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Web update by Jacqui
I apologise for the delay in updating. I still have to learn how to use the new web page .
As many of you already know in November 2016 I was diagnosed with my third type of breast cancer. Yes a different type again (this is quite unusual). This meant I had to have a bi-lateral mastectomy with 13 lymph nodes removed as well. All 13 lymph nodes were positive for cancer. In January I began radiation treatment for 5 weeks and have recently finished that. Recent scans show new cancer in some areas of my bones as well as a broken rib which I didn’t feel except at night when rolling onto the side. Otherwise the cancer has not spread anywhere else for now which is great news.
I am slowly getting back to my old self. The problem is exhaustion. I was so tired before the radiation so that hasn’t helped.
In terms of the Sanctuary, everything is running as smoothly as ever. We have expanded our volunteer pool and welcomed some more awesome volunteers to the Big Ears family. I just can’t tell you how lucky we feel to have such an amazing ‘family’ of volunteers. Some of our volunteers have been here since 2011 and continue to come regularly once or twice a week.
There has also been a lot of sadness as some of you who follow FB will know. We have had to say goodbye to a number of goats and pigs and our hearts were broken with the passing of our two hand reared lambs – Jelly Bean and Liberty. We also had to say goodbye to our dear old 26 year old pony Bonnie. I was particularly hard hit by the passing of the beautiful Clarence the pig.
The good news is that the Big Ears shop is open on site and has many beautiful handmade items from volunteers as well as Big Ears merchandise. All money raised goes to the animals. Items are also available on line and we will update shortly so you can peruse and buy your favourite items.
Keep an eye out for our tin shakes around the place and upcoming tours as well.
The Big Ears cabin is also up and running. This was done by people volunteering. It can sleep up to 3 people and has its own shower and toilet. If you would like to book for a short farm stay please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Petal the cat aka Pretzel was rehomed to one of our wonderful volunteers and is a happy indoor cat.
Ruby Tuesday one of our long term resident cats has also found her happy forever home and we are so pleased for her. Ruby T always loved a pat and would be first to try and get attention, well now she has all the attention she could ever hope for. This is a wonderful outcome for both cats.
We have some interesting new additions to the Sanctuary.
Alf the cockatoo has come to live at Big Ears after his people could no longer keep him due to the noise he makes. Alf is very vocal and social and has a lot of feather loss due to self-harming out of boredom and frustration. Alf has moved into an aviary with Cocky our 50 year old cockatoo. They both have fallen in love. Alfie is growing his feathers back after years of baldness trying to impress his new love.
We also took in Pippo the cockatoo and he is a delight to have around. He loves kisses and being with people.
We recently took in Toffee the domestic rabbit who must have had a relationship with a bush bun as she has given birth to 9 kits. One kit has passed away but the remaining kits are thriving.
We have taken in lambs, goats and of course rabbits.
We finally got our tray lift for the back of the ute to help lift the heavy food bins on and off safely. Thank you to those that donated, we also received some money from family to make the purchase happen.
Reno was adopted by Big Ears in the middle of May 2016. I had been looking for a while for another dog and happened across his beautiful face. I took one look at him and knew he was the one for me. Reno’s story is heartbreaking. He is 7 years of age and spent his life as a puppy farm breeder. He was only ever let out of his cement floored cage to breed with the females and then locked away again. He was so neglected that his ears became infected and he received no treatment and maggots eventually ate away his ears. When seized by authorities the owner said he didn’t care as dogs like Reno are no longer in fashion. Reno then went to a shelter where his behaviour caused them such concern that no one would go near him. German Shepherd Rescue were called and told to come and get him otherwise he would be euthenased. Reno snaps at the air when he is scared and not right next to his person. He does not mean any harm and certainly doesn’t do any harm, but this type of behaviour can be scary if you are not experienced with dogs like these. Luckily for Reno, GSR has many such people and he was able to be placed into a wonderful foster care home.
Reno was extremely underweight even though he has been in foster care for a few months. Reno has huge psychological issues, namely separation anxiety. His anxiety is so extreme that he will jump out of any yard to get to his person, he will break and scratch everything in sight. We have Reno on medication and a special collar that emits calming pheromones.
