Sanctuary Life

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Find out about the dogs, cats and four legged friends at the Pet Samaritans Animal Sanctuary in Derbyshire.

Dwarf rabbit for adoption


Hector is a super cuddly dwarf rabbit with a lovely temperament and friendly nature.  He was brought in because of domestic circumstances and he’s settled well with us, he likes a lot of fuss and attention.   He’s a beautifully marked rabbit, pristine white with black splodges and spots, very smart.

He likes to be stroked and petted and has a laid back nature.   The main diet of a rabbit is hay, it must be clean and not dusty.  Hector has special rabbit hay with dandelions and herbs in it, munching away on fibre helps keep the teeth in good condition.  A little bit of cereal is alright and twigs are good for him to chew on – those from fruit trees are the best.

Hector is a sociable rabbit and likes to come indoors for a pit-a-patter round, a hutch needs to be spacious with separate compartments for feeding, sleeping and a toilet area.   An adjoining exercise paddock is needed too, who wants to be shut up all the time?

Hector is a lovely boy, he’s around 4 years old and is vaccinated.  If you can offer him a loving home please get in touch.



Remembering pets on the Day of the Dead


The saddest thing about having pets is that they don’t live as long as we do, we’re inevitably faced with the heartbreak of losing them.  This time of year gives us the chance to remember them as 1st November is All Saints, the Day of the Dead.  It’s been taken over by Halloween which is a celebration of nothing except shopping for tawdry gizmos and trick or treats but all Saints Day is a spiritual time and opportunity to remember lives and there’s nothing spooky about it.

The Day of the Dead gives us a chance to re-live good time and happy memories.   Making a shrine is meaningful and something positive to do – decide on a special place, perhaps by your dog’s bed or by a windowsill where your cat used to sit.  It could even be in the garden and outside shrines are lovely and can be a permanent feature.

It can be as simple or elaborate as you wish.  A nice cloth on a small table is good, it could be velvet or in a deep, rich colour.   If the surface is wood or a natural material that is fine on its own.   I like to find a small mirror, nothing has to be fancy or immaculate on a shrine, it is better to be as it comes, life is filled with imperfections and your memories and thoughts are what count.

Some candles and tealights in pretty holders will look lovely when you light them at dusk.  Focusing on candle light is soothing and spiritual, there’s something about the gentle flickering flame that is beneficial for the soul.

Our offerings to those who have passed before us can be any treasure we like and we think they would too.  I use turquoise stones, shells, photos of friends and happy times, bits of ribbon, any memorabilia you like.   If you’re remembering your dogs, then you might still have their collars or just a snap.  I have a few strands of hair from a long gone horse, it brings back thoughts of his life whenever I touch it.

If it’s someone you’re remembering and you don’t have any belongings then words will do just as well.  You can write your thoughts and a message down.  If you make your shrine in advance then you can look at it and think about it until All Saints Day, there will doubtless be many pets and people you are thinking about and it gives you more time to remember them.

We all lead such busy lives but if you can make this an enjoyable day, there’s nothing sad about it.  Celebrate the lives you have known, people around the world will be celebrating with you, special meals, music and whatever occurs to you – it might be a walk over the moors or a visit to a special place.

To speak of the dead keeps them alive, they are living in our hearts forever – this is true and I hope your shrine will bring you reassurance, happiness and comfort.





Goodbye to Mr.Rat


When a recent scientific discovery to control the rat population gets on to the market then rodent operative Poppy might become redundant.  She’s our chief rat catcher and is brilliant at keeping us clear of rodents.  Wherever there are humans you will find rats, they live and thrive among our waste and cause more human deaths every year than any other mammal.

Rats are prolific breeders, one pair can produce 15,000 offspring in a year so no matter how many cats, they are hardly making a dent in their numbers.  Why isn’t it live and let live?  Because rats carry pathogens and poisons including C.difficile and hepatitis and because they can get almost everywhere (if a rat can get his nose through hole then the rest of him will follow) they are a major health hazard.

Rats are destructive creatures chewing up pipes and damaging infrastructure, they are also clever and tough, the ultimate survivors.   Millions of tons of poison is used to try and control their numbers, even super-toxic new brands have failed to eradicate them – throughout the world the poison also cause a massive amount of damage and fatalities to children and wildlife.  It’s a bad end for them too, so a search has been ongoing for a successful and more humane way to win the war on Mr.Rat.

