Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hay barn cats watch their new barn go up

Nancy stopped and took a photo of the progress on the Hay Barn Cats new barn. If you look around you can see what we mean about their not being any shelter. To the right there is a hedgerow. Otherwise the cats are stuck with cornfields.

I'll be so glad when this has a roof on it!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hay Barn cats get a new barn

I don't think I posted that they determined the cause of the fire that destroyed the Haybarn Cats' barn was kids playing with fireworks.

Nancy reports that a new barn is already being built! It looks like the haybarn cats may have shelter for the winter.

And that is a load off my mind. It has been sad to drive by and see the cats forlornly standing on the cement pad in the evening. They are fed daily by the landowners, have some shelter boxes and some natural cover, but a barn will be oh-so-wonderful.

Burp, Fart, and Hiccup

Don't worry, they'll get better names, but right now these names fit them.

These kittens came from the Lockwood Colony. The original population of six cats was fixed in 2002. Of those, only one, Gray Boy, remains. (We caught all six of those cats in two hours). But someone dumped two female cats and these three kittens on the landowner, who is older and cannot afford to keep them. She discovered the kittens in her shed today just as I was getting ready to head out of town. She already had one in a box, and two were in a piece of drain tile pipe, and boy, did they hang on when we shook them out!

When Carol had first called about the two females, I told I'd get them fixed, but that I could not take them now, as I was full up. I planned to bring over more shelters for her. But four-week-old kittens...well, they can't stay out there. I'd vowed I'd only take cats from my own colony caretakers, and guess what! Three kittens from a colony caretaker!

When I arrived home, the heavens opened up and it began to pour and thunder.

Luckily, the kittens all ate heartily of wet food, and one is even crunching away on dry.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Quiet visits, and an adoption!

Sometimes I like to visit colonies from the past. In north of Ithaca there are two. On my way to pick up kittens at my vet's office, I slowed down as I passed the home of The Motley Crew. They were snoozing on the porch. Could I sneak up and get some photos? I needn't have worried. They didn't even notice I was there.

Don't they have the life?

Speaking of which, this little one is going to be spoiled rotten.

Which is exactly what every kitten deserves. Thank you, Christy and Gordon! We hope Paatie stops hissing soon!

Friday, August 14, 2009

On Michael Vick. To resort to a cliche....

"...this is what is wrong with our country."

Michael Vick perpetuated horrors and promoted bloody violence utilizing animals. Research has shown over and over that violence against animals (let alone using violence for personal glory and benefit)is linked to violence against humans. Not just hitting some guy on a football field. But a disregard for the suffering of others. People who actively seek violence against animals are people who are broken. People who need help. Lots. Of. Help.

I have had a number of occasions to speak with animal hoarders. The denial hoarders exhibit, their smooth ability to lie, their charm, and their absolute disregard for reality, is absolutely frightening. The first few times I spoke with a hoarder, I was so baffled I was unwilling to accept what I was experiencing. After about the third or fourth time it became clear--these were people who were not like other people. And these were people who were not going to be "fixed" because there really was no mental health support system to help "fix" them. And because they did not think they needed help, they might go through their court-ordered ten sessions of counseling, but they weren't going to actively seek "help" after that.

Imagine a person who literally and regularly killed failed, torn dogs with his bare hands, to benefit gambling and the pleasure of watching animals die. We aren't talking a man who takes a job in a slaughter house to pay the bills and ignored the cries of animals because he is beaten down by the overall sensory and physical abuse of his own job.

In the face of the certainty that violence against animals is a frightening and insidious illness, the NFL nonetheless released Vick to be signed again, and the Eagles (not some desperate team grasping at straws to survive)felt free to take him.

They did not care if they were embracing and rewarding a person who had, with his own hands, tortured large, strong animals until they died. This wasn't just breaking the neck on a chihuahua. This was taking continued long bloody personal steps to destroy animals.

I have killed animals. When rabies went through, I killed a lot of snarling, sick raccoons. It isn't pretty. Even with rabid animals, taking on that continued responsibility takes an ability to suspend pity and accept witnessing an animal's suffering. I cannot even begin to understand the lack of compassion in a person who drowns or hangs a dog after forcing it to be torn apart by another dog.

Had Vick raped fifteen or twenty women, and "paid his debt to society" in prison and with fines, and agreed to go on the road mouthing platitudes about violence against women, would the Eagles be signing him up?

Absolutely not.

In other words, the Eagles are counting on....COUNTING ON...the American tendency to say "Oh, well, after all, it was just an animal..." so that they can profit from Vick's amazing ability to "scramble" on the field.

They are not accepting responsibility to shun him, as he should be shunned. Imagine the message they would have sent had they stood up and said "We considered signing Michael Vick. We realize he has paid a debt in prison. But research shows that this is a larger issue, and we feel it is important that--in a physical sport played for profit--that we not give the impression we are supporting bloody violence for pleasure. By not signing Vick, we wish to send the message to all dog-fighters, and all those who resort of violence over humans as well, that rehabilitation takes longer than a mere two years, and violence ought not be rewarded with multi-millions of dollars."

Whether or not Vick is "likeable" has nothing to do with it. If he's "likeable" then someone should be helping him. And helping him would include, as a society, not rewarding him for his fame. How would you be treating him if he were your neighbor? Maybe you might be speaking with him and being polite as neighbors ought But you'd be worried. You'd be slightly scared. You'd be keeping your eye out. You certainly wouldn't be inviting him over for beers and dinner and embracing him as your best friend. You'd be hoping he gets help. If he had been a friend, you might even be actively asking, even insisting, he continue to get help. You probably wouldn't be saying, if it happened next door to you "Well, at least they were just animals."

