Leeanne's Dog Blog
It’s incredible: ten years on from our Kizzy dying, leaving Teg on her own for the first time, has taken us to start meeting strangers who are now firm friends, to us dipping our toe into the rescue world and now we are in it up to our necks!
We moved house for the dogs, spent all our savings on them, and spend 24/7 caring, sharing, loving and toiling for them. Would we have it any other way now? No, absolutely not. Thanks to the latter half of this time especially, and with the outreach of the Internet and social media, our events have grown and the following from so many of you has given us stability in our needs. No Twilight Pudding goes without or wants for anything, except perhaps a less-mad pair of human parents!
But, no denying, it is hard work. The needs of the old and disabled have not got any less in this ten-year period. Humans still die leaving bereft canine oldies, and whilst education and traditions are changing, people still refuse to sterilise their little ones leaving so many unnecessary births, and indeed, later in life, hormonal rotting and cancer issues for the oldies. Still, there are the humans who have no feelings and can just dump, swap, or leave their supposed friends to fend for themselves on the roadside. The list can, of course, go on.
But, the good has got to be winning. The SPAs (in the main) are improving, refuges are brighter, cleaner, more caring places to be. Kill policies are not so drastic. Volunteers are incredible on so many levels. Really, for all the hard and tiring times and many grim stories, it has to be a better place, with more chances, if you are a canine with no home to call your own … yet!
How does little old Twilight cope? We go through phases: long waiting lists, shorter lists, consecutive Pudding deaths, long stayers, the shortest stop overs. Just Mike and I, that hasn’t changed. What has changed is how you have helped us develop to be more comfortable with 30-odd dogs living under the same roof as us, our home. By making life easier we have been able to sustain the 24/7 care. The volunteers are not huge in number, but boy do they pull out all the stops for events, and they help out at home when they can, despite many living several hours’ drive away. Remarkable, each and every one. We couldn’t do what we do without them, without you and your support.
But what now, 10 years on? Well, of course, we will party for our birthday in August! Mike is 71, and I am 52 (nearly!). Neither of us have sexy health, and Mike certainly has impending hospital stays ahead this year. But health is day by day, and age is but a number. Long chats ... and Twilight, with our old and disabled Puddings, now defines us. We cannot see ourselves doing anything else. We feel blessed. But, yes, there has to be a breaking point. We need to make a few adjustments, perhaps make a few things clear, monitor ourselves so we can sustain Twilight life. This will evolve, just as the last ten years have, really. I can though reassure you we will do our best.
Twelve days ago we did something we have never done before. We cancelled a dog coming in, with less than 24 hours’ notice. It was almost as much a shock to us as it probably was to the organisation we were taking the dog from, and colleagues involved. But we broke. We were both so poorly, pained and just plain at tether end. It was sad, although interestingly the dog was placed elsewhere, which was a personal relief, but did prove we were not in this case the last hope hotel. It taught me to listen to my instincts, which are normally pretty good, and know when I am just at my limit. A bit of a ‘stop before it hurts’ situation! So, no harm done, but lesson very deeply learnt.
Looking ahead, which is always a good thing to do when you are pooped and it won’t stop raining and the mud is endless … and so much poo! Why do they poo more in the winter? No real changes, just a bit of tidying up where possible. We are going to try to keep to 25 Puddings at Chez Twilight, with around 12 on our outreach programme as appropriate. Oldies would ideally be 12 plus, but each Pud is considered on its own merit, so an old or sensitive 10 would be considered. Disabled would be according to our physical abilities now. A 40 kilo, rear-leg paraplegic who needs harness lifting is going to test us now. Age is not relevant.
It is our tenth year and so we are going to do a little something for us, just in Leeanne and Michael fashion, our way of celebrating. No, not holidaying to a love island, we live in our own love island now. We will have a little surprise joining us … soon to be revealed! The list will consist of only four Puds at any one time. This is to keep it current and realistic. We ask individuals and organisations alike to email us with their request, short history and a photo. This helps me process them. We will then accept on the list, suggest you contact us again in a few months, or sadly say no. Yep, the worst bit of what we do. Remember, if you don’t ask … I am not a mind reader, and I don’t go looking! The list is not ordered, as timing is based on size, sex, the problem, who else is in, needs, etc. We are not experts by any means, but we now have gathered a bit of experience, so we generally know what is going to work for this special large home pack and a comfy way of living for us all. We make no charge to come, every Pudding comes from so many situations, we just take the Pudding and worry on the funds later; it hasn’t let us down so far.
