Tuesday, March 31, 2009

ACFB Tee-Shirts

Show your support and look fabulous in one of the first ACFB tee-shirts. These are now available for a limited time for $20. All proceeds go directly to the farm. Attached is a picture of what the front looks like (yes, that's the only color that is available). The front reads "Life is great...Pets make it better" and the back will read "A Chance For Bliss - Animal Sanctuary - Penryn, CA"

Please have your order into Margaret (you can e-mail me at Margaret@achanceforbliss.com) by April 10th and your payment by April 15th. You can either mail a check to ACFB or post payment by Paypal through the website's front page. Tee-shirts will arrive after April 20th. Please indicate your size when ordering (Adult - S, M, L, XL).

Be part of the "in" crowd and order yours today!!!

Tuesdays with Maggie ~ Spring

I cannot begin to describe how much I just love Spring here in Northern California. The days are getting longer, everything is blooming, it’s the perfect temperature, and the horses are shedding their furry winter coats and looking just mah-valous!
Last Saturday I participated in LBHA’s (Loomis Basin Horseman’s Association) trail maintenance day at Traylor Ranch. And as most of you know, we use those trails quite a bit. So it was my absolute pleasure to help out. We filled holes in the trails, cut back blackberry bushes (I can’t WAIT for the blackberries to bloom – hello pie!!), trimmed trees that normally we have to duck underneath while passing through. LBHA will be out there once a month to maintain the growth throughout the Spring and Summer. Since Placer County no longer has the funds to maintain the property, it’s up to us to keep it useable. I rode out there last night at Sunset and I can tell you it looks great. They mowed the grasses with a tractor so it’s not as easy for Zulu to grab a bite while we are on the trail. Speaking of which, here is a picture of Zu helping me at Traylor Ranch. He was my “mower” while I helped trim. He was the perfect assistant.
Trust me when I say I am not taking this wonderful time of year for granted, I know the heat is just around the corner. In the meantime, I encourage you to come visit us and see the beauty for yourself. Thank you Dee & Woody for allowing me to have this experience.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tuesdays with Maggie ~ Positivity

It seems so easy to succumb to the feeling of negativity these days. The news talks of a woeful existence as stocks plummet, house prices fall, and the world seems to be in disarray. But luckily there are many people that brush all that aside and still consider life and the world we live in to be a rather good place to be. Dee often says “think positively and good things will come.” She’s right. I am going to take us all back a few weeks ago when we had the wonderful “volunteer dinner” at the Bartley house. It sure was a testament to the farm to see so many wonderful people gathered in one room. When everyone was asked to introduce someone else, rather than just point out the obvious, everyone had something wonderfully positive to say about another person. It just seemed to come naturally. Positive people attract positive people. Positivity also brings good changes. When things look dismissal all of a sudden there is a ray of hope and happiness that comes from the wonderful people who have chosen to be a part of A Chance for Bliss. We have had an increase in the number of people who want to help and donate their time to helping our kids. It’s a wonderful time.
I hope to keep these positive vibes continuing at the farm and in my daily life. Just spend an afternoon at the farm, and you will feel it too. I promise.
Thank you Dee (and Woody!) for always being so positive and keeping the faith. We need more people like you in the world!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Endings ~ by Woody

I lost my birth father when I was very young, 7 years old. This sudden and tragic loss left a deep impression on me and has manifested since as a fear of losing that which I hold most dear.

I mention this as today Dee and I held our beloved Trixie as she took her last breaths and passed on, ever so gracefully and with her usual class and dignity. Reflecting on another transition, another loss, I am left amazed that the perfection of life has seen fit to call me to a life’s work that gives me the opportunity over and over to overcome this fear.

