I was in awe is not doing Windsong justice. She is beautiful! A white mare, half quarter horse, half thoroughbred, and stunning mover! And she was going to be my horse. A gift like no other. The generosity of Deanna and Woody humbles me every day.

Windsong appears to have Entropian in her left eye. Entropion is a condition of the eye that causes the eyelids to fold inward and press against their cornea. Entropion may be found in one or both of the horse's eyes, leading to extreme irritation and “runny,” watery eyes, similar to conjunctivitis. Apparently, she had past surgery to correct this before, but it has come back. We will be having an animal eye specialist check Windsong. We expect that she will have to have surgery to correct this or possibly have to remove her eye (we are praying this doesn’t happen). Regardless, we will do what we can to see that Windsong has long and happy life with us.

I have spoken with Domenic, the wonderful brother of Windsong’s previous owner, and we plan to keep in contact and we will keep him up to date on Windsong’s progress. I asked Domenic to give me some history on Windsong and her owner as I believe the back story is important to understand the beauty of this horse. He relayed the following to me:

Windsong was originally rescued by my sister Marie in 1996. She was with a group of neglected horses that someone became aware of, and this person told my sister that there was a unique horse in the group that she might be interested in, and that turned out to be Windsong. She was about 150 pounds under weight, so my sister took care of her, and then sent her for some training by a local man. He liked Windsong so much that he offered Marie any horse that he owned as a trade, but Marie refused. She knew that Windsong was a unique mover.


My sister and I grew up in San Francisco in the 1950s, yet we both always shared a love for horses. We used to rent them at various stables back then. Marie got married in 1974, then two years later she had her first horse. In 1978 Marie and her husband moved to Orangevale, where Marie later had a few other horses, and she got involved in jumping and dressage. In recent years Marie had mainly enjoyed trail riding, and we often when riding together, except for the past couple of years when her health problems started.


In honor of Marie, we have decided not to change Windsong’s name. Typically, when we get new animals we change their name (new life – new name!) but since Windsong did not come from neglect, abuse or abandonment, there is no need.

Windsong has become alpha mare of our younger herd. She has established herself as protector and I find her watching the outskirts of the pasture while the other horses are eating. She has found a steady friend in Doc, and they often share flakes of hay. She is very smart and attentive, I am often amazed how busy she keeps herself keeping watch over her herd. Oh, and she loves apples and carrots! Of course, I spoil her – she deserves it, don’t you think?

Thank you Domenic for your gift to us. I am sure Marie is looking down upon us and we will do right by her.

Look for more updates on Windsong as we hit the trails together.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wisdom from Tom Wilson, PhD

Part 1 of a presentation delivered at the Second International Symposium on Veterinary Hospice Care, University of California, Davis, on September 6, 2009

The title of my presentation today is Dancing to the End of the Song: Reflections on Animal Hospice. We're all here at this most important symposium on animal hospice because we share a common aspiration to bring more dignity, more loving care, and the very best approaches to assisting our animal companions in the final days, weeks, or months of their life's journeys. We're here to reflect on the state of animal hospice today, to explore what works and does not, and to sculpt new ideas, new understandings, and a vision of how to make hospice reflect our highest values of compassionate care for animals. We're here to reflect on how to make animal hospice better.

So this morning I'd like to share with you some of my reflections on animal hospice through the lens of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I've had the honor of working with critically ill, aging, and dying animals for over ten years in my role as student, teacher, and practitioner of TCM and other Asian and Western therapies. The modalities I work with include Acupressure, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Tui Na (Chinese Massage), Thai Belly Massage, Zen Shiatsu, Qigong, Chi Ne Tsang, Polarity, and CranioSacral. With the exception of the Western newcomer, CranioSacral, these ancient healing modalities have been the cornerstones of health and wellness for centuries in many countries around the world.