Volunteers I touched on briefly earlier. Goodness, what an amazing bunch we are so so lucky to have help us. But, we need more if we are to hang on in. Help cleaning, especially in the winter. We will need to spruce ourselves up a bit this spring time … wood needs treating, walls need painting, tiles need re-grouting, or we need to raise funds to employ the help. But we know we cannot physically do it all ourselves anymore.
Leeanne and Michael time. Now this is where the charity and home life can over merge a whizzle when you are tired. You need the help, but you just fancy a duvet day or slobbing in your pjs! This just means I am going to be a firm woman on the diary front. We need slushy sloppy days, and the Puds love them, too, so going to buy a closed sign! We have put this off, but now we just need to find this fine line and work to it!
So, all that remains are the plans for the celebrations. The celebration of over 300 Puds so far, living life to the very end, not being alone, dying with dignity and with a heart full of love. This is your celebration, so we hope you will join us in the various ways. Open days, FB events, competitions, dinners, fetes, vides, doggy fun days, music — whatever tickles your paws.
You have made Twilight Family. Many folks have been inspired to take an oldie into their home, and we hope this trend will grow more and more. We are all, if we are lucky enough, going to grow old. I hope, when my time comes, someone will care enough so that I am not alone, cold or hungry, in pain and feeling unloved. Let’s make the world a better place, let us cherish the end of days, let us ‘be’ for each other.
End of year review: 2017
I am not a great statistics girlie, but I think there are times when they sum it all up! And this is one such time, an end of year, a celebration of life, and a look ahead at those with whom we are privileged to share our lives.
Remembering our puddings who passed over the bridge this year
Puddings who were rehomed or are part of our current outreach programme ...
And who is with us here at home, as we start the new Twilight year ...
Aimee … tripod and will be 8 this year
Caesar … our sensitive lad, will be 9 this year
Bear … our baby Bear!
Vanille … 16, incontinent, and a snug bug!
Taffy … the Dr. Both rear legs now struggling, unbelievably 9 this year
Dennis … all but blind, 15 this year and his own man x
Teddy … dear Teddy, his fifth year, as he is 15 ... his nerves are steadier!
Booboo … 13, gorgeous and doing well
Jacob … where did those 8 years go little man
Peypere … 16 and slowing down, but what a love
Gladys … 15 and never more beautiful
Humphrey … our 13 year old demanding little blind bundle of love
Alice … 14 and our national treasure
Dobbie … our nappied love bug, just 2 and bit
Molly … feeling her age, 13 now
Brigand … our biggest blind hunk, 12 years old
Nala … our paraplegic, can’t believe you are going to be 5 princess.
Luna … settling and a beauty, 13 years old
Ben … our stroke superstar, are you really going to be 16 x
Uta … 15, and taking her time, but settling well
Vera … dear Vera, doubled incontinence now ... but a sweet love
Braille … born with no eyes, will be 1 half way through the year x
Beagley … brain tumour but well and happy for now, 13
Gabana … so pretty, yet so likely her brain is affected ... but working on it! 13.
Lulu … our little pretend rabbit, so special, will be 15
Alby … anything between 13 and 200, love him x
Charleston … a grim cancer we shall keep at bay for as long as poss, 15.
Arthur … our 12 year old mix, but we love him!
You have helped make this happen. Yes you.
Mike and I might live here at Twilight home, but whether you are a volunteer - in so many ways, a supporter with funds or goodies, a moral supporter of caring words, a professional who gives us discounts, a fellow rescue colleague, mighty fundraiser alone or in a team, or the very person who hugs us at just the right moment, 2017 has seen 70 Puds lives touched.
Thank you … so very very much.
Leeanne and Michael xxxx
November 2017 A difficult Vet visit
Time to call the vets into Twilight again, seven sick Puddings needing attention and, very sadly, likely some Puddings will not all be wandering back to their beds after the visit. Christian started with our Vera ...