Dee and I have been part of 33 transitions since we started our work in late 2000. While some of the passings have been more difficult than others, the fact remains that each has brought me face to face with the same fear; losing something that is important to me. Now, at 46 years old, I still have a hard time with letting our babies go, and while I know intellectually that each is now free of their physical ailments and limitations, for Trixie it was an aggressive cancer, I still miss their physical presence, their personalities, their quirks, their charm. I am still learning to accept each loss as part of the divine plan, and as Dee says, the hurt is simply indication of the love we have felt, and any of our personal sadness, or even fear, is a small price to pay for the gift each angel brings to the sanctuary.

Trixie was indeed special. We were blessed to have her for 3 months, but it truly felt like she had been with us for years. She had been found abandoned at a dog park in the Bay Area and a wonderful young couple found her, searched for her family to no avail, and when they could not keep her, found their way to Linda at Wonder Dog Rescue, who in turn contacted us, and Trixie finally made her way home.

Trixie was, simply put, magnificent. Quite secure in who she was, and quick to fit in and establish a senior post in the canine leadership, she was fiercely loyal to both Dee and I, and was completely even handed in her devotion to both of us. While Harmony tends to stick with me, and Buddy with Dee, Trixie loved us equally. She always wanted to be where one or both of us were, and would want to have at least a paw on us. In fact, when we were washing dishes, folding clothes, cooking, or at the sink, she would position herself at the base of our heels, facing outward as if to protect us from any sudden danger that might lurk up from behind. I have never experienced such complete devotion, and while I know our babies each love us dearly, I think Trixie was simply very good at expressing it.

I would not have knowingly chosen this path, but I am glad that the vast majority of the significant and important choices in my life have been guided and directed by those divine forces that have the benefit of a much large vision than I.

Saying goodbye still hurts, but I at least can accept each passing as important as a birth, and know, as the poem says, that each angel is now headed to a port where others joyously await their return.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Walk for Thought 2009 ~ by Deanna

In conjunction with the Easter Seals Help to Recovery (HTR) program, Sunshine, Buddy and I attended the second annual Walk for Thought fundraiser for the California Brain Injury Association. The walkers raised over $10,500 for this amazing cause.

The event was held at William Land Park and was attended by 265 walkers, way up from last year's 40. It was a brisk but beautiful morning to walk around Sacramento's finest park.

We talked to many interesting people and danced a bit the stylings of Otter Bob, one fine DJ! Grooving here is Rachel Chao, Speech Pathologist for Easter Seals as well as our dedicated and talented hoof trimmer. This woman is brilliant and we are so blessed to know her!

Our dear friend, Hector, walked the entire loop and was met at the finish with cheers and applause. I'm so glad to have met Hector and that he has begun coming to the ranch. He is a funny and fascinating man.

Sunshine made a friend in Trent, who was kind enough to share his lap and lap blanket with our girl on this unexepectedly chilly morning. I couldn't convince Trent that Sunny's kisses were actually good for him, even though Prem shared that Indian tradition believes a lick from a dog will take your pain away.

We look forward to next year and helping to grow this worthy fundraiser to a whole new level. Thank you to ESHTR for allowing us to be a part of this thought-provoking day. I'll close with a message from Hector:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Godspeed, Dolly~ by Deanna

Our beloved Wiggle Butt quietly passed in her sleep late this afternoon. The last week has been full of peaceful moments together, spooning at night, and tender care.

We took Dolly from our dear friend, Linda (Wonder Dog Rescue), in August. I knew that Dolly had originally been picked up in Oregon, but tonight Linda shared that Dolly was found wandering around outside in weather so severe that the roads were closed. That sounds like the girl we'd come to know - unafraid, full of life and often looking for a fight that was more posturing than anything as Dolly's eyesight was extremely poor.

Wiggy was always first in line for chow, doing her special wiggly dance. As is common around here, we had a special song for her ~ "I've got a wiggle in my butt, they call me Wiggle Butt!"

Thanks again to the Healing Arts Tui Na class for providing such love to Dolly as she began to move toward her natural end.