I have to say, I have mixed feelings about animal welfare organizations using Vick in their messaging. I feel that it is quite likely that the NFL looked upon the formalizing of Vick's relationship with the HSUS as an excuse to permit him to play again. It gave them the ability to foist their responsibility off on HSUS ("Would HSUS work with him if he were not rehabilitated?"). Just as the Eagles will likely foist their responsibility off on the NFL ("the NFL says it's ok")

Just as everyone will foist it off on US...expecting us to just sigh and say "Well, at least they were just animals."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Spread the word! Aug 12 is Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Day!

Petfinder has created a day for cats like ours -- those pets that need to find that special home with a person who understands if they are a little shy, a bit bouncy, or missing a little something (an eye, a leg...). Perhaps they are a senior pet who needs a forever home.

It is Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Day and it is this Wednesday! Please visit their blog post here as well. You should read the comments!

Can you spread the word? The blog post is Facebookable, so it's easy! For those of you with web page or blogs, a shout-out would be appreciated.

They also have a flashy little search widget (see mine in the right column). There is one for you dog people, too.

One of my favorite Special Needs "shelters" is Tabby's Place in New Jersey. If you are in the area, you should visit for a shot of inspiration.

If you have a "special" child, feel free to share his or her story in the comments, or on the comments of the Petfinder blog.

And if you have space in your heart and your home, consider checking out the special needs in your pet using the pink search box at the right. See who is just around the corner from you.


Sunday, August 09, 2009

5 emails, two phone calls, and two stop-bys

It's turning out to be a very bad year for cats. I'm not the only one who is getting the calls.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Microchip up to date?

You might want to check, because not all people are as dedicated as Lynn when it comes to getting a dog home.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

It may be fuzzy, but it's Dude

To the "Dude Fans" on the blog, you'll be happy to see he's quite relaxed in his new home!

I sure miss his cute little face, but I'm so happy to see him in a forever home!

It looks like he's eating well, too, LOL! (Dude was quite a skinny boy. He looks much better now).

Thanks, Deb!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Dog park dreams?

I continue to entertain ideas on how to generate some small amount of income with the space on the farm. It seems clear from my gardening experiment this summer, that produce is simply not going to be the answer. I can't keep up with the weeds on my own small plot, let alone a garden that produces for the public. It just Ain't Gonna Happen. So let's write that one off.


So I've been considering a dog park. I have the flat field across from the house, and the bottom of the barn. I could put in fenced areas for large dogs, small dogs, and a "reserved" area for people whose dogs need to be run alone or people who wish to reserve a space for obedience or agility work (membership and interview required to use the "reserved" area. If there are going to be dogs here that don't like other dogs, I would need a separate parking area and a signed statement that the owner actively accepts liability for their dog).

I'm far enough out that I would likely not generate a ton of traffic. And I'm the only residence on my section of road. The field is in a depression, so barking probably won't be an issue for neighbors. I could also make it free for neighbors, which might improve their reaction.

I could take out the chicken coop, which has cement floors, and put in two professional dog runs for people who wish to day-board their dogs if they want to shop in Owego, etc. after running their dog.

I would put in trails on the hill for people to leash-walk their dogs. That probably would not happen for a few years. There is a guy who will harvest wood off your own land for you plus put in trails, for $160 a cord. Seems to me that kills two birds with one stone.

I have the water hole in the creek where people can stand while their leashed dog takes a dip. I'd need to check with the DEC to find out if the creek is protected. If so, that is probably out. The water hole is entirely stone (not dirt), so a few doggy dips a day is not going to degrade the banks. It's not like I'm going to have more than 10 visits a day, and most folks probably will not want their dog to smell like creek. And it's not something I would advertise.

And I have the bottom of the barn where I could put in a watering and "toweling off" station.

There IS water to the barn. Down the road, I could also put in a dog-rinsing station, but I don't think I could let people use shampoos, etc, without a septic system or gray-water system of some sort.

If the venture fails, or if I were to sell the farm, the fenced areas could be used for gardening, and the dog runs would of course be a benefit to anyone buying a farm. So this wouldn't be money thrown away. It would probably make the place more marketable to someone who wants a gentleman's farm.

One thing I am damned good at is mowing, weed-wacking, and picking up poop! So essentially costs would be installation, mower maintenance, gas, poop bags, towel-washing, and time. And I've built trails for the DEC, so I can manage that (although I need an ATV--something I've been putting off getting).

I'm hoping an added benefit would be more exposure for the cats. I wouldn't be available to do adoptions or tours during weekdays, of course. I do have to work; the park can't be drawing me away from my workday, except in a true emergency. But people would come to know it was here, and recommend me to people who are looking for a cat.

So I think I'll take a day this summer and go check out the Ithaca dog park for a few hours and see how much volume they get, and the sort of people who visit.

So hey, dog owners, would you drive 10-30 miles every few weeks to let your dog run her heart out for a tiny $2 charge?

And hey, The Main Street Cafe in Spencer is being reincarnated as The Bishop Inn. So we will have good food once again in Spencer! Spencer also has Hollybrook Golf Course, a golf range (only 2.5 miles from me), and of course, Totalily Water Gardens. In the spring there is Mountain View greenhouses, and there is shopping on River Row in Owego.

I could also rent the entire place for parties for people who get tired of leaving their dogs behind. They could have the "reserved" fenced area, and I could put in a picnic area that overlooks the creek.