VERA: Dear Vera has urinary troubles. We have never fretted, and we keep her botty hair short, as clean as possible and just change her bed a lot! But, she has trouble breathing sometimes, and this causes her some distress. Several investigations have proven negative for any lurking nasties, but she does have fluid on her lungs. Going to give cortisone a try. We will keep our princess as comfy as possible, and as long as that tail wags xxx
Next, LEAH: Well, her breath hums, but her teeth are clean and no obvious gastric troubles. So she will have a week to a month on an antibiotic to help keep the moisture in her mouth bacteria free.
Dear old MOLLY has settled so well, but she has been struggling with her food. So time to check those chompers, especially as her breath is not the sweetest! Goodness, they were very jolly decayed and in need of swift surgery. Booked in for the very next day. The vet said these were the most decayed teeth he had taken in one go, bless her. An hour later, a bowl of soft food enjoyed, and the next morning, tail wagging and looking as bright as a button. Methinks she will find her full mojo now. Well done Molly.
Dear dear NALA. Our most precious paraplegic. She is so happy in her world, so loving, so at one with her lot, she really is a little dream. But … Every paraplegic we have had we have learnt from. Hollie and Basil both lost their lives, as most do, due to the wounds that are sustained through the trailing limbs, often suffering poor circulation, and then infection becomes untenable. We are now faced with a decision for Nala. Do we amputate her right leg at the knee? If we do, it gives her, we hope, a longer lifetime with a shorter limb and we can attempt to control against infection for longer. If we leave the current below-knee limb, we will be dressing it daily, as the wounds will never heal. And here, if infection took hold, we would lose more of the limb if we had to amputate. It really is a devil and deep sea decision. But you come and look into her playful eyes and tell me we shouldn’t help her? Due to the vets being in the pussy cat sterilisation period we have time. She is booked for surgery for the 29th November and we will keep you posted.
TAFFY: Well, I am not often surprised by the vets anymore. They have taught us so much, and whilst we are always learning it is steady and has a natural growth. However, the vet seeing Taffy, and assessing him for his pain, quite shook me. You might recall, three years back Taffy had his right cruciate ligament repaired surgically. Whilst his rehab was spot on, sadly it didn’t work for him, and then to double the disappointment, his left cruciate broke as well. Not a lucky lad. Since then, his world has been happy enough, but smaller, as he can’t run like he did and now he just totters about. He has always been a bit of a loner, and has been well known for his Doctor skills. Sadly, as time has passed, his interest in Doctoring has lessened. Also, it is clear his personality has taken a turn, being a little less tolerant than he might be, and it has to be said grumpy. Of course, he has been regularly assessed for his pain, having to have fairly hefty pain killers and periods of steroids. However, now comes the crunch, such is his pain now, the next upgrade of pain killers is his last and, well, the vet wants us to consider euthanasia. This idea hit hard. I suppose Taffy has been my little boy for so long. So, you know we never let any Pudding suffer, and we always explore their options. We will watch dear Taf carefully on his morphine and see if there is anything else that we can do.
Then, our vet visit became even sadder … The lovely NOVA. I love working with Association Orfée, the whole team, led by the most wonderful Isabelle, have the most special rescue ethics and truly believe in what they do. When they asked us to take poor old Nova, a tripod, it was a pleasure to say yes, although sadly she had to wait some time to get to us. Nova will have had the grimmest life, and if her nails alone were a sign of the lack of love in it then this lady deserved all we could give her. She loved to be brushed. In fact, attention was a delight for her. But it was evident from the beginning that her pain, when lifting herself, was chronic. We thought we had cracked it. A hefty morphine dose to break the pattern. She had a period of reasonable relief, but then a change. The hip joint and pelvis took its last lift. Her cries were heart breaking. But we got her comfy, filled her with pain relief and I sat with her for the two hour wait for the vet. We knew over the last few days it had been coming. Such a love. Run free now my princess. You can be who you want to be now.