Amazingly this is just what’s happened – Loretta Mayer is a Buddhist scientist working in America and who has aimed her work  not at killing rats but stopping them from breeding.  She’s now developed a contraceptive that is 100% effective and has seen rat populations collapse when they’ve been given it.   It’s food based and rats love it, they go on living without side effects but cannot breed so the colonies collapse.  Other animals aren’t affected by it, even if a cat subsequently eats the rat it will not be harmed because the contraceptive is broken down and metabolized within a few minutes.

This miraculous invention will transform lives especially in third world countries where rats are a much bigger problem than they are here.  So, it’s going to be goodbye to Mr. Rat and then Poppy will be able to retire.



Champion mouser


Aren’t looks deceptive?  Poppy is the picture of innocence, she looks so gentle but she is a ruthless rodent hunter which is good because it keeps us free from rats and mice.  We’ve never had a cat who is such a good rodent operative before, several of the others go out on the prowl but none with such dedication and enthusiasm as Poppy.

She came in a few years ago because although she had the best of all possible homes she wasn’t settled and wanted to be outdoors all the time.  She sprayed almost everywhere, it made it impossible to keep her as an indoor cat.  Once she settled down here she was in her element no cat pens for this young lady, she likes stables and barns, hedgerows and wild-wooding.   We do get her in at night though, a teatime pouch usually does the trick and then she’s ready for off next morning.

It’s believed that kittens have to learn to go mousing and be taught by their mother before they are very old.  Cats are certainly variable in their hunting behaviour.  Bing and Grondhall (our calico greeters)  have been top of the list mousers but are getting on a bit now.   A couple of the young males are on the prowl and showing interest now even though they have been neutered, which usually  makes them a bit more placid.   Most of the seniors just dream about their mousing glory days!

It’s good that our cats don’t seem to chase birds and we wonder if it’s because of the owls and crows we have around here.  We have a lot of other small birds but the cats don’t seem to bother with them.   It’s the ‘big game’ field and river bank  hunting they really like.  We can always tell where Poppy has been because she has some gruesome behaviur -she bites the head off her prey and then eats it.  It’s the only part she touches.  A trail of headless corpses and you know Poppy has been around.



Pigeon has been shot

birds-inj-pigeon-1Yet another terrified bird with a bad injury to her wing.  It looks like a pellet from a gun, why would anyone want to shoot her?  We’ve cleaned her up and given her medication, it’s a nasty wound and doubtful that she’ll ever fly again.

A lady found her lying on the floor in a wood, if she hadn’t brought her in straight away it’s doubtful that this little bird would have made it.

Birds go in to shock and often don’t survive because of this and not the injury.  We’re keeping her quiet and she’s warm, hopefully she’ll have something to eat and drink tomorrow and feel a bit better.

Pigeons are the most intelligent of birds, a team of researchers in New Zealand have shown how they can recognise words and read.  With 70% accuracy the four pigeons they were doing research on could distinguish dozens of words.   The brightest one could tell 60 words, this is the first time that a non-primate has been shown to have a brain that is able to recognise letters.   Bird brained?  No way.


New dog settling in

dogs-ghillie-2-1Ghillie is a new arrival in the sanctuary, he’s a Parson Jack Russell and has longer legs than the average J.R.  He’s a very smart little dog with lovely silver colouring and butterscotch eyes.  He knows he’s a charmer and is a confident boy.

Ghillie is enjoying his walks and getting tp know everyone, it takes a while for dogs to adjust to a new home so we’ll take it slowly.   He’s an alert fella, like most J.R.s and interested in everything especially the ponies and chickens – say hello?  chase them?   eat them?  He’s not decided yet!

When our two lady whippets came up to see him he was well pleased and making friends already.



Water rail rescue

birds-water-rail-1Alright, so what is a water rail?  This beautiful bird was brought in by Charlesworth Vets yesterday and is a wetland bird and one we haven’t seen in these parts before.  The water rail is similar to a moorhen, liking marshy areas and reed beds.