It always feels strange when we lose a love. Woody just went to bed and for the first time in months, he's not carrying a sweet girl with him. There's always a hole, no matter how full the house is.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Perfect Pairing! ~ by Deanna

From MassageMag.com:

Citrus Heights, CA, January 9, 2009

Healing Arts Institute is paving the way in massage therapy training by offering a brand new animal wellness program directed to all animal lovers - from lay people to animal professionals.

The Animal Acupressure Certification program is comprised of a series of classes that delve into the study of Traditional Chinese Medicine, such as Tui Na and Jin Shin Jyutsu. Other therapies, such as Craniosacral, Flower Essences and Animal Communication are also a part of the program.

The classes have been designed to allow the student to begin at any time of the year. Classes can be taken individually for credit; or, the 100-hour certification program can be completed in as little as six months. Each class in the series is offered twice yearly, and participants can enter the program at any time.

Tom Wilson, PhD, is the core instructor of the program. Wilson is the director of the Animal Acupressure Training Academy in Nevada City, CA. “This program is ideal for all animal lovers and their guardians who wish to deepen their knowledge of and ability to work with animals through the study of Traditional Chinese Medicine.”

For additional information on the Animal Acupressure Certification program, contact Tamara Samsa, Associate Director, or refer to the ‘Advanced Classes’ section on www.HealingArtsInstitute.com

* * * * * *
In late January, Tamara Samsa contacted us regarding the possibility of conducting some of these classes here at the Sanctuary. We met with Tamara, Tom Wilson and Lydia Patubo to discuss the details and the first class was held here on March 7 & 8 - Tui Na massage. After hearing about Rachel Chao's devotion and support of the sanctuary, Tom Wilson graciously invited her to be a guest, which she excitedly accepted.

The benefits are multiple ~ even if a student has their own animal to work with, the animal tends to be "done" with the therapy after a short while. Here, students have a bountiful number and assortment of critters to work with, which is also incredibly beneficial to our aging population. The HAI also provides a rent payment for the space to help fund our operation.

I sat in on just the theory portion of the class and learned some valuable information and tools. I was impressed not only by Tom's instruction and peaceful demeanor, but by the students themselves. For instance, Deborah drives from Los Angeles for the classes ~ this is the only series of it's kind in California. This was not a small class and their presence at our ranch made a huge impact.

If I could document everything I witnessed, it would take hours. Woody and I were both pleasantly surprised that Saturday night, there was almost no marking in the house! I saw big changes in the horses, but probably the most celebrated improvement came from Chico, who spent Saturday in the back of the house, joined the group on Sunday and was up for some therapeautic touch from Tom by the afternoon.

Ashley works with Darcy. Darcy recieved great benefit from the therapy.

Dolly got lots of extra special attention. Here, healing hands are applied to the old girl.

Tamara and Lydia have also set their minds to giving the Sanctuary an old-fashioned barn raising! Tamara is committed to community building and sees this as a great opportunity. We're working on the details and I will post information as it is formulated, but I believe we will be selling boards with donor recognition.

The positive energy at the ranch this weekend was palpable. We are all lifted up and I cannot wait to see the students again. Friendships are forming!

To our surprise, Saturday night a goat was born. We have just one intact male goat, intentionally as whethering increases the chances of stones, to which we have already lost two goats. We have just one female goat, who was not young when she arrived in 2005. Well, baby Ray is an Angora and Myotonic cross. We named his Ray as he is a ray of hope, a ray of light at the end of a dark winter. He's also stunning. (My mare, Jessie , is very maternal, by the way).

Tom, Tamara and Lydia ~ we're so happy to partner with you and look forward to a long and fruitful relationship. 2009 promises to take the Sanctuary to a whole new level and my heart is so full. Thank you for loving our kids the way that we do and providing them with so many loving, healing hands. As Ray's birth signifies, something beautiful has begun.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Transitions ~ by Deanna

It's been said that when it rains, it pours. It is pouring outside at the moment which tends to add darkness to any sadness dwelling within me. Caring for senior and special needs animals subjects us to sadness more frequently than most people might experience. Right now, the reasons for sadness are pouring.