GILLOU: the oldest Twilight Pudding. If dear Gillou’s papers were correct, he was in his 19th year. Our oldest Twilighter for some time, with the cutest curly hair. His hair notable, as when he arrived over three years ago he had very little. He was on death row, his eyes empty, his life over. But the little lad regrouped at Twilight. He became a tinker. He had his rotten old teeth cleaned three times whilst with us. He had friends and he would stalk the odd oldie he didn’t like. He was the biggest character. But in the end, ironically, his heart just got too big! Yes, the muscle of his heart was struggling to take in oxygen. This caused him mini moments of angst and problems in his legs. The pain of these moments grew longer, and so it was time to deal with this. Dear Gillou, a forever character of Twilight. Let us be blessed for the time you had with us, we celebrate you my dear old friend: you epitomise the life of Twilight. Thank you xxxx
So, as you have just read, there are no two ways about it, we have had a bit of a few days here at Twilight. But, it’s time to remember that pretty much all of the Puddings would have been long dead, or still behind lonely bars, if they hadn’t come to our little home. We thank you for helping us keep this possible. Let us celebrate the canine chance to have a full life, and one with love and dignity. Huge loving paw hugs to you all
October 2017 A guest blog post from volunteer and friend Debbie
I have just come back from a week at Twilight. I had been suffering from withdrawal symptoms, having not been to stay for several months, and was longing for some precious Pudding cuddles!
Arriving during the afternoon, it was instantly time for a cup of tea, and to say hello to all the Puddings I already knew and loved, and to meet those who had arrived since my last visit. There was the usual wonderful warm welcome from Leeanne and Mike and a brief catch up chat before unloading the cool box full of cakes, which I had brought from home to stock up their freezer.
Soon it was time for Mike to feed the Puddings and, once again, I marvelled at how they all sit and wait quietly for their meal to be prepared. It takes Mike a lot longer to get everything ready with the special diets and medications than it does for the Puddings to eat what is in their bowls!
Each morning I helped to clean, which involves sweeping and then mopping all the floors to ensure that everywhere is sweet smelling. Bedding is changed and beds put outside to air. It is not an easy task as there are always several Puddings eager to ‘help’ by lying on top of the duvet while you are trying to put it on the floor. And as for getting a cover on top of that – no chance! It’s far too much fun to go underneath and peep out, with a look that says ‘I know what you want to do and I’m not letting you!!’ I spend more time laughing at the Puddings’ antics than mopping sometimes!
Water bowls are re-filled frequently throughout the day and the buckets and mops, which are used to clean the floors, have the water changed regularly. That is where the enormous quantities of Zoflora disinfectant are used. One quickly comes to appreciate how efficient it is and favourite fragrances are quickly discovered!
Throughout the week visitors came bringing gifts and donations. Everyone is greeted with a cup of tea or coffee and Pudding cuddles galore. A large van load of bedding was delivered which needed to be put away ready for future use. Donations like this ensure that the Puddings can be kept warm and comfortable and everything is very gratefully received. There was a generous donation of towels, too. Stocks had been getting low and so I was able to re-fill the shelves in the wash room.
It was lovely to see old friends again this week, friends I have made through my involvement with Twilight, and to meet new ones, too. Lovely blind dog Melodie came along with her mum Iris. It was super to see her looking so well and happy. We were treated to some delicious lunches which people very kindly brought along and some days the weather was so sunny that we sat on the terrace to eat. There was a volunteers day when we tackled a variety of jobs, both with the doggies and outside in the garden. Leeanne had made a list of tasks to be done and I think we managed to complete them all between us!
One day, two of the Puddings needed an unscheduled trip to the vets, a journey of about 30 minutes. We were very concerned about Gillou and really didn’t expect him to be coming home. Daddy Twilight said goodbye as Mummy Twilight and I left in the car. It was a sombre journey and a long wait outside the surgery as I kept Vera company whilst Mummy was inside. However, the news was good. Gillou had to have three teeth out and then we took him home, still asleep but fine. Vera was given extra medication and we had cuddles while we waited for Gillou to have his treatment. The journey home was a lot happier with Mummy Twilight and Auntie Deb in good spirits. After about two hours sleep at home Gillou came round and by next morning he was looking much brighter than he had for a while. We celebrated with a glass of wine that evening.
All too soon it was my last day, where could the week have gone? The days had just flown past. Saying goodbye to all the Puddings before I left early in the morning was difficult, it always is. Everyone must have a kiss and Teddy tries to climb in my lap for another cuddle, bless him. Then, of course, it’s time to say goodbye to Leeanne and Mike, which is always very hard. Over the years I have been visiting I have been privileged to get to know these wonderful people and am honoured to call them friends. We share lots of laughs and some tears together. The antics of the dogs keep us entertained and when we sit together in the evenings we are surrounded by dogs who are lucky enough to live in this unique home.