It’s a large bird, around ten inches long and with the distinctive red beak.  Her normal habitat would be Eastern Europe but they are seen in the U.K. in northern and central areas.  This water rail is a lovely colour and is brown on top with blue grey feathers underneath.  It’s not a threatened species as there are plenty of breeding populations in Europe but this is the first we’ve seen here.

We don’t know what is wrong with her, apparently a cat had her so it might be internal injuries, there are no visible wounds.  The good news is that she’s eating well and looking brighter today.  Hopefully, a few days rest and lots of live mealworms and other goodies – and she’ll be well enough to be released.

image copright:  B.W. Images



A dentist visit for the ponies

ponies-dentist-1Just like us, the ponies don’t like having to visit the dentist.  It is a little bit easier though because she comes to them.   It’s still quite an ordeal for them but has to be done or else they wouldn’t be able to eat without difficulty.

The teeth of a horse get rough and uneven unless they are constantly eating rough food and grinding them down.  Our domestic ponies do have hay but also soft food and grass to eat, it isn’t the same as if they were in the wild and eating stalks and fibrous forage.

If their teeth aren’t rasped regularly (every six months or once a year is recommended) sharp edges may dig in to their gums and stop them from eating.

So do they stand politely and it’s ‘open wide’ please?  No, I’m afraid not, they have a contraption pout on their head which holds their mouth open so that Niki our wonderful dentist can do a check-up and rasp the sharp bits without getting her fingers bitten off.

It only takes a few minutes and all the ponies were well behaved except for …… yes, Bridget the Fidget was naughty as usual, she is the youngest in the herd and has a bit of an attitude problem.  We put some sedative on her gums (a bit like a dental injection) and it stops her feeling anything.  She still makes a fuss though!

Also Ruby has to have the gel because her mouth is slightly uneven and she feels discomfort when it’s ‘open wide’ time.  She is a good natured girl though so once she can’t feel a thing she stands placidly.

Thankfully there were no real problems, they are all in good shape and don’t ;need to be seen again for another year.

Next, it’s the turn of the medium sized pony herd and then it’s the big guys – now they can be a problem!

Main picture copyright B.W. 2016



Bridget telling Sundance all about it!




Wispa so happy in her new home


She came in as a stray and was thin and hungry.  When we’d sorted her out, vaccinated and spayed we put her up for adoption, she is a lovely cat and while we were waiting for the ‘right’ family to come along, we became very fond of this young charmer.

She’s now called Mollie and here’s what her people say about her:  We adopted Wispa (now called Mollie) a couple of weeks ago – really happy to say she has settled in amazingly quickly.  She’s talkative, hyperactive (my husband calls her nutbar!) follows me around everywhere, loves chasing a laster pen light and has a toy mouse that she treats like a teddy bear – she carries it with her everywhere.  Thank you once again for allowing us to adopt her, she’s great fun.’

Thanks for the update, the photos of her are lovly, we can tell she’s taken over the house!






Why don’t dogs live longer

dogs-yorkies-5It’s heartbreak when our dogs pass away.  We lost Lily and Frankie earlier this year, they both died in their sleep and only a few weeks apart so they weren’t separated for long.  They were the oldest of our ‘golden oldies’ and it was a smooth passing.   All thanks to Kate who looked after them so  devotedly in their twilight years.

If only dogs had the same life span as us humans and why don’t they?  Some animals, like tortoises, elephants and donkeys (and I’m sure many more species) live very long lives.  Is it something to do with health and lifestyle?  Does the stress of life wear dogs out?

It used to be the urgency of finding food and fending for themselves, nowadays the balance has tipped the other way, we do just about everything for dogs so why don’t they live longer?

Back in the day our canine companions used to make it through to 18, 19 or 20.  Some of the terriers would go on to their early twenties.  Now, even with all the improved veterinary services, we see a lot of dogs who don’t make it to even 10 years old.

In Japan it’s a different story.  The people are famous for their healthy diets and longevity and it seems that the same goes for their pets.  Recent surveys showed that dogs live on average over 13 years and cats live around 12 years.  These were done on 6,000 dogs and 3,000 cats and carried out by the Japan Veterinary Association and the TokyoUniversity.

Perhaps its the active lifestyles and fish and vegetables that make all the difference.