All of the modalities I work with involve the compassionate touch of the practitioner's hands to help regulate and balance Qi, that invisible life-force energy that flows through every thing in the universe. Working with Qi, TCM allows us to address the all aspects of a whole being-physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual-in gentle, non-invasive ways. With its focus on the whole being, TCM has shown me ways to assist animals and their guardians in all stages of critical illness, aging, and hospice care. Thus, the intent of the first part of my presentation title, "Dancing to the End of the Song": I'm saying that when done well, animal hospice can be, in the midst of inevitable grief, a celebration of life and the passage of death. When there is no hope of a physical recovery, our animals still have a journey to make. They still have mental, emotional, and spiritual journeys to make as conscious beings moving toward physical death. There needs to be more awareness in hospice care of the conscious lives of animals. Accordingly, my reflections on animal hospice today center on ways in which we can enrich the last stages of a life's journey for the animals and their guardians.

It has been my experience that when fear and powerlessness are replaced by a compassionate continuity of care that involves the animal, its guardian and family members, there is a strength that emerges. When death is accepted as an inevitable and meaningful part of a life and a soul's journey, coupled with a courageous and loving commitment to dance to the end of the song with our animals, there may be sorrow but there will not be regret for how we walked every step of the way together with them.

If I have a thesis to put forward on animal hospice that encompasses all of the individual reflections contained in this presentation, it is this: Like the journey of a thousand miles that begins with one step, I believe it is time that we retrace all of our steps and reevaluate all of our models of animal health care and wellness from birth to death. There are culturally accepted tenets of our health care models that need radical reevaluation, most notably our beliefs about nutrition, immunizations, and euthanasia. The number of animals entering hospice with a panoply of advanced degenerative diseases as early as four or five years should set off alarms and a corresponding call to right action.

We need a wellness model that brings the best of Eastern and Western medical approaches together. As the line up of presentations here at this International Symposium clearly reflects, a movement toward that synthesis of East and West has been taking place and is making great strides. The way to get there successfully is to view ourselves and all other creatures as a community of conscious beings, a family that supports each other. If we can unite the caduceus with the taiji (yin-yang) symbol-that is, the synthesis of Eastern and Western healing traditions into an integrated medical model, we will bring the invaluable gifts of both traditions to our animal friends.

A Commitment to Altruism

For the good of the animal community, we will need a new commitment to altruism. We need to work together for the good of animals and not let animal health care go the way of the current debate (or is it debacle?) over health care reform in this country, which is shamefully entrenched in politics, money, power, and turf. In a recent article, Deepak Chopra urges us to shift our focus from the trappings of our health care systems to the healing system inside our own bodies.[1] Accordingly, we need to defend, strengthen, and preserve the healing systems inside our animals' bodies. Our health care systems need to align themselves with the natural healing processes of the body itself. The key is to remove the toxins and to strengthen natural immunity. We need to drop old paradigms such as the war on cancer, which has led to a lesser of two evils approach that ultimately weakens the immune system.

Animal hospice care needs to embrace a wellness model, not just a pathology model and end of life strategy. Just as with our American health care system that is breaking under the weight of diseases engendered by poor lifestyle choices, our animal hospice work is witnessing a staggering number of our animal friends leaving us at four and five years old with cancers and other debilitating diseases that began escalating in the middle of the 20th Century. If we don't address wellness strategies from the cradle forward, we are going to watch the bodies piling up in hospice at an ever alarming rate.

Healing Arts Institute & A Chance for Bliss Animal Sanctuary

To set the stage for my reflections on integrating the best of allopathic and natural modalities of animal hospice, I want to share with you how the evolution of my animal hospice work has expanded and deepened in ways I previously only imagined. This deepening is the result of my affiliation with the Healing Arts Institute in Citrus Heights, California, and A Chance for Bliss Animal Sanctuary in Penryn, California, where we now teach our 100 Hour Animal Acupressure Certification Program. It started simply when I met Tamara Samsa, Associate Director of the Healing Arts Institute, in a Thai Belly Massage class in Berkeley in 2008. Tamara asked me if I would stop in Sacramento on my way back to Nevada City and work with her two rescued dogs with critical illnesses, Teddy and Andrew. Tamara's remarkable and tireless devotion to finding and coordinating resources for critically ill and hospice animals (I call her "The Rainmaker") led us naturally to launching the Animal Acupressure Certification Program in January of 2009.