Thank you Leeanne and Mike: for allowing me to share your home last week, for your friendship to me, and for the love and dedication you give to your Puddings. Bless you xx
Sunday 30 July 2017 was our fourth Open Day in the last two years. It celebrated our ninth birthday, the launch of Liz’s Twilight book, and the delight of so many puddings with their happy and extended loving lives.
As always, there was so much preparation, so many behind the scenes hours from the mighty volunteers to get us looking up to scratch. The baking, the making of artistic goodies, and even just the folding of the tombola tickets. British, French, Dutch and German volunteers doing so much in so many ways; what a family of friends we have.
Then the visitors came. Lunch for many was the priority, then the Pudding cuddles, the bargains on the vide, the books, the prizes and the sweet shop had its first very successful yummy outing! The atmosphere was wonderful, team spirit, caring and interested visitors. Goodies of bedding, food and bric-a-brac galore. And, just when all the goodwill couldn’t seem better, the pennies taken on the day added up to just over €1,600. Very goodness, wow xxx
The day was tempered at the end. Sadly, that night Coco the white dwarf goat died. We had to call the vet, but despite all his best attempts, the treatment wasn’t enough. The next day we had an autopsy to learn why: it was a sad case of just a young poorly lad. We will miss him, he was special. And Alpaca, Toodlepip, has lost a good friend.
The clear-up operation team on Monday was entirely unexpected and by Jove what a swift and mighty job they did. We look almost back to normal!
Thank you, such an inadequate word, but it really means the world, and indeed life, to the Puddings. Thank you, all, however you were involved, you made a difference.
The last few weeks have been life at its highs of peaks and lows of troughs. Michael’s brother sadly passed, ironically as we, too, had spent the day in hospital with my own failing body, albeit just pained, so no comparison really.
Events various and the mighty Hope Book Sale weekend was a treasure to be part of. If you have never been, October in your diary is a must. Twilight’s own Open Day loomed, as storms rallied, but volunteers beat back all damp and wind, their efforts shone like a golden light. Such treasured friends to the Puddings.
Poorly puddings required regular vet visits, and we held several together. But, as I write, it is time to prepare to say au revoir to some special canine pudding friends. And then, Edgar, dear, dear Edgar. What a sad and grim life card he had been dealt. He touched us for the longest and heaviest six nights and seven days. Yes, so much in such a short space of time. So many lessons learnt, so much to be blessed for, despite the tears. I am afraid you will have to understand as we live with this precious and beautiful fragility each day that the burdens of this sad material world of terror and politics which seems to have engulfed us are there, but I try to keep the colours around me vibrant, deal only with what I can have control over, and make the smallest difference with a full heart, as best we can.
The Open Day here was wonderful. We were in abundance. Food arrived like I have never seen before, 29 volunteers made the day shine, and about 70 folks came and supported in a loving, caring and gentle way. Mike and I are deeply proud to know our volunteer team, proud of them for all they give, touched they choose the Puddings for their limited time and resources. The caring stretched further too, as Facebook team Linda joined in, and more funds were raised for cakes to be shared in the community. Such thoughtfulness; such love.
As we put out our first ever FULL posts this last month, as we have been stretched to our most physical, financial, and boundaries various reached. We come to a summer of needing to learn from this last nine years, take stock of where we are, and look to how the future can best be placed for those inevitable puddings waiting in the wings for the years to come. All the wonderful material things we have now need maintenance and care, no longer with a van we need help, no longer with full physical abilities we need help for certain areas. Marquees for events look pretty, but they need putting up and taking down. I never fretted when we started. We can only go day by day. If the funds came in, we took the dogs, as we knew we could give them all the care they needed. Now, if the help comes in, we can sustain in other ways, if not we need to reassess. No different to the last nine years, just different and new priorities as life changes. The only bit in this is that it is hard as Michael and I always did it all, we asked only for the dogs. Now, we feel asking for this extra is like asking for us, but it is actually for the dogs. We just have to accept this!