Nearly 12 months on since moving to Big Ears and Reno is like a different dog. Of course he adores ‘his person’ which is me but he loves his Dad too. As with all our dogs he loves his Poppy as well and will happily leave my side to go and spend time with Poppy. This is a huge breakthrough for him. Reno is no longer anxious and can be left in the lounge whilst I go out and do things. After he first arrived he was so anxious at my leaving that he broke the lounge window (no one was injured). Reno is very set in his new routine and if I am late heading to the bedroom for a nap or for bedtime he will make it very clear I need to get a move on. He is a beautiful dog and we feel very lucky to have been chosen for him to live with us. Reno’s constant attention seeking which we assume has come about from 7 years of complete neglect would stretch most people to their limits. Luckily I am a very patient person and nothing he does raises an eyebrow with me. Reno is also lucky as I am always here at the sanctuary and rarely leave to go anywhere. I know this makes him very happy as he knows I am always around.
Some people ask why I choose German Shepherds – well anyone who has shared their life with one will understand what it is about these gorgeous dogs that we love so much. We have had 8 German shepherds in our lives over the last 20 years and it has been an honour and a priviledge. I also choose a place like GSD Rescue NSW as I know they rescue the dogs and rehabilitate them and will only rehome to people with experience for some of these very special needs dogs. I encourage everyone to look for their new best friends through reputable rescues that don’t just save the dog’s life but work on rehabilitation and making sure that the dog goes to the right family. Reno was not going to be adopted out due to his behaviours so we feel very blessed to be entrusted with another dog from these guys. Reno is our 4th German shepherd through GSD Rescue NSW. We use NSW as we now have friends there who know our work and experience with these amazing dogs.
We are the largest rabbit sanctuary in Australia with 250 rescued rabbits. We provide a service to the community by taking in pets that can no longer be kept or ones that are found abandoned or mistreated or generally unwanted. We take in about 90 rabbits every year saving other shelters and the community from having to deal with the situation. All we ask in return is some support with our enormous feed bills. If you would like to donate please think about sponsoring a rabbit.
We also take in bush rabbits as well.
Now with the release of the new strain of calici virus intended for Feb/March 2017 we are getting our fencing in order where we apply a barrier between bush buns and other visiting wildlife which may pass on the disease and also pass on insects that carry the disease. April is also typically the time for myxo as well. We will be vigilant and our vaccines are up to date. We now need to vaccinate our rabbits every 6 months and thankfully our wonderful bunny friends from the mainland will be down again for a visit to help health check and vaccinate all our buns again.
Last year quick update about our trip
In March 2016, Brett and myself went on a trip to the west coast of America and visited a wolf sanctuary as well as Best Friend Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. It was a great experience and we learnt a lot. One of the things we learnt was about their TNR or Trap Neuter and Release of “community cats” aka feral cats (I have to say I like this language and will be using it from now on as it accurately describes the problem – a community one, the cats just didn’t appear, people created this problem and they are a community problem). The cats are then fed once re-released so as to minimise the damage they do to native wildlife. This way of dealing with the cat population takes into account the research that says that just trapping and removing or killing the cats actually can lead to an increase in the birth rate as younger male cats attempt to make a move towards seniority by impregnating as many females as possible.
Bets Friends also has exciting outreach programs focusing on moving shelters and cities towards No Kill. Many cities and shelters have signed up and pledged to be No Kill. This is being achieved by free spay and neuter clinics. The statistics are showing where the free spay/neuter programs are in place, there is a dramatic decrease in the numbers of animals entering the shelters and then having to be euthenased. We were told about one place where the spay and neuter program has been so successful that there was actually a cat shortage and cats from other shelters in other cities were being sent to these shelters to be rehomed as there was a need for them. This really is quite incredible and showed us that those areas working with cats and dogs and rabbits need to focus on a free spay and neuter clinic. I know people complain that people who they perceive as being able to afford to get their cat, dog or rabbit de-sexed will use the system – but does that really matter? Isn’t it about the animals at the end of the day and if this is what it takes to mean that no shelter animal has to be euthansed and can be rehomed then isn’t that all that matters?