As I write, Woody is speaking with Jane with regard to each of these beings. Perfect timing.

Thursday morning, we helped our big, beautiful Tank transition from the physical into the non-physical. Tank was an angelic being who became a favorite of many friends and supporters. As a "Mom", each of the kids has their own brand of specialness to me, but not everyone gets to see each of the beings the way Woody and I see them. Tank's gorgeous physicality and quiet nature reached everyone. At 23, Tank began having hip problems and finally could no longer get up. Saying goodbye was a very emotional event for both Woody and I, but it was the only viable option. Loomis Basin Equine Medical Center was able to respond in less than ten minutes of our request and Dr. Jacobs assured us that, given the circumstances, we were doing the most compassionate thing possible. Even if we had unlimited resources, the prognosis was not good given his size and age. Tank leaves a large hole in our hearts and the ranch is not the same in the absence of his magical presence. When the end is near, it makes me feel connected to the babies to put my face close and inhale their breaths - I was able to do this with him, which is not always possible with the horses. One magnificent angel just recieved his wings. In the afterlife, Jane sees him acting the part of the wise old sage, telling stories of "the way it was." This meakes me smile.

We also have three Bostons experiencing assorted heart-wrenching difficulties.

Trix has begun having small seizures. They started late last week and are increasing in frequency. She is otherwise doing well. Her appetite and attitude are healthy, she is always ready to jump into any squabble that may arise, guards a food bowl like it belongs to only her and lavishes her parents with kisses whenever we hold her. Her tummy looks amazing post-surgery. We absolutely LOVE her. I reminded my husband last night that Trix has only been with us since December 17 and he was surprised - it feels like she has been a part of our family for a very long time. As you may recall, the prognosis was poor and the oncologist suggested that we might have three to five months. It's been just two. Today, Trix has experienced at least eight that we've witnessed. I'll be spending extra time with this beautiful, white-faced girl and deal with her situation as we feel called. According to Jane, Trix's energy is scrambled. She got some picures, but unclear and jumping around a bit. Considering what the seizures do to her body, I'm not surprised that her energy is less than fluid.

Bernie, our eldest dog (EVER!), has begun to slow down markedly. Bernie was already 15 years old when he came to us in August 2005 and we are astounded by his longevity. He was well-loved by his Mom who passed away. We are grateful to live with such a big, beautiful boy and encourage you to give Bernie an extra hug on your next visit. Ah, Bernie indicates that he is not ready to go. Mind over matter, Bernabus. We love you.

Lastly, Dolly (better known as Wiggle Butt or Wiggy) has severely damaged her Right eye. It is swollen and painful. She was seen by Loomis Basin Veterinary Clinic yesterday and scheduled for surgery today at a cost of $1,500. We simply do not have the cash and have decided to wait for an appointment at the Animal Eye Center, as they are eye specialists and have a greater ability to work with our financial situation. AEC has only three (talented and kind!) doctors and can tend to be very busy (even for such an emergency). Dolly must wait one more day. Thankfully, we have great pain meds. By the way, those marks on her forehead are from spats that she causes. She goes around looking for fights and sometimes, she finds them! She's tenacious!

Dolly's indicating that she isn't really interested in sticking around. One thing I've learned from our innumerable readings is that animals are LITERAL. If you were laying in Dolly's bed right now, unaware that we can significantly improve her situation, you might also think that "checking out" would be the best option. I might be inclined to agree with her if she didn't have such a vivacious personality when not in pain. I'll keep her well-drugged until time to see the doctor.

I can't leave this blog without at least one light and bright picture of current life at the ranch, though there are many bright spots. As some of you already know, we recently discovered that our darling but crippled Darcy duck has discovered the joys of swimming in the currents of the jets in our tub. She will let us know her disappointment when the timer turns the jets off.

The circle of life is clearly visible in all of its expressions at our little ranch in Penryn.