So, my darling man, daddy Twilight, will be 70 later this month. We will be taking a couple of little breaks through the summer, to celebrate and to catch up with Michael's family. We will have our second and last Open Day for this year on the 30th of July and so hope you can join us. For now, deeply and from the very bottom of our hearts, we thank you – our supporters, our volunteers, all of our friends, for keeping Twilight going for the needs of the old and disabled Puds. Averaging 35 in number at the moment. The Puddings owe their lives to you. Bless you for caring.
Thank you to EVERYONE who made the wonderful La Charrue Vide for Twilight a success on 7 May. Firstly, our mighty hosts. Pauline and Clive have hosted the Big Vide for many years now, donating all the pitch fees and supporting the Twilight team in so many ways. Not least now. La Charrue is one of our major drop-off points, where you can peek and buy all that lovely bric-a-brac while it’s in storage ... fabulous! To all of you who donated bric-a-brac and books to allow us to have a stall in the first place ... we would be gazumped without you! For all the collection points, and our Paul of collecting fame. For all those who donated bedding, croquettes and cleaning items – the life blood of Twilight’s daily needs. And, for your brown stuff (coins) that we turn into food and cleaning materials.
And, perhaps more than normal, thanks to the Twilight team. I couldn’t be there, my body was having a Fibro flare and keeping me on home light duties only. Clare, Jacquie, Dawn, Sherra, Gwendoline and Rita, all on stall duties, set up and clear up, it was a long, long day. Also, to those stall holders who donated much of your takings on the day and your left over goodies!
Iris and Jane were on spinning. Aline was on auntie duties with our precious tripod Mia. Thanks to JP for the shifting of stuff from Twilight to La Charrue and back, those of you who donated cakes and yums and for Annie on the DVN for advertising, amongst others. And finally, all those of you who came and bought. Whether you spent €1 or €30 between you all, you made a whopping €739.
But there is one more thank you, and I don’t do this very often. My man, my darling hubby Michael. He took the morning strain at home so I could follow Dr’s orders and rest. The morning clear-up of 30 odd dogs is not to be underestimated. We then had a rare but gentle afternoon of just pudding loving. Beauty and Tigger needing extra reassurance as their age and hearts are beginning to fail them. The five blind souls who need to hear us talk to them and keep their day in loving colour. And darling Dennis, who, as I write this now has come to find me just as he knows he is going to have a fit. (30 mins later I am back, and he is fine.), Mike has just changed dear Dobbie’s nappy (again), and time now to collect the tea bowls and rest awhile. Twilight is a golden team that includes you all. Huge loving hugs to you all, and an extra kiss of thanks to daddy Twilight. Bless you all for caring.
On an admin morning and it is that monthly vet bill time again. Our vets are amazing to all the Twilighters; they are an integral part of the team that keeps us going. But the bills still need paying and the help that Association Hope have given us for this makes all the difference. The weekend after La Charrue is the humongous Hope Book Sale at Clussais la Pommerie. Over three days, food, artisans, plants and books in their thousands. It really is a must do. This Charity is exceptional and we are delighted to be invited to share in their weekend.
Once again, the May 2017 Hope Book sale was quite remarkable. I use the word remarkable very easily. It is incredible. The volunteers are now like a well-oiled machine that make it all look so easy, despite the hours of effort behind the scenes to set up some 25,000 odd books, bake cakes, grow plants and veg, make cards, butter the butties, clean and iron all those clothes, and clean and select the bric-a-brac. Never mind the prep for tents, rubbish clearing, and all those smiles for three public days!
Then there are the supporting artisans, the other caterers, the musicians, and the growing number of associations who are there to share how all the money raised helps them to help the many animals in need. It really is one big family weekend and then there is all the supporting public who come with barrows of books returned and more bought. Cake consumed in kilos. Laughter, tears, adoptions, folks all there for one goal: to make a small part of the world a better place for animals.
For Mike and I, we watch in awe. We hug old friends and new. We are proud to share with anyone who wants to listen how we can do what we do, thanks to so many, but with special thanks to Hope. Hope have generously donated to Twilight for a good few years now, and this was no exception. Their support gives us security for our vet bills. They don’t just make a difference, they are the difference, and for that we thank each and every volunteer for their effort, care and selflessness.
Verity, the president of Hope, and your team, you are all exceptional and from all the animals you have helped and in our case, from the Puddings, we thank you all so very, very much.