I have taught in other animal acupressure schools, including my own, but the nature and scope of the Healing Arts Institute's animal acupressure program expanded exponentially when Tamara, Lydia Patubo, and I met Deanna and David Woody Bartley, the founders of A Chance for Bliss Animal Sanctuary. Dee and Woody invited us to teach our classes at their sanctuary. Think of it: our classroom blossomed from a single classroom into a six-acre animal sanctuary with 85 animals, including, but not limited to, dogs, cats, horses, steers, goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits, geese, ducks, and, yes, even chickens. (One of our students, Tana, told me firmly that chickens respond amazingly to energy work.)

A Chance for Bliss has anchored our scholastic work in the real world, in real time, with the critically ill, aging, and hospice needs of so many of the residents of the sanctuary. A Chance for Bliss has become our classroom and hands-on animal clinic. Our affiliation with A Chance for Bliss gives our students a place to learn and practice their craft with animals with myriad health and hospice needs. In return, the 20+ students enrolled in our program assist with the health and hospice needs of all of the sanctuary animals.

This synergistic relationship of an animal sanctuary and animal acupressure program has created a very real sense of community for all involved, humans and animals. A Chance for Bliss Animal Sanctuary has become a second home for many of us in the program. That is because Dee and Woody have generously invited us into their family, and the family keeps expanding. The nature and scope of our work keeps revealing ways in which TCM can effectively address aspects of animal care that include but go beyond the physical.

Our animals are on courageous life journeys in which their original natures and ways of being in the world have been radically and often tragically altered to human purposes. Just like us, animals have mental confusion; they get lost. Just like us, they have emotional and spiritual needs. Our work attends to all aspects of their lives, not only the physical. In ancient healing traditions, the totality of a being was recognized by what is now referred to as the Mind-Body. Modern allopathic medicine is making strides in understanding the role the Mind-Body plays in health.

A Kinship With All Life

Perhaps most important, what continues to evolve from this sense of community at A Chance for Bliss is, to use John Allen Boone’s words, “a kinship with all life.” In essence, A Chance for Bliss has subtly enfolded or transported us into the force field of a community of animals, into a sense of oneness and kinship where words like “them” and “us” are meaningless. The animals have invited us in, and we are changed forever. That sense of kinship cannot be underestimated in its contribution to the healing effects of our acupressure work, and to raising the spirits of the animals in hospice situations. Listen to these words from Boone’s Kinship With All Life: “[P]eople of certain ancient times appear to have been great virtuosos in the art of living, particularly skilled in the delicate science of being in right relations with everything, including animals.…Life to these ancients was an all-inclusive kinship in which nothing was meaningless, nothing unimportant, and from which nothing could be excluded….Every living thing was seen as a partner in a universal enterprise….Everything lived for everything else, at all times and under all circumstances.”

When you work closely and regularly with animals at the sanctuary, you realize the truth of Boone’s words because the animals invite you into that kinship. The animals have known this kinship all along. It’s there always. They know why we are at the sanctuary, what we are doing, and they let us know with no uncertainty that they appreciate that we are there for them. What you learn is that healing is inseparable from and enhanced by your kinship with them.

Animals that might have died alone or been euthanized before their time come to A Chance for Bliss and enter a community of animals that invariably raises their spirits and their wills to live. An ancient Nigerian proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It might also be said that the village and its kinship with all life remains invaluable in the time of dying. The average tenure of the animals at A Chance for Bliss is 15 to 18 months. While that may seem either a short or long time for hospice care, depending on your experience, the heart of the matter is that our concern is with the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being of the animals in the present moment. We do not worry about or try to predict how much time one of our animals might have left. Our touchstone resides in the ancient Taoist concept of Shen, or spirit. We look for that luminous radiance of spirit that can shine brightly through the eyes of a failing body. As Bernie Segal, the eminent cancer physician from Connecticut, has said—and I’m roughly paraphrasing here—that when dealing with the spirit, all bets are off on how long one with a terminal illness will stay with us.

In this spirit of kinship with all life, from this place of a deepened sense of animals as conscious beings, my central reflection on improving animal hospice is that we retrace all of our steps and reevaluate our models for delivering animal health and wellness from birth to death. We need a fresh perspective in which hospice is not simply an end of life form of triage, but part of a holistic system of wellness from cradle to grave that includes the vital component of spirits in transition. In the process of reevaluation, I believe that we must reawaken within ourselves our kinship will all life and see our animal brothers and sisters as conscious beings that need us to remain cognizant of our kinship with them in the death and dying process. They have been our loyal companions throughout their lives, and in hospice they need to know that we will dance to the end of the song with them. We want them to experience the highest quality of love, care, and quality of life on their journeys, including a dignified and gentle passage from this world.

[1] Deepak Chopra. "Do You Want a Health Care System or a Healing System?" SF Gate (San Francisco Chronicle), Monday, August 31, 2009. www.sfgate.com/columns/chopra

* * * * * * *

Part 2 of this presentation will focus on animal food & nutrition, vaccinations, euthanasia & natural death, integrative medicine, and a TCM approach to animal hospice

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Anniversary ~ by Deanna

One year ago tonight, Buddy and I slept in our front paddock with a horse who really needed a friend. A horse who has been abandoned in an apple orchard near the Stockton airport for roughly a month before Will Martin took it upon himself to call someone. It was our second wedding anniversary, but I couldn't leave him alone. I wanted him to KNOW someone cared.

On September 28, 2008, Mom and I followed Will to pick up the grey horse. We found deep within the orchard, terribly thin and foundered. There was no way to get the horse to the trailer, so I took the trailer to the horse, through a narrow row of trees. Mom and Will waited with him and he grew excited as the trailer approached. Help had arrived. He enthusiastically limped in.

Buddy Helps Us Look

Pushing Our Way Through

LeRoi spent the first two nights at Loomis Basin, receiving treatment for choke, among other things. Not surprisingly, the doctors recommended euthanasia. Jane St. Croix checked in on the sweet soul and saw that he very much wanted to recover. The clear message was "I can do this." He was not a terribly old horse, so we set up a M*A*S*H type unit for him at home and gave it our all.

Margaret Andrews with LeRoi

On his second day at the ranch, Rachel Chao, our barefoot trimmer, took her time removing those extremely overgrown toes. She took the right toe off with a hacksaw, which was a laborious project, and the blade kept getting stuck in the saddle pad he stood on for comfort. For the left toe, we moved to the efficient reciprocating saw, which worked beautifully. I just pray that no one reading this ever find themselves in a position requiring the use of a sawz-all on a horse hoof.

Unimaginable

Progress

Standing Patiently, Even Through Power Tools

Trying Out His New Feet

On the morning of October 3, LeRoi collapsed and died. The effects of such long term neglect were insurmountable. I was crushed. Later that day, insight from Jane revealed that he was confused and didn't understand that he had died. He really wanted to make it.

I couldn't write about LeRoi at the time. It was emotional, exhausting and consuming. There was no way to encapsulate. There were so many intricate details. Then time slips away and other things capture your attention. But today seemed like the appropriate day to deliver the "Reader's Digest Condensed Version" of our journey with LeRoi.

I think of him each time I notice the scratches down the side of Woody's Sequoia. We tried, sweet boy.